Notifications? More like NOPEifications

Hello fuzzbutts!

If you survived my humor in the title, you probably know where I’m already going right now but it’s still important for you to hear.

Here we go. You settle in, start working on a project that you feel is important. Then there’s a familiar beep from your other brain- your phone. You pick it up, answer the message, then settle back to what you were about to do. Then they respond or ask something else, sending you another chime. You answer again, this time holding onto your phone for their inevitable response. As you’re waiting, you get another buzz and realize your favorite game of candy destruction has finished refilling your lives so you can try again now. So you’re waiting for your friend and start demolishing colorful candies since you know you won’t get any work done before your friend messages you back. An hour later, your friend is done, the lives are spent, and now the motivation is gone.

So how do we avoid these situations and stay on task? First, disable notifications for all your games and apps that are more entertaining than useful. The entire purpose of those notifications is to keep you engaged in the app and coming back to increase your chance of purchasing things. If it was really super fun, you wouldn’t need reminders to hop back into the game.

Next, use the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone to silence any beeps and chimes from those texts. Unless you live in drama, there’s not going to be an emergency every time you’re working on a project and they can wait until you’re done and can check your phone.

Since I don’t get a lot of calls and texts, I leave my notifications on. If it’s something I’m really serious about, I’ll turn on DnD to make sure I’m not interrupted. As far as apps I allow for notifications, I leave on TimeTune since those keep me productive and thinking. If I do ever put a game on my phone, I make sure to shut off the ability to send notifications.

Anyway, I hope you continue to lead a distraction-free life and keep working on your goals! Keep up the good work, fuzzbutts!

Organize that Desk!

Hello fuzzbutts!

Sorry for the delay again. I recently started a new job and that has been eating up my time lately as I try to get up to speed as quickly as possible. The good news is I finally made it to the big leagues as far as my career is concerned. Onward to today’s topic!

So in my eternal quest to clean and minimize, I eventually get everything off the floor to wonder if I actually set everything onto my desk. Random tools from when I opened up my computer, sewing needles and thread, canned air, folded pieces of paper beyond numbering. I have a massive pile of random things and trash!

Once the trash was all cleared off, I went ahead and decided to look through the drawers. Well that shattered my illusion that I had everything in order. I’m a productive wuff, not the cleanest wuff. Sometimes, that’s just how wuffs are.

So even if it takes time, it’s important to go through your desk and work spaces and make sure you have everything you need and put the rest into its proper place (or the trash). Removing all that clutter makes it easier to find the things you need at your desk. Do you really need 5 sets of post-it notes? Maybe just keep one and put the rest somewhere out of the way. Also, keeping that fork at your desk for a prolonged period of time after eating that ramen noodle cup is kinda gross. Go wash that.

Good luck fuzzbutts!

Wednesday Tailtip: Site Blockers

Hello fuzzbutts!

Hope you’re all doing well. It’s a beautiful September Wednesday where I am and I hope you’re enjoying the weather wherever you are.

Today, I wanted to let you know about one small thing I use for productivity. I find it way too easy to look up good ole Google News, browse the stories, and end up spending way too much time in the comments section. Not just there, but also websites like buzzfeed or those slide-show websites that tell stories one picture at a time while flashing a million ads around the page. I don’t recall the last time I actually got anything useful out of those websites yet I kept clicking on them.

To overcome this distraction, I installed a simple extension in Google Chrome that lets me block websites. I block google news and I block any websites that do the slideshow thing. I still have the news on my phone so if I really need to read something, Ican force myself to do so on my small phone screen but I’m far less tempted to do so compared to my large monitor screen. At work, I still sometimes mindlessly click the google news shortcut and end up looking at the BlockSite screen. The moment that blocked notice comes up, I shake it off and go back to work. Same at home. I start getting distracted by something, see the blocksite screen, then go back to whatever I was working on, drawing, or learning.

If you can get as distracted as me, consider just cutting off everything that doesn’t serve you. Install something like Blocksite, add some websites to it that eat your productivity, and the stay on track!

Good luck, fuzzbutts!

Being a Responsible Wuff

Hello fuzzbutts!

I know the title says a responsible wuff but this applies to any species who wants to be responsible. Be a responsible mew, a responsible water fox, a responsible moo, whatever. Today’s lesson on productivity is about being in control of yourself and doing the right things. Even when all your furends are at Comic-Con International right now when you could’ve been there.

I was actually offered to borrow a ticket for today too! However, I turned it down because I already committed myself to other responsibilities and I am determined to get things done. There’s always a time for play and while Comic-Con is but once per year, I have enough going on that I just don’t feel the need to put off everything I want to do today to run around a convention floor and buy more art to put up on my crowded walls or hear about the latest exclusives.

Sometimes life is that like. You have an opportunity for fun but you’re committed. You have to be in order to reduce the distractions and get things done. Maybe if things weren’t going as well as they are for my personal goals, I’d be parading around with other fuzzbutts at the convention. That’s ok, though. When you’re working toward your goals, you’ll be tempted to suddenly push away plans. I wanted to go, sure. However, this weekend I already planned to replace a window, sell my car, and do a hundred other smaller things! I weighed the pros and cons of going to have fun and decided my future and the things I want to accomplish just can’t wait. I hope you have an attitude like that. We’ll never be perfect and fun is important to have, but keep your future in mind.

Good luck out there, fuzzbutts!

The ways games keep you unproductive!

Hello fuzzbutts!

Video games are my vice. The one thing I can indulge in just way too much and be surprised when I look at the clock and see how much time has passed. It could be on my phone. It could be on my PC. It doesn’t seem to matter. If it’s a game then I can play it. Except sports. I’m a scientist. Most sports don’t interest me in real life or in the game world (Unless it’s something goofy like Deathbowl).

However, one thing I was never away of as I blew through my childhood  and much of my adulthood were the various psychological trickery that games used to keep me playing like crazy. Right up to the point I wasn’t even having fun with the games I was playing.

Achievements

Oh boy these are the worst. Nothing like a surge of dopamine in your brain every time you get that little popup on your profile that said Achievement Unlocked or Trophy Unlocked. Counting those trophies or gamerscore or the level of your steam profile. It all feels awesome. It’s also all useless. I spent so many hours  grinding for 50 points of gamerscore only to lose the entire profile (120,000+ gamerscore if I remember) because I used false info and deactivated both recovery email addresses and Microsoft won’t let escalate the issue. However, losing all that made me realize how pointless those points are. I wasn’t going to get another Xbox console so it would only work for Windows games that had them (very few of which do in my steam playlist). Then, as I further understood this, I realized many of those achievements were hours or work. Hours or work grinding at something that wasn’t fun for the sole purpose of getting that 100% clearance on the game. Yet games are for fun. If you’re not playing for fun, you’re still wasting your time. If it’s a game you’re really enjoying (Dark Souls), then feel free to keep pushing for achievements but if something requires a grind that’ll take longer than 8 hours, you’re better off playing something else.

Energy Limits and Time to Recover

This one is pretty much exclusively for mobile games. You get a certain amount of “Energy” that takes approximately 5 minutes to 1 hour to recover. You can play the game for 30 minutes tops before your energy is burnt out and you have to wait. Part of this is the money gets generated by forcing impatient fuzzbutts to spend real money for fake energy refills. Another part is to keep you coming back for more and expose you to more ads. You’ll get notifications every time you finish “crafting” something, your energy recovers, or whatever. This low energy threshold keeps you from accomplishing your goal with the game so you have to keep checking in so you can make progress. You can see now how insane of a distraction this becomes. So many times I get locked into a cheesy mobile game that I can be at my PC and its wealth of games only to fool around with bad graphics on an old unreal engine to play on a game that is obviously about profit more than telling a story or creating a fun experience!

These are just a couple of the ways games eat into your productivity. Not saying that you should never play games (Though our lives would probably be greatly improved if we didn’t spend so much time on them) but more than you need to keep self-assessing. Just like your health or anything else, you need to stop yourself and ask “Is this game still fun? Is this achievements actually worth the hours it will take? Is there something else I need to do?” If you do this, coupled with the understanding that game achievements are nonsense to begin with, you’ll find yourself enjoying your play time much more as you explore other options and then increasing your productivity as you put down the controller more often.

Good luck out there fuzzbutts!

Stop Decision Fatigue: Make your Life Simple

Hello, fuzzbutts!

Let’s talk about decision fatigue again. The gist of it is that as the day goes on, we make a bunch of decisions across a wide range of things. Unfortunately, it turns out we only have so much brainpower to dedicate for making these decisions. This makes it tough to decide what to have for dinner or what you actually want to do when you have some time after work/school! The process of decision-making applies from simpler things like what you’re going to wear that day, what breakfast you’ll eat, to more complex stuff like weighing the pros and cons of how to prioritize the tasks you have to get done for the day’s work. (Scientific American)

By the end of the day, when you finally have time to do the things that are important, you’re spent! Big or little, all decision draw from the same pool. So how can we preserve our little reservoir of brainpower?

Give yourself less decisions to make.

What does that mean? It means choosing to give yourself less decisions. How can we do this? Standardizing your life.

“But how?” you’re asking. Don’t worry little fuzzbutt. I have some examples I use in my own life.

I meal prep my lunches for the week. I don’t have to spend any time during the week deciding what I want to eat at work tomorrow because the decision was made and only needed to be made once.

I have a morning routine before work. I get up, use the bathroom, get dressed for work (same pants, grab the shirt furthest on the left on the rack), make the same breakfast, brush my teeth, comb my hair, grab my lunch and go. If I somehow end up with any spare time in the morning, I fool around on my PC to ease into the day.

At work, I go through another routine. I check my email and drink coffee at my desk. If there’s samples to prepare, then I do that first. Then I see if there’s any data to go over. Once that’s done, I go over my to-do list and then goals. This is continuously interrupted by new emails, meetings, and people wanting a face-to-face chat about something or other. Still, the skeleton of my work day is kept intact and it’s automatic.

No. I’m not saying to be a robot.

What I’m saying is that we have to remove unnecessary decisions from our lives and just make things easier on ourselves to keep us sane and productive. We usually can’t avoid decisions at school and work but we can do our best at home which leaves us free to pursue interests with clear heads. I have my morning routine during the week but that usually goes out the window on weekends since there’s no big responsibilities to burn me out.

On top of saving your brain, expect to save time!

Watch yourself this week and see where you tend to get hung up on a decision. Did you spend longer than a minute deciding what to wear? Did you procrastinate deciding what to eat? What aspects of your life can you set on auto-pilot so you don’t waste your brain on trivial things? Feel free to let me know how you’re doing!

Also, the PBB sandwich recipe is just peanut butter spread on multigrain bread with slices of banana in it. Thanks to Halon for introducing me to the concept of having it for breakfast. Wuffles Pro Tip: If you’re really lazy, break the banana in half and lay it onto the bread. Bites will be terribly inconsistent but you get all the nutrients and you can enjoy being lazy.