The Frog vs. the Wombat

creative work, productivity
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain Twain’s words on how to start your day have turned into a catchphrase for productivity gurus. “Eat that Frog!” as a Google search turns up blog posts, videos, cartoons, and even books on task management and productivity. Lifehacker has a good summary of the principle. Simply put, your “frog” is that thing you need to do but don’t really want to. It’s an unpleasant task, or something that is going to take time and energy away from other things you enjoy more, or it’s necessary drudge work that is required for success but doesn’t involve any explicit reward, etc. The gist of Twain’s comment as it…
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Do You Pomodoro?

creative work, productivity
You may have heard of the pomodoro technique, but you may not have tried it. And if you haven't tried it, or don't regularly use it, you should reconsider, STAT. Briefly, the pomodoro technique involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and focussing on one task for the duration of the timer. Focussed work. When the timer bings, you get 5 minutes to stretch your legs, get a drink of water, touch your toes, go to the loo, check Facebook or Twitter, whatever. Then it's back to the next 25 minute segment of work. It's a pledge to not multi-task. Even when we know the research all points to the fact that multi-tasking is a whole load of dung, the nature of creative and intellectual work--heck, the nature of work,…
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Is “Entrepreneurial” Really a Dirty Word?

creative work, job market
The push in higher education for faculty and departments to think more "entrepreneurially" about their course offerings, their programs, and the experiences they provide their students gets a fair amount of pushback in the humanities. I remember a department chair telling me, circa 2008, that, yes, there might be money to be found in partnerships with foreign companies, but that we, as a department in the humanities, needed "to be careful with whom we climb in bed." His objection to pursuing corporate sponsorship for departmental events or prizes came from that place of collective cynicism in the academy that ascribes morally pure motives to researchers in the ivory tower and capitalistic, exploitative motives to (all) other players in the capitalist economy. I disagree with his commonly held assumption that academia…
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Filling Up Your Reserve Tank

coaching, creative work
If you are an academic--a scholar, a researcher, a student, a teacher--or a creative person--a writer, artist, content creator--a lot of what you produce gets pulled from within you. Or at least this is how I experience writing and lecturing and discussing and growing a small business. I use my experience of myself in the world as a springboard for ideas. I believe that my quotidian, embodied life is inseparable from my “work” in so many ways. How I relate to my body, to money (and where it comes from), to my family, to my domestic surroundings--all these things impact my ability to tap into my innate creativity and see where it takes me. In those moments when I feel frumpy, broke, underappreciated, and surrounded by chaos, I am incapable…
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Originality vs. The Little Hater

creative work, Little Hater
The academy instills in its acolytes the importance of originality. The definition of successfully scholarship is, after all, making a NEW and significant contribution to your discipline. The focus on originality pushes knowledge further and inspires some great thinking. It encourages researchers to build on earlier knowledge to come to new conclusions and create new ideas. But the burden of being original often feels like just that . . . a burden. Matt Inman, the writer of The Oatmeal comics, published a long coming on "making things" that, I think, resonates a lot with academics as well as creatives. He wrote: "And it's great that no one can tell me what to write about, but I've found that being TOLD what to write is a lot easier than just conjuring…
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