On derailment

There’s a pending deadline on May 10th and I noticed that I had not been able to maintain the same pace on my other work when I put efforts in writing 500 words daily. So updates to the fiction will be suspended till after May 10th, 2019.

Meanwhile, I haven’t done any posts on productivity for some time. Tonight I can’t stop my mind from wandering after having a horrendous low-productivity day (47%, according to RescueTime). My guilt does not allow me to sleep. In fact, despite the urgent deadline, my productivity is actually worse in the past week, compared with the week before.


It’s like I do not care about making it on time at all – or do I?

Where has all the time gone? I have identified these websites to be the criminals that steal my time and attention:

  1. youtube.com
  2. zhihu.com
  3. douban.com
  4. WeChat Moments
  5. baidu.com

Last week I spent a total of 12.5 hours on these websites. This would average to 1 hour and 45 minutes per day on Entertainment alone. Adding other distractions, the total distracting time is 21 hours, i.e. 3 hours per day.

This is roughly the same amount of time I can effectively work per day.

I realize that when I’m not being productive, the feels are not that much different. At a finer granularity, maybe I just clicked into zhihu twice per hour, instead of once per hour. Since these websites are addictive, once I’m in I’d usually stay for at least 15 minutes. This will resulting in me spending twice as much time on it, without feeling much difference.

I also noticed myself for starting a habit of checking these websites the first things in the morning. I noticed that one day when I really start to work, 1 hour has already passed. There are not that many 1 hours in a day. Taking all time out from commuting, eating, sleeping, normally I stay in school for 12 hours. I’ve put a lot of efforts in limiting the time I spent in my apartment, but I have not been guarding how I spent my time during the day very carefully.

On another note, I really just did two things in the last week: 1) learning CMake, make, and C++ build toolchain; 2) polishing the triangulation code for 3D meshes. The final result is roughly 450 lines of code here. I was fearful of this task, because 1) it seems simple but in fact requires knowledge on geometry that I know myself do not have; 2) the code I tried to modify was NOT well written, and I did not make the right decision to modify it earlier, because I did not understand what it’s trying to do. it’s fuzzy logic also make the code harder to understand than it should be. So in sum, this task is rather intellectually challenging, and I spent a lot of time trying to avoid the pain of figuring things out and actually learning.

Also, on Wednesday and Saturday I am particularly unproductive. On Tuesday, I logged in fewer hours. Well, this is because on Tuesday noon I received an email from an old friend, which caused a certain emotional turmoil in me. I chose to watch a movie to overcome the discomfort. This also resulting in the checking Meetup and other social groups on Friday. On Saturday (today), I spent all day in my apartment, and unconsciously succumbed to more temptations than I would do in a library.

So an observation is, event changes mood, and mood changes productivity. I am not the most disciplined person I know, although I spend so much time and energy trying to be disciplined. In fact, will-power and discipline are probably in-born characteristics too. At heart, I’m always somewhat reckless, looking for sensational adventures. I’m also emotional, romantic, and probably just feels things more easily. On contrast. the two people I know that are really disciplined, are both calm and practical. They probably don’t experience intense emotions as often as I do, so it’s easier for them to resist temptations.

Accepting this fact, it’s easier for me to change the device for self-control, instead of trying to change myself. Strategies include !) avoid temptations all together 2) get good habits. Also, I should not blame myself too hard, because guilt is a strong emotion which is again unproductive. Meditation and mindfulness could also help.

I won’t use the five aforementioned websites, not even once, in the next four weeks.

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