I kind of wish calendaring apps handled appointments the same way I do in my paper day-planner today. Yes, I still use a paper day-planner, and write with a (mechanical) pencil. The way I do it makes sure I am on time to every meeting, and I never book too many meetings too close together. This way I avoid wasting my time, and I get to use my time wisely. I can schedule each day the best way I can, without the extreme frustration I feel at getting stuck in traffic and being late because of it. Can you imagine being stuck in traffic and not panicking, because you planned for it? My system does that. And it only works on paper day-planners, today; I know of no digital calendar that supports my system.
The first trick is learning to be honest about how long it really takes to get around your town. This comes from experience, but more importantly, paying attention. If you’re “always late”, you haven’t done this part properly yet. In my 20′s I was always “5 minutes late” everywhere I went; I will tell the story further down in this article. I consciously decided to break that habit no matter what, and I did it.
Every Meeting Has Four Important Times
Most people think that a meeting or appointment has one specific time they have to worry about: the starting time. “Try to get there when it starts,” is what they’re thinking. The truth is, each appointment has FOUR important times: Departing Time, Start Time, End Time, and Return Time.
Depart Time: when do you have leave from where you are, at the latest, in order to get to the appointment on time?
Start Time: when the appointment is actually starting; when you actually need to already be there, ready to go.
End Time: when the meeting or appointment will most likely end. Notice I didn’t say “scheduled to end”. You have to take into consideration your experience with this specific kind of meeting: does the person usually talk for the entire time period, and go over by 5-10 minutes most of the time? If so, add 10-12 minutes to the true End Time. It’s better to work with reality here.
Return Time: when will you return back again to the place you came from, to complete your journey.
Of course, for meetings held right where you are, like phone and Internet messaging meetings, the Depart and Return Times are zero. But if you have to go anywhere, even walk to the conference room in the building next door, you’ll want to factor them in.
And, if you’re driving from place to place, maybe one meeting’s return-time overlaps the next meeting’s Depart Time. That’s fine – but draw both arrows anyway. So, when you erase one because of a cancelled or rescheduled meeting, the other meetings’ Depart and Return times are still there.
How I Schedule Appointments
0. Are there any extenuating circumstances for this meeting? If it’s at a place I’ve never been to I always add 15-20 minutes in order to arrive early in case it’s hard to find a place to park; I have to walk to the building; I have to search the area for the right building; I have to search the building for the right room; I have to ask somebody for directions; etc.
Other things that can happen: driving on a freeway segment you’re not used to may be more crowded than you expect; do you have to stop and get gas for your car because the tank is almost empty; the first-ever doctor’s visit always makes you fill out 5 forms on that broken clipboard with a pen that won’t write; I will probably need to use the restroom by the time I get there; etc. Estimate how much time that takes, and add them into the Departing Time.
1. On the start-time line in my daily hours-of-the-day calendar, I write the appointment name (1-3 words), and any extraneous info I need to get there. For the places I frequent, I don’t need anything extra; but if I’ve never been there before I might write down the address, office phone, first name of the person/people I’m meeting, etc., if I don’t think I’ll remember those things. They go right there in the appointment, on the calendar – no frenzied searching later if I need it.
2. Then I draw a vertical arrow pointing down, through the minutes and hours extending how long the meeting goes for.
3. Then, I draw another vertical arrow from the bottom of the last arrow down 15 minutes farther – this is the time it will take me to get back to work (or wherever I’m starting from).
4. Then, I draw a vertical arrow pointing upwards starting above the appointment, going up 15 minutes – this is the time it will take me to travel from work to the dentist office.
Example – Dentist Appointment
My dentist’s office is 15 minutes from my work, but 20 minutes from my home. So before I even write the appointment in my dayplanner’s calendar, I first figure out: where will I be, when I need to leave to get there? Will I be at work, or at home? Or somewhere else? If I’m at work , I make sure there’s at least 15 minutes above the start-time with no time-conflicts; I can’t make the appointment if there is.
1. I write “dentist” or “cleaning” or something similar, since that’s all I need to fully remember what the appointment is, months from now when the appointment actually occurs.
2. Arrow pointing down from Start Time to End Time: This is a dental cleaning visit, so I schedule 1 hour, since I know it never takes quite that long, and this dentist is very good about staying on schedule, probably because I only make appointments with him around 7-8AM.
3. Arrow pointing down from End Time to Return Time: I am driving to work after my appointment, so schedule that, including some slop-time for left-over rush-hour traffic, and my car needs gas. My boss won’t be mad if I arrive at work a little earlier than expected… OR I can sit in my car for 5-10 extra minutes listening to the end of a podcast I was listening to during the drive, maybe. Whatever.
4. Arrow pointing up from 8AM to 7:30 AM, representing the drive to the dentist office from my house. It’s early, its rush-hour, and I will only have had 1 cup of coffee by that point. Give me a break. So I have to be driving in my car, away from my house, at 7:30 AM at the latest or I will be in pain. I don’t like pain.
The Total Time this appointment will take from me is the total amount of the 3 arrows I’ve drawn for this appointment, or 2 hours and 15 minutes! For a “1-hour long” dental appointment. That’s more time than I would have expected. It’s always more time than you would expect, and it’s accurate.
I know that sounds like a lot of steps, but its really easy once you’ve done it a dozen times; it’s just 3 quick lines (arrows) drawn on paper. You’ll get so good at it, you can draw it in just a few moments. Plus, you’re writing in pencil, right? So you can make changes as things change? Good.
Example – Back-To-Back Phone Calls
Here I have some phone call meetings, one after the other, followed by lunch with some friends. I scheduled the lunch too, because I don’t want to let my friends down unless there’s some kind of unavoidable work emergency or something.
After All That, What If I’m Still Late?
If I discover I was late arriving for the appointment, or late returning to work, I try to think: what was the cause of that lateness? was it a one-off event: traffic accident that slowed things down when that almost never happens on this particular road; if so, I don’t hurt myself worrying about it. Things happen, sometimes. Or, was it a repeating event; like, I can never seem to get away from my desk until 10 minutes AFTER I try to leave, or it was rush-hour traffic due to the time of day, or it always takes 5 minutes to walk from my office cube to the elevators/take the elevator down/walk out the door/walk to my car in the distant parking lot – easy to overlook.
When you figure out what the cause was, factor that in next time. Add 5-10-15 minutes so that is not an issue next time.
If none of this helps you, the source of your pervasive lateness might be emotional. Maybe there was a painful event when you were a child related to being late, or it could be inherited from your parents. It doesn’t matter where it came from. Luckily you can cure things like this very easily with EFT or TAT. Look on the Internet for free PDF instructions about Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapas Acupuncture Technique. I have used both of these techniques to cure myself of many emotionally-rooted issues that I had within me. The treatment you can do yourself, is pretty quick, is harmless, is permanent, and costs nothing. Try it yourself.
I Was Always 5 Minutes Late
I was “always 5 minutes late” back in my 20′s, and I hated it so much because it made me look bad in the eyes of whoever I was meeting. It made me look weak, and I didn’t want that. I’d have to spend half the meeting fighting the initial opinion the person had about me, rather than focusing on what the meeting was even about. I learned to be honest with myself about travel time, which meant I learned to observe it and learn how long it really takes to get anywhere from anywhere.
I realized that my chronic lateness was rooted in how my parents were – they were always 5 minutes late to everything. They were always apologizing for being late. I learned it from them. But always being late was way more painful for me than it appeared to be to my parents, for some reason. I knew I had to solve it for me, even though they never solved it during their existence on Earth. I was so excited when I got my first day-planner, because I saw that I could track everything going on during each day, and come up with a way to never be late again.
Now I am never late to my meetings, for the most part; maybe once a year there is a catastrophic traffic accident that blocks freeways and roads I’m driving on, but those events are few and far between. Or I simply forget to look at my day-planner (my bad). I have almost completely removed the pain of being late, as long as I follow my process, and it feels so good to have conquered this.
Follow the Process
I am sure if you follow this process sincerely you will not be late to your appointments any more, and people will take you more seriously again.
If you know of any digital calendar system that supports my Four Times concept, please let me know!
And, I will continue to use a paper day-planner system until a digital solution comes out that is equally powerful and flexible and multi-tasking as my paper day-planner. A system that lets me invent my own scheduling system the way I want, without any extra hassle. But that’s a good topic for another blog article.
I’m not sure you realize what the Tesla Model S electric car is really about.
Have you ever stopped and thought about it?
Tesla cars have fewer parts than ordinary cars. Like, 5-10 TIMES fewer parts. I mean, the automatic transmission of a regular car alone has a CRAZY amount of parts; more than 3000 little, moving parts. That’s more parts than the entire rest of the car! Wikipedia’s page on Automatic Transmissions has a section “Parts and operation” that describes a ridiculously complex arrangement of parts that all somehow manage to work, well, most of the time. But complexity is the enemy of reliability.
You never have to check the radiator fluid level in your Tesla.
Radiator fluid is only there to cool down gasoline engines, because gasoline engines create massive amounts of heat that must be carried away by radiator fluid constantly flowing by, or the engine will melt into a glowing mass of broken metal, seizing immediately and permanently, triggering another $4000 repair. That fluid then needs to be cooled somehow, before being sent back into the engine to heat up again. The water pump can fail, resulting in the same catastrophe. Leaking radiator fluid can rust dozens of other parts under the hood, causing untold damage that may need repair in your future. None of this mess happens with Tesla Model S cars.
Your Tesla’s battery isn’t filled with water – that is so old-fashioned! You don’t have a single battery which, when it fails without warning, stops your car completely from running. Most cars have no gauge to see how your battery is doing, much less a digital communication system to monitor it. Why is that? You depend on your car to work whenever you need it, yet you’re blind when it comes to your battery’s status – it’s crazy. Tesla cars have many batteries, not just one. And if any battery is weak or starting to fail, the car’s computer knows it and will take action to notify you or Tesla about that fact, so the problem can be dealt with long before your car fails to start.
You never have to add oil to the engine of a Tesla, check the oil level and color and smell, or worry about oil leaks and repairs. Forgetting to check the oil does not result in shortening your engine’s lifespan due to metal fragments floating around in the oil and rubbing against the engine’s most valuable pieces, wearing them down. Running out of oil won’t seize the engine suddenly while you’re driving down the freeway at 65 MPH, endangering your life and all those in the cars around you. You won’t have to replace the seized engine with an inferior one from a junkyard, at a cost of $3000-5000 and a lost day of work.
You never have to add transmission fluid – or repair leaks, or replace the fluid every hard-to-remember-thousand miles. You won’t destroy your transmission by forgetting to check the fluid, so you won’t incur $1000-3000 repair because of it, and feel guilty about it.
Your fuel injectors can never get clogged, because you don’t have fuel injectors. You never need to buy “fuel injector cleaner”, or wonder if that stuff even works. Fuel just isn’t needed in an electric car.
Your Tesla electric car works at high altitudes and low altitudes. It starts and runs in snow and ice, as well as the high temperatures of the desert like in Arizona Nevada, etc. Why wouldn’t it? Your cell phone works in those environments, doesn’t it?
To start an ordinary car, the ignition carries electricity to the starter motor, which has to turn freely after sitting overnight in the cold; its metal gears must mesh properly with the engine, to try and get the engine turning; but it must disconnect those gears once the engine’s started, so the starter doesn’t slow down the engine once you’re driving. At the same time, gasoline has to previously have been flowing from the gas tank to the engine through tubing, in order for the engine to begin burning that fuel immediately after the starter lets go. The spark plugs have to fire at the same time, using very high voltage (transformed from the low-voltage battery); the right mixture of air has to be included with the gas or the fuel won’t burn properly. All this has to work within 2-3 seconds of ignition, because all of this is a tremendous burden on the battery; if all of this doesn’t work within 6 or 8 attempts at starting the car, your battery will be drained to the point where it cannot start the car anymore, and now you’re stuck.
To start a Tesla Model S, the ignition carries electricity to the motors that turn the wheels. You start moving by pressing the accelerator pedal.
Safety – you aren’t riding around atop a huge tank of liquid explosive gasoline.
Safety – you aren’t sitting behind a huge block of metal with spinning spinning parts involved in a continuous series of micro-explosions.
You aren’t polluting the air with poisonous gasoline-based smoke right in front of your family, friends and neighbors. You aren’t contributing to your city’s smog problem. Sure, the electricity you charged your Tesla with may (or may not) have come from a polluting energy source like a coal plant; but that coal plant operated with “economies of scale” to produce less poisonous exhaust than thousands of little gasoline-burning cars do. Plus, the pollution being generated is not focused 5 feet away from your loved ones.
You aren’t polluting the air with the irritating sound of the modern gasoline-burning engine. Especially if your muffler rusts or has other problems, causing a much louder sound echoing throughout your quiet neighborhood, and causing you to spend money on yet another type of repair. Teslas don’t have mufflers, they don’t need them. Have you ever been woken up at 2AM from some idiot revving their car’s gasoline engine incessantly? That sound will hopefully go away soon, just like the shocking whip-crack of the old horse-drawn-carriage days.
No 40-point inspection and constant up-sale every 3 months or 3000 miles when you go in for oil & filter changes. You don’t have to waste time and money on maintenance every 3 months, because your Tesla doesn’t have oil or oil filters. You only need to go to the repair shop if one of the few parts in a Tesla actually starts failing. And, many of those parts are monitored by the computer, unlike an ordinary car, so you don’t have to wait until you hear “a strange sound” before knowing to go in for a repair.
From the Tesla web site:
…it periodically monitors itself and can alert Tesla, with your permission, to issues so that they can be resolved quickly and easily. Many issues can be resolved remotely, but if your Model S does require in-person attention, you can bring it to a Tesla Service Center, schedule a Tesla Ranger visit, or have your car picked up in exchange for a loaner at no charge with our valet service.
Tesla cars don’t roll forward a little the instant you take your foot off the brake. That’s a stupid side-effect of gasoline-driven engines, because they need to “keep moving or they stall”. Electric cars cannot stall any more than your cell phone can stall. A Tesla car is an electronic device much like your cell phone is.
Your Tesla car, left alone for 6 months in the garage, will start just fine on the first try. The batteries are fully charged, since it was hooked up to the power and trickle-charging during that time. Unlike ordinary cars, where the gasoline “goes bad” in the tank (how is that possible?), and you have to figure out how to put “fresh” gasoline in it, get fresh gasoline in the fuel line going to the engine, and get the engine running again…assuming all the other fluids are still OK and haven’t leaked out as well.
Fewer parts to fail, not 7 different fluids to check, no regular maintenance 4-8 times a year, with salesman accosting you each time. Only needs maintenance if something goes wrong. Automatically senses many types of problems – computer tells you before you’re dead-in-the-water.
No giant metal constant-explosion device – no overheating, no exhaust choking your loved ones. No sitting over a large box of liquid explosive as you careen along undivided highways at high speeds.
No stupid muffler, no fuel-pump, water-pump, air-valves, exhaust-tubes, cooling systems, transmissions, starter motor, gears. Simple, not complex; way more reliable. All that extra junk is crazy old.
Tesla cars are really more like a cell phone than a car. Starts just fine in extreme cold and heat, like your cell phone does. Because, why not?
Seriously, it’s time to buy a Tesla.
I’d like you to do the Money Acceptance Exercise once a day, every day for a week (7 days max). Take no more than 10 minutes to do it each time. You should only do this exercise if you think you might need money or plan on using money in the future. Here’s how it works:
How did that make you feel? Think about it for just a moment.
How did that make you feel?
Really see it happening to you. How did that make you feel? It’s only money. You can accept it.
How did that make you feel? It’s only money. You can accept it because it’s the right thing.
That money is yours now, because you earned it.
Resistance to Accepting Money
In the future we will have total transparency in business, and most people will be educated enough to understand and interpret the transparent documentation and reports issued by corporations, so everyone can see for themselves if companies are doing the right things.
It will be impossible to hide secret spending, to lie about the numbers, because every person on the planet will have the data and capability to cross-check a company’s numbers against all the numbers from outside the company – if things don’t add up, you know the company is hiding something.
Companies that don’t open their books in this way will be considered old-fashioned and untrustworthy by the mass population. The data and terminology will be simplified somewhat, and education will increase, so that those two things meet in the middle – for most of the population to be able to verify what each company claims. It will be fun and exciting to follow the progress of your favorite companies, their successes and failures, it will be like a game. In the same way you follow your friends on Facebook or Twitter, so you will be able to watch the finances and plans of your favorite companies with a level of detail as yet unknown in our current society. It will be fun!
Everyone will learn that the two financial halves of company finance: Income and Expenses, which are like arcs between points – one company’s income is derived from many other companies (and people’s) expenses. For example, if you consider all of the entities that purchased car parts from company A, all of those expenses are shown as incomes for company A. You will be allowed to know all the money spent by every company who purchased anything from company A – that will be public knowledge, provided by all those other companies. It will be easily researched on the Internet with a single operation. You could then compare that aggregation of data against what company A claims their income is, for the same time period. Those two numbers must match, or somebody is lying. People don’t like companies that lie about their numbers, and won’t put up with it. An investigation would be triggered which would get to the bottom of the mistaken numbers – and the numbers would then be fixed appropriately to match properly with the companies they interact with.
The way business works today, every company expense is some other company’s income. Every company income is some other company’s expense. This fact can result in powerful checks and balances across companies throughout every industry, to keep everyone honest – to be transparent with everyone. Honest reporting is only natural.
When that system is implemented and people are used to it, then anyone trying to game the system will fail. Their efforts will be immediately detected, it will be clear who they are, and they will be reprimanded by the entire populace. They will never risk it; the whole concept of lying financially will be gone. The less-honest entities will be shamed into following this law of transparency like every other company.
We already have people who regularly download the web pages of political web sites, and run computer programs that “diff” (compare) the new against the old, and report any changes that occurred. This is how someone on the Internet discovered that the web site Change.org subtly removed a phrase about “protecting whistle-blowers” from the web site – a platform that Barack Obama honestly wanted to promote, but with the current escalating anti-terrorism activities in the United States of America, is apparently changing. People need to know when any institution changes its policies, even when they don’t want those changes to be well known (article). We have a right to know. And hopefully, in the future, we can avoid blowing it out of proportion with hype and spin; it would be better to understand the changes and decide how we are going to deal with them, rather than let the media froth everyone up into an emotional frenzy.
Knowing, mentally, what is going on in your country and in the world is very important. However, being emotionally outraged and insulting about what you have just learned is harmful, unnecessary, and needs to stop. We have a lot of that today in our social networks; I believe it’s a natural reaction to the sudden change in our society of immediate information. But time heals everything. I believe by having more direct access to knowledge, so that seeing these changes becomes a regular part of every day life, will reduce the emotionality to a bare minimum in the future. Especially for those youngsters who grow up with it as a normal part of their everyday life. It’s key to right human relations, and it is key to world wide cooperation.
Right Human Relations – World Cooperation – this is the future for humanity on Earth.
The human psyche is fragile – lots of things can upset you or anger you. Then, if you aren’t able to control yourself, you hurt people around you, making their lives harder than they already are. If you are able to control yourself despite you’re upset feelings, that conflict between your suppressed anger and normal behavior creates conflict within you which can be even more destructive – to you now, and to others later.
What can you do to calm yourself? Feel like you aren’t all alone? To make you human again, as they say? If you could escape for 3-4 minutes into a better place, that would help a lot. If you had someone to connect with you in the emotion you’re in right now, all would change.
Music can make that happen.
What ails you Emotionally, today?
When I’m really angry at the world I like (need) angry sounding music that has predictability to me (such as songs I have heard many times so I know what it will do). Or maybe I am frustrated with life; feel stuck, trapped; there’s music for that too. Am I living in my mind right now? There’s music for that. Am I living in my emotions? There’s such a rich variety out there to discover. Am I crying because I miss my parents who passed away a few years ago? I learned to let the feelings just come; but also, the right music can make me feel a lot better.
Sometimes I tune in to end-of-the-world vibe that people feel in our world. It was very strong around the late 1990s and early 2000s; you can hear it strongly in pop music of that time. Can you find music that connects with you when you’re like that, and lift you up to a level of freedom somewhat above where you are right now? DOn’t hide from your emotions, don’t convince yourself that you shouldn’t feel that way”. If you’re feeling it, you’re feeling it. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Embrace it. Emotions are like water, they come and go, they change all the time.
You might find a band you really like, but even better is when you can find a genre of music that you like a lot (i.e. “trip hop”), so you can find more bands and songs that fit you the best. Don’t be afraid to listen to new music; I skip forward in songs to hear 3-4 parts of it if I can, then skip to the next song, to get a feel for a whole album; then skip to the next album when I realize it’s not what I like, for whatever reason. I don’t have to explain it, I just know it when I hear it.
Music discovery services like Pandora are wonderful. Type in a band or a song title, it will play music similar to it. You can find new bands and songs you super-like but never heard of before. It’s powerful. Nowadays there are more choices than ever before for music subscriptions, recommendation, and seeing what peers like, and so forth. I love what the Internet has done to help me experience what other people have decided are songs and bands that are similar to each other. Sometimes you’ll find a band you would never have found any other way, thanks to one of these services. Example: if you like Depeche Mode, have you heard Mesh yet?
It’s funny when a song gets stuck in your head. Sometimes when that happens to me I have no idea what song it is, but I want to listen to it now, because it’s been bugging me for the past 8 hours – or sometimes 2 or 3 days. I can simply type in a string of lyrics into Google Search, and it’s amazing – I can usually find the band name and song name that way. Then I can usually find a way to play the song, or at least part of the song, and even buy it on-line very easily if I want to listen to it again in the near future. It’s really great.
Music for Mental Work
I am a software developer by trade. I have learned that there are two types of concentration that I go through when programming software: planning (figuring out what approach to take that will actually solve the problem at hand), and coding (writing the software to achieve the plan I just figured out). For Planning, I need silence – music does not help, it only messes me up and slows me down. I need quiet for that phase. But for Coding, energetic music really helps a lot – I really like strong female vocals and music that excites me, like fast rock or punk. I also love listening to music that is perfectly edited and mixed, so that it has a rhythm in multiples of 4, 8, 16, in the way that makes sense to me, like trip-hop or electronic music of certain types.
Future Music – Musicians as Physicians
Good healing music meets you where you are, emotionally and mentally – it agrees with you, and tells you that many other people have been there before, and it’s OK – it’s OK to be you, and be right where you are. Then it does something unusual – it uplifts you to your next level. The next higher state of beauty, of goodness, of justice, joy, and freedom. It reconnects you with the greatness within you, just a bit. It doesn’t punch you in the face with it, it just points and says, “Hey! Look over there. Remember? That’s you, too.”
Future musicians will think about the kinds of emotional ailments people can suffer from, and experiment to find the best ways of meeting those people where they are and uplifting them to their next-level.
Who says that an “album” of songs has to be played in a specific order, with a first song, second song, etc.? That’s old fashioned. In the future, an “album” may consist of multiple entry-point songs to start from, based on whether you’re angry/hurt/sad/ill/tired, and bring you to a central spot – then uplift you level by level, one level per song, up to a very high point, higher than you could have managed to reach during your ordinary daily life. A calming, harmonious ending to a possibly frustrating day of life.
Who says that songs even have to consist of the exactly same notes, in the exact same order? There are many ways for music to create a single feeling, or a range of feelings; great musical performers know how to vary their music to fit their audience. What if an “album” consisted of many recordings of the same songs, so that each time you played the album you heard a different arrangement of songs achieving the same goals of upliftment? Each time you played it, you heard a different meandering path that brought you to the final uplifted state. That would be awesome. And it’s totally achievable with today’s technology.
Find what Works for You
The important thing is that you find the music that works for you. Music taste is as distinctly individual as fingerprints or handwriting. I shouldn’t recommend any musical group to you because you will either like it or hate it, and I have no way of knowing how it will be received. It depends on so many factors including your age (what kind of music you grew up with), where you are in your life, how you were raised, what struggles you’re facing, what you’ve already conquered in your life, and many other factors you are probably thinking about right now. In fact, any two people can listen to the same song and get different things out of it.
I noticed that I have changed the kinds of music I like to listen to, over time. One of my favorite bands around age 25-35 was Garbage, I just loved the electronic sound and the power of Shirley Manson’s voice, she even can whisper powerfully when she sings. It’s good stuff. I still like it, but I don’t really listen to it much anymore; I think I have outgrown it now; on to something else.
When I began writing this article I promised myself I wouldn’t list specific bands and songs, because everyone is different. But right now I feel like listing some unusual songs that have meant a whole lot to me at one time or another. Most of these do not fit into any category, but create a soundscape or an emotionscape that I really connected with at different times. These are not my favorite songs, just unusual ones that make me wonder. I arranged them here by energy. (The videos aren’t the important part, just the songs.)
These songs don’t have to mean anything to you. What songs bug you like that, because they connect to you like nothing else you know? What do they mean to you?