Not convinced: making Mondays better

I do like Mondays. I think you can finally get to do some serious work and all the things you’ve thought up over the weekend now snap into action. But there’s this fella who has more specific motivational ideas about making your Monday fantastic.

They’re a bit saccharine for me, bu he says that the most successful people begin their Monday in specific ways starting with:

They start with a positive attitude.

So much time and energy is used up by a bad mood. Super productive people don’t like to waste any energy and they certainly don’t want the week to lag from a bad start. They focus their mind on joyful productivity from the moment their feet hit the ground in the morning. They revel in the excitement of what they can accomplish. Instead of lamenting going to work, focus on where you truly want to be and what will take you forward.

5 Simple Things Super Productive People Do on Monday – Kevin Daum, (9 March 2015)

Read the whole piece for more.

Five signs your office is creative

If you ask me, there is just one: you produce creative work creatively. Do that and you’re creative, QED. But when you’re looking at a particular office space, there are things you can tell immediately.

Such as this: if there are big, wall-sized decorations with words like “Imagination” then there will be creative people consciously ignoring them. That’s what non-creative people think these offices need and the real creatives are the ones who wouldn’t be seen dead being motivated by that. believes there are more visible indicators of office creativity and, I suppose naturally, the site lists its top five visually. Have a look.

It gets different

You’re a writer, this happens to you: you go into a hole. Maybe it’s because you’ve had a big rejection or lot of little ones or maybe it’s just cyclical and the way you are, the way you unfortunately have to be.

I’d like to say that it gets better.

But that’s a bit Hallmark Card-like for me.

So instead, let me offer you this: it gets different.

And that is better.

Time and space

I got up at 5am this morning to write but I also came to a certain spot. Instead of my office, I am in my living room working on my MacBook Pro with its endearing keyboard fault. (There’s something wrong with the W and Q keys so every time you’ve read w or q I have actually keyed Apple-1 or Apple-2: I set a Keyboard Maestro shortcut to save me having to take the keyboard apart or take the time to bring it in for repair.)

But the reason I’m here is that here is where I started writing a short story. I’ve been commissioned to write one and as part of the job, I had an evening with a readers’ group. When I got home that night, I had an idea pounding away at me and I had to get it down, so I sat on my couch and typed a few notes. That was the intention. I ended up writing around 500 words of story, feeling it out, experimenting, testing whether the idea was really a story.

And every now and again, I come back to this couch to continue it.

It just feels right. I had this with The Blank Screen book which I wrote primarily on my iPad while working on a massive non-fiction title in my office.

Location matters more to me than I realised and I think it might mean more to you than you’ve thought. I don’t know, but I’m surprised at the depth of difference it’s made to me and if it helps me this much, in some intangible way, then I want to see if it helps you.

Follow. I don’t consider myself a journalist any more but I certainly was one for a long time and as part of that I grew the ability and the preference to write wherever I happen to be and for however long I happened to have. A sentence here. An article there.

Part of moving to drama is that I’m having to reach further inside myself and somehow what’s around me physically is getting in the way.

I still can and I still do write wherever and whenever I can. But coming to this couch to write the short story, going to the Library of Birmingham to do my regular OmniFocus reviews, it helps.

I’ve found this through accident. Can you try it deliberately? Try writing your next thing somewhere else and see if it helps you.

And then explain to me how I can claim this helps me write my short story when I’m visibly not writing it, I’m visibly talking to you instead.

Don’t make life harder than it is

You do this. You know you do. So do I:

Another driver cut you off. Your friend never texted you back. Your co-worker went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a steady basis. So what caused you to be offended? You assigned bad intent to these otherwise innocuous actions. You took it as a personal affront, a slap in the face.

Happy people do not do this. They don’t take things personally. They don’t ascribe intent to the unintentional actions of others.

10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be – Tim Hoch, Thought Catalog (17 June 2014)

That’s “You ascribe intent”, otherwise called number 1 in a series of 10. Some of the other 9 are pretty familiar too.

It’s all ultimately a plug for a book I haven’t read called The Truth About Everything (UK edition, US edition) but it’s a good plug. The ten points are well made and being aware of them, recognising them in yourself, isn’t a bad thing at all. Do have a read of the ten.

Seriously, it’s the small moves that work

Seven weeks ago I decided I wanted to try creating an email newsletter for The Blank Screen. Six weeks ago, the first one went out to about ten people. Today the sixth went out to forty.

I’m not saying anything about the quality of the work – though that people are adding themselves to the newsletter is enormously gratifying – but I am saying that it was an idea that became a thing.

It’s now a normal thing. I knew this morning that my day would begin with writing a Self Distract blog as ever, then that I would do the newsletter. Then I’d be off writing an article for someone else and a script for someone else, but the newsletter is a regular, locked-in part of my week now.

There was a moment when I was first bringing The Blank Screen book to the web as this news site that I thought about an email newsletter. But I thought it would be a lot to take on atop everything else. Now it’s just here and it’s normal, it’s what I do.

It’s fun and it’s hard and to make it worthwhile anyone reading it takes planning and writing effort but I know I will do it every week. I suppose it takes discipline but it doesn’t seem that way now I’ve started and it’s running. It feels more like momentum.

I think creating new things is often like an engine: it takes a huge amount of energy to start – it literally takes an explosion – but then once it’s running, it keeps on going very easily.

I thought about this today just because I mentioned to someone that this morning’s newsletter was the sixth and I stopped mid-syllable. It can’t be six weeks, can it? Six editions? Already?

The thing I’m taking away from this is that you can do new things and you can enjoy them, you just have to start.

Don’t plan a career, concentrate on now

You can’t figure out the future. Even young people who have a plan (be a doctor, lawyer, research scientist, singer) don’t really know what will happen. If they have any certainty at all, they’re a bit deluded. Life doesn’t go according to plan, and while a few people might do exactly what they set out to do, you never know if you’re one of those. Other things come along to change you, to change your opportunities, to change the world. The jobs of working at Google, Amazon or Twitter, for example, didn’t exist when I was a teen-ager. Neither did the job of Zen Habits blogger.

So if you can’t figure out the future, what do you do? Don’t focus on the future. Focus on what you can do right now that will be good no matter what the future brings. Make stuff. Build stuff. Learn skills. Go on adventures. Make friends. These things will help in any future.

Leo Babauta – Zen Habits

Via 99U

Making more of small things – like iPhone tones

My iPhone rings, I answer it. Other people, they turn it into art. This is the reason to tell you this today: a music producer named MetroGnome has released this:

He looks like he’s working an LCARS computer from Star Trek, but he also looks a bit talented. Nonetheless, I do prefer this slightly older piece by Mars Argo: