Productivity, regret and a rich inner life

Sunday, January 13, 2013


How's your year going so far? If you made any resolutions, are you still keeping to them? I know my photo-a-day project has fallen to the wayside, though I do tend to take a ton of photos on the days I remember ... maybe to make up for the days I don't remember.

In striving for self-improvement (in the hopeful early days of January) as one does, I've been focusing on a couple of things: remaining positive and trying to streamline my routines and daily habits so as to lead more productive days. I have to admit, aside from the occasional workout, I haven't really been spending too much time trying to lead a more physically healthy lifestyle, but I suppose that too will come (or I will have to make it!).

Anyway, I've been a subscriber of Brain Pickings' weekly newsletter since the fall, and I really enjoy the little jolts of wisdom and layman's academia it injects into my week, although it's sometimes hard to keep up with (the site is a rabbit hole!). Here is a little something I found in one of the newsletters that I found simultaneously relieving and worrisome ... maybe I'm thinking too much about it. But it's altogether a good thing to keep in mind, I think!


"You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs window."
- Dorianne Laux

In a post about developing an "inner world" is a quote from Martha Nussbaum: 
"Read a lot of stories, listen to a lot of music, and think about what the stories you encounter mean for your own life and lives of those you love. In that way, you will not be alone with an empty self; you will have a newly rich life with yourself, and enhanced possibilities of real communication with others."
An interesting thought, because oftentimes when I read something, I worry that am projecting too much of myself onto the characters and my reading of it. But at the same time, what else is there? From my perspective of an occasional writer, I think the only thing I can wish for is for the reader to hopefully be able to draw something from it, which is a way of relating to it.

Last but not least, in trying to increase my productivity, I've been experimenting with how long I can sustain my focus before my mind begins to wander and I need a break. There is something out there called the "Pomodoro Technique," which goes by the notion that people generally have attention spans of 25 minutes. Twenty-five minutes! Maybe being overly optimistic all this time is where I've gone wrong. It's an interesting idea and a little depressing (I heard recently that a new study shows that Americans now have an attention span of 2 seconds, which I'm a little doubtful of, since in 2012 it was said to be 8 seconds), but if it works, why not? I'll be trying it out soon, and trying to elongate that 25 minutes to 30, with the hope of eventually reaching 40 to 45 minutes.

I know, I've got hopes ... hope you have a great start to your week!

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