Tag: merlin

A Saturday of 5ives

Some lists of 5ives, inspired by Merlin Mann's site 5ives.com.

Five Signs You Never Want to See Posted at Your Gym

  1. "Due to the rash of recent infections in the locker rooms, please wear flip-flops in the shower.  Better yet, please wear your tennis shoes in the shower."
  2. "Until we can get the CD player fixed, the PA system will be stuck playing Madonna's album "Ray of Light" on repeat.  Sorry for the inconvenience."
  3. "Any individual seen taking pictures in the locker rooms should be reported to the front desk at once."
  4. "We have now opened up a new session of the pole-dancing class SPECIFICALLY for those 55 and older.  All others should continue to take the Wednesday morning class."
  5. "Mandatory drug testing will begin on Monday morning.  Please show up hydrated and ready to 'go'."

Five Things You'd Be Better Off Doing Than Posting on Vox on Saturdays (and Sitting Around, Hoping for Comments)

  1. Organizing your CD collection chronologically by when you purchased the albums
  2. Scrubbing out your toilets with an old toothbrush
  3. Trying to convince someone of another political party that your chosen candidate is better than theirs
  4. Watching 12 straight hours of QVC or equivalent programming
  5. Calculate the average number of minutes in a given week you waste online

Five Reasons Merlin Mann Hasn't Posted Any New 5ives Recently

  1. He's spending all his time blogging about blogging better
  2. He has been secretly recruited by Barack Obama to implement a Getting Things Done system for the new administration (and everyone will have Hipster PDAs!)
  3. He just doesn't care anymore.  And he likes to see you cry about it.
  4. He's secretly hoping you'll post some lists to fill the void.  Then he plans to steal them from you and repost under his own name.
  5. He's too busy talking into a vaguely cell-phone-like object. (Be sure to check out the one entitled "Solid State" – it's funny)

Five Signs You May Want to Get a New Roommate

  1. You wake up to find your current roommate measuring your inseam.
  2. You walk in one day to find your roommate guiltily stuffing something large and furry down the garbage disposal.
  3. You think that your roommate believes the phrase "April showers" describes how often a year they should bathe
  4. When perusing the cookbooks in the kitchen, you come across A Cookbook for Cannibals
  5. Your roommate and his/her pet owl keeps you up all night with their incessant hooting

Five Reasons I Should Have a Fifth 5ive Here, But Don't

  1. It's almost midnight when I'm typing this, and I need to get some shuteye
  2. I ran out of good ideas for another list
  3. My tumblr addiction is getting out of control
  4. My dog ate my computer
  5. Ok, technically I do have a fifth 5ive now.  Do I have to go back and change the title?  Ah, screw it.

[NaBloPoMo 2008 – #8/30]

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Consumer

Earlier this month, Merlin Mann (of 43 Folders fame) wrote a very insightful post on his personal site entitled "Better".  It struck a chord with me because I have recently been pondering some of the exact same issues in my personal life.

Lately (for the past few months or so) I've been feeling very much a consumer of stuff, much more so than normal.  I've spent a great deal of time perusing the internet, reading books, watching television, listening to music and podcasts and audiobooks, etc..  That's not to say I have been a total slug – I've also written blog posts, worked hard to create my community's website, put in some long hours at the office, done some work around the house and spent time with my family.  But the days have been flying by and at the end of them, I've often found myself wondering where my time went and why I didn't feel as in-control of things as I wanted to be.

After reading "Better", I took a step back and evaluated what I was doing.  I had over 300 RSS feeds that I was checking regularly, including some of the "big ones" like BoingBoing and Engadget – I was "reading" over 15,000 posts through Google Reader a month (that's more than 500 feed items a day!)  I was listening to a plethora of podcasts and even though I was speeding them up before listening to them, was still falling "behind" on the subscriptions for some of them.  I was watching a substantial amount of television, with some of it not even qualifying as good TV.  I had email newsletters out the wazoo on subjects I found interesting but wasn't doing a lot with.  I'd become addicted to consuming all the little tidbits that, according to Merlin, "for at least a few minutes, helps both the maker and the consumer feel a little less bored, a little less vulnerable, and a little less disconnected. For a minute, anyway, it makes us feel more alive."

So I started making changes:

  • I immediately went through my RSS feeds and cut out any I hadn't read in a while, any I had been skipping over, or any who had more than a few posts a day.  I then went through the remainder and asked myself if each feed was A) useful/necessary, B) entertaining, C) a waste of time, and/or D) a duplicate of info I could get another way with less time wasted.  For any whose answer did not include some combination of A or B outright, I deleted.  This cut my feeds down to under 200, total, with an average daily feed count of about 100 items.  I'm still working on cutting this as needed, but I can now make it through all my feeds in about 20 minutes or less, once a day.
  • I did a similar process with my podcasts.  I measured out how many hours I have available while driving to/from work and around town on the weekend, and limited the total quantity of podcasts to fit in this time window (plus a little extra for unexpected extra listening times).  Prioritizing the podcasts I wanted to keep helped me make the decisions of what to cut.
  • As email newsletters come into my inbox, I make a similar decision as to whether to keep on receiving it, or unsubscribe.  So far, I think I've only decided to keep receiving one or two of them.
  • I used to be one to only very rarely give up on a book.  I've since decided to be more discriminating about what books I purchase/borrow so I am not slogging through books I don't really want to read.  There were a number of free ebooks I downloaded from Tor.com that I really just wasn't enjoying, but they were sitting around on my eBook reader waiting for me to finish them so I could move on to something else.  Now they're off my hard-drive and out of my life.
  • TV watching has been one of the hardest things to change, as there are a lot of evenings when I get home and am just so ready to veg out in front of the TV after the kids are asleep that it's difficult to want to do anything else.  I've made the smallest amount of progress in this area but again have tried to cut down on the crap I'm recording on the DVR – if I have less junk available for me to watch, the TV is less likely to be a time sink for me when I could be doing other things.

The benefits to my actions were apparrent almost immediately; no longer was I feeling like I was wasting time and letting things spin out of control.  At first, I found myself opening Google Reader at random times and feeling a little down when I didn't have any new items to read (this is about the time I really realized how addicted I was to the feeds as an entertainment source).  I've since started using the time I used to spend reading feeds instead playing with my daughters, or thinking of and implementing new things I want to do/create.  The books I'm reading now are all ones that are completely engrossing and, in my opinion, well worth their time.  I'm still busy, but now I see where my time is being allocated to, and I'm happy with it.

I've still got some improvements to make, and I'm not going to give up being a consumer entirely.  Everything is fine in moderation, and as long as I don't go back to being obsessed with all the things I was going overboard with before, I think I'll be in pretty good shape.  I'm really pleased with my progress so far, though, and I'm doubly thankful for the fortuitous timing of Merlin's post, which helped inspire me to get off my butt and stop contemplating my problem and instead start working to fix it.

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