Category Archives: Personal

Getting Things Done: The Notecard Method

You wake up in the morning, excited to see what amazing things you can accomplish that day. You make a mental list of all the things you’re going to do. Sure, you meant to do these things yesterday, but that’s what today is for!

Fast forward 16 hours. You lay in bed, thinking of all the things you did that day. Wait – nothing from that great list got done? Hmm, well it’s because that thing came up, and I had to do that other stuff, and whatever I’ll just do that stuff tomorrow.

That’s what my days have looked like recently. I realized the devastating spiral of inactivity I was falling into. When you get to a low in your life, you start to re-evaluate. When I look back, I notice how productive I used to be. I started asking, why then but not now?

I think we get into these spirals because we get fixated on something that cannot be resolved, and it blinds us from what’s actually important in our lives. When I was younger, I used to have such a strong drive to accomplish goals. I would make these checklists in my head and be excited to check items off, all without even being conscious of it! This probably stemmed from my love of video games.

In video games, there is (almost) always a goal, with a (usually) literal check-box. From playing so many games, I got really good at applying the same principals to real life. Since I haven’t been playing so many games lately, I’ve been slipping on this habit; or maybe I just got caught up in the wrong things. The point is, I found a way to get me back in the zone.

The Notecard Method

It’s pretty simple: at the start of each day, grab an empty note card. Label the date at the top, and a blank for the “score”. Then, write down 10 check-boxes, with 10 things that you want to do that day. At the end of the day, tally up the check-box’s and mark your score at the top.

You should write down 10 things such that at the end of the day when you lay down, you could look at the completed list and say “I WIN AT TODAY. GOOD JOB BRO.”

Here is mine for today:

Notecard Example

The goal is obviously to check off as many as you can that day. In addition, to keep the motivation going, you can try to beat your score for the previous day. If I don’t check off an item that day but it’s important, I split it up into two smaller tasks and add them to the card for the next day.

Finally, it’s very rewarding to look through your pile of notecards from the previous days. You see all these check marks next to things that you’ve done and you feel even more motivated to keep up your streak. At the end of the week, seeing a stack of 10 / 10’s feels amazing.

And with that, I check off my last item for the day, going to bed excited for the days to come.

Everyman Sleep Cycle

Hmm its been almost a month since my last update. I hope this doesn’t turn in to a trend…

To name just a few excuses:

  • Been on a few trips – Electric Zoo FTW
  • Started going to school again
  • Got lazy
  • Started a new sleep cycle

Though one of these distractions actually made me want to write about it, so maybe it doesn’t belong on the list…

I want to talk about the new sleep cycle that I’m on, called the Everyman cycle.

It’s a form of Polyphasic sleep. In summary, polyphasic sleep has you sleeping not for one extended period (8-ish hours), rather you spread out your sleeping over the course of the day. In the Everyman cycle, you sleep for about three hours at night, then have three evenly spaced, twenty minute naps throughout the day.

I have been on it for almost 4 days now. As I write this, I am approaching my 4am – 7am sleeping period.

Why

The main objective here is to have more time in the day. Why more time is better should be obvious. The secondary objective is to build self-discipline in order to enhance other aspects of life. This cycle builds discipline because it requires mental energy to stick to a mostly fixed schedule every day, while also providing a reward for succeeding.

How

As with any new sleep cycle, it takes time to adjust. In the case of Everyman, it tends to take a couple weeks to be fully adapted. For me personally, it has not been unbearably difficult. The worst part is waking up at 7am after only 3 hours of sleep. I already messed up once and overslept because I drank the night before. Drinking is a BIG NO NO when adapting to this cycle. It forced me to not be tired enough to take my naps later on, which messed up my rythm a bit. Strategies I have been using to help me along:

  • Set alarms on phone to go off when a nap should start and (obviously) end
  • Have a sugary / caffeinated drink next to alarm
  • Attach motivating note to alarm that I have to see before I can turn it off
  • Keep the lights on, even for the 4am – 7am sleep
  • DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL

So Far?

So far, I am impressed. Traditionally I have been an insomniac and long sleeper. I don’t like going to sleep, but when I do I like to hibernate for as long as possible. I would sometimes sleep for 10 – 12 hours a day.

With this new cycle, I have been tired, but never so tired that I would pass out if I lost concentration. Some times, I’ll have had more energy than I can remember having in a long time! My dreams have been very vivid. I even had a lucid dream earlier today, which I don’t get often. Concentration and motivation also seems to be improved, with anxiety reduced (probably because my mind is too tired to do it). Most importantly, the extra 4 hours a day is amazing. I feel like each day lasts forever, and it can be hard for me to remember all the things that I was able to do that day.

Overall, I am very excited to see how my life changes once I completely adapt to the new cycle. The main challenge for now is to just not mess up for the next couple of weeks…

Started a blog!

I never thought that I’d be able to muster up the discipline and effort required to start and maintain a blog…

But today, I thought I could, so I did. Go me!

My goal is to post up at least two things every week. Mostly they will be video game development or generic programming related. But sometimes, I’ll post things about robots, philosophy, psychology, girls, or penguins. It really all depends what comes to my mind during a given week.

That said, wish me luck on sticking to it. Cya!