do what you are doing.

It seems somewhat tautological but really it’s a piece of advice I need reminding of every 6 months or so.

If you spend your work hours compulsively checking your email or your relaxation time compulsively checking your code then you’re probably not getting the best out of either. It’s hard to think that you’ve had a successful day of work if you’ve read 20 news articles. It’s hard to think that you’ve really had a weekend if you’ve checked your computer program every half hour.

Sometimes I’m good at sticking to this advice and, of course, other times I’m not. Every now and then I need to stop myself and make up some arbitrary rules in order to get back in the habit of doing what I’m doing (I’ve checked email and tumblr while writing this up so I must be going through a bad phase.)

Here are some various rules I use to focus on doing work at work:

– The Pomodoro Technique (work for 25 minutes in every half hour)

– Turn off your internet (often impractical for me)

– Don’t check any media (incl. email), or leave your seat (at all!) for the first 2 work hours of your day

– Set mini goals with time limits

And, just as importantly in my opinion, focus on not doing work at home:

– Don’t bring any maths books or papers (or whatever you do) home

– Turn off your computer (if you use it for work)

– Go outside

– Choose to do something or nothing rather than being absentmindedly online doing neither (hence this blogpost)

I think the main “problem” is that life has natural pauses. I’m waiting for code to run, I don’t know what to write next, my maths got a bit too hard, whatever. When there are natural pauses we should stop and evaluate what we use those pauses to do. Before you stand up, before you change tabs or windows, work out whether you really need to. All the techniques I mentioned are really just ritualistic ways of forcing us not to do whatever we normally do during a pause.

Does anyone else have any good focusing methods?

PS: The photos are from Austria.

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promises we can’t keep

I know I promised words but I don’t really have any. It turns out getting back into life after a break is hard. And once you’ve got yourself back into the swing of things the magically fascinating thoughts you wanted to write have become trivial. So news it is then.

– I submitted my story to a real, live publisher. That’s pretty exciting. I hear it’s something you have to do a lot of times if you want to get a book published.

– I’ve been writing the next book. It’s kind of fun but I’m having trouble concentrating on it what with all the other life things going on.

– One of my brothers is visiting at the moment. It’s nice but I’m ill and that seems somewhat unfair. I’m hoping I don’t make him ill and ruin his holiday…

And, here’s some philosophy from the art gallery that was once the Berlin Wall:

storm’s a’coming

The wind coming into Ischia today is a herald of the storm tomorrow. And no matter how my travel plans may be affected and/or ruined by tomorrow’s storm: I love the wind today.

I think that the wind is one of my favourite things about being alive. And there’s something in particular about a warm wind on a warm day… It’s excitement and happiness and hopefulness. It makes you want to laugh and spin in circles. It gives you confidence that, no matter what, things will be better than just okay. Because life is precious and beautiful and worthwhile.

If all is well and good I will fly out of Italy tomorrow and, even though I’ve loved it here, I’m excited to be going to Austria. These photos are of Ischia Ponte and Castello Aragonese, each taken from one and looking at the other.

the search for what it was really all about.

Everything I have ever written and will ever write comes out of my own mind. I cannot write anything beyond my own thoughts. My memories and experiences, then, are the most important things I own. Along with language. But that’s not the point right now.

In order to write stories we delve past the names and events and dates to see what it was really all about, to see what it meant then and what it means now. And once we’ve worked it out, or while we’re working it out, we wrap it all up in a separate package. We tell the story with different names and events and dates. Perhaps one lot of events happened over six weeks in an Australian highschool but the other will happen in Paris over a few years. Or vice versa. But at the centre of it all will always be the truth; the essence of what it was all about. At the centre of it all we’re reaching out and asking if others will join us.

Will you be brave with me? Will you learn with me? Will you suffer with me? Will you dream with me? Will you understand me?

the wibbly-wobbliness of time and feelings

There are only a few weeks until I go away and I have a lot to do before then. Each day seems to stretch out forever though and no matter how much time I seem to waste my work is progressing at such a rate that I will finish it all on time. This week has lasted forever and yet I can’t really believe we’re almost at the end of July. Is this what growing up is all about? The nonsensicalness of time? Who knows.

Mid-week I was panicky that I hadn’t done enough work and everything was falling apart. At the end of the week I can look back and see that actually this week was quite successful. Now how do I manage to stop myself from panicking next week when I’m sure it’s all falling apart again? If anyone has worked this mystery out, please let me know.

In any case, here’s to a relaxing weekend, folks!

Living the life I dream of.

When I was 6 I dreamed I would be an Olympic athlete. I didn’t believe that anyone could turn 18 years old and not be disappointed if they had never competed in the Olympics. I dreamed of being a rock star and an engineer. I dreamed of doing a PhD and of being married.

I have always dreamed of things I want to do, places I want to go and people I want to be. I’ve achieved some of these dreams and put aside others.

I don’t think dreaming is a problem in itself, and I can’t understand living in any other way, but it does mean that sometimes I get impatient and dissatisfied with the life I’m living now. It’s as if I’m always waiting for my ‘real life’ to start. This is obviously foolish.

This realisation has led me to believe that the originally planned scope of this blog was far too narrow. It was looking forward to the future and celebrating the steps I took to get ‘there’. But it wasn’t celebrating where I am now. Life is an adventure, not a destination and my adventure doesn’t start once I reach a certain peak, I’ve been on it all along.