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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Procrastinators: Beware of magical mops

Some of what makes anti-procrastination tools work, is their novelty. Once that novelty wears off, you are right back where you started, procrastinating again.

A hypothetical example:

Let's say I hate mopping my floor and I always procrastinate about doing it. Then I see an ad on TV for a wonder mop, with a handle that twinkles when you push it. You stop pushing, it stops twinkling. You push it faster, it twinkles more. And even more amazing, is that it also sings! I order this mop, because it seems like it could make mopping fun.

So the mop arrives, and I can't wait to get it out of it's packaging and try it. I fill my bucket with soapy water and begin mopping. The singing & twinkling is pretty cool, and before I know it, the whole floor is clean. Great! Wonderful! Terriffic! It's working. I didn't procrastinate and I got the job done.

I like this mop so much, I am having no problem mopping my floor and keeping it clean. I am not even procrastinating about it any more. This is the best mop ever! It's like magic!

But a few months later, after the novelty of the twinkling & singing mop begins to wear off, I find myself beginning to procrastinate about mopping the floor again. What happened? This was supposed to be the best mop ever. What went wrong?

Nothing went wrong. I just had an unrealistic expectation that some wonder tool was going to make me like doing a task I hate.

The truth is that nothing can make me like mopping floors, not even a magical, singing, twinkling wonder mop.

So if you try an anti-procrastination tool and it works for awhile, but then stops working...the problem isn't the tool. It's you and how you feel about the task...your real feelings.

Instead of looking for a new tool to trick yourself into thinking that you like what you hate, work on the real problem: the task itself, how you feel about it, and why.

If you can be honest with yourself, you can begin to look for a real solution instead of tricks. If you fix the root problem, you won't need a singing, twinkling mop to get things done.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bloggers With Comment Forms That Suck a Chunk of Your Life Into a Black Hole

Black Hole
Listen up, John Chow, Jack Humphrey, Matthew Henrickson, Andy Beard, and the rest of you lazy and/or inept bloggers out there:

I am tired of wasting my time on broken comment forms, screwball captchas, lazy moderation, and bad site design.

Too many times in the past 2 weeks, I have tried to make comments on blogs that ended up sucked into cyberspace and never making it to its destination, which is the post in which I was commenting on.

On three blogs, after taking the time to formulate an informative, relevant, quality comment (one of them was at least an hour of work), it was just sucked away after clicking the submit button, with no indication that it made it to where it was supposed to go, or it being held for moderation, or anything else. Will I ever grace those blogs with another comment again? No!

On another blog, after almost the same amount of work and hitting the submit button, I was informed that commenting on that post was closed. Why was there a comment form then? And why was there no visible indication that commenting was closed that I could see, before I wasted my time putting together a comment? Will I ever grace that blog with another comment? No!

On another blog, after I took the time to make a comment thanking the blogger for his post and tell him how useful it was to me and why, and how I was going to send him some traffic because it was that damn good, his captcha informs me that I must have flunked math in school because 4+3 does not equal 7. Don't insult me like that. I try to compliment you and thank you, and this is the thanks I get? A screwball captcha that calls me an idiot? Will I ever comment on your blog again? No!

On another two blogs, my comment was being held for moderation. Now I can understand the need to do that in order to keep spammers at bay, but don't you think you should check your queue to see if any comments were made, at least once a week, if not more often? Maybe even check it when you are making a new post, at least. Will I be commenting on those blogs again? No!

I am tired of wasting chunks of my life trying to comment unsucessfully on your blogs.

So to all you bloggers out there, please check to make sure your comment forms and captchas work, when commenting is closed that it is visibly closed to your visitors before they waste their time (remove the form if possible), if comments are being held for moderation that commentors are told this, and process your comment moderation queues on a regular basis!

And if you have no clue what you are doing or how to fix things, ask someone to help you!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Freedom Sandwich

Yesterday, on the anniversary of America's indepencence, I wanted to write a piece on freedom, but kind of got stuck.

At first I wanted to write about the countries that still are not free, like China, where bloggers are now resorting to writing backwards in order to beat censorship and report about what is really going on behind the Great Firewall.

Or perhaps focusing on who is and isn't totally free yet.

Then thinking about the US, the myth of freedom here, and the reality that we aren't totally free as some may believe, maybe focusing on why we are not free, as this report may explain.

Or go more in depth about the freedom of the press, and what responsibilities come along with it in relation to self-censorship and its ethical and moral implications, focusing on the list of censored news stories.

Or perhaps a piece on economic freedom and what organizations like The Green Children Foundation are doing to help people living in third world countries overcome poverty, while still keeping their dignity, in the form of microcredit loans.

Or perhaps how the price of oil can threaten democracy in places where the whole concept of freedom is still fairly new and still on shakey ground. The article is from 2006, when the price of oil was much lower than it is now, so most likely the situation is much worse today than it was at the time the article was written.

Or artistic and educational freedom, and focus on books that have been banned throughout history, for one reason or another.

Or psychological freedom, and how the fear of failure holds so many people back and prevents them from living up to their full potential. (Unfortunately, something I have first-hand experience with)

Or the desire for financial freedom, and the rising number of "get rich on the internet by blogging about how to make money blogging" websites that are popping up every day.

Or freedom of information, and the threat of censorship from ISP's and their desire to do away with net neutrality to boost profits, cut costs, and control what you see and do on the internet, and decide who can and will be able to profit online.

Since I couldn't make up my mind as to what direction I wanted to go with this freedom piece, I decided to give you a little slice of everything I was thinking about yesterday, just in time for lunch.

Enjoy your "freedom sandwich".

Take it slow, one bite at a time, don't eat too fast...it's ok to save some for later.