Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ideas Here and Everywhere: Producing All that I Want

It's strange to think that much of my mental health self-improvement ventures this year are set at recapturing old traits I had once already possessed -- and lost to a difficult time -- which makes me feel like I'm traversing old grounds. But it is true.

Lately I've noticed that I'm beginning to recapture the old trait of having a mental pour spout of ideas. Probably due to the Mental Missions, increased productivity, and use of a voice recorder I have been having more and more "worthwhile" and recordable thoughts, often in overwhelming amounts. It's like finding a tree with more fruit than you could possible eat, which simply won't cease falling from the branches in perfect ripeness.

I know I can't rationally expect all these ideas to remain worthwhile and good in the long-run, or to have time to possibly address them all, but I do want to increase my ability to do so. Interestingly, my desire to act on my greatest number of thoughts lies in the realm of writing and reading. I hate discarding old writing topic ideas just because they grow too old, or maintaining a book list that barely gets nicked at. I can make peace with all the other thoughts and plans I may have to let good, but the writing and reading really bugs me.

Even as I strive to become a chef I'll probably always view myself as a writer. I wouldn't be surprised it I wrote some books on food or another. And as someone who deeply, deeply values intelligence I will always view myself as a lover of intellectual and good books. In my mind's eye, among other things, part of the vision of my ideal self includes a man who prodigiously produces writing and absorbs endless books. My time commitments will certainly determine how much of it all that I can actually accomplish, but I want to be doing a hell of a lot more of these two things than I'm doing now, even as much as I'm doing them now. I fantasize about myself actually being able to write upon each and every topic that enters into my desires, and blowing through large books in 2-3 days while retaining a deep comprehension of it.

How much of this aim is realistic and possible is beyond me, but some or a lot of it is possible, I know. For certain, I could definitely be making huge improvements in my efficiency and effectiveness in my current habits. But how?

The writing habit itself is still a little bit of a question, but I can at least figure out two methods for increasing my time and reading efficiency: Waking up earlier and speed-reading. Waking up earlier will give me more time in the day to do stuff, and speed-reading will enable me to get more done by increasing my reading rate.

The waking up earlier thing is a little tricky, because I want to do so naturally and without an alarm. In short, I want to enhance my sleep to the point that, with little to no external aid (such as a supplement), I can fall asleep easily, get effective sleep in a shorter period, and then wake up feeling refreshed. When I was very strict on the Paleo diet, in fact, was a time in which my sleep was outrageously good night after night: I fell asleep very quickly, slept very quickly, and woke up feeling great on a regular basis. The whole matter was that my habits were very rational. I ate a wise and healthy diet, and conducted a generally good lifestyle, not eating before bed or anything. Given that I don't have any health maladies, for me I think sleep is a skill to master.

I've deviated from the Paleo path a little too much. I've been eating too much chocolate, eating before bedtime, and not fasting enough. Such is enough, I think, to screw up my body's rhythm. As such, I've been having a hard time falling asleep and wake up feeling very groggy, in one of those states where you feel like you could go back to sleep but your body won't let you. So I think the solution is simple: Be more Paleo, fast regularly for the positive hormone functions, and don't eat before bed. Oh, and take more ice baths. They might sound horrendous to you, but I've been marveling at how they improve my sense of well-being and sleep, so I ought to be taking them more regularly. A few days of these guidelines and I should be right at rain.

Now speed-reading may sound foolish in that one may think I will be forgoing comprehension to get a speed-boost, sounding irrational, but I think there are some valid, though limited, methods in which one can improve reading-speed without giving up the all important comprehension and memorization. For one, easy: Be selective and don't read everything, maybe even forgoing whole parts of books. It's obvious how your time will be better and more efficiently spent if you read only what's of value to you. Second, another technique to speed-run is to simply boost how fast you read, just up until that point you notice you're just barely keeping cognitively track of what's being said (but still being aware of the information). Most of us probably don't read as fast as we actually can while still being involved in the information, so one of the simplest techniques is to simply push to perform at one's limit. Com'on: You're not really reading at your speed potential, are you? Lastly, try using your finger to trace along the text as you read to give your eyes a focal point, which will eliminate time-wasting eye movements. As I've read, our eyes hardly read with perfect straightness, and this can be confirmed by noticing the little jolts of movement your eyes make when you try to read without aid. With the finger tracing, your eyes will feel much more still, since they have the fingertip to hone in on.

But as far as speed-reading goes, I think these may be the only legitimately good methods. Other methods, such as silencing the inner voice that dictates the reading while you do it or grouping words together, seem like recipes for lessened comprehension. I can't possibly see how a person will still be able to fully understand a sentence if he doesn't internally vocalize the concepts and groups them together in a chunk. The methods described above are aimed at training speed while retaining understanding, so I suggest just using them and allowing their continued practice to boost your speed more and more.

The lingering question is how I could actually modify my writing habits so as to be able to write on all those topics that I want to. For right now my blogging aims are to write one article per day -- work and time permitting -- in the morning. If I'm only writing one article per day, then how does one fit everything else in? How can I include more spontaneously writing? Needs more thinking.

For now, I'll work on my sleep and speed-reading. Once I master sleep I'll not only have much more time at my hands, but also be a much more effective person since the best sleep is also healthful: I'd be sleeping more shortly because I'm getting the healthful properties much quicker and more effectively. And with speed-reading I only need to continue practicing these mentioned techniques, so as to train my speed to greater and greater heights.

Sooner or later I should then be able to go from an idea-spout to a producing machine.     

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