The 2015 Challenge – Entry 5: A note about Notebooks

It is the end of February already, but the winter here seems to just get started. At least I have received some sunny days lately. The challenge is going quite well. Still several issues remain but I’m making respectable progress with the current pace.

28 hours This Week
Yesterday I ended the day with another 5 hours of study, bringing the total tally to 24 for the week. As I wrote in my last entries, my goal was initially working for 20 quality hours a week. It means I have surpassed my weekly goal in only five days. I plan to work 3-4 hours on Sunday as well, and I hope to achieve 28-hour mark for the first time. That is my ideal number of hours. I doubt I can put in more hours without compromising the quality.

It has already been a struggle to keep this pace. I find myself unable to focus numerous times during the day. So my objective now is to increase the quality in each hour, not the quantity. I know this is the first time I have done a major challenge in my life, and it is okay for my mind to wander time and again. Hopefully I will be patient and consistent.

Nice Notebooks Make a Difference
Cal Newport, one of my favorite authors, once wrote in his blog that using nice notebooks improved his productivity in research. You may think it is ridiculous. I did. It seems absurd to believe that using nice notebooks is the key to productivity. Nevertheless, I gave this idea a try at the beginning of this project – the 2015 Challenge. The result? It really made a (subtle) difference.

I began by buying two Black n’ Red notebooks, $7 each (compared to $.15 Walmart notebooks,) one as my research journal, and the other as my self-study journal. I found that each time I open the notebook, I have a desire to write down important things. The notebooks look neat, and I want to caress them, as I do with my favorite books. All of these are just psychological effects, I acknowledge, but it raises my mood each time I look at it, and that is enough for me to continue buying great notebooks.

This is nothing different from guitarists wanting nice guitars, pianists enjoying nice pianos, tennis players loving nice rackets. The tools do not make the players play better music or better tennis, but nice equipments may help people gain some extra motivation to keep practicing. If it is true, then they are worth all the money.


Author: Tri M. Cao

Music with my beloved HD 650 headphones.

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