2014 year of reading women, chick-lit, dance mash-up video, health risks of sitting, NY Times, over-explaining jokes, reading, reading abstinence, reading books is fundamental, slow sunday jam, Starbucks names, that's what she said, The Guardian, time management, Tin House, VIDA count, working out at your desk, writing
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time management – namely, what do I give my time over to? What do I allow to occupy brain space? Does that thing deserve to take up the amount of time I’m giving it? And am I willing to sacrifice my writing time to attend to it?
Some things are no-brainers. Tea with a friend. Chatting with my wife. Exercising. Those are the things that I gladly give time to. But other things – maybe clicking on ALL the Facebook articles, watching videos, indulging in self-defeat/self-criticism, getting easily spun-up over things that don’t really matter – those things don’t deserve the time that I find myself giving to them.
This week, when I looked at my favorite articles of the week (the articles that, yes, I found on FB – I’m a work on progress), I found that I actually had the makings of a perfect workday, one that struck a balance in distribution between exercise, reading, writing, food and drink, and diversion – one that focused on positive activities, and positive output, rather than negative. It’s a lot of articles this week, but they all come together to make a well-balanced workday.
Slow Sunday Jam
- When I first started working on my novel, I couldn’t read fiction. It freaked me out, and the intimidation – I’ll never be as good as [insert name of amazing author here], maybe I should try to be more like them, maybe I should change the point of view of my entire novel – stalled me out. So I went on a fiction fast, reading only memoirs and essay collections. I’m not the only one who has this problem, as evidenced by this great post from Andrew Hamilton about periods of readerly abstinence.
- But I couldn’t stop reading altogether. In fact, I want to read more. And Charles Blow, columnist for The New York Times, pointed out the useful distinction here: there’s a difference between reading a book and reading a Facebook feed, a text, or even an Internet article. We must read books. Here’s my favorite quote from his column: “There is no intellectual equivalent to allowing oneself the time and space to get lost in another person’s mind, because in so doing we find ourselves.“
- As important as actually reading is the choice of what to read. And after years of the VIDA count telling us that women are vastly underserved and under-represented in publishing – both in terms of books published and books that get reviewed – journals, critics, and readers are beginning to take note, some even going so far as to declare 2014 the year of reading women. This article on The Guardian does a great job of explaining the logic behind those decisions, the ethics of branching out our reading lives.
- After all that meaningful reading, likely done lying in bed or sitting in a chair, we need to get up and move. Why? BECAUSE SITTING IS TOTALLY BAD FOR YOU. Look. Here’s an infographic to prove it.
- And if you need some ideas of how to mix up your work day, to move around a little bit even while you’re at work, this video from The Atlantic is both funny and encouraging with tips on how to incorporate exercise into your day.
- And then it’s time to put in a little bit more time at the desk. After all, a well-crafted workday without writing is, well, just a day. I’ll be straight with you: I write about women. I love to write about women. Maybe because I am a woman, maybe because I love a woman, maybe because my favorite authors are (mostly) women. Who knows? But instead of fighting it, I embrace it – I embrace telling stories of women navigating various stages of their lives, much as this author from The Guardian would have us (writers who write about women) do.
- After writing, dance break, with a video of the best dance scenes from movies, mashed up to make an epic dance video.
- And after the reading and writing and exercising and dance break, we need a treat. I’m thankful my name is a little not-mainstream, but for those with unusual names, or far too usual names, there’s a practice of creating a “Starbucks name,” which I found completely fascinating. Have you ever created a Starbucks name for yourself? What was it? (I’m so intrigued.)
- And then we need to laugh! Like, how we used to laugh when someone would add “That’s what she said” after a seemingly innocent sentence. And in case you ever wondered, here’s the history of that joke from The Office. Along with a chart. (For me, laughter=love, so when jokes don’t go over well, I explain them. Which just makes it worse. The fact that this article explains the joke, uses a graphic to show its spike in popularity, and then interprets it on a cultural level, just makes me all warm and fuzzy with joke-overexplaining-solidarity.)