Over the weekend, I attended a friend’s house warming party. It was next to all of our alma in Westwood, CA. That lucky boy.

Anyway, with a Root Beer in hand, I chatted with a close friend. Our conversation reminded me of my college days.

So, we were able to conclude the following.

  • Time is finite
  • [Digital] demands are increasing (check-ins, tweets, etc.)
  • Our capacity to perform is decreasing (we’re getting older)
  • We’re sacrificing sleep to get work done
  • We lose our sense of purpose

Where did we go wrong? We used to be able to take 16 units at UCLA, squeeze in naps, MTV, work a part-time job, date people, drink a few shots of tequila and still get passing grades.


Who Said 9-5 was Most Efficient?

College…those were the good days. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t easy, but everyone managed. Why is it now that when we work 9-5pm, we seemingly accomplish less?

Even Seth Godin wrote about being cogs in a machine in
Linchpin. Who said that these specific hours were most efficient?

This inundated schedule of work causes us to become glassy eyed. We lose focus. Dare I say, we even lose interest (in photography)?

Medication for a Ho-Hum Lifestyle…

Leif Nelson, associate professor of Marketing at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, did a study on adaptation and how we get used to things. He expounded on how disruptions could be a good or bad thing.

So, if you’re doing the same thing day in day out, then obviously you’re going to get bored (of photography). This is the same for work.

The more you work, the less efficient you become – because of dwindling interest and passion for a repeated task. And I’ve already discussed how multi-tasking slows you down even more.

work task graph

So, how do you remedy such a situation? Let’s examine our ever-so-efficient college lifestyles.

Sleep. We, at least silly Americans, tend to undervalue sleep. If all you see is a fog, how effective do you think your performance will be?

If you go to class sleepily, I doubt there would be much note-taking.

Maximization. Work uninterruptedly on a single task before moving on. Work for max one hour per session. Work for max four hours a day.

When Professor Thompson spoke, we wrote in college shorthand or typed furiously. And for that one hour, our minds were completely focused on political science and diplomacy. There was no room for breaks, forwarding joke emails, updating Facebook, etc.

Breaks. Take respites after each hour. We are not computers. We’re not designed to run at full speed for long periods.

And lots of my ideas come when I’m taking a break. Sometimes, I would sit there. Doing. Absolutely. Nothing…Okay, I’m back.

If Professor Nelson from UCB recommended it, I’m sure it’s good. Maybe that’s why England has tea time and others have siestas. I really think America has it backwards.

Delegate. The fact that you could do something does not mean you should do it. Yes, I’m talking to my fellow type-A anal-retentive control-freaks.

On ominous looking days, a roommate would use his / her toe to part the blinds to check if it was sprinkling. If the pavement was “too slippery to go to class,” then sleep it was. So, if you missed some notes, go ask a classmate or buy them from the student store.

Cultivate. So after efficient periods of work coupled with breaks, you should gain some control over your life. Don’t let your attention be bombarded by social media. Rest, relax, and recharge.

I took some interesting extra-curricular classes during my stint in college – foxtrot ballroom dancing, judo, gymnastics, etc. I doubt that I could remember how to do any of those now, but that investment in human capital all while having fun gave me a break…from life.

What to do now…

Obviously, reading Tofurious is good for your brain (and hopefully worth a few giggles)…I hope.

So, before you take a break from your efficient reading of this post, share with a friend via Facebook or Twitter via buttons below.


Lawrence Chan

P.S. Julie’s students are really good in music. In fact, they played for some Glee episodes! I hear them practice everyday. Recently, I’ve decided my new muse will be learning to play the violin. What is / will be your muse?

P.P.S. I intentionally do not bring a charger for my laptop, so that I would be forced to stop working.

60 minutes — Words with Friends — 60 minutes — eat a banana — 60 minutes — text funny pictures — 60 minutes — lunch, read, gym, cook dinner, watch television, etc.

P.P.P.S. Who’s going to a Glee concert? Me! Don’t be jealous, I’ll tweet photos next week.