Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Another integration. I was thinking about a portion of my essay about maintaining consistent habits, how consistent habits lead to consistent performance, and I realize that the part about setting consistent expectations could really be put to use in my life. Now that I think of it, a lot of things are only approximate in my life, aren't they? And again, approximate standards lead to approximate performance. Just how fast do I wash dishes in the morning? Or make my bed? Or get dressed? Do I have any measurements I could utilize to compare my actions day to day? No.

To enhance my career life I've purchased a stopwatch to take to work with me, which I'll use to meticulously time how quickly I complete certain tasks. I used to use my cellphone for this, but it's far too pesky; a real stopwatch is much more portable and efficient to use. At first I thought I would keep its use solely to my work life, but now I'm seeing much greater applications. Simply, my purpose is to time myself doing certain tasks in order to set standards, which I can then obligate myself to uphold or improve consistently from then on. This is a variation of my Mental Calvin Ball games.

Without such timing practices, I think, how can I motivate myself to remain rigorously consistent? Without measurements I can only say to myself that I worked "kinda fast" or "kinda faster/slower" on a daily basis since my mind is not capable of keeping as precise time measurements as a stopwatch. With a stopwatch, I can set records and hold myself responsible for maintaining and improving them, and if I do drop the ball significantly then the growing numbers on the display are sufficient to make me feel guilty and ashamed of my efforts.

Furthermore, this method's nature as a Mental Calvin Ball game makes upholding a consistent performance much more exciting. When I hit start I suddenly feel invigorated to explode into my best effort since I know I'm competing against myself at my best, and an additional element of excitement is involved in trying to uphold the same standard even as the context changes, as nothing is ever consistently messy to the same degree when I clean. Matters become not only rigorous in expectations, but also a race to do the same high-quality job in a lesser amount of time. The more meticulously I use my stopwatch, the more often I can consistently challenge myself as a person.

But why restrain this practice to my workplace? I've noticed, for instance, that at home I'll often wash my meal dishes at a very lazy pace since I'm under no obligation to get it done at a particular speed and because I sense no difference between this day's effort and the next. Again: It's kinda-sorta-maybe okay/fast. A stopwatch in my home eliminates any excuse for lazing about in my chores: There will be records, and guilt-trips in not upholding them. Given long-term practice, I should be able to eliminate a lot of wasteful idleness in my habits.

I won't time myself, of course, doing recreational activities such a grocery shopping (which I enjoy due to my culinary interests), but I do intend on timing myself as much as absolutely possible: Taking out the garbage, laying down my bedding, getting dressed and undressed, and more. I haven't thought of much yet, but with mental awareness I'm sure my list of times will grow.

I haven't used my stopwatch much as of yet, but already I love it. It doesn't make moving fast uncomfortable and stressful; rather, it makes it exciting and fun. Will I set a new time? is always the thought to have. It's possible that I could grow to love my stopwatch so much that I keep it in my pocket at all times as part of my necessary nerd-gear.

If you find that you have a hard time motivating yourself to "get moving," then try timing yourself: The measurements, the facts of reality, will be a sufficient enough motivator.

1 comment:

  1. Damn it. I clearly scheduled this for Wednesday, but for whatever reason it published immediately. What the heck Blogger?


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