Well, it seems is that time of the year. And I don't mean Christmas, but tagging and meme games. This time is Stephen Smith from Productivity In Context, and it's about 7 things about me. Tracking down the beginning of…
Every time I talk about something that was on my mind for a lot of time, I have the tendency to forget about it shortly after. Just talking about things that really were on my head seems to make them disappear afterwards. I had this impression a lot of times. Lately, I experienced this almost on any topic I am thinking about. Expressing my thoughts in words, written or talked, made the topic vanish. It’s like giving the thought some shape pushes it out of my brain, into another realm.
I had this going on for many years. I ruminated about something for months, making it bigger and bigger in my head, and then, all of a sudden, expressed it violently. Either in form of a journal entry, a blog entry, or sometimes in a fight or controversy with somebody else. After the eruption, the inside volcano magically disappeared. I even forgot that there was a volcano in that place. Shifted my attention to something else, and of course, started another ruminating session on a different topic, soon to be ended with another eruption, in several days, weeks, or months.
This chain of reactions lead me to the concept of therapeutically talking or writing. In today’s blog post I’ll try to understand what are the reasons for this therapeutical dimension of talking. Why is this happening, what are the triggers and what are the limits of this behavior. Is this a good thing, a bad thing or just a thing that I have? We’ll see about that together.
During the last 5-6 years I started to pay more attention to this phenomenon. I monitored those “eruptions” and the subtle mechanism behind them. Gradually isolated similar events and tried to build on a pattern. It seemed that every confusion, fear, worry or lack of trust was in fact a root for a ruminating session. Not being able to express in the very moment my feelings about that confusion or fear pushed it back into my mental backyard, converting them in seeds of some huge wild-growing plants.Â
Without paying attention to those plants, they grew until they started to shade my normal thinking patterns. They grew so big that they took some of the whole garden light. So big that I was forced to confront them. And the only immediate action I could take was to cut them out. Talking them out loud, writing about them, bringing them into conversations or fights. I just cannot leave in the dark, so I had to eliminate the obstruction, most of the time by violently expressing it.
After I eliminated those huge ugly wild-growing plants, the backyard was clean again. No need for another confrontation, my mental clarity was not obstructed anymore. Those wild-growing plants were out for good, so the very topic that generated them was forgotten.
This pattern was so powerful that it become my way of life. Almost everything that wasn’t managed was staying somewhere back, waiting to reach an “explosion” point. After expressing my feelings out loud, the problem disappeared. I went on this rollercoaster for years, until I started to feel annoyed about something.
I didn’t realize in the beginning what was my annoyance. But things around me started to lose consistency. I was forgetting stuff, more and more stuff and more and more often. If there was something that I was already “erupted” on, I even avoided direct confrontation. I knew from the beginning that this will lead to a huge wild-growing plant that will need to be cut in a painful storm of words, so I was keeping the distance. I didn’t engage in a lot of activities, started to work less, to keep honest relationships away, to avoid social interaction. All of that was before a source of pain expressed by words, so it had to be avoided.
But that was even worse. My way of dealing with negative emotions or situations was keeping me from experiencing a true and sincere life. Everything was thrown back and vomited weeks after in order to keep me clean. And between those periods I was almost invisible. I wasn’t doing much on my own. It was this chain of non-confrontation and therapeutical talking that took command of me. It was an auto pilot.
Today is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I’ve joined a cause on Facebook related to this event, which basically aims to raise awareness about human rights by using the power of blogging. On this date, December 10th, each and everyone who has joined the cause must write something to support it. Before reading further on this post, I highly encourage you to read the posts onÂ onedayforumanrights.comÂ and see the details at the Facebook event page.Â
When I think about human rights I always think at my first half of life. Until the age of 19 I lived under communism, a dictatorial regime ran by Ceausescu. At the end of 1989, after a series of events often cited as the “Romanian Revolution”, the communist regime was down and the conditions for free elections created. The next years were chaotically to say the least, there was a lot of social turmoil and economic downfall but overall, the human rights started to be respected. It took about 5-7 years until the social climate become more transparent. During that period, we still had bad things running around, like large scale manipulation or social violence – sometimes to the extent of a civil war, with communities of people (miners) violently attacking other communities (students).
Fortunately enough, after 10-15 years, everything is going much better in my country of birth, Romania. But that first period, my early childhood and my primary education are tainted for ever with marks of an unbelievable way of life. Yes, it’s unbelievable now to think that you’re going to prison for criticizing the political regime. It’s unbelievable to think that you can’t leave your country whenever you want to. It’s unbelievable to think that you can’t say what you want to say publicly.
That first part of my life was a prison. I wasn’t confined at a closed facility and attended social structures like school. But the school, the other social structures above the school, were walls of a bigger prison. Every structure of the regime was a twisted and closed parody of what a free life should be. Everything around was a lie, and nobody ever said what he really meant.
I talked the other day with an old friend. We talked on messenger because he didn’t find the time to see each other in the real world. His job assignments become too time consuming and his schedule quite hectic. I know how it is. Been there, done that, had to manage my own company for 10 years… But he wasn’t like this before. When I used to have too many tasks and a rather hectic schedule he enjoyed quite a bohemian period. Time took a turn and now the situation is somehow reversed. But I remember with a lot of deep joy those times, 4-5 years ago when we spent nights and weeks on a rather hippie timeline.
During that period he had a lot of talking. About our goal in this life, about astrology and about healthy food. I must admit that I owe him some of my current passions likeÂ astrology, or some of my health habits likeÂ raw food and the road I’m walking right now was first pointed during those times. But now things have changed for him and he started to feel a little embarrassed with what I write on this blog. To make a long story short, he thinks I’m cheating. In his own words: “I’m posing as a fake saint”.
I thought a lot in the last few days about that. I really did. Also, during the last few days I had some turmoil into my personal life. I won’t go into details but there is a wind of change in some other areas of my life. Something must be destroyed to let other stuff growing. Don’t know what exactly started to go down and when it will completely disappear, but I know for sure it’s happening right now. Things have come to a point when friends are asking me: why don’t you apply what you write on your blog in your life too? And I thought about that question also…
My Twitter mood is continuing these days. After a general post about twittering heights and a more technical one about hashtags in Twitter, today I’ll write a short review of one of the most useful applications you can try to enhance your Twitter experience.
The application is web-based and you can find it at mrtweet.net. MrTweet offers two simple, yet powerful features so far – the app is very young, 4 weeks at the date of this post, if I’m not wrong – and those are
- listings of your followers that you should follow back
- listings of the key influencers in your network
In order to measure the quality of the followers you should follow back and to define the “influencer” MrTweet uses a few ad-hoc metrics.Â Â Based on what you already have in your network of followers, MrTweet will harvest a report, in fact, just a simple list.Â The report shows near each person their ratio of following / frollower, the number of tweets per day and the recipricity: how that person replies or not to non-follows. On top of that, it shows a list of the persons in your network who are already following that person, and, if you really want to know more, it also shows you the latest tweets of that person in your browser. And of course, if you like the guy, you can follow him on Twitter from within MrTweet website.
It’s not a secret that Twitter, the 140 characters blogging service has become mainstream. For those of you living on planet Mars, who haven’t yet heard about it, Twitter is a place where you can communicate in a very short way -Â 140 characters maximum – the answer to a very simple question: “What are you doing?”. Other people may follow you, meaning they will actually see what are you doing / writing. And you can follow other people too, meaning that you can see what they are doing. Simplicity at its best.
But out of simplicity the best things in our life came. And out of simplicity you can create some of the most interesting and challenging things in your life. In today’s post I’ll try to share my opinions on using Twitter in the last few months. I’m approaching my 1000th update on Twitter and that will be one important milestone in my Twitterer career. Joking, of course.
All About Me Versus Sharing Others
Being on Twitter and being engaged in social interactions on this media is a surprisingly interesting activity. Most of the time you’ll be inclined to respond to that fundamental question: “What are you doing?” and unveil your life and day to day activities in short, yet compelling pieces of informations.
But after a while and after reading other people’s timelines you’ll find the need to share some pieces of other people’s life. You’ll start to re-tweet (quote) other people ideas, links, quotes or findings. You’ll start to be a broadcaster for others. In fact, you’ll soon find that one of the key metrics in being a successful twitterer is the “me versus other” ratio. And by “successful twitterer” I don’t mean a popular one, but a person who extracts the best value out of this.
Yesterday I had my first session as a coach. It started at 10:00 AM in the morning and lasted about 70 minutes. I just felt great during the whole session and from the feed-back I got from the person being coached, the feeling was shared. What is this coaching about? And why and how am I doing it? Well, let’s take it one step at a time…
After several weeks of discussions and alternative scenarios, Diana and I decided it’s time to slow down the move to New Zealand for a few months. It doesn’t make any sense to pursue it on this economical context. The destination is still the same, but we delayed the date of departure. It’s the same thing as looking through the mirror and decide to postpone your hiking because it is so raining outside. We both agreed this is the best move we can make now.
So, after waking up with a buffer of few more months ahead me I had to face a challenge. What am I going to do? A part from this blogging on eDragonu, of course. While being a very fulfilling activity for myself, this blog – and the business behind it – doesn’t necessarily have to be the only activity. I had to do a short analyze and sketch the short term schedule for the next period.
It took no more than a few days and I came up with two main goals: teaching and coaching. The teaching will involve live training sessions on topics that I’ve been writing about in the last few years, like time management, personal development, productivity and effectiveness, and, of course, GTD. Coaching will have the same underlying fundament, it will only have a different, one to one approach.
Why Am I Coaching?
The short answer is: because somebody asked me to. The long answer has some more subtle reasons, of course.
Do you have personal milestones? I do. By personal milestones I understand those times when you sit down and replace the "doing" in your life with the "seeing". You stop doing whatever you planned to do and start to stare…
I’m sure many of you have read the post about Journaling versus Blogging, it was featured on a number of websites, including the German productivity blog imgriff. Somehow related to that post, I have to confess that recently I came across a number of similar patterns I tend to develop when it comes to blogging, and those patterns are grouping into new and interesting activities. In fact, there is much more than blogging, as the title of this post already told you. It seems that blogging as a process reached a certain level of maturity, which will naturally be followed by some sort of splitting into much more specialized activities.
Blogging in (r)evolution
Several years ago having a blog was a monolithic activity. Blogging in itself seemed like a one time / one player activity. You pick a topic, establish a posting routine, start writing and there you are, the next big thing of the blogosphere.
In the last two years this has dramatically changed. With the proliferation of social networking tools and with some very simple yet innovative services like twitter, tumblr or, in a different league, friend feed, the situation is completely different than 2 years ago. Blog networks written by armies of bloggers, solitary twitter heroes and companion tumblrs for every successful mainstream blog, all of these are just common sense nowadays.
What made this possible? And what seems to be the underlying reason for this?
Well, first of all, the expressivity of blogging in itself has reached the ceiling. There is some deep need for something different. The audience has been exposed enough time to this type of creativity. We all know now what a post is, what can you do in a comment, and how pingbacking works… It seems that the message is forced to change the medium here, trying to subtly evolve into new patterns and structures.
Second, it seems that blogging in itself has reached a certain level of formalism which made simpler for services like tumblr to streamline the blog to a thinner experience. You don’t need a truck to go from point A to point B, or, in terms of blogging, you don’t need a full blown blog to express yourself. All you need is the ability to post a picture, a quote, a sentence, or a link. You might think that this simplistic approach will not make history, but the web is just telling the other way around.
I started to use Mac Journal 2 years ago. Initially I was using it only for my journaling activities. I needed something a little more versatile than my plain text file structure, and with some searching facilities integrated. Fortunately, Mac Journal proved to have all this, and even more. I soon discovered that I can remotely publish to my blogs from within Journal, download posts into it (for backup or just convenience) and brainstorm my future posts.
During the past few months, since I decided to make from blogging my main activity – after selling my online publishing business – I started to use Journal intensively. In this post I’ll share how I use Mac Journal for blogging, how I set up my blogging environment and how I applied, using Mac Journal’s powerful “smart journals” feature, a GTD-like blogging scaffold.
Setting Up A Remote Blog From Within Mac Journal
This is not a mandatory step, as you can always use your online blogging admin interface, but it might be of interest. You can add a blog to your journal by selecting the option “Edit blog server” from the “Journal” menu. A pop-up with some simple options will appear. If you’re on a wordpress set up, as most of the people, you should check the “Movable Type” type of your publishing method. A good idea is to add “xmlrpc.php” to your post URL and the admin username. That’s it, you’re now connected to your blog and can start publish remotely. You can even download the entries from your blog into Mac Journal, by choosing “Download entires from blog…” from the same “Journal” menu. Of course, you can have more than one blog set up, if you have more than one.
Establish Your Blogging Habits
Mac Journal lets you apply some sort of meta data to your posts. That will not be transferred to your blog, but it’s a convenient way to organize your blogging habits. Some of that meta data is: status, priority and ranking. There are also others like: tags, annotations or even colored label, if you want, which can be used for some neat visual effects. Let’s see how we can use this meta data in order to set up a more productive blogging environment.
First of all, you need a congruent blog routine for this to work. If you’re goingÂ to use this on a daily basis, you have to establish some rules for your idea brainstorming or future posts. My data input set up is like this: whenever I add an idea for a post, I also add the status, which is most of the time “Not Started”, for ideas that are just popping out of my head, the priority, which can be any number from 1 to 5, and a rating and color label (this is only for internal auditing purposes).
The priority number is used for slipping up posts into “Next Posts” and “Someday / Maybe” posts and it uses a 3/4 threshold. Meaning any priority between 1 and 3 (inclusive) will go on the “Someday / Maybe” posts, and any priority between 4 (inclusive) and 5 will go into “Next Posts”. “Someday /Maybe” and “Next Posts” are smart journals. And they can get really smart, you’ll see. The rating and label are just metrics for auditing my blog activity. With a color label I can see at a glance how many working post I have, how many published, and so on.
Back in 2004 I started to keep a journal. It was basically a folder on my Linux powered laptop, with a bunch of unorganized files floating around. Everything was written hastily using vi, an editor which may be considered somehow…