Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
My mom says she invented pull-ups and mousse in her head before companies came out with them. This seems like a sticking point with her because of all the money she could have made.
I thought she was crazy, but I invented an Amazon.com based lending library in my head a year ago when I bought my boyfriend a kindle, and now they've gone and made one. Making money on this idea seems like a complicated process, so really I'm just excited that they finally did it (thanks for reading my mind Jeff Bezos, but seriously, from now on stay out of there), stoked to get a chance to use it, and desperate to find the money for an Amazon Prime membership.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Over the past year and a half I've set out to drastically and measurably improve my life. I read Unclutter Your Life in One Week, Getting Things Done, Writing Down the Bones, The Story of Stuff, The Total Money Makeover, The Joy of Less, The China Study, Garden Anywhere, Cesar's Way, and a plethora of cook books. I thought long and hard about what mattered to me and what didn't , and I worked hard to eliminate what didn't matter. I can honestly say that my life is more focused, fulfilling, and clutter free after this massive undertaking, and I am much happier with my life decisions and goals now than I was two years ago.
But honestly, it's taken me longer to get to this point than it should have. Some delays were out of my control: losing my apartment, a wet spring, my dogs getting into my food storage. Some things were my fault: not sticking to my debt reduction plan, accepting packaged food when I knew it wasn't what I really wanted, napping instead of writing. All of these factors aside though, the biggest delay in transforming my life into complete and utter awesomeness has been reading. That's right, reading.
You see, all the books listed above are the best in their category (at least in my opinion). I didn't learn that from fifteen minutes of amazon review research, or from trusted New York Times book critics. I believe these are the best books in their categories because I took the time to read at least a dozen books in each section. I've been so busy looking for the definite source for answers, the best way to do things, and the most comprehensive tome of knowledge that I've fairly frittered away the last year in searching for knowledge rather than employing it.
For example, after reading Garden Anywhere I had a quick burst of energy where I set up a compost bin and planted a few bulbs of garlic. Then eight months later I set about hauling mulch, pruning trees, and planting vegetables. The interim was spent reading a stack of other gardening books as tall as I am. I invested days worth of time into gardening research, and all I realized was that aside from Garden Anywhere, One Magic Square was really the only other gardening book worth reading.
I like to keep up on reviews, recommendations, and preferred reading lists, so in many of the categories the first book I read was the best one. In the case of Getting Things Done and The Story of Stuff I had to dig a little before I found my numero uno choices for each category, but I was only three or four books in before I found the best one. (And I do realize how silly it is that it took me four books to discover Getting Things Done, but for all its market saturation and tried and true methods I had honestly never heard of it before I saw it on the library shelf and thought to myself, "hmm, that guy looks like he's happy with his life, and I could use some coaching on how to get things done".) I'm sure that no matter what topic you're interested in, with only a little effort--half an hour or less--you can find the best resource for your field and toss all the other options out the window. But no matter how quickly I found my favorite book, I still kept looking for others.
I think this comes in part from the urge to buy new creative materials, rather than work with the ones you have. I know from experience that buying a new pen, notebook, or skein of yarn is much more fun than working with the stuff you have. The thing is though, buying new equipment is often a crappy substitute for doing the hard work it takes to be creative (disclaimer: I'm paraphrasing a quote I heard somewhere else. If I remember where I read this I'm happy to credit the person/genius robot who originally said it). Sure, a new notebook is pretty, but at the end of the day it doesn't really help me write better, and I'm out the money I spent on it. If you've carefully considered a purchase and are fairly certain it will improve your productivity, I say get it (I now know that Moleskines are the only notebooks for me), but if you're just trying to put off the perspiration of creation, then get your butt out of the store and back to your work-space.
I thought I'd mastered that concept a while ago, but it turns out that research can be just as insidious as shopping. I've spent hours online trying to find the very best chocolate syrup recipe, dog poop composting method, or e-reader. Even while writing this article I just took fifteen minutes to research Moleskine's new Star Wars special edition notebooks, when I really only needed to jump over to their site to make a quick hyperlink. Researching the best way to do something has become my new way of avoiding the hard work of actually doing it.
So I've decided that enough is enough; I want to spend my time doing, not just passively learning to do. I learned a lot reading about composting, but I learned even more by doing it. Same thing for knitting, organizing, cooking, training my dogs, and writing. I have two more months to reach my goals of a year and a half ago, and I'm determined to finish them. I'll still spend time on the internet reading interesting articles, but I want this to be comparable to the time I spend in the grocery store picking out my ingredients. Yes, it's good to find that perfectly ripe tomato, but at a certain point you just have to say, "Enough is enough, I've found a good tomato, now it's time to cook!"