Yak shaving my way to awarenes
Yak Shaving Tool (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I spent an hour and a half yak shaving, this morning.
Ironically, I spent most of that time doing that which I was trying to avoid and didn't realize it until I was nearly finished writing this post.
Let me explain.
It started with a morning chat, in which I observed
"I do pretty well in the AM but the pattern is that I go more and more automatic as the day goes on"
Which is true. So my plan was:
About every so often (two hours I am thinking) I want to do a full reset. STOP what I am doing and do a bunch of stuff (TBD) to wake up and address the next block of time.
It's now 9:34. And I start do work on my "wake up" process.
So how to do that?
I thought: I'll create a Google Doc and every two hours or so I'll look back and write down what I learned and what I was thinking about and what I'm thinking about and what I'm going to do. And I'll use that as a reminder to stay awake, to be present, and not go into the state where I am mindlessly doing things.
Easy. Takes about ten seconds to set up a doc.
Except I'm pretty sure that I started a doc like that before. So I mindlessly browse through past docs looking for that one. Shaving the yak.
Yak shaving sometimes pays off in unexpected ways. In this case, I made a discovery. Several years ago by brother, sister and I went on a bonding trip to Arizona. With long hours of driving, I decided to pool our knowledge of family history and write it down. Which we did. I had my computer (of course) so I wrote it down. It's on a back up somewhere, and on my todo list is a task "find family history" that I faithfully recopy each time I rewrite my list.
But there it is! Some time ago I must have uploaded it to docs! Huzzah! So I write my brother and sister a quick email. The email time stamp says 9:40, so that didn't take too long. But I had no idea how much time it took.
I was deep, deep, in my yak shaving trance, and it was time to return to yak shaving.
After a bit more looking, I decided I would start a new one doc. Easy. Revision history says I started it at 9:42.
I copied the comments from the chat, the ones you see above, into it.
And I was about to note the date and the time, when...
If I'm going to put an entry in the doc every so often, doesn't it make sense to time stamp the entries?
And doesn't it make sense to make the process of time stamping automatic?
So doesn't it make sense to write a doc script that will do that?
As it happens, I have already found script like that, due to another yak shaving exercise. It puts in the date, not the date and time, but isn't that an easy change? I'll just cut and paste it into this doc and...
No. It's not easy, because I cut and pasted wrong. So I restart, and this time I do it right. And finally have it right, and yes, it wasn't that hard.
Yes it is. Here's my first automated time stamp entry:
December 20, 2015 20:11
Yay. That took a total of 35 minutes, including finding the family history, and so on. So on to the main task: stopping, reflecting, and making a plan for the next block of time.
No, wait! Wait!
It's not 20:11. That's like eight at night. It's ten in the morning. So my script is printing the wrong time because mumble mumble.
But I can just change the script so it has the right time zone. Which takes some time to figure out.
And maybe it should run automatically the first time that I open it and put the date at the bottom. Which takes some time.
More mindless activity ensues as I encounter complexity on complexity on complexity, until, more than an hour later, nearly an hour and a half, including the short time I've spent writing this I'm ALMOST done.
And why, I now realize. WTF was I actually doing?
Well, I was working, automatically, to automatically time stamp a document whose entire purpose is to help me get myself off automatic.
Sorry, but, fuck.