Archive for the ‘time management’ Category

I had a stand off with a man who came to the library and not for the books

September 7, 2012

First I found out how easy it is to reserve a book. Just enter the name of the book you’re looking into a form field on the internet and click to hold the book at the library closest to you. The all you have to do is go to that library and head on down to the hold section and the book is waiting there for you. With your name on it. This is a regularly scheduled public service announcement.

Then I was reminded that there are not just books at the library, oh no.  You’ve also got access to you lastest magazines  wrapped up in plastic covers and red bindings out on display, like in the subway station, only you can look inside. I picked up whatever latest dish there was on Suri and Kate and trekked it along with me into the philosophy room just for a little peak before I started writing. Did she sign a contract to keep quiet about scientology in exchange for a quick and easy divorce?  We may never know.

Finally, it was nice to learn that the library is up date, technology wise.  Can I plug in somewhere, asks a woman standing at the info desk with a laptop and an ETHERNET cable coming from the side. No, you have to use the air, says the man behind the desk, giving a little wave with his hand around his head to demonstrate.  Ok, it’s a little spotty, but who needs the internet when you’re surrounded by knowledge already!

But just as I was getting comfortable downstairs in the fiction section, sitting on some cozy cushioned chairs I found over by the circulation desk, a guy sat down across from me. Or not across from me, rather, but across from the girl that was sitting next to me, also in one of the six cozy living room like chairs. And when he did, he started to moan like there was something down his pants and he liked it.

My neighbor seemed to disagree. Did you hear what was going on, I asked him, after the man got up and left. The man shifted in his seat and seemed like he wished I would go away. Because I wasn’t sure what to think about what was going on, I said. So I was wondering what you heard.

He was talking to himself, my neighbor said, and he shrugged.

Like, no big deal. The moaning didn’t really distract him like it distracted me. For me, I started feeling gross at the bottom of my stomach like I needed to find a new room. When I got up to leave, the moaner got up too, and gave a little laugh like he had won.

Listen. I went back! Because when you need inspiration, and not the kind that involves a sinking feeling in your gut, they’ve got shelves and shelves of the stuff. On one break I picked up Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth, from the shelves and found the perfect quote to start a post on my addiction to knowing the future before it’s arrived:

But also because the library is a place I can go to hear myself think.  And for someone who likes to listen more to what people say about me than what I think about myself this is a gem of a situation.  So much so that I’m not going to let a little moaning get in my way.

Here’s the quote for those of you who can’t wait for after the weekend.  The gist of the story will be something like how I started reading Susan Miller one day and ended up as one of the people who would justify your crazy stories by telling you that’s just what someone with your rising sign would do.  That’s right naughty Scorpios, I’m talking to you.

Gnothi Seauton—Know Thyself.

These words were inscribed above the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi, site of the sacred Oracle. In ancient Greece, people would visit the Oracle hoping to find out what destiny had in store for them or what course of action to take in a particular situation. It is likely that most visitors read those words as they entered the building without realizing that they pointed to a deeper truth than anything the Oracle could possibly tell them. They may not have realized either that, no matter how great a revelation or how accurate the information they received, it would ultimately prove to be of no avail, would not save them from further unhappiness and self-created suffering, if they failed to find the truth that is concealed in that injunction—Know Thyself.

Did you make it to the end of these five paragraphs or more?  I’m dying to know.  Leave me a note to say hi, or tell me the NYPL you like to visit best.


Spend the first hour of the day offline

July 24, 2012

Today the NYtimes profiled tech companies who feel kinda bad that they bank on the surge of dopamine we get when we use their products.  After a week of limiting my own daily dose, I found out that spending time any other way felt like an incredible chore.  The W, it turns out, sucks your time not because you don’t want it to, but because giving up your time to something that wants it desperately is part of what feels good.

I realized that when I check my email in the morning I usually get disappointed.  There are some times when I have one, maybe two emails that I care about in my inbox.  Some of those require responses that are hard and so I don’t respond right away.  Then I start the day dreading how I’m going to respond and when.

So tried out spending the first hour of the morning without my trusty devices.  No email, no text message and no blogs either.  Just me and a bunch of blank note cards to fill in with ideas about how to spend my time in other ways.

By lunchtime I had actually done something I cared about instead of  just committing to events and projects I probably wouldn’t have time to complete.  By afternoon, getting back to emails felt fun.  And by the early evening I remembered that the internet is, like, for entertainment.

The nighttime was pleasant.  As I lay in bed, tucked in under my covers, I felt as if the day had come to a natural end.  And there had been so much of it that I had been present for too.

Some people will find this crazy because their lives depend on emails from others as soon as they wake up.  Other people will find this crazy because their lives depend so little on what happens online.  I’m curious to know – are you either of these types of people? Or is an hour of no W every morning just right for you too?

The Working Life

September 20, 2011

I’ve spent five years managing web projects for other people and another six managing work for myself.  Both are difficult paths: The self-employed route requires so much DIY chutzpa that it becomes difficult to focus on what it is that you do best.  But having someone else direct your work often means putting aside your priorities and doing your best to understand someone else’s motivations.

It’s hard to feel like you’re getting anywhere when you’re the boss of yourself.  There can be so many accomplishments but there’s not much moving up.  There are few people other people to direct (unless you get funding) and there are a limited amount of projects you can take on and be involved with at any one time.  There’s lots of doing without concrete results and a constant nagging feeling that you may just not be good enough.

There’s nobody else there to tell you to come home after school when all of your other friends are out playing with other friends.  Nobody’s going to remind you that the extra coffee break means fifteen last minutes spent researching or editing except you.  And there’s no job title to reaffirm your role.

Making time to think about what you’re doing before you start doing becomes more important.  Keeping yourself accountable to your long term plans becomes essential.  You become a living breathing work in progress and your life and work fuse together in an almost unrecognizable way.

Yet there are countless blogs and books about creating your own path because making your own mistakes can be so rewarding.  When you’re on your own and you mess up, you can just pick yourself back up and try again.  Because even when things get bad, you’re probably not going to fire yourself.

Write More, Publish Often

September 15, 2011

It may seem silly for a new writer to already be giving tips on writing.  The blog though is mine and mine only so you can keep that opinion to yourself.  Or hell, put it in the comment section if you want to make a big stink about it.

I’ve read that writers write when they learn to Write Badly, simple sounding tip to side-step the hemming and hawing one usually does before sitting down to write. For public purposes, pretend to be like Amy Hempel – who says that a bad sentence drives her so batty, she can’t let herself see one on the page, or Muriel Spark, who supposed each word that entered the world from her pen was a direct message from God.  But I feel sure that somewhere – in some leather journal with a thin silky ribbon – these women found a place to write very badly, albeit in secret.

The job of a writer, then, becomes to sort through all this bad writing – all these meaningless words and terrible phrases – and find inside them something worth holding onto.  That thought scribbled in a marble notebook hastily and hardly legible could be something that someone has been waiting to hear. And this tip is more traditionally meant for first draft, I’m going to extend the idea to the very final draft too – because if you’re a person for whom few things are good enough – you may have to learn to just sit with things that you find intolerably terrible in order to publish anything at all.

I hate to Leave time to Revise because doing so means I wasn’t perfect, like I’d like to be in the first place.  My daily fantasy is that the words I put on the page the very first time are good enough to send away without a second look.  Because the revision part requires you to not only see what’s not perfect, but to also see what you can do to make a change. And change is hard.

Change is also well worth the effort.  The thoughts that fly through all of our heads are undoubtedly brilliant but we have to work to get them to a point where our words reflect them as best as possible.  The more we revise the closer we get to perfection – although perfection isn’t the goal.  Revising forever is tiresome and terrible so there’s a moment when you have to just know that the thing you’ve made is put a fork in it done – but leave time anyway – just to see whether your most important points are on the page the best you know how.

Writing is experimental so it’s OK to change things up and Play with Voice when you feel like that’s fun. Anonymity could help shine light on whatever topics or thoughts you’ve previously thought of as unsuitable for wide release.  Me, I’m trying to see what happens if I let little parts of different selves drip outside of the one you all know and sometimes love.  But I like the idea of coming up with persona so the part of me that wants to run around in flapper dresses sloshing my olive scented martini all over other people at the bar can have a place to roam free.

So don’t be too proud to Pay for Readers.  Cook your friends dinner for reading, or spend some dough on a local class.  Later someone will be paying you, but for now – figure out what it is you write that makes people give a damn.

Blog publishing software allows you to get your writing to people quickly.  Reference links, photo, videos and the once over for typos all add up to the last 10% – the part I like to forget to plan for.  Details like categories, tags and headline rewrites make posts seem pro,  so Plan  for Production.  Choosing new templates, changing designs or adding new features don’t count as production and are forbidden until the post is up and ready, all five steps complete.

Lean, Mean, Cleaning Machine

August 17, 2011

Sometimes when I sit down to write I get distracted by things in the apartment that need to be cleaned, organized or improved – like doing the dishes, managing bills or looking for new kitchen chairs. When I get this impulse, I usually go bananas because I can’t think of what to do first and as I try to decide, the list gets even longer.  Before you know it I’m txting a friend, while doing the dishes and forgetting to put the laundry in the drier before midnight and I’ve gone another day without writing.

The whole thing, though, is just a tricky way to let me out of doing the thing that’s most important.  It’s not that it wouldn’t be better if there weren’t dishes in the sink – it would.  It’s hard, and probably not healthy, to turn a blind eye to mess and disorganization for a long period of time.  But when the desires to clean, organize and fix takes over, I know I’m afraid of doing something that would be harder, but more important.

For today’s entry, I wanted was to want to write about why women’s fantasy lives are so powerful. I still want to do this, but I fear that someone at my job would find out and fire me for writing about the matter.  Or that someone will call me crazy because only a crazy person would want to talk about something that private.

But I also fear that in wanting to be that close and share something that intimate – I’ll scare you, the reader, away.  You could say that it’d make sense then to just share the idea with people I feel most comfortable with, but it drives me crazy that something as important as women’s feelings about sex ends up something that has to be so carefully guarded.  Because having more closeness and more intimacy makes us happier.

As turns out, it would be much better for everyone I could have ignored the dishes for the exact amount of time it takes for me to forget that I ever thought I needed to do them.   Then the words here would be less labored, the experience more satisfying and the release more complete.  But with another five paragraph deadline already on its way, there’s only time to try again tomorrow.