Latte, cappuccino, chai latte, frappucino – choices, choices and never enough time to think about what you really want. Best stick with the usual, one Americano, please (how exciting).
Emails, projects, tasks, meetings and bosses! Which one to tackle first, who comes next and what has to wait? Decisions, decisions. Energy and time wasted while agonizing over tasks prioritization.
Takeaway, date-night, diet-night, pizza! Obviously, pizza is the answer to go – because you are always too weak to fend off that (unhealthy) deliciousness after a full day’s work.
But, what if?
What if you could let someone else decide? What if there was another neutral, randomized force, which would dictate your decisions from now on? What if you could put the painstaking decision-making process into someone else’s hands? Meet Lady Luck.
You are a busy (wo)man. You always have things to do and you are always running out of time. Even though, most of the time you are in control of what has to be done; why not let someone else, or rather, something else decide?
Here’s what you could do: step one, equip yourself with a pair of dice, a notebook and a pen. Sounds do-able? Step two, write down six tasks, or missions that you have to achieve in the immediate future. If one task is more urgent than others, you can assign to it more numbers than just one. These tasks can be, for example, work-related.
This is how a typical mission 6-pack looks like for me:
1 prepare class
2 apply for projects
3 answer emails
4 write blog
5 practice presentation
6 social media maintenance
OK, so these are all things that I have to do on that particular day, they are all tasks and I don’t want to do any of them. I roll the die, number 4. Shit.
The die is cast.
So the trick is, no matter how much you might object to that task in that moment, the die compels you to do it. You simply have to do it, no but-s, no questions asked. You feel you have to, because otherwise you’d be disobeying the dice.
Let me get things straight. This idea was first invented by a writer and it resulted in the book The Dice Man, published under the name of Luke Rheinhart (who is the protagonist of the book). While the book is certainly worth reading it should be taken with a pinch of salt. His tasks tended to be of a rather extreme, violent nature and his intention was to free himself of any social restraints and act as a purely natural, random man.
The Dice Man inspired The Dice Life, a cult that follows Rheinhart’s way of living. We are not doing that.
The Die 2.0
There are a couple of tips and tricks that I found useful for implementing the dice life on a more fruitful, long-term basis.
- Of the six (or twelve) tasks, always make sure that one of them is fun
Good habits are impossible to instill, because we treat them as chores – a.k.a. something completely devoid of any sense of pleasure or fun (at least on the short-term basis). The Dice Life hack is only going to work if you have fun while doing it.
- Of the six (or twelve) tasks, always make sure that one of them is outside your comfort zone
Boredom, another mood killer. You need to associate The Die with the feeling of excitement (with a tad of fear). You need to challenge yourself and put down the options that you would never think of doing otherwise. If you are using The Die to help you decide what to wear tomorrow for work, why not put on the list something outrageous or bold, something you’d never wear otherwise?
Let’s say you use The Die to help you spice up your routines. When you are planning your daily commute why not add options such as: strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, dance in public or take a different route?
- Assign more numbers to the tasks that are more important
We certainly do not want to get you into (serious) trouble, so while we recognize that fun is important, it’s also important to keep afloat of your important work stuff. The more important the task is, the more numbers you should assign to it.
This was my first die-roulette of the day:
1 book writing
2 book writing
3 book writing
4 book writing
5 book writing
6 faff around – Hello Internet!
- Use the Pomodoro technique
The process of die casting, which involves writing down the tasks and the one exhilarating second when you’re waiting to see which number is going to show, is exciting. Doing the tasks, not so much. To avoid boredom and over-exhaustion, I suggest that you chop your tasks down to bitable chunks, let’s say 25 minutes chunks, followed by a 5 minute pause (Hello Internet!).
This time management method was first developed by an Italian Francesco Cirillo and is called the Pomodoro technique. Originally he used a standard kitchen egg timer, but you can use any time measurement device you want – digital or not. Just make sure that the device emits a sound at the end of the assigned period.
25 minutes is enough time to do some sizeable work and short enough to stay really focused on the task. To make sure that you are really focused it’s better to cut off all telephone and Internet connection for that time.
I love studying languages. My partner is Mexican, but I’m embarrassed to say that even after three years of dating, my Spanish didn’t go further than Hola！Que tal? Sadly I’m not a toddler anymore, so instant language absorption didn’t happen. Finally, 6 months ago I decided to take matters into my own hands and tackle this language once and for all.
(Well, no, as we all know, languages take a lifetime to learn. At least.)
I cram a little bit of language study into my everyday routine – at least one Pomodoro session – and this is my current task list:
1 Check frequency list of words to see which I need to work on
2 Write out sentences to clarify new vocabulary items
3 Work to clarify a grammar issue I have
4 Speak Spanish
5 Listen to some Spanish to improve my pronunciation
6 Read fan fiction in Spanish
So there you have it, the dice technique can be used for any type of task or decision. Use it wisely, consistently and it will soon become your best productivity tool. Have fun!
You may be wondering how you can best make use of the suggestions put forward here in this post by Eva.
This idea may be of assistance to you if you wish to put yourself under the pump a bit and break out of your existing patterns of behaviour. As has been said if you keep on doing the same thing and expecting different results, you are destined to not get far.
So sit down and and figure out where you think you are stuck a bit, or would like to accelerate. Then reflect on some things you could do. Have a look, for example, at some posts that relate to the issue you have identified and put them down in a list – as suggested. Then roll those dice! 🙂
Of course that was the easy part! Now the interesting bit comes…implementation!! Give yourself a reasonable time to see what changes happen and if that helps. Remember of course, everything done for the first time is uncomfortable a bit. Give it a bit of time and effort.