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I obviously haven't posted to LJ in a long time, which is a bit of a… - Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
February 6th, 2009
07:59 pm
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I obviously haven't posted to LJ in a long time, which is a bit of a shame happening so soon after I got a permanent membership. I tend to view writing in general, and LJ posting in particular, as an extremely large amount of work (at least in prospect) and thus don't do it. Lately I've been trying to treat DPB more like talking, resulting in my posting a lot more. I'm also on Twitter now, but the 140 character limit is a powerful disincentive to complex thought. This post will be mostly musings.

Trips since I posted last: my cousin Tara's wedding, Christmas in NY, New Year's in Pittsburgh. Still nothing much going on while I'm in Dallas--a few NTOS meetups. I'm somewhat disillusioned with FFXI lately and have been playing a lot less, though still probably 2 weeknights and 1 weekend day per week. Lots and lots of web-surfing, which is my typical killing-time-without-really-accomplishing-anything activity (though in a probably atypical form—lots of reading about economics lately, for example).

I've had the thought several times over the years and now think it's pretty definite that I have major fluctuations in energy over a several-week scale. When I have higher energy I spend less time on websurfing and the like and more on attempting to accomplish tasks, whatever those tasks might be. This is also when I start good habits, if I do at all, and I'm also more rigorous about tracking what I'm doing. Some habits do stick for the long term (I keep a grocery shopping list now, which I didn't used to do) but many of them fall away in the lower-energy times. I'm definitely in the slumping part of the cycle right now.

I'm not sure why this happens—whether it could be biological or whether it has something to do with my interest, focus, etc. Right now I have a large number of tasks that are sitting in my Request Tracker instance at their max priority (I have it set up so that priorities adjust towards max priorities as time passes). Something like this seems to happen with every task tracking system I try to use, and as it does I come to dread using the system at all. This leads to a vicious cycle of not wanting to even look there, and if I do look, not wanting to do any but the easiest of tasks found there. I'm not quite sure how I ever get out of this (if I were, I'd probably try to do it sooner) though it must involve either completing a bunch of tasks in a minimal way (I know that as tasks sit there becoming irrelevant, my standards for how well they need to be performed to be considered accomplished diminish drastically) or flat out deleting them.

I'm becoming very aware of my limits. For example, I have a predilection to get too little sleep. Recently I've been devoting a lot more time to sleep, but this comes at the cost of whatever I would have been doing in the late evening or early morning. It's become apparent as well that my hours at my job are longer than is ideal for me (maybe this makes me a snowflake since I've been told after telling others what they are that they "weren't that bad", but it seems true for me). Massively compounding this problem, anxiety over not having enough time leads me to devote even more time to low-benefit tasks like excessive websurfing.

I still have no real social network in Dallas, just a couple of co-workers I'd consider good friends (who are themselves to some degree social islands) and NTOS. NTOS is only a meeting a week at most and every single NTOS event seems to clash with an event of my linkshell in FFXI. I can't bring myself to abandon my linkshell since I like a lot of the people in it and they got me where I am in the game, but I've come to realize that there is a level of performance that we seem to be unable to put together (for example, we've lost Dynamis - Windurst at least 10 times now), and the schedule can be brutal—Dynamis every Saturday night (the same time that NTOS meetings are about every 2 weeks, forcing me to make a tough decision especially since I know I'll miss a certain number of Dynamis runs every year due to vacations as well) and currently Sky every Tuesday and Thursday, which I think I'm on the precipice of dropping out of since 2 weeknights is often all I choose to play per week and I do have other things I want to accomplish in game. There are also frequent requests to help with this mission or that, which lately I've mostly been declining unless the person needing help is someone I particularly like, due to low playtime—yet, doing this I feel undeserving to ask for similar help myself. In spite of all this I do really enjoy actually playing the game, but the social and scheduling factors can be a huge drag. (Also, all my RL friends who play MMOs play WoW instead.)

Anyway, from one part of my mind I feel an extremely strong aversion to the steps that would need to be taken to meet other people, and any explanation I would attempt to make is just a rationalization of not overcoming that revulsion. From the other part of my mind, I have an extreme doubt in the value of the process since I don't really think I'd like the people I'd meet in Dallas that much, and I don't want to invest anything in Dallas since I'm not going to settle down here anyway. This is one of those things that sounds perfectly rational at any given point, but when looking back on the fact that I've been here for 3.5 years now, and just renewed my lease for a year, it starts to be pretty questionable.

I think a lot of these issues can be summarized by the statement that I am extremely risk-averse. Of course, I'm not risk-averse as regards everything, and for a long time I let that make me believe that I wasn't risk-averse at all. But it may turn out that I'm only not risk-averse when I don't think something is really important anyway.

I realize a lot of the above may sound like complaining, and I don't want to give the impression that I'm miserable. I certainly wouldn't say that I'm thrilled about everything. But I once read a theory that each human has a given set point of happiness to which he will converge as long as his environment remains the same. That may be overstated, but it seems to have a kernel of truth. In that light I would say that I'm doing about as expected: that my stay in Dallas has been rather light on satisfaction but heavy on pay; that I'll try to manage my money (even in the current macroeconomic situation) well enough to set myself up in a situation that better meets my needs; and that hopefully I don't turn out to be quite as hard-to-accommodate-by-virtue-of-being-unusual as I sometimes worry I am.

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From:papertygre
Date:February 8th, 2009 07:22 am (UTC)
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I haven't wanted to take steps to meet anyone in Santa Barbara, either. I definitely attribute that to the expectation that I'm not going to settle down there. Have you gotten the emails I sent you recently? Haven't seen a reply so curious if they are getting blocked or something.

I would think that a better configuration would be to have tasks *lower* in priority as they age. I frequently find that when I am first thinking about a task I believe it to be a higher priority than it really is when compared with everything else, and leaving it undone is how I come to realize this. A weekly review a-la GTD would be the opportunity to rescue any declining task that really is important, e.g. has a due date coming close.
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From:kenoubi
Date:February 8th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I got them. Sorry, I've been terrible about responding to email lately.

I'm not quite sure how that would work. The weekly review would itself be a task that could (and if history is any guide, eventually would) be missed. Then I'd lose my (already tenuous) trust that the system is actually keeping track of everything I need to do. The other reason for me to have a task tracking system is to encourage me to spend at least some time on each of my goals (which I'm representing as queues in RT). I can't see how declining priorities would help with that either.

I think there is a major difference in our organizational problems (even though they do also have some striking similarities). Your wasted time tends to take the form of wild stabs at your actual high-priority tasks. I tend to waste time on non-tasks, or at best tasks that are not represented in the task-tracking system and I'm perfectly aware aren't very urgent or important.

(Incidentally, RT 3.6 is incredibly ugly out of box and still pretty ugly after quite a bit of hand-tweaking. I really wish JIRA (which we use at work) were open source.)
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