Sunday, October 26, 2014

The two second rule

Yep. The fountain I wanted was one of the green ones on the top shelf.
Not quite first order access, even though it's in front.
Keep any tool you actually want to use within two seconds of being useful.
You want to be able to make use of whatever you need without losing your concentration. Your use of a tool drops off significantly if it takes you more than two seconds to access it.
Glancing at a watch is easy and immediate. If you had to walk across the room to check the time you wouldn't do it unless you really wanted to know it. 
This goes for kitchen or shop organization too. Put everything in front. That way the right tool for the job is immediately available. (Then put it back where you found it.)
When you reduce the friction between getting your tools and doing your work, you'll reduce the psychological barriers that slow you down.
This is how you get out of your own way when trying to accomplish things.
It applies at other scales too. People tend to make good use of neighbourhood playgrounds and greenspace if it's within a three minute (240m) walk from their house. Beyond that, usage drops off like crazy. The distance outweighs the benefit. It's the same principle at a different scale. To actually use it, remove the barriers.

Corollary: Get rid of things you don't want to use. If you can't get rid of them at least make them inconvenient. Save money by leaving credit cards at home. Hide the halloween candy and make sure handy snacks are healthy snacks.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Just the best, please

Look at you. You obviously have great taste in clothes. You know what looks good and what to avoid. Here's some meta-style advice that will simplify your life, unclutter your closet and help you look your best.

Just wear the good stuff.

Turf the rest.

Not all the cars in a Nascar race come in first. No matter what your wardrobe is currently like, some of your clothes suit you better than others. You wear some clothes lots, while others pad your closet.

Project 333 has thrown down the gauntlet against overstuffed closets.

Here's how it works: Pick 33 items of clothing. That's your wardrobe for the next three months. Burn your ships. Discard, donate or sell the clothes that didn't make the cut.

If you save your 'ugly' clothes in your basement, you'll miss out on some of the benefit. By preemptively pruning your choices, picking what to wear becomes much easier. You won't waste energy wondering if you should look elsewhere. However, it's okay to stash a few seasonal items that don't make your 33 this season.

The Project 333 website has loopholes (like sleepwear) if you need a little leniency.

You'll look better and feel better. You're only wearing your best clothes, and there's less decision fatigue when you have fewer things to pick from. Save your limited decision making energy for things that matter.

Then in three months, switch it up for next season and go again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

You have enough.

Though you might not realize it yet.
It's a bit of a Catch 22: You can only get enough by discovering you already have it.
Those who chase money or fame will never have enough.
It's not about money or stuff. In fact, everyone you know has too many things, and would actually be happier owning fewer things. Recycle, give away, donate or trash three things today. It'll feel liberating. Do it again tomorrow.
Stay off the hedonic treadmill. Things you want are wonderful, when you get them they turn into things you have, and you don't get to want them anymore.
Kurt Vonnegut, in his 93-word poem "Joe Heller" articulated it clearly, observing that a billionare could have made more money yesterday than Joseph Heller's novel "Catch 22" ever did. Joe's response:

Beyond that, find something bigger than you that matters and contribute your energy to it.
Even if your goal is happiness, trying to be happy for your own sake isn't likely to succeed. You are far more likely to achieve happiness as a byproduct of working towards something you find meaningful, even if you never achieve it, than you will by making happiness the goal.
Know that you have enough.
Know that you matter.
You can pour yourself into something meaningful, and you can be happy.
That's something you can be thankful for.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reality, Survival and Freedom

Reality: What's true is true and can't be negotiated or ignored.
Survival: Every citizen needs to meet their physiological needs now and in the future: Air. Water. Food. Thermoregulation. This is not negotiable. The alternative is lethal.
Freedom: Once we have confidence in our immediate survival, we want to be free to do what we want.
Embrace reality. Survival and freedom for all. Any defensible governance model must champion those principles both at home and abroad.
Survival trumps freedom. Your right to survive supersedes everyone else's freedom to kill you. Your right to drink clean water and breathe clean air supersedes everyone else's freedom to pollute it.
You get the moral authority to these rights by affording them to others.
With reality, survival and freedom you can derive the rest.
Ecology: Protect the ability of the world to meet our physiological needs, so we can survive in perpetuity.
Science: Learn how the world works so we can ensure it continues to meet our needs.
Rules: We ensure our freedom by protecting the freedoms of all. This can mean restricting individual freedoms to achieve broader objectives: Drive on the right. Stop at stop signs. Don't steal. Pay your taxes. That sort of thing.
We cheerfully forfeit our 'freedom' to drive on the left so that we can all get where we're going.

The rest of politics is ideology and posturing. It's pretty wide open, but any governing body that violates these principles loses its moral authority to govern.