Reliably, habitual…routine

The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way. —Seth Godin, in Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build your routine, find your focus, & sharpen your creative mind, p42. Published by 99u. Emphasis mine.

Yep, not there yet. An hour and a half behind “there,” an hour and a half that contained laundry and shopping on the Internet. Seth Godin is right, though — Seth Godin is always right, it’s part of who he is — and he’s even more right when he notes:

[Y]ou are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. That emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby.

I nod even while I feel the sting. That is where I’m going. And really, I’m a lot closer to that place than I was even three months ago. Hurray, small steps!


99u is a nifty web-space for reading “do more better” articles, and this book feels like a paper bundle of 99u-ness. I found it a quick read, likely because it’s a collection of essays, each by a different writer, clustered together according to building blocks of “idea execution” (99u’s reason for being). Routine, focus, tools, sharpening, and taking action: just like the subtitle says. I’m going to share my favoritest parts today, and then I’m dropping it back at the library.

(About taking a “technology shabbat”) The idea is that one day a week, you need to get your mind in a different mode, you need to not work. Every week, your brain—-and your soul—needs to be reset. —TIffany Shlain, p145

I read this book last week during my book-hunger—I think it was a one-sitting book—and marked that section with a tab offset from all the others. So it entertains me that I forgot I had marked it when I stated my sabbath intention. Good thing I wasn’t in a meeting with Ms. Schlain, acting like that was all my idea and everything! Mmm, also a timely reminder: I need to figure out what I have to finish by Saturday night for Sunday sabbath.

No matter how much we think we’re in control, our brains have their own agenda. Let’s say you’re working on a writing project in the morning and—for the sake of variety—you decide to leave it unfinished and work on a creative brief in the afternoon. This may seem like a harmless change of pace, but research has shown that the unfinished morning task could linger in your mind like a mental itch, adversely affecting your performance later on—an effect that psychologists call “attentional residue.” —Dr. Christian Jarrett, p84

There’s a term for this?!? Excellent! There had to be a term for this. That itch of the unfinished is worse than mosquito bites for me. I’m looking at my worktable right now, newly re-cluttered, and it itches. The reason I was late to writing? Laundry itched; I’d started one load yesterday and then abandoned it. My clean-dish responsibility itches even now, though I tell myself, “After lunch.” Attentional residue. Now that I have a name, I bet I can dispatch it more quickly!

Laura Bowman and her team at Central Connecticut State University found that students using IM [instant messaging, non-specific] while reading a textbook took about 25 percent longer to read the passage (not including the time spent on IM), compared with students who simply read. —also Dr. Jarret, p82

I saved that so I could annoy my B. I give her all the research I find about the myth of multitasking. It’s not that she’s a crazed multitasker…I think at this point it’s somewhere between a habit and wanting to fulfill expectations. The way dads tell dad-jokes. The eye-roll is the payoff. Or the long steady stare that’s the successor to the eye-roll…it’s all good!

It’s true that every decision about where we spend our time has an opportunity cost, and dedicating time to Unnecessary Creation seems like a remarkably inefficient choice. In truth, it is inefficient. Consider, however, the opportunity cost of spending your life only on pragmatics. —Todd Henry, p177

I am a big fan of Todd Henry’s work at Accidental Creative—podcasts, blog, book, another book called Die Empty…. He is great at encouraging one to create what I call “clear space”—the room to listen deeply, to create out of inner depths, or to play and hold lightly. That could be an “and” and not an “or,” come to think on it. He is a champion for the good things that come out of mess, and for the happy place where nothing comes out of mess and it’s just messy for its own sake. Like I said, I’m a fan.

Initiating a project with no parameters and no expectations from others also forces you to stay self-aware while learning to listen to and follow your intuition. p177

You mean, the way I’m operating here? Mm-hmm, yes. That self-aware thing… hoo boy. It makes me stronger…right? Right?
Yep, Manage Your Day-to-Day was a fun read. A good recommendation via the Brain Pickings newsletter. I’m checking out my next Brain Pickings recommendation this afternoon!

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