Flow

Things I love: lists and hierarchies. Other things I love: clean, simple design. Marry these things into a big, happy, polyamorous union and you get Workflowy.

Workflowy is a clutter-free tool for making lists and organizing your brain barf. I’ve been using Workflowy since the beginning of the year to track errands and goals and make travel and career plans. I can imagine myself using Workflowy for writing (outlining), if I ever have time to write again. Recently, I used Workflowy to outline an upcoming training workshop on curating metadata for photographs.

Lists in workflowy

When getting started, it’s helpful to view some of the short video tutorials (like this one) on Workflowy’s site to learn how to use all of the features, such as quickly expanding and collapsing lists. Some features are listed below but the biggest feature for me: simplicity. My list is big but the load time is next to nothing. The interface is clean. Minimal distractions = get more work done.

Features

  • Click and drag to re-order items in your lists
  • Keyboard shortcuts (when logged in, click the “Help” button for more info on shortcuts) makes it easy to transfer your thoughts onto the screen quickly
  • Searching your lists is handy, especially as your lists get longer
  • Tags (#) and attributes (@) allow you to tag items with tags like #today #urgent #phonecall or with attributes like @Jen @Jes; tags and attributes become hotlinks, which when clicked, returns all other items with that tag or attribute
  • Item completion allows you to mark items as Complete, which allows Workflowy to function as a to-do list; you may toggled between Visible and Hidden, depending upon whether you want to see your completed items or not
  • Mobile interface allows you to view and edit your lists from your mobile device (phone, tablet, etc.)
  • Sharing and collaboration allows you share a list or sublist at whichever level you choose; you may ‘unshare’ a sublist at any time

So We Came to February

I closed out January with five stitches in my thumb (first time getting stitches– first visit to the emergency room). Surely, I can do better in February.

Reading

Sharp object encounters aside, January was a pretty good month. I managed to read quite a bit more1. Listening to the audiobook versions of S&S and MP during commute and workout time helped me take in a little Austen on the days I didn’t have sit-down-and-read time. I’m determined to finish all of Jane Austen’s major novels by the end of this month (I will likely put off reading Northanger Abbey and Lady Susan until a later date). I will keep reading the Pern series (I’m about a quarter of the way into Dragonquest now). I currently have Fables checked out from the library and will start that once I’ve finished Emma. I’ve been poking around for some staple sci-fi titles and have compiled two or three recommendations, which I will probably start in March. Right now I’m reading The Woman in White (via DailyLit RSS, which I just reactivated after a week hiatus), Emma, and Dragonquest. I have good reading variety this month, each title enjoyable in different ways.

And Writing

I hardly blogged in January and I don’t have any creative or academic writing to show for my time off. I was at first excited to see that Laurie Halse Anderson is urging everyone to have a Blog-Free February but then figured that it’s less daunting for me to pop on and ramble a bit here instead of sitting down and composing something formally. So I’m going to take a pass on BFF this year (although BFF would be an awesome pairing with BEDA, if Blog Every Day in April becomes an annual phenomenon). Better to keep all writing channels open. I’m intrigued by the call from LISNews for essays relating to libraries or librarianship. I’ve been recording ideas, links and news items regarding a number of library topics for months but haven’t had the kick in the butt to make something material of it. I don’t have to submit something but writing up a few pieces on different topics might be a good exercise.

And Life

Reassessing finances prompted me taking more part-time work. I rearranged my IU schedule to accommodate additional hours at Avers. Last week was an adjustment period. I was far more worn out after my workout sessions last week but I felt more like myself after yesterday’s session. And, as it was much easier getting up at 5:30 this morning than it was last week, I think my body is finally realizing that I’m not shorting it on sleep (I started going to bed earlier but, for whatever reason, I still felt exhausted when the alarm went off). This week (and possibly next) will be the test: getting up a 5:30, working at the library, working an additional 20 some hours at Avers, and maintaining my current workout and diet routine. We’ll see how it goes.

Once I’m sure that I’m in possession of the proper quantities of sleep, calories, and sanity, I will start focusing on weight loss again. I plateaued in January, in spite of continued diet and exercise. I’m honestly not discouraged that I haven’t kept losing. If nothing else, this proves that I can maintain a goal weight if I stick to the habits I’ve relearned.

Right. Now that I’ve gotten that housekeeping post of out my system, on to more interesting thngs.


1. Books read in January:

  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • Those Left Behind (Serenity ; v. 1) by Joss Whedon

WrAnyMo WrApUp

I’ve developed this habit of starting drafts and forgetting about them for a week or two, possibly a carryover of blogging privately. Oops. Here’s a slightly dusty post from Dec 2nd.

I refuse to accept that WrAnyMo was a resounding failure. Sure, I only made about 22% of my goal to write 30,000 words in the month of November but I learned something pretty important about my habits: I spend way too much time reading. It’s true. I spend a lot of time reading RSS feeds– in the morning, throughout the day and at night. Am I better for it? Probably not. A handful of items out of a couple hundred a day that are useful, insightful or otherwise provide that daily ounce of “Oh, cool” simply doesn’t offset the amount of time this eats out of my day. The rewards are too small for the time I put in. I look forward to not feeling obligated to read or at least clear out every new post in Google Reader. That’s really what keeps me hitting my feeds every four hours. I see that stupid number in the red bubble on my iPod and it makes me feel like the news needs my attention NOW. No, this needs to stop wasting my time.

Spending less time pouring over largely forgettable interweb droppings will, I hope, leave me more time to read GOOD things– literature and short fiction. It’s been ages since I’ve dissected a poem or applied the ‘critical theory flavor of the day’ to fiction. Reading good literature makes me want to write about it, meaning that finding more time to read often means finding more time to write too.

But feeds only take up so much of my day. What about the rest of my time? During the middle of the month, sloth was a huge problem. Then, during the final week of WrAnyMo, I started exercising. Suddenly I had more energy. What to do? I started reading more and I jumped back on projects that I’ve put off. So working out=energy to do other things. And, since Tim and I replaced walking time (3x a week) with work out time, working out does NOT equal more time out of my schedule.

December then will be another month of adjustments:

  • Finding a fourth day a week to exercise (already tried with mixed success)
  • Blogging a minimum of once a week (I’m with ya, Jessie!)
  • Trimming the amount of the feeds I read.

BEDA Wrap-up

My final BEDA. I have to say I’m glad it’s over. I like the exercise of writing every day but I do not like the idea of having to PUBLISH these daily scribbles for the world to see. My writing this month has been crap. I’m not capable of being ‘on’ all of the time. I’m sure you can flip through posts and tell when I am writing passionately about a topic. I write better. It’s interesting. If I’m not interested in what I’m writing, there is no way in hell anyone else will be.

From a content standpoint, BEDA was a fail. Meh. However, I’ve gotten very good at banging out posts. It doesn’t take me nearly as long as it did before- it takes me about half of the time it used to take. The increased expediency in blogging has probably been the biggest gain for me. On the other hand, I know that this rush to get something- ANYTHING- blogged before midnight has bombed the quality of writing. I guess there’s a give and take there.

Another positive (or negative, if looked at another way) result from BEDA is that I’m reevaluating the focus of Puddles. Am I writing for me? My family? Friends? Colleagues? Complete strangers? I previously pondered whether or not I needed a professional blog for all of my library-related ramblings. On the other hand, a dedicated library blog probably won’t be updated as often. Besides, taking on a professional blog means providing content that is useful. Most of the time, I’m merely blathering on about a problem or something that’s bugging me. My library-focused posts are rarely researched in depth. Some aren’t even thought through very well- they may be rants. I think if I had the added pressure, I would end up avoiding posting to a Library blog altogether.

At any rate, I’m thankful for the BEDA experience. Writing a little everyday is something to strive for but I certainly won’t be publishing EVERYTHING, like I had to for BEDA. I also learned that yes, I can take 45 minutes out of every day to write.  It’s not impossible like I previously thought. It just took a kick in the ass. Thanks Maureen!

A Zombie Christmas Carol

Mr. Fantastic Fiction is back over at Libba Bray’s blog. Huzzah for paragraph-long sentences! And zombies. In fact, Mr. FF believes that any piece of literature can be improved by the appearance of the undead. Mr. FF offers the following example (and many more):

Moby Dick: Two words—Zombie. Whale.

YES.

Mr. FF issued the following writing assignment: chose any piece of “literature” (his quotes, not mine) and add a zombie scene. Hmm… Dickens might be improved by zombies. Perhaps Mrs. Dalloway. Or The Yearling. Emmett Cullen would make a pretty damn terrifying zombie.

Edward (whine): Carlisle, Emmett’s eating Bella’s brains again.

Emmett: … (gnawing)

Rosalie: Yay!

Jasper: (talking over Rosalie) You can’t even read her mind, Edward. Don’t pretend you want her for her brains, you blood-crazed lecher.

Alice: (slapping Jasper on the arm) Jazzy, we LIKE Bella. And Edward loves her for her personality.

Jasper: … (blink)

Rosalie: Hah!

Esme: (shouting from other room) You’re cleaning that up!

Delirium, Cacophonously Induced

Apparently, the changes Phantom Regiment made to their show were well received by judges (and from all accounts, by the fans too). Current standings (bound to change) list the top 5 as: PR, Blue Devils, The Cavaliers, Carolina Crown and The Cadets.

When thinking about posting this morning at the bus stop, I began to amuse myself by composing alternate acronym meanings for DCI, including the following:

  • Drill Creatively Inspired
  • Drums Cause Incapacitation
  • Drop-spins Cure Impotence
  • Dominating Cardinal Intonation
  • Deflowering Corp Insecurities
  • Danger: CROWN/CAVIES Incoming!

In other news, I spent some more of the money remaining on my iTunes gift card. Recent purchases include:

  • Theresa Andersson “Accustomed to the Dark” (I’ll probably be getting her new EP soon, partially, because of this)
  • Eddi Reader “Please Don’t Ask Me to Dance” and “Mary and the Soldier” (the later I now associated with Alice and Jasper, probably because I just spent a week and a half re-reading Meyer’s series).

Both ladies have incredibly rich voices and Theresa plays a pretty wicked fiddle.

I got zero writing done this weekend but I did do some more background reading. I guess I forgot and/or didn’t realize how obsessed ancient Egyptians were with cleanliness, a fact that probably won’t have any affect on what I’m writing but interesting nonetheless. Originally, I was reading for information on burial and afterlife but I suppose I can’t fully comprehend a society’s philosophy about death and the afterlife until I know something about that society’s philosophy on life. There is a lot of discussion about purity, in all aspects of life. Sigh. Still not sure if/how this fits into my project, but the knowledge is sticking with me for a reason…

On the reading front, I’m almost done Far from the Madding Crowd and I’m pretty confident I can finish Hardy while waiting for Breaking Dawn to appear in my mailbox in a day or two. Hopefully, it will materialize before the entire novel is revealed to me by raving, rabid fans.