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How you do anything is how you will do everything.
Little things matter and compromising on some of the things you do will lead over time to lower and lower quality in everything you do.
everything moves so fast and you feel bombarded by information
before any one task is finished three more “important” or “urgent” tasks pop up
you feel overwhelmed by… well, by life
on average your mind is lost in thought half of the time, thinking about what you could do, if you could just get to it
stop. mute your phone. close your email client. close twitter and facebook, it just doesn’t matter
take 5 minutes off and have a walk
write the things that you need to get done and once you wrote something down, let it go. stop thinking about it
take one thing at a time. give it your full attention. try it for 20 minutes
be mindful. wholly commit. you’ll be amazed
slower is actually faster. every time
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit
There’s a quote I like from the movie Cowboys & Aliens. It’s about divine presence and intervention:
Well, surely you don’t expect the lord to do everything for you. … You gotta earn his presence. And then you gotta recognize it. And then you have to act on it.
It’s the same with experience, First you have to earn it, then you have to recognize it and then you have to act on it.
Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.
-Hunter S. Thompson
Three unfinished high impact ideas are nothing compared to a perfectly executed mediocre idea.
“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”
- Oscar Wilde
“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”
- Aldous Huxley
You gain experience through failure, strengthen it through practice.
Experimentation is the least arrogant method of gaining knowledge. The experimenter humbly asks a question of nature.
- Isaac Asimov
Next time you think about loosing one more minute trying to re-create in your mind or asking questions about something that only takes 30 seconds to try…don’t. Just try it. See if it works. I’m sure it will.
I really need to be able to write in multiple languages, using multiple keyboard layouts and I managed to oversee this aspect while migrating to my new system… well, it’s time to fix it.
There are dozens of definitions of mindfulness out there. This is mine.
Recently, after talking with some friends and colleagues about stress, stressful situations and temper it came to my attention that I am less stressed and that I seem to be calmer… less hot-headed than let’s say… three years ago.
This made me both happy and sad.
Happy because I thought it was a compliment. Sad because if other people feel a great difference between now and three years ago… well, I must have been a real pain back then.
It’s one thing to think that you are calmer and that you don’t get quickly irritated anymore and that it’s probably because you are getting tired and older… it’s another thing to have different people saying it.
So I tried to analyze my behavior and to isolate the things that I do differently and the biggest difference that I came up with and the only one that can have this kind of impact is the fact that I am more mindful… more in the now and in tomorrow than in the past or in any alternate now.
Can’t really explain it the way that it deserves… let me elaborate:
I enjoy the work that I do and I give it my full attention. Any kind of work that I do. It really doesn’t matter.
A couple of years ago if I got handed some crappy task I would’ve started it and I’d have gotten really angry and stressed. I even remember thinking things like “if only I didn’t have this thing to do I’d be able to work some magic on that other thing”.
I was trapped in “what if I could have done something else” land. Like somebody was keeping me from being happy. This made me mad… really mad.
I don’t know when I stopped. I just don’t do this anymore.
Right now when I work I take things as they are. One by one. Start something, work on it, get it reviewed, work on it some more, finish it, celebrate.
It doesn’t matter what it is… because it needs to get done, and somebody has to do it. I just happen to be that somebody. And because it’s me, it has to be done to my level of quality. If I have to get some shitty task done… I’m going to make it the best shitty job that I can possibly do :)
Do the absolute best that I can do in the time that I have. When it is finished… celebrate.
I think I developed this internal way of thinking after my son was born… I didn’t really have a choice. Either be mad about what you are not getting done while playing with the child or just play with the child and give up whatever non-important things that you wanted to do “instead”.
I enjoy mindless chores. Like house work – cleaning, washing dishes, cooking, packing things, ironing… this kind of mindless things.
I just love to wash dishes. It completely wipes my mind. It is my meditation.
Our modern jobs are intense, mind-wrecking and stressful. Don’t get me wrong now. I love my job… but that doesn’t make it perfect.
There’s too much to do, too little time, too many people that you have to communicate with, too many constraints, too little quality in the work that gets done… and that just piles up.
For me, washing a handful of dishes or cooking something is nirvana. The funny thing… while I do it I can hear myself think “scrub scrub scrub, there’s a spot I missed, scrub scrub scrub”. nirvana…
I have more patience… not everything has to be done right now. Each thing has it’s own place in the grand plan.
I take everything little by little… so that I constantly advance and feel the progress. I use pomodoro techniques combined with hourly notifications (Mindful clock) – so that I feel the passage of time and my progress – this is satisfying.
I keep daily lists with things that I’m currently working on and that need to get done. These are actual lists, on actual paper. I underline something and start working on it. When it’s done I scratch it off the list <- this is really important… it’s closure.
I do it even if tomorrow I’m going to get some feedback and I’ll need to work on it some more .
I try to get things right instead of just getting them done. This way I am proud of what I do and I feel fulfilled.
To conclude, after my little introspection, it seems that I am calmer and less hot-headed because I have learned (somehow) to focus more on the present.
Focusing on what I am currently doing and how I am doing it, rather than being judgmental and thinking about what other things I could be doing and how much better that would be.
Because everything changed little by little I couldn’t actually sense it directly… like the frogs boiling to death in the kettle (if you know the story) – I had to find out from others.
Retrospectively, I was acting like an idiot.
Yes, a long and boring post indeed, but I can assure you… I enjoyed writing it.
TODO: review this. add links to other articles. spell-check. tag it
There’s an ancient Vedic quote that I like:
He who strives, having commenced anything, till it is completed, who never wastes his time, and who has his soul under control, is regarded wise.
There is much truth and wisdom in these ancient words and I try to live up to them as much as I can by finishing the things that I start to the standard level of quality that I define.
When I have a shortage of time available I try to limit the scope of work, building or creating less but respecting my overall level of quality.
Building smaller while maintaining a high level of quality allows me to deliver in time and it gives me a foothold – allowing me to do two things:
- respect and uphold my standards – “no crap, attention to details and looks”;
- give a clear statement – “This is the level of quality that can be produced. The time that was available only allowed me to produce this volume of stuff at this level of quality. You can get more of this stuff at this level of quality if you give me more time”.
Rather than delivering 200 pages of crap I prefer 40 pages of quality – take it or leave it. It’s about getting it right.
What does this have to do with determination, dedication and detail?
I all depends on your standard. If your standard of quality includes all the things that matter:
- It does what it should – it contains everything that is needed;
- It looks like it should – standardized, beautiful;
- If feels like it should – it’s usable, if it’s a document it uses the correct language and tone;
- It was completed in the time that was available – delivered on time, even with some time left for feedback;
- It is finished – it is gift-wrapped, end-to-end, with no missing parts;
Then well, it has just about everything to do with determination, dedication and detail.