Posted by: Brian | April 8, 2010

the Key to Being un-Bored

Last week I got my wisdom teeth pulled. All four at once. The interesting thing was that there wasn’t that much pain with it and the hardest part was occupying my time. I realized that the many hours of laying on the couch wrapped in an ice pack were going to be my downfall. Like I have said before, I love to learn and read and do anything that activates my brain. The problem was I had too many things to choose from and not one of them stood out among the rest. After the first 24 hours of being couch-ridden, I came up with a solution or a key to being un-bored.

It was pretty simple. I would use the timer feature on my iPhone and set it for an hour or how ever long I felt I could keep an interest in what I wanted to do. The timer served two purposes: 1) it caused my ADD brain to focus more because now I was on the clock, and 2) kept my occupied long enough on one topic that it held my interest but not too long that I got bored. I would time myself for an hour of reading Your Money: the Missing Manual and as soon as that buzzer went off I would finish whatever page I was on and put the book down. Next I would move on to video games, movie watching, eating pudding with a baby spoon (you try to eat when you can only open your mouth 1/8th of an inch!), or reading another book. By continuously restarting the timer, I accomplished a great deal but also I was un-bored.

This can be applied to personal finance as well. When you are researching a new idea, such as “How do I earn interest on my IRA?” or completing the absolutely wonderful task of monthly budgeting (throw on a lot of sarcasm for that last bit), limit yourself to a given amount of time, like 30 minutes. After the timer goes off, reset the clock for 30 minutes, but now you are taking what you just learned and applying it. In this case, I would go through my IRA and see if I had the right mix, adjust if I need to, make notes on things that I could do better to earn interest, and goals for the future. When completing a specific task such as monthly budgeting, you know you only have a limited amount of time so you need to stay focused and finish your task on time.

If you finish early, that’s okay. Just restart the timer on the next topic or task you have in mind. If the timer runs out, stop and take a break for a few minutes. Last week, I would get off the couch and walk around the apartment to loosen up my legs. Since I didn’t finish my task, I restart the timer and continue working. Before you know it, you have completed a laundry list of to-dos and you never got bored.

I find this method to work wonders for me because most of my personal finance is on my computer and there are a lot of distractions, like Facebook, blogging, online games, emails, etc. With a simple timer, I am focused on my task and occupying my time efficiently so that I am never at a point saying “What to do next? I’m bored.” It works great with “honey do” lists and yard work, which you married folk know what I’m talking about.

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