I am a computer programmer by day and philosopher by night. I post once or twice a week. I aim to prevent blogging from taking to much time, while allowing time to develop each idea before posting it. Each has some reference to human, universal, or societal truths, while presented in an organized, understandable & consise way -- this is the plan anyway. Results may very as what rings true for one may seem false to another. Also becuase sometimes I get things wrong.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Don't waste a moment

I have had productivity on my mind a lot recently. I've had far more to do at work than I can keep up with. I have numerous commitments to myself and others to keep. I've been sick twice this month. The result of this is that there is always many things that seem to "need doing." The number of things that I get done now, while perhaps small compared to the amount of some get done, has been increasing.

From this, I have been trying to figure out how my ability to get things done more quickly has improved. One of my conclusions has been that I am doing fewer things that have no value and thus aren't worth doing. So in order to have more time on the "things that really matter", I have stopped taking time for things the don't "really matter."

Here is a starter list. Perhaps readers will add additional items. I am writing in the imperative mode as intention is that these be reminders to myself and whomever founds value in them. I can not presume to know what is best for you. If I seem arrogant to you it is likely that you misunderstand my intent.

Actions that have no value so don't waste a moment


worry itself never solves a problem. Many people believe that it does, but I believe not.


I heard a great story today about 2 monks that illustrates my point.

These two monks are an a pilgrimage. The older monk is a well respected deeply spiritual person. He is a popular author and lecturer. The younger monk is studying under him. As it happened, the two monks came upon a wide river.

Just as they were about to start toward a bridge was a long distance up river, a wealthy women appeared who demanded of the older monk that he transport her across the river on his shoulders. The younger of the monks protested that the women had no right to ask this, but the other monk immediately agreed with a smile and carried her across. The monk managed to carry the women across the river and set her down gently on the far side. The women left without a word.

As the monks walked through some fields of tall grass the monk wondered why the other had carried such a disrespectful women across the river. As they strode along a wooded road his mind considered how the wealthy mistreat the poor. Coming upon a town where they would spend the night, the younger monk asked the older why he had carried the women across the stream. The other monk said simply "I carried the women across the stream, but you have been carrying her all day."


Guilt effects the innocent as much if not more then the guilty. Guilt is a sort of social fear that is evoked when we feel we are not living up to our social obligations. This is often just a matter of our own perception, and who is to say these obligations are just? Perhaps, the worst of all is that those who can hurt with impunity rarely suffer from guilt.


After bitterness and guilt, I don't think an explanation is needed.


If you compare yourself to someone else you may feel pride or shame by the contrast. These feelings are superficial so it is better not to have them then to risk the chance of putting any importance on them. You have your own set of gifts, maybe less, maybe more. You maybe able to improve, but comparing won't help you to improve.

Concern for what people might think

Don't spend inordinate time considering if an action may reflect favorably or unfavorably in the eyes of other people. If you do the right things, then those who look deeply will recognize and acknowledge you for your deeds. This is also a form of worry as above.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Dr. Seuss


In most things, you will never be able to exactly match the world to your own ideal. Make things good enough plus a little extra.


The likely hood of making a better decision with more time is unlikely unless additional options or information becomes available. Simply thinking more about it doesn't help much beyond a certain point.

Hypothetical Futures

Spending time on how you might handle some future event is not worthwhile, unless the even is most likely or the failure to prepare for the even would be highly costly (not speaking of monetary cost exclusively). Some other eventualities may be prepared for if preparations are already known and can be done quickly.


Why would you need to justify yourself?

Pursuing someone else's ideal of success or happiness

You will never be happy unless you find what makes you happy. You won't feel successful until you achieve your own ideal of success.


In summary spending time in the future or in the past does not help much in getting done what needs to be done. Most of the items in my list fall into one of these categories.

Image of Frederick Winslow Taylor. I feel this use is slightly ironic given the almost robotic nature of his strategy to improved productivity.


At Mon Nov 21, 12:33:00 AM EST, Blogger Bar Bar A said...

James...this is absolutely must reading material for anyone and everyone. This is profound reality that not everyone applies, yet I don't know how anyone could disagree with a word you have said. You've done an excellent job of articulating this. I'd like to link to you tomorrow if you don't mind....Mr. Mindless :) Now that's irony.

At Mon Nov 21, 03:45:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mind. :)
Link away!

Apparent contradiction is my specialty, of course that was not the contradiction I intended by the name mindless.


At Tue Nov 22, 10:14:00 AM EST, Blogger Netwoman said...

This is great, thanks for posting.
I need to remind myself of these same things...it's so easy to get caught up in everything - why? for what reason? in the bigger scheme of things, the they just don't matter...

At Sun Dec 25, 07:35:00 AM EST, Blogger stevie.be. said...

this is a great list and reminds me of the ten illusions i have up on my blog (on the right side) i think they may correlate directly. thanks for some affirmation in that... i am still early on in my quest for this vein of spiritual knowledge (at least it is for me) but i'm growing.. t.y.


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