Not Time, But Attention, Attention, Attention

Productivity is a hot topic these days.

Whenever productivity is discussed, time management is the focus of it.

Let’s throw it out the window for now. It is more effective to think about it as attention management.

It’s more effective because of one basic premise — that at any given moment, our attention can only be of one thing.

When we talk about multi-tasking to increase productivity, we are doing multiple things within a given period of time, but we are not multi-tasking in each moment. It is not possible.

In geek terms, we are in fact only doing program switching or multi-threading, which is fake parallel processing, instead true parallel processing. To parallel process, you need multiple CPUs… well, each person is like one CPU, and one person cannot be more than one person.

Our attention cannot go two place.

You can try, but it is not possible.

Attention is the key in everything we do. To do something well, is to have your attention with it. Hence the phrase, “be one with what you do”.

When you are talking with someone, is your attention on that person? And that your attention is not on what you think about him. Not on what others had said about him. Not on what you are going to have for dinner. To communicate and truly connect, your attention is to be on that person.

When you are doing a task, is your attention on the task? And that your attention is not on how tough it is, how long it will take you, how frustrated you are, or worrying about not doing well. To do the task well and as efficient as possible, your attention is to be on that task.

Be one with what you do.

Pay attention in the moment.

When we don’t pay attention to what we do, or rather pay attention to everything else, physical or mental, but what we do, we do not do well and we make a mess of things.

Consequently, instead of how to allocate time, it makes more sense for us to pay attention to allocate where our attention goes. We can also have a good idea of our priorities, which when said is what we truly care, by seeing where our attention goes.

On a personal note, whenever I became aware that I am paying attention to my worries, frustrations, and other thoughts and emotions with the task on hand, I realize I am off track. Then I acknowledge, accept, and take note of those thoughts and emotions, and move my attention back on to my task on hand — things that are of priorities to me.

I end today with a story that goes something like this…

A serious student visited a Zen master and said, “Master, I know you are busy, so please write on this scroll some maxims of the highest wisdom for me to study.” And the master wrote, “Attention.”

The student was puzzled, and said, “I don’t understand.”

And the master wrote “Attention. Attention.”

“But all you’re doing is writing ‘attention’. Isn’t there anything else?”

And the master wrote it three times running: “Attention. Attention. Attention.”

Exasperated, the student demanded, “What do you mean by ‘attention’, anyway?!”

“Attention means attention,” the master replied.

Where does your attention go?

Originally posted 2009-06-28 21:25:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Few More Afterthoughts and Revelations from Japan Trip

I don’t know how to organize them into coherent information so I am doing bullets:

– Be prepared to pay for lodging and transportation. It’s true for all foreign travel, but definitely more so in japan and especially if you want to run between the bit cities. Just the Shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto costs 25,000~ yen, and that is after I happened across street vendor that sell at a 1000~ discount. I think that is close to a 2-way plane ticket half way across U.S.

– The other taxi fares, bus, and metro rides will eat you up pretty fast too. If you are also going to shop in Japan, oh boy, good luck with your wallet.

– Allocate extra time to figure out your transportation for bus, metro, and train ride. Unless you are a local or with a local peron who is from that particular city, I’d say you will be reading a lot and asking around a bit. Or you can pay the premium for taxi…

IMG_3534– Food is delicious and not that much more expensive. In fact, ramen is really cheap, yet still very very yummy. The only bad-tasting food I had was a plain yogurt on the side for one breakfast. On the right is eggplant with 2 kinds of miso on top.

– Total expense out of my own pocket is $700~ including the Shinkansen tickets, 3-night hotel, some food and parking in Kyoto. Not bad.

IMG_3554– If you like fruits, definitely eat their produce there. If you don’t like fruits, eat their produce anyway! It’s that good. The melon on the right is called Yubari Melon. It’s the best I’ve ever eaten, and it came from the town, Yubari (duh!), in Hokkaido.

– Japanese are polite and friendly people, especially if you can speak a little Japanese, then they open up more. However, Tokyo is observably less so probably because of big-city-people-syndrome.

– On average, more of them know how to dress suitably and fashionably.

– If you want to know what fat or obese means, do not go to Japan.

– Following that thought, I hypothesize that obesity and many other of our social problems in America have a lot to do with our wastefulness, versus Japanese non-wastefulness (partly because they must on less land and therefore resource, and I am not saying they don’t have their short-comings). Wastefulness has to do with the willingness to understand how to do things effectively, resulting in quality. Conversely, majority of Americans have no genuine desire for quality for their own bodies. I am talking about true intention here. Topic for another day?

– I was lucky and got spoiled on the trip by my friends and their family. They were very hospitable. That reinforces the idea of sharing with others emotionally, mentally, and materially in my mind. It is one of the best gift we can give, and it must come from the heart. And that, I will do.

– Once again, I know that it doesn’t matter where I am. I will be okay, and that I can get used to any place. Of course, I have preferences and things I am used to, but that’s besides the point.

– Finally, I need to take another trip to Japan to go to Okinawa!

Well, because I heart the food in Japan, here’re a few more pictures.

IMG_3523
Best miso ramen ever! And it’s only around 600 yen. Plus, it’s not like I haven’t tasted plenty in California.

IMG_3476
My favorite dish at Yaki-niku (grilled meat?) — some extremely tender raw beef at Yaki-niku. This place only serves cow related meat. Mmmm, organs.

IMG_3496
Even the waffle looks awesome, at a random small restaurant at Kyoto station.

IMG_3603
Now look at the cake! You know you want it :) Japanese are using their innovative energy in the right area, me think.

Originally posted 2009-07-22 00:15:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Continue to Live Like a Student

I was talking with a friend a few days ago, and on a topic that I cannot recall.
He said something along the line, “Hey, it’s okay to buy/get that, you are not a student anymore.”
To which I respond, “I can still live like a student even if I’m no longer one…”

What is the lesson I’m trying to teach here? I would say it’s one of the more basic rule to controlling your personal finance – you don’t have to spend more because you make more. Here is the most basic rule.

Why is it so important? Let me take my chance to reflect on something came up in conversation with a friend at work, who said, “Things seem to stay the same. I know I’m making more, but I’m also spending more.” The logic is ridiculously simple. You really don’t save more if you are spending more when you make more.

I’m not saying one should be cheap and live like a homeless. I fully believe that there is a certain level of standard of living we should keep to make ourselves content and happy, but we should not justify ourselves to spend twice the money just because we make double (if it ever doubles…) :P Peace~

Originally posted 2007-03-01 00:22:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Wisdom — the Ability of Critical Thinking

Everywhere I go on the internet and many materials I read, people use the word success as an acryonm of the possession of incredible money and wealth. I do not intend to criticize people who use the word as such, because such usage of the word has been built into us over the centuries and has become a natural trend. But a mindfulness to pay attention to such details and critical think such informaion is what we need to overhaul many existing problems. This brings me to the topic of wisdom.

Wisdom is the process of critical thinking accompanied by awareness. By such, I mean the process of taking in information, understanding and evaluating them, then using your own aggregated version of such information adjoined with your set of principles and values to change and make decisions — meanwhile, doing each step in the process with awareness.

Such is wisdom. Wisdom connects the dots between information, which is learned using intelligence.

The conditions of current society and education system have mostly strip away people’s ability of critical thinking. In other word, intelligence is emphasized and wisdom neglected. Without critical thinking, the more you study, read blogs, news, books, and accumulate informations, the more harmful it becomes because you will get information poisoning. Without the ability of critical thinking to process knowledge and information, you become a mannequin that is pulled in all the different directions implicated by them which came from different sources, or you may get hung up on one specific idea told by an important world figure, a writer or a blogger, which includes me.

Do not simply listen to me or others. Understand yourself. Think for yourself. That is what I always urge. And that is why I rarely dose out specific details or sets of rules and tips on what to do on personal development and personal finance here. First of all, because I am no expert and I am always still learning myself. Second of all, if my words motivate you to think and act for yourself, you can easily find lots of information out there. If I or anybody else simply tells you what to do and you simply follow the words, that is not useful in my perspective. Learn to critical think and you can become wise and useful for yourself and others around you, without reliance on experts, gurus, or whatever.

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”

Each of us already has a lot of information inside our heads, being part of a culture, club, religion, or sub-community that are governed by a set of beliefs and rules… however, did you ever calm down and look closely to evaluate them? Did you ever attempt to understand what they truly mean? Do you simply tie yourself to a set of principles that came externally? And take them as your own and perhaps try to force them on to others? Do you dare not dispute them? I am not asking these questions to criticize you nor to ask you to haphazardly reject what you believe at the moment. I am asking you to think. Be honest with yourself. Be aware.

Imagine information and knowledge as a double edged sword and wisdom as the strength to wield the sword. Wisdom allows one to wields the sword of information and knowledge and leverage them to create positive change and results through informed decisions. Like someone without the strength to wield a sword that is too heavy for him will invariably get hurt swinging the sword, information and knowledge will invariably hurt those who lack wisdom yet wield them.

During today’s information age, we have more information, more knowledge available than ever, but we lack the wisdom to wield them currently. That is why so much harm we are doing to each other and to nature.

Originally posted 2008-06-08 14:08:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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