Taming the Paper Dragon: Again

I’ve written before about the challenges of dealing with paper clutter in the house. Well, the last several weeks of gloomy-time meant that I’d been letting all the mail pile up again in a big way — aside from those few essential bills I’d pull out and handle as soon as they arrived. So a big project for me this past weekend and the last couple of evenings has been to once again try to tame the paper dragon.

In addition to handling the most immediate paper accumulation from the last couple months, I also emptied out a couple boxes of longer-term paper accumulation. You know, the kinds of paper piles that built up in other busy times during the last year, but then got shoved into a box in some last-minute cleaning frenzy before an anticipated visitor’s arrival.*

And, after this accomplishment, I am now turning my analytic attention to the other main source of paper influx, aside from catalogs.

My overabundance of magazine subscriptions.

Continue reading “Taming the Paper Dragon: Again”

What I Learned in Grad School

Okay, so the big super-huge work project got even more intense than I’d anticipated, so I went full-out on it till Thursday night. Then, instead of sleeping and catching up on my rest and my writing, Mr. Mezzo and I have been out of town for the past two days celebrating my niece’s graduation. So, suddenly I missed an entire week’s worth of Writing 101 assignments, and the next crop of assignments is due to start up again tomorrow morning.

Now, one thing I learned in grad school is the strategic folly of always trying to go back and play catch-up.

Let’s say you fall behind on your reading for Week 3 in a particularly dense syllabus — like, say, the kind of syllabus where the professor keeps adding new articles to the reading list year after year, without taking away any of the older, less-academically-relevant ones. (Not that I ever had any grad classes like that back in the day. This is all purely a hypothetical exercise…..)



One approach to take to this conundrum would be to start Week 4 by going back to the things you missed in Week 3, hoping to address all of the backlog and all the new assignments. But, if each week’s workload is too robust to be handled in a week, the only thing you gain by that approach is to just get farther and farther behind.

So after one or two courses where I tried to do the virtuous “going back and catching up on everything” routine, I developed a new discipline around falling behind on homework.

Step one for me is to jump right back into the stream at this moment. Hit the reset button, start with the new crop of work, do all of it to the best of my ability — and then, if I do end up with some luxurious extra time after that, only then will I try to go back and fill in what I’ve missed, using my own instincts to triage out what’s most important and what’s most able to be let go.

So, tomorrow I’ll be jumping back into the Writing 101 flow with this coming week’s assignments, and I’ll go back and fill in the missed ones in whatever order I choose to do them.

I have some hope that the work week will be a little quieter than the past fortnight has been. If that turns out to be the case, I may get home early enough to manage a double-posting day or two throughout the week, which would help with the backlog. I also could get creative and see if there’s a way I can kill two assignments with one essay, as it were. Or there may just be an assignment or two that I let slide by, water flowing under the bridge of best intentions, never to be seen or recaptured again.

And I’m okay with that. Aside from the specific workflow strategies I am applying here to my bloggy-life, the main thing I learned in grad school was the complete psychic and energetic uselessness of perfectionism and how pointless it is to do that inner ballet of self-flagellation when one shows one’s humanity by doing an imperfect or fallible thing.

Admittedly, that main lesson only partly sunk in. I keep learning and studying and practicing into that one. Step by step, I continue ever onward — following the trajectory away from self-punishing perfectionism and towards maturity and self-acceptance.

Here, now, with Writing 101, is as good a time to practice that as any.


Image credit: http://giphy.com/gifs/pzmTB7cwkfx0Q

Getting My Nerd On

It’s been a long few weeks at work, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that I’m choosing to enjoy a quiet Friday night at home rather than going out. (This decision is aided by the unfortunate fact that Mr. Mezzo is going INTO a long week or two at his job, so he’s still in his office as it nears 8:30 PM.)

Still, I daresay my chosen form of Friday night relaxation helps prove me to be the Grade A nerd that I truly am.

And how am I choosing to relax? By digging into the materials for the Coursera class that started on Tuesday but that I haven’t yet had time to look at. (See note above, re: a long stretch of crap at work.)

Some number of months ago, I became aware of the field of behavioral economics.* It became something I wanted (eventually) to learn more about as a way to deepen my understanding of human decision-making and all the ways it functions emotionally rather than rationally. I even bought a book on the topic (Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely) that has, to date, been gathering dust on the shelf.

But now Prof. Ariely is doing a Coursera course titled “The Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior,” which seems like a great way to dip my toes into this topic. And it’s being led by the same guy whose book I wanted to read and whose research I wanted to learn about. How cool is that?!

So I registered — it’s free after all — and when the class kick-off emails arrived a few days ago, I just bookmarked them for when this difficult work-week was over.

Which it now is.

So I have saved the Week 1 readings into a Dropbox folder, downloaded the Coursera app onto my iPad, and am about to crawl into bed to start reading and watching video lectures.

I haven’t yet decided whether or not I’ll do another castor oil pack while I’m lying down to “do my homework.”**

* A story for another day.

** Do I live the glamorous rock star life or what?