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Lather, Rinse REPEAT. Staying Focused

The Zen version of me knows that:Life is a JourneyBut Actual-Me is hopelessly focused on:are we there So I’m not really a process-person.  I want to jump right to the finish- the finished product, the end of the book, I want to make the purchase not do the research.  You get the idea.

But my I want it NOW attitude (an approach which lead to the ill-advised Oompa Loompa acquisition of ’72) has not been serving me very well of late. There are lots of steps involved in running this business and I’ve been having trouble really keeping myself disciplined, on task and getting stuff done.

So I’ve adopted some strategies.

It’s so easy to let time slip away when part of your job is to look at other blog posts or scan Pinterest (or answer emails etc). I sit down fully intending to just to a couple of quick things and then BAM two hours have passed and I’m behind for the day.

So I’ve become very friendly with an old (and dusty) egg timer.egg timerI’ll confess I feel a bit like one of Pavlov’s dogs but this simple tool has had an wonderful effect.  If I set the timer for an hour. I’m going to work for a solid hour – no breaks, no wandering away -“just focus but only for an hour I tell myself.” It is AMAZING what I can accomplish in that hour and how energizing it is to “race against the clock.” Not “race” as in madly scurrying around stressing out but “race” as in move efficiently.

My second trick is podcasts.

My business is challenging and quite creative but there is A LOT of tedium – repetitive tasks that always seem daunting and certainly aren’t a lot of fun.

Coaster Back CuttingCutting Coaster BacksSealing Coasterstop coating coastersPainting Blockspainting tea light holdersBecause I have to actually look at what I’m doing having the TV on wont work. Listening to newscasts got a bit grim and music can only take me so far.

Podcasts to the Rescue!!!!

Free! Fascinating! Covering every aspect of life!

My current go-to’s are:

Pop Culture Happy Hour. It’s like hanging out with a group of smart, funny and perceptive friends who are all totally into the things that you are totally into. Books, movies, TV, music.

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (on itunes) – Always funny and (somewhat) educational.

This American Life Radio Archive – Fascinating stories

Crash Course: Really intense, short lessons in history, science and all kinds of stuff.  The teachers are waaaay over-caffeinated (and funny). They are excellent and often so over-packed with fast flying information that I have to listen to them twice.

School of Greatness – Lewis Howes is sort of a motivational speaker and his podcast has interviews with folks from all walks of life talking about success and their philosophies.  It can be very inspiring.

I find myself actually looking forward to the tedious tasks because I get to listen to the podcasts.

Do you have favorite podcasts? Tips for keeping yourself on task? If so please share them.

On a different note:

I’ve said before how very, very much I appreciate all your comments. I truly do.

I don’t’ often call out comments but I felt compelled to bring this one to the attention of a certain subset of my readers.

The lovely and incredibly insightful Tracey commented recently writing:

Wish……. that I was one of your sisters. You’re fun!

So you see it is as I have been saying for years to a certain subset of my readers: People are lining up to have me as their brother!

Please note that nowhere does the lovely and insightful Tracey use (nor seem to be contemplating using) phrases such as: “Obnoxious twerp,” “you were adopted” or “the mistake from the 60s”

I just wanted to point that out….to a certain subset of my readers.

OK, my timer just went off. It’s time for coasters and podcasts!

 

 

 

 

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About cheltenhamroad

I’ve been surrounded by amazingly creative people my whole life. My mom can, and does, make anything. The family has on occasion speculated that she just whipped up my dad one day when she discovered some left over fabric and stuffing. My three sisters have mad skills ranging from needlework to cooking to out and out ART. My father’s desk when I was growing up had a model train set going around it, oh, and he made that desk-from scratch. I’m the youngest and, as you can imagine, it’s a hard series of acts to follow. Truth be told, I’ve spent many, many years suppressing the creative instincts I learned at home. But I realized (rather late in life) that few things bring me more joy than making and creating. For the longest time when I went to stores I didn’t think, “I want that” I thought, “I can make that.” And, with a deep breath and a leap, I’ve started on a very new, kinda scary path. I’ve given up my steady, dependable (dull!) corporate life to spend my days happily humming away in my garage designing, creating, painting, decoupaging and sawing and, since this blog will be an honest take on things, there is also a fair amount of tripping, spilling and swearing. Through this blog I hope to share with you the struggles and (hopefully) triumphs of a very non-businessy business person. I also hope to make this blog a resource for people who like to work with their hands and who are, like me, always looking at things and thinking “I could make that!” I’ve lived many places since I left Cheltenham Road; I currently live in Los Angeles California. So, with this preamble- Welcome to Cheltenham Road! Please come on over and make yourself comfortable – the place is always open.

15 responses »

  1. Please elaborate on the Oompa Loompa acquisition!

    Reply
  2. Jackie @ Refurbished Goods

    Podcasts….brilliant!! Thanks for the tip.

    Reply
  3. Radiolab is my all-time favorite podcast. If you haven’t already given it a listen you should!

    Reply
  4. Of course, longer projects require audio books. Refinishing the garage door = Stranger in a Strange Land. Removing the ENAMEL stripes Phebe and my daughters lightheartedly and with gay abandon painted into their bedroom ceilings (Yes, that’s PLURAL) = Lisey’s Story (Steven King was very appropriate for that task!)…You get the picture.

    Reply
  5. At the risk of sounding like a panderer, I agree with anyone who would want you for a brother! You are creative, funny and supportive! All my blog-following friends think so too! Love the podcast idea and it will come in handy while I re-paint all the woodwork in my house! As an aside, however, mother never allowed us to call you a mistake (despite the obvious), I never suggested you were adopted (even though all your sisters have blue eyes and you have brown) and I don’t recall ever bringing twerp into the conversations. Twit, maybe, but never twerp…although I do now recall a certain figurine Mother kept on the kitchen windowsill that went by that name a looked a bit like you??? Love you, Phebe

    Reply
  6. I feel your pain. I’m the only girl with four brothers … all older. Yep, I know EXACTLY what you mean. There were good times though … like when they paid me to do all of their chores before Mom got home from work. Or then when they just paid me … to go away 🙂

    Reply
  7. Patcast (Pat Monahan from Train), and SmartBitchesTrashyBooks –you asked, doesn’t mean you have to like it.

    Yeah, I wouldn’t mind trading both of my brothers for you. lol.

    Denise

    Reply
  8. Funny must run in your family which is why I’d never make it. I get all your great jokes, but can’t make the first one myself that’s not lame, silly, or downright irrelevant (though I prefer to call the latter “obscure”). I was blessed with a hilarious brother myself, so, at least I grew up laughing! I tried podcasts in the past, but they got my mind too focused on them and I missed what I was doing. Now I just prefer silence or Govi when I’m doing repetitive stuff–helps me think. 🙂 I love your egg timer idea!! I have a timer on my computer (Ytimer) that is super cool, but I seem to always forget to use it….Cheers!

    Reply
  9. If you go the audiobook route, Rob Lowe narrating his own autobiography is pretty great stuff.

    Reply
  10. Oooooooo!!!! Where have I been since Tuesday and how did I miss this post?

    LOVED your podcast recommendations, and your timer idea is brilliant.

    Yes, I DO want you for a brother, I DO!!!! I’d even come over and cut coaster cork with you. 🙂

    Reply
  11. I like Radiolab, too. And The Moth! I’ve recently been trying a new one: Snap Judgement is similar to This American Life, with a more musical (hip-hoppish) feel. After 3 years of listening to TAL on my long commute, Ira Glass’s voice started to give me hives and I grew tired of their transitional music, of which they seem to have a small library. Good to have options!
    I LOVE Wait Wait.. thanks for the tip. I’ve wondered why I couldn’t find them!

    Reply
    • oh! Radiolab! I forgot about that one. Thanks! (and I know what you mean about too much TAL). The folks from Snap also pop up on Pop Culture Happy Hour – you should check it out.

      Reply

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