A Partially Quantified Life: (Hawthorne) Effecting Myself

 

The journey of self-improvement leads me to this, a task is given then expanded, accountability beyond refutability, what I have begun to do is track, and quantify as many moments of my life as possible.

In the 20th century, with psychology in its infancy so much wanted to be learned about the world and the workforce. Factories and manual labor were at an all-time high and factory owners and managers wanted to boost the efficiency of their workers to maximize the bottom line. Thus began a series of studies to monitor and record how much time it took for workers to complete certain tasks in telephone equipment production facilities. A strange thing occurred though, as the workers were being recorded by these new researchers their productivity went up. Initially thought to be the result of changes in the lighting conditions but when the researchers left so did this new boost in productivity. By simply recording what the workers were doing they become more productive. This was phenomenon was eventually named the Hawthorne Effect.

XXX years late I found myself speaking with my mentor about productivity. The conversation started as he wanted me to start tracking how much time a week I spend working on research as a mechanism to ramp up the productivity in the lab. Now through my struggles as of late it donned on me that I could even take this a step further.  I could track my whole life and how I spend my time to see where my inefficiencies are and why it seems that I can spend hours at work but never get done as much as I would like. Where were these distractions coming from, what was keeping me from fulfilling my purpose? Was I really doing as much as I thought I was doing in the first place?

Information is my tool, my mechanism for work and play but without data, I have no place to start and nothing to learn. I think we all feel that way, we seek out patterns in ourselves and others to understand our world and figure out what makes us happy (or at least figure out what keeps us from hurting). It’s in the investigation of those patterns that we come to a certain truth of which way to live optimally.  I’ve heard about life tracking before but never took the step to actually step into the void and allow myself to see the potentially uncomfortable truth about my life. I’ve been told doing this is akin to eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that I will become aware myself and the unsettling prospect of hours of my life I’ve been wasting. Of course, that is a bit hyperbolic but imagine the insight about these ugly moments of our lives we spend letting us by, making ourselves accountable to them. Those moments we spend scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter knowing full well that we shouldn’t be. Taking all those moments we take to watch, read, work, and play and putting them on a calendar for everyone to see.

These might be extreme measures in some regard as it requires a lot of extra effort to continue to plug away the activities in my life as they are happening but for the potential results I can put up with the extra unease and effort. My hope is that I can be both the researcher and worker in this situation, watching over myself so that I too can increase my productivity. See where I have time and where I don’t.  It will be a learning process but it’s the step I need to take to understand where I can be better. It’s another gaze into the mirror but one I hope will do me some good.

In A Search For Optimal.

 

 

I keep searching for this imaginary space where all work will get done, and distraction won’t follow. I look for this place, but as most fantasy, it lives in my mind away from any tangible space or time to fall back on. Knowing it’s ephemeral nature doesn’t prevent me from superstitiously try to align the stars to make miracles happen and work to get done. The thing about miracles is that most of the time, they require a lot of work and dedication for them to happen. Most of the time they don’t wait for the opportune moment, we work, and then they happen. The problem is, I waiting for a miracle to work.

It’s not a lack of tools or instruments. I have all the technology I need to run an army, truth be told, even if given the network of people I still wouldn’t get work done as I would like.  There is something to it, a piece I am missing, or at least that’s what I tell myself to keep validating the distractions I experience.  There is a simplicity to staying on task, a quiet I can’t seem to find. As I ease myself into doing one thing, a myriad of different tasks pop into my mind like a sea of red notifications on my phone.

It’s just to easy to avoid or be distracted. Too easy to take myself away from what I am doing because what I am doing is hard and distraction is easy. It’s easy to just pick up my phone an run away to some far off place where there is a lot less work and a lot fewer things to worry about.

It might be a crisis on decision, the ambiguity of what I should accomplish first as the tidal wave of ToDo’s crash down over my head and wash over me like hail on a cold winter’s day. It’s this threat of indecisions that drives the desire not to do anything at all. To continue to meander about, unable to accomplish the things I want to accomplish because I don’t have a plan or a means to understand the problem to begin with.

I need those quiet spaces for my mind to process all of which is going on. Problem being is that my mind continues to wander endlessly, intent on capturing all it can and never let it go. Like a net full of water and fish, one unable to distinguish between the two.

I know these are small problems in the grand scheme of things, but it plagues me because my body and mind are not working in the way I would like, disregarding my needs to favor of what is easy. It’s back to basics. Do the simple thing and maintain it. Cut down my problem into manageable bites.  I know how to recover from this, it’s just that it’s taken so long to realize it has been happening in the first place.

Progress sometimes is two steps forward and one step back. As long as I keep moving forward everything should turn out okay in the end.

 

My Ugly and Beautiful Daughter

mononoke

Princess Mononoke – Hayao Miyazaki

I have these moments, these wonderfully terrible and beautiful moments being crushed by the humility of my weaknesses. It’s when I am tired that it becomes more apparent, when everything taught simply refuses to be retained. These fantastically tragic thoughts lead to one amazingly cataclysmic conclusion, one I come to often. I am simply human.

I’ve talked about this before, this empowerment of being human. It’s the knowledge of the human legacy that gives us strength. We stand on the shoulders of giants but we ourselves all have the makings of a human colossus. This time though, I can see the amazingness of those around me, feeling the strain of their strength against my inability and weakness. It’s bittersweet but motivating as part of me needs to do tough things, things no one thinks possible, all so I know anyone can. I’m not special in design or function. I am a bit strange in operation, but outside of my experiences, I really am like anyone else.  That’s why the power I give in the words of advice is not talking in any way to distance myself or make it seems that I stand above. No, it’s the simple fact that I want people realize too that this idiotic smart person managed to stumble his way through life and found an answer on the other side. An answer which given may at the allow you to struggle much less than I have.

It’s in this constant contradiction of wanting to both eviscerate myself and all that I am and desiring unrefutable immortality that life’s absurdity and our place within it become perfectly crystal clear. The looking for purpose but living in an uncaring universe, divining of our own lives but being tied inexplicably to the forces beyond our control. The culmination of all things and thoughts up to this point have happened before and are purely original. When accepting these things that I find peace within our humanity. The struggle of those who are much greater than I could ever be fighting against this constant onslaught of unknown chaos, edging out a sense of peace and order in this crazy world we live. It’s these unceremonious baby steps that allow us to make large leaps. These conversations that only a few experience that send waves through history. It’s the quiet moments that pass by that resonate within our soul, allowing for the cacophony of spirit to arise.

It’s the existence of the duality of man, the ability to be capable of all things that drives me. We are peace and destruction. We are savior and sinner. Within all of us lies that history of all things and a blank slate to begin anew.  We can be anything, darkness, and light. It’s then our choice as to which side of the coin, which hand to extend. Our lives are long, and millions of choices are made, each one with the opportunity for any answer. We are all human, and there is nothing simple about it, but there can be simplicity within it. This brings me peace as it means all of us are capable of anything and nothing at all.

Home (Bitter)Sweet Home

3 weeks, I was given 3 weeks to make good all on all the things I left behind. So for those few precious weeks, I haven’t stopped, not even for a moment, trying to jam in all that I can so that by the time I return home to DC, I feel full enough to make it those next several months without all their presence. From the moment I touched down, I have kept moving, to the point of tire, to the point that my eyes burn and my head’s gone fuzzy, sprinting, trying reach, touch, and hold onto anything and everything I have so longingly missed in my days across this vast land. It’s my days, counting them down like the New Years’ clock, moving desperately to try to hold off that zero-hour tic before the clock resets and, I start again.

I only have a limited time left here, cobbling together all that I can do, filling days with people, and unfortunately not a lot of work. Each day moving so quickly that it feels as if days are racing to the end along with me. A feeling emerged that this trip is both too long and too short.  That I am always counting down the moments, knowing that there is not enough time to settle myself, especially with no room to return to or a familiar place to lay my head. It’s been trying, both emotionally and physically, though I hope to find solace and closure within it. Ending the strife and getting the answers regardless of how hard it might be to hear them.

All in all, I am happy to be home but I just never realized how hard it could be to return. I’m battling time and emotions, but it’s a learning process, doing something that I have never done before. Never time will be easier as progress is made, and routine is established.

Soon I will go back to my home in DC. Reiterating that I have no problems with where I live now, in some ways I rather do like the space. It’s been hard, though, transition, as leaving the familiar, is no easy task.  Even then, I recognize that part of me was left here, under the grey and clouded sky of Los Angeles, a part left unresolved and wanting.  That’s what I am here to clear up so that when I go back I feel like it will be different, easier. The space will be more familiar as more who I am transitions with me. I am not starting from scratch anymore, I have friends and spaces I know to belong. More of me will go, and less will stay, but that’s life, and it keeps moving along with me.

For now, I will keep racing the clock, filling my time and making the most of the moments I have while I’m here no matter how hard they may become.

Happy New Year.