Overcoming frustration through habits

Frustration isn't always avoidable, but it can be minimized through habits
Using habits to overcome frustration and the acts that cause frustration. Neil Keleher.


Overcoming Frustration through Habits

Frustration can occur while learning new things. It can also occur when making small changes that have unanticipated side effects. While frustration isn't always avoidable, there are things that we can do to minimize it.

Learning new things can be challenging and frustrating, particularly when we have to try and apply something we've just learned in a fast changing environment.

Frustration can also result when we make a slight change to a procedure, and then spend lots of time doing something using the modified procedure only to find out that the modified procedure doesn't work.

Filming for youtube, the trials and errors of getting decent audio

Audio has been one of my biggest challenges when doing videos for youtube. Many times have I filmed lots of footage only to find out afterwards that my audio is less than useable.

I learned to deal with these upsets by developing filming habits.

My habits when filming with a microphone mounted on my DSLR

When filming with an external mic mounted on my DSLR, I made it a habit to always check the the microphone was turned on prior to pressing record. (And I'd even do a test run.)

This was after several "excellent takes" prior to which I'd forgotten to check that the mic was on.

Another one of my habits was to unplug the fridge (I'd leave the cable on the floor so that I'd remember to plug it in after I finished recording.) And I also made sure all the windows were closed.

(It's funny to think back to my early days of filming where I didn't think that closing the windows would make a difference. The difference wasn't huge, but it was noticeable!)

I developed these habits as a way of ensuring that I didn't mess up my recordings inadvertently.

And because I turned them into habits, actions that I could do without having to think, they were relatively pain or frustration free.

I simply got on and did them.

Audio synching issues, how I didn't use habits to fix them

Later I experimented with using my ipad to record video while using a mic plugged into my phone to record audio.

I could then place the phone closer to myself for clearer audio.

So then the problem I had was that the ipad recorded video at a non-constant frame rate. So my audio was always going out out sync.

(One of the fixes for this is to apparently use handbrake to even-out the frame rate and then import the handbraked clip into imovie!)

Using a phone for audio with an external mic while using a DSLR for video

Rather than developing sets of habits to deal with this problem, I decided to go back to using my DSLR for recording video. But I continued to use my phone with an external mic for audio.

And this set up worked great for a long while. The phone was right next to me, and after setting the camera to record, I would then start recording audio with my phone. I then could sync up audio and video easily in imovie.

I did this for quite a while and so got used to my process.

As I mentioned earlier, becuase I was filming indoors, I'd gotten used to unplugging the fridge, closing all of the windows, and even closing the window in the hallway directly opposite my front door. These habits generally allowed me to film without any untowards incidents.

Then I started to play with instagram videos.

Recording audio and video at different times, aka "voice over" style

Doing instagram videos, I decided to film myself doing exercises outside, without audio. Then I would add a voice over when I got home.

Hopefully remembering the particulars of each exercise, i.e. what muscles I was activating or what I was focusing on in general for that particular session.

While tedious at times, this was also pleasant because I could edit the video quickly, and then do voiceover whenever my house was quiet and there wasn't too much outside noise.

Another nice thing about this process was that while filming, I could simply focus on the exercise that I was doing. I would then review it, giving me a rest and also giving me a chance to see if I needed to redo and exercise for whatever reason (Sometimes I'm not fully in frame. Sometimes my execution leaves a little bit to be desired.)

Again, I got used to this process.

But then I decided to record audio and video together, outside using only a phone with my trusty external mic.

Recording audio and video using my phone with an external microphone plugged in

To film outdoors, with audio, I thought it would be nice to just use my phone, a tripod and a plug in microphone, the same microphone I'd been using to record just audio until now (a Shure MV88). The key difference was that I was going to record audio and video at the same time and on the same device, my phone.

Up till this video, I'd always filmed inside. I knew the things that I had to do when filming indoors and I did them. And I assumed things would work fine despite my change in approach.

Inadvertenly recording audio with zero gain

Frequently when I'm filming I get onto a role. I don't pre-plan what I'm going to say. I know what it is that I want to talk about, in this case the topic was "overhead hanging from a bar to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome".

I had a lot of fun filming and I thought that I'd done a great and thorough job of explaining how to hang.

And then I got home and found that my audio had zero gain. I.e. I could hardly hear myself.

Fucking Shuremv88

Fucking Filmic pro.

And while we are at it, Fucking apple.

Alas, sometimes the only tools for the job are the tools that you already have.

Using audacity to amplify audio

Because I'd enjoyed filming those scenes so much, I tried to save them.

I exported the audio and tried to amplify it with audacity. Then I re-imported it back into imovie.

I thought I had fixed my problem. But, in the amplification process, parts of the audio where being clipped leading to "choppy" sound.

In the end I figured out I would be better of redoing certain sections. And if I was going to do that, I thought, sod it, I'll just redo the whole thing.

Prior to that I thought I'd better figure out how to use my microphone with filmicpro.

Deciding to redo it all

Playing with my phone and external mic,what I found was that if I set the mic gain in the shure app, then switched to filmic pro, the gain was fine. However, as soon as I finished recording, the mic gain got reset to zero. So, at the end of each recording I had to go back into the shure app and repeat the process.

I did a check on google, but Google didn't offer me much in the way of anything that was helpful.

I thought of trying the mic with a different video app, but then I would have to pay for the new app. (And free alternatives didn't were limited in function). Part of the problem was that I wanted to film in a square aspect for instagram, and filmic pro allowed me to do that. Strangely, while you can take square photographs with the iphone camera app, you can't film square videos.

I was stuck with what I had. And when I thought about it, it wasn't that big a deal. The only time it would be a pain is if I forgot to reset the audio gain prior to pressing record.

And so I figured I could overcome this problem by developing a new set of habits.

Developing a new set of habits for filming audio and video with an external microphone plugged into my phone

Developing new habits feels similiar to how I write short pieces of python code to automate procedures on my computer. With habits, I automate certain processes that I do. I'm still doing them, but it requires less mental efforting because it is a habit. It does itself.

And so the set of habits I trained myself to do was to first check the gain in the shure app, then switch to filmic pro and do a sound check, then press record.

After finishing a segment and stopping a recording, a repeat the process so that my audio is set for the next recording.

I simply repeated this each time, and it became a habit.

I'll simply have to make sure that I refresh that habit the next time I do something similiar.

Reducing future frustration

Note that initially I thought, what a pain. But once I made up my mind that I could turn it into a habit, it wasn't that big of a deal.

With this set of habits in place I could simply get on with filming. And the nice thing was, when I got home, and downloaded my video to my computer, the sound was great.

As a side-note, you can see that video here: Simple tips to improving hanging and dealing with thoracic outlet syndrome

More on habits and overcoming frustration

Because of covid, my usual job teaching yoga at the gym was put on pause and I got work making pizza and pasta at a friend's restaurant.

The Frustrations of learning different dishes in a restaurant

My first few weeks there were very stressful even though we were only doing take-out because I wasn't that comfortable with opening a dough ball into a pizza base. And I didn't always get the quantities right. And I often overcooked or broke a pizza, sometimes more than one.

Eventually I learned. I got comfortable with making pizza. I basically turned the making of each pizza into a habit. I didn't have to think about how to do it, I just got into doing it, responding as appropriate to variations in dough, oven temperature etc.

Defining a series of steps to habitualize

When we started dine-in, I then had to learn another dish, a meat and cheese platter. And again I got frustrated, mainly because I didn't know the right way to do it. (And I resisted learning the right way.) But then I realized I simply needed to learn it, so that I could get on with doing it without getting pissed of about it.

Part of that was breaking down the making of that dish into clearly defined steps.

And this is more or less the same with dealing with my new audio requirements.

Doing things even better the second time around

As mentioned, I went out the next day, a little sad that I had to redo everything. But then I just got on with doing it. I checked the gain in the audio app then changed to the video app and test the audio gain. If that was okay, I got on with filming. And actually, I think I actually did a better job the second time around.

Each time I stopped a recording, I did the same thing, set the gain, checked the gain and then pressed record again.

The benefits of good habits

Turning the process into a set of habits made it a whole lot less frustrating. When I got home, I downloaded everything then stuck it all in imovie, and guess what. The audio was perfect. Well not perfect, there was traffic noise in the back ground, but for what I was doing it was fine.

Getting rid of mental noise

The thing about habits is that we don't have to think when we do them. There may be some adjustments required, but basically habits allow us to turn off the thinking part of our brain, or they allow us to focus on other things.

Perhaps the more important point is, when we learn something well enough to turn turn it into a habit, we can turn of the mental "compaining" that goes with trying to figure out how to do something, or the frustration that occurs because we don't know how to do something, or when a series of steps required to get a desired result seems like a pain in the butt.

Making habits may be a lot easier if you clearly define what it is that you are trying to do.

How to create useful habits

With filming, I had to figure out what to do to get loud-enough audio. Once I knew the steps I could exercise them until they became habits.

Working at an Italian restaurant, the trick was learning how to make each dish. That could mean breaking the process down into a set of clearly defined steps. Once I defined the steps, I could practice them until they became habits. As a result I can then make any dish that is ordered without frustration.

Note there may be many ways of doing a dish. The important thing is to learn a process. Then turn it into a habit.

The nice thing is, you can always adjust those steps later if required.

Published: 2021 08 19
Defining ideas, relationships (and change) for better understanding, problem solving and experiences

Articles by date

2021 11 12

The overlooked costs of poor indexing
Indexing methods; The benefits of good indexing; Why it takes time to save time

2021 10 18

An intro to better Mental Models, part 1
Mental models and their uses; 4 types of mental model; Simple building blocks for mental models

2021 09 16

Modularizing habits
Why we have habits and how we can change them and use them

2021 08 27

The Calculus of Thinking part 1
A scaleable framework for thinking creatively and for thinking for yourself

2021 08 25

Do you feel lucky?
Systemizing luck via patterns, models and good old "understanding"

2021 08 24

Learning to Understand
Becoming more self-reliant, while learning to think less (by pre-thinking)

2021 08 19

Overcoming frustration through habits
Frustration isn't always avoidable, but it can be minimized through habits

2021 08 18

A Good Death is its own Reward
Turning the thinking mind off

2021 05 03

Creating Space
To get in the flow a basic principle is to look for the space to flow through rather than at the things that prevent flow

2021 03 14

Working from first principles
Two points of view for understanding any system

2021 01 24

Relationships as a context for change
The [relationship] as a general building block for reasoning from first principles

2021 01 22

Muscle Control
A first principles approach to learning to feel and control your body

2021 01 20

Ideas as First Principle building blocks
The qualities of ideas that make them useful for working from first principles

2021 01 19

First principles
The art of modelling for function rather than form

2021 01 07

Building intuition
Why working from first principles is more than just understanding component parts (but also component relationships)

2020 12 03

Ideas as Units of Meaning
And as the Potential for Change

2020 10 05

Creating an easy-lookup indexing system for Chinese Characters
The importance of indexing in general

2020 09 19

Learning to understand complex systems in terms of ideas, relationships and change
Plus side trips down memory lane and how the method of loci relates to understanding

2020 09 18

Information, energy and the idea of change
Why it makes sense that information could have mass

2020 09 15

Indexing, context and understanding
How effective indexing makes it easier to find things and can lead to better understanding via the method of loci

2020 09 01

Right and wrong versus better possibilities
sometimes you just have to make a decission

2020 09 01

How to make decision making easier
Understanding short term memory (so that you can work effectively within its limits)

2020 09 01

A calculus for learning your body
The basics of "learning to understand"

2020 07 31

Learning Chinese by reading It
How to say "peed all over the toilet seat" in Chinese

2019 07 22

About Neil Keleher
Simplifying chaos

2019 07 21

Rewriting Our Operating Systems
Becoming Better at Being ourselves

2019 07 21

Being Present, What it Means
and How to Get There

2019 07 19

Being Present, a Non-Critical (but critical) State of Mind
(That's often more fun!)

2019 07 12

Basic Principles: Ideas as Units of Meaning
And as the Potential for Change

2019 04 24

What is zero parallax?
How to account for viewing error to measure change, create change and to understand

2019 04 24

Zero Parallax
Tools for learning to understand

2019 04 24

Flexible thinking(Formerly "Learning to Understand")
A First Principles approach to understanding systems from two points of view by using components and stories