Reviewing the Pomodoro Technique

Hello fuzzbutts!

So I’ve been trying the Pomodoro technique some more lately. As a refresher, the Pomodoro timer relies on a 25-minute set of focused work, whether it be studying or working on a task, then a 5-minute break. Rinse, repeat as needed. It sounds interesting-taking a task at a moderate pace with specific time constraints so you know how long you’ll spend. It helps against things like procrastination when you’re thinking about the billion other things you can work on. Just 30 minutes and I’m done. If you’re still feeling good at the end of your break, you can go for another round!

So what do I like about the Pomodoro technique?

First, it’s simple. You can get a timer (or an app) and just turn it on once you’re ready to begin your task. 25 minutes tends to fly by pretty fast once you get started. You can schedule it ahead of time and you’ll be able to finally tackle those tasks with focused work. If you prefer structure, this would be very helpful for you.

What don’t I like about it?

Well, it can feel very unnatural as you get to work. If you get into the task pretty deep, you can reach the famous Flow State. The last thing you feel like doing once the timer goes off is actually stop! You’ve got your groove going, you’re accomplishing stuff! So maybe you end up ditching the Pomodoro technique anyway to keep working. Or maybe you follow the Pomodoro, grudgingly stopping, taking a breath, and then try to dive right back in. Maybe you’ll hit it with gusto or you blew the flow state and can’t quite get back into it.

So what’s the verdict?

The Pomodoro technique works for anything you don’t actually want to do. Always procrastinating something? Use Pomodoro. Dreading studying for a test? Use Pomodoro. What about things you want to do? Just do them! You like drawing? Drop Pomodoro and just draw. Hate drawing hands and want to get better? Use Pomodoro. It’s just a matter of discovering what is difficult for you and using the Pomodoro technique to help you overcome it. If 25 minutes seems too short, you can always increase the work time.

So start experimenting with it and see where you might be able to make more progress!

Good luck, fuzzbutts!

Change of Plans!

Hello fuzzbutts!

So my last post, nearly 2 weeks ago now, was about making the changes you need. I described my job situation as my example and all the stuff going through my brain. Well! Change of plans again! I got the new job, showed up, and knew instantly in the first 5 hours that this wasn’t going to work. I finally got the tour of the location I was supposed to work at. It was way worse than the place I had originally toured. I, unfortunately, thought the labs were consistent. Not so much! Even before the end of the first day, I knew this wasn’t going to be acceptable for my ambition. Stability is one thing. This place was soul-crushing. Most of the people I met at that place were already in the process of quitting because of how bad it was. I already left my last job and now I had to leave this brand new job. Disappointment all around!

So maybe it’s a cautionary tale about change, you’re thinking. “Don’t make change! You’ll end up jobless!” No. Still not what I’m saying. One thing I will say I would not have made the change if I had just asked for/put pressure on them to let me tour the lab I was going to actually work at. Lesson learned for me before accepting work ANYWHERE.

Granted, this situation is not ideal. I’d prefer to be working right now. I’m not entirely sure where I’ll find other work in a place that I won’t find soul-killing. However, I will take solace in the fact I have money saved, a good living situation, and freedom to explore more options with more time, catching up on some things I fell behind on (like this blog).

So, given this situation, I decided to explore my options. I didn’t burn my bridges (see earlier post about that) with the old company so I might be able to just ask for my job back. However, maybe this was the boost I needed to explore even more places. It’s hard to decide. So I went seeking advice.

My old mentor suggested it would be ok to ask for the old job back if I was clear about what happened with the new job. Recent former boss said the situation was already pretty precarious for the group even before I left so, assuming they take me back, I’d be in a bad spot since they might not even want people of my level. Maybe. I know the things they were working on and that I would be pretty important to get those going. Still, theĀ trust is broken.

Speaking with other friends, I feel like there’s ways to proceed. I’m reaching out to other contacts to see if they have anything going on at their locations. I know how slowly the old job hires so I don’t expect to be replaced and I feel like I left on a high note so, unless they were moving in a different direction already, I don’t expect to get turned down if I wait a little while to try my other options. Ideally, I want something new and research based. Research is never 100% stable but I think I would prefer some instability over the depressing routine that I almost volunteered for.

So what about you? Well, even if things suddenly fall apart for you, my point is to gather up as much information as possible and start weighing options again. I felt like I was having a panic attack at the new job. Usually I’m good about keeping cool but this blew me out of the furry waters. However, a good night’s sleep later, I feel much better about this uncertain situation and started gathering the data I need to make an informed decision. While I’m not happy about dumping the old job to just become temporarily unemployed, I feel like I can still make a move in the positive direction. I hope it works out and I hope you get something out of my blog.

Good luck, fuzzbutts!

Change Change Change

Hi Furries!

Well I made my own leap recently and got a new job! Notified my current employer and training people to take over for me. In less than two weeks, I’ll be working in a new industry (for me). Recent post from me was avoiding Burning Bridges! So now I’m trying to make this transition as smooth as possible. They appreciate it because there’s a lot on the line if things would stop. So I’m still doing my best with less than 2 weeks to go.

I’m excited for this new job but there’s a nagging feeling at the back of my mind. Am I going to actually enjoy this new job? It’s probably really different from things I’ve done before. I know the job and I know the people I’m leaving. It’s one of those “the devil you know vs the devil you don’t” situations. I have no idea how the new situation will be and yet I know how bad the current situation is. Will the new one be worse, better? It’s hard to change! You can actually get comfortable being unhappy when you’re not sure if things will get better by taking the leap. Writing this blog and working on myself for the past almost-year now has led me to the following: Changing a lousy situation is always better than staying in the same place.

So what drove me to make this change? I knew I wasn’t pleased with my current job. After almost 5 years there, I was busted back to doing the same job I did when I was first hired. Granted the pay was better (I had been promoted twice), but this job was becoming stagnant. On top of that, I had survived 4 mass layoffs at this job and every time, the CEO or management comes out and says “This is a good thing. We’re getting more focused. You’re all safe.” After so many rounds of that, there’s a reduced sense of security. So maybe I’ll get cut eventually. So I wasn’t developing professionally and I didn’t see the place improving. Does that justify switching to a new industry and employer? Well it’s time to weigh the option to decide if change is right.

I don’t know the people I’ll be working with. They could be cool or way worse. What about the environment? It won’t be as pristine as the lab I used to run and the instrumentation might not be as fancy. Maybe not but there’s definitely a certain instrument there that is new to me and I would love to get experience with. What about money? Well it’s the same for the moment but in 6 months I’m guaranteed a significant raise so yeah the money will be better too. Commuting distance ? Well it’ll definitely be shorter and I will avoid freeways now so that could mean a lot more free time to do things! Advancement? Well it looks like maybe 2 years to become an official manager. I’ve been a mentor for years already and was recently passed over as a manager for somebody who already had official experience at my current job. I don’t see any changes coming within the next 2 years that would allow me to become a manager so I guess it’s better to change. Can I take the experience elsewhere? Yes. I’m going to be working in a place that is part of infrastructure and will allow me to move wherever I want! That’s awfully nice for somebody, like me, who plans to leave SoCal someday.

So I came to the decision that change is needed. I’m anxious, sure. I don’t feel great about it. I’m finding myself needing to do a little more meditation more often. It’s definitely uncomfortable but that’s how you move on to bigger and better things. It’s not incredibly different from changing my diet to improve my health or working out more or reading more books. I hope you can find something to improve in your own life. Pick one thing at a time and make the changes you know you need!

Good luck, fuzzbutts!

Don’t Burn Your Bridges

Hello fuzzbutts!

Work is rough. Work is tough. You’ve been slaving away at your job and having a difficult time. You’re looking for a way out, sending your info and resume out to find a new job. Finally, you find a new opportunity! You’re all set! Time to leave! Now you can give everyone a piece of your mind, flipping the bird as you make your triumphant exit.

Don’t do that. It’s not classy. Also, depending on your industry, it could easily come back to bite your tail. In Southern California, if you work in science, it’s a small world! There’s a ton of companies but turn-over is high and people scatter around quick. In my current job, I’ve seen technicians show up at our place of business where they all worked with my coworkers in my past. I’ve also heard people talk about giving references for other contacts. Sure, it might feel great to let everything boil over and spew over those jerks now that you’re leaving. Head out the door after unloading all your grievances and you can forget about references. Not only that, though. Those people will eventually move to new jobs for whatever reason and you’ll eventually leave this new job for something else. Imagine you apply for a job, have a decent interview, and then one of those people you unloaded on has a private word with the person considering to hire you. So much for the new new job.

On top of that, sometimes it’s not the job itself but your compensation for it. You’re looking for something new to earn more cash and feel a bit more appreciated. I’ve seen a lot of people where they start to slow down in their work, eventually to the point where multiple people are wondering “What do they even do anymore?” People remember the quality of your work at the end. If you’ve pretty much quit your job while still collecting a pay check, it builds a sour taste in the mouths of those around you. I had a great coworker who got tired of his job. We were friends until the last couple months when he gave up on the job and all his work went to me. Not cool, bruh.

Sometimes you know there’s a job out there where you don’t care about going back to there. I did seasonal work at the now-defunct Toys R Us and went in while sick. I eventually decided it wasn’t worth the effort. I went to the manager and let them know I wouldn’t be in tomorrow and that I was quitting. I didn’t storm in there, talk about how poorly run the place was or the crazy stressful situation of seasonal work at a toy store. I was polite, sick, and straight-forward. Granted it was still during the seasonal period so I knew there wouldn’t be a “next year” if I wanted to come back. That was a possibility I seriously considered and I still made the decision. With my career now, it’s important to keep a good, honest reputation because it turns out my contacts, especially my former director, know a lot of people around the country.

Anyway, the point is to be good to those around you, whether it’s at work or just in your daily life. You never know if you’ll meet up again and you need to weigh the short-term good feelings against the long term.

Good luck, fuzzbutts!

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!

Silence the Negative Voices

Good morning fuzzbutts!

If you’ve been around here for a little while, you probably have a couple of good goals set up for yourself. You started putting in the work, pushing yourself to get those goals. You probably told some people, feeling pretty proud. They might have been happy for you. Then again, maybe they tried to talk you out of it.

Today I want you to protect your goals and dreams. There will be a million excuses to stop, sometimes all told to you by one or two of your friends and family. If you’re not careful, your big dream will become “too big” for you. People might mean well but they don’t know your life or hopes as well as you do.

So what happens when the outside world tries to “help” you by killing your dream? You cut them off from it. Don’t bring it up to them, don’t talk about your dreams to them, and don’t let them bring it up either. They might even ask you to settle on your dream. You don’t have to lose 50 lbs, you already did 20 lbs and you look great! No. You set your real goal already. Keep up the good work and keep the goal in your heart.

Watch your own inner voice too. When things get hard, you might go back to your default excuse of missing out on time or doubting your ability. I’ve heard so many people make excuses to avoid their dream job, as if it takes luck more than anything. One example is a non-fuzzbutt friend of mine wants to play guitar covers for recording studios. I’m not personally clear or what exactly it is. They make good money and it’s super fun, he says. “Why don’t you do it?”, I ask. “Well I need to learn sheet music and it’s about who you know.” is their excuse. So what? Sheet music isn’t so crazy once you get started, you know how to play guitar, and if it’s about who you know then try to meet those people. But nope! This guy has let his inner voice convince himself that his dream is impossible. It doesn’t matter that other people are living that dream and they had to learn sheet music and make connections. It’s impossible.

Don’t do that. You can do the thing. There’s no good reason to NOT pursue your dreams. If you put in the effort, you’ll run into some hurdles but you can overcome them as long as you stay on track and diligent. Don’t let anyone, least of all yourself, talk you out of your dreams or let you think you can’t really do it. You don’t have 1000 years to get your head in the game so let’s get moving!

Good luck out there, fuzzbutts!

You don’t have to “earn” everything

Hi fuzzbutts!

In the pursuit of decluttering and trying not to bring more stuff into my home, I decided to make mini goals for myself before I bring in new stuff. However, I realized earlier this week that it doesn’t always make sense.

I wanted a graphics tablet. For those who don’t know, it’s a tablet you plug into your computer and you can draw on the screen. Cheap tablets that I’ve had before require you to draw on a blank surface while staring at the monitor. This tablet displays everything you’re drawing and you can draw right on it. Lovely.

So I set a mini goal. If I could do 5 sketches with a pencil within a month, I’ll buy the tablet. It would be a good reward and I would prove to myself that this was important to me.

Well that was the equivalent of saying you want to pour a concrete driveway but “I’ll pour and mix half of the driveway by hand to prove I’m serious before I just buy a cement mixer to do the job.”

Realizing this, I bought the tablet. As soon as I got it, I was off to the races, drawing rapidly and streaming it and streaming with friends and chatting furry stuff while I drew! It was easy to do. I loved the work I completed on the tablet and I’m excited to do more and draw with friends.

The mini goal to prove I was serious was actually more of an obstacle I was throwing up in front of myself to buy a tool I know I wanted and could really use. So this week’s lesson is that if there is a certain tool you know will help you along toward your big goals (me drawing more and getting more followers and faves) then you should help yourself to it. Remember, though, to seriously consider if that thing is actually going to help you. Good luck out there, fuzzbutts!

When Things Get Frustrating

Hello fuzzbutts!

How did it go this week for you? Pretty good? Did it drag on and on and on? Desperate for the weekend? What about your work? Has the fire gone out and you’re just rolling with the flow while being bored or just hating it? How about anything else like these drawing habits I’m trying to build? You just sit there, despising it but unable to make a change. You need that job! You need that income! Maybe it’s not even that there’s anything in particular to hate about your job but you’re just bored now.

It can be very frustrating to feel this way in your day-to-day life. The fire just… went out. Now you’re miserable and just there.

When this happens, it’s important to find meaning in what you’re doing. I work in a lab and now I handle the operations side of things. I don’t go into the lab anymore to do all the sample prep or even analyze the data. It drove me crazy for a while since now my job went from being active and walking around to just sitting at my desk and sending tons of emails to coworkers or vendors. However, that ended when I decided to focus on my new purpose and why it was important. My job is to ensure everyone else can get their jobs done. I go from my own little bubble or preparing stuff to actually helping my coworkers do better. I also get to call the shots on how to arrange things in our laboratory now. Anything that can be done to optimize somebody’s work or the space? Boom. That’s this wuff’s call now. Sure it can feel a bit slow as I wait for emails or for other people to make certain big budget decisions but it’s still fun.

Your job has a meaning to it. If not some nebulous great reason in the universe, then remember you go to that job to fund *blank* or so you can get *blank* job later. If you can’t do it, then maybe start looking around for something else.

I get that I used a job as an example but this still applies to new habits you want to cultivate. Remind yourself why you’re working on this habit and why it’s important to you. Remind yourself why you’re building new skills!

Good luck, fuzzbutts!