This new world of social-isolation and quarantine has produced novel circumstances for many people: a glut of time and opportunity with little external timetable, but large external restrictions on freedom.
Amongst the fear, uncertainty and loneliness of recent times, isolation is also a great opportunity to spend time doing things that previously we were just too busy to do.
You might have already come up with a list of productive and fulfilling stuff. This list may include some daily exercise and some meditation, or half-started projects, DIY or forgotten life-admin that needs completing. It might also include some stuff like tackling a reading list or catching up with those movies you wanted to watch. Loads of things to do!
Sometimes being faced with so many options of things to do, in so much time, is overwhelming. I have twenty things on my list for today and I just don’t know where to start!
This might result in feeling overwhelmed by decisions – not knowing what to do or when to do it. This might then lead to my mind short-circuiting and doing nothing at all! I might instead start seeing the twenty options of things to do in a negative way e.g. as a message of life’s futility. A well meaning list might descend into an afternoon of Netflix and Doritos. This is the paradox – an opportunity so great that it strikes people into awe and unproductive paralysis.
My girlfriend has been employing a good trick. I wish I had picked it up earlier. She’ll wake up and say ‘Yay, I’m having a “Dice Day”!’ and be productive while I lounge on the sofa in a stagnant funk.
How to have a Dice Day:
Make your list e.g clean for 30 minutes, study for 45 minutes, cook soup, do 10 pull ups.
Number things in numerical order
Roll a die
Count your way down the list until you reach the task that corresponds to the number of the die.
Do the thing.
It’s an easy way to be decision free. You just choose the things you might want to do and then let fate do the rest.
If there are things you want to do more than others, you can weight the die:
If you want a task to be prioritised, draw a dot next to it. The dot counts as an extra number.
- Meditate. ✱
- Watch Beau Miles’ channel on Youtube.
- Have a beer.
I roll a 2.
Fate judges that I should meditate rather than watch Youtube, despite that Beau Miles’ channel is great. Hopefully that comes up next, with a beer.
If you have not got a die, or if you are using lists that have more than 6 tasks, don’t worry: there are phone apps to download that have die and random number generators to help you let a little fate into your life, too.
It sounds silly, but a little trick like this has transformed our days.
Time spent deliberating over which task is better or more fun has been greatly reduced. Decision fatigue isn’t a thing, because decisions aren’t ours to make.
We might end up doing things we wouldn’t have ‘chosen’ to do, because of habit or bias or whatever. It might make you start that project you’ve been putting off for whatever reason.
We get a lot more done.
It’s fun, try it.
PS. I am back at work now after quarantine. Stay safe and please stay at home.