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    • CommentTimeOct 20th 2010
    Tell me about the little things you've done to improve yourselves. Whether it's to make your brainmeats go faster, cleverer, creativer... uh, more creatively, or just more knowledgeable. How have you gone about it? Have you changed your body around? anywhere from better fitness to grinding, what have you intentionally done to facilitate change?

    I've been fighting myself to quit wasting my days for months if not a couple of years now. Without going into details (the details: NEET, a handy if embarrassing term), I don't need to get up in the morning and so most days go to bed around 4 or 5am (right about the time Warren is insulting Twitter by way of saying good morning) and rise around noon or one pm. I have an alarm - two actually - and often turn them off and crawl right back into bed without really waking up. Because that's my sleep pattern I can't fall asleep at a normal hour.

    It feels like such a minor change, but losing the morning heavily impacts everything else, from sending out prompt emails to recruiters to studying for my Japanese class (the only thing I can proudly point to as Improvement) to exercising to eating reasonably. How do you get little things on track? It's the little things, after all, that require the most major habitual changes.

    In other news: anyone do any translation work? How about anything related to voice overs?
  1.  (9071.2)
    I attempted to discontinue my caffeine consumption; this proved futile.

    I did manage to start taking multivitamins and I began cooking for myself. The latter saves money at the cost of time, but improves my morale immensely (there are few things as nice as eating your own home-cooked meals) and the former helps fill in the large gaps in my nutrition left by being poor and having little free time to shop.
  2.  (9071.3)
    Buy a ticking kitchen timer. Set it to 60. Work till it dings. Repeat.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeOct 20th 2010
    Walking 2.5 miles in the morning has definitely slimmed me down some.
  3.  (9071.5)
    razrangel - I've had a very similar sleep and schedule situation as you, and here's what I do: I get a page-a-day calendar and write the time I woke up on that day's page every morning. If I get up on time 10 days in a row, I give myself some small reward. 20 or 30 days in a row, a noticeably bigger reward. Every day I wake up over half an hour late, my self-inflicted punishment is no video games for that day. It felt odd at first, like treating myself like a child, but it's pretty much behavioral therapy, and is working very well. (presumably you could use any type of calendar, even an app, but the pages feel substantial to me; it helps.)

    My ideal schedule is actually not far from the one you're trying to escape. All my housemates work the late shift or are self-scheduled like me, so 11:30 is when I try to wake up to be most productive and see my friends more. My problem was that I was waking up at 4-5pm and missing out on friend time, and missing daylight during the wintertime. When I first started my sleep plan, the rewards were for waking up at 2pm, and I've knocked it back half an hour at a time over the course of almost two years.
  4.  (9071.6)
    I bought three large plastic storage tubs. When I have a week off in mid November I plan to label said three tubs as "Keep", "Maybe Keep", and "Ditch" and spend a few days filtering all my accumulated junk through them.

    Whether I will actually do this is yet to be seen, but at least I went out and bought the tubs.
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeOct 20th 2010 edited
    Being paid by the hour, I keep a timesheet in which I log the times when I'm actually working. I switch off the timesheet when I stop working. "You can't manage what you don't measure." Being paid by the hour is some incentive to accumulate the hours.

    Exercising: my mum moved her exercise bike to in front of her TV. I have a book (several books, but one at at a time) that I read for pleasure, which I only read while on the bike. I time that too (the bike has a clock and odometer): the book is an incentive or sweetener to get on, and the timer (reaching a full hour, or 10 km) is my success criterion/gate for getting off again.
  5.  (9071.8)
    I've recently convinced my body (we'll see if it sticks) that when I get up in the morning and my body's full of deep cold, the appropriate response is press-ups. I'm hoping to get warm and fit simultaneously this winter.
    • CommentAuthorjonah
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2010
    @James Puckett
    Haha. I just bought a timer for that same purpose on Monday. I haven't opened the package yet though.
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2010
    I used to have a long, lazy Sunday morning where I sat around reading the paper and listening to NPR and whatnot, then spent the rest of the day panicking because Monday was almost here and I hadn't done shit. Since the good radio was on in the morning, I terrorized myself into doing my backed-up work email and timesheets on Sunday a.m., then cooking brunk, which then led to going ahead and cleaning the kitchen since I had just dirtied it up.

    I then feel way better about wasting the hell out of the afternoon and evening, because I put in those few hours in the morning. And it has taken me until nearly the age of 40 to convince myself that 3 hours of work first thing beats a few hours of panicky procrastination.

    I went on from there to generally shift a bunch more stuff to my mornings, and now get up between 2 - 3 hours before I have to leave for work, as opposed to the 20-30 minutes I used to indulge myself in. Not waking up each morning with a pounding hangover also help here, I should add.
    • CommentAuthorTwist
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2010
    I need a timer.

    My sleep schedule fluctuates from a normal 10pm sleep - 6am wake all the way through to the same cycle yours in on. I've gotten in the habit of just working with it as it doesn't impact anything in my life right now.

    I've recently started take multi-vitamins, glucosamine and fish oil (for my wonderful early onset athritis) and probiotics which have helped my health dramatically in the past few months I've been taking them. I'm definitely seeing massive improvements in my ability to sit and focus on my work with the improvements in my health as well.

    I don't know if its a big or little change but the most important change I've made is laying down some personal boundaries with my friends. There was a bit of a blow up a few weeks ago because a few friends had been passing comment in public about me sleeping with someone else. It was a joke, but not everyone present knew that and next thing I know I'm in the middle of drama that'd make your average 16 year old happy. So yeah, boundaries are good, set in stone, told clearly to all concerned, and my ass kicking docs are awaiting the first person to step out of line.
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2010
    Translation work, you say? Yes, that's been my occupation for about 15 years now.

    Directly related to the above: Despite having the source material in PDF form or what have you, I always print it out. The stack of paper helps me track my progress, make notes, etc. I use a letter opener as a visual guide going through each page.

    Another thing I do is use a stopwatch to track the time it takes to translate each page. I don't write it down anywhere or actually use the stats for anything, but I find I focus better when on the clock, as it were. May not be the thing to do if you're stress-prone.
  6.  (9071.13)
    I screw my bus tickets up around the edges, but only a little. This way, the bus driver will often holepunch the same place more than once. Bam, free bus journey.

    I got four free journeys on my last ticket - thus saving me £9.60.
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2010
    That stopwatch / egg timer thing gets used in the pompodoro technique It's really good for writers block.
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2010
    A little change I've made of late is to get into the habit of eating breakfast. Like I say, it's a little thing, but it does help me avoid low blood sugar crankiness at mid morning, and I no longer bloat up or get drowsy after lunch.

    As for the sleep thing - I find cutting myself off from anything electrical about an hour or so before bed helps if I want to get a good night's sleep and drop off at a reasonable hour. I heard somewhere that TV, web surfing and video games are three of the worst things to indulge in right before sleeping if you want to fall asleep quickly and easily. Hope that helps.
  7.  (9071.16)
    ive never understood the whole 'i cant go to sleep at a normal hour' thing. stay up all night. unless you smoke meth or shoot red bull, this should correct it after one day.

    changes ive made in the past few years that all feel better:

    -stop drinking like a madman, moderation is key
    -smoke A cigar when the cravings hit, havent bought or smoked cigarettes in 6 months. having one thing that is craving-driven every few days instead of habitually smoking cigs just because thats what you do has given me so much more energy
    -sleep earlier, maintain a similar wake up time all week
    -eat more fruits, vegetables and (quality) dairy
    -working out. it seems like a no brainer, but getting regular exercise has helped EVERY facet of my life-energy, concentration, creativity, mood etc

    although these arent really 'life hacks' more like 'things humans are supposed to' (except the cigars, but whatever fuck off)
    • CommentAuthorTwist
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2010
    Depends. My sleep patterns are dictated by what my brain decides it wants to do. I can go three or four days without sleep if I try to force the matter, so I just work with it. If I can't sleep its usually because I'm in creative overdrive and I'll get a shitload done if I sit down and work. I don't have a day job however, and I don't have any reason to be up before midday 95% of the time so it works for me.

    I'm actually completely nocturnal if I completely leave it up to my body clock, but I like to be able to go shopping and see the sun occasionally.
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2010
    Timer is a good idea. So is incrementally revising my wake up time, though the self-imposed punishments and such run into other bad habits. When it comes down to it I want to change just about everything regarding how I live my mundane life. But that's wanting it all and wanting it all NOW. Overwhelming. So starting small, giving myself a morning. Not a lot, not rising at dawn, just getting up around 9 or 10 regularly would be good. A page a day calendar sounds smart.

    The laptop is probably an incidious factor in me staying up late. I'm easily nocturnal and frequently have insomnia so it's been easy to let it go and just hang out online until predawn. (But like @Twist said, there are things that can only be done during the day.)

    Thanks, keep noting up intentional changes!

    @Taphead what languages and in what field? Do you need a certification of some sort?
  8.  (9071.19)
    I got myself back on track after a serious depression some years ago, where I'd been insomniac for a couple of months, by starting to treat days as work days. I used a diary to schedule work, all of it self-improvement stuff, then outings to the shops and stuff like that. I found that even though I couldn't always stick to it, it was sometimes aspirational, it did give me a structure and helped get my sleep pattern back to normal. It was also the most fruitful period I've had for years - I learned HTML, Teeline, really improved on the guitar and managed to get fitter.

    Need to do something similar again, have been really burned out and scattered for months - although don't have the space due to hellishly hectic work right now... picking up some thoughts from this though!
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2010
    @razrangel - English/Finnish, technical translations. Mostly patents these days. At least here in Finland a degree is nice if you're hunting for a full-time job, but as a freelancer I've found clients don't really care as long as you get the job done. (Which is to say, I don't have a degree in the field, I've just sort of stuck at what was a summer job way back when.) Of course with certain types of official documents a certification is required, but those jobs tend to be VERY specialized.

    Oh, and I do have one cookbook on my resume. That was fun. :)

    I've also started a small-scale diet: No second helpings during meals, only cheese OR cold cuts on sandwiches, wine rather than beer when drinking. Walking. Seems to work pretty well.

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