My phone (probably) isn’t eating my brain

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?

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Meditation and pleasure reading help me stop procrastination

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.

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What Drawing for Fun Taught me about Daily Practice

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.

2015-12-05 11_13_11-draw blog - Google Docs

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How do you pick a good roommate?

Choosing a good rommate can mak or break your year.

The following is an excerpt from a longer work on college life, and I would love to get your comments or feedback

The quality of your roommates is the most important consideration by far for choosing a place to live. This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how I didn’t think to consider that in looking for a place to live. When I was looking for a place in the dormitories for my second year of college, I made sure I was next door to some friends and that we had a good view. Later, we found out that the other people on that floor were filthy, loud, lazy and belligerent. But the view was nice.

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Study Tip – Pink Noise Fuzzes Out Sound

Pink Noise is like a “warmer” form of static

Our brains quickly learn to ignore it, but it saturates the auditory system and makes it easy to tune out other noises. I find that when I am stressed, I need a quiet environment without distraction to study effectively. This is a tip that works about as effectively as any earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.

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Links – Saving Money and Financial Independence

Best Sites and books on Saving Money

Some of my favorite blogs, books and sites for saving money. Most of these are not about frugal tricks (like ‘avoid paying $5 for that latte’). These are more serious lifestyle blogs and books. These talk about how to come to terms with money and its role in our lives. These are books about focusing on what is important, cutting out the distractions and creating abundance for ourselves.

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Simple Student Recipe – Taco Soup

Taco soup, one of the recipes in Top Ten Student Recipes at Gumroad.

This is an easy soup that tastes great. Sauté ground beef with taco seasoning in a pot. If the beef is frozen, a little water in the bottom will ensure it thaws before the bottom burns. Once the beef is well on the way to done, add a diced (chopped into small bits) onion. The timing is not critical. Once the beef is completely done, add one large can of diced tomatoes, one medium can of corn (not creamed corn), and one medium can of red kidney beans. When it’s warm, it’s ready. If you want to get fancy, serve with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheddar.

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Simple Chicken for Students

The simplest, easiest chicken to make in a hurry..

You need some frozen, cooked chicken. It is sometimes called “Fajita meat,” or “Sliced and Seasoned Boneless Chicken.” This is super-easy chicken to start with. If you have a little time on a Sunday and you want to save a lot of money, bake up your own chicken. Broiler chickens are often $1 per pound. It is almost impossible to beat that. You can take all the meat off and freeze it for later. I will post a link to my favorite methods for cooking chicken next week, so stay tuned or sign up for my mailing list at the right.
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Using NaturallySpeaking for college and editing

How to edit for people who hate editing: I hate editing. It’s my least favorite part of the Academic Experience. Editing makes me really anxious because I miss little things like typos and misspellings. Editing for clarity and readability is hard, but it does not give me the same level of worry.

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