#100Days Pharmacy Student 💊 | Productivity | Studying | PKM | Life
8922 words

Just open the email, don't waste time prioritising

Reading time: 1 min

How do you empty your email inbox?

I used to click through my email categories and choose the most important email based on my skimming of the topic.

I found this to be detrimental to productivity. By wasting time on prioritising and choosing, less time is spent on actually on reading the email (or skimming and pressing next if it's not useful).

Our ability to make decisions is limited and takes time to recuperate. By prioritising emails, I chip away at my decision making ability, generating decision fatigue. This slows down further decisions and depresses my ability to make good decisions later on in the day.

Just open the first email or a random email. Don't waste time and mental energy prioritising.

See also:
Choosing what to wear and what to buy generates decision fatigue
Single-task, Don't Multitask

Don't always go for the cheapest option - Time, money and opportunity cost

Reading time: 1-2 min

In economics, there’s something known as opportunity cost. It’s what you could have done with the time and resources you spent to do something else.

For example, you could either:

  • purchase an item at a nearby shop for a hefty price
  • or purchase the same item at half the price at a shop that takes an hour to travel to.

Which would you choose?

Purely based on the monetary cost of the item, it would make sense to go to the shop further away. After all, you save on half of the cost the item.

However, one could consider the opportunity cost:

  • You lose the hour you have to spend to get there and the hour back, along with what you could have done instead with that time (such as work an extra shift to earn money or something else to enrich your life)
  • The transit cost (public transport or your gas / electric bill for a private vehicle)

Sometimes, it's worthwhile to save on time cost by going for the more expensive option. Instead of spending time hunting for the cheapest possible option monetarily, it’s sometimes a better use of your time and money to just buy the convenient option. You might even save on decision fatigue.

You save time by doing that and time is precious, for your time is limited.

Weigh the cost of something with time, not money

Reading time: 1 min

We should weigh the cost of a purchase with our time, not money.

We tend to trade our time to acquire money. As we are unable to acquire more time, is arguably a more limited and valuable resource than money. Given that for many of us, time is the source of our money, we should weigh the cost and worthiness of a purchase with the hours we have to spend to acquire that amount of money to make the purchase.

This practice can give you a better idea of how much you actually have to sacrifice to acquire the item and whether it is worth putting the time and effort into making the purchase. This can offers us a better perspective of how much something is valued to ourselves.

Your current writing can be used in the future

Reading time: 1-2 min

By writing, you build your database of written memories. This is knowledge in written form you can retrieve and reuse in the future for future projects.

In the process of preparing this blog, I dug into my database and surprised myself with the amount of thinking and creativity I demonstrated, the resource base I built up from prior reading and viewing, and the many useful thoughts and scattered pieces of writing that can be reused.

Before I integrated my combined notes system into my life, I've forgotten many amazing thoughts and ideas, lost to time. I now instead capture my thoughts and memories along the day. I can no longer return to trying to memorise my ideas and hope I'll remember it when it becomes useful and actionable in the future (especially since your brain can forget things while your notes cannot. I now have certainty that my thoughts, ideas and memories are safe and can be re-discovered when they become useful and actionable.

This habit of writing everything down allows you to work on something that is beneficial to your future self. Integrated into your life as a habit, this takes minimal effort but its beneficial effects will snowball into something much greater for your future self.

See other reasons for why I write everything down.

Allowing yourself to forget allows rediscovery and for new connections to be made in the future when you need to

Reading time: 1-2 min

Forgetting things and allowing yourself to rediscover them in the future is essential to generating inspiration, processing ideas and distilling the essence of information you are taking in.

There are case studies on people who have perfect memory, to the point of being able to recite books they read many years ago. This is not the solution to better thinking (as much as I want easily memorise the massive volume of information from studying pharmacy). The drawback of perfect memory is a poor ability to distill pure information into key ideas and a poor ability to make connections between ideas. Such a trait turns us into a machine, or further, a database. We lose our creativity and ability to focus and come up with new knowledge.

Instead, we should allow ourselves to forget things and delegate the task of holding information in our brains to our writing and note databases (or notebooks). In addition to not disappearing, this frees up your mind for actual thinking and processing, for your brain can forget but can think and process information while your notes never forget. Notes effectively eliminate this weakness in our brain and lay all the necessary information for knowledge generation in front of us.

By forgetting, unnecessary and unactionable information for your present self and situation won't clog up your memory. By properly linking notes to one another and entrenching an organised note taking system and workflow in your life, you can be sure that your future self will find what they need from your notes database when the right time and place comes along.

See other reasons for why I write everything down.

Write for Better Thinking and Less Mental Exhaustion

Reading time: 1 min

By writing things down, you empty your mind of unnecessary information and rely on your notes and writing for storage of knowledge and information. Then, your attention and decision making ability (which is finite and takes time to restore) can be more efficiently applied to actually generating valuable thoughts and ideas.

Rather than mentally choosing what information to remember, mentally choosing what to do next, mentally choosing what you will have to do, write things down to save your mental energy. Writing it down also gives you a good idea of how much stuff you will have to do every day, how long you will have to spend on it, and when or where you should complete it, which you can then plan with minimal workload for your mind.

Your brain will thank you for exhausting it less quickly.

See other reasons for why I write everything down.

Your Brain Forgets; Your Notes Cannot

Reading time: 1 min

Your digital notes database cannot think, but will never forget.

Your brain can think and connect, but readily forgets.

Combine the two and you have a system with thinking (processing and connecting power), along with memory and retrieval (via search and links). Apply the idea of 'emergent properties' and magic happens.

With it, your ability to think and make connections between thoughts and ideas is enhanced. Laying everything down in front of you allows you to view written thoughts side by side and also relieves your mind of the need to keep something in short-term memory (where research indicates that humans can typically only hold 4-8 groups of thoughts or items in their mind at a time, so adding unnecessary thoughts to your short-term memory is effectively clogging up your ability to think effectively and efficiently).

This has the added benefit of preventing thoughts you cannot immediately act on from bugging you, as research indicates that writing a task down in a trusted system you know you will revisit in a timely manner will relieve your mind as much as completing the task.

See other reasons for why I write everything down.

Why I write everything down

Reading time: 1-2 min

Just over a year ago, I started the habit of writing down my life happenings. From activities, major tasks that day, achievements, thoughts, emotions, relationship developments, noteworthy things I read... I'd throw them all into my note taking system, consisting primarily of Standard Notes in conjunction with Obsidian.

Standard Notes acts as my daily journal and my daily thought and memory dumping ground.

Obsidian is where I expand on some of my notes and thoughts after I copy it over and connect them with other notes via linking and tagging.

I see my system as a thought repository, saving thoughts as a written artifact for my brain to freely forget and rediscover as necessary, building a memory repository for my current and future self. A digital system allows me to access my written thoughts and memories whenever and wherever I want through my mobile devices and freely search through them.

This practice has several benefits:

I'll expand on these in the coming days, building up my public digital garden.

I'd recommend this practice to anyone who wants to do something every day for their future self. It's never too late to start building your thought database for life.

First post; I commit to the #100Days challenge.
Thanks for visiting!