There is an interesting effect: people tends to do, or even addidicted into, the meaningless things, rather than the meaningful ones. For example, playing the game ‘clash of clans’ is actually meaningless, because everything is built on virtual data, which doesn’t make much difference to people’s life; but, however, it does make some difference to the player’s life: player has emotional attachment after invested a great amount of time into that game, and lots of time (which can be potentially invested into lots of other things) has been wasted. Put that in the context, the opportunity for playing the game is really high.

However, yet I still like to play games, a lot more than actually doing work. Why?

This graph below can pretty nicely illustrate the reason why people tends to invest their time into the not-so-urgent things

Importance vs Urgency

To make it easy: for the urgent and important things, people have no chance and have to do, and the experience is definitely not so good – because one have the time-pressure. According to the book <把时间当朋友>, the bad-emotion memo would be left within the mind, and would become something which stops one from doing that thing again.. because of the self-protection machinesm left-over by our brain after millions of years of evolution.

Meanwhile, it’s also about ‘choice’. For the ‘important’ things, one often don’t have a choice, but have to do.. while for the not-so important ones, one can selectively do those which give more pleassure. Therefore, the ones that one can gain more pleasure would definitely be done first, while the left-overs are the ones one has to do (those that are not import were automatically ignored).

With that setup, those non-important things, that were ignored, are definitely the ones with less pleassure; thus the things people mostly do from the ‘non-important’ domain, are the more enjoyable ones – which would be called ‘distraction’. As for the important things.. since it’s not so pleassurable as the ‘distraction’, or even given people a kind of ‘suffer’ along the process (losing the pleassure can be also considered as a kind of suffer), were often delayed until it become urgent – which brings more suffer.

Therefore, without proper self-management, the important thing brings in a negative feedback cycle:

|    do the current more pleassurable things (distraction)
|--> delay the important things
|--> important things become urgent
|--> one have to do the urgent important thing, double suffer
|--> 'suffer' caved into memory, important thing becomes even less diserable 

The start of this cycle is the distraction. If one got no choice but have to do the important things in advance, one may found the joy of working from doing things early (at least, resolved the urgence part). This kind of no choice is very effective when doing self management.

Back to the topic of this blog post, ‘MeaningFul and MeaningLess’. One interesting I found about myself is that… I tends to to do the ‘MeaningLess’ more, than the ‘MeaningFul’ ones, though I myself knows for sure which are meaningFUL and which are meaningLESS. I think I am trapped in the negative cycle describled above: without proper time management, life would becomes totally a mess. The meaningful thing like “having lunch” can even become less attractive comparing with the curent distraction doing: gaming. This is an extreme case of the negative cycle.

In order to get back the pleassure in the ‘meaningful’, I think the method of ‘Porodomo’ may help here in this case, it’s just another way of doing proper self-management:

  1. one Porodomo (tomato in Itliatian) stands for one working session. It is atomic – one can only work on one thing during its session. Usuallly one Porodomo is 25min, and followed by 5min break. It’s advised to do some physical exercise during the break time.
  2. There’s a list to keep track of the things one needs to do, in the long term; and another list in the short time (today basis). The list has an estimation of Porodomo needed on different the things.
  3. At the end of yesterday / start of today, one should plan about the things need to do this coming day; at the end of today, one need to review the progress, and update the list

Hopeful this would help breaking the negative feedback cycle :)