Tag Archives: Purpose

Time Well Spent

Reading.  Time reading is never ill spent, even if I’m not too fond of whatever I happen to be reading.  Reading is a wonderful way to pass the time, to feed your mind, to learn, to escape…  Even if I manage to forget much what I read, it was still time spent well.

 

My former mother-in-law thought time reading in the middle of the day was just about the most decadent thing ever.  A person who was doing – cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc. – was spending time wisely.  Reading wasn’t doing in her book.  (And don’t even mention napping.)  I do agree with her that doing is productive.  But reading is productive as well.

DSC03769

Productive.  To produce, create, generate.  Time well spent should produce something.

 

I’ve mentioned here before that I am terrible when it comes to planning for myself.  Many weekends I wind up irritated with myself because I didn’t plan for this time away from work.  Plan to get things done, or plan for a little bit of fun.  I ask myself if those weekend hours are then time well spent?  At the end of each day I can point to ways that I was productive, though some of it repetitively so.  Such as errands and laundry, cleaning.

 

Work hours can be just as confusing when asking whether we are productive – if I got things done, but not necessarily the things that I expected to do, was it time well spent?  Was I productive?  What if you did exactly what you expected to do but didn’t get the result that you expected?  Was that time well spent, was it productive?

 

So much to do, so little time.  The time that we get here is finite, spend it wisely.  But was is time spent well when there is so much to do?

 

Reading.  I’ll spend more time reading and think about this more later.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Strangeness of Ordinary

The litany of ills and travails – big and small, natural, geo-political, economic – seems to be unusually long around the globe right now.  Many people in many parts of the world are steeped in or trying to fend off chaos, their ordinary life set aside for the time being.  But plenty of other segments and corners of the populated world go about their ordinary business day after day and only encounter the chaos when they access the news.

 

Does that seem a bit strange to you?  While the main part of my mind is keeping track of my appointments, facilitating tasks at work, planning and cleaning and ticking through my days another part is contrasting my regular schedule against the topsy-turvy days of all the people affected by these various storms (manmade and natural).  And wondering how these people that I don’t know are coping.

 

It is back to school season and I see the effect at the school across the street as I leave for work.  My company supplies products to schools which means that we are quite hectic these days.  But aside from some people having flooded basements thanks to all the rain, or difficulty getting in to the office for the same reason we are all going through actions that we have done for ages, routine.

 

I do know someone whose son was evacuated from Liberia due the Ebola outbreak but that is as close as I personally come to most of the turmoil.  How about you?  Do you have relatives in Ukraine or Israel or Syria or Ferguson, MS or…

 

August 2013 Political Map, credit Wikipedia

August 2013 Political Map, credit Wikipedia

The world is a big place and it has always been true that there will be turmoil here and there and normal life will occur everywhere else.  Routine is annoying, but also comfort.  A seismic shift – either literal or not – that removes a person, a group, or a whole region from the ordinary usually seems to happen elsewhere.  Until it doesn’t.  Most of the time ordinary is just that, but every once in a while there is such a spike of chaotic activity, or the chaos hits too close to home, that ordinary seems rather strange.

 

I remember my first jolt of the strangeness of ordinary.  We were all called together because my grandmother was not doing well, but when I woke up the next morning at my uncle’s house and heard laughter downstairs I believed that she must have made it through the night.  Until my dad came up to tell us that she hadn’t.  How could they have been laughing?

 

I used the phrase ‘seismic shift’ earlier in this post because I have experienced real earthquakes, including a major one, and it is quite disorienting to have the ground beneath your feet move violently.  To see the damage that an earthquake can wreak up close.  The mind can’t quite take it in.

 

Knowing that disquiet I can’t decide if it is right to carry on normally or that there is great strangeness in the ordinary.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Things I did Instead

I have a post that I have been working on for the past couple of days, but it isn’t ready to show yet.  I have other half done posts that aren’t even that close and time says it is up, post time is at hand.  Crap.

 

How many others have sat down to write today’s blog post and noodled on one thing until it petered out, and then fiddled with another until it seemed garbled?  How often have you stared at the screen for a little bit and thought about how you got farther today than yesterday when you didn’t even bother to open up a new post and stare at the screen?

public domain image

public domain image

 

When writing isn’t happening, eventually I stand up and wander about the house and:

  • Clean the tracks on the shower stall and the tracks on the sliding door
  • Water the indoor plants
  • Take inventory of the kitchen and bathroom for a grocery list
  • Pull out the lambswool tool and get rid of cobwebs
  • Go for a walk (and I’m even nice enough to bring my son’s dog along)
  • Collect quotes cut out from various magazines that have appealed to me and put them in the book that I keep for that purpose
  • Go through the pile of mail, flyers and papers that breed on the table
  • Ponder what to make to use up the 2 overripe bananas on the counter
  • Watch Sneakers or other dated, but still entertaining movies
  • Thought about going out to get plants for my 2 hanging baskets but then realized that wouldn’t appear to be writing in the slightest

 

And this is the post that you get today.  What do you get done when you are ‘writing’?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Rule Bound

Where do you stand on the role that rules play in life? Do rules create valid boundaries for protection of yourself, others, property?  Do rules hinder you from doing what you really want to do?  Do they offer guidelines?  Is the rule the most important thing, what the rule is meant to safeguard, or is it the spirit of the rule?  Do you think that rules should have a shelf-life, come up for periodic review?

 

I know people for whom rules are a means to an end.  The rules are to be applied or ignored in whatever fashion necessary to achieve the goal.  Perhaps sometimes just bent or loosely interpreted.  Creative thinking is liberally applied.

 

I know people for whom the rule is the ultimate.  The letter of the rule, the face of it – each rule stitched together with all of the others to provide these people with the comfort to get through all the moments of life.  No creative thinking necessary.

 

And I know plenty of people of varying stripes between these opposites.  And some who don’t seem to think much about rules one way or the other.

 

photo credit: Wikipedia

photo credit: Wikipedia

It couldn’t have been long after people started to congregate that it became clear that some sort of standard was necessary.  Rules were born.  And they can be found in nature – plants and animals have them.  Do this, don’t do that.

 

Rules serve a purpose except when there are rules for the sake of rules.  They help to create commonality and structure.  But they can and should be examined for validity.  (Old laws on the books can be very odd, and sometimes hilarious.)

 

I used to tell my boys that if they thought any of my rules didn’t make sense, they should tell me.  Along with why.  Scoffing at a rule is easy, but putting together a compelling argument why the rule should be removed or changed is important.

 

It comes down to one of my favorite questions – what is the intent?  If the intent isn’t clear, well hmmm….  But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is ok to ignore or flaunt the rule.

 

How are the bindings on the rules around you?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Here You Go

Problem solving has been an important part of my job description for as long as I can remember.  I like to put on the detective hat and sift through things to find the parts that are important, put them together in the right configuration and arrive at a solution.  Sometimes it’s pretty straightforward to figure out and sometimes plenty about the situation is a bit ambiguous.

 

There is one thing about problem solving that got old a long time ago, but is part and parcel of the problem solver’s lot in my experience.  It is the person who makes it a habit to hand over partial information, or fragments here and there in multiple email or phone messages.  They want you to solve it, but they can’t be bothered to try to put anything together in any sort of cohesive single place.

 

public domain image

public domain image

I’ll take the person who isn’t sure what they want or need kind of problem over the person who dumps a mess every time.  Most times.  Every once in a while I use the big mess as an excuse to be left alone to puzzle it all into something coherent.  But mostly I see it as a different facet of rude.  That person’s time is more important than mine.  (Though I concede that there may be other ways of looking at it…)

 

Sigh.  Focus on the boost that I hope to get upon resolution and not on the drudgery of slogging through the junk. This is why there are stories of the really good stuff one can find hidden in junk.  Think of ways to prevent the junk dump from repeat offenders.  Get caught up in the chase for the best solution.

 

Don’t be a here you go, dump and run person.  Please.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Waiting Patiently, Part 1

We decided to try our hands at a bit of vegetable and herb gardening again this year after a several year hiatus.  We just got a few things and put them in pots because I still haven’t settled on a ‘landscape design’ for the back yard.  (There is the one in my dreams that includes a 3 season room/conservatory, a patio, a beautiful new fence and award winning plantings…)  The last time I tried to raise a tomato plant I put it on the west side of the house and it got burnt and spindly and we managed to reap a single tomato from the poor thing before it became compost.

 

I think that I’ve learned a bit since then.  We’ll see if I have learned enough.  Now our tomato plants live on the south side of the house and are currently full of promise – about 18 tomatoes are developing between the two plants.  We also have peppers, mint and oregano.  We had basil, but a random wind burst blew a chair onto it and now it is in the process of dying.

 

We are already realizing that the herb books we possess have gaps – like when and how to harvest.  Perhaps the writer assumes we know this part…  In which case he or she is wrong.

 

I am enamored of the idea of gardening – decorative and produce.  I have a stack of gardening books that I look at and reference periodically, some practical and some fanciful.  Reading about our founding father’s deep interest in gardening, as gentlemen gardeners I realized that is around my level.  I want to talk about it, think about it, enjoy it and just occasionally do the heavy parts.  Plant something here, pull a weed there, rely upon thick layers of mulch to prevent weeds and help retain moisture.  Unfortunately I don’t have the financial resources to pull off this sort of gardening.

 

Watering is a Zen activity that falls happily in my version of gardening.  Some days the plants have to wait patiently while I participate in other activities and interests, though.

DSC03847

Gardening is perfectly suited to the acquisition of knowledge – it is forgiving of novice mistakes if you start slowly and allow for changes in plans.  Gardening is helping me to practice the patience that I have mostly lacked in other parts and earlier stages of my life.

 

You’ll have to excuse me now, I feel the need to go take a tour through the yard.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Why Write?

I was raised to think, not just do.  This thing happened to me, mom.  Why do you think it happened like that?  What can you do about it?  The balance is to think and then do, or you get analysis paralysis.

 

This is at least the third version of a piece that I revisit periodically ever since I stumbled upon this exercise.  The first version was read by me and the person at Poets and Writers magazine who rejected the submission.  The second was posted on my original blog as Why I Write.  It seems like every other person is a frustrated writer these days.  Some people are attracted by the potential for fast money, so it behooves those of us who persist at the craft to think about why we do what we do.  And since we are writers, thinking usually means writing.

 

Writing is permanence in a disposable world.  Committing words to paper – electronic or actual – requires a bit of thought beyond letting them spill from your mouth and moving on.  Which doesn’t mean that a writer can’t do the written version of misspeaking, mind you.  That’s why we need editors.

 

For every attempted act of communication there is equal opportunity for misunderstanding and discord as there is for understanding and agreement.  Written communication allows the opportunity for more deliberate consideration of intent and word choice to appeal to the ideal audience.

 

We learn very early, probably as our first conscious thought, that we have to figure out how to communicate.  Our needs are simple but urgent – food, sleep, a fresh diaper.  But babies have little means to get their point across and then they start to decode the sounds that they hear as words with attached generally accepted meanings.  Ah, communication begins.

 

We spend the rest of our lives communicating, whether we actively think about it or not.  Most often through oral communication, but we have to learn that pesky written part too.  (It is fascinating that for as many people who claim interest in writing, a large number of people groan at the idea of using writing as a means to communicate in business.)

 

Spoken words can fade in the memory, or morph into something entirely else than originally intended but written down they can become information that can be referenced again and again.  Imagine being given multi-step instructions verbally and then having to recall step 6 or so, some time later.  If you have this ability, I applaud you.  I can create a mental list of 4-5 things that I need at the store, recite it all the way and only manage to remember that there were supposed to be 4-5 things in my basket when I actually get to the store.

 

The act of writing, itself, helps the brain to remember the point more clearly.  This is why we are taught to take notes in school.  Typing the thing has some power, but not nearly the power as picking up a pencil or pen and putting it to paper.

 

public domain image

public domain image

Written communication reaches more people with exactly the same message than through word of mouth.  (Remember the game of telephone?)  This doesn’t mean that the message will be interpreted the same by all recipients, but at least it was the same message at the beginning.

 

I wasn’t sure what would come out when I decided to revisit this topic today, it appears to be more general and less personal than the other efforts.  Who knows how it will turn out next time.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Unintentional Teamwork

Not only is it still allergy season for me, I am getting over a summer cold therefore I had facial tissues on my store list.  The smaller cube shaped boxes fit well in my bathroom and I was down to my last box.

 

There I stood facing the industrial shelving that holds the paper goods, staring at the several feet of empty space between me and the store brand facial tissue cubes arrayed at the very back.  How helpful.  I looked over at the name brand cubes to my left – of course quite handy.  I looked at the full sized boxes to my right and was quite pleased to see that there was a full selection of the 3 ply version for my main bathroom.  I grabbed a few.  And went back to staring at my intended cubes about five feet from my nose.

 

A woman about my own age came up behind me.  “Did you need some of those?”  She pointed at those cubes.  “Yes, I am considering my options.”

 

I had considered scaling the rack and also going in search of a long stick – say a broom a couple of aisles over.  She clearly had the same thought, disappeared for a moment and came back with a fly swatter.  Smart woman, she leaned in on the shelf below and started to tease the cubes forward.  I looked at her arm-span and offered to help since mine is greater.  The two of us worked in tandem and managed to pull 6-8 cubes forward.

 

public domain image

public domain image

Only to find that they were the kind with lotion.  Drat.  Ingenuity thwarted by the store’s buyer who clearly overbought this kind instead of the plain old ones that we were both after.  We walked our separate ways empty handed.

 

I don’t know if she meant to work together or just get me out of her way so she could achieve her own goal.  I walked away thinking that while ultimately disappointed in my main goal, it had been energizing to work together with this stranger to overcome that obstacle.

 

Facial tissue cubes are still on my store list for this week.  I wonder what will happen?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Lack of Possession that Killed the Impression

I’ve never claimed to be a grammarian.  My time as an English major was spent reading literature, not parsing sentence structure.  (Though a tortured sentence could make my enjoyment of any story come to a screeching halt.)  Spelling, now – I used to be pretty good at correct spelling until Microsoft Word made me a little soft.  (It’s my fingers that can’t spell, not my brain – really – they get a lot of little squiggly red lines.)

 

The most basic point of decent grammar and spelling are to create common understanding so that we can communicate.  Given that, I suppose my grammar is sound enough due to all the practice of reading and writing, just don’t ask me much beyond explaining nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives.  I base most of my grammar judgment in how a sentence or phrase sounds when I read it out loud.  (A trick I highly recommend before you send out that message to anyone whose opinion matters.)

 

I am still doing much better than some people.  Such as those who never grasped the important task that the apostrophe holds in showing possession.  This must be why we had to do pages and pages of Bill’s dog and Laura’s pencil ad nauseam and still too many people might call this Beths blog as if it were written by numerous people named Beth.  (Clearly they don’t do their typing on Microsoft Word because I just had to tell it to ignore Beths.)

 

public domain image

public domain image

And since I brought up their – more possession – it shouldn’t be confused with they’re there, as in they are there in that moment to understand their proper usage.

 

Maybe in this world of text speak and informal interaction it isn’t as important to make the proper spelling and grammatical impression.  But maybe it is – if you want the job, or the grade, or to show your erudition.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Lazy Days of Summer?

I regularly read Mary Schmich’s column in the Chicago Tribune and one of her frequent themes is to remind herself and all readers as well to enjoy these brief summer days.  Despite a hefty work schedule that no longer breaks for the summer months.  It is so easy as we dash from air conditioned house to air conditioned car to air conditioned office to air conditioned store to air conditioned house to completely miss summer.   But we really earned this summer after the winter we just had.

 

summer is getting ready to burst open like this peony

summer is getting ready to burst open like this peony

I have been watching all of the plants come out of their dormancy, unfurling their leaves and sending out new shoots.  I enjoy the return of the leaf canopy on the streets that I normally drive (except my own which has been devastated by the Emerald Ash Borer, where all the trees sadly await a saw.)   I take in the changes of plantings as the dog and I walk our usual routes.

 

It is my intention to choose the patio option more often this summer when out with friends or family and enjoy the breeze, the rustling in the trees and the play of light.  (And try to stay in the shade.)  I’ve already managed to do this twice, which is a good start.  When meeting up with friends, I hope we pick outdoor options more – open air concerts are offered by several entities as one choice.

 

I need to dig out some of Mary’s old columns that I have kept to check for some of her suggestions.  I remember one had something to do with a stack of notecards, one for every summer day, and as the day ended she would jot down a summer-specific activity that she accomplished that day and move the card to a new pile.  As summer progressed the pile of blank cards shrank and the filled cards grew.  It is a nice visual way not to let the days of summer slip past unknowingly.

 

How will you enjoy a lazy day or two or three of summer?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Sarcastic Muse

Writing. Information. Inspiration. Sarcasm guaranteed.

Stefanie O'Connell

Just another WordPress.com site

Retirement - Only the Beginning

Retirement Planning Beyond Financial

Voices In His Head

Recognized as Blog Of The Year! (unfortunately, it was given the year 1910, the start of the Great Depression)

O at the Edges

Musings on poetry, language, perception, numbers, food, and anything else that slips through the cracks.

Chicago Guy 14

Chicago's Street Corner Spirits

BAReed Writing, Business Writing

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Dancing Beastie

Seasonal living in a Scottish castle

The Middlest Sister

There are 5 sisters. She's the middlest.

American Oz

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Blog to Work

Blogging your way to a job.

rarasaur

frightfully wondrous things happen here.

somanyblogssolittletime.wordpress.com/

A good story can transform the way that you see the world.

Always The Write Time Blog

Ramblings and Rhetoric

The Art of Non-Conformity

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

xplorenorthshore

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Medievalists.net

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

The Creative Penn

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Gifts Of The Journey

The Fearless Pursuit Of A Life Worth Living

A Writer's Journal

Through The Glass Darkly

an interconnected life...

Discovering the threads that connect us, one story at a time.

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

animatingyourlife

A great WordPress.com site

Second Star to the Right

and straight on 'til morning

CAHOOTS

Success is meant to be shared

Bob Mayer

Write on the River

Farmlet

Living cheaply and richly on an acre in Puna, Hawaii

J T Weaver

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. — Dylan.

inspirationenergy

be inspired to greatness

Gen Y Girl

Twentysomething. Annoyed with corporate BS. Obsessed with Gen Y. Not bratty. Just opinionated.

Jenna Dee

....living with a following wind

David Gaughran

Marketing With A Story