Archive for the ‘chaos’ Tag
So there’s a Lifehacker thing going the rounds where “productivity heroes” share their habits and in turn invite others to do so. I don’t know where I stand on the productivity scale, but I do know I’m one of the most disorganised researchers I’ve personally ever come across. This is great for teaching – it means I can be a sort of living Awful Warning to my research skills students – but whether it makes me a good candidate for productivity hero is definitely questionable.
But how could I resist Andy Priestner’s invitation – nay, command?
— Andy Priestner (@PriestLib) September 27, 2013
So here we go …
Location: Cambridge University Library
Current gig: Research Skills and Development Librarian
Current mobile device: elderly iPad (no camera!)
Current computer: Toshiba laptop with a missing plus key. (It got stuck on endless repeat and I eventually got fed up, prised it out of the keyboard and chucked it across the room.)
One word that best describes how you work: Chaotically.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?: Spider Solitaire. In times of stress I play it obsessively.
What’s your workspace like? I should do some shredding. And some filing. And some general desk entropy measures. I’m sure I had a chair once.
What’s your best time-saving trick?: I have no time-saving tricks at all. I drafted a ton of self-deprecating reasons as to why not before I realised that this is not an embarrassing omission or a character flaw: it’s a deliberate policy. I don’t want to save time. I want to spend it – wisely, profitably, joyously, frivolously. I want to seize opportunities, take on new projects, meet and create ideas with people, walk all 186 miles of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. I could save time easily by doing none of these things. But what would I do instead?
What’s your favourite to-do list manager?: The stash of scrap paper that I cut down to A5 and hold together with a bulldog clip.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without? My Moleskine 18-month weekly notebook diary.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?: Well, I’m pretty shit-hot at Spider Solitaire.
What are you currently reading?
- The Oxford Book of English Poetry
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh
- The Beckett Trilogy: Molloy – Malone Dies – The Unnamable (that’s been ongoing for a while now)
- Murder on the Flying Scotsman by Carola Dunn (with rising irritation)
I guess another time-saving strategy (see above) could be just reading one book at a time, but why would I want to do that?
What do you listen to while you work?: The general conversation in our open plan office – by turns funny, informative, supportive and just plain bonkers. It’s the best office environment I’ve ever worked in.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?: A very highly-functioning closet introvert.
What’s your sleep routine like?: Erratic.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see Helen Webster answer these same questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?: “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”(Full disclosure: Thich Nhat Hanh didn’t actually say this to me personally.)
Is there anything else you’d like to add?: Metaphors around ‘being productive’ are often based on motion: spinning all the plates, juggling all the things, dashing around getting things done. In contrast, every research skills session I give is based on stopping and being still for a little while. They’re an invitation to pause and take stock, to look unjudgementally at how you do what you do. Paradoxically, the best way to be productive as a researcher may be to periodically stop doing and allow yourself to reflect on where you are:
“Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”
Image by Rama V, flickr.com, CC BY 2.0