by Pranay Parikh | Sep 21, 2020 | Efficienccy, Experience, Learning, Life Style
In elementary school, I was always picked last when it came to any sports. Football, basketball, track & field. Sometimes, I’d get picked in the middle in soccer, but part of me wonders if they just needed a goalie.
That changed a year ago when I got into spinning. Spin classes are where you are in an indoor gym and use these stationary bicycles called spin bikes. They are crafted to look and feel like professional bicycles.
The most well-known one is the peloton. Well, a long time before I had my peloton. I was going to spin classes. And I thought I was good.
I’d always be the fastest in the class. One of the few things in life I could do better than my wife. We had a friendly rivalry.
It was fun to race each other.
We went up to a few times a week. So I thought I was good. Getting stronger, faster, and able to endure more.
Then COVID happened. I, like many others, got a peloton.
Life gets interesting when you measure it
I was excited to get the peloton. Of course, I was happy to start exercising again. But the Peloton offered me something that the bikes at my spin studio didn’t: tracking metrics.
Now let’s take a quick step back to how spin studios work. You go in and there’s an instructor in the middle. There’s music and you usually try to cycle your feet to the rhythm.
The instructor will tell you to either decrease or increase the resistance. That makes it easier or harder to pedal.
I always thought I was at the upper limits of what the instructor was saying. Would always try to pedal the fastest and use the most resistance I could.
But I had no idea how I was doing. That’s where the Peloton came in. It measured how fast I pedaled and how much resistance I used.
It even had a leader board. You could see how you were doing against people that were spinning at the same time as you. You could also see the all-time leader board.
Time to eat my Humble-pie
Now I think a little competitiveness is good. As long as you’re detached from the outcome. I’m happy when my wife is better at something than me (this happens often), and it pushes me to be a bit better.
I’m always also competing versus the old me.
So what did I see when I looked at the leaderboard on the Peloton? The person who was the fastest in class in a small spin studio on a Wednesday evening in Downtown Los Angeles?
Disappointment. I was humbled.
I was nowhere near the top, let alone even the middle. I was closer to the last percentile.
The benefit of tracking your performance
Had I not started tracking my numbers I would have had no idea where I was compared to other people. Not only that, I realized that my own performance varied tremendously between sessions.
I found that I was weak on fast pedaling at low resistance. I was able to pinpoint exactly where I needed to improve. The rest of my spin game was fine and working on that specific area improved the quality of my spin session overall.
Where have you wanted to improve? Have you been keeping track of any performance measures?
Maybe you already are performing well on that aspect or that you need to work on something else. The numbers that the Peloton gave me where direct feedback. I’d be able to take a look at each session and see where I could improve.
What kind of feedback have you sought out?
by Pranay Parikh | Sep 14, 2020 | Efficienccy, Experience, Productivity
I keep scrolling away. Sometimes, I finally hit the “You’re All Caught Up” sign on Instagram. No worries. I can just click on the explore tab. That’ll show me random pictures from random people. Hard to run out of those.
The scrolling continues. All of a sudden it’s been an hour. Or has it been two? I got lost in all the funny comics and puppies. There’s never enough puppies.
That’s the issue, isn’t it? There’s so much to do and an endless amount of distractions. The goal of companies like Instagram is to keep your attention. There is always more to see. More to scroll.
Now I know that I shouldn’t be just mindlessly scrolling Instagram, but it got me wondering. Are there other parts of my life that I just scroll away?
I saw the endless scroll in a few different places. The todo task that never had an end. Let me look up this. Or let me read the news.
There wasn’t an endpoint. It just kept going and going. There was always more to read. Better research that could be done. The endless scroll was still there. However, instead of guilt, I felt some satisfaction knowing that I was working.
But the endless scroll sucked out the productivity. I was productive for those first few scrolls, sure. After a while, I hit diminishing returns.
How I Tamed Endless Scroll
I’m a disorganized man who wished he lived in an ordered world. I love being organized. I hate organizing. It’s hard to say which I care for more. I go through fits of organizing everything. Unfortunately, it never lasts. Entropy always wins.
It always started simple enough. The diminishing returns wouldn’t be hit right away. All that scrolling was for a purpose. Find more articles. Do more reading. There wasn’t a way to stop it while I was still being productive.
So I had to find another way. I’ve had to create some rules to tame my disordered half. This worked just as well against the endless scroll.
I had to give myself a time limit. I would only be able to work on this project for a certain amount of time. Or the research could drag on forever.
One of my favorite reasoning for procrastination was research. It’s easy to keep looking up more information. It’s much harder to get started. Start that blog post. Record that video.
An hour for this. 30 minutes for that. The limits jumpstarted my creativity. Forced me to actually work instead of taking time to warm up. Reading the news really quickly. Or answering a few emails.
Just as important to the time limit was accountability. When the timer went off, I had to stop. Unless I was in a flow state that happens once in a blue moon. I had to stop working and switch to something else.
The Constraints Helped My Creativity
I’ve always found a certain surge of creativity on the last day of a deadline. That inspiration that had escaped me for weeks all came in as a rush.
That last-minute rush didn’t give me much time to edit. Or proofread.
I would barely have the time to finish my papers before I had to hand it in. Even now, I’d often get blog posts done right before the need to publish.
The dedicated time for my project gave me a new deadline. Instead of the one right before it was due. I only had an hour to work on it.
After that, I would have to switch to a new project. There are always other projects to work on. I know it was an artificial deadline, but it worked. Somehow I’d squeeze out some creativity.
I’d have plenty of time leftover to edit. Editing is the easy part. It takes effort to come up with something new. To fill up an empty page.
by Pranay Parikh | Sep 7, 2020 | Experience, Learning
It was hard to breathe. All I could hear was my thumping. Lub-dub, lub-dub. It was hot. I shouldn’t have worn a suit. I was about to go on stage for the first time that morning. Too late to back out now.
This occurred on the morning of October 23, 2019. My business partner and I were hosting our very first conference. I started off the morning on a panel with a few friends. It was simple: I was asked a question and I answered it. I thought I had this public speaking thing in the bag.
Then it came a little later in the morning, and now it was my time to lead the panel and ask the questions. That’s when the nerves hit. Has talking always been this hard? It’s hot. Were the lights this bright earlier?
Every ounce of me was wishing I hadn’t signed up to do the panel. I was on stage interviewing people with more real estate experience than me. Somehow I was the one that was supposed to hold the order and keep the audience entertained.
I felt sick. I remembered this feeling. I had it right before one time. Back when I was in med school, and I went to talk to my first real patient. A real patient? I wasn’t ready. No, I would have never been. My school didn’t wait for me to be ready. They threw me in, and I survived. I remembered that feeling of survival too. I knew I if I had my own medical students that I would try to give them some tools to help them get over that feeling.
Eventually, I did get my own students. On our very first day together, I thought them box breathing. Something so simple. But is often used by Navy Seals before their missions.
You breathe out completely for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe in for 4 seconds, and finally hold for 4 seconds. That completes a cycle. Do as many cycles as you need. I usually do somewhere from 3-5.
There’s a couple of benefits in box breathing:
1. It puts your mind back under your control. When you’re nervous, Like I was before I got on stage, your mind can run wild with all the potential things that can go wrong. You are giving your mind specific instructions and racking up a small win
2. It can slow down your heart rate by stimulating your vagal nerve (the rest and digest nerve)
3. Only takes about 16 seconds and can be done at anytime
The idea of box breathing flashed in my mind in time. I was able to get a few cycles before getting on stage. The rest of the panel was a blur. I managed. It went well and was one of the highlights of the conference for many.