Gaming? 4 reasons why I quit.

I have been an faithful gamer for years, from CounterStrike and Warrock though Grenado Espada (Sword of the New World), Diablo series and many others. I still play… by not so much… Why?

Why I have stated to play in the first place? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMrN3Rh55uM)

It was back at university.. I was in RPG club (way better mode of relaxing to be honest) and kind of got talked into trying Diablo. It was already a tad old by then – that was in 1999 or 2000. I got hooked on it due to overall stress and problems with my family that I really needed to vent but had not many options. It was cool to imagine that each of the dogs in it (the ones spitting acid or venom at you) are the person that most hurt you. From there it was a down hill.. maybe not as deep into the pit as some of my friends went (one passed out at the computer after playing for 3 days straight) but I did take it to extremes for a moment. After I graduated games were for me a way to vent the frustration resulting from numerous unsuccessful job searches. And when my son was born.. and I reached the level of tired where you can’t even sleep cause you are so exhausted (yes, there is something like that).. they helped me unplug and reset.

The only real pro I can find are the 3 good friends, whom I can count on, that are left from those years of gaming. I believe I could have met them otherwise as well. People we are meant to come across  can take us by surprise anytime and anywhere.

Games were my exile…. yet their cost.. and I’m not saying financial.. the toll they took on me and my life can’t be underestimated. I was running.. foremost from myself, from looking with clear eye at myself and my life. And I did get myself in a mess, hell I did.

Regardless of the reasons behind me gaming….now, some 15/16 years later. I can say I have unplugged myself from them. It was a conscious decision and here are the reasons:

  1. In overall scope of the day I used to spend at least 2 hours on games. After 10 year of gaming the count is simple 7300 hours = 306 days used up on something totally intangible. Imagine that I could have relaxed or unplugged with more beneficially by my second favorite pastime – book reading, or better yet needle point or developing my skills as a drifter? Where would I be by now?
  2. The involvement in games made me forget the world around me… this did take a toll on the way I look, on the way I see others and on the way I communicate with them. In some ways positive, in some quite the opposite. But it definitely made my ties with real life friends go somewhat loose. What would happen if I used at least part of those hours to actually physically socializing with those I care for?
  3. I took a deep look in the mirror. And I got shocked. I was shocked by my own thoughts on the matter, on why I actually play. I saw a person who is running away from herself, trying to avoid an honest look at her own life, at where she stood and where her path was leading. I fell into the trap of addiction (again maybe not as strong as others e.g. my own husband) but non the less and addiction. And addiction, any addiction, if not kept in check is destructive force.
  4. Then I did the math on all the money I have spent on the F2P games… believe me they are not free if you want to mean something in those virtual worlds and they ain’t cheap. The cost… well.. I could have easily gotten my dream car a few years earlier. And I am not rich by any means. I think this realization was the last nail to the coffin.

I do play now, but I keep a close check on when and how much I spend on it.. and I DO NOT SPEND anymore money on that. If I get tempted to spend more I do exercise or go for a walk; and the funds… I simply take out of my account put into my old-fashioned Piggy. After a year of keeping myself in check I have collected enough money to buy some books I wished to read for long time, to take my family for a fancy dinner and to have running subscription on Spotify (I love music, maybe they don’t have it all.. but they are better than average radio).

I decided I can use this time better, do something meaningful with it instead of living in virtual world.  So far, small steps.. but I already see much good in the decision.

I know that taking look at yourself, on why you REALLY game and facing the response is the hardest, but I strongly believe there is much to be gained. I would like to encourage those infested by the plaque to do so. We have but one life (at least that’s how much we are conscious of ) why waste it on something that will in few years leave us with almost nothing…

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Productivity fails when all you have are meetings

Much has been written on the subject. Much has been said and even more research has been conducted. I can only say that, the older I grow the more AGAINST meetings I am.

Well, maybe not ALL meetings per se… but wasteful meetings. From my experience more than half of the meetings we go through are simply waste of time. Instead of being substance only, they tend to wonder off on subjects not related to the meritum.

A lot of them are also done simply to pat oneself on a back… ergo.. see how much I have done? why haven’t you done so much? … seldom there is questions of what I can do to help you get more done?

Are you really so complex ridden to have to prove your superiority in such a low manner?

I guess in corporate culture we forget that we are part, tiny wheels of one and the same mechanism and if one of us jum up on something… the rest won’t be able to be as efficient as should, until we help that jummed up wheel to move along as well.

So stop patting yourself on the back… start looking at the larger picture and helping one another.

Balance number of meetings vs. what you and the rest of your team needs to do. Else, all you will do is have meetings and none will be actually done

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work and life balance- on paper

There is simple math to life. There is only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. A month is composed of 4 weeks, year of 12 months and 56 weeks. There is no time to stretch that.  Neither me, nor anyone else can have more time. Thus good time management is essential.

Much has been written and said on the subject. With some I agree, with others I don’t.   Let’s do a little math.

  1. first thing that one needs is sleep. Adults need on average 6-8 hours. Results of not getting that for a long time are disastrous to our health. Also if you can’t get that squeezed in your daily plan.. most likely you are doing something wrong. Thus  from our 24 hr .. 7 (average again) is gone.  We are left with 16-17 hours.
  2. Another big chunk of our day is work. It should be taking you between 8-10 hours. In all honesty, I have not seen a person who would stay focused and really productive for as long as that.  I for instance divide my work-time into several areas that are interrupted by certain events allowing me to refresh and refocus. It is my daily routine, which I find best written down on paper and on side of my desk.

My work-day plan looks something like this:

4:00-6:30  work + snack and coffee

6:30-7:00  getting my son ready for school and sending him off

7:00 -12:00 work + breakfast while doing concept work on paper

12:00-13:00 break (usually spent on studying for coming up exams) usually with a tiny lunch

13:00-15:00 talks/phone calls/meetings

15:00-17:00 at least a few minutes exercise and study time

17:00-19:00 dinner with family and help with school work

19:00-21:00 usually household stuff

21:00-4:00 sleep

Of course it varies from day to day due to other arrangements such as different school day start time for my son, his extracurricular activities, my lectures (as I am 2nd year student of law, which means that Thr/Fri evenings from 15:00 till 21:00  and Saturdays from 8:30-19:00 I am away).

3. As you can see there is little to none time left for me and family although in theory there should be at the least 5-6 hours a day. There was a time I worked at an office. Commuting, on top of 8 hours at the office, took me 3 additional hour a day and it was rarely possible for me to get any time during the week for my loved ones. Yet I did make a point of it to leave work on time, if need be I would take projects home and work on them when family went to bed.

Here and again I have proven to myself that time alone and time with family is needed and no planning is the golden rule. With a carefully planned week in a hand you can work out almost anything. In today’s economy it is hard to change a job, yet there are other options that might be a solution for you.. just need to look for it and include it in your daily plan.

Remember, there is no way to stretch time, there is no way to recover the time you have spent working instead of being with those you love. We have just one life.. thus do plan your days- it helps.

Pulling myself together

It is true that old habits die hard, yet there is nothing that can really stop you except for yourself.

Since December I am running an experiment on myslef and I can say that at the least in my case the rule of 3-weeks for a new habit is BS. I guess I am weird. Anyway, that has not worked… what did work out.. it seems is my new approach to my self organization.

Yes, I work at Nozbe, and yes I have a lot to do with GTD on daily basis. Yet, it never quite kicked in on my personal life and personal struggles. Perhaps because I have tried hard to separate the two worlds. Regardless, I have decided to make a bit more sense and give my day a written structure at the end of last year.

Here is what I did:

  1. I bought a physical desk calendar, one of those large ones where you have a whole week on one page and the page next to it is for notes.
  2. I started to keep regular notes of what I do each day in it and what I plan to do … there are things I have already in plan for June or September. ( I do have them in Nozbe as well, but due to work related matters I seldom have time to look at my private ones).
  3.  I do have some financial worries ( it is not precisely easy to be the sole supporter of a family of 3, on a rental and with 2 cats and studies to pay for)… so I started to record everything I spend and to cut out things I can live without on regular basis. I do admit that damaging my car is not going to help my finances in scope of another 6 months or so… but ohh, well…effects of stupidity do tend to be painful.

How I do it:

  1. I record any events as soon as I can in it; and I check on daily basis all the info on them as recorded. I also keep a Google Calendar to be able to update the information on the way, but somehow the physical on-paper version works better on my mind.
  2. I use the blank note page for calculations of finances and recording all the spendings
  3. In a month I have 4 of those pages, so I really use only 1 max 2 of them for the finances. I actually split the page in halves. One for the spending, other for remaining matters.
  4.  Each month after receiving my salary and any other income I might get I run through my account at the bank, pay all that I need to pay and NOTE down in my calendar precise sum that I am left with (if any) .. if it is a debit…I write it in red
  5.  I seldom check my account after that point… as not to get too down in dumps and I do have it all in my physical form.

What I hope to achieve:

  1. I hope to avoid forgetting any appointments ( I have always been ‘on time and on spot’ person but somehow my boys have managed to get me to be late on more than one occasions…I really do not like that). – So far so good
  2. I hope to slowly pull myslef out of the financial issues at hand… of course a 2nd working person at home would be of use… especially after 5 years +… really tired of that. – and here, except for the unforeseen accident, things were going slowly but rater good.
  3. I hope to cut some time out for myslef and things I really wish to do:  a) return to studying Japanese; b) get more time for exercising; c) get time and funds for practicing drifting ; d) add more structure to my study-time as the amount of material covered at the university raises exponentially it seems. — so far rather minor-to-none in terms of results.

I have to admit that I have been raised in times when Internet was not so readily available. I have to admit also that what I wrote in the past about switching to Nozbe ( or any other virtual time management system) is still valid and for one though since early the value of paper and physical calendar …I guess I’m tired of fighting it, although I do see still much value in the virtual system. I can see that the next generation is rather allergic to pen and paper. Yet, after so many experiments on myself, I decided to give this another go… and in combination with virtual tools I think, I hope it might finally work.

Thus far this method has been more effective and more old-habit-breaking than anything else I have tried.

 

 

Procrastination

I believe this to be a curse of even the most productive people. I see that it happens to any of us. .. and it is not easy to avoid it.  But it is possible. I will share with you a few of my tricks, maybe they will come in handy.

One thing is to keep focused. Easiest way to do so is to make ahead of time planning sessions. I kind of like David Allen’s approach of weekly review and try my best to be religious about that. Over the years it has proven very valuable, and the only time I do fall of the wagon and behind my in my to-do lists is when I fail to keep this habit up. Those 2-3 hours in a week for planning and time ‘distribution’ are essential and you should give yourself that time. Regardless if you work with some electronic devises or just plain paper.. sit down, cut all external influences off, concentrate, review what you have done, look at what is to be done in a longer run and plan what will get you there, what little steps you need, to keep heading where you want/need to.

Another thing is to be honest with yourself.  It is humans natural tendency to find excuses, especially where they are reviewing things done or overdue. Stop wasting time on excuses! finding them consumes energy and time.. and they lead to nowhere. Ok, so you failed to deliver something, you failed to complete this or that. I really does not matter why… what matters is what are you going to do with it from now on. So, get your act together, put the item yet again on your list.. at the top and focus on getting it actually done asap.

Making plans in actual ink and paper is crucial. Regardless of my trusted on-line tool where I keep everything, I still plan on paper. Why? Over the years I have discovered that our brain sees these electronic means as fleeting…pen and paper for some reason seems to be more stable to it. Ergo I first plan on paper then transfer stuff over (as needed). And I keep my plan always with me. It is a constant reminder not to postpone.

Small steps method in Planning. Do plan big. Using small steps does not mean you are not planning BIG.. it only means you are not jumping at the huge idea.. instead building a solid foundation for it. So do split big plan into smaller areas, set time to do them.. and DO!

We all have our ups and downs.  Whenever I have my down I repeat to myself “a bee must, a bee does”. Truth is that if I slip off the track I will need to catch up later on.. thus I prefer to do things as soon as possible and not have to remember about them anymore. That also helps keeping on track.

Last but not least… I have tried with reminders…they are cool when you have very tight schedule, but too many of them are a killer to your effectiveness. They detour your mind away from what you were doing, they are disruptive and destabilizing. Though I am a multi-tasker, I choose NOT TO.. cause I would rather get a one job done to perfection than work on 100 little things and get none done properly.  Ergo my reminders are limited to bare minimum. I simply check my calendar daily.

Tough it may seem strange coming from me (person working in a GTD and on-line task management for all those years) I still believe pen and paper can be of value.. the key is to use it right.