Thursday, February 28, 2013

Some problems to solve

A wise man told me that you should meditate for half an hour every day, and if you can't spare the time to do that, you should just meditate for an hour every day.

I spend too much of my life being unproductive. Right now I've engineered myself into a spot where a large part of my day is spent waiting for a computer to finish doing something, so I can make it do something else, and then waiting for that to finish. If I could compress all the button pressing together, that would probably be ten minutes of work, and I'd feel pleased with myself, but when it's dragged out to six hours it becomes a grind that saps all hope and joy from you.
You don't want to go to work to press a button, wait an hour and then press some more buttons, and wait some more. You want to achieve great things, or if not, be free to write an interesting email to your friend in a far-off country. Neither of these are served well by sitting and waiting for frequent interruptions.

We know that doing smart things makes you smarter: doing dumb things makes you dumber. It's not like you have a set amount of cognitive energy and if you save it by not thinking all morning, you'll be super clever in the afternoon. Like a muscle, your brain will grow lazy unless it gets exerted.

With this in mind, I took myself off at lunchtime to an empty meeting room, and spent five minutes trying to clear my head. It's quite simple: you sit there with your eyes shut, trying to concentrate on nothing apart from breathing regularly, and letting your other thoughts pass you by. Then, head freed of the chatter that was distracting you, it's possible to refocus again, extract yourself from a loop of unproductivity.

The trouble was, I went back to the same environment I'd been in all morning, and I was back to listlessly tapping at a keyboard and then waiting again. This made me sad. It's not enough to get out of a bad situation for a few minutes; you have to make a proper change. Few people think the cure for a bad diet is a bag of apples on Sunday and sausages for the rest of the week; just the same goes for your thinking space.

I didn't make the mistake today of thinking that sitting in the office until late would magically inspire achievement. Time at desk is a totem you should not pay attention to. At 5:30, I left, went home, and lay down for half an hour. Semi-dozing, I had a vivid dream about a sportsman with a biography constructed out of pure cliche, then returned to the world in time to see the glorious sunset reflected in the buildings opposite our flat.

Thence to Fight Comic, for my first (and last) time on stage this month. I've missed comedy; I miss the cameraderie, and the rush when people get your joke, and I realise once again that it's important to do the things that you need to do, and avoid as much as you can the mundanities and the time sinks that don't count as achievements. I'm never going to be happy with a day that consists of looking at things on the internet while waiting for something to happen: sometimes it's too easy to forget that.
Two months into the year. Let's do better for the next two.


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