Routines and Tools, part 2

I mentioned on my post yesterday that I have to be flexible with my routines because of a fluctuating work schedule. Some days, when I have to walk to work, I do not have my morning walk at the park, because the walk to work is about 33% longer plus 20 lbs on my back, and is more than enough for a workout. I try to get to work at least 1 hour before clock in so I can recoup and read a bit. If a coworker or friend brings me to work, depending on my schedule, once I get there I try to begin writing. (Sometimes I am at work 4 hours early, plenty of time for writing and reading.) I write on My iPad using Textilus Pro, while listening to Focus@Will, an ambient music concentration app that also uses binaural entrainment. This seems to work well, and I breeze right along with my writing.

In November I finished reading a book, Organize Tomorrow Today, by Dr. Jason Selk, Tom Bartow, and Matthew Rudy. Within they give eight practices to help your productivity performance. They suggest to NOT try all these practices at once, but to select one, and to develop it as habit over a period of 3 months, at a 90% success rate. (81+ days at a solid performance.) Then move on to another practice, while maintaining the first, and so on. I chose the first practice, Organize Tomorrow Today, (yes, the name of the book.) On any given day, you choose the Three Most Important Tasks that you need to do to move forward with your chosen goals. These can be daily habits/practices you are developing, or smaller tasks that build your goals. One of these Three Most Important Tasks must be a MUST DO task. You MUST DO it, period. It needs to be something that really pushes you forward. (In fact, the second practice of this book is called Choose Wisely, which describes the importance and how tos of choosing this task.) You also try to complete making this list by noon. The catch is, these are Tomorrow’s tasks. You get a head start selecting them, and you sleep on them. This allows your subconscious mind to begin working on solutions while you are not even focusing on them directly, including while you sleep. You also schedule them for the earlier hours of the next day, if possible, because your energy levels and willpower reserves are at their highest, and the day’s urgent interruptions haven’t caught up to you just yet.

I’ve tried this now for about three weeks, and it seems to help considerably. I use an iOS app called 2Days, which allows me to organize tasks for today, tomorrow, and for later. I can assign a specific date and time to the tasks, and also schedule it to repeat at daily, weekly, monthly, or even random intervals according to my needs. I mainly use this for personal tasks. My work tasks are pretty straightforward and do not change much, although one must occasionally dodge monkey wrenches and curveballs due to poor planning on other folks parts. Maybe they need to read some of this stuff, hmmmmmm?

I’m always reading more than one book. Right now I’m reading The Charisma Myth, by Olivia Fox Cabane. I try to read at least one chapter every day. I’m a fairly slow reader, which astonishes people, considering how many books I own. But I like to digest books slowly as I read them, contemplating applications. I also mainly read non-fiction. I use Kindle for iPad, so as to not lug around physical bookshelves around with me.

On my two 15 (give or take) minute breaks I read, write, or check social media and email. On lunch I do eat, and try to read. Some evenings I have to wait for a ride, so that’s more time to read.

Well, there you have it, my day in a nutshell. Boring, but on the track to be much more productive in my personal life. Tomorrow I will write out my evening routine. Bedtime determines the success of the next day, so it deserves full attention as well.



Certainly Uncertain

There is one thing we can be absolutely certain of — that we will have times of uncertainty.

I like to think of myself as a person of faith. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for 24 years this month. I can say that I have had seasons of listlessness, frustrations, and yes, doubts. Not in the overall premise of the tenants of the faith, but more so in its practices, platitudes, and politics. But I would be amiss if I did not also confess that sometimes when I am laying in bed at night, that an alien though enters my mind that whispers, “Is this for real?” Maybe not those exact words, they might be much lengthier. Or it might not be words, it’s more like feelings, or just the unformed words of an idea. To have these thoughts, in whatever manifestation, are quite unsettling.

Our brains hate uncertainty. The unknown triggers a threat response in us, causing fight or flight instincts. Meaning that in order to avoid uncertainty, we sometimes shut down our more cognitive functions and use baser elements of our repertoire of responses. As a result, faith traditions have sometimes, well, more than sometimes, shamed the premise of doubt when it rears it’s “ugly” head. If you have doubt then you are not a true believer. Or, as an alternative, for the gatekeepers and vanguards of the faith who secretly have doubts, they inverse the symptom. They seek out those who believe differently. And if you believe differently, then YOU are uncertain, there is conflict. You are painted a certain color or labeled in hushed tones as a heretic. Conflict abounds when uncertainty surfaces.

Maybe we should fully embrace uncertainty and doubts, not only in faith traditions, but also in society as a whole. The whole idea of exploration and living on the frontier is bathed in the idea of uncertainty. I, for one, do not believe science and faith have to conflict. (I am not speaking about creation science, which, in my opinion, bastardizes both faith tradition and science.) Science is all about embracing the unknown, and the curiosity that embraces it. Faith, too, can be about embracing the unknown, and simultaneously embracing faith and doubt while penetrating the cloud of uncertainty. This is when these faith traditions evolve and mature. It’s reasonable to say that the faith and understanding of most modern persons who hold to religious traditions, both of conservative and progressive stripes, is considerably more evolved and educated than tribesmen who sat around the fires listening to the elders recount the oral traditions of Moses, Abraham or other religious patriarchs.

I think a big fear that we have about doubt and uncertainty is that we think if one acknowledges it, then one thinks their faith will be shattered or rendered nonexistent. But I think that is an unwarranted fear if an individual has the courage to explore the doubt from different angles. To be curious about its origin or its source of influence. To determine what questions are arising and trying to explore them in their proper contexts. A question begins with a quest, and a quest involves exploration.

Certainty seems to be a bit more unstable than uncertainty. At one time inhabitants of this globe were certain it was flat. To believe otherwise invited shame, scorn, accusation, and sometimes, death. So much for stability. And the “faith” that sometimes influenced these responses, although imperfect in its practice, did over time survive and transform into something much more viable due to its adherents who dared to questione it. The doubts and uncertainties of those brave enough to explore the other angles led the world and the church and other faith traditions into a new era. And I believe we are all the better for it.