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Types of Tasks

2012/11/22 - Author: Marco Neves

Almost everything you may need or want to do belong to one of the following categories:

  • Practical Issues
  • Enjoying life
  • Small projects
  • Big Projects

The Practical Issues are those things that we all need to do in order to keep our lives going. Paying bills, buying food, cooking, cleaning, replacing damaged cloths (and to some point buying new) are part of this category.

The tasks in this category should be done as soon as possible, so that we can free our time and our minds  for other, more interesting tasks.

Enjoying life is the main reason for everything else – and also the most difficult category to define – what I enjoy is not the same that you enjoy, even if we may enjoy some of the same things.

For me a small group of people who like to discuss the meaning of life, the universe and everything, good food, the internet (the usefulness of it and building it) and books are four of the most enjoyable things.

Some people I know enjoys bars, others football, some computer games, others board games, some like to paint, other love music, some people love cats, others prefer dogs – and most people belong to several groups and enjoy doing several different things.

But enjoyable tasks don’t exist only on your personal live – you can most likely also find things that you would like to do, tasks that you would enjoy in your workplace, in college, in whatever your main occupation may be, you may find tasks that you want to do, something that you feel that need to be improved.

Maybe that task is not in your to do list, most likely it is not in any to do list. But most of the time that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, and better yet, even have fun while doing it.

Small projects and Big projects are two different categories because they mean different levels of commitment, different amounts of time, different levels of faith and generate different levels of expectation that you may need to keep under control.

Projects, however, big or small, are mostly lists of tasks, that need to be completed to complete the projects. Most of the time projects are also the result of an idea that we expect will improve our live, the live of those around us or the society in general in some way.

The problem with projects is that if you are the kind of person who is always getting new ideas, you may end with dozens of projects you are working on, you can get to a point where you are always starting new projects and rarely finishing them – and that is one of the worst things to your faith.

Juggling with a lot of projects without ever finishing any of them means that you can get the small increment in self-confidence (faith in your self) that comes from progression, but you don’t get the amazing boost in your own faith that comes from finishing, from completion.

Also, more projects mean more options to choose from every time you want to start a task, and often more options to choose from result in more doubts about whether the chosen task was the best option or not – I’ll talk about this in a future post.

Also, more projects mean more work in parallel, which means more time to finish each project and that results in less live testing. Less testing mean that we don’t really know if our ideas work in the real world or only in our heads, only in our dreams. Means that we don’t know if it works for others as we expect it to work, or as it work for us.

Sometimes we fall out of love with some of the projects we used to work on. That happens more when we keep starting new projects without finishing the current ones, but it can happen anyway, even if we have just one project we work on. When that happen, instead of keeping that project on the list of things you may work on, kick it out, transfer it to your idea box , if you think you may someday want to get back to it – or that someone may want to pick it up.

The same goes for your new ideas. If you already have more than a couple of projects you are working on, make sure that you can add a new one before starting working on it. And if you think that you don’t have time to work on everything you already have in your hands, don’t add a new project to that list. Adding it to your idea box instead is probably a good idea.

If you really want to start this project before finishing one of the projects you are currently working on, pick one of those open projects and move it to your idea box.

Careful, however. If you keep starting new projects and moving started projects to your idea box, you will never finish any of them, and that get you in the same place as having a lot of open projects you don’t have time to work on.

But, even when you have a limited list of projects you are working on, how do you choose between them, how do you balance the things you do for fun with projects that you expect to help improve your life, projects you are expected to work on – if the time frame you are planing is your work time – with the tasks you want to do?

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2012/11/20 - Author: Marco Neves

Our brain loves them and most of the time we go with it. Labels make it easier for our brain to make the most obnoxious choices without any evidence to support them but the labels and general bias related with those labels.

Categorizing everything is a mostly automatic process for our brain but if on one hand it allow us to decide faster with very little information, it also let us assume with very little evidence.

Everyone have bias, and when labeling others those bias are one of the first things that show up on the labels we use.

There are several problems with labeling people.

The first of those problems is assignment. We assign labels, most of the time, based on our perception of the other people, and perception doesn’t always match with reality. It rarely does, I would even say.

The second problem is that people are not static uni-functional tools/objects. People not only have multiple sides to their personalities, they also change with time as well as with their interactions with other people.

The third problem with labeling people is related with our bias. Our brain takes more attention to anything that confirms what we already believe in than to everything that denies it. And that means that the label we assign to people tend to stick, be very hard to remove or change.

And that also means that we tend to justify a lot more than we should with those labels. “joking around as always”, “do you always have to be so critic”, “stop being a pussy”…

But, the real question, I guess, is: Can we avoid labeling people and accept them with all they are? Can we at least avoid the single label?

Maybe it is too hard to you – as it is for everyone else – to not label everyone, but you can at least keep vigilant and when you understand that you did it, try to find other, more appropriate labels for that person – and with that make it a bit more difficult for your automatic brain to classify everything that person says or does as a consequence of that single label.

Can you do that?

1 Comment - Categories: Life

Hope and Faith

2012/11/05 - Author: Marco Neves

I told you about Hope – in Pandora’s Box – and about Faith – in the Power of Faith.

Because it is usual to mix hope and faith, let me explain why they are so different and how to tell one from the other.

Hope is, mostly, wishful thinking. You are being guided by your hope whenever you place your destiny completely in someone else’s hands.

The best example is when you pick a set of numbers, fill a paper and spend a few coins to play lotto or lottery. You are hopping that the numbers you chosen are the ones that will end being selected.

It is really unlikely  that they are. In most weeks there is a winner – not all weeks – and for each winner there are millions of persons that just lost their money.

That’s just the nature of most games, for someone to win, someone else must lose. And that is specially true, whenever there is someone who always wins – casino, state, brokers, …

You are having hope whenever you do something you did several times before and expect a different result.

You keep hoping whenever you consistently repeat a risk behavior and expect never being called on it – you are doing this when you drive over the speed limit, you are doing this when you travel on public transports without paying for it, you are doing this when you have unprotected sex with people whose health conditions you are not aware of.

Luck, or coincidence if you prefer, have some impact on everyone’s live, you can’t predict the weather, you can’t predict where you’ll meet someone special, you can’t predict where you’lkl find the job of your dreams, you can’t predict… well, you can get the idea. You can’t predict the future and what it will bring your way.

But you can live with it, protect your self and what is important to you the best you can, prepare for the most likely events and walk the next meter, take the next step.

Most of the time you don’t need to guess what live is sending your way, you can see it coming. Often enough your previous actions took you where you are. You don’t just happen to get to the side of a street you want to cross. You got there somehow. And, more that the side of a street, you shouldn’t often just appear in the middle of it. Most likely you started somewhere else, got to the side of the street, and then you started crossing it. If you are at least as aware of how streets work as 90% of the people who cross streets, you looked for cars before starting crossing. And this is how it should be.

If you just cross the street and expect that it will be ‘okay”, you are not having faith – even if you think that some god will protect you. That is not faith, that is hope.

Hope is wishful thinking. Faith is wishing for the best, but reducing the risks as much as possible, and making our best to improve our odds. Faith only starts when we do our part, otherwise is just hope, just wishful thinking.

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the Power of Faith

- Author: Marco Neves

Faith moves mountains. That’s not an actual quote, but is the most common way it is expressed.

Faith is a word that makes most people think about religion, about god. But I want to invoke a broader meaning for it.

Faith, as I see it, is that warm feeling that make us believe that is possible.

If you belong to a theist religion you may believe that it is possible because god will help you, but being atheist don’t make faith an impossible mental state for you.

You just need to find a new target for your faith.

Faith, with or without god, is a mental state. It’s, if you like, an altered state of mind that gets our brains looking for solutions for the problems we believe we can solve.

Faith can be our best tool or our worst nightmare. It can be the sail using the wind to move us along or the anchor keeping us docked. It can be the most powerful thing we have at our disposal, or the most anavoidable force in our lives.

The most important thing about faith is that we can choose our believes, but we will always have believes, doesn’t matter if we choose them or not.

Often believes we don’t choose become an important part of our live. Whenever we start thinking too often that we are something, we start believing it, and that can become more real in our lives than we being that or not.

If you believe that you are smart your mind will play more with the knowledge you have and you’ll start to see the things you don’t know as opportunities to learn more. But if you know the same and believe that you are not that smart your brain will see anything that you don’t know as a prove that you are indeed dumb.

I’m not saying that we are all born equal. What I am saying is that two persons with similar abilities can have completely different lives because of their believes alone.

But, is faith just wishful thinking? Well, wishful thinking is an important part of faith. Your wishes are what directs you and your faith. It’s useless to believe that you can understand quantum physics if all you want to achieve is painting realistic portraits.

But if wishful thinking is an important part of a effective faith, there are two other important components on it.

The second one is hard work. Faith is the light that allow you to find the next phase of your journey, but are your feet that have to take the next step. Faith may tell you that the wrong result in an exercise only shows you what you have to study again, but are your hands that have to get the books again, your eyes are the ones that have to read it and your brain have to make the effort to understand and memorize it. Faith, in the end, allow you to see what is the next task in your path, but it’s your job to do it.

The third part of faith can be described with a popular saying: “Divide to conquer”.

Faith may move mountains, but it will unlikely move your first mountain in a single try. If you try to go from knowing very little about a subject to as expert in a single day, there is no faith that can help you. But if you focus yourself on improving your knowledge on the subject a bit everyday, the faith that you can keep improving and that you can keep improving and that at some point you’ll cross the threshold that separates the amateurs from the professional, that separates the curious from the true experts.

But the true changes, when you dress yourself with faith is even more profound, so profound that it can be seen by everyone else.

If you believe you can do something, your brain will put the full power of your mind and body at your disposal, you’ll find the answers you need faster and even if you need your body to help – because it requires strength, or agility or precision – it’ll also perform at it’s best, because you believe it will.

But if you believe you can’t do something, your mind will also try it’s best to find reason why you can’t, why you shouldn’t, and and even your body will start complaining earlier, with a lot less effort being asked of it.

Believe you can. It doesn’t matter if you believe you can because you trained hard, because you studied it all and you have the needed abilities, or because you have some god helping you.

Do you part and believe. You can do it.

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