It May Be Your Problem Even If It’s Not Your Fault.

You’ll be amazed to find out that I’m referencing a podcast today that’s not from Gretchen Rubin. My husband and I are huge fans of the Freakonomics franchise, the series of books and podcasts by the team of economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner who have made a career of challenging conventional wisdom about how markets and incentives actually work.

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How Did My Time-Tracking Week Go?

I wrote last week that I had signed up for the Laura Vanderkam Time-Tracking Challenge for 2018, in which participants were asked to log their activities for one full week, 168 hours. I’m happy to say that I stuck to it for the full week this year (having almost immediately dropped out last January) and also thoroughly enjoyed reading Laura’s daily updates (link is to the first day’s post; you can then read the rest if you’re interested) on how she spent her own time. I used my fun app, toggl, which I’ve written about several times, most recently last week, and this morning I had a neatly categorized weekly report, all ready for me to look at and then send on to Laura. I managed to record a total of 167 hours and 22 minutes, so only a little bit of time fell through the cracks. How did I do? Here are some highlights:

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Time-Tracking Tools

As you know if you’re a regular reader of this blog, one of the bloggers/podcasters I follow is a woman named Laura Vanderkam, a speaker and writer whose area of expertise is the efficient use of time. She tracks her own time regularly, and every year she invites her readers to participate with her for one week. Last year I started to do it but quickly fell off the wagon, as I couldn’t figure out how to characterize time spent sitting at the table and talking to my husband while at the same time eating a meal.

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Do the Boring Stuff

healthy, relaxing breakfastAnother great podcast today from Liz Craft and Sarah Fain’s “Happier in Hollywood,” their podcast about life as TV writers living in Los Angeles. I would encourage you to listen to the whole thing. (One instance of bad language very early on, BTW.) Anyway, they have a guest this week, Melissa De La Cruz, a mega-best-selling author of young adult fiction. (Who knew? Not me.) But Melissa’s fabulously successful career came at the cost of a stroke.

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Just Keep Plugging Away

Partially finished jigsaw puzzleHurtling is the word, dear friends, hurtling towards 2018. I’m reminded of how I felt several years ago during a five-day visit to New York City. We took the subway quite a bit, and the rushing by of the trains seemed a metaphor for now quickly our precious vacation time was passing. That image returns to me often: So much to do, so many goals to be accomplished, and so little time.

But once in awhile I step back and inhale loudly. I remind myself that what really 

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“Everybody’s Bluffing”

gambling die, ace of spades, and a note in French -- Tout est une question de bluffMy husband and I have been watching a series of videos hosted by Dr. Stephen Meyer about Christian apologetics (link is to a website that markets the DVDs but not an affiliate link). Lots of really great stuff, but in this post I’m focusing on just one little throwaway line from the session we watched most recently: “Everybody’s bluffing.” Meyer had foolishly raised his hand in a lecture class at Cambridge University and 

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Where Will Your Month Go?

leaves fallingSometimes I think that this blog wouldn’t have many entries if I didn’t do so much cribbing from other sources. Gretchen Rubin is a big crib, but another one is Laura Vanderkam, whom I’ve mentioned before. She’s quite a gal; I last wrote about her in this post about downtime. In addition to her quasi-daily blog posts she also sends out a weekly newsletter that sums up her week or gives ideas for the week or month to come, appropriately called “A Week’s Worth.” (The link is to the signup form.)

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What’s Your Downtime Look Like?

downtime, flopping on couchI define “downtime” as time that isn’t directed to a specific task or end but is what I do when I take a break from my work. Usually I read something, these days from some news website or the other. Oh for the days when I just read books! That type of thing seems like a distant memory. I used to gobble up murder mysteries by the ton, and when I’d be eating lunch by myself at home and reading I’d keep on eating so that I could keep on reading. (This former habit may help explain why I used to weigh more than I do now.)

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Fitting in Work Around Other Work

open books, notebook, and coffeeWell, I just spent at least half an hour trying to find a quotation from the British classicist Mary Beard about her writing and I haven’t been able to do so.  It’s always a mistake to let a good idea go by and then have to hunt it down later. So I won’t be able to give you an exact quotation, but she said something like, “As I was sitting and working on my few sentences.” Mary Beard is one of my heroes; her book The Fires of Vesuvius is a true time-travel tool.

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The Joy of Tackling a Big Project

Building materials and half completed buildingMy current Big Writing Project (BWP) is the finishing up of my commentaries on Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana for publication. I’ve been using the writing software Scrivener, as everybody who’s anybody says it’s magnificent. Well, I’d been finding it magnificently hard to use, to be honest. The final step in my project was the addition of images, and Scrivener just wasn’t cooperating. Until, suddenly, it was. I’m not sure what I did, but I think I had somehow created a table where I didn’t want one, and Scrivener was stubbornly following the

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