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?

Continue reading “My phone (probably) isn’t eating my brain”

Meditation is helping me not procrastinate

If you want your mind to be less distracted, you have to practice the skill of un-distracting yourself.

That is meditation. It is a technique for training the mind to return from distraction easily. That is different from trying to focus. Trying hard does not work very well to increase attention span. It sort of backfires. Meditation is more like accepting a certain amount of distraction, but practicing bringing the attention back. The mind inevitably becomes distracted and it takes a lot of practice to sense that when that is happening and gently correct it.

Continue reading “Meditation is helping me not procrastinate”

Pressure Cooker for Students

My pressure cooker has been one of my best purchase decisions

Before I purchased my pressure cooker, I would get home hungry and go to the restaurant across the street. Since I would take my girlfriend, that added up to $60-80 per week. I felt like I was bleeding money through my stomach. I bought the pressure cooker for $100 at the local hardware store. It paid for itself within a month. The particular pressure cooker which I purchased also can act as a rice cooker and a crock pot (slow cooker). So I gave away my old Crockpot. The net result was no increase in number of appliances in my small kitchen.

Continue reading “Pressure Cooker for Students”

Study Tip – Go Home When You Are Done

Work somewhere quiet and do not go home until the job is done.

In my later undergraduate days, I realized that I needed a place to study that was separate from my home. I was lucky enough to work in a university research lab that gave me some space to study. If I hadn’t had that, I would have found a quiet library nook to work in on a regular basis. One of my biggest advantages in finding a place to study on campus was that I could study until my day’s work was done.

Continue reading “Study Tip – Go Home When You Are Done”

I’ve taken a media vacation this week and it was great

I have taken a week off from the news and Reddit and really enjoyed myself.

Strongly consider taking a media vacation, especially if you are stressed out. Watching the evening news or reading the morning paper can make an informed citizen, but the internet lets us get way too much news. The Internet allows us to check the news every 15 minutes. This uses up our mental bandwidth, distracts us from tasks at hand, and makes us feel powerless.

Continue reading “I’ve taken a media vacation this week and it was great”

Allergies make me feel tired

If you are experiencing fatigue, look into allergies

I thought something was really wrong with me when I moved to Texas. I felt unbelievably tired all of the time. I read up on all kinds of maladies and syndromes. Nothing fit very well. A good summary of the conventional approach to unexpected fatigue is at webmd

Continue reading “Allergies make me feel tired”

Another step in the ongoing development of Bachelor Chow

High-calorie Bachelor Chow

Based on some feedback a few months ago from Reddit, lab mates, and commenters on the site, I decided to enrich the calorie density and lavor of my bachelor Chow recipe (available for download in the Top 10 Recipes booklet). This is a short report of my results. Obviously, not everyone is interested in adding calories or additioanal cost to their food shake. For those who are, however, the simplest manner with which to add such calories is vegetable oil. Oils/fats are very energy dense. Relative to carbohydrate and protein, oils contain almost twice as many calories per gram. They are also extremely cheap. Hence…

Continue reading “Another step in the ongoing development of Bachelor Chow”

Doing the First Thing – Browser add-ons to help avoid distraction and procrastination

Browser addons can help avoid distractions

I find that I am easily distracted with semi-productive sites on the Internet. I like Reddit for lots of reasons, but one of my favorites is that I can restrict the subreddits that get displayed to me. I have subreddits like /r/hardscience and /r/chemistry on my front page. While this is great, it tends to lead to my reading Reddit when I have other priorities that I know are higher. I found that the firefox add-on called Leechblock helps me focus. There are more, similar plugins for other browsers.

Continue reading “Doing the First Thing – Browser add-ons to help avoid distraction and procrastination”

Doing the First Thing – Tips to overcoming procrastination

Separate Decisions from Actions

David over at Raptitude talked about separating decisions from actions. I loved this. He has written very insightful pieces about procrastination. Any course of action is harder if you allow yourself to second guess it while also trying to do it. David uses the example of pushups. He wanted to do pushups every morning. That is a very simple decision without a lot of room for self-doubt or questioning. When willpower is at its weakest, those internal lazy voices start saying “are pushups really the right thing? Maybe sit-ups or a run would be better.” If you allow those questions, you will fail to do the job of pushups every morning. Separating the decision-making from the action can help accomplish the goal.

Continue reading “Doing the First Thing – Tips to overcoming procrastination”

Tips for College Introverts from Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet discusses in depth the role that introverts can play in business.

I have been thinking about how that might apply to college students. I worried in my last blog entry that perhaps a entrepreneurship oriented economy might disadvantage introverts. This may be true in some cases. Nonetheless, the book goes to great lengths to highlight the skills and inclinations that introverts bring to the table can be very valuable in business. Susan Cain discusses the advantages of introversion like sensitivity, firmness, preparedness. These things can work out just fine in college.

Continue reading “Tips for College Introverts from Quiet by Susan Cain”