To be or not to be

I always a struggle a bit at this time of the year. I think it has to do with being on holidays. The heat doesn’t help and neither does the availability of excellent white wine. It all contributes to a state of ennui (one of my very favourite words) whereby I am reduced to reading trashy books and sleeping a lot. It’s fun, but I also worry about the fact that I’m not making any progress towards my goals.

Actually, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really have any concrete goals, so I’m not even sure what I was hoping to achieve last year, but I’m plagued with the idea that I should have made more progress. Someone once told me that I was an over-achiever which I find hilarious as I’m chronically lazy. I tell myself that it’s okay to have a rest and a break, but I worry about my inability to focus on anything or make a decision about what I’d like to achieve in the next 12 months.

It’s a first world problem I know, but I suspect that by not setting any goals I am effectively protecting myself from failing. It makes perfect sense that if I don’t try, I can’t possibly fail, but I can still fool myself into thinking that a brilliant future awaits me if only I had the time and money to pursue my dreams. 

The reality is that the only thing holding me back (apart from fear of failure) is deciding where I should focus my efforts. It would be great if a great big sign descended from the sky to let me know what I should do, what things I might find interesting, but not too difficult to master. Alas, there is no-one to make such a prophecy so I’ll have to resort to trial and error.

I’ll be going back to work on Monday so no doubt I’ll be too busy to worry about re-inventing myself or deciding who or what to be. Once again, busyness will be my saviour and I can go back to daydreaming about writing that best-selling non-fiction book on a topic yet to be decided.


I’m very busy not working

I broke one of my own rules today and brought home some work to do tonight. It’s just some reading for a meeting I have to attend tomorrow so it’s not too onerous, but still, I hate the fact that I didn’t get a chance to do it at work.

It’s hard to get any actual work done at work.

There are lots of tasks I find it hard to complete at work, and reading anything remotely serious or complex can be an enormous challenge. I find it quite hard to get to the end of a long email sometimes. Many people have been commenting on this lately, so my complaint isn’t new, but I think that the well-known causes – noise, distractions and constant interruptions – are not only impacting on reading, but on thinking as well.

This is bad news for those of us who have jobs that require deep thinking, or for people who just like to do the kind of deep thinking that results in clarity of mind or creative output. The office is a terrible environment for thinking. Let’s face it – important work requires concentration and effort – you need somewhere quiet to work and most workplaces are usually the last place to find a quiet haven.

Not only am I constantly interrupted at work, increasingly I find that I am quite adept at interrupting myself!

It seems hard to settle down and concentrate on the task at hand. For a long time I thought this was just a form of procrastination, but increasingly I realise that it’s a kind of habit that I’ve been developing. Every time I get into some kind of ‘flow’ I suddenly remember that I’m not supposed to sit for more than 20 minutes at a time (its bad for your back) or I suddenly start thinking that I desperately need a cup of tea.

The other thing that stops me getting things done is that I’m too helpful. If I get asked for assistance, I’m always eager to stop what I’m doing and help someone out. This is nice for my colleagues I guess, but it doesn’t help me get things done.

I’m not sure what the answer is (apart from wearing noise cancelling headphones). How could I listen to the conversations around me with headphones on? I also worry about involuntary swearing when someone sneaks up and taps me on the shoulder.

I do know that I am going to have to work harder at concentrating so that I can spend my evenings reading for pleasure, rather than for work.

Any thoughts?

Blogging challenge: day two

Well here we are at day two of my self-imposed blogging challenge and already I’m wondering whether it will be too much for you if I blog every day? I am acutely aware that when I receive too many posts from some of the blogs I subscribe to, that I have been inclined to unsubscribe because I feel like I am being inundated with things to read.

Lots of people have commented on the fact that there is a sweet spot to blogging. You need to post just the right amount of times during the week so that people look forward to reading what you have to say. It’s a bit of a Goldilocks situation, you have to get it just right or you lose people. And truth be told, dear readers, is that I can’t afford to lose any of my lovely subscribers as there aren’t that many of you. Even if there were, I think I would find it disappointing if I noticed that a whole bunch of people had suddenly unsubscribed.

This led me to thinking about why people subscribe to blogs in the first place. What motivates this? Is it the thought of being entertained, amazed or inspired, or is it just curiosity to see what other people are writing about? Even worse is the possibility that it is just a form of escapism that stops us from coming to grips with the realities of our own lives. (I don’t think this is true, except maybe when I am very tired and can’t be bothered getting doing anything – in this case, it’s definitely pure escapism).

I am subscribed to numerous blogs that interest me. Sometimes I read everything they write, sometimes their posts only get a cursory glance to see if it’s a topic that interests me. It can be something of an achievement to get me to read right to the end of a post and I especially hate those ‘read more’ buttons. I’m not sure why, they just annoy me. If I’ve read the first three paragraphs of an article I feel like I should be able to read the rest without pushing any buttons.

So I hope my once a day blogging challenge does not annoy or irritate you and that you’ll stay with me. I would be tremendously interested in having a discussion about why you subscribe to this blog or even just blogs in general and exactly what it is that you are looking for. Care to comment?

A video for the easily distracted

If you are anything like me you might find yourself easily distracted, especially when you are meant to be doing something that requires concentration. Even when I sit down to write something on this blog, (something I enjoy), I find myself wondering if there are any new books in the library that I need to check out, or thinking about what to have for dinner. It seems that there is always something else to do when you are in avoidance mode. What is it about writing, or any other creative act, that send us running off to check our emails or browse the internet? I can’t decide if it is laziness or fear, or a combination of both of these.

Anyway, this hilarious video provides you with a somewhat extreme solution. I love it.