I made a video about this!
How bad are our cell phones for our brains, our attention, our creativity? It feels like common sense to say that smartphones are a mixed benefit. OK sure, common sense and Bo Burnham agree, but how do we measure that?
I need focus to study, write, experiment, do something fun and creative, or just keep my mind on listening to a conversation. Making someone feel like I’m paying attention not just waiting for my turn to talk. And when I am focused, my phone going off is a frustrating distraction. And my phone is always with me. How badly does that affect my cognitive abilities?
Continue reading “My phone (probably) isn’t eating my brain”
TL/DR; just the tip: Drink coffee, but drink it carefully.
I love coffee. Coffee is often served hotter than I would like. I don’t want anything hotter than 150 ℉ (65 ℃). The hotter the beverage, the higher the possibility for scalds. My wife and I were on a road trip, and this conversation happened pretty much verbatim. She was kind enough to get me a cup of coffee while I filled the gas tank. The coffee arrived at a superheated temperature. I was afraid a harsh vibration would cause the whole cup to vaporize. Continue reading “Overcaffeinated safety weasel”
I do my proofreading using a text-to-speech engine. Sometimes, I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to create a document or a blog post. Other times I type it out. But either way, I like to have the computer read it back to me (NaturallySpeaking makes this very convenient). Listening to someone (or a computer) read my words out loud helps me catch things that I would otherwise miss. Sentences that sound great in my head sound awkward on being read out loud. Hearing them lets me catch awkward and incoherent sentences. More importantly, I hear typographical errors and incorrect words even when I don’t see them.
Continue reading “Proofreading using a text-to-speech engine”
I have been experimenting with Brain.fm. I am finding it very helpful. It has a lifetime subscription option that I bought through the Boing Boing store. I don’t know how long that offer will be available, but with the discount through Boing Boing the price was less than a year of headspace.
Continue reading “Review of Brain.fm”
To overcome procrastination I’m going to “eat the frog” as my first task in my day. When I get into the lab at 4 in the morning, I usually start with some reading. First, I read the blogs (bad habit). Then I read a journal article (much better). During the election I was hopeless. I barely read science. I’m on a bit of a blog detox these days and my reading habits are much improved.
Continue reading “Procrastination of the good to achieve the best”
Based on some of the writing tips on medium.com, I separated my writing routine into three steps: brainstorm, write, edit. It was amazing how easy it was to write in the morning when I had the topic all picked out from the day before. There are some great writer communities on medium.com.
Continue reading “Writing breakdown: brainstorm, sleep, write, edit, repeat”
I try to take 15 minutes to meditate every morning. The old proverb goes: “If you have enough time, you should meditate 15 minutes each day. If you don’t have enough time, then meditate for 30 minutes.” I laughed the first time I heard that, but I think it’s 100% true. The days I don’t meditate or the days I’m most distracted and most prone to procrastinate. The days I’m most stressed and anxious, the days I feel like I have the least time are also the days when I am most prone to procrastinate. Coincidence? I think not. Meditation helps. The more overwhelmed I feel, the more important it is to take the 15 minutes. Or even 10 (like this youtube video). I used the Headspace program for a year and I do recommend it, but once I had it down it was not much harder to do with a free app like the Insight Timer.
Continue reading “Meditation and pleasure reading help me stop procrastination”
I watched this video about the hemispheres in the brain by CGP Grey. It has a short review of the phenomena surrounding split-brain patients. What was really provocative was the idea that maybe we all have a dual personality and that only one side is verbal. When I first watched this, I had a really odd feeling of recognition, like there was something missing from my life that I had just discovered.
Continue reading “I tired drawing with my left (off) hand; the result was strange”
I drew something almost every day for three months. It was a bit of an experiment on how to learn effectively. Learning a new skill is intrinsically rewarding. I wanted to see if I could learn to draw. I also wanted to see what kinds of practice work for me. Ultimately, it turns out that making time for practice every day was the most important thing.
At first, I started by following along with youtube videos. I followed along on videos by Christopher Hart. His videos are fun and he has some nice books, too. My versions of his drawings were… somewhat demented.
Continue reading “What Drawing for Fun Taught me about Daily Practice”