Some Thoughts

It’s been almost half a year since I began tracking my daily progress and this past year has flown by without much pause for reflection, so I figured now’s a fairly good time to delineate some of the thoughts I’ve been forming in my mind.

First, a reflection on forming new habits and discipline. I’ve been able to make tremendously more progress on forming new habits/ending detrimental old ones since having set in place the pivotal foundational structure of drawkcab. Having weekly goals and daily progress reports has helped immensely in keeping me accountable, even when no one’s watching. The threat of having to donate money to the BGEA has also kept me rather limber on my toes, though I believe I’ve contributed at least $90 to their coffers, and quite possibly $110.

There are quite a few examples of things I’ve been able to pick up and maintain that I’ve previously attempted to pick up/thought about but never committed to (in no particular order):

  1. An actual weekly todo list
  2. Fixed schedule productivity
  3. A budget
  4. Using my Philips GoLite every morning
  5. Exercising on a set schedule (3 * a week)
  6. Tackling hard work by breaking it down
  7. Writing a short story

And a few recent things that I haven’t done long enough to suggest conclusively that they will succeed but that I’m quite confident will:

  1. SRS learning – Spaced Repetition Learning with Anki 2. Purchased SuperMemo for $50 back at Harvard, added a few facts that I still remember (timshel, 5’7″, steamboat springs, vail…yeah, forgot some of the others too admittedly since I never followed up), but never quite got past the steep learning curve since I couldn’t commit to it on any strict foundation like Drawkcab now allows me to.
  2. No more video games. Ever. As in for the rest of my life. (Right now includes the main killers – RPGs, RTSs, FPSs, TBSs)
  3. No more TV shows. Ever. For the rest of my life.

The first of these three new things is being reinforced in the standard format – weekly goals and daily progress reports on those goals. Going to use it for Calculus (Spivak), terminal commands, and programming for now. Perhaps add some Japanese phrases in there if I find it imperative for my Japan trip in March. Maybe even some Spanish but for some reason that’s much less appealing to me and I only have one Chile trip left in any case. (yes, I ramble)

The second and third of these new things is being reinforced via a $20 penalty contribution to BGEA for each day I indulge in them. Gaming and to a much lesser extent TV shows have been the great vices of my life since early childhood. In childhood I was never particularly large on TV shows, but my god, did I overcompensate with gaming.

One entire summer of my life was spent literally engaging in nothing but Total Annihilation – from the minute I woke up to the minute I went to sleep well past midnight, the only breaks being when I got up to either ingest or expel material into and from my body. Another summer was spent in just about the same fashion with Battalion, with literally over more than 3,000 hours logged on just one of my accounts on that site. Countless nights were spent sleepless procrastinating before work playing Dofus. My childhood memories are of exploring Baldur’s Gate, BGII, NWN, Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment. Short frenetic stints were spent engaging in Runescape and MapleStory. Numerous small games engaged my time intermittently – Caravaneer and other flash games are one particular example. Browser based games were not exempt – so much of my life was thrown into NewAge3, Kings of Chaos, Travian…let’s not forget TBS, with Civilization and Civilization II engaging me for hundreds of hours. There are probably hundreds of other games I’ve played that I’ve failed to mention here. In recent history, the greatest offender has surprisingly an FPS – Modern Combat, which has claimed possibly a thousand hours of my life. Recently, I’ve gamed in stints – a couple days or a week ticking off one game at a time fanatically, with little pause for anything else. I knocked off GBWG, BG iPad edition, and BT in this fashion.

The final straw for me here was this week, when I had significant goals to accomplish in both work and learning, yet stayed up first the last night Austin was here until about 4am playing Civ I with him, and then second by myself two nights later until the same time completing Civ I on Emperor difficulty with a perfect score, shamelessly using Cheat Engine to give myself unlimited money just to see what would happen. After those two outrageous offenses to my productivity, I decided to cut out gaming forever.

I can’t imagine any other singular decision presently being capable of impacting my long-term productivity any more than this.

The third thing I’m taking out are TV shows – which had no direct catalyst to action in recent times, but was merely an addendum to the video game thing when I reflected upon my past behavior. At Harvard before finals or before packing I watched an entire season of Dexter. I went through Game of Thrones in two days. Went through Archer in the same fashion. Breaking Bad was the worst since there were 54 episodes I had to knock out in one straight streak. And so on. So yeah, fuck that.

Movies are still in because some movies are actually good and worth watching. Have to exercise caution here. Also, harder to get addicted to these for an extended period of time since they’re short little pops generally with little or no continuation, and I don’t have a particularly large history of past transgressions here.

Well shit, that was long. Guess I’ll save some more reflections for next time. One more thing I’ve noticed:

I pick up things months or years after the first time I hear about them. This is true of fixed schedule productivity, for instance – first heard about it likely in 2010, then revisited it perhaps in 2011, and then encountered it again a couple times earlier in 2012 and finally decided to act on it after my first Chile trip. Same with spaced repetition studying – likely heard about it in high school, began it in college, and only now likely truly going to be able to stick with it. Same with programming, too, though that was like a decade and a half of delay. Writing/blogging as well. Rock climbing and a gym membership too.

Long story short, pretty much everything. Hence, if I had to give it a wild guess, I’d say that perhaps in a year or a couple years from now I’ll pick up martial arts and/or parkour seriously. Perhaps – if I have the time for it. Maybe I’ll make a lot of money in a few years too, if it works that way.

No real thoughts in this space yet, will have to think about it more and try to figure out what I can do to decrease this lag time.

In other news, have committed in Drawkcab to new musings here every Monday and Friday. Unless I decide this is unwise/forget to put it in my weekly goals tomorrow, expect posts here every Monday and Friday.


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