What are you doing RIGHT NOW?

What are you doing right now?
What are you doing right now?

Stop.

What are you doing right now? Right this very minute.

Stop for a couple of minutes and answer that question.

That’s all it takes. Just stop. Look around. Are you where you wanted to be at this time of TODAY? Are you past that? Did you get sidetracked? Are you focused? Are you floundering, confused, overwhelmed? Are you hungry or thirsty? Is your brain tired? Do you need a nap? Are you cooking with gas?

What are you doing right now?

Answer the question.

  • bullet journals
  • productivity apps
  • to-do lists
  • habit trackers
  • Pomodoro
  • time tracking
  • GSD (Getting Stuff Done)
  • etc
  • etc
  • etc

I have failed or I flail at any or all of these. To-do lists and GSD works the most consistently, but some days that’s not saying much.

Some of my Twitter friends and I are productivity enthusiasts, which is to say, we try. And flail. Sometimes fail. We run through methods to see what we like, what we don’t like, what will work provided we work it, what won’t work or what we won’t work.

Mostly we do it for the stationery.

Not really. All we really want to do is get our stuff done so we can do other things that make us happy. That’s all any of us (productivity enthusiasts or not) really want.

That’s what we tell ourselves anyway.

My main method of wrangling my productivity or lack thereof is a combination to-do list, a dun-did list, and mind-mapping with a splash of GSD. (Bullet journaling is beyond my comprehension.) I’m not always faithful about this. But!

I have several problems, three of which are:

a) I’m addicted to procrastination (which is a form of thrill-seeking)
b) I’m only able to focus on one thing at a time and I lose time like crazy, and
c) I’m terrified of getting everything done. What would I do then?

But I ran across this: WHAT ARE YOU DOING RIGHT NOW? I don’t know where. I meant to make a note so I could link back to the article. But it only built on an idea I had when I heard the local college’s clocktower chime.

I have alarms on my phone set for 9a, 11a, 3p, 7p, and 9p and I use distinctive ringtone(s)*.

This one thing, more than anything I have tried thus far, has managed to make me more aware of my daily pace. Even if I don’t write in my journal, even if I don’t have a to-do list, even if I don’t have a dun-did list, when I hear my distinctive ringtones, I know exactly what time it is and I can make a mental note of where I am in my day and what I still need to do.

I don’t wander around so aimlessly now if I’ve hit the wall.

*But here’s the thing: When I set up my alarms, I knew I had to select my alarms very carefully. The ringtone couldn’t be something I already like because I’d ruin the song for myself. It couldn’t be funereal or serious. It couldn’t be too engaging, e.g., too peppy or with lyrics. It couldn’t be something one hears here and there throughout the course of one’s life.

As I already had alarms set for 11, 3, and 7, and I needed to distinguish these somehow, I needed two so I could differentiate.

And so I leave you with these and two questions:

What are you doing right now?

What’s your most effective productivity mechanism(s)?

  • “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin
  • “Maple Leaf Rag” by Scott Joplin

The value of knowledge

Knowledge is power. Time is money.
Knowledge is power. Time is money.

And this is where slogging through Number One’s crazymaking was worth this gem: “You paid for your training in sweat, money, tears, and sometimes blood. Why are you giving it away?”

As some folks know, my day job is formatting ebooks and designing print books, and otherwise helping authors get where they want to go in the world of self-publishing. I consult with nonprofits, corporations, and churches to manage their in-house publishing divisions.

Occasionally, someone will come along who wants my help, and they start picking my brain about general things because they don’t know where to start and the plethora of information on the internet is almost as bad as no information at all. No problem. I like helping people, answering their questions. After all, there are people who handed little nuggets of wisdom down to me when I didn’t even know what questions to ask. The companies who hire me pay for all this advice.

However.

There comes a point where the potential client is not picking my brain so much as trying to learn how to do my job. I can always tell when they get to that point because they’re asking specific formatting questions, but they’re not asking the right questions.

This is where I stop responding to their emails.

This summer was difficult for me work-wise. So when a potential client continued to email me to mine my brain after I’d already invested several hours in him, I stopped responding because I simply didn’t have any more time to spare for him.

And then I got a nasty note berating me for not helping him. He did offer to pay for my “exclusive time,” but not until after he’d had his say.

This is where my viewpoint differs from Number One’s. I don’t feel like I’m giving my knowledge away for free, I feel like someone is trying is trying to steal from me. They don’t value my knowledge, my time, or my skill, therefore, it’s fair game.

Coincidentally, today I went googling for a user’s manual for a 40-year-old tool. It was online, free, a scan of the original user’s manual. I don’t know who did that, but I will be forever grateful.

Knowledge comes with a price. In my case, it was time. I don’t mind donating a little of it, but time (like money) is a finite resource. My family has to eat. And sometimes, an hour makes a big difference.