Archive for the ‘personal development’ Category

When to stop…

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Lorelle over at Lorelle on WordPress has posted a great article on how to know when to stop blogging. I really like it, but think it can be extended to a lot of things – when you don’t feel you have a purpose, when you’ve run out of stuff to say or do, when you’re burning out or being coerced, you should be willing to dump pretty much anything (realistically of course – some responsibilities are hard to dump, as they should be). Giving up is hard, but if it’s not really what you’re meant ot be doing, be willing to give up.

(found via Problogger)

Handwriting

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

My handwriting is bad. Really bad. It’s been bad for as long as I’ve been able to do cursive, ever since elementary school. Even as an adult my penmanship has frequently been compared with Cuneiform.

Of course, with the advent of computers this shouldn’t be a problem anymore – no-one can tell how atrocious my handwriting is from an email, after all. But the problem is, no matter what situation you’re in, it’ll sometimes be necessary to communicate through pen and ink, and if you’re handwriting is so bad people sometimes think it’s Da Vinci style mirror writing, this can be a problem.

I’ve tried calligraphy and it hasn’t really worked out for me – calligraphy is, as far as I can see, more a practice of drawing letters than practical writing. I can do it reasonably well – here’s some I’ve done on my Flickr feed, but it hasn’t helped my cursive at all.

I’ve been hunting around for resources on improving my handwriting for a while now (and I still am – if anyone knows of any, let me know), but by far the most useful for me has been the article Tips for improving your handwriting by Dyas A. Lawson. Very cool, and advice on how to move from writing with the wrist and fingers to the forearm and shoulder. This never occured to me before, but it makes sense – larger muscles, aside from being more powerful and having greater endurance, are actually easier to control on a fine level.

I think I’m making progress, slowly but surely. Might keep a log up here too.

All About Money

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Ramit over at I will teach you to be rich has posted a fantastic article on ‘conscious spending’. I highly recommend all of you read, as it might help to get rid of the negative associations with finance (i.e. finance is about not spending money, whereas in truth finance is about spending money consciously).

It also reminded me of the fun little mac app Cha-Ching, which I like, but which I’m not entirely certain how to use (there’s no help. The splash screen for the latest beta implied the existence of a screencast, but the button was greyed out). But it’s well worth a look for the financially motivated (I like it already, just because it looks nice and seems reasonably sensible, even if I don’t know how to set a budget and get it to automatically refresh monthly).

Setting Smaller Goals

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Ramit over at I Will Teach You To Be Rich has posted a great little article on the importance of setting small goals and avoiding burnout.

It’s really important stuff to bear in mind, and stuff that’s borne out in my own experience. When I started writing every day I set a goal deliberately that didn’t make me sweat too much (five hundred words), and then moved it up once it was comfortable.

I’m also doing this at the moment when I’m trying to Get Out Of Bed When I Don’t Actually Have To (i.e. I don’t have any work or a meeting to go to) – currently I’m out of bed every morning around 9 am, and I’m going to start moving it back to before that, around eight-thirty. It’s not an ideal time, but it’s better than lying in ’til noon like I used to (and yes I know all about Steve Pavlina’s How To Become An Early Riser and How To Get Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off, I just didn’t find they worked for me. But they might for you).

It’s all about Progressive Training, see.

43f podcasts roundup

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Merlin has posted a review of his awesomest podcasts. I particularly recommend the Apostrophe one, because it’s hilarious and a great warning about procrastination

Journalling

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

I’ve gotten more and more into Journalling for personal development lately, and it’s really neato. The kick in the behind to get me into it was this book: “The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self” (Julia Cameron), which is really good and which I thoroughly reccommend, it’s not just for recovering artistes – there are some interesting points about creativity in there. I don’t agree with all of them personally, but it’s good to get you a-thinkin’.

When I start Journalling shortly after I awaken every morning, I start off just writing whatever comes into my head, the entire contents of which are normally sufficient to fill one single page. I’m serious, that’s all my thoughts. And it’s prose, it’s not like I’m doing a list or anything, just one single page.

Right after that I’m onto goals and gratitude, and that’s the important bit: every morning I rephrase and rewrite my goals, doing them in different orders and in different ways. Sometimes I’ll do a simple list, sometimes I’ll prose them, sometimes it’s a letter to myself or a future journal entry or a day in the life. Either way, this keeps me thinking, keeps me away from ritual and ensures that the goals stay fresh in my mind. I’ve found it helps to keep me away from ritualistic thinking, because in my experience it devalues the goals and the affirmations, but that’s just me – it might not be the same for you.

I encourage you all to start. Like GTD, it’s a great way to get mental clarity on things.

A warning: Backpedalling

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

This is a bit of a warning to you folks concerning something I’ve had issues with and am wrestling with right now. I use Steve Pavlina’s 30 day trial approach for forming new habits, and it works like a doozy, but something I found the other day is that it’s very, very easy to backpedal into an old pattern, especially if it’s particularly enforced.

For example. Ever since I’ve been a kid, I’ve lazed in bed and slept in for as long as I could. I don’t have particularly vivid dreams or anything, it’s just natural bone-idleness. I’ve shaken off the bone-idleness and subsequently installed the habit of getting up at 7am every morning, rather successfully as well.

But recently, I got a bunch of essays in at college and felt like relaxing, so I took a day off from this and sat in bed for the morning. The next day I had nothing urgent on and did the same thing. And the next day. Now I’m rasslin’ again, and trying to get back into the old habit slowly, and ease back – I was up at 10am this morning, which is better than yesterday. I’m aiming for 9 the next day, 8 the following day, and so on and so forth until I can get back to seven.

Incidentally, this isn’t time spent sleeping. Much of it is, but a lot of it is sitting in bed with my laptop (curse you convenience of wireless internet!), reading email and RSS feeds. That’s something I’d probably end up doing anyway, but the morning is my key productivity and thinkin’ time, and I’d rather not waste it on reading about what Neil Gaiman is doing for the christmas holidays. I swear, sometimes I’m like this incredibly lazy cyber-stalker.

Why become more organized?

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

I’m not going to lie to you: I struggle with this stuff, and I always have. In primary school I was always the kind going around asking to borrow a spare pen or pencil or ruler or something off the (noticeably more organized) kids. I’d always forget my school books that had my homework in (more often than not, genuinely forgot after having actually done the work). Workloads always seemed so heavy and I was in a constant state of stress.

Then, after struggling for years through academia an eventually managing to get into University by the skin of my teeth, I found websites like Lifehacker and 43folders – sites that had cool little tips to help make life easier. Through them I found my way to David Allen’s GTD. I applied GTD over a summer and just from putting it together and following the basics of The System, I went from a C average to a B average in university, and I’m getting better all the damn time. Now workloads don’t seem so harsh because I have them on paper, and because I’m able to work out my essays in good time I’m producing much, much better work.

Find the right time to work for you

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

I had a big essay due in on Friday (2,500 words on Phenomenology in Archaeology), and I managed to get it in on time… just. But it was a stressful time for me, and I want to talk to you guys about what I’ve learned from the experience.

In looking at the weeks work, I notice one important factor – I was at my best and most motivated in the morning, normally around 9am-11am. I noticed this earlier, but that knowledge didn’t sink in, and when I meant to work in the afternoon after time at university, I found myself playing Halo instead, despite my best intentions. I got about 200 words done that day when I had wanted to do at least 500.

So, I implore you dear readers, all of you: look at your energy levels throughout the day, grade your energy levels, say – then schedule your most challenging projects for that time.

What are your values?

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

This is awesome. It’s a value test, kind of like those old things you used to get on Livejournal and still get on Myspace, except about a hojillion times more advanced. It takes about an hour and it’s quite an experience – you select a ton of different values from a list, and then it throws them up at you, matching each one to each one, and asks you to vote on which one’s the most important.

Getting a firm handle on your values, on precisely who the hell you are is incredibly important for getting into personal development – if you don’t know where you are when you start, it’s literally impossible to know how far you’ve progressed. This is also one of the reasons I feel journalling every single damn day is important, to track your progress as you move along in life.

As with most things, I’ve found a way to relate this to writing fiction. More on that over here

I found it on The Personal Development for Smart People Forums, which are also freaking awesome and I encourage you to get an account if you’re into this stuff. If you’re not, I can’t believe you’ve read this far.