July, 2010

Jul 10


I was reading through Getting Things Done the other day and found a couple of interesting connections.

In the Mind Like Water post, I saw that GTD’s focus on the next physical action is very similar to being mindful of your physical environment and your senses. It helps you remove worries and insecurities that fill your head. If you focus on actions or your senses, you get out of your mind. Getting out of your mind also shows up when the author talks about brainstorming.

“Few people can hold their focus on a topic for more than a couple of minutes, without some objective structure and tool or trigger to help them. Pick a big project you have going right now and just try to think of nothing else for more than sixty seconds. This is pretty hard to do unless you have a pen and paper in hand and use those ‘cognitive artifacts’ as the anchor for your ideas. Then you can stay with it for hours.”

You can’t think about a topic for a long period of time without your mind wandering off to random topics. Writing your thoughts down anchors your mind. It brings you back to reality. Not only is there a connection to the previously mentioned “next action”, this seems connected to bringing your mind back to your breath.

David Allen also says that brainstorming requires you to not “judge, challenge, evaluate, or criticize” your ideas. I have talked before about objectivity being a common aspect of both science and mindfulness. With brainstorming, being non-judgmental lets you explore all your ideas. You can write everything that comes to mind and then cut out the bad ideas later. But, according to the author, you will find ideas that you did not know that you had if you just let it all out.

I don’t know. I could be just making connections because I am looking for them. But things seem like they are fitting together.

Jul 10

The Creation Habit

Sometimes, I wonder if I am making progress in controlling my behavior in everyday life.

There are moments when I take a step back and think that I have about the same amount of discipline as I did a year ago. There are other times when I think that I have gotten a lot better at controlling my behavior and the sky is the limit. Those initial thoughts depend on what mood I am in at the time. I can go either way.

But when I think that I have not made progress, I remind myself of rationalfocus.com. This blog immediately disproves the thought of me stagnating.

This is one of the great benefits of creating something. There is no denying its existence. Which, of course, could be a good or bad thing.

In this case, it is a good thing. I can look back at this blog and see disciplined action.

But, it was not just the content that kept me coming back.

Writing this blog has become a habit. I was planning on not writing a post this Monday. But I could not stop myself from doing it.

It is somewhat of a paradox.

Being disciplined in writing this blog has created a situation where I lack the discipline to stop consistently writing in this blog.

Jul 10

Rational Focus (Year One)

I started this blog one year ago, tomorrow. I have written an entry every Monday since the beginning.

I am proud of the fact that I was able to do something consistently for a year. There were many times that things came up in my life when I thought that I would not be able to write an entry.

But I was able to get one in on time. And that required discipline to choose to not do things when this was a higher priority.

Most importantly, my interest in the blog did not wane throughout the year. As a matter of fact, the weekly entry helped to remind me and reinforce my interest in rationality, quantification and mindfulness.

It is interesting how the topics of my posts have turned out. A year ago, I thought this blog was going to be more about rationality than anything else. But as it has turned out, I have focused on mindfulness and quantification equally as much as rationality.

I am going to use this one year anniversary as an opportunity to change a few things on the site.

I am going to change the look and feel sometime soon. While I like the clean and simple look, I would prefer more content on the main page without it being overwhelming.

I am going to find a different schedule for posting. Mondays turn out to be the busiest day of the week for me, even without doing the blog post. I may post multiple times a week or maybe once every couple of weeks. It all depends on what will allow for the best quality of posts.

Finally, I am going to attempt to organize my thoughts on the topics in this blog into some kind of actionable system or formula. You can see the beginnings of it in the past few posts.

I believe I am on a path that will lead me to a convergence of rationality, mindfulness and quantification. This blog will serve as the log that captures this convergence.

Jul 10

Categories of Controlling Thoughts

BucketHere are the categories of thoughts that caused me to get lost for a little while:

  • writing blog (30%)
  • my surroundings (22%)
  • something I need to do (22%)
  • something I want to do (17%)
  • past event (9%)

Like I said previously, having an agenda going into meditation is distracting.  Close to a third of the thoughts that took my focus away were related to keeping track of my thoughts, writing down the time and taking note of things to write about in these blog posts.

It is interesting that those type of thoughts happened the most frequently.  I figured that being interrupted by my immediate environment (or at least the prospect of that) would control my thoughts the most.  That is not the case. Continue reading →