Over-prioritizing. That’s what I call it when I stare at my list and agonize over what is the most important thing. To be fair, it is important to prioritize your to do list. But don’t spend more time on the list than you spend on the items in it. One thing I like about the GTD system is that you don’t put things back in the inbox. Until hard-landscape items come up (appointments and meetings) you work on the next thing. All of the next things are treated as equal priority. Prioritizing next things can be a full time job, even above doing next things.
If it’s an official Next Thing, then it made it through your weekly review. It must be important. If it’s important, it doesn’t need to be the most important thing to be done next. It just needs to be done. In that spirit, I’ll keep this brief.
Coffee is a major way I stay “motivated” (read: higher energy than a jack russel terrier). I mentioned my rampant caffeine addiction in an earlier post. It’s not the only legal recreational stimulant anymore. According to some interesting news published at Nature a lot of scientists are using some fun new substances on the prescription market.
I’m not one to pass judgment. For the time being, I’m going to stick with sleep, runs and a bit of caffeine. OK, more than a bit of caffeine. If things change, who knows. Maybe I’ll find that I need something extra and an understanding physician to make it happen.
In the mean time, I’m going to give you the run down on how to make good coffee. There’s lots of information over at the old rec.food.drink.coffee usegroup FAQs page (the wealth of info stored in the old usegroups FAQs is pretty amazing). But the long and short is this: it doesn’t matter how good your coffee is if you have a dirty coffee maker. That’s step 1. Clean your coffee maker. Once that’s done, consider your water. Step 2 is, if need to filter your water, filter your water. Don’t buy bottled water. Step 3 is to buy some decent coffee. Don’t overspend. Make sure the grind is right for your machine.
Exercise is a major way I stay motivated. When I was in high school I ran with the cross country team. When I was younger than that, I ran with my Dad. All told, including the intermittent months off, I imagine I’ve run an average of about 6 miles a week since 1995. Fitness guru? Maintaining my appeal for for my girlfriend? Well, that is an issue… but self motivation is important, too. During the weeks when I run, I feel like I’m more awake. On a day that I run, no matter what else happens, I have one string positive in the accounting of the day.
Of course, if you’re having trouble motivating yourself, it will be hard to motivate yourself to run. But as step 1 to a higher ‘energy level,’ you could do a lot worse than a 20 minute jog… or a walk for that matter.
Have a look around for some good shoes. I happen to like Saucony shoes for my wide feet.
Other than that, just make it part of your routine. Substitute walking to the grocery store form time to time. Carrying two bags for a mile is a nice little workout.
Persig talks about Gumption Traps in his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. There are lots of them, and some of them are actually really useful. Some of the obvious ones are fear and fatigue and basic bodily needs. Others are as simple as the initial barrier to action. Some are concerned with paradigm.
For this first segment I’m going to tell you what you already know: it’s easier to be motivated if you’re physically ready to be motivated. If you’re healthy, well rested and well fed, you will find it a lot easier to be motivated. Did you watch Fast Food Nation? His motivation wend steadily downhill the more unfit he got. That’s not a scientific study, but it stands to reason that if you are healthy, you will feel better about doing things.
Being well-fed is a huge issue, and no doubt we’ll get into that more as time goes by. Suffice it to say that a well balanced diet that doesn’t have a high glycimic index is probably a good place to start. I tend to go the opposite way form most Americans in that I eat too little, not too much. I get involved in a task, and I forget to eat then I feel cranky and nothing sounds good besides candy. I seldom buy candy, so then I just eat a little of something I have around to get me feeling better (cereal, beans and rice, etc.) and then repeat the whole thing. I imagine if I substituted junk food for healthy food, I would end up with too many calories and I would get fat like everyone else.
The better way to go (which I do when I’m organized) is to cook and take meals with you when you go to work or wherever. Cooking at home tends to reduce all kinds of junk food inroad into your life. Also it’s cheaper. Taking a thermos of coffee, an apple, a jar of beans and rice and a sandwich to work costs about $1. That’s enough to get me through the day. If I don’t bottom out, those foods taste pretty good. There was a great TED talk about this recently.
Speaking of coffee, I’m a huge caffeine addict. I’ll post specifically about coffee soon. But in the mean time I’ll share something interesting: I’m so addicted to caffeine, that I confuse feeling ‘thirsty’ for feeling like I need my caffeine fix. They both feel the same to me. “They” say you should drink 2 cups of water for each cup of coffee, but that’s been debunked elsewhere . If it were true, I would be a desiccated husk, as I drink a 10:1 coffee to water ratio on most days. But it does catch up with me eventually, and I need a good glass of water. Failing to do so makes me feel very tired.
More tomorrow on exercise!