What the Internet is Doing To My Productivity


What the Internet Has Done To My Productivity

There are currently 11 tabs open on my mac.  Before 10:00 am.  (Yes, this is a fragment.  I know.  I’m making a statement.)

It’s Saturday morning, 6:45 am.  A rediculous -26 degrees below zero in frigid northern MN.  I’m thinking that I am going to get a boatload of tasks checked of my to-do list today because I’m not stepping foot out into that danger zone outside.  Cleaning, writing, school work, decorate the tree and maybe even begin some Christmas baking.  I’ve got English Toffee on my mind.

Because of the mouse that I BELIEVE ran across my face this morning as I was pulling out my REMs at 6:30am, I first go to my facebook page and post this trauma to my status.  Childhood friends console me.  Teaching colleagues and relatives were as mortified as I was.  Former students from my first year teaching appear to reminisce.  Community friends offer solutions:  peppermint oil or cats.  My daughter scolds me in that I need to wash my bedding.

Knowing I should NOT log onto facebook before noon on a Saturday, yet realizing I’ve already broken my cardinal rule, I continue to peruse facebook status’, commenting and clicking on intriguing links that grab my now distracted mind.

A fb friend posts Steven Pressfield’s Writing Wednesday post on  Managing Your Time.  Whoa.  That is the Universe speaking to ME right now, so I’d better surf over there and find out how to best do that!

Pressfield relives a narrative that makes me chuckle because I live the same one, but these are the words that I write down to remember from his post:

“You have to run your day. You can’t let your day run you.

 You must roll out of bed each morning with an unshakeable focus and intention. Your novel, your start-up, your movie. That’s your day. That’s why you’re here.

 You can’t yield to distractions and temptations. You must be like the Blues Brothers.

 You’re on a mission from God.

 Who is in charge of your day? You are!”

Ok.  He is right.  As soon as I get off here, I’m going to start some writing.  But first, I’m going to tweet this blog post on Twitter.  It’s too good to lose and others will benefit from his wise words.  Pressfield wrote the War on  Art. The man speaks volumes. He knows a thing or two about productivity and resistance.

Once on Twitter, I come upon a tweet that has caught my attention.  Cathy Mere tweets that everyone should take time to read the tweets on #nerdlutions.  “Hmmm. . . what is this?  I’d better check this out as it must be too good to miss.” I click my way over there.

I believe “#nerdlutions” was started by Christopher Lehman, but perhaps the term was derived by Colby Sharp, but I’m not 100 percent sure, needing to give credit to where credit is due.  It seems “#nerdlutions” is defined as committing to doing something or some things for 50 days.  There are no rules.  Just make sure it makes you happy.

Of course, I’m a sucker for these things.  I’m in.  Being a part of this amazing  Twitter community is the draw.

I commit to 30 minutes of writing and 30 minutes of “moving my body in some form of exercise” every day.

 I’d better retweet this and I’ll pin it to my Pinterest wall as one of my blog posts to read over and over so I don’t forget about it.

Whoa, stop the trains – once at Pinterest,  after pinning this blog post, of course other pinners who have pinned this to their wall as well, pop up.  My mind tells me that these are “like-minded” souls, so I need to check out their walls.

I click on a pin that pulls me in.  It leads me to Brainpickings, a site that I have become lost in before.  Uh-oh.  Don’t know if I should be here this morning, but I’m already astray.  The post I’m called to is by Maria Popova and titled,

The Psychology of Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome the “OK Plateau” of Performance & Personal Growth”,

 which leads me to a book, Maximize Your Potential, by Joshua Foer.  These words from the blog post resinate in my mind for awhile and a rereading in necessary:

“In the 1960s, psychologists identified three stages that we pass through in the acquisition of new skills. We start in the “cognitive phase,” during which we’re intellectualizing the task, discovering new strategies to perform better, and making lots of mistakes. We’re consciously focusing on what we’re doing. Then we enter the “associative stage,” when we’re making fewer errors, and gradually getting better. Finally, we arrive at the “autonomous stage,” when we turn on autopilot and move the skill to the back of our proverbial mental filing cabinet and stop paying it conscious attention.”

The problem most of us have is staying stuck in “autopilot”.  By staying in our comfort zone, we tend to ‘cease to care about improving’.  Our mind tells us, “Ah, this is good enough.” I begin to think about the areas in my life I am on autopilot on and which areas need some improvement.

After savoring this post, I navigate over to Amazon to toss the book into my cart.

I don’t think I have to tell you what happens once I get there.

After losing two hours, I shut my laptop, I begin to wonder if I am crazy.  Am I alone in this world of distraction?  Are there others out there that are not able to accomplish their daily to-do list because of our online communities and getting lost in the internet playground.  I know I can’t be alone.  I ponder that if this is a struggle for me, an educated adult, what are our children going through?

I glance over to my bookshelves next to my desk.  A book seems to pop out at me.

The Shallows:  What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains by Nicholas Carr.    I don’t even remember buying this book.  I pull it off the shelf and realize I need to read this today.

After I post this to my blog today, an “unplugging” for the remainder of the weekend is in order.  I have things to do.  My mind needs a rest.  My husband will be home soon as ask me how my day was and what I did.  I’d better get something done, fast.

I might sleep with a sleeping bag on the dining room table tonight.  I don’t think mice can climb table legs.  You might say they can’t climb bed legs either, but when you blankets creep off to the floor, this creates a nice ladder for the little varmints to climb.

Did I mention I ran out of my decaf beans and perhaps ground caffeinated ones instead?  They were displayed in an unmarked glass jar.

Explains a lot.

Our Art in Public

We attended my husband’s grandmother’s funeral on Wednesday.  Grandma Fuller lived a full and rich life to the age of 101.  It was not until her last few years that she needed to live in a nursing home.  She golfed, hunted, fished. . . and painted.  She was an artist.

My sister-in-law, Julie, gave the ulegy.  Julie spoke of Grandma’s ability to create. She voiced how Grandma taught her to “see”.  Grandma was always looking for the beauty in things and then she would paint them.  Julie talked about some of her paintings and how she would collect odd bits of nature and display them in the house.  Conversations revolved around all of her art.  Paintings adorn the walls of most of her children and grandchildren’s homes.  She had this gift.

I listened and pondered about this and I became fearful.

As a young girl, I drew and made books.  As a young mother, I made quilts, sewed clothes for my children, hand-stitched stitcheries for wall art, created hand-stitched and painted dolls, and even built bird houses and decorative shelves. These items were mostly given to friends and family as gifts or I sold them in craft shows or gift shops.  I shared my art this way.

When I started teaching full time, and especially, when I trained and became a literacy coach, all my creative juices came to a halt.  Except for some writings in my writers’ notebooks, of which I mostly used in my trainings and kept private.  For the most part, my art was occasional and certainly not made public.  Even the art journals that I create in, I rarely share.

So, why am I fearful?

All of a sudden, I realized that if I don’t begin to go public with my art somehow, I will eventually die with my art inside me.  Even more frightening would be the thought of having no one know who I really was.  How sad for them to discover all my work in boxes and boxes of notebooks after I die.  Even all this writing I do on Penzu.  No one would ever find it.  You need my password to get in.  It’s lost forever.

Jeff Goins had an entry last week about making our art public.  He voiced how important it is to share our art.  Our art connects us with others.  Our art can help others that feel the same things as we do.

So, why was it so easy for me to share my quilts, dolls and stitcheries and it’s so difficult for me to share my writing and my painting/art journal work?  I think there are several reasons of which I need to analyze.

1.  My quilts, stitcheries and dolls were creative, but, not up for criticism as much as perhaps writing or painting.  Quilts and stitcheries have shapes, patterns and letters that are pretty standard.  Kinda difficult to screw them up.  Writing and painting is more personal.  Mostly, I write and create art for me.  I, myself, am critical of much of it.  So, I fear critism.

2.  I don’t like attention.  I don’t want others to think I do this for attention.  I HAVE to do this for my soul.  It feeds me.  It’s like breathing.   I have a hard time even accepting a compliment  when my hair turns out right, let alone praise or any kind of attention over my art.  I get all tense and anxious when someone even comes into my studio because I know they are looking around and my work.  Ughh. . . I just don’t feel ready to show.

3.   My Childhood.  I love my parents more than you can know, however, praise was not handed out for every little thing we did.  This is not a bad thing.  We worked hard, not for outside rewards or verbal praise, but just because we knew we were supposed to work hard.  My mother had a way of allowing us to develop internal gratification for our accomplishments.  I know she did not want us kids to be ones that walked around thinking about how wonderful we were.  She feared too much praise would create arrogant, overconfident children that can’t do anything without outside motivation.  I still believe this.

So, showing my work feels wrong because in my heart, it feels like I am looking for praise.

Geez, I have issues.

How am I going to deal with this?  I don’t want to die a “secret artist”.

1.  Maybe I need to print all my Penzu posts from now on and just put them in my notebook.  That’s a start.

2.  Get the book proposal done for my book on listening. That’s sharing.

3.  Make more of an online presence.  Share my work with other artists and groups.  Not all over facebook.  Maybe have a separate facebook page just for my writing and art?  Hmm. . .

4.  Give some of my work as gifts.

This is a big start for me.  I’m going to have anxiety about it. . . like walking into a room full of people you don’t know.  It will be scary.

But, I’m way more scared of dying with my art inside me.