archive for the 'tips' category

anti-procrastination tip ‘o’ the day: don’t work so hard

This weekend, My Lovely Wife had decreed that we were doing a “massive clean”. We were scrubbing all floors, cleaning all surfaces, dusting all shelves, waxing all cats, etc. etc. And, boy, did she build it up. For days prior to the weekend, all I heard were lines like this:

  • Driving home — “Oh, I’m going to work you this weekend…”
  • Eating supper — “Don’t make any plans for this weekend, buddy-boy…”
  • While sleeping — “I vill break you…”

She was gleefully relentless*.

All this lead to me building up one big ol’ fear for this weekend… because housework eats at my soul like a mongoose on a cobra.

So, Saturday rolled around… and boy did I procrastinate. I lay in bed as long as I could. I made a really elaborate breakfast. I brewed a massive pot of coffee that I decreed I had to finish (“I can’t waste coffee — think of the poor children in Africa without coffee!”). Anything to hold off the inevitable.

And then I realised — this is ridiculous. It’s just housework. Why have I built this up into such an onerous task?

That’s when I saw the feedback loop I had created:

  • Become aware of looming chore unit.
  • Dread chore unit with every fibre of my soul.
  • Perform chore unit as fast as possible, in an effort to get it over with as quickly as possible.
  • Imprint on subconscious the difficulty and unpleasantness of the completed chore unit.
  • Repeat.

This is not a good cycle, but all of it exists in my head… except for one step. The actual performance of the chore unit.

Why is it so hard and unpleasant? Part of it is the dirtiness and possible uncomfortableness of the actual chore unit… but a large part of the problem is that I put so much effort into doing the task as fast as possible so it will be over as fast as possible. And this makes the job harder. And less pleasant. Thus increasing the dread I feel everytime the chore unit comes around again.

So what did I do? I vacuumed the house and scrubbed the floors. But I took my time. I did it very thoroughly, but I didn’t push myself. I did the jobs with the base effort necessary to do it fully, but not a bit more.

And it was fine. And it got done. And it only took about ten minutes longer than it does when I rush. But my back didn’t hurt and I wasn’t bitching and moaning.

So that’s my new tip. Hard work is all well and good, but next time you have to do a job that you dread, see if your hard work is just making the work hard.

clean that monkey!

* To alleviate the draconian mental images these statements may have given you of My Lovely Wife, try picturing her saying these while wearing blue flannel pyjamas covered in snowflakes and reindeer. Believe me, she can get away with a lot wearing those.

my blindingly obvious lifehack of the day: find and use your personal flags

I do a lot in the morning before leaving for work (e.g. make lunches, brew coffee, pee) and from time to time I forget things. One of the most annoying things is when, halfway to work, I realise that my iPod is still sitting next to the computer, fully charged again and ready to go. I’m not happy at that point, because then I have to listen to the world around me — like a sucker.

(However, worse than forgetting my iPod is forgetting my wedding ring on the ledge beside the shower. The ensuing grief from my Lovely Wife at that point is endless.)

However, there are a small number of things that it is effectively impossible for me to leave the house with. One is my glasses — I’m mildly near-sighted, so I’m okay around the house but as soon as I’m in the car, I know I need them. The other thing are my keys, as the house cannot be locked without them and the car won’t start without them. These are the things that if I step outside the door without them, within seconds I’m back inside to get them.

So, I’ve started treating these as my personal reminder flags. If there are things that I may forget in the morning (a charging iPod or cellphone, a DVD I need to return, bribe money) I simple take one or both of my reminder flags and place it on top of the item I want to remember. Also, I can leave notes for myself under the flags as well.

I find this easier than a having a box by the door in which I keep all the stuff I need to bring. The problem with such a “reminder box” is that sometimes I need to remember things that I cannot leave by the door overnight. (If you own cats, you know what I mean.)

With the reminder flags, which are small and portable, I can take them to the items that I need to remember. This has the added benefit, by making the locations I need to go to variable, of forcing me to remember why I’m going to that location, which further helps me remember the item or task that the flag is set for.

Reminder flags. It’s blindingly obvious. And thus I share it with you.

holiday buffet tip: beware the trivally-bits

trivally-bits — def. Food items on a buffet that you fill up on, but in the end merely take up room from the really good stuff, leading to resentment, frustration, and gas.

Examples of common trivally-bits:

  • cheese
  • crackers
  • rolls
  • pickles
  • soup
  • salads
  • steamed veggies

If you remember one thing over the upcoming festive season, let it be this:

It’s the trivally-bits that stand between you and that extra spoonful of stuffing.

bow down before the altar of firefox 1.5!

kneel, geekboy!

Woo-hoo! Firefox 1.5 is out!

Me — being all excited — I go right out and install it. Only problem is… after installing it, half of my extensions don’t work, as they haven’t been updated for the version 1.5.

So I start to panic — I need those extensions to live!

Or do I? After playing around with Firefox 1.5 for a wee bit, I discover that while there are many extensions that I do use regularly, there is only one that has altered my browsing experience to the point that I had to stop what I was doing and find the fix — Super DragAndGo. (I might have mentioned it before.) Without it, I felt like a shell of a man.

But have no fear! I am not the only one that leans on the crutch of the DragAndGo. After a few minutes of searching, and finding a numbers of hacks that people had figured out, I actually found someone that had modified the extension and was offering a 1.5 compatible version. (Bless you, Schrade.)

But aside from this minor drama — which I’m sure you all find engrossing — I’m pleased as punch with Firefox 1.5. (I love that I’m able to shuffle my tabs around without an extension. Good work, Mozilla.)

And, a few new extensions have popped up on Lifehacker that just tickle me pink:

After you install Tab Preview if you place your mouse pointer over a hidden tab, it will shows a small, out-of-focus preview of the page hovering over the current page — sort of like picture-in-picture. So, if you have a bucketful of tabs open, and thereby can’t read the titles, you can just place the mouse over the tab to see what’s on the page.

On the otherhand, foXpose takes your open tabs and shows all of them tiled in your browser window — then when you want to focus on a specific page, just click it and you’re ready to go!

Sigh. I love Firefox.

impossible people

Some of the funniest things I see online are the “How-To”s found at eHow and on their wiki. Recent examples include “How to Draw a Frog”, “How to Meet Your Girlfriend’s Parents”, “How to Make a Paper Hat”, “How to Draw Bubble Letters”, “How to Make Great Photocopies”, “How to Do a Push Up”, and my all-time favourite, “How to Spot a Virgo”.

But this new one, “How to Deal With Impossible People”, has just got me wondering…

What sort of impossible people are we talking about here?

  • The man whose nose was Wyoming?
  • The woman that sneezes dryads and gnomes?
  • The unfortunate children that live in a moth-eaten copy of a May 1952 issue of Life magazine?
  • That guy that divided 24 by zero and got an elephant?
  • And what about Jerome, the little man that lives in my head and gets to hear all the cool comebacks that I come up with ten minutes too late? What about him?! (I love Jerome.)

Impossible people.

You just gotta learn to live with them.