The Power of Less Stuff in Your Classroom

After a looooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnggggggg winter, what does your room look like?  If it is like mine was, does it have the accumulation of several projects, your student’s possessions that they just never seem to pick up/take home or does it look like somebody took a grenade and let it go off in your room?

Then it is time for Spring Cleaning!

Yep it is that time again, time to take the time to clean-up, neaten-up and get ready for the stretch run. Have you actually taken a look at your room?

  • What don’t you like?
  • What can you change?
  • What things can you make it better for you or your students who share your room?

The first thing that I found was that I simply had to much stuff in my classroom to contend with. I realized that I was trying to pack 10 pounds of “stuff” into a 5 pound bag.

After reading Leo Babauta’s book “The Power of Less” a couple of years ago, I have become a pretty big believer in a more minimalist approach to what I keep around at home and at work. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to using what I had learned from Leo’s book in my classroom, until recently.

So what can you get rid of – in your classroom?

If you are like me you have stuff left over from your predecessor and the two previous occupants of the room before we moved in. Their “stuff” is still in file cabinets, lockers, closets or other places you tend to stash/hide things. You sort of feel it is not your property, so you can’t really get rid of it. Recently, I have taken a different perspective – they left it, which means they didn’t want it, therefore it has become mine by right of eminent domain. In other words I can do whatever I damn well please with stuff that is left over 6 months by previous occupants – I think that is very fair.

If you have been teaching for a while, you also have all those old lesson plans, copies of worksheets or seminar and professional development notes/handouts – that were so great when you wrote them 10-20 years ago or got them, but are now either obsolete or just trash. In your heart you know that you will never use them again, but letting go of all that work you did is soooooooooooooooo hard.

Remember those books on your bookcase, from courses or that you bought at a book sale/yard sale or another teacher gave you, way back when. You know the ones that you have never cracked the cover since you completed the course or got the book. Yet you have it “just in case” on your bookshelf taking up space.

What to do?

Why not take 1-2 nights right after school next week and take everything out of your hiding places or bookshelves to see what is actually there and what you really want to keep. Scan or digitize stuff that you can (that is where enlisting a helper really works), which saves a lot of space and is actually more accessible, especially if you relocate it to something like Evernote.

When you are done throwing away “stuff” you know is trash, you are left with the “stuff” you are not sure about. Things you are pretty sure you will never use, but are too nice to throw out, why not offer them to a co-worker or put them in the teacher lounge as first come, first serve items (let them have more “stuff” to worry about).

I started doing this back in March and got rid of the equivalent of a full file cabinet of old papers, lesson plans and accumulated junk. There were so many old textbooks or workbooks that we no longer use just taking up space and lots of extra pieces of this or that went to the teacher’s room with the “free for taking” sign on them.

The hard part is

You have to be merciless and ruthless when going through all of this “stuff”. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to go through all the time and effort if you only get rid of a couple of things – this is supposed to be major Spring Cleaning event in your classroom – you might need to enlist the help of another teacher, your teaching assistant or even a student or two, who will not be as emotionally attached to some of the items as you are.

If find something that you just can’t bear to part with, make a next year’s Spring Cleaning area and if you haven’t touched it since this year, you will know that you can probably get rid of it then.

The reality is that

all this extra stuff that we have in our rooms, are all things that we collect or pack rat away for that time we are going to need them. Yet in reality, 90% of that “stuff” just sits around taking up space and makes it harder to find the “stuff” you really need to be able to find.

What have you accomplished?

When you are done you have accomplished at least three things:

  1. Your room is not as cluttered (I do not believe having a cluttered room is a sign of a genius at work, no matter how much you may want to believe it) and is more inviting to come into than it was.
  2. You know what is in your classroom, where it is and there is a lot less “stuff to take care of.
  3. If you do this now, when the end of school comes, what you have to take home or pack away becomes much less and your transition to summertime mode is much less stressful and done more quickly.

So what are you waiting for, it is time for your classroom’s

Spring Cleaning

April in Review

April has been a very good month for me. I got a lot of things straightened out in my online and offline worlds, which has resulted in making a lot of decisions that are going to be very positive ones for moving forward.

Online World

I read the book “Do The Work” by Steven Pressfield and as a result of reading that book I was forced to reflect on what I was really doing instead of what I wanted to believe that I was doing – read about it here.  Facing what you are doing honestly and owning your mistakes can be painful, but for me it was a necessary step to move myself forward. Looking back I am glad that I am going in this direction. I also made some very good changes to my blog and really like the new theme and look it has.

Offline World

My knee really began to bother me, enough that I actually went to the doctor’s – which is something I avoid whenever possible. I am seeing a specialist next week and have resigned myself to what he will say. I imagine that it will be pretty much the same thing that he wanted to do last September and I wasn’t ready yet – I am now. Also we have made some decisions on personal choices that are really positive and if there are no significant changes between now and July 15th, I will be talking a lot more about them at that time.

Just accepting or making these choices has really changed my perspective on what is important and what really is not.

Top 10 posts for April:

  1. Mobile Me Review
  2. NOOK COLOR – REVIEW JANUARY 2011
  3. Evernote as a Task Manager
  4. PAPER AIRPLANE LESSON PLAN 2010
  5. Evernote Review – January 2011
  6. BLOGGER – MANUALLY IMPORTING BLOG POST PROJECT
  7. Apple Text-to-Speech – Review January 2011
  8. I AM IN THE PROCESS OF RE-POSTING OLD POSTS TO BLOGGER
  9. SPECIAL EDUCATORS-DO WE DO TOO MUCH?
  10. Infinite Campus Review – February 2011

The reality is that

I am glad that I didn’t go through with my first impulse to start another blog and stayed with “One Foot In Reality”. Something weird happened after I made my decision to stay, my stats more than doubled overnight.  Strange how things work sometimes isn’t it?

Nook Color – Review Four Months Later

Back in January, I wrote about my wife’s Christmas present – a Nook Color and discussed how much we liked it then.

I Can’t Get to Use It

I had planned to do an update review a lot sooner than this, but unfortunately I have not been able to get my hands on my wife’s Nook Color to use it enough myself to update my review of it. I really don’t have a lot of time on her Nook myself and am relying on watching my wife’s experiences and listening to her comments about it. I probably won’t got to spend too much time on her’s and unless we go out and buy one for me. I am simply the tech that gets called when she needs to figure out the Barnes & Noble to PC or Nook to PC issues.

Learning Curve

While there is a learning curve to using the Nook, it is not very steep. My wife learned how to use the Nook with very little input from me (at her work she was considered the go to tech person before she retired), so it is intuitive to use after you use it for a little while. When I have been able to touch it, I found it very easy to use and the touch screen very responsive.

Readability

My wife is a prolific reader who goes through 4-7 books a week, so her Nook Color has had several hours of reading time on it since January.  From looking at her reading habits she has gone from someone who hated reading eBooks on the computer to reading over 50% of what she reads on the Nook. One of the concerns that we had was how the Nook Color would be on her eyes, she is on it 3-6 hours a day with no negative effects. She loves the portability and that she doesn’t have to “hold” the book open and turns the page with just a flick. That is a huge paradigm shift for someone who said that she wasn’t sure if she would like an “electronic” book, when we discussed getting it for her for Christmas. I found images very sharp and clear and the words were easy to read.

Book Lending

One of the things that she had to learn was the process for lending books from the Maine State Library. It is just cheaper to borrow a book than having to buy one all the time and it a lot more convenient (especially during the winter) to have a book delivered electronically than driving to the library.  At first it was a bit of a convoluted process to learn and we had to download Adobe Digital Editions for the PC, but now that she has the process down cold, she has borrowed several books from the Library and is on the waiting list for several others.

Other

Besides reading, she is beginning to use her Nook to search for stuff on the Internet and plays games like Sudoko on it. As she becomes more and more familiar with the Nook, she is using it for other functions beyond it being only an eBook reader.

Concerns

Some minor things that she has complained about is the actual battery life – which on her unit tops out at about 3 hours of straight reading before having to plugin or recharge. So the battery life is not as good as advertised, but is very acceptable.  Another thing about plugging in – the power cord is simply not that long and makes it inconvenient when you have to plugin.

You just have to remember if you have Barnes & Noble gift cards to activate them to your Nook account otherwise your purchases will be charged to your credit card, B&N doesn’t give the option when ordering a book to simply add in a gift card. We had some confusion on this issue at first and found out that you can only have three gift cards activated on your account at a time, which can be an inconvenience if you have received a lot of cards as gifts.

The Reality is that

My wife loves her Nook Color and one day soon when she isn’t around the house, I am going to sit down and really spend an afternoon playing around with it. So I can make some decisions this summer about whether I want or need one for myself or do I just stay with my MacBookPro (either way I win).
I thought with Mother’s Day coming up and Barnes & Noble new advertising campaign, that you might be interested in how my wife likes her Nook Color after using it for the past four months.

Final recommendation – she loves it.

4.5 out of 5

PDF on a Mac – Apple’s Preview Review

ONE of my big concerns when I first moved to the Mac a year and a half ago, was what I would do for a Portable Document File (PDF) reader. I just never really liked Adobe’s PDF Reader and had looked for several years for an alternate for my PC.  I tried several others before I eventually chose Nitro PDF Professional as my PDF software.  However, Nitro is not available for the Mac and from what I knew at the time Adobe Reader was the only PDF software for the Mac and I used it for the first three months or so.

Boy was I in for a surprise when my tech integrator heard me complaining about not being able to fill in a PDF form and a couple of other complaints. She just said why don’t you use Preview.  I didn’t know what she was talking about, I thought the only thing Preview did was preview documents from my email.  I WAS WRONG.

PREVIEW IS MUCH MORE

Pages is a one of the programs that comes with the Apple Operating System and there really is not an effort from Apple to promote this product or what it does.  When I first started using Preview, I went to Apple.com and didn’t find a lot of information about it there.

I found out that Pages does a lot more than just Preview documents and pictures in an email. I think part of my problem initially when I bought my Mac about this software was the name – Preview. Especially when it does so much more than what the name indicates that it does.

So what does it do?

PDF Reader

Preview reads PDF’s like a charm, it opens large documents quickly and is able to Annotate (add text, highlight, add arrows).  It does everything that I need or expect PDF reader software to do.
The one thing I don’t like is that when you bookmark in a large document, it is not just for that document, it holds all of your  that you have made from any document. Which is a pain, if you have made multiple bookmarks in a lot of different documents.  If there is a way to change the settings so that it only bookmarks for a single document I haven’t found it yet, so if there is a way to do this please let me know.
With a Mac’s ability to “print” to PDF and the number of PDFs that others create, I use the PDF function of Preview daily for class and personal use.  So far I haven’t been disappointed with how Preview performs.

Preview Documents/Pictures

When looking at a file on my desktop (or elsewhere), in Apple Mail or Safari I can “preview” read or view a document/picture.  This way I do not have to actually open it up using a word processor or photo software, which saves time and allows me to decide quickly whether I need or want to save something to my laptop.  I use it quite often, almost daily.

Import From a Scanner

This is a function that I really didn’t think that I would use that much, but over the past year when I need to fire up my scanner for class or to scan a document at home, it is the software I open to use them? It is a simple interface and I have gotten accustomed to how it functions. The best thing is I don’t have to load or figure how to use each scanner that I am scanning documents or pictures from, I simply plug in and start scanning and I haven’t had any issues with the five scanners that I have tried so far.

Take a Screen Shot

I use this from time to time, but it is not a primary function that I use Preview for. It is inconvenient to quickly get to it, which is what I want from a screen shot program, but it is a function that can be used. Actually this is a part of the program that if they left it out in the next update, I don’t really think that too many people would notice that it wasn’t an option any longer and eliminate some code.  There are simply too many other choices that are quicker and easier to use i.e. Skitch, Jing, etc. for desktop screen capture tools and all the browser based screen shot applications that meet my needs better.

Picture Editing

Some very basic picture editing and resizing, but it does leave the image pixalated if you attempt to resize too far in either direction.

The reality is

that I use Preview almost daily and that I deleted Adobe Reader off my MacBook last summer and haven’t missed at all. Preview does what I want from a PDF reader software and more. The only things that come to mind as far what I would like to see included in Preview; would be the ability to add a digital signature to a document and limit bookmarks to the document you set the bookmark for. Otherwise as the Apple saying goes “it just works” for me.

Recommendation

Personally, I don’t use any other PDF reader for my Mac and not having to load and figure out different software for whatever scanner I am using is an added benefit.  Preview has met my needs and I use some of the other little features, that just seem to come in handy, sort of like a Swiss Army knife.
I personally use Preview daily and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that others use it.

I give it a 4 of 5.

Special Ed and AYP – Does Not Compute

So it begins here in Maine, a high performing school from a higher income community meets all the NCLB requirements to meet AYP in all regards, except for their Special Education students. Who caused the entire school to not meet the NCLB guidelines and be considered a failing school.

Falmouth Elementary school fails to meet federal standards | The Forecaster –

“For the first time, a Falmouth school did not meet adequate yearly progress required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The third and fourth grades at Plummer-Motz School failed to meet the standard for the 2010-2011 school year, based on testing in the fall of 2010.

“We didn’t make AYP with students with disabilities,” said Lunt School teacher Joy Halligan, who put together the district report cards and Title 1 reports with a small group of other teachers.”

Read the link to read the entire article:  Falmouth elementary school fails to meet federal standards | The Forecaster.

I am no doubt biased as a Special Educator in a different district after reading this article, but I can read between the lines and hear if not for “those” special ed students we would have made AYP.  This article was in the local Falmouth paper and simply put the “facts” of their local school “failing” on the table.

But I have to ask how will those Special Education students feel when it is “pointed” out to them by their classmates that their school failed because of them? How their parents will respond when other parents start talking about how it is the Special Education students fault that their school failed? How will Special Education teachers respond to their peer’s “kind” comments. How will administrators respond to the negativity that the Special Education department and students will have as a result of “their” failure?

In the final paragraph the paper states that the

“The Special Education Department “is definitely looking at all kinds of ways to improve this,” Halligan said.”

Yes the Special Education there and in other communities will be under tremendous pressure to teach the Special Education students how to pass these “standardized tests”.  The paper does not discuss how previous testing accommodations or modification that were appropriate in the MEA standardized tests are no longer allowed in the NECAP standardized assessments, which decreased Special Education students scores even further than they were in the past. How will those standardized test requirements to meet proficiency on this test, meet the individual needs that those students have in their Individual Education Plan.  Who wins and who looses? Which is more important the student’s needs or the school’s need to meet AYP, is there a middle ground?

Think about the differences between the words:

  • Standardized
  • Individualized

There is a huge difference between the two and they are both are key to laws that schools have to apply to Special Education students, but which one has precedence? It sure does look like the standardized testing requirements of NCLB are taking precedence over the Individualized Education Plans of the IDEA in today’s world.

It seems to me that Special Education students are in Special Education for a reason, their other formal standardized test scores already say that many of them are not at or near grade level expectations and may never reach grade level and yet our present educational system is penalizing them.  Great system – yeah right.

The theory behind having Special Education students included in the scores was so that they will not be “neglected” or “forgotten” and that their instruction will become more rigorous and that the students and their teachers will receive more resources to see that they meet the grade level standardized tests if their scores affected the whole school.

This was the theory behind the requirement, but what is the reality of this double-edged requirement? Are Special Education students receiving the resources they need to make dramatic educational improvements to meet grade level proficiency standards on these required standardized tests?  I really don’t know, but I am not optimistic that it is happening in enough school systems or that something a little more likely is an unrealistic requirement for many of our Special Education students.

Which raises the question (that has been asked ever since NCLB was passed) if a student has been identified meeting the eligibility requirements for Special Education services, how difficult is it for them to achieve the required dramatic academic growth, needed to meet standardized grade level expectations from those students.  Whose formal evaluations have already shown them to be well below grade level?

This is the question that is being answered now, as the AYP standards are raised and Special Education student’s scores are not improving at a sufficient rate to meet the artificial standards, which is in turn “causing” schools to fail.

The public better get used to this kind of newspaper report on their local public school systems, no matter what kind socio-economic area,  it might be located in and be prepared for the consequences of what NCLB is doing to our educational system.  Which requires 100% of their students to meet the grade level proficiency on standardized tests by then by 2014 – a statistical impossibility that has been discussed ad nauseum since the law was passed and nothing has been done about it.  It almost seems like a certain part of our educational system or others want our public schools to be labelled as “failing”. If so that is a scary thought and what is their agenda.

However, these so-called failing public schools will not really be all that different than they were before or are today, when they were considered a successful school, it was  just that they couldn’t continue to meet the unrealistic requirements of NCLB.

Yet another example of how NCLB is educating our students, but what are they teaching them, that is the question?

Week In Review – April Break

Mike’s Ural Motorcycle //

April break is over and I am getting ready to get back in school mode, but it was a successful break in my opinion.  I got a lot of things done that I needed to:

  • Got my MRI done.
  • Had lunch with my Father and Mary.
  • Had lunch with Mike and Hal.
  • Stayed up too late, too many nights watching the Red Sox play on the west coast.
  • Watched the Celtics take a 3-0 lead against the Knicks.
  • The Archery range is setup and useable if it ever stops raining.
  • Read two books
  • Neverworld by Neil Gaiman
  • Do The Work by Steven Pressfield
  • Figured out that I needed to keep “One Foot In Reality” as my primary blog and “My Thoughts too” as a more personal blog, for when I want to really be politically incorrect ;-).
  • Played enough NeverWinter Nights 2 to get my own keep.
  • Setup Opus Domini to try out as my electronic task manager & calendar shell.
  • Did a great deal of talking and reflecting on what comes next.
  • I ate healthy 90% of the time – the other 10% wasn’t too bad though.

I didn’t worry about getting my resume updated and moving my work history from OneNote to Evernote, but I will get to that sometime over the next couple of weeks. Just have to get on my wife’s laptop.

The one thing that I really didn’t do, was think too much about was school and education related stuff – well a little but… .  I needed to get away from the educational lifestyle and the immersion that educators do to themselves when school is in session. Today I have to get back into school mode – its gonna be tough, but its got to be done.

Enough about me and what happened over break, below are my top 5 posts for the last week based on pageviews:

1.  Mobile Me Review – March 2011
Mar 11, 2011
2.  NOOK COLOR – REVIEW JANUARY 2011
Jan 9, 2011
3.  Evernote as a Task Manager
Feb 19, 2011
4.  Why I Changed my Personal Blog
Apr 20, 2011
5.  Apple Text-to-Speech – Review January 2011
Feb 2, 2011

I am comfortable and very happy with last week, even if we didn’t go anywhere and I wasn’t “allowed” to do very much walking.  I am also very glad that I decided to come back and keep “One Foot In Reality” as my primary blog, instead of abandoning it, as I had originally planned at the start of the week, as I discussed in Yes – I Can Do The Work.

I want to thank everyone who stuck around and continued reading “One Foot In Reality” while I sorted out what I was doing with my blogs and tentatively made some other decisions as well.

YES – I Can Do The Work

Image representing Blogger as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase  //

I did a post on “Do The Work” and in it I touched upon some of the things that “Do The Work” made me stop and think about, because it did make me think. Especially about my writing and blogging experience and what I hope to accomplish in the future.

After reading the book and reviewing it, I have been doing a lot of reflection about what I read. Many parts of the book made me uncomfortable with myself.  “Do The Work” made me think of how I have almost purposely turned away from situations that could have potentially lead to some very successful opportunities, if I had been willing to “take the next step” or “do the work”.

Instead I have always stopped short of success, either:

  • I didn’t want it (whatever it was) bad enough or
  • I didn’t know why I wanted something.

These two questions are very important and need to be thought about clearly and answered before you go further along on any project or path you have chosen. I haven’t done that before, but I plan to from now on.

Looking back honestly, I can say that I have self-sabotaged myself all too often in many areas of my life, especially blogging. This is hard for me to say, I wanted to believe that the reason I have been a “blog butterfly” i.e. constantly changing blogs, blog hosts over the past 3 1/2 years and that these changes were done to learn all the different platforms out there.

When – if I am honest with myself, the real answer would be that I was being my own worst enemy.  Using Pressfield’s terminology I had allowed Resistance to get in my way and believed that I wasn’t good enough to get where or what I wanted – to be a writer and have a successful blog. I was always able to use the excuse this is a new blog, or I am trying something different this time, so I don’t have to worry about whether it could be considered successful or not and whether I was a writer or not.

To say that I have made mistakes would be an understatement, but I cannot change what I have done in the past, all I can do is look back at those mistakes and use them as learning opportunities, then look forward to what I can do differently in the future. I can do this now that I have acknowledged, what some others were seeing for myself, because I am now seeing it for myself.

Thank you Richard for being patient with me and now I know what you were trying to tell me, but I was too “thick headed” to understand.

So what can I do differently?  I have already started some things. After finishing the “Do The Work”, that night at around 11:00 P.M., I went ahead and looked back at “One Foot In Reality” which is my most successful blog to date, but which I had also decided to move away from earlier this month, for no good reason, other than Resistance was in control. I thought about what I didn’t like about One Foot In Reality and what I needed to do to bring it back to be my primary blog:

Problem 1. The theme – I have not been satisfied with the theme since I created it last August.

Solution: I searched the Internet and within 15 minutes had found one that I liked and with minimal work had it up and running on my blog. I still have some minor tweaking left to do on it, but the major parts of my blog theme are in place and I do like it. Almost a Karma thing.

Problem 2. Blogger Formatting – The difficulty getting any Blog editor/writer to format correctly to Blogger. The spacing between paragraphs is always screwed up and I get tired of spending needless time attempting to correct this simple formatting error – for some reason this just bothers the hell out of me.

Solution: Just be patient and not try use a different blog editor all the time, pick one and stay with it. So I picked Blogger’s stock editor because of the ease of integration with Zemanta and the “rumors” from Google that they have significantly changed/improved/updated Blogger and will be releasing those updates in the near future. In other words – let it go and stop sweating the small stuff.

Problem 3. Google Analytics – Never has worked correctly with One Foot In Reality (OFIR) and when I tried to fix it, nothing seemed to work right. It became less of an issue when Blogger came out with their Stats package, but still I wanted OFIR to work correctly with Google Analytics.

Solution: Figure out what I was doing wrong, which I did yesterday and this morning I was able to access those stats for OFIR using Google Analytics.  I just needed to do a little research and put what I learned into practice.

Problem 4 The Focus:  This is probably the most important thing that reading “Do The Work” showed me that I needed to clarify and answer why I felt uncomfortable blogging certain topics on One Foot In Reality. (Why I blog will be a different post sometime this week). I needed to figure out “What is the focus of my blog?” In other posts I have stated that I didn’t feel comfortable posting more personal ideas and that One Foot In Reality was my professional blog. Looking back, that was a bunch of crap and was just an excuse that I used to justify leaving One Foot In Reality.

When I think back to why I chose the name “One Foot In Reality” and my tagline “while the rest of me searches for a better way” was to focus on the reality in education, but since I created this blog I have changed and grown in different directions

Solution: I need to make “One Foot In Reality” flexible enough to write about what ever I want or need to write about. Therefore:

The focus of One Foot In Reality will be about my transformation as a person; the tools that I try or use; what I do for work or pleasure; my personal beliefs and how all these things can and do change.

I think that reading “Do The Work” was a paradigm shift for me, in regards to my future as a writer and blogger and will also make me look at some other parts of my life a bit differently than I have in the past. Thank you Steven Pressfield for making me think about my reactions to Resistance and how they have affected me, even though it was not an enjoyable ride, having to honestly look at things I have done in the past and not liking what I saw there.

By the way – I am becoming a writer and yes I will be improving in the craft I have chosen to participate in. Where it will take me I do not know as yet, but I know that I can “Do The Work” and that I will blog about it.

April Break is Over

Rural school children, San Augustine County, T...

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

Today is Saturday and April Break officially ended yesterday and I need to get back into school mode. In other words: correct papers, update my grade book in Infinite Campus, do the research on what I am going to do, prepare lesson plans, prepare my weekly plan, print-out what is needed, to get ready for next week. Then go in Monday and start the stretch run to the last day of school for this year.

Bah humbug. I could very easily get used to the life style that I lived last week. No external deadlines, except for the ones that the wife has for me or that I make, not having to be someplace or do things that I don’t really want to do and not having to get up at 5:00 A.M. every morning. It wasn’t perfect, but I know that my stress level went down considerably, I ate a lot better (maybe too much better) and I was able to relax and figure out a lot of things that were bothering me.

I hear so many people say that you would get bored if you didn’t have to go to work – that is a crock of B.S. with capital letters.

That is just the Puritan work ethic propaganda to make people believe that sitting around doing what you want is a sin. I have already retired once and sometime in the next 1-5 years will do it again and start enjoying my life beyond the daily grind. Actually I have a feeling that between the honey-doo list and writing, getting involved in local issues, that I would be working just as hard as I am now, but only do it for myself on things that I want to do, instead of for someone else at their direction and schedule.

Can’t you tell that I am very excited to start getting ready for school next week.

Oh well, time to get started. Am I whining yet — yes I am.  🙂

Have you started preparing for next week yet?

Do The Work Review

Amazon.com //

I subscribed to Seth Godin’s The Domino Project back in March, which offered a free download of Steven Pressfield’s “Do The Work – Overcome Resistance and get out of your own way”. It was offered as an advance sale item for free as a download on Amazon’s Kindle – I don’t have a Kindle so I used the Mac Desktop Version which worked like a charm.

I like Seth Godin’s blog and I have read it pretty much since I discovered blogging. So I figured that if he was recommending Pressfield’s writing this highly, it would be something worth reading.

When I started reading “Do The Work”, I was immediately struck by the conversational tone of the book and how quickly I was moving through it. Actually I finished the book in just under two hours and found it to be insightful. It also did something that I really didn’t like at times, “Do The Work” made me stop and reflect on things that I have done and what I did recently that self-sabotaged my efforts towards being more successful as a blogger. More about that later.

The book itself doesn’t pull any punches and can be rather blunt. Pressfield says this about Resistance:  “Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.” (Kindle Location 114). The language can be colorful or offensive once in a while, dependent upon your views of that kind of language. Personally, being an old sailor, I just found the language colorful and in my opinion when it was used, it was to emphasize a point, not gratuitously.

Pressfield stated “Get your idea down on paper. You can always tweak it later.” (Kindle Location 276) This is so very true I can think of how many times I have dithered and procrastinated getting started on something, instead of just sitting down and doing it and then going back to fix what I get done.

In Kindle Location 356 he states “Research can be fun. It can be seductive. That’s its danger. We need it, we love it. But we must never forget that research can become Resistance.” Sometime or should I say often, this is a problem that I can have, I get so caught up looking for stuff to write about, that I don’t write about anything. The seductive call of the Internet and finding just too damn many “rabbit holes” to crawl around in, stops me from getting things done far too often.

One of the bigger things that I got out of reading this book is this quote: “In writing “action” means putting words on paper. “Reflection” means evaluating what we have on paper.” Another problem that I have when I write is that I am always seem to be evaluating what I am writing as I write instead of just going with the flow and not worrying about spelling, grammar, formatting and all that other stuff that the English teacher in me wants to look at, but interrupts what I am writing about. When I go to correct something, I lose track of what I was going to write. This is something that I need to work on, but it is very hard for me to do.

I liked the way he explained his Six Principles of Resistance and his two test questions:

Test Number One – “How bad do you want it?
Test Number Two – “Why do you want it?

Then when I came on this at (Kindle Location 677)

“Our greatest fear is fear of success. When we are succeeding – that is, when we have begun to overcome our self-doubt and self-sabotage, when we are advancing in our craft and evolving to a higher level – that when panic strikes.”

The combination of those two parts of the book really stopped and made me think about how I have let Resistance defeat me in some of my past projects and almost defeated me with respect to One Foot In Reality. I had reached a point earlier this month, where I was going to give up writing on One Foot In Reality, just when it was starting to be somewhat successful. This section of the book made me stop and reflect about what I was actually doing with my blog and why I was abandoning it.

“Do The Work” made me stop and think about what I need to do and do differently as a writer, because I am becoming one – slowly – but surely. I have to figure out “How bad do I want it and why do I want it?” Also I am going to add one more “What am I willing to do to be more successful?” Those are questions I have to answer.

I am glad that I took the time to read “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield, at times it seemed as though he was writing directly for me and my needs to improve as a writer. His book made me stop and think about what I was doing with my own blog “One Foot In Reality”. I finally had a name for what I was unconsciously doing, I was letting Resistance take control of the path that I was choosing. You know the easy one, where you stop and just start over again with a different blog or don’t complete a project you have undertaken – as I have done in the past with my other blogs. Instead of staying in there and working hard to make a success of something that I had created or started. This time I am going stay in there and keep trying to make my blog more successful and get out of my own way.

If you are a writer, an artist or just someone who needs is having a difficult time finishing a project or are giving in to Resistance, “Do The Work” is a book well worth reading and will make you think about what you are actually doing.

4 out of 5 stars.

What have you done to make a difference today?

Goodbye Flock

I find this notice more than a little sad. I had heard that support for Flock was going away, but until today, I didn’t realize that it would be so soon. I used Flock as my primary browser for almost a year and then off and on after that. I liked how it worked, but it just got left behind in the browser wars.

Flock had a really good idea and a great user interface, however, it just could not keep up with improvements from other browsers.  I wish the Flock Team well in their future endeavors and will have fond memories of when I did use it (much to the chagrin of some IT types who worked for the State).
Harold

What have you done to make a difference today?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.A