Friday, May 17, 2013

Procrastinating by Working

Courtesy of Astronomyboy, Flickr
As an undergrad, I remember talking to a TA about avoiding work/homework that we disliked by doing work/homework that we enjoyed.

"Procrastination," he said. "We have so much to do that we have to procrastinate by working."

It was funny, but his comment presented the situation in a negative light.

Penelope Trunk kind of addresses this in a cool post she wrote about how rethinking time can help you be more productive. She suggests that people divide their time into hours they spend engaged in what they are doing and hours they spend on unengaged tasks:

Engaged time/Unengaged time: People actually don’t mind working long hours when they are engaged. Burnout is not a result of how much work you’re doing but what type of work you’re doing. So instead of organizing time into work time and personal time, you could organize it into time when you like what you’re doing and time  when you don’t like what you’re doing. This is actually my big gripe with Tim Ferriss. He says he only works a 4 -hour week, but he really means he only does four hours a week of work that is not engaging to him.
People are doing this with learning as well: binge learning. This is when people take courses that are compressed, and they watch all the courses at once, sort of like watching a whole season of Arrested Development at once.

She also hit on a good idea when she suggested that people think of getting things done in terms of weeks or more, rather than days.

Days/Weeks: A lot of times you have a day where you do no work or a day when you do all work. And then you might feel that the other part of your life is in trouble. But instead, you can think in terms of weeks and months. You can have a week where you mostly work, and a week where you mostly don’t work. That’s balance, but in a larger picture. The idea of balance seems impossible hour by hour, but there are other ways to think about having a balanced life.
And you know how you can tell if your way of thinking about time is working? It feels good.

It makes sense, because this is also the best way to think about food and working out. It's okay to have a chocolate truffle at lunch and then a milkshake after dinner Friday night because you know you didn't have truffles or milkshakes every day last week, or even any day last week. Same thing with exercise -- maybe Monday you skip the gym, but you know you'll spend twice as long there the next day because they scheduled two classes you enjoy.

I enjoyed Penelope's post because recently I've been trying to approach my homework with these two methods. I'm getting pretty tired of my thesis, but I have a lot of poetry homework, so I'll work on thesis stuff and then reward myself with a "break" to write poetry. Plus, writers are always saying you have to write so many words every day, but really, if you write 500 words a day or 1,000 words every other day, will it make that much of a difference? If you can still finish your novel and get it published I'd say not. (Though, I'll let you know if/when that happens! :)

PS Aren't pocket watches the bomb? (Sheldon thinks so, too!) I have one from high school that I used to wear a lot.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ellen DeGeneres Quotes & Career Advice

Courtesy of bernie.levine, Flickr.

Ellen is one of my favorite people. She's does great interviews, and I love that she is funny without being mean. She teases people and points out ridiculous thoughts/decisions, but she does it while laughing with them instead of at them (even when she's airing their embarrassing Facebook photos on her show!).

GH: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
ED: The most important thing for me is to know that I represent kindness. I'm glad I'm funny. I'm glad I make people happy, because that's very important. But I'm proud to be known as a kind person. You listen to any monologue on late-night TV or just in general, to people talking, and there's always a joke at someone's expense. It's sarcasm; it's nasty.  
Kids grow up hearing that, and they think that's what humor is, and they think it's OK. But that negativity permeates the entire planet. I think that's where bullying comes from. I mean, I grew up watching Dick Van Dyke and Lucille Ball, and they were nothing but sweet and funny. It wasn't "negative comment, negative comment, laugh track." So I'm really proud I'm not adding to the negativity. I'm proud that for the hour my show is on television, I'm not being mean, and I'm hopefully helping one other person go, I'm going to be kind. Because then it all just kind of spreads, and the world is a little nicer out there.
Besides being kind and encouraging, she is also smart, optimistic, and hard-working. Here are some of her most inspiring pieces of advice. . .

From Ms. Career Girl (who also posted advice from three other successful women):

"Though you feel like you're not where you're supposed to be, you shouldn't worry because the next turn you take, it will lead you to where you want to go." 
--Ellen DeGeneres
Or maybe the next few turns, since Ellen has worked as an oyster shucker, house painter, bartender, waitress, and vacuum cleaner salesperson. But the point is, eventually she got to where she meant to be going, and it was probably in part because of the next quote.

"Follow your own path, not someone else's."  
--Ellen DeGeneres 
 Usually I'm not someone who cares about others' opinions or who feels the need to follow, but I do tend to worry that I don't have the same career path as someone in the business that I admire. Not always sure what or how I should be doing things, I try follow the steps of people who have gone before me. But Ellen is right -- everyone has their own path: how many other comedians and talk show hosts have both shucked oysters and sold vacuums? While you can use a role model for ideas or guidance, taking a different road doesn't mean that you won't be successful. Career Hub blog has some more great pieces of advice from Ellen.