1 0 Archive | January, 2014
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More people live in California than in all of Canada

The other day someone shared a post showing a list of the various states (and overseas territories) of the United States of America, ranked in order of population, highest to lowest. I find this sort of thing fascinating. I found out that I currently live in the fourth most populous state – Florida. Fair enough.

Being Canadian, I naturally wondered what this sort of ranking might look like for the Canadian provinces and territories. I already knew that my home province (Ontario) and the province where I was born (Quebec) topped the list in that order – but what I didn’t know was by how much. My Calgary and Vancouver friends often mention their frustration that people from Toronto (like myself) feel that Toronto is the center of Canada, if not the universe, but check it out – Ontario is home to almost 40% of Canada’s population.

The natural progression from this point was for me to start comparing American states and Canadian provinces. Where do those Canadian provinces slot into that big list of American states? So I made a chart to check it out.

Here’s what I found, with American states in black and Canadian provinces in blue:

US and Canada population ranking

Some points of interest:

  • The 2011 census estimated that the population of all of Canada in July of 2013 would be 33,476,688. This means that there are more people living in California than in all of Canada. How crazy is that? And Texas isn’t too far behind.
  • Out of all provinces and states, Canada has the bottom five in terms of population. That’s five provinces and territories with fewer people than Vermont, Wyoming, or even the District of Columbia.
  • Aside from Ontario and Quebec, most Canadian provinces and territories are well down the list. I didn’t realize that British Columbia has fewer people than South Carolina? That doesn’t seem to make sense to me. And if you add up the populations of both British Columbia and Alberta – home to largish cities such as Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton – that still doesn’t equal the population of North Carolina or Michigan?
  • Ontario is up there with the heavyweights (go home team!)

At any rate, an interesting study!

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Prioritizing your daily goals

The Starbucks in Celebration, FloridaI’m a goal-setter. I’ll admit that. And my goals have to be concrete.

Some people can make vague or abstract goals, and succeed with them. For example, some people can say, “I am going to lose weight this year”, and will adjust their eating habits and exercise regimens accordingly. Other people might say, “this year, I’m going to write my autobiography”, and come December 31st, it’ll be sitting there completed and bound in leather atop their desks, ready to gather dust.

I’m not one of those people. I can’t make abstract goals like that – I’ll never succeed with them. I think it’s because I’m largely a creature of habit. If I’m going to run for exercise, I have to create a set schedule for when I’m going to run, and how far or for how long I’m going to go. If I’m going to cut down on junk food, I pretty much have to cut out junk food in order to adjust my habits. Now, people who know me know that I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of guy who is big into change – I’ll gladly take on new challenges, move to new countries, and push the envelope with my comfort zone. But when it comes to achieving my goals, I find I am much more likely to see long-term success if I come up with a strong plan for completing them.

Time-boxed productivity

One of the ways that I find success with achieving goals is by time-boxing the things I want to do each day. For example, let’s say I want to write a book. That’s a great goal, but without a concrete plan for achieving this goal, it’s probably not gonna get done. But if my goal is important enough for me to allocate just half an hour a day to it, then eventually, unless I die or give up the goal, it’s practically guaranteed to get completed at some point in the future.

The only problem I’ve found with this sort of approach has been prioritizing my time boxes. If you guarantee to yourself that you’re going to get something done every day before you go to sleep at night, you can do it… but if you’re not prioritizing that work within your 24-hour day, you might find that you’re not your optimal self when getting it done. For example, if it’s 1:30 AM and your body is groaning for sleep, you’re likely to spend the half hour you want to spend writing your book staring at the screen and writing stuff like, “brruffmurff.” Or maybe that’s your face landing on the keyboard.

Prioritizing your time boxes

The solution I’ve come up with is to prioritize your time boxes. This means that you know exactly which pieces of work are most important for you to complete on any given day so that you can allocate time to them when you are most productive or at your freshest. For some people, this is during the afternoon, and some people are most productive late at night. For me, I find that in the morning just after breakfast is when I am most productive – and I think a lot of people are the same way. This is after I’ve gone for my morning run, had a fruit smoothie for breakfast, and already have a few sips of coffee in me. That’s when I’m pumped and ready to go.

So here’s my plan: in order to prioritize my daily goals, I’ve decided that I’m not going to use the Internet until my important daily goals have been completed (unless their completion involves using the Internet, of course). I’m also not going to watch any TV before my goals are done – though this shouldn’t be a problem for me as I only watch an hour or two of TV during any given week, and sometimes not even that.

The result of this is that if I don’t get my daily goals done, I’m not surfing the Internet, checking Facebook, reading online forums, watching Walking Dead, or any of that stuff. Maybe I won’t complete all of my specific goals for a given day – stuff happens. But if it does happen, it means I’ve spent a day disconnected from the Internet… and even if I don’t complete my daily goals, how bad could that be?

This is still a relatively new venture, so I haven’t figured out how successful it will make me in the future, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be a great motivator when it comes to helping me complete my daily goals. In fact, my sitting here at my local Starbucks typing up this blog post on the Internet means I’ve already completed my goals for today! And since it’s a concrete thing to say “no Internet or TV until your goals are completed”, as long as I understand what my goals for the day are, it’s going to be an easy habit to fall into.

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