Some Things You Just Can’t Dodge

We should spend more time on thinking how we spend our time. I’ve luckily had the opportunity to do so in the last months. A post about thinking methods and aching backs.

I really do not have to worry about many things except for my thesis right now (suspicious, how I’ve started to engage with my blog at the same time that I’m obliged to write something else). That’s why I’ve had the time to do some research on how to be more productive since I’ve always felt that I waste much more time than necessary. It’s really not the first time that I’ve read up on how to be more efficient, but usually when I do that it’s the night before an exam and my search bar ends up looking something like ‘study 8 hours in 4 hours’ or ‘how much coffee to drink before exam after studying all night’. As you may imagine or have experienced yourself, the search results are a loss of time more than anything else.

Now that I’m free from exam pressure, I’ve rediscovered this Youtuber called Ali Abdaal who’s a doctor and blogger and business owner who seemingly has more hours per day than I do (with 1.46 million subscribers on YouTube, if you’ve ever searched for videos on productivity, you’ll probably know him). If you’re like me, and usually only crave to be productive merely hours before an exam, you’ve seen that his videos are longer than 30 seconds, which is about the amount of time that one can afford to lose during study nights, and therefore haven’t really give him a chance. But I think you should. Here’s why:

Ali Abdaal reads and assesses books and studies about how to work and live more effectively, how to lose less time with the things you may not enjoy as much so that you can spend that gained time on whatever you do enjoy. And isn’t that something people strive for? The great thing about his channel is the fact that while his titles are certainly click-baity (E.g.: ‘How Writing Online made me a Millionaire’), raising people’s hope and leading to lots of viewers, the videos are actually helpful. (Disclaimer: I watched this video last week and I am not a millionaire yet, so you may want to lower your hopes)

He talks about all these methods and principles that you should follow if you want to be more efficient with whatever you’re doing, all of which are great advice, but I think the most important aspect he mentions is the relevance of enjoying the tasks at hand. Whenever you do something, it should be enjoyable at least to some extent.

Of course, not everything you do is enjoyable in itself. In fact, most things probably aren’t. Even if you’re studying exactly what you always wanted to study, in the city you love most. Even if you have the job you used to dream about as a child. Even if you’re in a relationship with your all-time favourite person. Some things just aren’t fun. Writing a 3000-word essay for that one class you know won’t have any influence on your future isn’t pleasant. Preparing a project for your boss that he will present as his own is frustrating. Spending your only day off from work setting up your partner’s grandparents Wifi will not be something you look forward to first thing in the morning.

But while these activities are not inherently fun, you make them worse by hating them before doing them. You’ll probably spend more time worrying about or loathing these projects than it takes to actually complete them. Think about how many times you accomplished an annoying task just to realise that it wasn’t that bad, or hard or exhausting. (I can think of literally only one event that was even worse than I had expected – French oral examination as a senior – against hundreds of times where I seriously overestimated the agony I’d undergo.) Very often you’ll even have found that you had at least a little fun doing it.

Embracing this realisation, the fact that I probably won’t hate every second of that thing I have to do has had a serious influence the way I look at tasks. What I think is crucial to fathom is the fact that while you do not always get to choose what you do and while some projects really are annoying, the way you look at them makes all the difference. So maybe next time you have a project coming up that isn’t necessarily your favourite pastime, ask yourself if there’s any way for you to make it less tiresome. Find the one little thing that isn’t annoying about the task, and actively choose to focus on that. If that does not work and you really cannot find anything positive, it helps to take a step back to look at the bigger picture. Failing the class because you decide to write the 3000 word essay on the day of the deadline will probably lower your overall grade and your chances to get that job you want. Sending your boss a presentation with 19 spelling mistakes on 3,5 powerpoint slides will probably affect your position in the firm in a negative way. Deciding to stay in bed instead of setting up your grandparents in law’s wifi will certainly affect your partner’s mood, which might lead to you sleeping on the couch.

Some things you just can’t dodge, so you may as well make the time you have to spend on it more pleasurable, even if it’s just a tiny bit. Things aren’t usually that bad. Most of the time it’s just your mind playing tricks on you because it’s lazy. Tasks usually offer at least a tiny bit of fun, if you so choose to seek it. Concentrate on that, and you’ll get things done much quicker. And, in the exceptional case of a project that does not present any positive prospect, you can always motivate yourself by thinking about your aching back after sleeping on the couch.

Invent yourself, CK

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done” – Bruce Lee

Why I stopped blogging

We’re about to enter our second year of this global pandemic and obviously I’m considering this and the lack of input I had in the last months as I’m thinking about why I haven’t sat down to write. But I don’t think that that is the primary reason for this state of non-writing or of scribbling down notes in some obscure note on my phone that I never look at again.

I think the reason I haven’t been posting for Invent yourself is that, quite simply, my mind has tricked me into thinking that writing de facto means trying to explain something to someone, trying to impose my way of thinking on someone else. Since I neither feel like I’m in a position to impose anything on anyone, nor think that anyone should impose their perspectives regardless of their experience and age, I stopped. I didn’t want to be part of that group of people who think that their thoughts and ideas are natively superior to those of others for no justifiable reason (note that I do not think that delusion, arrogance, suppressed insecurity and all of these vices that so many people have to live with justify that feeling of superiority)

Another reason is that I have taken a liking to creating videos for Slam It Out (which if you haven’t seen them, you should check out on Instagram @slamitout) because these projects essentially come into existence through dialogues with Sam and therefore do not feel so much like I’m trying to impose myself. It also gives me some sense of security because obviously, if your team consists of 1 person (me), which has been the case for Invent yourself, you run the risk of propagating ideas that should not be propagated because they are 1) lacking value 2) plain stupid and/or wrong or 3) making you seem like you’re standing in for ideals or certain perspectives that do not actually represent your mindset. Having at least one other person working with you and sharing their distinct perspective on a certain project significantly reduces the risk of posting nonsense.

You might ask yourself why I think it’s a good idea to write a blog about why I stopped blogging, which is fair enough. (If you did not ask yourself this, don’t worry, no one’s gonna know) One reason is that I’m not self-confident enough to do Youtube videos yet and also I’m supposed to be working on my Bachelor Thesis (I’ll keep you posted) (Or maybe I won’t- I probably will if I graduate) and not having to prove everything I’m writing with some source by some scholar is very refreshing. But the main reason is that, as I’ve said before, my mind has been tricking me and it’s only now that I’ve become aware of that fact.

When I started Invent yourself – which was almost 5 years ago (alarming realisation considering that a few days ago, before I checked the date of creation, I thought it had been like 3 maximum) – the main motivation was not to prove to people how intelligent I am or to convince anyone to start thinking like me. A little part of me certainly did want to impress (because why else would I have felt the need to pay WordPress money to make my site look good and have my own domain name? I could’ve just written for myself and spend that money on essential material things like new white sneakers that look exactly like the 4 pairs of white sneakers I already own…) But I think the non-ego driven part of me initially just wanted to share my perspective and see where it goes and hopefully gain some knowledge about myself and the world by forcing me to do at least some research about the topics that interest me. Also, I was, and still am a strong believer in using writing as a structuring mechanism. Writing things down, in any way or fashion, helps me to organise thoughts and ‘calms my nerves’ just because I know it’s written down somewhere so I won’t forget about it and I will be able to deal with it at some point. I must have forgotten about this somewhere along the way, which is a shame, but no fiasco, since as it seems, it has found its way back to me. (as good things tend to do)

Now, what’s the new plan for this dusty blog?

I will try not to use it to talk about topics and themes in a way that makes it seem like I know more than others (because as we’ve established, that is not the case). I don’t really know if I did that in the past. I feel like I did but I hate re-reading stuff I’ve written, so I don’t and you’ll have to be the judge of that. Maybe this post will again be last one for many months, I certainly won’t tell you that I’ll be writing more in the future and all of that hypothetic nonsense (I’ve certainly learned from that mistake), but thank you for following me via your e-mail address anyway so the ego-part of my brain can get its boost.

Invent yourself, CK

(Is this post me re-inventing this blog? be that as it may.)