31 March 2011

Perceptions of time part 1

I have recognized that I and many of my fellow Norte Americanos are obsessed with the idea of wasting time. Particularly in the US, I think we think about this. Me personally, I have started noticing how many things I view as potentially wasting my time. One that feels huge to me is when you have to load software or some random extra computer things. This feels like a huge interruption to what I'm trying to get done. Sometimes what I'm trying to "get done" isn't particularly important, but ask me to upload something on the way to viewing your kid's funny video and you've lost me.

Other things I put aside and don't do instantly because it will "take too long." Now I don't have a magic number for what too long is and I'm often surprised those things can be done more quickly than I realize. A good example of this is when I set the microwave to warm something for 2 minutes. Often  I stand and stare absently out the window for this 2 minutes. While there is nothing wrong with a quiet moment or two of speculation or meditation, occasionally when I'm there with the two minutes ticking on the micro - I'll do a few things around the kitchen. Recently, I washed my two travel mugs by hand and put them away. They lived on the counter for days because I "didn't have time" to clean them. Or maybe I just didn't feel like it, but that's a different blog.

My own perfectionist nature and my own sense of time and it being "wasted" or "stolen" is a challenge I've only recently recognized in my life. I've toyed iwth the idea of timing things. I'm not sure whether to take one day and time every single thing I do (which seems like it would be a pain and waste a lot of time in that one day) or do I take a few weeks and time every kind of event that occurs in a day. This may be something I revisit on and off this year. I feel like if I did this I could prove to myself that a lot of things don't take that long and some of the procrastination isn't really helping.

I read a business organizational book a couple years ago and it recommended when trying to get a desk or email under control, do everything that will only take 2 minutes or less on the spot, right then. Other things that need more attention need to go on an action, call, or project list for an appropriate time. I've tried to do this, but I often start say, responding to an email, and then discover I need to dig into some old emails or find a contact list from a conference, and the envisioned 2 minutes turns into 10 or 15. Or at least that's how it feels. If I timed it, I wonder, would that be true? Or possible is it worse than I imagine? Did it take 30 minutes? So was I wasting my time? Was it important enough to get that much time? (That's probably another blog and another self help book.)

If you were going to time events in your life, which ones would you be most interested to know how much time they took? I think my ipod has a timer, so I thought about using this and documenting a day or  a series of days. Though I sort of imagine "wasting" a lot of time that day putzing around trying to get the timer thing to work. huh.

16 March 2011

2 lighter mysteries

I've been doing a lot of travel lately which leads to lots of reading time for me and so I'm struggling this year to keep up with my own commitment to review the books I read. And in an ironic twist, on my last plane ride I was the only one for rows with a real book, therefore, I needed a real light and mine was broken. Everyone else had their personal glow-y readers.

Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy
 The idea here is a young art historian who has been hired as a assistant curator for a mansion spread from her home town. Grace is in her probationary period of the job when the curator is killed and the pressure mounts. The mansion's owner lives upstairs, the staff is suspicious of grace, and her inherited home is falling apart. She needs to figure out who the bad guy is before she ends up losing her job or herself. I liked Grace and cheered for her along the way.

Brush with Death, an art lovers mystery, by Hailey Lind
Hailey Lind actually is a pseudonym for two ladies that write this series. One is an artist, the other a historian, so they make for a variety of information in the story. It's an easy read and they had some hilarious dialogue lines now and then. The mystery is set in California in the Oakland/San Francisco area and this one in a particular graveyard. There were some good hooks of using the graveyard as a specific place. How does this tie to art you might ask? The faux finisher Annie, the protagonist, was repairing a antique ceiling in a columbarium - a sort of mausoleum building but huge. I enjoyed this and didn't have the murderer figured out like I thought I did. This is not the first in the series, but the first one I ran into.

06 March 2011

A million miles in a thousand years

By Donald Miller

So I read this book at the recommendation of a friend who is challenging me to go to a new level this year. It's a challenge to discover dreams and understand your desires anew. Well, haven't gone as deep with the entire challenge yet but she recommended reading 3 books with the challenge. This is the first one. I may be one of say 15 people in north America who did not read Blue Like Jazz by the same author. I had no aversion; it just wasn't ever laying around when I was between books. So I have nothing to compare this too.

This personal memoir with a self depreciating tone is entertaining but in this book he's exploring life from the perspective of a screenplay. Don bit by bit decides to add a deeper level of living and adventure to his life because of the exploration of story and what makes a good story. I don't know if this makes sense, but he really develops his own life experiences along with exploring what makes a good screenplay.

I enjoyed this on two levels. As a person who needs to write screenplays and who writes fiction stories, I loved the advice about writing and that Don was looking at it from a fresh perspective since he had not considered this writer advice previously.

The other level was a self exploration of what makes a good life which gives the book an almost self help feel. I don't know if it only did that for me because of the combo of things I'm interested in. I also felt an affirmation of the missionary calling I've been operating under the last eight years. It was good timing for me to have encouragement in my writing and my work life.

It was a fairly light and easy read too that didn't feel imposing. I can recommend it.