by Pranay Parikh | Oct 6, 2020 | Efficienccy, Experience, Learning, Life Style, Productivity, Technology, Time management
Unfortunately, that’s not possible. The next best thing we can do is to help you get more done in the time you have. That starts off by asking yourself, “Do you need to be the one that completes everything on your to-do list?”
Let’s come back to that question. First, if we all looked at our lives there are some common tasks that are the same. We need to eat. That means getting groceries, cleaning, and cooking. We need to clean. That means getting cleaning supplies and finding the time to clean.
You need to outsource
Now we all need to eat. The problem is how to get food worth eating. It’s easy to get fast food or food that you can microwave. A lot of times it’s actually delicious. That makes sense because food scientists, yes that is a thing, spend an inordinate time trying to convince your palate that the fast food or junk food you are eating is delicious.
Not so delicious that you don’t want to eat more. Just delicious enough for you to eat it and probably a bit too much of it. Diabolical, I know.
No, I’m talking about good-for-you food that tastes delicious. That takes time. Time I don’t like to spend.
There’s a few options:
1. Find ways to minimize time
2. Have it done for you
How to save time and still eat good food
Let’s break down number 1. Eating good food requires going to the right grocery stores and getting the right high-quality ingredients. That takes time. Not just time spent at the grocery store, but time to get ready, drive, park, pick up the stuff, and wait in line.
Fortunately, there’s an app for that. A few actually. You can have Whole Foods delivered to you from Amazon for free within 1 hour. There’s also the app Instacart. You end up paying a little more for Instacart, but it even goes to Costco for you without you needing to be a member.
Now you can focus on the more fun part, actually cooking. That starts with getting the ingredients ready. Maybe, you don’t like to do that either. I know I don’t.
There are services that will do all the shopping for you and send you the perfect quantity of materials. It even sends you the recipe and you can pick what you want to eat. Services like Blue Apron will let you shop recipes and then send you everything you need to make it.
My brother loves to do this. He’s an ER resident and enjoys cooking, but just doesn’t have the time to research what he wants to eat and buy all the ingredients. He buys the basics and let’s Blue Apron send him the rest of what he needs.
Lastly, if you are like my wife and I you don’t like any part of cooking, but love to eat. There are services for you as well. Meal delivery services like Trifecta will send you ready to cook meals. They are as healthy as can be and you can choose between different types of food. We choose paleo, but there are others as well. You just put it in the microwave, warm it up, and it’s ready to eat.
The food is pretty good and most importantly healthy. It even has calories and nutrients on there, so I can plan out the rest of the food I can eat in that day.
Cleanliness without a time sink
We all like to have a clean place to live. It’s personally hard for me to free up my mind for creative activities if I see a ton of stuff everywhere. Or a bunch of dust mites.
There’re two steps that I’ve done to try and keep my apartment from becoming a den of filth:
1. Spot cleaning
2. One deep clean a month
Have you ever been into a room that you haven’t used in a while? What did you notice? Dust everywhere. How does it even get in there? It’s hard to say. One thing is for sure: dust will find a way.
This typically shows up on the floor. Dust everywhere. Even more so for us with pets. Dust and dog hair. There was no way I could wait till the end of the month to do a deep clean. The dust would take over my small apartment.
I’ve enlisted help. I got a Roomba You can get simple ones that do most of the work. It’ll vacuum around the house/apartment and even come back to charging station when it’s done.
You can even get fancy ones that you can control with Wi-Fi. They work best when there is your place is all one level.
This will only keep your place clean for so long, which is why I invest in one deep clean a month. The key word is invest. It’s either an investment of time or money. There’s only so many hours in a day, and I’d prefer not to clean.
I can recognize the mental health benefits of having a clean place though. And I always thought that hiring someone to clean my place was a needless expense and one that I couldn’t afford. Something for just the uber wealthy.
I even did a quick google search one day when I was really busy and the dust was winning. $100 an hour for a maid? Would have been nice at the time, but I was a resident and that was way more than I could afford.
One day someone told me about Taskrabbit. You can use it to find people who will do common tasks such as helping you move or clean your house. I was able to find someone for $35/hr. My whole place could be cleaned for about $100. Now that was well worth it.
So now, take all that time you saved and do more of what only you can do.
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 | Aug 17, 2020 | Efficienccy, Experience, Learning
The best Ideas take time to make. Like a perfect vintage of wine. Effort, time, and luck.
There’s a handful of times a good idea has struck me. Just a few. But I think back now. Was it really luck that idea came to me? Probably. Destiny? Maybe. But there were people that seemed to have good ideas on a regular basis.
How could I become one of those people? How did I have good ideas? Would I have better ideas if I intended to? There was only one way to find out.
How I created fertile ground for good ideas?
Good wine starts with good grapes. These come from fertile ground.
I try to set the right atmosphere for great ideas. Remove distractions. Water the ground. Remove the weeds. Pray for a great harvest. The rest of those early times our out of our control.
I have two separate processes for this depending on the types of ideas that I am trying to have. Am I trying to come up with an idea that is outside of my comfort zone or an idea for a subject or process that I already know?
I try to set up the environment to match this process. If I’m working on a current project such as a blog post or a new video. Something that is a continuation of a current project then I’ll go to a familiar spot. Set up for comfort. Somewhere I know well. The rest of the process is the same.
Turn off notifications. Block off some time on my calendar. Free me from distractions or what I call mental weeds. They come up and choke life and sustenance from our fertile ground. Then do the hard part. Sit there in silence and think.
Now if I’m trying something new, a new project. Something outside of my comfort zone. I’ll try to go to a new place. I don’t have much space in my small apartment so will try working somewhere different.
Maybe I’ll stand instead of sitting. Or sit on the ground. Usually, the ground is left for serious problems when all the other places aren’t working. When was the last time you sat on the ground? I rarely do. It really feels different.
We have the most control in the beginning. Think about a color. I’ll wait. What was it? Why did you think about that color? Now think about another. What color was it? Any idea why that one came up instead of green. Or maybe it was green. Why wasn’t it blue?
What comes to us after we sit down, we have little control over. But our mental state and environment at least we have a little power over.
Feed your creativity
Great wine comes from happy grapes. You can’t just plant in the best ground and expect good grapes to pop up. You have to be careful with what you feed it. From the day the seeds go in till the day you pick them, the nutrients you give it will affect its taste.
So how do we feed our brain so that it has good ideas? You feed it with good ideas from other people. Something challenging. Or maybe outside of your knowledge base. I try to read, listen, and watch stuff from wide array sources. Of course, there are a few from stuff that I’m trying to learn.
For example, I listen to a bunch of podcasts on medicine to keep my skills sharp. But even then I try to keep it varied. I’ll listen to internal medicine podcasts. ER doc podcasts, critical care.
I also listen to podcasts on online marketing or history. You never know what can spark a good idea so I try to keep the nutrients that I feed my brain well-diversified.
On the other side, I also try to limit the junk food that I give my brain. I limit the amount of TV I watch and am more intentional with where I get any of my inputs.
That’s not to say all TV is bad. It’s more likely that I’d get a spark for a good idea from an article from a blog I follow or a podcast than I would from a TV show.
Sometimes it’s not enough
Now you’ve started off with fertile ground. Fed your brain the best of nutrients and you’re sitting there without an idea at all. Sure, you may have some not so great ones. What should you do?
As much as I’d love to say there was a solution. There’s no way to force good ideas to come. Rain doesn’t come no matter how hard we wish it.
We need to wait. Give it time. Some of my best ideas have come when I was doing something else. Not even thinking about what I needed to come up with an idea for. So what gives?
The missing ingredient needed was time. I needed to give my idea a chance to grow. My brain was working on coming up with a solution that I needed in the background. My grapes were growing.
So how do I put this into practice? It means that I’m not waiting till the last minute. I need to sit down and work on my big projects on a regular basis and give my brain time to come up with the ideas I need.
by Pranay Parikh | Jul 20, 2020 | Efficienccy, Life Style
In March 2019, there were 4.4 million blog posts published per day! I can’t imagine how much higher that number is now. What even happens to a blog post after it gets published? How many readers does it have? How many of those 4.4 million blog posts do you read a day? One? Two? Most days you probably don’t have time to read any.
Eight people read my first blog post. I was ecstatic. Half of those views may have been from my family. But at least one was a real non-related person. I know because I sent the article to a few friends as well.
What happens to a majority of blog posts? Or anything for that matter? Not much. It disappears. There’s the old adage that if you a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around: does it make a sound? An audience is the lifeblood for us creators and our biggest challenge is to find them.
With how easy it is to start a blog, the barrier to entry is a computer and an internet connection. The power of the internet has made it so it’s easy to learn almost anything. We can all become creators.
This is one of the most freeing parts of modern life that each person has something of value to provide. Our only limits are ourselves. Want to start a podcast or youtube channel? Use your phone and free editing apps. Want to write a book? Go ahead. You can even publish it yourself.
So why aren’t we all internet famous? Followed and ready by thousands? It’s because of the long tail. It says that because there’s so much out there that most stuff isn’t read or heard by many. Many of us are at the end of the long tail, the yellow part of the graphic below. A handful of readers. A couple of fans. We hope to slowly gain more fans and provide more value. Move left.
A majority of the demand for anything goes to only a small few, the green part of the long tail. That’s true for blogs, podcasts, movies, and pretty much anything. If you aren’t one of those few, then you are fighting not against them or each other. You are fighting against obscurity.
How can we try and escape this long tail? Is it only due to luck? No, it’s luck and hard work. Since we are only competing versus insignificance, we have the power to help each other. In the world of blogs, this looks like posting on each other’s blogs. Or help spread the word. This may be sharing tools or tricks. This way we could all move left. We can share the message that only we could provide. Collaboration. We can help lift each other up.