What’s the best way to measure progress toward long-term goals? For some goals, like “Read 100 novels in 2020,” it’s easy to measure your progress as you go, and you’ll know pretty quickly whether you’re on track to complete your goal. But if your goal is to write a novel, it’s not clear how to … More The metric that matters
I’ve often found great comfort in the idea that work is never wasted: even if a project doesn’t go the way I hoped, I will still have learned something from the attempt, and I’ll carry that knowledge and experience forward with me. However, it recently occurred to me that work done is not the same … More Effort spent procrastinating is wasted
I love optimization—both the general principle of trying to make things the best they can be, as well as the specific techniques that go into making that happen. In an alliterative-adjective icebreaker game, I even introduced myself as “Optimizing Owen,” which somehow did not surprise my Intro Calculus students. But optimization has a cost—it takes … More Optimization takes effort
Some things, like money, time, and effort, are scarce resources that need careful budgeting to be used optimally. Some of those, like effort and attention, can return stronger after resting from difficult use, as if they’ve been built up like a muscle through exercise, which makes the calculus of optimizing how much and when to … More What we can’t spend
On our drive back from seeing the solar eclipse last year, Clara and I listened to Solving the Procrastination Puzzle, a short book in which Timothy Pychyl outlines why we procrastinate, why it’s a problem, and what to do about it. Most of his advice is solid and helpful, but in chapter 6, “The Power of Getting … More Closing mental parentheses
I love reading, and audiobooks are the next best thing for when I’m driving or doing chores. On the other hand, sometimes I get fidgety while watching TV, and it helps to have some simple knitting occupy my fingers. Both of these pairings seem perfectly complementary: Boring chores occupy my hands and eyes but leave … More Completing partial activities
We recently organized our freezer with a shelf riser and a couple of storage baskets from the Container Store and learned two things: I had been buying bag after bag of frozen chicken thighs because I kept thinking we were out. I think there were four bags in total, two opened. Once we had the … More Organization takes space
A few weeks ago I got a lot of comments about one particular thought: “Every week, I make a list of things I want to have gotten done by the end of the week. Then I schedule in the time I think it will take, along with blocks where I let myself do whatever I … More Should free time be structured?