Best advice I’ve ever received

This is driving me nuts. I was just reading Scott Horne’s blog (which is excellent by the way) and he’s got people sharing the best advice they’ve ever received. This is great because I love advice like sunflowers love sun. The problem is, I know exactly what the best advice I’ve ever received was but I have no idea who gave it to me or in what book I discovered it. I’m going to share it anyway, and my thanks to whomever’s idea it was.

I’d say it doubled my pleasure

This was back in the midst of a long and lazy summer in 1989, right before I began classes at Sonoma State University. The advice was to spend a week with a pad and paper and to log exactly what I did in fifteen-minute increments. So, I’d have things like:

8:00am -8:30am – Read the sports page.


9:00pm – 11pm – Watch a movie on videotape (I am old enough to remember those days)

So, after a week of this I had my very own “system logfile” of sorts. The point was then to go over this and to really scrutinize, as if balancing a checkbook, how that week had been consumed and if I could have spent the time in a more fulfilling way. Because of course, time is a zero-sum game. Each week is a week more in the history books, and a week less in the crystal ball.

Oh boy, was I lazy!

What I found was there was far more room for improvement than I realized. I tracked myself for another week, and found that I was easily able to double my enjoyment by shifting priorities. I thing in specific that I remember changed was that I did a lot less channel surfing and more writing.

Since then, I’ve gone back to the exercise a number of times – as it is easy to lose the “one week” perspective and to let life get a little flabby again. Also, it’s a little trickier now that I have a wife and a kid as priorities get more complicated with three of us to consider. Still I’d say it works wonders and I recommend it to anyone that wants to put themselves through a little mental boot camp.

If you are interested in reading some of the other responses, Graywolf and Stuntdubl have great responses on their blogs.

What was the best advice you ever received? (If you write a post about it make sure that you give props to Scott for thinking to ask this wonderful question.)