Email Isn’t Really Getting Things Done

Photo by Jurgen Appelo

I love the satisfaction of having an empty email inbox. And I used to spend hours making sure I got there multiple times a day.

What I have figured out, though, is that processing email isn’t really getting things done.

Email is just a way for other people to add things to my task list. And yet I will happily go in and do all those things – ignoring the important stuff on my plate.

The satisfaction comes from dropping all those email in to the trash. It feels productive because I am making things disappear – I no longer have to worry about them.

But ultimately, it’s not about how many emails I process. There is not a single one of my goals that involves email in any sort – and still I spend an inordinate amount of time in email.

So if I want to truly make progress on my goals, I need to put the email aside. And get stuff done that really does matter.

Photo by Jurgen Appelo

Why I Don’t Read The News

Photo by Sole Treadmill

The news has long made me angry. I would listen to the news on my way to work and find myself shouting at the radio. Television news made me want to throw things. So I opted out.

It wasn’t my idea. A book I was reading at the time presented the idea of a media fast…and I did it. I never went back to the news.

Some people would say that it is a disadvantage. After all, I couldn’t tell you want is going on in Hollywood, and I wouldn’t recognize a picture of Kim Kardashian. I’m not aware of the details of the latest presidential temper tantrum. And in spite of this, I am still relatively well informed about the stuff that is going on.

How? It’s simple.

People tell me.

And then if I deem it important enough, I will go out and research it myself.

I may not know the minute something is happening, but if it is important enough, someone will mention it within 2-3 days. That’s still faster than my grandparents got their news, so I am counting myself ahead of the game. I still am informed, and my irritation level and blood pressure are down.

Photo by Sole Treadmill

Private Conversations On Social Media

Photo by Akuppa

I got rather annoyed with someone recently because I had made a comment on a post on Facebook asking a question…and I asked the person by name to answer.

This was followed by a people giving me advice and some even berating me for not doing things how they thought it should be done.

My initial reaction was to turn to these people and ask them to mind their own business. I was annoyed, because as far as I was concerned, all of these people were interlopers on the conversation.

I view social media like having a conversation in a crowd.

In a crowd, I am generally talking to one person. My comments may be overheard, but for the most part people have better manners than to eavesdrop and then insert themselves in a conversation that is happening next to them.

So why is it in social media that people feel they don’t need to mind their manners and stay out of things that are not addressed to them?

I would expect that in social media, if a comment is addressed to someone by name, that other people shouldn’t feel the need to jump in.

I believe that social media, while broadening our reach, is causing a deterioration of the behaviors that make it possible to exist in a society. I believe that one should never behave in a way online that one would not behave in person.

Another nail in the coffin for my use of social media….

Photo by Akuppa

What Does Independence Mean?

Photo by Karsun Designs PhotographyToday is Independence Day. We mostly don’t call it that – it’s the “Fourth of July”. I think most of us have lost sight of the fact that this is the day that a group of rebels, risking their lives, signed the document that broke us free from Great Britain.

Independence means different things to different people.

In my case, independence means that I am not compelled to answer to anyone I don’t choose to answer to. Yes, I answer to my family, my employer, my clients. It does not mean that I answer to anyone else without that power of choice.

Independence means that I voluntarily comply with rules that make our society work and make it possible to live and work together in peace and harmony. It does not mean that I blindly follow the rules.

Independence means that I have the right to disagree. I may not choose to act on that disagreement, or give it voice, but I still have the right to do either should I choose. It does not mean that I hold my tongue because I am not allowed to say what I wish.

I am very grateful for those men who decided to put their lives on the line for independence. And I remind myself that the independence is a gift, and can be taken away by those who kid themselves that they are acting in the greatest good.

Photo by Karsun Designs Photography

The New Church Site

Photo by skenmyOur church is moving. We have outgrown the building it has been in since I have been going there. We are out of meeting space, office space, classroom space, and frequently find ourselves double booked. We have parking at the kindness of a local museum and at the mercy of the tides.

The new building is huge. It’s an old office building that will be renovated. It sits on a good-sized lot, and has attached wetlands that we are now stewards of. Renovation will begin in May.

We went out as a community to start getting the grounds into shape. The building has been vacant for some time, and while the grass was cut, the landscaping was allowed to overgrown. 65 of us went out and chopped, raked, pruned and swept. The teens went out in canoes with the youth director and pulled garbage out of the water. It’s by no means done, but it looks miles better. There will be more opportunities for grounds keeping.

I know that leaving the old location will be sad; I know this personally because that was the building where I married, and my daughter brought into the church community. But the opportunities are very exciting, and I am looking forward to seeing it take shape.

Photo by skenmy


New York City?!

Photo by tinto

The first weekend of spring break I took my Girl Scout troop to New York City. It was an adventure for all us. Four girls, two adults. Two of the girls had been before; I had been before, but only for day trips for business.

We took an overnight bus that dumped us in the Times Square region at quarter to six in the morning. Of course, given my abysmal map reading skills, we then went to the wrong hotel…our hotel was only two blocks away from the stop. It did give us a good look at Times Square when there was no one around.

The trip was filled with tourist-y stuff. We did the Status of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, and bus tours of downtown and uptown. We saw Central Park, the naked cowboy and China Town. We ate New York pizza, food truck kebabs and did a deli for breakfast.

There were a few things that surprised me about Manhattan. The first is that it is very small, land-wise. A two hour bus trip took us from tip to tip. And that was in traffic, with frequent stops. The second is that (and it is possibly because of where we ate) I didn’t see much difference between New York bagels and Panera bagels. The third is that there is no green space except for Central Park. No trees, no grass, no planters; unending concrete.

While I would like to go back with my family and explore uptown and the museums, I am satisfied with the trip. I would not choose to do the overnight bus again, rather preferring to deal with the panic of flying. But I would definitely do the tour bus again, and choose to eat in local restaurants again.

The girls? Well, I think they enjoyed it. There was a lot of teenage whining, and most of the girls were glued to their phones. They seemed to find novelty in shopping in the same stores found in our hometown. But for the most part they were good sports and went around to the various sites with enthusiasm.

Photo by tinto

Snowed By Math

Photo by PinkMooseOne of my frustrations with being a math teacher was having people tell me they couldn’t do math.

It wasn’t just the kids, either. It ranged across a wide variety of adults as well.

One of the things I taught my seniors is that some people rely on the fact that they’re either scared of math, or think they can’t do it. You can’t do math? Well, you will probably be screwed over on your paycheck or loans or something else.

An example: I recently sat through a free webinar. It contained information I wanted, but at the same time was a selling platform for another (paid) course.

The course itself was $497. That price tag is enough for most people to say, “well, that’s a lot of money. I can’t afford it.”

The author offered a payment plan so that you could split the payment over three months. Three months of $198.

I looked at those numbers, not because I was interested in coughing up the dough. I looked at them because of the fact that they author was trying to take advantage of the fact that most people won’t (or can’t) do the math.

So let’s do it together:

The total cost for the single payment: $497.
The total cost for the 3 monthly payments: 3 * $198 = $594.

So the total cost of spreading those payments over 3 months, or 1/4 of a year, is $594-$497, or $97.

Let’s look at the interest rates:
The simple interest rate is calculated as the amount of interest divided by the product of the principal times the time period. In our case, the amount of interest is $97. The principal would be what you would have spent on it if you paid it right away, or $497. The amount of time is three months, or 1/4 of a year.

So as you can see, the annual interest rate on this is a whopping 78%.


The author is counting on you not being able to do that math.

And it’s not just sneaky salesmen on the web that do it either.

My Girl Scouts learned a lesson in marketing during our cookie booths. Cookie prices have hit $4 a box in our area. $4 for one box, $8 for two, $12 for three, $16 for four, $20 for five. Straight up multiplication.

But when my girls put “5 for $20” on a sign, people started buying 5 boxes of cookies at a time. Because the customers perceived it as a deal.

Some of the customers caught on. And they laughed with us. But most of them didn’t. They went away thinking they got bargain prices for buying in bulk.

I am convinced that more and more not being able to do simple math is just a way to get screwed over.

And it’s not like you can’t get help. You need to know what interest you’re paying? Google it! Can’t remember how to do compound interest? Google it! Need to figure out where something is going to land? Google it! Need to calculate an irregular area? Google it! In fact, I told my seniors that I wasn’t going to make them memorize formulas. “Why?,” they asked. “Because when you are in the real world, and you need to do this, you’re going to go to internet for help.

There is no excuse not to do the basic math anymore. With Google available on just about everything now, we need to learn how to take back our math.

Not everyone is cut out to do calculus. But everyone should be able to do enough “figgerin'” (as my grandfather would say) to keep people from taking advantage.

Including the Girl Scouts.

Photo by PinkMoose