If you’re buying something off the local classifieds, don’t email the seller trying to bargain them down almost 50% the asking price for 3 sets of items, but leave your signature in the footer that shows you run a local hipster clothing and homewares shop that the seller’s sister knows for a fact sells similar items for at least 5x the asking price per unit.
That just makes you look cheap. Not savvy.
Update: Oh, and then after agreeing to the original asking price, asks if my sister can drop the items off at her shop.
I had a dream the other night.
We were just outside Paris for some reason or other. Near enough to see the Eiffel Tower from where we were, but not quite in the city.
We stood there on a bridge looking at the Eiffel Tower from a distance, and I said to Eric, “I wish we could go to Paris city proper. It’d be neat to see the Eiffel Tower. I know it’s smaller than it looks in all the pictures, but there are some really nice streets I want to visit, and I hear there are some great boulangeries there that I’d like to try.”
This complete stranger was standing next to us and said “You don’t want to go there. That’s where you get the clap.”
Completely nonplussed, I can’t help but stare at this stranger and all I can manage to utter is “What?”. Dream self even felt the expression of ultimate confusion form on my face.
The stranger said “You know what the Moulin Rouge is like.”
I realise that he misheard boulangerie and somehow thought I was talking about the Moulin Rouge. Which I suppose do sound kind of similar. And I find myself stuttering “Oh, um. I meant like a bakery. Not a place of entertainment.”
At this point, I think I broke my own brain. The dream kind of stopped abruptly while brain did a stacktrace to find out what the hell just happened.
When I later recounted this dream to Eric, he burst out laughing and there were some slanderous slurs against the sanctity of my brain function. Couldn’t really dispute it though.
So I’ve been feeling pretty feh lately. Probably in part because it’s winter and all I want to do is hibernate, and working from home results in a lot less natural light than is probably good for me. Perhaps I need to find a nice warm glasshouse to set up shop in.
But I’ve made some changes to try to get rid of this general malaise. They’re pretty trivial but it’s making me feel generally more productive and putting me in a better mood.
I caved and bought Day One for my iPhone/iPad and desktop in May. I started documenting what I did that day, and my current thoughts, ideas, plans and reflections. The aim was to write at least 750 words (inspired by 750words.com).
I even created a separate entry for a To Do list. I’d fill out the next day’s list at night before I went to bed. In the morning, I’d check it and mark items off as I did them, and added more to the end of the list as they came to me. When I filled out the next day’s entry that evening, I’d copy over anything that wasn’t completed and add it to whatever else came to mind for the next day. Things that didn’t need to be done that day would be date stamped. It’s a really crude method given all the technology we have today, but as I was writing and reviewing each night, this worked out.
Unfortunately this fizzled out when I went to LA for work. I was perfectly functional during the day, but I would conk out by 10-11pm every night (early by my standards) which gave me absolutely no brain to cope with words and things between dinner and bed.
I have an idea of how I can work this out in future though. It’d probably involve bringing my iPad and a portable keyboard around and I can take notes while I eat, because I’d often eat alone. I was sharing an accommodation with my coworkers, so meal times were ‘me’ time as often as I could manage. Nothing reminds me that I’m an introvert more than when I have to share a living space with someone who isn’t my spouse.
After getting back, I was pretty wiped out. I was in dire need of no-people recharge time, and I arrived to plague spreading around my friends and family from their various places of work. Things were getting progressively more feh.
And herein lies the revised de-feh-rification strategy.
Lack of motivation is not going to inspire me get to the 750words stage of journalling. I figured writing prompts will let me at least start getting into the right frame of mind to do this again. So I picked up Grid Diary.
Grid Diary is a journalling app that gives you nine questions each day for you to answer. You can set them to be the same every day, or you can randomise it (my preference). The questions can also be modified if you would prefer different ones (I have to figure out how to do this).
The default questions are things like “What was your biggest achievement today?”, “What was the breaking news of the day?”, and “What did I do for my personal goal today?”. They’re simple questions, and you can either choose to go the easy route and say things like “I didn’t achieve anything today” or you can think of a small victory you had that might count as an achievement . o O (“I didn’t walk into the door-frame with my hip today”), and that in itself puts your head in a better place.
Side note, the breaking news one is pretty good too. I zone out and don’t really pay attention to current affairs, so if I can describe something topical that happened during the day locally or somewhere else in the world, then at least I know I haven’t isolated myself completely that day.
To avoid having dozens of diary apps all over the place, I’ve also created a plugin for Slogger, a command-line utility that can import entries into Day One, so that I can export my Grid Diary entry to Dropbox using IFTTT, and each day it gets imported into Day One so that I can easily review it with my other journalling efforts.
Update: Grid Diary now lets you export to Dropbox, so I have to update my plugin to handle that, and ditch the IFTTT trigger.
Small Victories / Good Habits
In addition to the writing, I’ve also started setting small goals for myself to help set good habits. I keep track of these using Lift, which I looked into after seeing Karen Cheng talk about how she learned to dance in a year.
One thing I’m not a fan of with Lift is how everything is public and it’s essentially a social network. It helps others to receive public encouragement for doing things, but as an introvert, I find this embarrassing and it is more inclined to make me stop doing things. So I keep my goals to things I don’t care about people knowing that I’m doing.
For example, at the moment I’m on a 16 day streak of Making My Bed, 4 days of Do Yoga / Stretching (missed a day on Monday), four days on Floss, and two days of Take Supplements (D, calcium, womens’ multi, some mushroom thing I was told to take). The short streaks were because Monday was a sick day and it took me a couple days to stop fumbling. :(
They’re simple things, but they’re good habits to have because, to be quite honest, working from home can turn you into a complete grub. Also, seeing constant progress at being able to keep doing these little things makes you feel somewhat *\o/*.
I’m using this new-found motivation to start up a couple hobby projects where I’m using Everest to create steps towards these goals so I can see what I should do next, any additional todo items I’ll need to address to get things done.
As the projects get more fleshed out, I’ll need to move from a list type approach to something a little more structured, but as this isn’t on a strict timeline, it’s pretty much all I need right now. And the email and phone notifications keep it in my mind more than a passive app.
I plan to put language study into Everest or Lift as well once I get a handle on what I’ve put on my plate just now. Which one I use will depend on how structured I want to make my independent study.
If I decide to go with something intensive like Fluent In 3 Months, I might even need to use both. Everest for progression milestones, and Lift for habit development.
Now let’s see if I can put some of those skills I learned at the Time Management courses I took in high school to good use…