Highlighter pencils

I think I could use a new category for this blog: frivolous.

These pencils could be the first entry in the category.

Highlighter pencils

Why would these be considered frivolous, you might ask. Highlighter pencils, what a good idea.

These do work just like ink highlighters, only they’re pencil, so if you’re susceptible to the pleasures of lead/graphite on paper, these do provide that sensory enjoyment.

They’re rectangular too, like carpenter’s pencils, so have a sort of novelty value.

But frivolous, you ask? Why would highlighting be frivolous?

It’s because these pencils, made by Moleskine, sell for around $20. Yes, $20 for two highlighter pencils. Sure, they throw in a special sharpener (big enough to accommodate squareness and the size of the pencil).  And they do the job very well. But still.

(I can’t remember why I succumbed and bought them. I am not that much of a Moleskine fan. Maybe because I love the idea of highlighter pencils.)

On reflection perhaps the category could be indulgence.

Or more-money-than-sense.




In the end, rather than make more categories, I settled on filing this post under “Things” and “Toys”

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How I’m Spending My Time

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 10.56.33 am

This is an interesting and easy way to figure out your daily routine. This depicts my weekdays. Weekends are usually less structured, even if there are regular chores to be done.

Yes, my day begins at around 4am. I have been rising at 5am for some years and have started trying to add an additional hour to my pre-work day. It’s currently still around 4am because this isn’t a well-established habit/practice yet. I have no problems getting up at 5am but it seems my body thinks 4am is a little early.

Why an additional hour? I’m trying to make more time for the “other work” (in green) I want to do – reading and writing – while also having enough time to walk the chihuahuas and meditate before going to work. That’s the orange “exercise and life maintenance” bit.

Early rising works for me. I find I’m not usually very social nor am I very productive by around 8pm most days. This was the case even in my youth – no, I never was a very good party-goer. Rather than force myself to stay up, I function much better if I go to bed when I’m ready to.

My daily commute, in blue, also usually includes around 20-30 minutes walking, each way, and I have around 30 minutes in which I can read, while on the train. I usually spend the train time reading and following links on Twitter.

For the yellow “fun and relaxation” I’m counting dinner time and time spent with M and the chihuahuas. I also read, listen to music and start to wind down for the day.

The original image, a “Wheel of Productivity”, comes from this post, The Easiest Way to See if You’re Spending Your Time Right. I must admit I had great fun with colour pencils…

What does your Wheel of Productivity look like?

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What changed things

It is possible to do one thing that changes how you perceive things, and that then leads on to other changes in your career and life.

Yesterday I retweeted a link to an article about Austin Kleon:

To which @librarykris asked:

My short answer:

I did initially think that perhaps that answer was enough. But then again I don’t know that many people saw it, and in any case it might be of interest to other people, so perhaps an answer longer than 140 characters might be worth writing.

Do take a look at the article in the link at the top of this post, if you haven’t already. There’s a short video in the article which you could watch instead of reading the article, if you prefer. Both are short, in any case. In summary, Austin Kleon recommends taking a bit of time every day (15 minutes) to “put your work out there”, to share, engage, basically “following and interacting with people who are established in whatever field you’re interested in”. I really related to what Kleon said about using technology to connect with others.

I’m not an artist/creative type like Kleon, but I started my version of the 15-minute daily habit he recommends, way back in 2005, when I started this blog.

I have to admit that when I began, I thought that blogs were a mere fad. We didn’t have “social media” back then. I had a work project that required me to look at blogs and figure out if MPOW could use one. Despite all my reservations, I started investigating (well, I had to deliver on my project), and very soon became tired of merely reading articles about blogs. I wanted to work out what all the fuss was about, and so I had to try it for myself.

That’s how this blog started – one dark and stormy night (it was a winter night, if I remember correctly), almost nine years ago now.

Little did I know then that starting a blog would give me an “in” into a most amazing place: the blogosphere. (Gosh that term sounds so dated now!)

Back then much of the communication and chatter people did was via their blogs and by leaving comments on others’ blogs. You could write about anything, really, even if it wasn’t strictly “professional”, but it didn’t matter – you were part of this large (well it felt large), amorphous community, and you could really connect with people all over the world.

I can’t quantify – and find it hard to qualify – the changes this had on me as a person.

Right from the start my horizons were broadened – to use a cliche. I could learn from so many people. Not just as a professional librarian, but I could learn about things that interested me personally.

The difference here was that it wasn’t a passive process with me just sitting in a darkened room staring at my computer monitor. Sure, I was reading, but I also started commenting, and writing my own stuff. I was contributing, even in a tiny way. I could hear from and interact with people whose work I was reading, thinking about, and commenting on.

It had a snowball effect. Suddenly I not only understood what blogging was all about, I had become an expert. I really cannot describe what it’s like to become The Expert. It was such a boost to my confidence. It opened up many doors for me, too:  “Oh, Con, can you come and talk about blogging?”

Blogging was a bit of a gateway drug for me, I think, because I then started learning ALL THIS STUFF. It lead me to develop another habit, of reading for my job, so I keep learning all the time.

And the confidence thing? Well, when I realised how much I could just go ahead and DO, it just lead me to do and try more things. More writing. Developing more skills. And so on.

So you can see why I really related to Austin Kleon. I can’t think of anything else that helped me more, than just developing this little habit of putting myself out there.

You ought to try it too.

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