I had trouble starting and stopping a journaling habit for the longest time. I’d do it, for literally a day or two, then forget about it until the next time I decided to try some more self-reflection. Some inspiration from LessWrong and Ryan Holiday crystallized a way of making it easy on myself, while still letting me do the self-reflection and recording of decisions that’s been useful to me in the past.
Awareness is one of the most important qualities that can be cultivated. If I could go back and give one piece of advice to my younger self, it would be to develop awareness.
I noticed (thanks to Rescuetime) that I was wasting too much time on my phone. You know the feeling: oh, I’m ‘just’ going to check Facebook/reddit and then 45 minutes of you just staring at the same thing has gone by. So I opened up the trusty app Tasker, which people have used for some ingenious things, and made a small profile that I’ll use for a little while: if I open up Facebook or the Internet browser, it immediately closes, and pops up a reminder to think of 3 things I’m grateful for, and to briefly remind myself of the mental opportunity cost I’d pay. Here’s how.
My strongest technique for increasing retention from lecture. Maybe it’s obvious; when I decided to make the mindset shift, it wasn’t so obvious, but the results are outsize.
For a quick mood, energy, and focus boost, materials required: a water bottle, your body, 10 minutes or less of your time.
While trying to think of ways to increase my focusing power for hard and thought-intensive work like studying, this bolt of an idea came out of the blue. Over the past couple days, I had a tendency to reach a point where my brain said, no more, you’re going to go eat chips and be a phone zombie for the next hour. I realized that feeling of low-level burnout (not to the point where you want to quit school or your job or whatever, just break for the day) is like your muscles burning and then giving out when weight training.
Sometimes, you run into situations that have a cascading effect on all the other parts of your life. Sometimes, you face problems that, though pervasive or large, have a very clear fix. Sometimes, you have solutions that are fairly easy to implement.
This is somewhat of an more esoteric topic. In my mind, this isn’t as broadly applicable as many other things I’ve put into writing. But it’s had a pretty large influence on my mind, enough that empirical patterns start to emerge and I can almost viscerally feel the influence; this post might catalyze you into realizing the same can happen to you.
A short piece of thought about reducing your dependency on things, even the smallest kinds. Dependency means you’re giving something power, and that means you’re giving away your freedom. Maybe the cost is worth it, and you don’t want to change. Maybe it’s iffy, and you’d rather have the freedom.
Sounds a little redundant, but has been an enormously useful mental heuristic for me. Being able to adjust my mental estimate of how much sleep I currently need based on that just the previous night’s sleep and the current morning’s awakening lets me know how to plan the next night or two of sleep. It’s an important tool in my efforts to remain on-track to goals and staying on top of things.