Tag Archives: Productivity

The Bird Box Solution

I do not think that the idea I am about to present is new. I am sure someone else has come up with it at some point. I wish I knew its name but my Googling Skills are insufficient to the task. So without that I am just going to use my own name. I present to you ‘The Bird Box Solution’.

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Some time ago my parents were looking for a leaflet holder. They wanted something simple, probably plastic, that would sit on a counter. The type of thing that might hold the menus in a takeaway.

What they found was that these things are rather expensive. This is probably a consequence of a rather limited market. So they decided to think outside the box – ironically that was a box.

They bought a bird box, more square than then one in the picture, took the top off and had the perfect place for leaflets to sit in.

This happened a few years ago but recently it got me thinking about how we approach problems. Sometimes we have to come at things from a new angle. Our resources, money, time, or manpower might not allow for doing things in the most obvious way.

When you need a hammer and you don’t have one, use a pipe!”

Kira Nerys (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Return to Grace)

So I ask you what problem are you trying to resolve in your life at the moment? Could it be resolved by looking at it in a different way?

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Ironically things have changed since I began writing this post.

When I started I thought I had found a ‘birdbox solution’ to my productivity woes. (Again, again…)

This solution was to use an app designed for tracking housework to track all my to-do list stuff. It seemed to work for a while but then I became disheartened with it!

I bought a diary instead, a paper diary, which might help.

Nevertheless I still stand by the idea presented here. One thing I still want is a standing desk but I have never found one that is quite right for me. Maybe I just need a table at the right height!

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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Drafts

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I have many drafts on this blog which may never see the light of day.

I have an idea, start to write, and then, because of loss of confidence or time I stop. Then when I come back to it it is no longer relevant.

I had a post about Eurovision. I was going to post it a week after the contest. However it has now been a month! Did I have anything ground-breaking to say? No. Not as such. That is not the point.

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The point is I have always had trouble dealing with all the things I want to do. I have a list but somethings seem to come up again and again while others seem not to get a look in.

I have talked about this previously. The question is how to know when something is enough.

Take reading for example. I could set the target of reading one chapter a day. However a chapter can take anywhere from 5-50 minutes to read. Five feels like too little and fifty would dominate the day and not much else would get done.

That might be okay though. On the next day I might not read at all. Then something else would be the focus point of the day.

Then there is another problem. When can I say I have been productive enough? When can I relax?

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I am not good at relaxing. Firstly I am not even sure what I want to do when it is time to unwind and secondly I feel guilty as there is always more to do.

I have been struggling with this for so long. Honestly it is exhausting.

I am sure to many this seems stupid. Aside from household chores my life would not be adversely effected if I didn’t do any of this.

I could burn my to-do list diary, destroy my computer, and just spend my evenings going through various TV shows and films. I could give up on everything. My life could just be work, chores, films and food.

That life would not be that interesting to live though. At least not for me. And please I am not making a value judgement. If you want nothing more than just to watch TV in your free time then that is great.

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I have said this before. I want that flagpole feeling. You know when Mario completes a level? He jumps on the pole and there are fireworks. I want that feeling. Not literal fireworks but the feeling that it is enough. That the level (day) is completed.

I want to give myself permission to stop but, after about ten or more years of trying, this is something I just cannot get my head around.

I don’t come here today in the hopes of finding solutions. I am not sure that anything will satisfy me. I am just tired. Tired of trying to make my life work. Tired of never feeling good enough. And just tired in general.

See even now I am wondering if I have been working on this for too long. Should I be moving on to the next thing on the list? Can that thing wait till tomorrow? Can it wait till later in the week? The answer is that none of this needs to be done. They are deadlines created by me for me. And yet I can’t let go and say: ‘I don’t care. I am just going to go for a walk today. To hell with the list.’ I can’t do it!

So do I set a time target? It can work but if, for example, words don’t flow it doesn’t feel like I am done. I could use a word target but, again, 500 words can be done in 30 minutes or it might take hours.

Sometimes I feel I am just on the cusp of figuring this out. However it is just out of reach.

The torment of Tantalus.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have signed up to Buy Me a Coffee. If you like what you see please consider supporting my Blog: buymeacoff.ee/SDuKYJBkJm

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Freewrite#2

After the ‘excitement’ of the first Freewrite the new one has now arrived and I am typing this entry on it.

Here it is in all its dusty glory – I have the housekeeping skills of a drunk gorilla

The first Freewrite was, of course, the second as the first was actually stolen and I never saw it. The difference between the one I had before and this one is night and day. The keys just work when I tap them – that might be the bare minimum one expects from a computer but that wasn’t even happening before so progress!

When I fist turned on the one I received I thought that it was just a weird machine and it would be a bit of a learning curve. I concluded that that was why letters seemed to be taking a while to appear. As it turned out it was the beginning of the problem that killed it.

This one, in the words of the ninth doctor, is fantastic. I saw a few reviews of it before I took the plunge that said that a Freewrite was slow and rather unresponsive – not in terms of a fault but because of the nature of e-ink. I am not finding that at all. I am typing at a normal speed and the letters are coming up like normal so I don’t see that.

The big question is will this device actually help me with writing? I think it probably will. When I am working on a blog post I often get bogged down in how it looks. By the time you read this there will be a picture and a nice layout. However trying to do two things at once, getting the words right and making in look good, means that I end up doing neither very well. Separating those two facets means both are done better.

That is not all. I am bad at spelling – a constant problem – and sometimes my spelling is so bad that even a spell checker doesn’t have a clue! And thus I am distracted with the wavy red lines under the words and stop writing to go and find the correct spelling. When my spelling is just that bad I go to plan B – which is rather ridicules.

Plan B is to find a TV, or movie, script that I know contains the word. So I look it up and copy and paste the word. I know it sounds crazy but it works. Minutiae is one such word I have trouble with. (Although this time my misspelling was close enough that I could get it without plan B.) Normal I have to seek out a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine script that contains the word. (And doing this can lead to the distraction of reading the script.)

The Freewrite doesn’t have a spellchecker so no distracting lines – it is just for writing. The Freewrite doesn’t even allow for editing. Technically you can use the back arrows but they require a keyboard shortcut, no dedicated keys, but this is a feature not a bug. The whole point of the device is that you just write and that is all and that is why I wanted it.

So far I am very happy with it and I think that it is going to help. Only time will tell if I am correct in that assertion.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

PS. I have jumped over the festive period. So happiness to you for the coming year. May your dreams come true this year.

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It Has Been a Long Time…

Sorry about the title – I hope it hasn’t started you singing – unless you like that song – I actually don’t mind it. I am rambling now. You don’t know what I am talking about do you?

In 2001 Enterprise (later Star Trek: Enterprise) was first broadcast. It was rather a shock to some that it had a theme song – and the song began in the way of the title of this post – which has nothing to do with anything it has just been a long time since I have posted here.

I cannot tell you that I have been working on some great project. I have simply been trying to live and deal with the demons in my head. Is that too much hyperbole? It might be. Sometimes I wish they were actual demons at least then I could learn martial arts and beat them up – maybe.

This post is going into strange places.

One thing I have done is create a shinny new spreadsheet! I know. I know. Some people create beautiful art.

Can I make a spreadsheet exciting to you? Probably not, but it is what is on my mind.

The spreadsheet is for tracking what I am doing day-to-day. I have tried various apps and so many different ways it has driven me crazy but doing it myself might actually work.

Productivity is something I have always struggled with. If I am doing one thing I am worried I am not doing another thing. Isn’t that kind of crazy?

For me the key to being productive is to engineer the feeling of achievement. Having a spreadsheet tell me that the job is done is as good a way as any. And a spreadsheet doesn’t have notifications all the time.

How do you get your stuff done?

My parents have said that me having this issue is good. Why? Because it means that there are things I want. There are things I can strive for and that is always a good thing. (Even if starting is so much easier than finishing)

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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I Just Lost Thirty Minutes

As you know (a term a writer should never use) I like to keep track of what I am doing in a day. The idea is that I can look back at the end of the day (or week) and see where the time goes. Sometimes though when I switch between task I end up losing some time. And I don’t always know where that time went. I suppose I could add a category called ‘Procrastination’ to my list but that would be over the top even for me.

I think what happened was that I found something I didn’t feel like doing – then rather than just doing it I procrastinated till coming here to write this out. And the thing I was procrastinating about could have been done in that procrastination window!

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“Are you my mummy?”

If you don’t know Doctor Who that is going to look weird! Also that episode came out more that 15 years ago! How time flies! (Another cliché a writer shouldn’t use!)

I am on the last day of my week of self-isolation. I have only left the boundaries of my flat to get a food delivery and that is it – and I haven’t even gone into the garden for some reason! So how has it been?

Not bad. I am rather introverted so staying indoors and not having to talk to anyone isn’t an issue for me – actually I rather like it. However I have not been as productive as I would have liked. Whenever I get a change in my situation it always takes time for me to get into the new swing of things – the full lockdown took even longer – and now after this week I feel today is probably going to be the one where I get it right. (The lost 30 minutes notwithstanding.)

Tomorrow though I am back to work. And that ‘routine’ should be easy to slip back into.

I daresay I have eaten too much this week. I had a Chinese takeaway the other day. A friend posted a picture of theirs and it looked so good I just needed one – and hay I am self-isolating so I can have one! It is not like I am truly breaking my own rules about takeaways! Okay so I am! I will have had more than I said I was going to do this month but it is a special situation. (I know the age old cry of the fat man!)

What was stupid though was the sandwich I bought. I had to have it delivered and it cost a silly amount. And I don’t know why I didn’t just pay for delivery of my regular weekly shop! It makes no sense. I then spend more at a supermarket that offers free delivery because they have a minimum order of £35. The long and short of it is I could have placed a small supermarket order, paid for delivery, and still payed about the same as the sandwich. So yeah that was stupid but oh well.

The Chinese meal was lovely. What wasn’t lovely was that it arrived 30 minutes late. But the customer support on the delivery app was excellent. I used the chat function and they contacted the restaurant – that was amazing since I don’t like phones at all.

All in all it was a good week. I would even say it was fun. I wish I was more disciplined, and sensible, but that is always a struggle (especially where food is concerned) but I did do 30 productive (ish) hours so I am putting it in the win column.

I hope you are safe and well and coping in these hard times.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Order

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In the television series Babylon 5 the major conflict is between order and chaos. I think that describes me to a tee – although I don’t blow up planets when things aren’t working out – not until the death ray is completed anyway.

If I am disordered I don’t know what I need to do. If I am too ordered there is little room for life.

Order has two meanings for me. The first is being controlled – having homes for everything and trying to make the place look like something other than a pigsty. Most people, I would imagine, still have a draw of chaos – I am just trying not to have a flat of chaos.

The other type of order is the order in which we do things. For example when getting home from work what is the first thing you do?

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Do you make dinner first? Do you do some house work? Do you get on with your current project?

That project could be anything from working on a novel, practising the theremin, reading a book (not really a project but let’s go with it), knitting a scarf, painting the spare room or literally anything else in someway creative.

Odds are when you get home from work you are tired – so food might be in order – on the other hand if you get stuff done first then maybe dinner will taste all the nicer knowing that the evening is yours!

I wish I could sit here and give you a one size fits all solution. I want to tell you a way to be a productivity master!

There is no such animal.

I know, deep in my brain, that all we can do is our best. Unfortunately that doesn’t help me to say well done (to myself) and try to reassure myself I have done enough. I am never that kind to myself.

I am writing this at 1752 and I am yawing – since it is my day off I could stop doing stuff now and relax but that isn’t going to happen.

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This whole thing of organisation is very well trodden ground on this blog. My head is in a spin always trying to be better. I don’t know that I will ever find that way.

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I went to the bad place yesterday. I ordered fish and chips – despite the fact that I wasn’t all that hungry and I had already used my calories. And I don’t know what annoys me more – the fact that I did it or the fact that it helped and I felt better after some comfort food. In any event I have to make sure that that doesn’t become a regular thing. The next question is what is tonight’s dinner going to be?

I hope you are all doing well. If you are troubled with hard emotions I wish you all the best with the battle! See you next time.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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The Pod of Productivity

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If humanity is ever able to settle on another world one of the things we will have to deal with is a different length of day. This will be a very small consideration compared to building habitations, or making sure the terraforming torpedo doesn’t fall into the hands of an angry Klingon, but it is still a consideration.

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In the current situation I think we are all considering how long our day is – from a certain point of view.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Timescape

We don’t have the usual checkpoints of time. There is nowhere we have to be and nothing we have to do. This is both a blessing and a curse. I am sure we have all had days that felt really productive. There are also bad days:

This sums it up!

Productivity experts are fond of saying that we all have 24 hours a day. It is statement designed to illicit the idea that all of us can achieve great things. However it is my opinion that this statement is not all that helpful. Each person has their own foibles and struggles – thus what barely registers as anything to one person could be a big challenge to another.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/sky-earth-galaxy-universe-2422/

In the most basic sense we all have 24 hours, obviously, but not everyone is as capable of putting them to the best of use. Maybe this is me trying to correct for my own shortcomings of productivity. And maybe I am my own worst enemy. Maybe another person would say I, and you, are doing fine. Who is to say? I suspect if you have doubts about yourself as I do about myself you don’t want to seek out another’s opinion.

Mr Grey doesn’t upload often but everything he does is pure gold.

When this lock down started I had grand plans. I was going to write so much – 6000 words a day – it turns out that is beyond my capabilities. To do that would require typing six hours a day. Somehow time disappears on me. I think I have taken a brief pause but it turns out it wasn’t so brief!

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I don’t work from home in the real sense rather I am being productive with my own projects. Eight hours alone at home is very different to eight hours at a place of work. At work you have colleagues, occasions of downtime, and jobs that can be done while having a nice conversation. At home it is just you and, in my case, a brain that doesn’t always co-operate. So all I can do is try to take this advice myself. If you are staying home at the moment do the best that you can. And try not to judge yourself too harshly.

Of course many people are still working through this period. I want to close by expressing my gratitude to them and say how amazing you all are.

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Where the Title Should be!

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I sometimes hear people talk about experiencing boredom on their days off This may well have been exasperated in the present situation as so many of us are stuck at home. For those who lean towards being introverted it is less of a problem. The outside world is best avoided!

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At least that is what I would have said. Yesterday I found I just had to go for a little walk. I wasn’t doing so well so I took a walk and I feel it made quite a difference. So more walking is good! (Although today is Saturday and I have not been out.)

I would love to be able to tell you I have done loads these past few week but it hasn’t come together. I don’t know why that should be – although I have spent a fair amount of time watching stuff I have also been productive – just in other areas! For instance today I was dealing with emails for 90 minutes!

I think, as hokey as it sounds, I am starting to figure some stuff out about myself. I think I am zeroing in on a conclusion that is just out of reach. Maybe…. we shall see.

Thank you so much to all the essential workers whereever you happen to be. You are wll amazing.

See you next time.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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OK Google, how long left on the timer?

On the subject of timers are they good? Good for productively I mean. I use a timing app and a Google timer in conjunction. This may seem excessive but for me… I was about to say it works but it doesn’t really…allow me to explain.

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When you have a regular job there comes a time when the day is over. The shutters come down, you do the necessary straightening out, and the boss lets you go. When you are doing your own tasks it is difficult to get the feeling of things being complete.

Things will never be complete. If you finish a chapter (reading and writing) there is another chapter – if you ‘finish’ the house work there is always the little niggling job that doesn’t need to be done all that often. What I am searching for is what is enough.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/red-stop-sign-39080/

On my day off I never know how, or when, to say I have been productive enough. That I have read enough, or written enough, or cleaned enough, or excised enough, because there is always more to do. The beeping of the timer is intended to give me that feeling. It doesn’t tend to work but I am doing my best to find a way to get that feeling. If I was in a position that I didn’t have to go to work and my only work was my writing I wounder would I manage that? Would I manage to say to myself: ‘That is enough. You can stop. It is okay to write no more and take a walk. It is okay to go to the cinema and not worry about how to write a character out of a tricky situation. It is okay to stop. I need to know how to get that feeling of it being okay to stop.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Give a Little Bit

A tenuous link but here it is.

In the realm of productivity I have come across the idea of the small things. I have started to use this idea in my own plans for world domination. Er sorry that was a typo – my own plans for productivity. Let me explain…

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We may have a grand plan to exercise for an hour a day, or to clean the house like a serial killer at a murder scene, or to write a chapter every day but reality doesn’t always allow for that. So what if we just do something small?

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Going to the gym for just 15-20 minutes, or lifting weights for five minutes, may not seem like much but it is something. In the long run it is better to do a little than to do nothing.

Unrelated I have cancelled my gym membership.

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Just 100 words a day is 36,500 by the end of the year. You would have a novel in three years. That is a long road but a least you are on your way.

Doing these little things gives the satisfaction of seeing an empty to-do list and, after the little things, time left can be used to do just a little more.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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