Tools are invaluable. They augment skills and physical ability. They make it possible to do things that are impossible, or at least difficult to do without them. Finding and selecting tools, however, is not always easy. Sometimes I completely miss the value of a tool or become confused about why I need it and what it will do for me. That is a big problem because I need all the help I can find. An example is one of my Christmas gifts – a set of hiking poles.
It started simply when my wife asked what I wanted for Christmas. I asked her for a hiking stick and what I was thinking about was a long wooden pole or staff to provide stability while hiking. She turned the tables on me when she asked me to show her where to get one. I had seen them at a store specializing in walking shoes and equipment but had never really looked at them seriously. When I researched, I found that yes, there are hiking poles like I was imagining but there were also hiking sticks in pairs that you use like ski poles. Since these were lightweight and collapsible when compared to the bulky, heavy wood stakes, I decided that I would ask for a pair of the sticks.
Our Christmas vacation provided the opportunity to test the sticks on the network of trails near our vacation home. My first time out was on a trail along the coastal bluffs. I didn’t think they would make much difference and I felt very conspicuous and somewhat foolish with my two hiking sticks, particularly since nobody else on the trail was using even a cane. I felt like some kind of spidery quadruped but gradually it became more natural to work the sticks as I hiked. They worked wonderfully to maintain stability as I traveled the sometimes irregular trail and helped me to keep a steady pace. When I returned to the house some two hours later, it was apparent that there was more to my new tools that I had anticipated. I was definitely feeling a workout of my arms and chest. It seemed that my new sticks had turned hiking into a full body exercise program, something I never anticipated.
Continued in Part 2 tomorrow.
Originally posted 2010-01-11 09:53:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has become a guru for those seeking to simplify their lives. As he states in his Simple Living Manifesto:
A simple life has a different meaning and a different value for every person. For me, it means eliminating all but the essential, eschewing chaos for peace, and spending your time doing what’s important to you.
The man is a modern miracle. He has become an icon to bloggers and all those seeking a simpler life in these complex times. He is also wise in understanding that simple to him may not be simple to others. This is the first post of three this week exploring the concept of simple and specifically the simple life and
I need your help!
As Leo says, simple can be different for each of us. In his Simplicity Manifesto, he lists 72 ideas that can simplify your life. If you are interested in simplifying your life; If you have simplified your life; or If you think that simplifying your life is an impossible fantasy, I need you to tell me about it. Have you used or are your thinking of trying one of Leo’s ideas? Do you have one of your own that Leo doesn’t mention?
In the second post, I will explore the definition of simple and some of the related concepts.
The third post will use your input to examine how real people get down and dirty with being simple.
Here is my example. Recently I adopted Number 30 – Keep your mailbox empty. I admit that I learned this from Merlin Mann at 43 Folders not Leo but I no longer face unresolved email messages every time I open my mailbox. I don’t know how much time I wasted rethinking and then bypassing messages time after time while trying to decide how to handle them. Now I make a quick decision and the message is gone.
Now it is your turn. Add your comments here or @RalphCarlson on Twitter.
Originally posted 2009-08-17 09:16:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Photo by Roy Blumenthal
How procrastination may be a good thing.
I have a proposition for you to consider. It’s not what you have heard from your parents and your teachers. In fact it seems quite irresponsible. It might give you a bad reputation. It might encourage people to doubt your commitment or your work ethic. But, on the other hand, it might just save you a lot of trouble. I’d like you to reconsider procrastination because I contend that procrastination gets a bad rap. Sometimes procrastination is just plain smart.
Be wary of conventional wisdom
Everybody tells you not to procrastinate. They tell you to just dig in and finish those tasks that you really don’t want to do. They say you will feel better and save time. Maybe they are right sometimes but I see a different truth. I have been around long enough to learn that there is another side to procrastination. Sometimes procrastination is nothing more than your unconscious mind telling you to watch your step. There have been many times when I have been saved from doing a lot of unnecessary work by procrastination about a task I really didn’t believe was necessary. I was later proved right when I found that the work was no longer required. I bet that you have had the same experience. I am sure that everybody has worked hard on a difficult or time-consuming assignment or requirement only to find out later that it was not needed. What could you have done with that time if you had only known?
The big problem here is how you tell. If the task were known to be unnecessary then nobody would do it. You can’t control whether the task is needed or not. But sometimes you just know that nobody will notice if the task is not done. Sometimes experience will guide you to procrastinate because similar tasks have been eliminated in the past. There is a risk but the odds are with you. Other times the tasks are defined by you and your only risk is not accomplishing your goals. Maybe that goal is not so important as you once thought. So I ask again, is all procrastination bad? If you procrastinate and nobody ever needs the work, who loses?
Procrastination may be nothing more than good judgement
My hypothesis is that sometimes procrastination is simply the exercise of good judgment. There are times when procrastination means that you are a lazy slackers, indulging your baser nature. But other times , something tells you that a task is truly unnecessary. You procrastinate rather than saying you just won’t do it. Maybe you started a degree program with the idea that it would open up new job opportunities but in the middle of the program you discover that those higher paying jobs are a myth. You don’t want to quit the program. Nobody respects a quitter. But you don’t want to waste your time and money on an effort with no benefits either. So you procrastinate. Maybe you decide to do something because society, or your friends and family tell you that you should but you don’t want to do it and you don’t want the result. You don’t want to spend any money or time on that effort. But you don’t want to confront your fiends either. So you procrastinate. Or maybe your boss wants you to do something you know is a waste of time. You know that he will never actually need the work; he just wants the comfort of knowing it is there. If your experience tells you that it will never be needed and he won’t ask to see it, then you can procrastinate and spend your time on something important.
What do you think?
I don’t mean to advocate or encourage procrastination. It’s going to happen anyway. I just think that sometimes there is good judgment behind what we call procrastination. And in those cases, we either need to stop calling procrastination irresponsible or find another word for not doing something that provides no benefit. At least stop beating yourself up from not doing something you really don’t want or need to do. I’ll bet you have procrastinated. Maybe you also agonized about the consequences only to discover that it was never needed or missed. Or maybe you want to challenge my assertion that procrastination is sometimes just a signal to move on. I would love to hear your perspective.
Originally posted 2009-06-16 08:48:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Confession about this post. It is recycled from two years ago. My first smartphone was a Windows mobile device and Windows Mobile back then was not so hot. Still I got my feet wet with smartphone capabilities. Now looking back, I find I’m not a smartphone kind of guy. Unfortunately the phone providers have decided that we will have smartphones whether we like them or not. I replaced the FUZE with an Android a year ago.
It’s been three months since I switched to a smartphone using Windows Mobile. I was excited about the potential increase in my productivity or at least greater ability to do things away from my home computer. I anticipated improvements in these areas and this is the situation so far. Continue reading
Originally posted 2009-10-27 08:13:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Image via Wikipedia
Clearing my desk and my brain.
With this post I wrap up the posting for this week and next week both here and over at Cantankerous Old Coots because the Carlson’s are heading to Lake Tahoe for a few days. The last time we took a break was over a year ago when we spent Christmas on the coast, our first ever retreat for the California branch of the Carlson clan (a small select number including me, my wife and both sons). A good time was had by all despite the lack of cell phone coverage and internet connections at our rented digs. Continue reading