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working at home

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I’ve noticed that I don’t get stressed as easily working at home.

I’m getting non-work stuff done. My screen breaks involve stuff that would otherwise be done in evening and weekend. And if there’s a parcel to be delivered I’m in and that saves a Saturday morning trip to the main post office. That’s generally calming, I guess.

I cook for myself which is a happy activity. I eat well. Substantial breakfasts, fruit, decent lunch with fresh veg from the garden (canteen does tasty chips and overcooked veg ). No chocolate supplies because there’s no generous colleagues or holiday gifts. Still too much coffee but at least not as jitter inducing at the lattes from Mangiare.

Less exercise though as there are no walks to station and back. Occassional lunchtime plant potting doesn’t really count.

But a big part of it is setting goals and achieving them. The potential for getting distracted by new tasks and waylaid by events is much less at home. There’s also a curious pseudo-obligation to keep track off your achievements when you work at home to prove to yourself that you really are working.

I also communicate with a different set of people. At work I talk alot to the people I sit near. At home I email and call people and their location doesn’t come into it. I’m not a huge fan of phone calls (worst of both worlds compared to face-to-face or email) but lots of my meetings have no real need to be conducted face-to-face, particularly those with people I have know well already.

Written by Karen

June 26th, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Posted in gtd,office,work

10 ways to stop procrastinating and just write

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Writing is one of my favourite things and I find it pretty easy to start writing, whether that’s articles, academic essays or blogs post. Finishing is a different story. Time and time again I’ll get 75% of the way there and then just not finish something. Suddenly the washing up or gardening or putting the rubbish out all look way more important than finishing what I was writing.

These are my ten tactics for getting writing done (they don’t all work together):

  1. just opening the documents
  2. Odd one this but I’ve found that sometimes I need an agreement with myself that I’m just going to open the word doc and I don’t actually have to write anything. This makes sure that whatever else I do online that the document is there and waiting.

  3. doing the mundane but easy stuff
  4. When I don’t want to write I find that going back to the text and doing the non-creative tasks, like putting links and references in or spell-checking the article, tends to reengage me with what I was actually writing and I end up merrily writing away.

  5. telling yourself you are just going to do a small bit
  6. I’ll decide I’m only going to write 50 words. Seems trivial so I’ll usually get on and do it, and then do some more.

  7. taking the internet away
  8. The internet is a big distraction and when I’m writing it is always there. From Facebook, to mail, to RSS, the internet is a never-ending source of other peoples thoughts to read rather than write your own thoughts down. Switch it off or switch to paper.

  9. reading it outloud (to the cat)
  10. Has the disadvantage of making you look off your trolley if anyone catches you. You could read it outloud to another human being but where’s the fun in that? Just reading outloud helps you engage in a different way

  11. printing and reading what you’ve done
  12. Changing medium from screen to paper has been my solution since my student days. Still seems to work.

  13. changing location
  14. I think I’ve mentioned before my preference for sitting on the rabbit hutch at the end of the garden but in general just moving to another place in house, garden, office or anywhere else seems to restart my thinking

  15. talking about what you are supposed to be doing with someone else
  16. Just telling someone else that I’m supposed to be writing my article about ‘x’ is quite successful. Unless the topic is really boring (or they are playing Playstation at the time) then they’ll usually ask you something about the topic and telling them about it tends to get me interested again.

  17. reading around the subject
  18. I find the initial reading easy. This is when I’m learning stuff and that can be addictive. Writing is not about learning anymore but about sharing what you’ve learnt but if I get stuck with the writing then reading even more can help, if it looks like procrastination when you’ve already read enough to start writing.

  19. draw it instead
  20. This one’s been quite useful recently. If you don’t feel like writing then get a big piece of paper and draw your ideas.

Written by Karen

June 20th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Posted in gtd

blogging – thinking out loud for introverts

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One casual definition of extroverts is ‘someone who thinks whilst they are speaking”. Introverts, on the other hand, have to work out exactly what they think before they tell everyone else.

Introverts often fear (sometime rightly) that everyone else equates extrovertion with creativity (genius-recluse myths notwithstanding). Whilst this is mostly rubbish, it might help everyone else to realise the introvert’s general brillance if they actually told someone else what their ideas are, maybe once in a while anyway.

Pre-blogging I assumed that blogging was the clearest possible indicator of extraversion/exhibitionism/attention seeking and that the social media phenomenon is for extraverts only. But a surprising side benefit of blogging has been getting this introvert’s vague, unformed ideas out there. It takes quite a lot for me not to see this as a bad thing, given the earlier definitions of introvert.

But I can’t deny the blog has been helpful in getting ideas to completion. It creates expectations from others that you are going to do something you’ve blogged about (aka nagging), flushes out co-enthusiasts, and other people build on the idea and suggest directions. Mostly this hasn’t been with the assistance of internet users around the world but with people that I work with everyday. I recognise that it is slightly ludicrous that I need a blog to share ideas with people a few desks away but there you go.

Written by Karen

June 4th, 2008 at 8:23 am

Posted in digital,gtd

bank holiday, getting things done

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It’s been a postively pastoral bank holiday weekend, in which I…

  • skinned the bunny. Urgh. Not much choice about this as Pileswasp had killed it the day before and then broken his collarbone and two ribs, putting him out of bunny skinning action.
  • made rabbit & leek pie. Our leeks and homepage pastry. Herculean effort but tasty.
  • made bread. With old fashioned yeast rather than the speedy packet stuff. A faff but way more yeast smells in the house. And biscuits.
  • made chicken of the woods pasta. Another picking up the baton for the injured husband. He brought the giant mushroom home from a pre-injury forage and it needed eating.
  • harvested shed loads of herbs for cocktails and yoghurt sauce for burgers (lemon balm, borage, fennel, chives and mint, I think)
  • made pork, leek & noodle hotpot. That’s the last of our leeks.

All gently satisfying in “I grew this/picked this” way. Or in a gruesomely satisfying way for the “I butchered this” bit.
Continued the pastoral theme with garden activities:

  • potted on the morning glories, mina lobata and fuschias
  • sowed late courgettes and pumpkins
  • weeded lots (and then fed it all to the rabbits)
  • moved some succulents around to try and defeat the blasted slugs

But it wasn’t all John Seymour. I did some 21st Century stuff too.

  • wrote my FUMSI editorial for June
  • started my latest OU course – Archaeology (going to be a challenge to get IA themes out of that one!). Admittedly the topic is a bit backward looking but the OU is all digital these days.
  • wrote lots of blog posts
  • started secret mission, inspired by big sis. More on that later…

Why so productive? Well three days feels like space to do stuff. And being around someone who is only really able to watch telly and surf the net made me really appreciate my ability to do practical stuff. And I guess the coffee was good.

Written by Karen

May 26th, 2008 at 10:44 am

Posted in food,gardening,gtd

my morning coffee – firefox add-on

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I love this Firefox add-on:


It is useful and I like having the little cup of coffee next to the normal boring browser icons. It is particularly good for reminding me to do repeating tasks that happen on a certain day each week e.g. timesheets.

I’ve also found it good for dividing up weekday and weekend routines e.g. stopping me wasting time meandering around Swapshop when I should just be going to work.

Written by Karen

April 23rd, 2008 at 8:26 am

Posted in gtd