The paper cuts add up

The paper cuts add up

[00:00:00] You're listening to the Daily five, an experimental podcast by Aurooba, where I talk about something for five minutes. So let's get to it, shall we? We all have minor annoyances we encounter throughout our day. Little things you notice and are irritated by, but those things don't feel like big enough deals to actually do something about.

[00:00:29] It's a little bit like a paper cut, annoying and slightly painful in the moment, but the feeling passes quickly and then you move on with your day. But what if you got a lot of paper cuts? Let's say you had a paper cut every half hour during a 12-hour period. Each individual paper cut isn't a big deal.

[00:00:50] It maybe takes away your attention for a minute or two, but when you step back and look at those collectively and add up the amount of attention they've taken up, it's pretty significant. That's somewhere between 25 minutes to nearly an hour of time, and that's assuming it only takes your attention for a minute or two, and after that you were seamlessly able to go back to the task at hand and fall into a state of flow immediately...which never happens.

[00:01:21] So really we're talking about multiple hours of time that those paper cuts might take away from you on any given day. This connects back to a concept we talked about much earlier in the life of this podcast. The concept of 1% improvements, 1% changes that James Clear popularized. So those paper cuts, they take a much larger toll on you than you realize, especially if you deal with them consistently.

[00:01:52] I'm going to give you a very real example from my life. My home office has a large window and I sit right beside it. Underneath that window is a vent, and I have curtains on that window, and they were very long, too long, in fact. And in the winter when the heating kicks up, the curtains would cover the vent and trap the heat inside them towardd the window, instead of letting it easily disperse into the room.

[00:02:20] This had two effects. The obvious one, the room was almost always a little bit colder than I'd like, and two, as the curtains billowed up from the air coming in through the vent, the curtains would get too close to the side of my face and break my focus. I got into the habit of putting something against the foot of the curtain so it wouldn't billow up.

[00:02:43] And when that inevitably failed or moved, maybe I moved it or the air got a lot and whatever tiny thing I put there moved, I would just push the curtain back to release the trapped air. In the moment? This wasn't really a big deal, but the extra cold did make it harder to focus just a little bit, and the curtain annoyance did break my concentration at least two to three times a day.

[00:03:12] I did kind of try to solve this problem before – I got a heated footrest to kind of keep me a little bit warmer, and that did kind of help. But then my feet would get too warm and the rest of me wasn't warm enough, and it was like a whole thing. So over the weekend I was doing some office rejiggering, and in that process I switched out those curtains on the window for shorter ones and I didn't think too much of it. But then I came into my office and worked today, and the difference was just amazing.

[00:03:51] The curtain didn't billow up anymore. I was a little bit less cold. In fact, I was just the right level of warm, so I was able to focus better. I wasn't thinking about how cold I am, and it was sort of just mind blowing honestly. And I didn't think it would make such a big difference, but it did because I had one of my most productive and happiest days that I've had in a while in this office, especially during winter.

[00:04:22] So today I invite you to think about the paper cuts in your life that you deal with on a regular basis, and consider if solving those things might give you back some of that flow and time that they add up to. Who knows? It might just blow your mind. Like mine did.

[00:04:45] Thanks for listening. Talk to you tomorrow.