OUT OF TIME?

I have been wanting to talk about time for quite a while. We have taken time to be a quantifiable idea—I mean you can look at the phone in your pocket and check it pretty much whenever. Or right now, in the corner of your computer screen. You can definitively say, “oh hey, it’s 3:00. Cassady has posted another piece of writing for me to read!” People love to say things like “Time waits for no man,” and “it was only a matter of time before __________ happened.” And that’s fine. I mean, I wear a watch, I budget my time. I live on a schedule for my day-to-day life. And that’s fine. In many ways, by monitoring my time, I have a greater ability to do the stuff I want to do in my life. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t schedule my life (whoa so meta right?).

But time is something we take super seriously, and it shouldn’t be that way. Time is just a measurement of distance, speed, decay and human perception. Really, think about it. How do you know the length of a day? It’s one rotation of the Earth. That’s the distance it takes for one point on Earth to reach its starting point at a set speed. How do we know how long a year is? It’s one revolution of the Earth around the Sun. How do we know how old a fossil is? We check where it was buried, use science to deduce how long ago the rocks it was buried with formed, and estimate from there. Time isn’t that serious. It needs to sound serious so people will make it matter, but it isn’t that serious. Time is a human construct.

All these measurements don’t happen if people don’t exist. We’ve chosen to measure sunrise and sunset as the period in which we can do things. But think about it, out in space, how do you know when a day is over? Without a watch, you don’t. Now, sure, your body might be able to signal to you that you are tired due to thousands of years of evolutionary development. That’s a circadian rhythm. Though theoretically, if a human were devoid of Earthly experiences they may never have formed one. In which case, where does time exist in space? Well, it doesn’t really, because time is a human idea.

Now, you’re a smart person. You read through all this and said to yourself “yeah, duh. But I still have to get to work on time, or else I’d get fired.” And that’s great. I have two jobs and am a full time student. I know what you mean. But since human life is fleeting, I’d like for you to take this idea into consideration when you are reflecting on your own life. Is the time you have really worth sitting through traffic to get to your dead end job, everyday, for the rest of your life? Is it not reasonable to take the week off to see something you’ve never seen before? You’re not just a number, you’re a person. People are special. We have the ability to think for ourselves. You could get up and walk out of this room, right now and—wait come back! What I mean to say is that you can make choices for yourself that change the course of your life. Certainly, you should think of the ramifications, but don’t be so focused on “this will take me a week to do and I don’t have that kind of time, so it’s not worth doing.” Instead, start thinking about things as “I want (or don’t want) to do this. So I’m going to do it, and if it takes a year or a week, then so be it.”

——

 

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SAVING MONEY

Hello everyone,

 

Let’s talk about being broke. You’re broke, I’m broke. We’re all broke. Well, not all of us, but hey, this is the world we live in. If you’re reading this, you probably have some curiosities about financial aspects. First off, I’m not a banker. I don’t have any monetary ties, and these are just opinions. If you are in serious financial trouble, I recommend talking to a professional (though preferably someone you know, since my financial friends tell me that some people in the business like to “hustle” customers).

Now, if you have ever read the Penny Hoarder, you have a few cool ideas about saving money or earning more. And that’s fine—I mean, the reason I’m writing this is because I read a post on their website about saving money. Living paycheck to paycheck is hard. That’s pretty simple and if that’s your life, you know it. Solving that problem can be pretty hard. Some people can build budgets, and work within them, but often times that is difficult because we want to have luxuries, either for ourselves or for our family. This is a hard reality, but sometimes luxuries are just that—something extra that you can’t get. If you really want to save your money, you need to cut down on or completely remove the luxuries in your life right now, so that you can have more in the future.

Let me give you an example. You have a ritual of getting coffee every morning at McDonald’s, because Starbucks is too expensive, but you really need that cup of caffeine in the morning. This is a luxury. You don’t need that coffee, you just have lulled yourself into the idea that you need it. Many societies lived for years without it. But ok, maybe you need the caffeine and you won’t budge on that. Can you find an alternative? Buy bags of coffee and make it at home? Or maybe switch to a cheaper tea? Sure, it’s not as great, but if it get’s the job done, does it matter?

Of course, if you’ve been penny pinching already, then this might seem obvious. You probably are already pouring yourself half cups of coffee from the cheapest bag possible. But try to apply that to the rest of your life. Are you sure there’s nothing you could cut out or down on? Gym memberships are a big one I hear about people wasting. $20 per month. That’s nothing right? Wrong, that’s $240 a year. So many people have gym memberships for a treadmill and some dumbbells. If you are a legit bodybuilder person, this doesn’t apply to you, because you need those machines, but guess what everyone else! You can run at the park and you can do push up on any sidewalk. Do exercises right in your living room, and you have an extra $240 for your Christmas shopping. It doesn’t have to be a gym membership, but find the excess in life, and minimize it’s cost.

The Penny Hoarder does a good job at looking at new apps and things like sending your spam mail somewhere to be processed for a couple dollars, and that’s cool, but it can be a hassle and that’s really just a way for them to make money. And there’s nothing wrong with that—I mean, they have to make money like everyone else. But all these plans like “save $5 a month every month for a year, and you’ll have $60 extra in December” are no brainers. But you don’t need MORE money, you need to be more efficient with your money (ok, well, maybe you do need more money, but minimum wage is crap and you have to work with the money you currently have. You could probably be more efficient). For me, it’s easier. I’m not currently paying rent, I don’t have kids, and so on. BUT, that doesn’t mean I go out every weekend. In fact, I very rarely go out, and I very rigidly decide what I spend my money on. Why? Because going out every week can be expensive. You will regularly spend $12 or more a head on a meal if you go out. Don’t even factor in drinks.

The whole point of the Penny Hoarder, and other sites like it, are to give you tips on how to be more efficient with your money. But that’s the problem—it’s your money. You choose how you spend it. So stop making the choice that leaves you struggling. Or, if you have no good choices, make the choice that makes you struggle the least. And I don’t mean mental struggles—your well being is important, but if you can’t feed yourself or live with a roof over your head, you’re going to end up worse for ware. Take the 6 months of extra mental weight so that you have the security blanket to not have to have those mental struggles down the line. And to those of you that are already doing this and still struggling…I’m sorry. The truth is that sometimes you can only pinch yourself so dry before something breaks. The system is against you, and there isn’t much you can do. But, that doesn’t mean you should despair. Despair leads to mental paralysis, and you don’t have to have that. In that 20 minutes of free time you get, or 5 minutes, or whatever it is, look for a new job. Craft a way to ask for more money at the job you have. You deserve it. Don’t tell yourself you don’t. You really do.

GETTING YOUR BRAIN OFF AUTOPILOT

Hello everyone,

 

So today I wanted to talk about time. Of course, all time is a part of scheduling something here and there, but in reality time is constantly changing. By now, if you are reading this when it first is put up, have probably just gotten over that 2:00 PM slump (depending where you live, that is) and are on your way out the door in a couple hours. Or maybe you are reading this at home after a long day at work. It’s incredible how sometimes time seems to move…so…slow…

It’s almost like the world has just decided not to be there for you. How do you compensate for that? How do you catch up to time so that the hours at work don’t always feel like hours? One of the ways that works best for me is constantly being productive. This is usually hard, because it is really tiring. But some of the days that go the fastest are when I am completely busy for 8 hours of work. Suddenly, I check my watch and instead of being 10 AM it’s 12:30 PM and time for lunch. My mind was so busy with conquering the task at hand that I was unable to think about how slow time was passing by.

Another way, one that is often easier for people, because they often aren’t completely full on any given day of work, is to make the downtime fun somehow. One of my teachers picked up playing the ukulele in their free time because it seemed fun. And in the down time waiting for students to come around during office hours, they would practice. Again, all in order to take her mind off of how time passed.

The last way, which is much less productive but perhaps the most simple, is to simple browse things. Hours can be eaten away by simply browsing the Internet—Amazon, Facebook, News sites, various hobby site, and so on. They capture a person’s attention, much in the way that an interesting novel can catch a person’s attention, except on a less active level. And this is totally acceptable, but I find that some times when I have done this, my mind gets fatigued, because this sort of stimulation is all visual and mental. There is no physical aspect involved. My eyes get tired, or I finally get over reading another meme, and suddenly I am checking the clock again.

So if the office day isn’t going so well, find a way to take your mind off of what you are doing. It helps. Seriously. Or when you take your break, don’t just go on your phone and read some article or watch another video about cats. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Don’t let your blood stagnate and your brain stay on autopilot. It’ll make you feel better.

PROCESSED FOOD: A LOVE AFFAIR

Hello everyone,

 

Happy Friday! It’s the weekend! Do you meal prep? I recently started trying it out myself. If you don’t know what meal prepping is, its basically front loading your entire cooking for the week. Some people just do it for one meal, some people do if for literally all of them; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s a pretty good idea, because it is quite a bit healthier than, say, not being sure what to eat and instead eating out. I like to prep my meals over the weekends, though I have not moved up to prepping more than just my lunches. Usually I get my groceries  on Saturdays and cook on Sundays (if I have the option to go to my local farmers market on Sunday to get food, I prefer to do that). Much like planning your life with a schedule, by meal prepping you plan your food. The advantage of this is that you are making and eating real food.

I don’t mean real food as in edible items—technically McDonald’s and soda is something your body can use as fuel. I mean not processed foods. Processed food effectively is food with added treatments and what not to make it sustainable in long voyages across the country as well as able to last while it sits on shelves. Think something like…Lucky Charms or Hot Pockets, or even bacon (yes, I know, bacon. Sorry for the bad news). What I mean by real food is items that avoid these mechanical aspects. The human body is designed to break down natural foods. Michael Pollan’s Food Rules is a great guide to understanding the difference between good food and bad food (hey look, categories!), and I highly recommend you do your best to pick up a copy. Science wise though, human beings have gone through thousands of years of development as omnivores, which is a trait we have maintained to this very day. The difference is, however, that for that vast majority of time we survived primarily off of green foods, with the occasional pleasure with meats and sugars.

The reason meat and sugar tastes so good to us is because we are programed to enjoy their flavor more—to crave them. For so long, humans beings were incapable of getting the ideal amount of proteins and sugars in their diet (hence why we have adapted to function off so little of it), and thus our brain brokered a deal with our “want center” in order to push us to eat these foods whenever available, because, back then, who knew when the next time we would get some would be? Processed foods provide an easy production of these foods, which I’m sure sounds like a great thing, but in reality is bad. We don’t control our want center very well—we never get training for it, and it’s all reactions to chemical stimulants in our brain that we don’t really control. This allows us to overindulge in sweets and meats, which our bodies are not ready to process. The result is increased rates of obesity and diabetes. In order to reduce this problem, we need to get control of ourselves—and the best way to do that is to create a disciplined schedule of our food intake!

BALANCING LIFE AND TIME

Hello everyone,

 

Sorry for being so late yesterday with my post. I unfortunately realized that these 800ish word essays are quite hard to keep up with on a daily basis in addition to all the other aspects of life, but I still want to be putting something out everyday. So today we are going to be talking about moderation. Moderation is a concept that is like meeting in the middle. It’s super easy in theory and borderline impossible to perfect in reality. It’s effectively the bane of scheduling, which is something I talked about quite a bit earlier as something that is achievable for everyone. The problem is that moderation is something that is so easy to fall susceptible to as justification for avoiding a schedule. For example, people falsely use “lack of time” as compensation for laziness in relation to exercising. Seriously? So many people can exercise more, but they don’t (I am not exempt from this issue either).

At the same time, it would be immoderate to ask someone to go from 0 hours of exercising per week to 5 hours of exercise per day. That’s setting someone up for failure, which in turn is going to cause someone to feel incapable of success in that area. In my example of a person who is exercising, it will cause a person to not just stop exercising because their body is not ready for it, but also resent the idea of exercising, and will be less likely to come back to that idea every again. So to is it with blogging. Unfortunately, in an effort to start a blog in my break time, I overestimated my free time, and I realized that I will need to keep my essays to less than 500 words—not because I can’t write more (seriously, 800 words felt like too little sometimes) but because the time needed for these entries in a busy life is difficult. This is something you as a person can apply to your own life. Don’t cut something out of your life entirely, like exercise, scheduled writing, family time, or personal time for a fun activity. Rather, figure out where your breaking point is and move backward to where it is enjoyable. Then you win! If it’s exercising, maybe start at 5 hours a day, but when that’s too much cut back to 3 hours. If that’s still too much, cut it back to 1 hour. But don’t cut it out to the point where it’s meaningless (3 minutes of running with no warm up, no stretching, no weightlifting, etc, is pointless). On a personal note, I have realized that 800 words are just too many for my current lifestyle. So I may have to split up my ideas from day to day. Which in terms of coming up with material will make my life much easier. But don’t think of it as a depreciation in thought, instead think of it as an extension—now I get to spend 2 or more days presenting a subject!

TEA AT 3:00 SHARP

Hello everyone,

 

Welcome back! I’ve just sat myself down with a cup of Earl Grey tea to get the spring in my step back that I will need to meet my work schedule for today. Nothing over tiring—just another 5 hours on top of my classes from today—though my roommates all describe me as “always doing something” or “non stop” which surprises me, because I always look at some of my other friends as being more…active in life. I suppose it is because I am on a schedule—in fact, all of us are on a schedule. It is part of how we can efficiently maintain our priorities without losing sleep time and so on. It’s pretty great. Unfortunately, if you are not active with planning your schedule (or worse, keep your schedule in constant free form) you are probably in what many people would describe as a “slump.”

A slump is something that everybody (trust me, everybody) goes through at some point in their life in which they feel excessively unmotivated. People justify this in different ways—to little time in the day, to little energy for the size of tasks required, and so on. It’s all bullshit. Now, it might be very real feeling bullshit, but lets be honest, you can do it. I know I have had many struggles with motivation myself—part of this blog is to help keep me motivated with writing, because I have been rather uninvolved with the world in the last few months. Slumps usually occur when you are doing something taxing to your mental or physical states, or when there is a sudden change in life. For example, my worst slump ever lasted about a year and a half after I went through my first difficult break up. I just sort of…went to school…went to work…ate horribly…and so on. Life was a drag. My current slump occurred because I had a particularly difficult quarter—not in terms of grades, but in terms of workload.

To conquer a slump, you have to make an active schedule and commit yourself to fulfilling it. Often times people who suffer from depression use a similar method to overcome said depression. Which is effectively what you are doing. But it isn’t as easy as write out a schedule and do it—nothing ever is. Get up earlier. Right now I am getting up at 6:30 am every day. It sucks. I have never been a morning person. But I am doing it. And you can too. Really—you can. Sure, you might not make it out of bed the first time, but hold yourself accountable with a punishment. Not a “oh you’re stupid and lazy” kind of punishment—then you will just talk yourself into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and deepen yourself in slump-ville. Really get yourself in their and say “ok, if I don’t get out of bed when my alarm goes off at 6:30 this morning, I am cutting steak out of my diet for the week.” Or if you’re an outspoken vegan, up the ante—“If I don’t get out of bed, I have to try meat at my next dinner with friends.” Food works for me. Do whatever works for you. Maybe it’s reading. Maybe its’ crafting. Maybe it’s working out. Set a goal and achieve it is not where things stop. Set a goal, work your butt off until you succeed once, and then hold yourself to succeeding every time.

I realize this is not totally a natural thing. It’s a logos and ethos thing. The pathos is what keeps you in bed—it’s your body compensating for whatever damage you are dealing with. And you’ll stay in bed until your upper brain function returns. Which is fine. But once you’re back online, you better be up and active, or else your brain functions are going to get lazy too. Which is not the side of life you want to be on. Trust me.