These Things Come in Threes

Three things in two days. First, I loose contact with my phone. Second, my MacBook Pro dies. Then, in a third and final twist, traffic on the blog increased by 2000% (yes, two thousand) and I get locked out of WordPress. Coincidence? Of course. I got a free lesson in personal productivity in the process; How do you survive when your options are shut down?

Day One

On day one, I headed into London, having agreed to phone everyone I was meeting when I located a suitable coffee shop to gather in. I arrived and reached for my phone. No phone in my pocket. No phone in my bag. Generally, no phone anywhere. How did we survive before we had a phones in our pockets? Perhaps we were more organized, perhaps we just wondered around lost. We only had certain opportunities to communicate, so we planned a little more and were a little less spontaneous. We certainly weren’t sending a text when someone was trying to talk to us! When we got opportunities to communicate, we made the most of them.

There I was with one pound in my pocket. Now, the way the dollar is going, one pound may be worth about $5 at the moment, but it still only gets you one phone call from a UK phone box. As I stood in the pouring rain in central London, staring at the phone box, I didn’t know who to call to sort out the mess. Miraculously, it all worked out fine. I was still glad when I got my phone back later in the day.

Day Two

On day two, I flipped open the lid of my trusty MacBook Pro to do my semi-regular backup and… Nothing. Bright light on front, but black screen. 18 months old and it was dead. Cue raised blood pressure and a trip to the Apple store. Despite mouth-to-mouth from the man at the genius bar (note to self: they really don’t like it when you call it the geek bar), there was no getting any sense out of the thing. The result? A very productive day of phone calls and ticking off items on the to do list that had been left undone because I’d been caught up in email, slide creation and the wonders of the Internet. The MacBook story is to be continued… For now, my trusty G4 is helping me through, sans Microsoft Windows.

The Psychology of Happiness

So, a little bit of Psychology, to fuzz up your day, specifically the psychology of choice and of happiness. Two gentlemen, Barry Schwartz and Dan Gilbert, have made these topics more accessible via their TED talks last year. To summarize and synthesize the two: The more choice we have, the less happy we are. When we do get choices, we don’t use them well, and when we make mistakes, we rationalize them to ourselves, but still we worry that we didn’t do the right thing.

And Finally

We are at our most happy when we aren’t given too many choices, because choices cause stress. Despite that, we always want the ability to have lots of choice, we call it freedom. We want the freedom to keep our options open. Together that creates some interesting insight into why all of this technology causes us to procrastinate. Technology creates so many different possibilities, and with it a whole range of new decisions for us to worry about.

See also: 5 Ways to reduce stress, by reducing choices.