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.


More Money, More Calculations

Money becomes a huge focus when you seem to have run out of it.  It gets me thinking about the function of money in my life.  I work and I work, then I get paid a certain amount depending on what I put into it.  Now since I work hourly, my time is being bought, hour by hour.  Now that time as a quotient of my day and life is essentially putting a price on both the work that is being done and the person who is doing the work.  Once I have that I start to measure the cost of things in hours rather than dollars because it’s much easier to conceptualize.

Now, take for instance standing in line for lunch, should I go after that sandwich, that will cost me about half an hour, maybe I should pick up those chips, another fifteen minutes, drink will cost me twenty and I can make it a meal for the added cost of ten.  I wish when I came up to the counter they rang me up and said, that will about about an hour and fifteen, but thats usually what I try to do.  It makes me understand how I want to spend my time and money.  Unlimited music a month for one hour of my time, hell yeah!  A nice book, usually runs me about two, same with the interent.  My apartment costs me about 70 hours which is worth it but it does take up a lot of my time. Thats when I get to the problem at I don’t have enough hours to do the things I want to do or I might literally not have enough time.

It’s a strange exchange none the less but I find that there is a great motivation through it. I either find things that will take up less of those figurive hours that I sell or maybe I find that there is more value in the hours I have.  Our goal is to maximize our time output while minimizing the percentage of our time that every day expenses take up.  That way we can reach an equalibium where we feel comfortable with how much time we spend to fuel our lives. That way, we don’t have to worry about about the small things like how much time do I have to work to get a sandwich but think about how many hour we have to work to spend the time on memories, which ultimately are priceless.


I don’t know
I don’t know what I should do.
Ripped and torn from direction to direction
My life asunder
Tired each time I wake up
With no easing as the day presses on
So many things
It makes me feel as if everything needs to be done
But nothing really does
Just a swirling
A flowing of an ever growing
I know what I should do
I know what I actually do
And sometimes hope aligns them
Time escapes me
It hopes for me to duplicate
To be two or even three
Maybe then I can get things done
Maybe then I can I can finally catch up
That’s all I want
To finally get my head above water
And see the sky again
And breathe
Like I used to

To: The End Of The Year

I wanted to try a new mode of writing because I feel like my ability to express how I feel and my message are severely lacking. One thing I am good at is articulating how I feel in the form of a letter.

Dear 2016,

Hey, I thought I would squeeze this in right at the end of the year. We’ve known each other for a while now, and I wanted to get the chance to bridge out beyond our professional relationship before it’s too late (I am not known for my timing but bear with me).

We started off a bit sour, I had just been broken up with by 2015 and wasn’t in the place to accept new years into my life, especially after such an emotional roller coaster that the previous one was.

You took me under your wing and showed me how to pick myself up after it all. I would be more thankful, but you did kinda slap me senseless along the way. You took me back to my roots to show me all that I had and pointed out all the things I had to work on. Kept me grounded in reality, almost too much.

We had to get through loss and failure together, but somehow you just kept marching forward triumphantly.  I never understood your spirit, through all the chaos you kept moving.  I followed behind you, running to keep up, never wanting to fall behind again. 2016 you might have not been the best for me, but you did help me a great deal.

I got stronger during our time together, learned discipline and how to work hard for the things I want.  Made me understand the difference between doing and trying to do. You did make me feel uncomfortable with all the change you brought about, but you said change was inevitable and you have to learn to live with it.

I know I wasn’t the best at times, and I still have a long way to go, but through all of our time together you really wanted me to become a better person. Truth be told, I felt more human with you, more vulnerable because you don’t take my shit and you constantly ask me for more and more. I opened myself up this year to the world and people around me, because you showed me how much more I could lose if I didn’t.

It might have been wrong of me to make plans for you at the beginning, all those ideas that never panned out. You took care of me, though, created times and situations where I could genuinely laugh and smile.  Let me see my friends, made me feel like I wasn’t some broken cog in a machine. I saw that I had some purpose here and that people wanted me around. Gave me perspective, and a chance to expand my view beyond myself.

I know we didn’t agree at times, and at others, we were busy with our own goings on, but I always knew you were watching over me.
I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to say this earlier and only now that you are leaving that I have the courage to speak, Thank you 2016 for all the love, pain, and discovery we shared together.  Without you, I would still be in that hole looking up at the sky hoping to be saved instead of learning to climb out of it myself.

2016, at the end of it all with you going away we both know you weren’t the greatest thing to happen to me. You’ll go on your way knowing you made a difference, it’s up to me now to greet the new year and start working towards my future. So have a nice trip, I know we may never see each other again, but the memories we shared are irreplaceable. 2016, I love you.

Most Sincerely,

The Echos Of The Coming Cold

Cold magnifies and multiplies this world.  The small silences become eerie calms, the sound of steps ring out across the air, frozen hand and fingers grasping and rubbing for the chance of once again being warm. This is my favorite season, not because of the cold for which I despise but because of the listless echo the everything emits. An echo that reverberates and multiplies across the hearts of all those there to experience it. It is the season where everyone hurts a bit more, feels a bit more, tries a bit more, and is a bit more aware of the world around them.  It’s that cold sting that never lets us drift into our fantasies.  The chill keeps us acutely aware of the present moment, forcing us to face the feelings we have inside.

It’s in these next couple months that the world makes way for change.   It’s a time for reflection as we slowly recluse ourselves into our spaces.  It’s what we fill these spaces with that make all the difference.  Even on the coldest day, a room full of happy people can feel as warm as the hot summer sun. Though the opposite is true, even on a mild day am empty room can freeze you on the spot.  It’s these contrasts that I like.  The cold and calm paints its picture with deep tones and dark shades to illustrate the heavy feeling that the chill can bring; the warm and welcoming shows up with an abundance of color presenting the vibrancy of life in the depths of this cold.

Now the main reason I like these things is that it allows me to reflect on and enjoy the times I have. It condenses the experiences and feelings like water, making it, so it’s easier to get more out of them seemingly less time. With all the holidays, and the longer nights there is so much to be felt in these next couple months.  I just hope that this year will be a more positive one than the last. Ultimately that is up to me, and what I bring to the table.  I am open and ready to knock winter out of the park, much more prepared than I was a year ago.  So, as December arrives, I will be ushering the new year with open arms with all the new things that the world can bring, and with a reflection on how far this year had taken me. A few short months and we will be away from this echo, this cold and after all the chaos of winter comes spring.  With new life, we are able to create the world we want to see inside and out.

So let’s enjoy this cold, this winter as it comes in because it too is essential to the process we call life.

My Small Musings

The bright L.E.D. backlight of my laptop has illuminated my face for the evening. My eyes have grown accustomed to the light as the absence of the day left me with a darkened room.  The sound of my clicking keyboard is the only thing that sounds even remotely like life. I have sat, at this point, for hours. The various images and clips that I’ve pulled up on my screen have been countless, as my mind races to find some activity stimulating enough to catch my attention for more than a couple moments.  I resort to what usually find myself doing, watching top ten lists of various aspects of movies or tv shows.  Inside I know I need to do something, something to feel like the night means something, but it’s already late, and the list of tabs with video grows and keeps me in this space of indecision as my night floats on without me.

I did reach out to see if some of my friends wanted to hang out earlier, but alas no dice.  To me, it feels like one of those evenings to talk about sad things, to swap stories about scars, about failures, about lost passions and rejection.  To wallow in the center of intense emotion, finding some bonding in the darkness of the heart. A time to listen to heartwrenching songs and watch horribly sorrowful scenes of tv shows or movies. The kind of things that brings tears to the eye but happy in a way that we can be moved so much by them.

Well Alternatively, I could have gone driving around and see the night as I passed by the people out and about.  Drove through the bright neons of Hollywood, the incandescent lights of the suburbs, or found some quiet, dark road that makes me feel like the whole universe disappeared.  Doesn’t feel like one of those nights, especially with no one to share the moment.

I could start my next book, a book about the psychology of persuasion.  I’m still not over the last one, processing all the messages I got from it. Trying to institute some sort of change in accordance to its recommendations given to the main character.  I know I will get to it later this week so there is no rush.

Inside I know I have to write, I have regularly been writing to make a habit of it. Trying to make it an addiction, an obsession.  Something to keep me up at night, something I have to do or else I feel off.  It’s the romantic in me that has always wanted one of these kinds of obsessions.  So I sit here, illuminated by the L.E.D. of my laptop with the clicking of the keyboard being the only thing that sounding remotely like life as I spend time thinking about the world and writing.