Do you ever feel like you’re living in auto-pilot mode, where every week and every day seems to be the same? Well, I was, and I wanted to do something about it.
About 4 months ago I decided I wanted to try doing at least one different thing every week. It could either be something I’ve never done, or something that has been a while since last time I’ve done it. It doesn’t have to be something huge, such as “visit the pyramids in Egypt” (even though that’d be awesome!); it just has to be something different than the normal.
In order to track that, I’ve created a simple note in Evernote titled “One thing different every week”. At the top of that note a keep track of things I may try at some point, and at the bottom I keep a log of the things I tried, formatted as “Week of Month day, year: brief description”. This log is extremely important, as it allows me to go back and realize that I did do interesting, out of the norm, things.
Here’s a partial list of some of the things I tried/did in the last few months:
- Go a whole week without drinking any coke (or soda of any kind). Not only did I manage to do that, but I went full 10 days with it. I didn’t think that was possible. 🙂
- Gave somebody a nice gift that she was wanting for some time, but I did it at a regular day (not birthday, xmas, or anything like that). You see, presents given on those dates aren’t really a “surprise”, as the person normally expects something. That’s boring.
- Bought me a nice new acoustic guitar.
- Went bowling, after several months since last time.
- Started doing some web developers after several years, first with ASP.NET MVC, and then Ruby on Rails.
- Took a few days off and went on a trip with the family.
See, it doesn’t have to be a life-changing experience; anything out of the ordinary boredom should do. I’m also trying out small things that push me a little (or sometimes a lot) out of my comfort zone. For instance, this week I’m going to try to wake up every day at 5am to study something (I *hate* waking up early, and for me waking up around 7:45am is already bad enough). Who knows, maybe waking up that early to study won’t work out well for me; if that’s the case, maybe I should try waking up at that same time, but doing something else, like going inline skating around the neighborhood, or working on my music, etc.
Also, another thing I do is to try out some soft ware or site I haven’t used before, like a different browser, or a tool that’s a competitor to another tool I use, so I can make an educated decision on sticking with the tool I was using, or switching to the other one.
Need some more ideas? Here you go: have you ever tried inline skating (rollerblading)? Give that a shot; you might like it. Did you use to skateboard when you were younger? Well, why not try that again? You may not be able to do the same tricks, but it’ll probably still be a lot of fun. How do I know? Well, take a guess…
If you give that a shot, let me know whether it worked for you, and if you feel like sharing, let me know what kind of things you’ve tried out.
#1 by JF on April 6, 2011 - 9:51 am
Good idea, Claudio … that’s more or less how I got a law degree 20 years ago … one day I decided I needed to do something new that I had wanted to do … so I did it …. over several years of course …
Maybe I’ll try that No Diet Coke For A Week thing …. already thought about that get up early and study thing but then I’d have to be in bed too early …. can’t get more than 24 hours into the day
#2 by claudiolassala on April 6, 2011 - 10:48 am
You know, the waking up early has been working out for me. When I started, I went through 12 days straight waking up at 5am, including the weekend. It was kind of hard at first; I’d feel really sleepy a few days in the afternoon, and had to take a nap around 7pm. Over the last week or two it has gotten better, though: some days I need to go to bed around 10 or 11pm, which is earlier than I normally would, but I’m not feeling these sleepy urges during the day, and I’m really enjoying that period between 5 and 7:30am, since it’s my focused time for learning new stuff.
#3 by JF on April 6, 2011 - 4:52 pm
Maybe I should ask the bottom line question: how much sleep do you get per day? I gotta get at least 6-7 hours …. and I’m starting to believe the folks who say you’re really better off if you get a full 8 hours
I think all of this is a little easier if you watch what you eat too … some food has a a way of using up energy as your body works to digest it
Anyway, it’s nice that you’ve got that “extra” time carved out for picking up new things; I have a friend who did that very successfully in college and became a “zen master” of a couple of esoteric topics in experimental psychology
it helps if you can’t wait to get to the material you’re studying too!
#4 by claudiolassala on April 7, 2011 - 7:41 am
I get anywhere between 4 and 8 hours of sleep. Sometimes I take a 40-minute nap around 6pm in order to recharge. Usually there’s a day in the weekend that I get about 9 hours of sleep, and maybe a little nap during the day, but it depends on whether I feel sleepy or not.
Food (or “not feeling hungry”) is something that I noticed has been helping. I usually don’t eat immediately after waking up. In the first few days of waking up at 5am I’ve noticed that around 10am I’d be starving, and then I couldn’t focus on anything. I then started to eat a thing or two between 5 and 7 (a fruit, some juice, some cereal…), as well as eating some cereal bars or something else during the day. That has helped a lot!
And yeah, I wouldn’t put the effort into trying out such harsh changes (at least as far as my normal routine goes) unless I wasn’t looking forward to do whatever it is I’m doing that morning. That sweet spot between 5 and 7:30am has been the most fun part of my days. I’ve been learning a lot!