Productivity Preachin': Just START already!

That's it. Just start. You have a huge, complex, wily project on your hands...don't fret - START. Have a conversation. Set a meeting (with an agenda, of course!)

You have a report due in 24 hours. You not starting is not helping. Free write about it. Outline. Doodle and think. Ponder it in silence. Record some random thoughts on your phone about the subject - perhaps start trying to capture the essence of the project - its goals and a rough timeline.

Don't worry. Your first draft, initial ideas, your concept - it will likely all be garbage on the first pass. I little saying I made up (who knows when or for what), but it goes "You gotta' sift through a lot of shit to find a diamond." Drafts are drafts. They are temporary. They aren't permanent. They are a start.

Just start. I can appreciate the planners, but sometimes you literally have to start, maybe endure a little risk and perhaps fail, but you learn and try again. You can't plan your way out of life, man.

Start. Procrastination is not a good look. Don't be a busta'.



Productivity Preachin': Pinterest

Okay, you might be thinking, "What the heck is she talking about? How has Pinterest ever been productive?"

Well, for people like myself who don't have a creative bone in their body, Pinterest has all the answers. I just moved into my first home and I don't know what's going on. I have some thoughts on colors - but people have thought out handy tips, storage ideas and DIY for days. Normally Pinterest is too visual for me, but for something as visual as decorating, or, more specifically, making a house a home, it is just right.

My boards are divided into each room of the house. I put all the pins that are relevant in each one. For example, I put this post in multiple rooms/boards - it's about the IKEA R├ůSKOG Cart and 10 Ways to use it around the house



Productivity Preachin': Boomerang for Gmail

I don't mind paying for something that I value. Boomerang for Gmail has been one of my absolutely all-time favorite productivity tools. To them I say - TAKE MY MONEY.

Someone mentioned Boomerang to me casually a few months ago. I looked into it. Used it a couple times. Then, I met my free scheduled email limit. Gasp! I knew I had to have it. The strange thing is, I never realized how handy it is to be able to schedule your emails or have your UN-replied to emails returned to you, or boomeranged, if you will. It is such a great tool and I cannot praise its magnificence enough.

Two thumbs way wayy wayyy up.

Check it out: http://www.boomeranggmail.com/


Book Review: Phenomenal Woman

Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating WomenPhenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women by Maya Angelou
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whenever I feel the pressure of a misogynistic world, this is the book I will run to. I will open this tiny collection of four poems and gain the strength and power of a truly phenomenal woman. When I have my own home and I begin to collect the books that I want at my side, this will be one of the first I seek.

They accuse me of livin'
from day to day,
but who are they kiddin'?
So are they.

My life ain't heaven
but it sure ain't hell.
I'm not on top
but I call it swell

From Weekend Glory

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Book Review: Dog Songs

Dog SongsDog Songs by Mary Oliver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wish I could give this book more than five stars. Since my father passed away, I have considered death and dying so much more seriously. This book took me back to all my dogs and reminded me of the love I had for all of them. And frankly, it reminded me of all the love that they had for me. It did not matter we were poor. It did not matter that perhaps we didn't always share the happiest of times. Those dogs showed our family unconditional, wild love. I love each and every one of those doggies.

If you are hurting from a loss of a dog, read this book. The poetry touched my heart in so many ways and pulled a few tears from my eyes. This is what poetry does. Like dogs, it reminds us that there is still something wild inside us, love. Love is so natural and real and burns into the very being of us as humans. It is joyous, yes. But once love is gone, taken by death, it hurts.

This book, I believe, can help us heal when we hurt. The memories that we hold close keep the spirits of the departed with us forever.

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Book Review: Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free ProductivityGetting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book a lot, even though there were some rough patches. By page 40, I actually put the book down and started implementing some of the common sense tactics that David Allen describes. He does mention that he repeats a lot and while that's true, I felt that helped. The Getting Things Done (GTD) system is really, really great. Once I started practicing the method, I noticed better results, less stress and more control over my work.

One thing I will share is that while I gave this four stars, I think a lot of people might find it boring. Even I was a little bored at some parts and I LOVE reading about productivity. It's a really great system and if you can keep with it, I do suggest finishing it, because there are a couple really strong chapters at the end.

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Some notes:
  • Choose one project that is new or stuck or could simply use some improvement. Think of your purpose. Think of what a successful outcome would look like ... Brainstorm potential steps. Organize your ideas. Decide on next actions. Are you any clearer about where you want to go and how to get there? p. 63
  • "I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific." ~Lily Tomlin p. 71
  • The more novel the situation, the more control required. p. 188
  • Checklists at all levels: job duties, annual goals, weekly reviews, training, people to stay in touch with, year end (FY and CY). p. 189 
  • Get clear, current or creative. p. 195
  • Things that have your attention need your intention engaged. p. 268
  • You can create the right placeholder for any type of potentially meaningful data. p. 294


Book Review: Manhattan Transfer

Manhattan TransferManhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is set in the 1920's in New York City. It really captures the Jazz Age through a story full of characters that are all acquainted in one way or another. There are a couple tales that capture the fall from grace that some people experienced as the banks started failing. It also takes place over about 20 years. As a classic, I liked this novel. It was interesting and it certainly took me back to Prohibition New York. It's a little tough to read because, well, it came out in 1925, but also because sometimes the narration of the story digresses into a dreamy internal dialogue. Also, while there are line breaks between the stories within paragraphs, the character perspectives would change right in the middle of a section. Still, I enjoyed the book. It was dark, but in a subtle way.

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An accurate description...

...of how I feel about my work in philanthropy. So happy to have come across Derrick Feldman's blog post: Here’s Your Chance – A Message to All New Graduates in Philanthropy and this passage:
"The titles you get will never explain the transformative power you will have on other people. Titles won’t explain the challenges, failures, successes, and beliefs you have for the sake of another – and someone you may never ever meet."


Book Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

11/22/63 by Stephen King
While I really enjoyed this book, I thought it could have been 300 pages shorter. For the first 2/3's of this book, I fell soundly asleep multiple times. However, the last 1/3 of the book really picked up pace and really had me captivated. I really like Uncle Stevie and his writing, I just wish he'd tighten up the writing. What do I know? HE'S the wealthy, popular and prolific author - not me. Anyway, happy to finally finish this fatty. Anyway, happy to finally finish this fatty. I really have to stop picking such hulking books. They put me behind on my reading every year, it seems. I still really liked this book. A little time travel never hurt nobody. AND Uncle Stevie drizzled in a little bit of dystopia. Nice.

Here are some passages I jotted down:
"Business is like a god in '58--everybody worships it but nobody understands it." (p 92)

"We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why. Not until the future eats the present, anyway. We know when it's too late." (p 454)

"He did it [listened] as the world's more charming and magnetic people do, always asking the right questions at the right time, never figeting or taking his eyes from the speaker's face, making the other guy feel like the most knowledgeable, brilliant and intellectually savvy person on the planet." (p 494)

"For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this?" (p 615)

Couple words I learned:

obdurate adj. - unmoved by persuasion, pity or tender feelings; stubborn, unyielding

elan n. - dash, imetuous ardor


Hello, again. Let's upgrade.

Life is wild. It really is. I will spare you the details of the craziest ~4 years of my life. Instead, I want to share what I have been inspired to do because of all those trials:

  • Writing to live. I have returned to writing in a lot of different ways. I have a personal journal, a work journal and a learning journal. I write appeals and those are really, really taking me back to my journalism roots - be factual, be compelling, be genuine. I am in the process of writing a FY17 plan, helping me back to my management roots, which is an exhilarating feeling. Writing, all of my writing in the last months, has been cleansing. The act of writing calms me down. It helps me learn. It helps me work through problems. Writing is life.
  • Reading: books, blogs, articles -- all the reading. Well, I'm like a million books behind schedule already, but I'm trying my hardest and the reading I'm doing is helping me with my writing, as it should. Plus, I'm reading a lot more news and professional writing to support my work, which is great.
  • Learning hard AF, daily. Something I realized while viewing old Facebook posts was that I used to post more quotes and more thoughtful statements. I do that when I'm learning a lot and my brain is running on all cylinders. While I'm not particularly interested in going back to sharing more on Facebook, I do want to get back into the groove of SHARING KNOWLEDGE. With everyone: my coworkers, students, friends and, frankly, complete strangers. I'm kind of addicted to sharing information and that's my librarian background talking. Good thing I got this here blog, eh? Plus, as I mentioned, I'm keeping a learning journal, where if I don't decide to share online, I have a little book with big learning nuggets. 
  • Regularly hearing the song of my creativity muse. This I have found to be true: when I read and write more, creativity comes easily and naturally. When I was in K-8, high school and college, I wrote excessively. I had things to say and a platform to say them on, through homework assignments, newspapers, etc. Now, I still have things to say and have found that there are still platforms, new ones, for those messages. My work, my life, my reading and my writing all combine for me to be more creative, spread good messages, and find better ways to tell stories. What a time to be alive.
  • Listening. Well, if there's ever been a crappier Gemini, only child, attention deficit disorder-ridden, passive listener than myself, I have yet to meet or know of them. Active listening is a huge area of growth for me. I don't do anyone any favors by not listening. I must be better. I have improved, but not nearly enough for my liking. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?
  • "Change my life." This is what I replace "diet and exercise" with. I'm not on a diet. I'm changing my life to include nutritious, planned, homemade meals. I'm not exercising more, I'm trying to change my life where I get up and move every single day. If I don't eat well or exercise every day of my life, than I'm not being good to myself. Diet and exercise plans are temporary. I want to live a long, active, truly healthy life, with a few fun and glorious departures from responsibility, like champagne cocktails, ladies' brunches, Opening Day (and the rest of the season), and beer festivals. 
  • Getting in good sleep and waking early. All I have to say about this is that this is the pinnacle of being a 30-something. I find the Sandman is knocking on my door promptly at 10pm each night and, well, I am happy to oblige. The next morning, my early curfew is rewarded with energy and the will to conquer the day.
Hope you can into some of these grooves in your life. It's not easy. You have to make the time and commitment. When you're brain and body are active, you are your best.