Benny's Adventures

How to Lead a Productive Life: Relax!

There are two articles I’ve read recently that lead me to make this claim. I’ll also define it more clearly. First, here are the articles:

“Sleeping on a problem” may be the best way to solve it

This article reports on a study that indicates that unconscious thoughts can produce better decision than conscious or immediate thought.

Tough Choices: How Making Decisions Tires Your Brain

This article basically describes the brain as a muscle that becomes tired even when doing seemingly simple things like deciding what to eat for breakfast.

Let’s make it clear now that I don’t mean slacking off is the way to succeed in life. When you have a problem set you have to do it’s clearly not in your best interest to decide to sleep rather than work on it, or so I hope. The first article comes into play if you are stuck on a particular problem on the problem set that you would like insight on AND you have time to think about it. (This is reason to start your work earlier than the night before it’s due!) Common sense always applies.

What I am recommending is being conscious of your brain’s energy level and how your choices will affect it. In my life this issue came up when I overloaded my class schedule and took on more responsibilities with the organizations I’m involved with. This wore me down mentally and physically. Ignoring the physical consequences (I was very sick most of the time), I still remember clinging on to the hope that the next semester would be better and when registration time for classes came around I made the choice to overload again.

It’s tough to say why exactly I made the choice but it did not lead to good things. I think what happened is something like this:

“Why is this so hard?”

“I SHOULD be able to do this.”

“Well I know I could do it so I’ll just minimize damage now and do it next semester.”

“I’ve GOT to pull it off! I KNOW I can do it!”

With the experience I have now I realize it was not the best course of thought. I’ve noticed myself thinking similarly on smaller scales and that’s why I believe I kept my stubborn streak going due to a lack of decision-making ability.

On the other hand I’ve been able to keep up with my assignments better and generally stay on top of things this semester when my life has not been infinitely busy and I have maintained my energy level. It’s getting tough now as the semester comes to a close and my energy levels drop.

With this information in mind I’m planning on adjusting my mindset to take that into account and soar rather than crash this year, making sure to keep up good habits, and avoiding getting off track. And perhaps these thoughts will help you work better as well!

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14 November 2010 Posted by | Life, productivity, Science | , , , , , | Leave a comment

in Life: Things to Do on Sleepless Nights

Two days ago I was unable to sleep until 7AM. Yesterday I managed to get to bed at 11PM but woke up around 3AM. My sleep cycle is a mess but I’m doing everything I can to rectify it. in the meantime I’ve decided that if I’m going to be up unable to sleep anyway, I may as well make the time useful rather than lay in bed trying futilely trying to sleep or playing games.

On Saturday night (or Sunday morning, if you prefer) I researched the fluid mechanics of draft tubes and as a result I now know how draft tubes work. Early this morning I started to solve systems using Lagrangian mechanics so that I can begin to understand the theory behind the research project I’m working on. In both cases these are things I’ve wanted to do. Instead of taking time when I am sleepless to goof off, I’ve managed to turn sleepless nights into something a bit more productive. If you have a To-Do list, simply follow that and you’ll be immensely productive.

The inevitable exhaustion at random points during the day is troubling but since I had been productive instead of lazy while I was unfortunately awake, I had the luxury to rest during the day.

I didn’t sleep however! I’m going to sleep now and hopefully not wake up until later in the morning tomorrow and have a normal day tomorrow.

Let’s hope it works!!

12 July 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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