Posts Tagged With: Productivity

Floating

I’m mainly posting today because I read an article that is lavishly called “Why can’t we read anymore? Or, can books save us from what digital does to our brains?”, which I feel is relevant to the purposes of this blog. It discusses the role technology plays in our productivity and ability to finish things efficiently. I want to post a link to it on my blog so I can easily find it again later because I appreciated how bluntly honest and–importantly–relatable the author is about his “digital dopamine addiction” (a phrase which is actually a lot of fun to say despite its negative implications) and the role it has played in his life, professional and personal. Go read that article here, and then focus on something else for half an hour 😛

I’d also like to mention that I was quite flattered by how many people read the post I made about me. I usually try not to consider myself especially interesting, but y’all certainly made me feel like I was, so thank you :3

Tapering down on this post to mundane life updates, I’ve had an interesting weekend+, primarily highlighted by visiting the Boy and doing dope stuff like learning the basics of hurling–ahem, I mean, the basics of camogie (since I’m a lady)–and helping Boy spray-paint a hockey helmet for hurling (he’s a gentleman). I also got to spend an evening in DC to see an Irish performer Boy really likes, and spend another evening hanging out with him and his brother and his brother’s girlfriend.

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I tried to take a picture of Boy and my spray-painted flip-flop tan-lines, but the color wasn’t showing up properly, so this picture I already posted on Facebook will have to suffice

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Minor success breeds minor self-contempt

I have completed my challenge to submit an application a day for seven days. I am trying to feel accomplished, but reminding myself every day for a week that I’m unemployed is about as uplifting as you can probably guess. Still, this challenge gave me the opportunity to fine-tune my resume and fix some formatting inconsistencies, so I do at least feel like my professional documents are stronger than they were. I didn’t notice some of those formatting inconsistencies until I’d already submitted screwed up resumes for five applications, but life goes on. I collected the digital evidence of my application submissions and arranged them in no particular order below.

Collage

I added that fancy Gryffindor-looking stock background to it all by myself

I am also pretty much over my fear of writing cover letters now.

For my next act, I am going to perform one of my earlier submitted challenges, put forth by my mother the first day that I started this challenges business:

I challenge you to choose at least one item per day, for thirty days, which no longer serves you and sell, donate or if unable to repurpose it, throw it away.

This one has a longer timeline than the challenges I’ve been doing so far, but since my last challenge contributed to me hopefully getting into a position where I can move out in the nearish future, I think it’s appropriate that I start dealing with a relevant thing on my challenge inspiration list–whittling down the amount of crap I own. I won’t say my situation is like an episode of Hoarders, but I will say that about twenty-seven seconds into the introductory video on my about page is still representative of many areas of my life right now, even though I made that video almost two years ago.

To wrap things up here, I’d like to give a shout-out to the people who responded to my request for inspirational people in my last blog post. I haven’t replied to those comments yet because I’ve been fairly busy this week, but I definitely read them and appreciate them and am excited to look more into some of those people you all told me about. Everyone reading this should also go read those comments because they made me smile and might learn you about someone cool.

Maybe I’ll come up with some catchy send-off for these things. Until then, thanks for reading 🙂

Categories: Challenges | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’ll come up with a better titling system maybe

I have completed my second challenge! As a reminder, here is what it was:

Read The Slight Edge over the span of a week and report on how it can apply to your life…

I finished the book last night, so here is my report:

The “slight edge,” which author Jeff Olson refers to by name about six thousand times throughout the book, is “simple disciplines or simple errors in judgement, repeated consistently over time,” and actually fits incredibly nicely with this whole challenges project. His main point, repeated ad nauseam, is that those things compound to either wild success or your eminent doom, depending on which simple things you elect to do (or not do) every day.

Because of the time constraint on this challenge, I was forced to use the slight edge while reading The Slight Edge; I needed to read about three chapters a day in order to get through it the “slight edge” way, and in general that worked out pretty well for me. As far as how the slight edge can apply to my life, I actually came up with this challenges plan as a way to achieve that same goal of wild success that Olson says the slight edge can help me achieve, so in a way I’ve already started to apply it.

The book is divided into two parts: “How the Slight Edge Works” and “Living the Slight Edge.” He helpfully offers spaces for you to directly make plans in your own life during the second half, and wanted me to write in the book, but I didn’t, so I suppose filling it in here instead would be fair. First I was to write out five dreams, get specific about them, and give a timeline of by when I want them:

  1. I want to move out and support myself. I’m not sure where exactly yet, but I want a decent paying job and to move out within the next six to eight months.
  2. I want to live in Boston, and be settled there for at least a few years. I want to move there in the next one to three years.
  3. I want all of my possessions to a) be all in one place (rather than scattered across storage and my parents’ houses, etc.) and b) to all fit into one moving truck, within the next six months.
  4. I want to be ambidextrous. I want to do all things equally well with both hands. I want to achieve this within the next five years.
  5. I want to start saving for retirement and pay off my student loans. I want that taken care of in the next ten to fifteen years.

The other things I was supposed to write out were my slight edge habits that I would do to improve my health, happiness, relationships, personal development, finances, career, and my positive impact on the world. Those were to be outlined as:

My dream for (whatever area of my life)

Plan to start

One simple daily discipline

He said that the relationship one should probably stay private, so I will keep that one to myself, but here are the other six:

  1. Health
    1. I want my body to be able to do everything I ask it to without difficulty
    2. I plan to start this by eating more plants and walking my dog more
    3. Eat three servings of plants and walk my dog
  2. Happiness
    1. I want to be satisfied with and proud of my life
    2. I plan to start this by finishing some of my unfinished projects and finding more productive uses for my time
    3. Finish something, be it the dishes or detailing my car or writing a story or giving birth
  3. Personal Development
    1. I want to continuously develop my already possessed skills and acquire new ones
    2. I plan to start this by asking people to challenge me to do things at their discretion
    3. Read about those skills or about something with which I’m unfamiliar
  4. Finances
    1. I want to live comfortably, have a real budget, save money, and not buy as much useless crap
    2. I plan to start this by finding a job
    3. Save all of my loose change and ones
  5. Career
    1. I want a stimulating and rewarding position where I know I am valued and important
    2. I plan to start this by finding a job
    3. Research positions and put in applications
  6. My positive impact on the world
    1. I want to have concrete things left behind for people to remember and know me by, as well as bring out the best in people in ways that won’t necessarily be recorded
    2. I plan to start this by actually finishing, maintaining, and sharing my blog
    3. Write something down that is useful or positive

I think filling in those blanks pretty well completes the requirements for my challenge, so I’ll finish up this bit of the post. If you’re looking for some direction in your life, I’d recommend checking this book out. Olson’s done a great job of making sure you won’t have excuses for not reading his book, so if you want it as a physical book, or a digital book, or an audiobook, you can find whatever catches your fancy here.

In other news, during the time I was doing this challenge I actually checked off another thing I’d had on the list I’ve been posting with this; my friend Laura helped me make that capelet brainchild and I think it’s pretty cute considering we made it up.

Fluffy side

Fluffy side

Shiny side

Shiny side

I think I want to add some appliques to the shiny side because I intended for it to be reversible and so far wearing the purple side out just looks like I’m wearing it inside out to me, so technically this still isn’t finished, but the bulk of the work is done. I’m glad I went to Laura for help with it because if I’d done it myself it probably would have looked less like respectable clothes and more like the last thing I sewed, which was a pair of pajama pants ten years ago that had exposed elastic in the waist because I apparently couldn’t sew two pieces of fabric together with a machine specifically designed to do that. Anyway, go check out and like her Facebook page or follow her sewing instagram blog account thing (I don’t know how to Instagram or what to call things on it) because she’s made some really impressive and adorable pieces, and Laura is also just delightful.

I’ll post tomorrow about what my next challenge is going to be. Here’s that list again, revised again:

  • walking my dog
  • learning to play guitar
  • improving my abilities with media and multimedia projects
  • yoga, sort of
  • significantly reducing my possessions
  • letter-writing
  • watching iconic or important movies
  • reading more books

Feel free to post any challenges in the comments! 😀

Categories: Challenges | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Very important

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Yesterday I accepted my first challenge, issued by my good friend Jessica Davis:

Jerrika! You should use one of the challenges to write me a letter!

Jessica was very generous to offer this challenge to me because it both gently helped me get started and forced me to almost make my own envelope before I learned that we, against all normality here, had some envelopes already. I wrote the letter last night, and feel that I officially completed the challenge when I put it in the mailbox this afternoon, where it is waiting alone in the dark to be picked up tomorrow by the station wagon that takes and delivers our mail.

I know I only posted yesterday, but I think this milestone event warrants a timely acknowledgement, especially because it means I am ready to move on to a new challenge.

This brings us to Challenge the Second, which comes from family friend (who is actually just family) Mrs. Lissa:

Read The Slight Edge over the span of a week and report on how it can apply to your life…

I’m looking forward to this one because I don’t read books nearly enough anymore.

I’ve gotten good challenges from a handful of people already, and am very grateful to these pioneers for stepping up in giving me things to do. Virtual cupcakes for all of you. I realized too late that I left one other topic of especial interest off of my list of challenge inspiration in my first blog about this idea, so here it is again, abridged, with the addition:

  • walking my dog
  • learning to play guitar
  • improving my abilities with media and multimedia projects
  • yoga, sort of
  • significantly reducing my possessions
  • sewing a capelet I want
  • letter-writing
  • watching iconic or important movies, so people will quit making that face at me that they always do when I say I haven’t seen Braveheart/Scarface/The Godfather/Star Wars/Anchorman/Casablanca/The Jerk/Alien/Pretty Woman/Friday the 13th/Stand by Me/Iron Man/Green Mile/One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest/etc. etc. etc. etc.

As I said, some people have already submitted some great challenges, so keep it up and send me more in the comments! I can’t wait to see them.

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I had an idea, and will address obvious website neglect later

I have an idea that I would like some help with. As evident in both the main theme of this website and the website itself, I don’t finish things, would like to, and probably don’t need to expound more on that.

Therefore, I won’t mince words: my idea is to be directly challenged with extracurricular tasks, and given deadlines to complete them within. The format of such challenges could be as follows:

Jerrika, walk your dog for a total of four hours within the span of one week.

I haven’t 100% figured out what the exact best system for this sort of project would be, but right now I’m thinking I should focus on and complete one challenge at a time. This being the case, challenges should ideally, in general, be complete-able within a week or two. I don’t want to put too many limits on a project intended for growth, but I’ll also throw out there that I am more or less unemployed at the time of this post and will optimistically not likely have extra financial resources available for a little while.

That said, I really am interested in both learning and doing new things here, and honing skills I already possess in the interest of personal (and perhaps professional) development. I do already have a fair number of resources available to me in areas I am particularly interested in pursuing, and I’m going to provide a list of things in this post that I know I want to work on if anyone wants somewhere to get challenge ideas.

I’ll be frank and say that I will take these challenges seriously, but I am viewing this project fairly casually. I expect to treat it as a hobby, but I want it to be a hobby that is getting me somewhere. Perhaps this is the place to say that 2014 was not the best mental health year for me, and I’m trying to remind myself that I am still capable of doing things I recognize as productive and of which I’m proud.

I realize this is no one else’s responsibility, but you can’t get what you don’t ask for. I am asking the general You to hold me casually accountable for the completion of challenges regarding, but not limited to:

  • walking my dog
  • learning to play my goofy ragdoll classicoustic guitar
  • improving my abilities with media and multimedia projects, such as creating and editing videos and images, and maybe fiddling with audio. I have Adobe Premiere Elements 9, Photoshop Elements 9, and Audacity that I can use to work on these sorts of challenges, and can perhaps access Apple programs if I’m feeling patient and my mom feels like sharing her expensive alien technology with me. I also draw and paint and sculpt alright with my hands.
  • yoga, sort of, for which I have a mat and remarkably unremarkable athletic abilities
  • significantly reducing my possessions
  • the progression of an informal mental pattern for a capelet from rogue fabric into a wearable garment
  • letter-writing

Challenges should be issued in the comments sections. I’ll choose from them based on both reasonable convenience to whatever I have going on otherwise in my life, how compelling I find the challenge, and probably other circumstantial criteria. Bear in mind that I’m not looking to play these challenges safe, but I’m not looking for anything ridiculous either.

I realize this is a sloppy call to arms, ask for your forgiveness for it, and, if there are any glaring holes in the efficiency of my process, definitely welcome constructive criticism and suggestions. For now, though, I’ll bring this post to a close. Give me a challenge! 😀

Categories: Challenges | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

Introductory Blog Post That All Who Pass Through This Place Should Read Before All Other Things

Hello! Welcome to Non Finito Spaghetti, a project in which I, Jerrika L. Waller, seek the means to conquer my inability to finish things.

I have an About page explaining the origin of the project, you should definitely check it out.

During this project, I conducted interviews via Skype and research about other people’s unfinished projects, and have created a page for each project. Peruse them at your leisure, and if you have any thoughts about any of them, please leave a comment!

I plan to update semi-regularly in the future regarding the completion of other projects I’ve started, but for now this project’s content is primarily in the pages across the top, so please focus on and discuss ideas there.

The other blog posts are also relevant to the project; feel free to comment on those as well.

Thanks for visiting!

P.S. I made and photographed that spaghetti on the left there myself. I am very proud. I can personally confirm that spaghetti does stick to the wall when it’s done.

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Comments on Accomplishing Nothing

I expected that when I started telling people about this project, someone would strike upon how “funny” or “ironic” or whatever it would be if I didn’t finish my project on unfinished projects. I was not disappointed; my Facebook post requesting interview volunteers got a “hah, it would be kind of hilarious if you never finished this project of interviewing people who never finished their projects,” and one of my interviewees also commented that it would be “ironic.” While I can see the humor in this prospect, my first reaction was always to laugh and say “yeah, that’s my biggest fear with this whole thing,” trying not to take it personally while knowing that, really, that is my biggest fear with this whole thing. I’ve never completely fallen off the accomplishment wagon, but I’ve spent a lot of time toeing the line for how much I can get away with not doing because I don’t feel like it.

Deadlines help for a lot of things, when I’m being productive, but I already know I am capable of watching critical deadlines go by without caring too much. I almost didn’t graduate high school because I didn’t finish a major project for my English class on time; the teacher pulled me aside and told me I would fail this very necessary class without turning it in, and said I could work on it over the weekend to turn it in on Monday, even though the due date was well past. I responded to that opportunity to finish the project by blowing it off, again. My teacher was–justly–furious, and the guidance office contacted my mother to inform her of this threat to my graduation. I don’t remember what deal we worked out, but I did finish the project with a third deadline that I absolutely did not deserve, and graduated like I was supposed to. My diploma was tinged with guilt, but it was over. I moved on.

My main point here is that not completing this project has been a very real fear for me because I have very real evidence that I will not do something if I don’t feel like it. I’m approaching the same point in my college career that I was in my high school career when I said fuck it to anything I didn’t want to do. What’s stopping me from doing it again? Technically nothing. I remember an awful book one of my friends had in middle school, Conversations with God for Teens, and one of the questions was something to the effect of “Why do I have to listen to my parents?” “God” replied that “You don’t have to do anything. You are free to choose to do whatever you want.” Although it completely ignored the commandment to “obey thy mother and father,” I don’t remember if the book put too much emphasis on the consequences of doing whatever you want.

Either way, I spend a *lot* of time thinking about what would happen if I just didn’t do some thing I’m expected to do. I could literally and easily do none of my homework. Mighty Odin will not smite me. The government will not track me down. My professor will probably not even track me down. If I wanted, I could stay in my bed until I starved to death, and absolutely nothing could stop me besides being forcibly removed from that place. I know a lot of people who would cry “No! I can’t stand sitting still and not doing anything or getting anything done!” Perhaps I’m just on my own here, but I’m pretty sure it’s easier than they think, especially when the momentum isn’t there. It is not a challenge to do something you’d rather do when the alternative is something you don’t want to do. I would say that these people should try it, but having seen the consequences of that behavioral pattern in my own life, I think it’s something that should be suggested on a case-by-case basis.

People force themselves to do things they don’t want to do all the time. They get out of bed, they study, they make small-talk with annoying people, they let the dogs outside at obscene hours. None of these things *have* to happen. The world will continue if they don’t. These things are only required when an “if” comes into the situation, when there’s a desired outcome. I have to feed my cat IF I want her to shut up and quit trying to open her food container on her own at 8 in the morning. I have to read a play for class IF I want to contribute and earn any participation points. I have to finish this project IF I don’t want to fail Multimedia Composition.

I also have to finish this project if I want to prove to myself that I haven’t lost all my drive to the internet, pride, and apathy. I have to finish this project if I want to know that I am capable of finishing something worthwhile.

Through working on this project, I have learned that, though not everyone is necessarily on my level of non-accomplishment, there are points on which all us non-finitos can relate.

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Lorem Ipsum

In my case, this project has helped me realize that talking to people about projects I’m going to do helps create some of the pressure I need to get things done. I work better if I have a schedule, and although I didn’t follow the schedule I’d created for this project, listing out everything I would need to do by when helped make the project seem a little smaller and more doable. I made more progress getting this rather bigger idea done than many of my smaller ideas from the past few years.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I made any particularly groundbreaking discoveries throughout this process as far as how to get things done. You just have to work. A number of factors play into completing projects, and the only thing I noticed in common with all of them was time—spending too much, not spending enough, spending it in other places. All of my interviews mentioned how important this factor was in what they had tried to accomplish.

One thing in particular that stood out to me throughout this project is the effect one unfinished project can have. Dave commented on the domino effect of home improvement projects, noting that one completed project can suddenly render something else an unfinished project by comparison. Ryan’s project spills over into other things he participates in, such as his role-playing games. The Treaty of Paris, 1783 is significantly more memorable to me because it isn’t finished, and the unfinished creations of Donatello and Michelangelo have inspired other things long after work upon them had ceased.

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