Replacing the First Link: Personal management to please a professional project manager

Oo, I think I've solved a big one:  The age-old problem (to me) of needing three very specific things from my personal organization software* and process/system, and having them be VERY hard to get in ways that don't interfere with or ruin each other.

(*not that personal org should or must be done with software, but it's inevitable that at least some of mine will be.)

Warning:  Organizational geekery ahead; please remember that I'm into this stuff anyway AND I do it for a living, so holy crap can I get nerdy with it.  (I am also, however, typing this for my own blog and have no desire to get scholarly with it — this is all just the tale of my overhauling my personal org system, and has no value to posterity whatsoever.  …Man, I love giving that disclaimer.  :D)

Here are the three major things I need in order to be organized:

  1. A place to brain-dump ideas for all my projects (be they art, life-management, personal goals, whatever)
  2. A check-off-able task-list
  3. A single view of my upcoming day and what things need to get worked on, with what priority.  A cheat-sheet basically, so I don't get buried in the bigger lists when I'm trying to work.   (This piece is important, and I learned about it the hard way.)
  4. (There's actually a fourth thing, and that's paper — I need access to a scratch pad at all times in order to, like, exist; and this cannot / yet be reliably done without paper.  But I'm skipping that for now, because it's a mostly-working system and doesn't participate in the overhaul.  Maybe I'll do a separate post on how I do the paper bits, someday.)

All of those things also have their own feature needs, but we can narrow them down to these three which all of them share.  They all need to be:

  • as simple to use as possible

     

    • The whole point of a good underlying system is to be as invisible as possible, and take up as little time in the actual use of it as it can made to
  • as portable as possible, both in daily terms and in terms of future-proofing

     

    • I can't lose all this data (especially from #1) if I need to move it, or would really prefer not to!  o.O
    • I need to access and modify these things from a pretty wide range of devices and OSes — having to go back to one computer or something to make changes is not okay; both time and ideas get lost.  I also need information FROM these systems delivered where and when I need it, which can vary a lot.
    • I need at least some automation in terms of integration — the less i have to re-write or manually move things between these 3 systems, the better (though some of it is inevitable and manual is not *always* the slower or worse way, especially if re-interacting with the items is likely to help me do them).
  • as long-lived as possible:  This is not a system I want to keep changing.  I want it to exist and to be able to continue to exist with minimal fuss.  Upgrades are not important (unless there are key features missing, in which case I'll have to look to solve those when I can — but I'm really happy with how few are missing from this setup!), but continuing to use my system as effectively as possible no matter how my hardware, software, or life changes is crucial.  (This is sometimes an argument for not using software at all, but after pondering it, I think it's safe to say the future presence of software in my life is at least as likely as the future presence of paper, if not more so.)

As a technical PM, I've used SO FREAKING MANY software and other systems designed to do all of these things, and professionally, choosing the right one for your team and environment is a huge decision (that often needs teeth grit and re-making, because if it isn't working, it's screwing everything up) — and managing your own stuff when "manage these 15 other projects for work" is just one item on that list is not easy for the best of us, lol.  Soooo my own personal system got tangled, smeared across a zillion services, tied up in other things like texting etc. that shouldn't even be part of it, and just generally became a mess over the last few years.  I needed to scrap it and build a foundational, underlying personal management system from scratch.

THIS system is for my PERSONAL management.  I use similar(ish) things at work, but this one should be segregated (I learned the hard way not to blend them >,<) and intended to persist no matter what upheavals come in my professional or technical life.  It's also NOT for writing or building fiction in; I use Scrivener for that and never, ever intend to switch; it's nearly perfect.  :)

What THIS stuff is all about is the first caribiner attached to the hard point:  My basic system for knowng about, ordering, and accomplishing all my tasks.  (Professional "Work" is just a big chunk of space I build into my day where I enter a sub-realm and work off of a separate system that's integrated with my team.  This system is a layer of abstraction above it, and yet, because it's an org system, it intersects with a lot of the same software as the management I do for work.  Make sense?  …Yeah, didn't think so.  :P)

I can't even begin to explain what losing your basic system to such a proliferation of software, tasks to manage, and upheavels of underlying process is like…well, yes I can, actually.  Imagine someone frantically trying to sort legos into sets that have to be shipped on a deadline, while comically more and more are constantly delivered and all the boxes keep tipping over.  That's basically been my organizational life for the last year.

However, I've been giving this a lot of attention lately, and I think I now have a system that will work!  I'm just putting the last pieces in, after making a lot of hard decisions and writing approximately four solid pages of frustrated question-marks and attempts to elucidate what I need and what I can flex on.  I feel like I ran the kind of marathon that the Office Masons from Futurama would design!

SO, here, for your edification and possible education and probable just-ignoring because seriously, Marie, nobody cares about this crap that excites you inordinately (but it's my blog, so deal! :) is what's figured out, documented, and about 90% in place as of today (woohoo!):

THE THREE PILLARS of the First Link

#1:  Personal project management: The Brain

I have my own, non-work projects that need managing:  Things like long-term health goals, writing projects, social and community things, plans for making stuff…all of that needs "project management" in pretty much the same sense as work, but where 1) I'm the only team-member who really counts / uses it, 2) things like gaant charts and reporting are of *zero* value (I mean this is kind of true anyway, in any environment, but not to get distracted), and 3) connections between projects could be everywhere, at any level, and are the most useful thing to track (besides items / thoughts themselves).  

When it comes to dropping off and visualizing ideas, and tracking the pieces and connections between the pieces of overall projects…holy crap I (so far) adore The Brain, which is technically "mind-mapping" software — that's just a fancy way to say it's project-management software that isn't built off of the basic idea of working on a flat surface as its underlying interface, which almost ALL of the others are (and which makes sense, because 50 years ago PM work was all done on whiteboards, tables, books, etc.).  The interface is just amazing, it's blisteringly simple and does pretty much exactly the one thing I want:  Lets me throw ideas into a pool and tie them to each other as parents, children, or "connected, generally speaking" — and then tracks all that so that when I pull on an idea, I can see all the connections.  BLAM.  One big freaking map of EVERYTHING I'm thinking about (and all the tools for hanging things off of objects, such as categories, due dates, etc. that I might want — including Google Calendar integration, which is huge; if I date anything in the Brain it automatically goes on my calendar!  Handy.)  

I'm still pretty early into building that map, but for personal project-management, it has miles and miles over any other PM-software I've used.  Some of its strengths (for me) in the personal realm are things I would not want to use in the professional one, but man, FULL marks for doing one thing and doing it well.  This is expensive (in the pro version – the free version is very usable, and all I need for now), well-developed software that I don't expect to go anywhere anytime soon, but the mind-map is exportable to various formats if for some reason I needed it.  It's not particularly fast to learn because it's so different, but for a good different interface, I'm fine with that.  If I used it for a long time, I could totally see buying it if the fancier features became important, but I don't suspect I'll need to.

#2:  The Dreaded Task-List:  Todo.txt

The task list is a hhhhhhard thing to get right, probably exactly because of its simplicity.  

For features, it should be sortable by dates, tags, etc., easy to copy/paste from, VERY easy/fast to get data in and out of on a second's notice from any device, but also INVISIBLE when you don't want to see it, because a task list is a black hole of distraction and ennui.  Generally I find that the less sub-lists and categories in a task list, the better, because I don't want to come there, dig around and look at or play with stuff — that happens in #1 — No, I want to drop things there and check them off like a dive-bomber in the night, and otherwise the only time I want to see it is when I'm putting together my #3, during which I want it to be as easy to see at a glance as possible.  Things that get buried in the list die forever, including my motivation.  :P  

So, simplicity, interoperability / ease of access from different devices, and longevity are all super important here.  All you engineers out there know what happens when you have three needs, right?  You get to pick two.  (The classic example being "cheap, fast, or good:  pick two".)

Fortunately, I have one bit of give — one place I can flex.  In my case, I have a VERY high tolerance for things that make me use my computers in an advanced or clever way, even if they're initially harder than using a shiny interface — I consider the education / practice in advanced computering valuable enough to sacrifice a little time.  And thankfully, that provides enough flexibility with our demand that the list be "simple" to let a winner rise.

Rise, that is, to the top of the STEAMING PILE OF AWFUL B.S. THAT IS THE WORLD OF TASK-MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE OPTIONS, OH MY GOD.  This is part of the reason that longevity is one requirement I will NOT move on when it comes to this:   PLEASE by all that's holy don't make me go back there and try all that shit software again.  It's amazing how painful bad design can make using something as simple as a task list.  ::shudder::

So the best option, given my requirements, seems to be todo.txt.  It's utterly simple (as long as you don't mind the slightly-advanced-computering bit, which I don't), works on almost any *possible* device (past, present or future), does what it should, and will never die because it's based on a standard formatted text file.  

Man, I love the solutions that come out of Github — seriously, hubot and chatops was killer enough, but this is just…well, not to be crude, but this is just the tits.  (And a woman wrote it, so…double tits!  :D)  Today I am GLEEFULLY SHOOTING IN THE FACE Todoist, Google Tasks, and at least 3 other places where my todo lists now proliferate, and just backing my shit all the way up to 1995 with a plain ol' task file.

Except that thanks to the todo.txt program, there are now many (potentially zillions, as it's open-source) options for viewing and working with that plain-old text file, easily, anywhere.  The basic / existing ones work fine (simple free phone apps, check), but down the road, I can even write my own scripts (or software, but it would really only take scripting to do) to change how it works, if I really want a feature I don't have.  HELL yes.

And it's freaking invisible like a task list should be.  I can glance over it when I'm creating my daily template (#3), swoop in with a keystroke or fingerpoke and add or remove items, and otherwise NEVER see it unless I want to.  Perfect.

And lastly,

#3:  The Daily Template:  Google Forms + Some Black Magic

Most people (though not all of course) do some version of the Daily Template:  Having some way to set up ahead of time, and look at during-time, the things that matter today.  I find it invaluable for two reasons:

1.  It makes me look the night before at what's up tomorrow, which helps me pretty much effortlessly do little prep things that increase my efficiency and lower my stress.  (Seriously, the stress-reduction from realizing the night before that you should find a dress shirt for tomorrow is quite significant!  Even just having some warning to think about such things ahead of time can be really handy when it comes to overall stress-level.)

2.  It gives me something to come back to when my day gets stressful or screwed up:  I will pull the daily template back out and ask myself, "ok so, how close to this can I stay?"  Even on a completely catastrophic day, being able to do even one thing I'd planned to, however unimportant, is hugely comforting and helps me recover from catastrophes much faster.

The obvious things that go on a Template are "what task-list items need to be done today"?  I, like many people, pick one that I'm calling super-important, and three that are less so but would be nice.  I don't stress it if the three don't get done.

But other, less-obvious things about a Daily Template type thing are also awesome.  I used to do my daily template on a piece of paper, in my early I'm-not-quite-used-to-this-office-thing-yet work life, and it was hugely helpful to jot down optional goals for projects, health (drink 3 glasses of water before noon), things to memorize (when feeling feisty / deprived of art, I would load the template with a poem to memorize the next day; more recently, I choose a song to practice or foreign vocabulary or writing to learn), or spiritual truths to contemplate (I'm a big fan of feeling out that, say, this is a good time to be focusing on deepening my commitment to self-improvement — and if I just jot that at the bottom of my daily sheet for tomorrow, I'll remember to meditate on it when I have time).  

So how the heck do I do this now?  Almost EVERY piece of software designed for #1 or #2 wants to also be my daily planning thing, and exactly NONE of them are as good at doing this as a single sheet of notebook paper (whose only downside, though sadly it's a big one, is having to always carry it / have it on hand).  But I finally found the answer!

Google Forms is something you've probably run into before (it's part of Google Drive; when you go to Create a New File, you can choose from Docs, Sheets, etc. and also Forms), and having used it a lot before (thanks, polyphasic community :D), I found the format really appealing for creating my daily template with.  With Forms, I can pull up my form on almost any device (it took 5 seconds to drop the link that brings up a fresh blank form onto my phone's homescreen, and I can get to it from anywhere I have email) and answer simple, pre-set-up questions about tomorrow:  What's the most important task?  What's your workout goal? — it's almost perfectly like filling in a sheet-of-paper template that way.  (I considered making a document that I could access on any device and just making it a paper-like template instead, and then editing the answers every day…but part of the reason this is less ideal is that once the template exists, I want to be able to glance at it, and I don't open random documents to just stare at them, nor do I want to.  I could print it and carry it around?  Bleah.  I mean, that'd be better than the stupid notifications my task list software currently sends me in an attempt to give me a daily template/list, but not a lot.)

So, Google Forms was a clear winner for input of the daily task-list, which is something I need to make myself do every evening, from any device, easily.  But what about making the day's template exist somewhere that I will notice it, look at it at least once, and can easily glance at it during the day?  Well, it turns out that someone wrote a free app (for Google Apps, so not, like, a totally random/unreliable thing) that emails you Google Form responses.  (This is also simple enough functionality that I feel ok about relying on it:  Forms puts its responses into a plain Excel-compatible spreadsheet in Drive automatically, which, if worst came to worst, I could script about a hundred different things that would email me the updates to it.  It's awfully nice that there's a dead-easy way to do it right now, though!  Took me thirty seconds to set up.)  And that's a PERFECT place for my daily list to be:  In my email, which I will definitely not miss, and which my regular work-flow has me looking at many times a day anyway.  WIN!

So now, every evening I pull up this simple, clean form on my phone or computer (where it's just a desktop link) and fill it out.  It is seven questions long, of which only two are required.  I glance quickly at my todo.txt task list and my calendar (easy on either device) to see if anything's coming up that has date dependencies I need to worry about.  If it feels like there's room to go looking for something to accomplish tomorrow, I can look in The Brain to see what would be fun/useful to do wrt project and idea implementations.  (I have a tag for items in the map that might make good day-tasks if there's a blank space, so I can see them all on one page, with one click, in seconds.)  I can even skip that step and just make "look in The Brain for another project step to take or project to start" a task for tomorrow, if I can't or don't wanna do it tonight.

Whenever I find out about a thing that needs doing "as some point", I put it in my text file / todo.txt.  This is extremely fast, as is checking off done items whenever I feel like it.  If anything starts to "come due" or get urgent, I just make sure it gets on a Daily Template form/sheet/thing pretty soon.  (I can also put due-dates on to-do list items, which is nice for sorting them by "due soon", but I don't rely on this for deadlines — that's what I have a calendar for.)

Whenever I have an idea, of any kind, related to anything, that I want to keep, it goes in The Brain.  I'm still both learning and reeling from the crazy new interface (omg, it has *great* keyboard shortcuts), but holy crap it works nicely and beats the HECK out of trying to store, and later find, the huge swarming mass of ideas in any other program, especially those geared towards more typical business PM'ing.  That I can date Brain items to make sure they don't get lost and have them appear on my google calendar is great, because The Brain is where things are more likely to get forgotten over time; but mostly these items are more generalized, things that can be done whenever I'm working on that project, but need to happen as part of it.  I go to this map to rub my chin and stare and make notes, like a war-general does with the big map of all the troops on the table.  :)

So those are my three foundational pillars of personal management, and how they're set up now that I've finally rebuilt them after life went Roman Centurion on me and salted the godsdamned fields of my daily routin on their way out after razing my schedule to the ground with repeated job-shufflings.  I feel like things are really making progress to not just being back on-track after a tough year, but to being improved and strong enough to hold up to the coming years and their inevitable toughness, too!  :D

 

Let me know what you think, if you read this far!  I'm totally interested in collaborating on maximizing the ease and efficiency of our, um, collective individual processes.

 

P.S. I'm going to read some poetry now, because zow that was a lot of clunky org terms in one post.  Here, let's make it some William Blake!  Many people know the first lines of this, but I think what follows is super interesting:

 

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.

A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A Dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fiber from the Brain does tear.

He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar’s Dog and Widow’s Cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer song 
Poison gets from Slander’s tongue.
The poison of the Snake and Newt
Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot.

A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy and Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the World we safely go.

Every Night and every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight.
Some are Born to sweet delight,
Some are Born to Endless Night.  

Posted in better thinking, hacks, know thyself, roll your own, technical-ity | 4 Comments

Polyphasic Principles

So, I'm a big fan of principles.  "Being principled" or living by priniciples is making descisions based on how well your actions align with what good is.  It requires thinking about what the "Principles of What's Good" are to you ahead of time, and then controlling your emotions and biases in the moment and following their guidance instead.  I love it for many reasons, one of which being that holy crap, is it pretty good at encouraging good luck, gratitude, and keeping your butt out of trouble, compared to other things I've tried.

Here's my guess at the Principles of Polyphasic Sleep:  The guidelines, the things we should gravitate toward as we make every decision, in order to have it be Good.  Of course these are open to discussion!  I'm excited to start.  :D

The Polyphasic Principles

1.  Adapting to a new schedule requires BEING ON the new schedule, consistently.

Never Forget:  During adaptation, every deviation from your new schedule is interfering.

Be wary of adaptation methods that include changing your schedule nearly every day — each of the days you're not on your new schedule, you're getting tired but not adapting.  Adapting requires being on the new schedule, consistently, for ~a month.

Until you have adapted to your new schedule, you are "desynchronized"; i.e. without a sleep-schedule.  Desynchrony is very stressful for the body and, while it won't kill you, it can be super unpleasant and is certainly not a good state to persist in.  We know that your mind/body will re-synchronize to a different schedule, but only if it's exposed to that schedule consistently for long enough to form the habit.

2.  Being rested is important / Being sleep-deprived for long periods is unhealthy.

It's not ok to mistreat yourself, hey — your body is a temple and all that (but really, it is), and torturing it with years of sleep-deprivation is not cool.  Some sleep-dep won't kill you — really, even quite a lot of it won't kill you; most of us choose to get really sleep-deprived for some reasons sometimes and we're fine.  But it's not healthy, and in the long-run, done immoderately, it's irresponsible and will have nasty consequences.

This applies equally to people adapting to new schedules (see #1) and to people whose "usual" schedule isn't cutting it, causing them to miss sleep and rarely feel rested.  (I'm talking to you, tech culture.  Work is not worth your health.)  We are responsible for making healthy decisions about sleep (as best we can), just like we are responsible for making reasonably healthy food-choices.

Respect your body.  Learn what its basic rest-activity cycles (BRACs) are and what makes it run smoothly and feel healthy.  Then do your part to get and stay on a sleep-schedule that works.  It's your job to stay as healthy as you can.  Respect yourself and the people who would have to take care of your sick butt.  :P

Corollary:  What it feels like to be rested — this is some common sense, but to be honest I've seen people forget it when they disregard their own sleep, so here it is.  Being rested is:

1.  Not feeling like you want to crawl back into bed during the day / having consistent good energy

2.  Not yawning often / when it isn't close to time to sleep

3.  Being able to fall asleep *relatively* easily (some people take longer, even when they're rested)

4.  Waking up *relatively* alert and refreshed (again, some people experience more sleep-inertia normally)

5.  Having enough focus, energy, and stamina for the things you do in an average day

BUT REMEMBER:

3.  Every person's sleep needs are different.  

The correct answers to questions about your sleep and schedule will come from listening to your body and following good principles, not from any packaged, one-size-fits-all method.  

This is NOT to say that you shouldn't seek outside information from trusted sources, including seeking medical supervision if there are any special conditions with your health — exactly the same as if you were changing diets.  

However, there are no shortcuts around learning what your sleep needs are, and there is only one path to figuring those out:  Paying attention.  Even for people with The Absolute Average needs in terms of hours per night, the fact that they need blankets around their feet could totally be relevant.  Learn what's been done and take good advice, but don't forget that what works for you, your body, mind and lifestyle, is going to wind up being unique.

 

###

Did I miss anything?  Am I full of it?  :)

(Update on other stuff later – exciting things are afoot, but at the moment, also underfoot.)

Posted in polyphasic sleep | Leave a comment

Random Woah (title caps edition)

Today I randomly figured out that using capitalized passive verbs without subjects* is an elegant and simple way to write a phrase like "our God-given lives" in such a way that it fits with my spiritual understanding (I'm not a theist, if you weren't aware).

Thus:  We practice gratitude daily for our Given lives.  

…and that's how everything was Created.

Yesterday my beloved pet was Killed.

I prayed, I fasted, I meditated, and then one day I finally Beheld.

 

…I really like that; it's fun and it puts just the right amount of tiny-but-fundamental twist on the usual.  It may be uncomfortable, but that's a positive thing as well, IMO:  Focusing on the Doing (and its Ideal / Wholistic / Proper nature) and removing our ability to androgynize the doer is a huge step in the right direction, which is 90 degrees from trying to "give" "It" a "name".

 

::blink blink::  It's only 5am?  Holy crap have I been productive this morning.  …Huh, I woke up slightly *before* 4am today, too, and didn't go back to sleep even though I could have; and I seem to have a lot of energy.  Some of that is doubtless due to this wicked cold finally letting go of me more and more the last few days (not fully gone but yay, getting there — though on the downside, yesterday my partner caught it D:) … but maybe I should also look into a 3:45am wake-time, just to try it out?

*I know verbs without objects are intransitive verbs; do we have a different word for verbs without subjects?  

Posted in aesthetica, better thinking, hacks, logos addict, writing | Leave a comment

The Right to Be Rested

Sleep is a civil right.  And not just any sleep — good sleep, correct sleep, sleep that leaves you rested, is a civil right.  

I feel weird stating that so strongly, but I feel like I almost never see it stated.  And isn't it pretty obvious? 

  • Food is clearly a civil right
     
  • Sleep, like food and a few other basics, clearly falls under "necessities for the pursuit of happiness".  

    • It's an element of health; to be sleep-deprived is to feel (and to some extent be) unhealthy, just as with hunger.  
    • If we're to pursue our Given lives to the best of our ability, we have to be allowed to rest, to obey a BRAC that works for us, and to have enough time for ourselves.
       
  • We already acknowledge that deprivation of sleep is torture

    • It's treated as such, and banned or regulated, in several official global policies
    • We also acknowledge the reality of forced desynchrony and regulate it as a type of torture as well.  (Forced desynchrony is forcing someone off of their sleep-schedule.)  
       
  • If someone feels that a vegetarian diet is best for them, we would not think that it was okay for their work, school or society to force them to eat meat.  

    • Yet there are some significant ways in which we "force" everyone to be monophasic.

      • And not even, I'd argue, because we (as a society) feel that it's better, but just that we honestly haven't f@$!ing thought about it very much.  :)

When I ponder this (as I do pretty often), a few other things regularly jump up and demand to be noticed:

  • How much should we say that "sleep" is a right, vs. "to be rested"?

    • If there were pills that made you rested, and your job assigned them to you in lieu of letting you sleep, would that be cool?  (UM, NO, for a million reasons?)
    • If you sleep less, should you be guaranteed that you retain control(ish) of the time you thus have?  

      • It's actually been only-half-jokingly said to me in a professional context that if I "require" a nap at work during the day, maybe the company should be allowed to "require" me to do at least some work during the 4-8am block of time I thus gain.  …Uh-huh.
         
  • Many of the problems with making it possible for people to be rested are not the result of maliciousness; they're the result of how young and incomplete our understanding of sleep is.

    • We literally did not start seriously questioning the medieval assumptions about what sleep is and how it works until about the turn of the twentieth century.

      • Given that, it's pretty easy to see that we simply haven't (until now!!) gotten to the point of thinking about our sleep schedules, as a society.  Maybe we never would, if they were working for us — but monophasic-only sleep is increasingly not working for people.  And alternative schedules, not just drugs, need to be considered as a way of addressing this problem.

        • I really really dislike drug dystopias, so let's not create one, ok?
           
  • Lastly, this is all kind of scarily important.  

    • Firstly because not all of the reasons for our monophasic homogeniety are accidental or benevolent:  Some are the work of giant industrial corporations, working together wittingly or not to shape and control our lives.  And that CAN'T just be allowed to continue unchecked, when it comes to sleep.  Sleep as an ingredient of dystopia is like this ridiculously huge elephant in the room.  And it feels to me like if people on the ground don't pay attention to it, we're going to wake up one day — ugggh, sorry — and someone's already going to have used it against us.

       

      • …Again.  Worse.  >,>
         
    • And secondly, because of what being rested really means:

      • It's not just about long-term health, though obviously duh
      • It has profound effects on how we perceive and interact with each other
      • What are the overall effects of 75% of your society being more irritable, anxious, forgetful and unhappy?  How do you even calculate the butterfly-of-storms on that one?
      • "Quality of Life" means quality of relationships more than almost anything else (besides basic health, which again means being rested):  How are we to pursue happiness when we, and everyone we want to relate with, are always a bit grumpier, more depressed, and more irritable than normal?

        • (Oh my god, I'm going to remember this argument and use it to propose restrictions on advertising.  HECK yeah.)

Anyway, that's *certainly* enough of that for now; thank you for being a place where I can get my thoughts down!  

(Cue "Thank You For Being A Friend")

(dubstep remix)

(Cue carrier pigeon with a note of apology strapped to its leg:  I am so sorry for the format of this post; I forgot how bad WordPress is with bulleted lists, and I wrote this whole post this way and then was like oooooomg that looks terrible…but I don't want to re-write it.  Sorrryyyyy!)

::flies away::

Posted in poly-ticks, polyphasic sleep | 1 Comment

Image of hand punching up from the snow after an avalanche

Greetings, everyone!  Sorry about the period of silence — "Second Winter" in Boston brought me a pretty nasty cold, and as you may know, since I don't get sick often, I can be a real wimp when I am.  Specifically this lingering cough has me cursing and whining something fierce.  *sigh*  I just haven't been taking fantastic care of myself lately, and that's how we get colds (and have them last 2 weeks instead of just a few days like usual).

(The degree to which I've not been taking good care of myself really deserves more time…specifically I feel like I should ask for advice on how to fix my sugar-screwy, over-carby diet…but, another time.)

I've got a ton of email to answer (sorry!) and several BIG projects that want my attention (some of which are pretty exciting, sleep-wise!  I'll talk about them as soon as I can), but since I owe a post so badly, how about it be useful?  In spite of not making much progress on my long-term goal to tighten up my schedule (I don't like to restrict my sleep at all while I'm sick, for what I feel are "duh" reasons), I have been paying close attention to my sleep habits and patterns lately — partly thanks to the Slack chat! <3 — and I think I've learned a few interesting things:

–  I wake up easily between 4-5am compared to 5-6am.  If I hit snooze a bit after 4, it's ok (I usually don't actually go back to sleep, just lay and be comfy); but I'd better be out of bed before 5, 5:15.

–  The space between my core and my morning nap shouldn't be more than 4h.  I'll start thinking about a nap at about 3h, and feel sleepy at 3.5 — that's the sweet spot.  As I wait longer than that, I sleep less well and have more inertia getting up (though generally my sleep-inertia in the late-morning is low anyway).  If I push it too far, towards 9am, then I'll sleep deeply / well but not sleep as well for my lunch nap.

–  In-between my core and my morning nap is a great spot to get exercise!  So is right after my evening nap.  I'm not sure how much of the ease of those spots are related to their being my default already — those are the time-slots in my life when classes, lessons and the like are apt to happen.  Since I've been financially restricted lately though, I've been having to plan my workouts myself rather than go to classes and trainings, and I've totally noticed that timing.  (It's tricky sometimes, because there are other things I like to do then, too. Que sera.)

–  This one's a repeat, but:  Post-nasal drip is the DEVIL.  That was true for me monophasically too, but just, omg, repeated waves of needing to cough keep me awake in a particularly fierce and annoying way.  And most medicines for simple cold-cough either don't work or have icky side-effects for me.  GAH.  (Told you I was whiny.)

I promise I'll post more soon!  People keep giving me great ideas for material, and then I keep not having the energy to make it happen.  But I'm feeling pretty positive about this time:  The cold will be over soon, the weather will start getting lovely EVENTUALLY, and it seems like other things that have been stuck and unfavorable are starting to rumble loose, too.  :D

Posted in polyphasic sleep | Leave a comment

Part thrwheeeeeee

OK, just a few days into fixing my schedule.  It goes well!  I won't bore you with the details because now I have a Slack group to assault with that sort of thing.  :)  Having the group is great, too — I'm really enjoying having a big ol' chat channel to hash over sleep (and related, and unrelated) talk with interested people in.  

I'm sure some of you will become a pain in the butt shortly, but I've always had a soft spot for humans' tendency to do that, so it's ok.  Some people are amused by watching their cats be jerks and break things; I'm amused by watching humans be jerks on the Internet.  :D  I plan to just calmly and consistently apply a benign Scalzi-type dictatorship, and I'm sure it'll be fine.

Hot Random Pro Tip!  If you haven't been reading the awesome Tim Urban, and especially seen his fantastic TED talk on procrastination, then by all that's wholly interesting, please go do so.  It's great stuff; it will give you hope.

Other great stuff in the world:  Are you watching / have you seen QI?  It's a UK game show hosted by Stephen Fry and it's utterly perfect television (if you like British stuff even a tiny bit) — and there are hundreds of episodes.  

I'm proud of and so far happy with my base schedule, but the work continues.  I'll try to share more in the next few days, but for now it's all about keeping swimming.  

I have some new political and social thoughts about sleep that I'd really like to write down soon.  Sadly, my brain's been off-track for the last few weeks, and most of what I've written has gone straight to the trash or Drafts Purgatory.  (Mounds and mounds of it.  Holy dumb time-wasting, Batman.)

I'd also like to eventually write some stuff about The Other Kind of Poly, but holy cow, it's tough to imagine having the time!  Maybe we'll get there soon though.  :)

Posted in polyphasic sleep | Leave a comment

Tidal Wave 2: My new adaptation + invite yourself to Slack chat!

Thanks to the coolness of the Internet, no-one has to send me their email address to request an invite to the Ubersleep Chat ever again.  You can now go to https://ubersleepchat.herokuapp.com/ and request one yourself!

Thank all the gods for that one; whew.  I was not looking forward to fielding emails and inviting people manually forever.  I'll publish that URL around shortly.

In fact, I'll do a LOT of things shortly, because — wait for it — I'm free of that last job, finally!  I had to work 3 weeks after giving my notice, so I've just kind of been hunkering down and hanging in there, but yesterday was my last day.  

That job was short, but I learned a lot from it:  Primarily, that a good culture fit is everything at work; and that as much as I love my TPM gig, I would be better and happier sweeping floors for a great organization that shares my values and meets my SLB* needs.  So I'll now be launching an *intense* job-hunt with one goal in mind:  Find a great organization to work for, and convince them to hire me.  Wish me luck!

And, um, wish me TIME, too, because I'm going to need it!  Thankfully, now that I can sleep during the day again, I can get a good sleep-schedule back.  I slept a *lot* last night, trying to erase sleep-debt (I think it'll take a few more days); and I'm finalizing my adaptation plans to get my extra ~4h a day back, and make good use of them!  I'll post some updates here, but obviously for the blow-by-blow (and/or if you'd like to help me, or trade help with me), you'll want ze chatroom.  Remember, that's https://ubersleepchat.herokuapp.com/.  WOO.

More soon; it's naptime!  :D

 

 

 

 

*Sleep-Life Balance!  Yet another cool thing to come out of the chat room.  :)

Posted in polyphasic sleep | Leave a comment