Friday, May 14, 2010

Workstations vs. Playstation

The Problem
Working at home it's awefully tempting to be distracted by the wealth of little tasks that need to be done but don't directly affect the outcome of professional work. It's gotten worse since my work turned more to writing on the internet, dropping some physical work that at least got me away from internet distractions. It's just too easy to take a moment away from my professional work to do a small non-work task, and then another, and then another ... pretty soon it's late in the day and nothing has been done. It's not lazyness, it's just a response to small and real instant gratifications.

The Solution
I'm trying is to differentiate between a workstation (my main computer) and a playstation (my sickly little laptop.) I resolve not to physically do any non-work on the workstation. This may be an arbitrary rule but if I have to physically leave the workstation to goof off, I may goof off less.

So far, it's worked. I put in a lot more solid work hours yesterday and today than in the three days before. Let's see if it keeps working!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

21 Days Of No Complaining: WTF?

While stocking books at the Mercer Island Thrift Store, I stumbled across "A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted" by Will Bowen, and was intrigued by the concept:
"Bowen is a minister with a very simple message: quit complaining. If you do, you'll be happier and healthier. Hence his Complaint-Free World challenge; the goal is to stop for 21 consecutive days. Why 21? That's how long it takes to break a habit, according to Bowen, who has appeared on Oprah and The Today Show discussing his challenge. And while there's no scientific proof his program works, he includes testimonials from people who've stopped their chronic carping and now lead more positive lives." (from its Amazon listing)
Now I like a good challenge, but this one seems crazier than most. Is it really possible to go three weeks without complaining? And would I be better off if I did?

Call me stupid, but I resolved then and there to try it.

I talked it over with my wife. "I really hate it when other people complain all the time. Some of our friends are pretty annoying that way."Then I slapped my forehead, "D'oh! I was just complaining."

"Tomorrow's Mother's Day," she said, "Why not start then? It's somehow appropriate."

This is true. My mother has never complained in my hearing; not once, in more than fifty years. I don't know how that can be, since she has plenty to complain about, but I believe it's a fact.

So for Mother's Day, I started. No complaints. It's not so easy; I'm not complaining, simply stating a fact. Lots of things are not easy and actually I'm boasting when I point out I'm doing something not easy, so in a way, I've got some benefit already: another boasting point. I'm doing something that's too hard for most people!

I hope there isn't a book that counsels against boasting. I'm not complaining, but I think it's better to work on one thing at a time.
EDITTED: Learn more here:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Imagine there's no shelving
It's easy if you try
No hall of cartons
Stacked up to the sky...

When I moved into our house, I resolved not to bring allong the many shelving units on which I kept boxes and boxes of stuff. I knew that however rigorously I cleaned and discarded unused things, as long as there was empty shelf space, I would accumulate more.

And this time, since we're not moving again, the stuff would stay forever.

It's been hard. I couldn't just throw out the shelves, but luckily my father-in-law took most of them, and my sister-in-law took the "Waffle". She needed it to organize her room of Mariners stuff.

But it's been worth it! So far, I can report that although I have boxes of stuff stacked in the computer room, the stack shrinks by about one box a day. It has to: I don't have any shelves on which to put the stuff!

I am finding things I have not seen in years, and I am gradually getting to the pleasant ordered space I've long wanted, but not attained since the one-man cell at St. Edward's.