I’ve been feeling much more positive about life recently, though there’s still not so good days. I don’t know what to put it down to, but here’s a few things that help.
You Feel Like Shit
You Feel Like Shit is interactive flowchart that helps with self-care. Starting with food, water, medication and sleep needs it spurs self-care and problem solving around the difficulties in life.
The Pomodoro Technique
Is a productivity technique where you work for a specified period of time (personally from 15 – 25 minutes) then rest for a short period (I use 5 minute breaks) then repeat. After (say) 4 cycles you take a longer break (15 minutes in my case).
I like this way of breaking up time, and the reliance on the clock means I keep working until the break – which can mean pushing through lulls in attention. There are many apps that automate this process, the one I use is Productivity Challenge Timer on Android (Free with paid Pro upgrade).
Studying in Maths and Science
This helpful book has good advice for studying even beyond STEM subjects.
- The brain can be thought of as having two thinking modes: focused and diffuse. The focused mode involves linear thought and is necessary for learning facts and ideas. The diffuse mode is non-linear and creative and integrative. The diffuse mode can use the knowledge from the focused mode to creatively solve problems. Both modes are necessary, and taking breaks from focused thinking can reward with creative solutions from the diffuse mode.
- Write a to-do list for tomorrow and include a knock-off time. To-do lists are so simple and can simply be a text file on the desktop of your computer. The satisfaction in crossing off an item on a todo list is real. Including a knock-off time builds in rewards and stops fatigue.
- Recall don’t reread. Rereading a textbook chapter might seem like a good way of studying, but it’s better to also try and recall what you just read after reading it. That is to try and reconstruct the chapter by yourself.
I aim for 5 minutes a day, but am happy if I follow Susan Blackmore’s rule of sitting for any period of time: 3 breaths to 30 minutes. I meditate because I seek Awakening, but also to calm and focus the mind, to be aware of my body and surroundings, to process stress and trauma and to listen more deeply.
I have had a shift of perspective to the internet. As a tool for research it is simply unparalleled. YouTube is a big place, one that will teach you how to use a fire-steel, loosen a drill with an automatic chuck, and pollinate vanilla beans by hand. Being on social-media can be tiring and I find myself interacting with people to a smaller amount than I would like, but realising that one is a brand and one can take charge of the perception of that brand may help you.
It’s early days yet, but I’ve begun a process of self-branding. This ranges from simple things like standardising my avatar across social media, to considering my Unique Selling Point, the (big) idea that sets my brand apart. Like it or not we are either letting others brand us, or we’re branding ourselves.
2016 was the year I returned to study, undertaking a rather expensive Graduate Certificate in Creative Industries. There is something very satisfying about formal study, beyond having access to a University Library and its attendant online materials. Seemingly everything can be examined and analysed. It may not be going to university or trade school but learning (as I did) music production on Coursera. Another highlight of the year was playing rosalind.info and learning a bit of python to solve bioinformatics problems.
Early days again with this one, and complicated by the medication I take but I’m trying to have better sleep hygiene. Limiting electronics use in bed, going to bed and waking up earlier, having a bed time, exercising more and restricting afternoon caffeine use.
Self-determination Theory (SDT)
A happy coincidence saw a pamphlet on self-determination cross my path. SDT refers to different things in different contexts but I refer to it in relation to mental illness. To me SDT appears to be about viewing oneself as a whole person rather than an illness or negative aspect, setting and striving for goals, and building a support network to achieve those goals. Find out more here.
How to Steal Like an Artist
A good read and very short.
Separating the creative process into analogue and digital components. Create using analogue, arrange and edit using digital. Be more hands on.
Bushcraft and Survival
I’ve spent this year slowly building a 72hour survival bag in case of Shit Hitting The Fan. The final test of the bag is to take it camping, which I plan to do at the end of next holidays. As part of training I’ve been hiking up a nearby hill and back most days. Doing this made me realise that the best form of exercise is something you enjoy doing.
This is me finally using this blog as something other than a storage place for recipes though it will probably serve that function too.