Timetank reader Gustaf Josefsson suggested we watch this video clip after reading our post about Johnny Kelly’s Procrastination! Whereas Johnny Kelly’s video clip makes you feel rather beat down since you realize that these procrastinating situations occur all the time (Mutewatch CEO Mai-Li couldn’t even watch the whole clip, it was so unnerving!), this one by Lev Yilmaz, named “Procrastination” Tales of Mere Existence, is a real laugh!
Lev Yilmaz is a San Fransisco based independent film maker, artist and publisher. Besides Procrastination he’s made lots of amusing comic series. Check them out here!
The Tales of Mere Existence series began in 2002 as a series of animated comics that were shown at film festivals. Each video shows a sequence of static cartoons, which appear gradually as if being drawn by an invisible hand. Lev got the idea for the technique from the movie “The Mystery of Picasso” (1956), which similarly showed Picasso’s paintings appearing from the other side.
Photo from Mikael Englund
Hmm… Which watch should I wear today? Do you think this one goes well with my outfit? Do you know where my headphones are? No I don’t mean those big, clumsy ones, I hate them. Oh damn it, have you seen where I left my bag? Yeah, the smallish, white one? With that printed… something on it. Crap, I have to go, I’m late.
Mornings can be marvellous. Enjoying a full breakfast (mine’s usually a bowl of cereal, toast and a cup of tea, plus orange juice if I feel like treating myself), reading the newspaper, taking an extra long shower. Ohh so fresh!
They can also be filled with stress and agony. Just pulling some random clothes over your head, haphazardly grabbing your belongings, hoping you won’t forget something. Which, frankly, can ruin the whole day. Well, at least the first part of it. Lately, I’ve finally come to understand that getting up 20 minutes earlier – in order to avoid those exasperating situations, where you can’t decide what to wear, you can’t find your mobile phone, your books, headphones, keys and end up running to the underground station in a huff – is so worth it. I really cannot believe that I haven’t realised this before.
“If I know that I am going to be interrupted I can’t concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can’t do anything at all.”
Sartre may have said that hell is other people, but for me and for the novelist Neal Stephenson hell is the onset of cognitive paralysis that sets in after losing concentration. The internet -above all- provides too much stimuli and leads people to experience cognitive dissonance, i.e., overwhelming feelings! Facebook and other social networking sites take up too much of our time, likewise, the time spent on these sites is often valuable and important. We re-connect, we network, we socialize, and learn. I still can’t figure out if social networking is ultimately good, useful to a democratic society, or detrimental to humanity. Are we loosing touch with what truly matters while busy worrying about how many Facebook friends we have, or how big our bum looks in our most recently “tagged” photo? Not really! Sure, society is superficial and meritocratic, but would you rather live in a world without online social networking? Ways of socializing shifts concurrently with politics and technological innovation, but the need for social spheres like Facebook, or in fact the internet as a whole, has existed since at least the sixteenth century. The first social networker was the French aristocrat Madame de Sevigne who spent a great deal of time writing letters, and created a salon culture revolving around her- the olden day equivalent of blogging, tweeting and blackberrying. Jurgen Habermas may theorize on the death of the beurgous public sphere, but anyone who’s heard of Asmallworld, knows that his thesis does not hold. The internet is the axis that contemporary socializing revolves around. I mean, where else but the internet would a girl who thinks she is a robot become fast friends with a boy on another continent, who happens to like girls with robot-psychoses? People who are anti-internet are most likely sceptical to globalization as well.
Nonetheless, the constant bombardment of stimuli we are subjected to is the source of procrastination, the countless wasted hours. Perhaps internet stimuli – the social networks, the blogs, the emails, the youtube videos- is not so different in its power to distract as other kinds of stimuli was to our ancestors? I imagine the writer Oscar Wilde one hundred and twenty years ago, quill in hand, head poised over his empty parchment paper (or whatever it is writers wrote on in 19th Century Britain), deep in thought. Just as an epiphany strikes, and he motions his hand down to write the opening line to An Ideal Husband, his wife walks in with the post. Several invitations to various events and dinner parties are placed on the side of his pulpit. He thanks his wife. Now what should he do? Open his post, or write down those sentences? Of course, his livelihood is more important than the stack of correspondence placed before him, but a writer’s happiness also depends on the acceptance of his peers and therein lies the dilemma.
Everything in moderation, oui? The well-known productivity guru and knowledge worker Merlin Mann has created the bible of online time-management websites. 43 folders began as a little experiment in 2004 and has grown into a monster, a maze of tips and tricks for the creatively challenged, or just plain curious. Check it out. It may help you discover ways in which to work more efficiently.
The links between time management and stress levels are well known – it’s not generally a matter of doing better or having more discipline, it’s often a matter of doing less and of blocking and planning your time instead. Writing a quick “shitty first draft” is often my way of getting started on a piece of coursework for university. An excercise that helped me get through essay writing hell last week was Merlin Mann’s “dash” – a short period of focused activity- that helps you nip procrastination in the bud. After spending a few days in the library researching I had an idea of what to write, but absolutely zero inclination to get started. What I did was do ten minute “dashes” of focused writing, with obligatory two minute breaks in between. This post explains it all: http://www.43folders.com/node/47330/317729
Another good website -the right kind of stimuli!- is Zen Habits. A friend recommended it to me when I was feeling very stressed. They post a new blog / tip each day and I’ve found it helpful in prioritising and working out how to get the interesting and important things done, whilst not letting the rubbish get me down:
Due to a slightly obsessive personality I am always reading a few self-help books, I have been reading the dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life” for an embarrassingly long time now. I think you should read it.
By Desirée Wariaro
You will always be presented with a million options of things to do, through people, texts, emails, applications, ads etc. Instead of fulfilling your own dream, you will find yourself fulfilling the dream of others if you don’t watch out.
A meeting, a lecture or even a party can be easy to focus on – it’s all in your schedule. What’s harder is to use the time around these activities – “all these abundant hours” – wisely. If you divide tasks you need to carry out into “time boxes” – whether it may be separate boxes for time-consuming tasks, or boxes where you group coherent tasks, that are less demanding, with each other – it’s easier to aim your attention at getting one of these boxes (perhaps the most important box!) done. And if you find yourself with some extra time you can finalize the time box including the slightly less urgent, but nevertheless equally important, duties. The basic idea is doing one thing at a time.
Are you afraid of becoming a machine if you divide your time into boxes?
Planning and structure can create freedom and flexibility. If you have an overview of what needs to be done, it’s easier to be spontaneous and give a quick, honest answer to a question when chance appears.
Because let’s face it – most people hate the feeling of “guilty pleasure”, when you know that you should be doing something else and cannot fully enjoy yourself. But if you have a strategy, you’re free to be a spur-of-the-moment-person when you feel like it. And yet have full control.
This helps you to prioritize, and even more importantly; it helps your realize what not to do.
I imagine most people find their memory to be essential. Memory makes it possible for us to travel back and forth in time, if only in our own heads. By remembering we organize our lives and put the future in perspective. We don’t know what’s going to happen but we can imagine our reaction and response based on the experiences lodged into our memory.
In 1953 a man, later known as H.M, suffering from severe seizures experienced radical brain surgery. The operation was a success but it left him almost completely lacking long-term memory. He could remember things from before the surgery but new facts and faces where forgotten within minutes.
H.M has been subject to a number of studies and played a major part in memory research up until his death in 2008. H.M could not remember anything outside of a twenty-second timeframe. He was sociable and pleasant to be around, he enjoyed crossword puzzles and bingo, he could even learn new skills like card-tricks, yet every time he performed one he experienced it as for the first time.
Here is an excerpt from an interview by Dr. Brenda Milner in the early nineties:
Dr. MILNER: Who is the president of the United States now?
H.M.: That I don’t – I couldn’t tell you. I don’t remember exactly at all.
Dr. MILNER: Is it a man or a woman?
H.M.: I think it’s a man.
Dr. MILNER: His initials are G.B. Does that help?
H.M.: No, it doesn’t help
H.M’s surgeon, Dr. Scoville, had theorized that H.M’s epilepsy was situated in the temporal lobes, just above the ear, and by removing them he would relieve H.M of his severe seizures. The temporal lobes hold the hippocampus, which contains the ability to form long-term memories. Dr. Scoville didn’t know this and it was first discovered through the study of H.M, who in the five decades following his surgery became the most important patient in the history of brain science.
I’ll continue next week on the discoveries made by the study of H.M and why they are important in our relationship with time.
Swedish watch blogger Mikael Englund sent us this picture. It expresses how he is presently spending his working days. Getting up, reading, writing, drinking coffee, trying to keep track of time. And, hopefully, eventually going to bed. Mikael is currently writing night and day – not only about watches; but also on his thesis. We wish him and everyone else managing a double workload at this moment the best of luck! See you soon on the other side of the tunnel!
/ The Mutewatch Team
Photo by Rikard Lilja
They are usually Saturdays and Sundays rather than Mondays. You look forward to them. At work, in school, you fill them with activities and your highest expectations. Long before dawn, long before eve, you are peaceful and calm – because you’ve planned every single minute. It is a valuable day. It is the day when you will do all of those Things. Those important Things that you have been procrastinating for so long. Finally.
And then all of a sudden, it arrives. You wake up an hour or so too late (no big deal, time is still abundant); have a long breakfast (it is Saturday, after all), read the newspaper (there’s never any time for that normally). You have a look around the kitchen. Your eyes drift over the sink, the fridge, the freezer, and rest hesitantly on the greasy stove. In the bright Saturday morning sun, you see how the grayish kitchen dirt stares up at you provocatively from the corners of the floor…
Clearly, you don’t really have a choice. It is, after all, impossible to get your important Things done in a dirty apartment. You can’t concentrate in a dirty apartment.
Cleaning begins. It is over in what seems to be a couple of minutes – and you manage get to every little square meter of the apartment. Ta-da!
Then you glance at your watch…. And ask yourself, where did they go, those abundant hours?
The time was there all around you. Its bits and pieces of opportunity surrounded you. You must’ve unintentionally swept it away, wiped it off of the sink, and shoved it under your bed. The rest, you threw in the bin.
Why does this always happen to me??
I end up disappointed, angry and stressed. Again and again, I get swept away. Every time, I have no choice but to give up on any potential evening plans. After all, I do have to get all of those Things done before Monday…”
Niclas Karlsson, HR Manager at Acando, has provided Timetank with some interesting material regarding Time Management. Niclas told us the most fascinating story on how he set up time-related rules for himself in order to overcome a burnout when he studied and worked at the same time back in his university days. His conclusion was that the same rules could be used in order to prevent a burnout.
We like the thought of preventing bad things from happening and here are the main 7 rules that Niclas provided us with. Thank you for your time Niclas <3
1. Resource boxing – regards time, money, people and energy as assets.
2. Purposefulness – spend 10-15 min each morning planning the most important things to do that day.
3. Chunking – distinguish between transaction-time (emails and meetings) and focus-time (reports etc.).
4. Forced isolation – turn off all your electronic equipment once in a while
5. Avoid fuzzy meetings – short but focused meetings are preferable. ”Topless meetings” = no laptop.
6. Work to your energy platforms – use your most effective time carefully.
7. Confront fears and energy stealers – ”Worst things first”.
Each one of these Golden Rules will be thoroughly explained in future posts!
ps. the picture is suitable as Niclas wore a pink tie when he made an appearance at “Handelsdagarna”, the annual Business Fair at Stockholm School of Economics.
Time is often presented as a rather abstract concept, a concept dependent on individual perception. As much as time is individual experience it is also very real and manifests itself constantly in our surroundings through a number of physical processes. This video provided by Space Rip is an interesting introduction into the concrete nature of time.
by Fredrik Lundin