Replacing Bad Habits

Hello fuzzbutts!

Oh you read that this will be about bad habits and probably a hundred things flooded into your brain that you currently do. Habit of eating junk food? Drinking too much coffee? Bouncing around the various video games you own rather than working on your goals?

We all have bad habits. Even the best the fandom has to offer have at least a bad habit or two they could identify. It stinks because we know we shouldn’t do it but we do. Then we beat ourselves up a bit for it anyway. A personal example I have is that I went running yesterday. I was doing well and decided I want to cut down a little bit of weight and carry less fat. So I ran as hard as I could and thinking to myself “Less sweets, less fat, less junk.” So what happens when I get to work? Somebody brought donuts! Without even thinking, I grabbed one and wolfed it down. I wasn’t even thinking. It was just an automatic response to what happens when I see free donuts after years of going in and grabbing a donut if there were any available. This is a deeply ingrained habit that I have to work on if I want to lose some weight.

Studies have shown that going cold turkey on a habit, whether it’s smoking or even snacking, rarely works. You’re so focused on resisting it that the temptation just builds up until you break down. The true solution from these studies is that you need to replace the habit with something else.

One thing for me would be that I already try to make plain oatmeal every morning at work unless I’m not hungry or somebody brought bagels and donuts. The habit I should cultivate is to ALWAYS make oatmeal. Two reasons: 1- I’ll always end up eating it. 2-After eating oatmeal, I won’t be so tempted to grab a sugary treat. The only thing I need to do is have some quality oatmeal on hand which is something I already have the habit of keeping.

For video games, I end up having similar issues. I have all these unplayed games and occasionally I’ll want to install all of them and just have them there at the ready. Instead of working toward my goals, I might fire up a game. With so many to choose from, it’s easy to put off serious work. So, obviously, the point is to keep 1 or 2 games tops on the computer. If you want to play something else, you need to re-download and wait. That extra obstacle will make it easier to choose the things that are actually important to you.

So what’s something you’re doing that you’d like to stop? What’s an option you can try to replace it with? It won’t be easy. After all, preparing oatmeal is more work than plucking a donut out of a box! However, if it’s really worth it to you and your ideal furry life, you’ll do your best and it will get easier over time.

Good luck out there, fuzzbutts!

Is your environment productive?

Another beautiful Saturday to you, fuzzbutts! I hope you’re taking advantage of the weekend to do everything you want and feel good about it!

So you’re feeling good and ready to start doing stuff! But is your environment ready for you to do those things?

There’s articles out there that say all kinds of things about having the best work environment. Music is bad unless music is good. Cut yourself off from the world so there’s no distractions so put your phone outside the room when you’re working. Keep minimal decorations so you don’t get distracted but keep lots of decorations to stimulate your creativity. What’s the bottom line? Factors that affect your productivity are very personal to YOU. There’s all kinds of advice out there but I’ll start with a few basics.

Keep you work area tidy

Yes we all know that keeping everything clean is a pain. However, it’s hard to lay out all the things you want to do when your workspace is covered in junk. Sometimes, when faced with something daunting, it can put us off from wanting to do it. You want to draw but cleaning off your desk looks like a monumental task so you’ll draw later, once you’ve had time to clean up. The less obstacles we put in our own way, the more productive we can be. So clean off those areas (use your tail as a brush if you have to) and keep them that way!

Music or no music

This question is a little trickier. Some advocate silence and while others say some music is good to keep you in the mood. You’re the one who knows best but feel free to experiment. If you always listen to music, try some silence while you work and see if it helps. One things I’ve found helpful with music is that it shouldn’t have lyrics or tell a story because it can get distracting.

Realize what’s distracting you

Maybe you know what it is or maybe you don’t. Is a significant other in the same room doing something totally different that keeps catching your attention? Do you have a TV and find yourself staring at it? Find the things that seem to prevent you from working and then do your best to reduce those issues. Remove things that get in your way.

Find what helps

Sometimes we do need certain things around to keep us in the workspace. My own mind goes a mile a minute in silence about anything BUT the task I set myself to do. Music is helpful but it’s hard to keep me in my seat for long periods. Are friends helpful or do they distract you?

One thing that helps me the most is having friends around all working on the same thing. I had art friends where we could sit for hours together, even in coffee shops, and we’d just draw the entire time with a little chit chat. I’ve sat around with friends making fursuits, cutting up and sewing fur. As friends moved away, it became more difficult to just sit down and do something.  So I try to make friends with more artists and set up art jams when possible.

To keep my own fuzzbutt in my seat when I’m alone, I have my own environment to help. I open a reference image on my computer screen at my desk and then open a movie to the side of it. Then I push my keyboard away and put my sketchbook on my desk and start drawing. “WHAT?! That’s not productive!” you howl at me, voice dripping with the sense of betrayal. Fair enough.

Does the distraction of a movie slow me down in my pursuit? I agree it does. However, I’ve also experimented with a lot of things. I’ve tried to draw in my bed before I go to sleep only to find I never reached the bed until I was tired and then too tired to draw. I’ve tried sitting away from my desk and drawing on my recliner couch only to keep making trips to the computer for images or to fix the music. I’ve tried only sitting at my computer with the reference up only to get distracted by messengers and other things. Having a movie on keeps me from going to other social media and I keep drawing. Even if I only do 30 minutes worth of work in an hour, it’s still 30 minutes I wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise. Someday I do think I’ll be more comfortable with drawing to not have any distractions.

Only you know what really works for you and what works best

So try to honestly judge what you need to do to keep working. Being a little productive is better than not being productive at all. Out of all the advice out there, the only universal one in my opinion is to keep things tidy in your work area. It really helps. Anyway, try some new things and see how you react! Good luck, 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.