Betty Ming Liu Quits Her Job: Liberated Time Management in Action!

If your job is not central to your mission, but simply a way to earn money, then one of the profoundest acts of self-liberation you can make is to reduce your hours or (even better) quit. Blogger Betty Ming Liu just quit her job, and her list of goals for her next stage is awesome: – I want to self-publish a book. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that this is an on-going yearning. Maybe not the most practical solution for making money, but crucial for personal fulfillment. The rough first draft is done and I’m ready to rock this dream! – Expanding my YouTube presence. There’s not much up right now but look for more. During recent One-to-One training lessons at the Apple Store, I’ve learned to use Final Cut Pro X. Now it’s my chance to put those skills to practice in editing my own how-to videos about all kinds of things. Stay tuned! – Spend time with my daughter. She is now a college-bound, young woman. If you’ve been through this stage with a kid, you know that part of me wants to scream. … [Read more...]

Jerry Seinfeld to Writers: “No Slack For You” Even on Festivus!

We like to look for one primary secret to the success of the superstars of the world, even though almost always a combination of factors, people, and circumstances were involved. It remains instructive though when a highly successful professional freely offers the big reveal on how they got to the top. As reported in Lifehacker, software developer Brad Isaac has such a story to tell about Jerry Seinfeld, and it’s not “about nothing.” Isaac knew Seinfeld as a nightclub comic before he hit it big in television, but already it was clear he was on his way up. He asked Jerry what the big secret was, and he got an answer. Productivity is everything in writing. Only through having a mountain of material can you cull out the crap and leave an abundance of actual nuggets of great quality. And the one and only way to attain this level of productivity is to write something every day. He didn’t mean 364 days a year. You don’t take a day off on the Festivus for the Rest of Us. Writing every day meant just that to … [Read more...]

Guest Post: Tips for Thesis Writers: How to Get to the First Draft

Terrific advice for all writers from Ph.D. student Nolanne Chang, reprinted with kind permission. Here's her blog. She sounds very empowered as she works to create a context that supports her writing productivity! - Hillary Previously in my posts I’ve outlined my feelings on the general structure of writing a science thesis, and what the style and substance of each section should be. In this set of posts I’ll discuss my retrospective advice on the easiest way of writing a thesis. 1) Write a Literature Review your first year Quite a large portion of my literature review/introduction section of my thesis was written in the first year of my PhD. In my second year this was easily cut, pasted, reformatted, tweaked, and with the addition of a few paragraphs made up the introduction section to my transfer report (standard mid-way thesis in England). In the third and fourth years, I updated the original literature review to include the latest papers and to incorporate changes in the experiments that had … [Read more...]

Attention all Graduate Students and Junior Faculty

A new cycle of the Academic Success Catalyst Program - 4 weeks of small-group conference calls - starts next week. The ASCP is for graduate students, postdocs, junior faculty, and other junior academic researchers who would like to: • get more productive in their writing and other work • finish their thesis, papers, or other projects • have an easier time finding a job • have better relationships at work and at home, and • be more strategic and effective in building their career. Not to mention…feel less stressed, more optimistic, more revitalized, and more connected with their work! More info. … [Read more...]

Wednesday Dog: Bowled Over

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Most Mad Men-era Men Didn’t Have it So Great, Either, But…

A moving New York Times essay about how most men didn't have it so great during the Mad Men era. But the fact remains that most men had vastly more choices than most women, back then (and, to a lesser extent, now). Many jobs were closed to women, and classified ads routinely specified an age range for the women they would hire, and many women were fired after getting pregnant. … [Read more...]

If No One Falls Over, We’re Having a Great Class!

One of my recent newsletters discussed a misguided essay (and now, regrettably, book) by a prominent philosophy professor on his notion of "constructive procrastination. I'm happy now to refer you to this essay, I'm With Stupid, by a writer who is not, to my knowledge, a prominent professor, but who nevertheless has figured out a lot of the whole procrastination/perfectionism thing. Robin Marantz Henig started taking tap dancing lessons in her forties and reports: "Amazingly, considering how ambitious I was in the rest of my life, I didn’t really care about getting any better at tap. As long as I didn’t mess up or fall over, I considered that afternoon’s class a success. That’s what was so great about learning tap as an adult. For kids, every new skill might be the one they really shine in, the one that defines them, which makes piano lessons, ski instruction or tap-dance classes especially fraught. For adults, there’s not that kind of pressure. I was in my 40s. I already knew dancing wasn’t going to be my … [Read more...]

In Which I Advise a Young Baby

My friend, free software activist, Ciaran McHale and his wife, Bianca, recently had a baby--the gorgeous Toby. And they did something  completely cool, which was to ask friends concerned with social justice to write letters to Toby, which they would publish in a book. The book Letters to Toby is out, and you can read it here. It's full of inspiration and insight, so check it out! By the way, Ciaran compiled it using his program, Canthology, which anyone interested in producing anthologies should check out. Below is my letter to Toby, which I hope you enjoy. Dear Toby, Greetings from Boston, MA, and welcome to the world! Your parents have asked me to write a letter to you on the momentous occasion ofyour birth. I don’t know your father very well, but he is a very special person to me. After my first book, The Lifelong Activist, was published, he wrote to me saying that he liked it and also included a detailed list of grammatical and other errors he had spotted to help me with my second … [Read more...]

Watching Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Work Anxiety Just Melt Away…

Here's what the process of overcoming perfectionism and procrastination looks like: 1. You start from a place where you hate doing your work and avoid doing it at all costs. 2. Then you move to a place where you dislike it, but start showing up and doing it sometimes. 3. Then you move to a place where you are mildly averse to it, but show up and do it more often. 4. Then you move to a place where your feelings are neutral or just slightly negative, and you can do it most of the time when you plan to. For some tasks, e.g., boring committees and tedious household chores, the process ends at #4. For those tasks, however, you should ask yourself whether you should be investing your precious time in them at all. Better to say no or delegate! But when that's not possible be sure to give yourself rewards for overcoming your resistance to doing a boring task. For your "mission" tasks, which tend to be the interesting and creative ones, there are a few more steps: 5. You move to a place where the task … [Read more...]

New Year’s Resolution: Do Less Housework!

Most people think of procrastination as a simple bad habit, but it's often much more than that: it's a strategy we employ when we're afraid of the outcome of an activity or project. So, someone who hates his job might procrastinate on looking for a new one because he's afraid of not getting any offers, or landing one that's even worse than his current one. A novelist with writer's block (blocks being an extreme form of procrastination) may be afraid of not selling her book, getting a bad review, or offending relatives or others with what she's written. Someone whose lifelong dream has been to start a business may procrastinate on doing so because he's afraid of failing - or succeeding and having many new responsibilities and demands placed on him. In the short term, procrastination works well: by not finishing (or starting!) your project, you are indeed protected from its scary potential outcome(s). In the long term, however, procrastination can lead to a bitter, unfulfilled life. So it's a good idea … [Read more...]