The principle of slanted productivity

I don’t know if this applies only to me, but I find that I do things better when I am doing other things. Things that should be done, go by faster if you’re doing things that are enjoyable.

I present my argument with the following scenarios:

a.Working the diet

Of late I have gone on this new calorie shifting diet that, when customized for vegetarians, leaves room for exactly the following things: eggs, beans, and nuts. The occasional fruit and veggies are thrown in for color, but really, for the past 8 days I have consumed a small 3rd world country’s annual supply of beans: garbanzo, pinto, baked, mung, green, black, kidney, you name it. What I also have to do is squeeze in 45 mins to an hour of walking. Now this workout does nothing for me. I live in a very crowded urban area and there is nothing to see except residential apartments and their dust pan sized front yards. So the walk is boring, besides walking doesn’t get my heart rate up anymore, at least not for the first 30 mins. And I loathed this activity. Then on one day when I was particularly tired of my music on my iPod, I discovered Audiobooks. That did it.

I promptly modified my diet to: beans, eggs, nuts, and 1 hour of audiobook listening. And while I listen to the audiobook I walk. The past 10 days have been the most productive walking wise. In that I have finished not only my daily requirement of walking, but also nearly two whole audiobooks: Deepak Chopra’s Magical Body, Magical Mind (Ayurveda, another subject I am simmering a sort of active interest in), and now Anne Lamott’s Word by Word, which is an audiobook rendition of Bird by Bird.

b. Mixing business and pleasure:

When I am at work and have an upcoming weekend activity coming up that I need to plan, my work goes by very fast. And not just my work day, I also work very fast. Like I once spent 3 hours at work researching a Tahoe hiking and camping trip, and then went on to solve a documentation build issue that was plaguing me and evading my understanding. In fact, the frustration with the build issue was what caused me to give up and go looking at Tahoe camping sites to begin with.

Also, if I may mention, this trip turned out to be the most awesome trip ever, spurring a consistent interest in camping for the coming 1.5 years.

c. Doing the dishes

I find that if you gave me a sinkful of dishes to wash (yes, I wash my own dishes and try not to use the dishwasher often), I do it faster and better when I am cooking something else as well as thinking about an RSAnimate presentation I just saw. Or when I am making my morning coffee, I may be half asleep but I finish off my dishes, without a thought – rather than at a designated time assigned for the dishwashing activity.

I realize that this is nothing but mind-trickery and personal mental makeup engineering. The things I don’t enjoy, I don’t do well. But if I don’t have to think about what I am doing, I can do it with no pains at all.

At least on two occasions, and maybe more, I have come back home to a bewildered better half when I said “That was a f^&*ing short walk man.” (or it’s equivalent). I also sometimes surprise myself when I think “Maybe I should have walked a longer circuit.” With this simple trickery, I have solved my problem of desiring instant gratification. I don’t have to wait for the endorphins to rain down on me.

I guess this could be viewed in some universes as not so efficient – in that it offsets the timing on things by a bit – as in the case of dishes. Or that it is a form of escapism. But as long as it works, man! I am cool with it.

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2 thoughts on “The principle of slanted productivity

  1. Refreshing read! Was having a zombie morning until I read the post.
    Have tried an audiobook only once, and was a wrong choice methinks: The Road by McCarthy. Keep us updated on the audiobook experience.

    • Totally – will do. I find that I learn better while walking – I need something that keeps my mind keeping track of a thread or building an informational hierarchy. I am not sure how I would feel about novels. Listening to George Carlin in the car now. Unfortunately, not one of his best works (Napalm and Silly Putty something). But it’s much better than repeated music 🙂 Especially on long drives. Like Deepak Chopra on Ayurveda was awesome.

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