Just one more thing I wanted to read before I actually get something done


Sometimes just want to wasch your brain and start back at zero, don’t you?

Rarely do I want to repost something word for word in its entirety here on the old Miscellaneous Blog, but today I desperately want to do exactly that.

I’ve got tabs open on my laptop with articles I’d like to read and blogposts on which I’d like to comment. I’ve been devouring pieces about time management since the new year began, and I’m knee-deep into various Thirty Day Challenges.

It’s too much. I give up.

No, I mean it.

Here’s one of the many things that really spoke to me in my daily attempt not to get bogged down:

Addicted to Distraction

I know it’s from waaaay back a few months ago. That’s an eternity in the online world. Do you know how many hours of content have been uploaded to YouTube since this Opinion Piece was published in The New York Times? A lot, I tell you.

I could make a rough estimate if I looked up the data and did a bit of calculation, but what’d the point of that be? Why am I so obsessed beyond reason to know that specific piece of information? Does it benefit me or anyone?

Don’t get me wrong. If I’m making an argument and want my point to be convincing, of course I want to employ facts in said reasoning. Come on. There’s plenty of knee-jerk palaver floating around. I’d prefer not adding to the noise, I promise.

Yet I’d like to cut down on the barrage of information. Tony Schwartz the author of the above mentioned article, makes the point so well that I’ll just give you a taste of how he phrases it:

‘Endless access to new information also easily overloads our working memory. When we reach cognitive overload, our ability to transfer learning to long-term memory significantly deteriorates. It’s as if our brain has become a full cup of water and anything more poured into it starts to spill out.’

I like that simile, so I’ll just leave that with you as I move on to the next thing.

I’d like to believe all of this has cured me from my time-wasting habits. Wouldn’t that be lovely. Instead there’s just one more thing I wanted to read before I actually get something done.

under some of our noses

our future readers

I was frustrated last month at how little time my new job was allowing me for blogging. Ridiculous, eh? Here I have this great opportunity to help start an English-language weekly newspaper in Munich, and I’m worried about my little, personal site.

Here’s the thing, though. It needn’t be either/or. I could focus all of my energy on the paper, like I did for most of July and the beginning of August, or I could keep working diligently for The Munich Eye and mine that site for topics to be used over here.

That was how I originally envisioned it, after all. When I first talked to William Smyth, the editor of The Munich Eye (formerly The Munich Times), I thought I’d be doing a bit of writing for this fledgling startup. What a thought. For years, I’d been selling articles here and there. An article about tea on one website. A list about Die 10 einflussreichsten Songwriter, die kaum jemand kennt (The ten most influential songwriters you’ve probably never heard of was my original English title) on another one.

Yet, here was a chance to write regularly for a publication nearby. I wasn’t going to miss out on this opportunity. Little did I know what was in store for me. Nearly five months later, I still have no idea how good this thing could become.

Starting in early July, we went into print and each week we attracted more attention. Writers and photographers came out of the woodwork. People we didn’t even know existed were here under our noses all along. Well, not literally. It’s not very safe under our noses. Allergies and all.

in praise of idleness

Someone’s got to pour this water, but leave time for daydreaming

I’ve had a few days where I just couldn’t do much of anything. Somehow my brain has rebelled and shut off. Certainly made it to my appointments, and fulfilled my responsibilities in my job…however, when I’ve sat down at my desk to write, I haven’t been able to focus. I’ve been eager to finish various tasks, but something in me has rebelled.

As I write that, I’m reminded of times I’ve felt overwhelmed and muscled through. Those times when I thought I just couldn’t do anymore, but I resolved to simply finish the task at hand. When I think about it, I realise I do that quite a lot. I’ve read a lot about how we, as humans, are able to do much more than we think we can. Because I’m a generally optimistic person, I regularly set goal just out of reach. For the most part, I’m able to do more than I could foresee.

There are certainly exceptions where I’ve failed miserably.

So here I’ve sat…not really finishing the task at hand, but feeling oddly uncomfortable with the whole state of affairs. Then, I read this:

What some people call idleness is often the best investment

Isn’t that great? Since I was a teenager, I’ve been convinced that the amount of time you spend on a task is not necessarily indicative of the quality of your work. If being creative were like making sausage, then anyone could do it. When I say making sausage, I mean cramming as much into a project without much concern for the quality of the work.

I knew people in music school who spent significantly fewer hours practising than the ones who seemed to live in their studios. The article’s author, Ed Smith, calls the work ethic of the latter category the cult of busyness. I really enjoyed how he wrote of idleness, which as you know is a particular past-time of mine. Here’s how he describes it:

‘The lesser players spread their work throughout the day, never escaping a sense of stress and anxiety. The elite players, in contrast, consolidated their work into two well-defined periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Either side of these peaks of concentration, the best players enjoyed life: they slept more during the daytime and spent more time having fun away from music. Their lives were simul­taneously more relaxed and more productive. What some people call idleness is often the best investment.’

Not bad, eh? I’m off to do a bit more idling before I get to work.

How long is now

Yes - How long is now

Took this photo in Berlin years ago, and it still makes me smile when I see it. Have been having some issues with time management lately, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

When I’ve committed to too many things and am running from one appointment to the next, I try to remember the whole Power of Now thing. But I’m hesitant to go too overboard with this stuff. Probably because I’ve read a bit of Eckart Tolle, and I’m never quite sure if I get it.

See, I’m the sort of person who would never think about planting food as long as I still have plenty to eat. If people like me were responsible for important things and we were all living in the now, I’m not sure we’d have enough fuel to keep us warm. Or the logistics to keep planes in the sky.

It’s easy for me to live in an orderly society and wander round saying everyone should carpe diem. This is exactly what I’m doing today. How long is now, anyway?