The Experiment Chronicles 08: Done Lists, Fall Adventures, and Sleep

Perk up! It's motivation and butterbeer time.
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Perk up! It's motivation and butterbeer time.
writing pad

Forever hoarding legal pads / Photo Credit: Flickr

Experiment Chronicles in a nutshell: I experiment with productivity strategies, adventures, and wellness. All the results - good or bad - get reported back to you guys. 

This post covers all things Fall-y (basically cozy and fun), my favorite experiment, and the first experiment that ended up being mostly a bust.

Work: Done Lists

done lists

The only to-do list I will use from now on / Photo Credit: Flickr

Set-Up

If you've read any of the previous Chronicles, you could probably guess that I live and die by my to-do lists. What's that, you say? I should scrap to-do lists for a week? Let's do it! 

After reading a Kat Boogaard article about how anti to-do lists helped her, I decided to try her experiment for myself. The gist of the experiment is to get rid of writing and checking to-do lists for a week and replace them with writing what you have accomplished every day. 

Results

Out of all the productivity strategies I've tested, this one is my favorite. Moving forward, I'm scrapping to-do lists entirely and just sticking to-done lists. 

I found that writing done lists was incredibly motivating for me. The days I forgot to write what I've accomplished, I was more reluctant to get started on tasks the next day. I accomplished a lot more than I usually do. Projects that I've putted from to-do list to to-do list got done. Things I've wanted to do from my 101 Things in 1001 Days list got done. 

Like Kat, I noticed that I have used to-do lists as a crutch. I didn't magically forget all the big projects I've wanted to do just because I couldn't look at a to-do list. My calendar deadlines took care of me worrying about smaller tasks slipping through. 

I also realized I tended to beat myself up for not accomplishing everything on my to-do list. Even if I did finish my to-do list, I would still feel a bit unsatisfied. I normally felt like I was either doing too much or too little.  

The done lists made me feel fully satisfied with each day and want to seek out new things to do. I got the closure and flexibility with done lists that to-do lists lacked. If you've been frustrated with your to-do lists or maybe have tried to tweak the format too much, go ahead and give this experiment a try.   

Play: Fall Adventures

fall

Butterbeer is delicious / Photo Credit: Flickr

Set-Up

I swear that people love Fall because it's the perfect excuse to do things that are both cozy yet fun. Summer and Spring aren't particularly synonymous with cozy or chill. Winter is bundle-up-to-be-a-marshmallow time.  

I decided I would do four Fall-esque adventures. Maybe not totally orthodox Fall activities, but things that definitely fall into the cozy-fun quadrant. 

I decided to make butterbeer, attend a moonviewing festival, make a cake, and create mini-pumpkins.

Results

I had my only official butterbeer when I went to the Harry Potter park when it first opened. Kept the cup for hair ties. Beyond that tangent, the butterbeer was smooth and sweet and magical (I know, I know, I'm sorry). 

My recreation wasn't that pretty (hence the Flickr photo above) but it was gooood. A rough recipe: Melt butterscotch pudding and mix with cream soda. Optional: whipped cream. Ta-da! I sipped butterbeer in a blanket burrito while watching Legends of Korra for the first time. Cozy? Check. Fun? Check. 

I thank all the vegans out there who create non-dairy cake recipes. Yay lactose intolerance. I made a mango and caramel swirl "cheesecake" with the help of my SO and his family. Eating the cake was the fun part. Making the cake with fun people was the cozy part. 

I tend to get bored and doodle on scrap paper. I put my hands to more productive use by making mandarin orange pumpkins. It's a festive, healthy snack. What's not to love? 1) Peel the mandarin orange, 2) Stick 1" celery piece into the top. Voila. Instant pumpkin. 

A moonviewing festival doesn't scream typical Fall activity, but it should! I like lying down and staring at the sky - there's something totally cozy (and normal cough) about that. It was an intimate and serene affair. The garden for the event had candles everywhere with soft music playing in the background. Plus, festivals are always fun. 

Rest: Sleep like a normal human being

Can I be this cat? / Photo Credit: Flickr

Can I be this cat? / Photo Credit: Flickr

Set-Up

I am terrible at sleeping and have bordered on insomnia since middle school. I honestly don't remember when I was last not-sleep-deprived - which is not okay.

This will be my ultimate sleep experiment. For two weeks, I will have three rules - same hard wake/sleep times every day, eight hours of sleep every day, and no naps. I'm hoping these rules will force me to suss out and forcefully restructure (turn off and turn back on again, ha) any bad habits that prevent me from sleeping like a sane, normal person. 

Results

This was a total bust. I succeeded in going to sleep/waking up at the same time every day and skipping naps. However, I never once achieved 8 hours of straight sleep. I would consistently wake up in the middle of the night. I decided my poor sleep was less about bad sleep habits and more "I have a terrible internal clock." 

However, I've not given up just yet. I was wandering around a Barnes & Noble and came across a book called The Power of When by Michael Breus. It's supposed to show you the ideal times for sleeping, doing work, etc. for your chronotype. Circadian rhythms behave differently depending on which type you are. I've heard about a branch of it in an Anthropology class. The class talked about how different cultures are more lax or stringent with time (i.e. the difference between German and African cultures) because they are monochronic or polychronic. 

I took the short chronotype quiz in the book. I'm a "dolphin." This means I wake up feeling tired and stay that way until late in the evening. I'm alert late at night and most productive in spurts throughout the day. I wake up multiple times throughout the night and have anxiety-related insomnia. The description was so correct about me that I'm buying the book this week to help me plot future sleep experiments.

What have you been experimenting with? 

Let me know if you decide to do the done lists! What is your favorite fall activity? Have you read The Power of When