Illusory Follies Andrew Flanagan's Blog

14Sep/077

Done? Good, now start again.

That's how I feel these days. There's always been "overhead" stuff that I have to do. You have to take showers and dress and clean up after yourself (at least somewhat). You have to spend time getting ready for work and driving to work and reading emails and just doing all the boring monotonous things that no one enjoys but are required.

Well, I've now hit the point where about the time I'm wrapping up all the "overhead" tasks and ready to do something useful I realize I'm out of time. More "overhead" tasks crowd in around me and it's time to brush my teeth and get to bed early so I can wake up early and repeat.

It's terrible.

Granted, I have time to write this blog entry. But you know what? I've sadly actually tried to allocate "overhead" time to write to my blog! I guess I feel as if it's a journal in many ways and so writing in it is part of this complete healthy life.

But this makes me think: maybe it's not that I get nothing but overhead done but rather that I've put far too many tasks into the "overhead" category merely because they repeat frequently. Nowadays, virtually everything I do is scheduled. I schedule my oil changes, how many times we vacuum the house, every odd job and maintenance task is updated on my calendar if I can think of it. My daily status report for work is scheduled (and I receive a horrible email warning me about it every day). If Sarah and I want to have fun, we generally schedule some event weeks in advance and I shuffle some of the chores off of that day in the calendar and reallocate them to make a little extra room.

So maybe it's not about overhead, maybe it's about spontaneity and the realization that precious little can be done on the spur of the moment anymore.

I hate routine. Maybe I should write a program that takes my tasks and in an intelligent way re-arranges them to surprise me without totally destroying any sense of order.

Hmm... that sounds like a program that would probably have to pass the Turing test. I think what I'll do is make an entry in my calendar to write this program. Maybe next Tuesday. That sounds good.

Comments (7) Trackbacks (0)
  1. awww…I hope you find time to be a little creative and do something weird and unexpected soon!

  2. Soo… does this mean that you are finally admitting to being OCD?

    Oh by the way, I’m enjoying the new version of WordPress….

    And I miss you guys!

  3. In most people there is an inverse relationship between excitement and good sense. Take, for example, the thrills of roller-coasters, gambling, and penny stocks.

    You could write a routine to add a little randomization to your schedule (such that you let the computer decide where your morning tooth-brushing occurs (before you shave and shower, between the shave and shower, or after the shower)), or that decides between alternate routes to work randomly (if you have several routes that would work close to equally well). But I have to imagine that rearranging the mundane is not going to significantly kick-start the excitement factor, because it is only slightly contrary to good sense.

    Surely you see where this is heading – to really give you a kick, your routine would have to really oppose your concept of good sense. Thus, a routine that (for example) reprogrammed your alarm clock and called in sick for you on certain days would definitely make your life more interesting, but at what cost?

    If, however, as you suspect, a Turing test-passable routine could do the trick, a human assistant should be able to do the trick.

  4. >

    Home maintenance disasters will fix that for you. Start an electrical fire or overflow the bathtub. That will get you on a good diversionary angle for a bit. [stupid grin]

  5. You might try blowing up a building! Or taking a china piece and smashing it with a hammer…that would be fun….of course, I don’t actually know that from experience!

  6. Speaking of human assistants, in South America where they don’t have our minimum wage laws, you can hire someone who thinks it is a great privilege and very exciting to do all your boring routine stuff.

    Average people do it all the time, they will have two or three household assistants of various kinds available at all times. We don’t have that. There are grocery shopping services popping up, sure, but getting those routines done is still prohibitively expensive for us – we either have to spend our own time on it or pay a government mandated minimum wage for it to be done.

    Maybe we should welcome more people to the US… we’re still mostly empty space!

  7. I think it’s possible to insert sufficiently extreme random events into your calendar manually to at least relieve a little of the pressure of routine, without really causing trouble for anyone. For instance, if you have sick time at work, just take a “mental health day” once every couple months and spend it doing something exciting to you, with your family, etc. Or even just take off after lunch one day every couple months and head home. Take one Saturday a month and say “no cleaning today, we’re going to the park” or whatever. You can still keep a good handle on cleaning, enough that it won’t be a huge burden to catch up on it over the next couple days, but allow yourself a little time to be spontaneous. We, on the other hand, tend to be on the opposite end of the spectrum, where we place relatively few things in the overhead category and quite a few things in the spontaneous category, and therefore I end up doing ALL the dishes on Saturday morning 🙂


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