Tag Archives: time management

Short Cut to Deal with Sleep Shortage: Inflating the Count with Placebo

As the pace of society quickens, and we want to sardine as many tasks as we can into one day, short cuts and sacrifices are inevitable. Unfortunately, sleep always seems to be the unlucky candidate that gets the short end of the stick and told: “Sorry, maybe I’ll get to you tomorrow.”

Well, if these are just the facts and realities of the times, then we may have to be creative and find our own kind of placebo effect to convince ourselves otherwise, and maybe derive some unanticipated health benefits from our strapped circumstances.

Here is an example: We usually count sleep duration by erroring on the side that puts us in the category of being sleep deprived. We may be in bed 8 hours, but not all of it is quality sleep time. So, in our sleep journals, maybe we put total of 7 hours or even less to account for all the tossing and turning, aches, thinking, and, yes, procrastination. Accurate? Yes, but depressing. Realistic? Yes, but doesn’t do anything for the ‘feel good’ side of the ledger.

I want to argue that some days we should try to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. If we are in the midst of a hectic period where the allotted time and hours don’t add up, then let’s skew the statistics in our sleep journals, a little bit. On the odd chance, in the odd morning, that you find yourself sleeping all the way to your alarm, with the alarm actually waking you up, but it still totals only 6.5 hours of sleep, then let’s inflate the numbers a bit. For myself, I imagine myself, and tell myself, that I could have slept another half an hour at least, if the alarm didn’t go home, then I’ll just reward myself with the bonus. I could have slept a quality 7 hours, so just give me the credit.

Will this placebo effect carry me through the day? I know I could be just deluding myself and this could actually have adverse effects on my health over the long term, but it sure feels better than fretting and dwelling the entire day over how I’m short of sleep. We can deal with the truth in therapy later on when things die down, but can we be allowed this short cut for the time being? Instead of always shorting ourselves of it, how about we go long for once? Really, I’m refreshed.

-Patrick Law

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Illusion of Flexibility?

The cat just doesn’t complain. She doesn’t look depressed. Year after year, the time spent by the humans in the home with the cat diminishes, yet you’ll never notice this slight if you ask the cat. As time increasingly becomes tight, and more and more things get put off, quality time with the cat seems to be always a top candidate for something that can be done tomorrow, or the next day, or the next next day, or whenever.

Litter not done nightly; her teeth not brushed daily; Felaxin not given frequently enough; brushing not regular; and research on the psychology of cats has not been consistent or up-to-date with the latest literature.

Yet, after all this, the cat has yet to ignore me, or conduct revenge, or dig her claws into my back and twist. Instead, she’s more enthusiastic and joyful around me than ever. Though I’ve reduced my physical contact time with her, I can hear her loud acrobatics in the basement while I’m working upstairs.

While I believe that my procrastination habits have led me to cut short cat time, the cat seems to have interpreted it differently, at least from what I could read from her behavior. It’s as if the cat thinks I’m purposely reducing our play time in order to benefit her. Instead of not spending enough time, she sees it as focusing our time together and making it more intense. Do you notice how cats think that every change around the home is made with them in mind? You move a location of a chair, and the cat will sit on it thinking that was your intention.

In my case, the cat thinks this time change means she has to put more value into the resulting minimal time that is chosen, and she shows this in her attitude, play, and purposeful strides.

It would be easy, a bit sappy, to just conclude with how I can learn so much from the cat and that I should be more like my cat. But, I can’t help but think, with my cat’s unequivocal forgiveness and flexibility, does this actually make me more complacent as I continue to lie in the tanning bed of procrastination procuring potential benefits?

At the other extreme, I could try making it all up to her, rather absurdly, by going jogging with the cat tomorrow morning.

-pat

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Hairstyling as a Method of Time Travel

Not to put a damper on the great summer weather we’ve been having in Calgary the past week, but my hair! Sorry, thoughts of my flat hair and its refusal to stay upright have returned. Those who are accustomed to my frugal ways know that I often take short cuts when it comes to beauty products. That means, in these times of high food and gas prices, I have scrimped on the hairspray and gel. Or, I try to make the present bottle/tube last as long as possible.

In a previous post I talked about how unwashed and sticky hair can be an effective, short-term substitute to make your hair hold a particular yoga pose. Today, in this summer heat, I am dreaming of winter, and wondering aloud if the ice cold freeze would be a better alternative.

I yearn for those childhood days when getting up with such youthful exuberance, never sacrificing the comforts of a morning shower, and hair still wet while chasing the bus and trying to maintain traction on icy patches. Yes, I can never forget my fascination with how the bitter cold would just freeze my hair in place. It sort of made missing the bus worth it.

Of course now, worries of pneumonia and other illnesses predominate the mind. And I guess, once indoors, the frozen hair will eventually melt and be no more effective than water in sculpting the follicles. Still, that pure joy I had on my face running across the fields of winter, with nature as my hairstylist. Maybe these short cut thoughts of holding my hair in place are really indicative of some inner urge to freeze myself in time.

-Patrick Law

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Deodorant Spray Instead of a Shower?

What happens when you maximize during workouts not only with intensity but with time as well? This is particularly intense when we try to squeeze in those training sessions at sunrise before going into work. What ends up being sacrificed? Well, surely not the workout itself. Get out of bed extra early, drive all that way, forgoing that warm breakfast, so damn it…no matter what…the workout is going to be damn good. Must be great. Not negotiable.

So, what goes? For a lot of people, it’s the showering afterwards. There’s no time! Cue the short cut! We workout and squeeze one more set of weights or stretching, and there goes the showering time. Deodorant can be put on even in a rush right? Can be applied in the car or while changing, or even while walking in the door at work. To make up for not showering, is it possible to put on a few extra coats?  To sort of extend and maximize the use of deodorant? Make it multitask?

If this is asking a bit much out of cheap, inexpensive deodorant, then maybe it’s a more fitting job for Tag Body Spray. That stuff is more expensive than it needs to be, probably because of suggestive advertising that exaggerates how the product is supposed to make you attractive to women. Fine, for something so pricey, it better be able to multitask! Spray, spray, spray liberally, as if you were under the shower!

Can this do the trick and get us through the work day until we can shower at home? How would this method rate on Mr. Manly’s Manly scale? Would he approve?

Happy shortcutting!

-Patrick Law

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Questioning the Procrastination Approach (Interview with Devin)

We are excited to present our first interview at this blog dealing with issues related to procrastination. Devin is our first participant, as he came across this blog while looking for methods to counteract and overcome the habit of putting off his priorities, tasks and, ultimately, his dreams. Devin wanted to volunteer and express his disagreement with a lot of what we are doing here. We appreciate his honesty and different perspectives. The transcript of the interview is below.

Patrick:
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.

Devin:
It’s no problem at all. In fact, I warn you, I have to be blunt, because I feel like it’s important for me to express my views before too many procrastinators get carried away with what you’re doing here at this blog. I guess I’ve come as a warning, and to give my side because I don’t see much of the work here addressing any of my concerns.

Patrick:
Can you clarify what you mean? And don’t worry about holding back, or offending me, because it’s good feedback to know and learn about why certain materials are actually not help procrastinators.

Devin:
First off, I think too many of your posts have too much of an idealistic, playful tone. In essence, you are not taking the topic of ‘procrastination’ seriously enough. I stumbled upon your blog looking for ideas, methods, solutions, to deal with my own procrastination. Instead, I mostly found writing that perpetuated procrastination.

Patrick:
What do you mean by that? Can writing not be a means to be productive?

Devin:
Yes, it can, but too much of the writing here is just used to delay….at least that’s the sense I get. I mean, it’s great that you guys are having so much fun here, but all this time spent writing can be better spent directly dealing with the problem of procrastination. After exhausting yourselves with writing, what energy will you have left to do anything else?

Patrick:
I can understand your point Devin, but I guess part of the experiment with this blog is to explore the process a bit, and use writing as a means to do that. I mean writing is very helpful to hear about the experiences, the frustrations, and also the joys in dealing with this issue.

Devin:
I don’t have a problem with that, but I do worry about the imbalance. So much time is spent describing the experiences and how you procrastinate, but not enough time is used to deal with solving the problem. There just seems to be no urgency in this blog, in the writing, in the approach. You know what I mean?

Patrick:
But perhaps having too much urgency and a serious demeanor can cause more anxiety than it should. I’m maybe trying to introduce a perspective that considers a bit of lighter approach, noticing the humor, and that will put us in a better frame of mind to pick out what is really important.

Devin:
Sorry, not good enough. You lack discipline, structure, fortitude. What? Just share experiences all your life? Again, I maybe sounding harsh, but perhaps I’m just going to the extreme so you see what is obvious and most direct. By being indirect, talking around the issue, trying to write stories with hidden underlying meanings, it may be interesting for creativity, but not if you’re trying to solve procrastination. If my quick observations are correct, I think I’m the only one so far to give somewhat negative and critical feedback on your blog. There’s too much soothing, accepting, and keep going on what you’re doing kind of response here.

Some visitors may even mistake that you are promoting procrastination. Actually, come to think of it, I’m not even sure? Are you promoting it?

Patrick:
I don’t know if I would say it in those terms, but I am exploring other angles to it.

Devin:
Hey, I enjoy some of the writing here as well. Just want some more balance, and just want to tell you that a lot of people who came here with a purpose and expecting something, are getting nothing close to that. I’m sure there are some who are pleasantly surprised, but would there also be some who say you are avoiding what is most central?

Patrick:
Thank you Devin for these points. I have to admit, many of them I did not consider, and certainly some of your perspectives may need to be looked at for future posts.

Devin:
Thanks for having me, and thanks for letting me come on even though you knew beforehand that I’m quite critical and question the effectiveness in how the blog is helping procrastinators. Indeed, some people who worry about procrastinating may feel that you are not treating the subject seriously enough. Having said that, perhaps your target audience is a bit different?

Patrick:
Interesting points. A good way to end off this interview, providing food for thought that we can discuss further as we meet new participants interested in this subject. Thanks again, Devin, and hope you will return again to share your ideas.

 

 

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How to ‘Clean’ Your Toilet While ‘Using’ Your Toilet Simultaneously

If no time to read entire story, and you want a short cut version of the short cut, just go to the red parts for the quick tip.

Warning before you read on! I am certainly not promoting uncleanliness or a lack of hygiene. The short cut described below is simply a short cut, and certainly not meant for any long term solutions or for anyone to make a career out of it. If you do happen to make a habit out of it, and end up knee-deep in sh*t (not an exaggeration or a metaphor), you probably won’t find any permanent help here to get you out of the mess.

Is time making a mockery out of you again? If it’s another rush job on a weekday morning, then let’s consider this short cut to at least appease appearances until we return home or when the weekend arrives and we can duly devote more attention to the toilet. Yes, the toilet.

How many of us on those weekday mornings have the time to wait for the entire flush cycle to end or even to see your flush through after doing your duty? Raise your hands. Hmmm…no hands that I can see. Oh yes, sorry, a few in the back, probably because you are owners of faulty toilets that may continue to run so you are waiting to see if the water stops on its own. If not, you have to manually play with the chain or risk coming home to the sound of lost water and saying “Damn, that’s another increase to the water bill!” Oh, and there are some hands raised over there as well. You must be owners of big time poo. You are the unfortunate ones who need to wait on your respective toilets to see if the initial flush is successful, or if another one is needed, or if some plunging exercise will be the cause of late arrival to work.

As for the rest of us in the majority with your hands down (maybe near our pants because the current topic makes us squirmy or we have the urge to go…or just because…), maybe the following band-aid can work. If a family member, or roommate, or whoever is in the washroom before you, comes out in a hurry within seconds of flushing, and the washroom is inundated with that kind of stench, then be extra alert during your turn.

Chances are the previous person is in too much of a rush to take a close look at the efficiency of the flush. You, however, though in a ridiculous rush yourself, have come armed with a ready-made short cut strategy that can save time now and somewhat reduce strenuous efforts later. Indeed, the person before you left some poo residue on the sides of the toilet bowl that did not flush away. If left there for a long time, it will turn hard and cling with more determination to the bowl threatening to form a more permanent brown stain. With your quick thinking, you hold your pee and do the poo first, if necessary. 

Then with your pee, you aim at the sides of the toilet bowl hoping that your natural hose produces enough pressure to remove the brown leftovers more efficiently than a flush would. If you are efficient and a marksman, you in essence have used your toilet and made it cleaner at the same time. Certainly pee stains are more easily removed than poo stains from the sides of the toilet bowl.

If you have difficult generating enough pressure from your urine spray, then try to turn it up another level. For advice on how to do this, it’s better to go to Mr. Manly’s blog and ask him, as he’s full of insights on male methods.

Also, the short cut explained may be difficult for women to perform as I’m guessing it would be harder to aim. Again, can Mr. Manly provide a solution to help out the women in this situation?

Again, this is a temporary solution when you can’t fully scrub and clean your toilet on those weekday mornings. Enjoy the time savings and some of the laughs along the way. Happy toilet training!

-Patrick Law

 

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Getting Tasks Done Before They Get On A List?

In previous diary entries, ‘lists’ have been a prominent topic in its relationship to procrastination. They tended to evaluate ‘lists’ negatively, as they seem to work against, instead of aiding, efficiency and productivity.

So far, many entries, and writing seem to emphasize a lot of details concerning experiences which are frustrating, though humorous, and methods that are not working. In an attempt to find some balance, and also give those visitors looking for ideas to overcome procrastination, I decided to reference another site/blog that gives some good tips.

The site is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/wschachter (Please copy and paste into another browser window because direct linking to this blog slowed down our site) and is titled: “Seven measures of productivity tips and tools.” You can look in the April 2008 archives (April 21) to find the post.

Harvey Schachter gives some concise, easy to understand points, that are optimistic in tone and encouraging to put into action. Having just come across the article earlier this week, I haven’t had a chance to put it into action much. However, already, I found one tip particular useful in attacking my initial procrastination.

It concerns acting right away especially on tasks that can be accomplished in under 5 minutes. That means these tasks I shouldn’t even let get to my official ‘to-do’ lists. It sounds simple, not radical, but effective in reducing my lists. Because they don’t make to any list, I don’t have to think about it, order, or debate it – they just get done before my thoughts start to interfere. Before long, after knocking off many of these mini-tasks, they start to add up, and I realize I already got some chunks accomplished before even getting to a list.

On a emotional, and psychological level, it provides a boost. The feeling is similar to having a productive warm up prior to a workout. The circulation is going, the mood is elevated, and the focus is right there. After a good warm up, it’s easier to get going on bigger and more time consuming items on a list or scheduler.

Before I get too excited at this slight hint of progress, Mr. Schachter warns that there should be a time limit on these mini-tasks that you do right away. I certainly can understand why as it’s quite easy to loose track of time and spend almost half the day on email!

To continue with the workout analogy, the main thing I’ve improved since reading the article is that instead of using my warm up time to plan all the intricate exercises in my main workout, I actually use the warm up time to directly warm up and do exercises that prepare me for the main workout.

Overall, I guess it’s a strange way to look at it, but I’m trying to do all I can to prevent tasks from even making it to my ‘to-do’ lists, by finishing them so I don’t have to write it down and remember to do it later. Of course this won’t always work, but this kind of reverse psychology results in some more explosiveness during the mornings.

-pat

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