July 1, 2006

Turning downtime into uptime

July 1, 2006 - Categories: productivity

One of the reasons why I wanted a Blackberry or some other portable device was to make better use of those interstitial moments walking from Graduate House to the subway station or taking the train. I had thought of using the time to practice connecting with people, but it’s hard to do that when people don’t smile or make eye contact. I’ve also tried reading. I snag a newspaper on my way out and keep a folder of executive summaries from Books24x7 in my backpack. Listening to music? Sure, although I usually find myself looping over one song or album.

After hearing Dan Zen describe his experience with recording a video
blog while driving his car (kids, don’t try that at home!), I thought:
hey, why not record on the go? The quality’s going to be terrible -
lots of ums and ahs and random traffic noises – but just as blogging
helps me refine my thoughts, talking about things will help me refine
my stories.

It turns out that the digital voice recorder I bought
almost a year ago is surprisingly useful. The low
sensitivity setting on the microphone works perfectly for noisy
settings, and I can pick out my own voice easily. For presentations
and the like, I set it on high sensitivity so that I can record the
presentation clearly even on the iPod screen.

Good stuff!

Random Japanese sentence: フランス語のCHATは英語のCATを意味する。 The French word `chat’ means `cat’

Purposeful interaction

July 1, 2006 - Categories: connecting

I realized yesterday that one of my weaknesses is that I’m usually
more reactive than proactive when it comes to interacting with people.
It’s very easy for me to connect with people and help them feel
comfortable. I feel good when I help people relax or think.

This has its dangers, however. I’ve often focused more on what will
help other people grow than what will help me grow. Sometimes my
schedule can get rather complicated as I try to split time between
people or figure out which activities I can merge. It can also be
difficult to manage people’s expectations, particularly when people
start thinking of relationships! So no, that wasn’t working for me
that well.

Rereading the executive summary for _Never Eat Alone_, I reflected
upon its suggestion to involve people in activities about which you
feel passionate. When you share something you love and enjoy, you are
shown at your best. You also give people the feeling of being invited
into something more personal and human and real.

Thinking about that made me realize that if I choose my activities
according to what would help me grow, then I can choose people I would
like to share those activities with. I would feel like I’m doing just
the right thing at the right time and with the right people.

Today, I decided to start doing that. I asked myself, “What’s the best
thing I could do today to positively affect my life?” Visioning and
storytelling resonated with me. I invited a friend whose vision I
admire, and we had a wonderful afternoon conversation at Queen’s Park.
It was a very good decision, and definitely the best possible way I
could have spent that time.

I’m a little bit worried that I’ll end up neglecting the people who
aren’t quite related to my current interests, but then again, that’s
the power of weak ties – and I can ping people from time to time just
to say hi, anyway. I’m also a little bit worried that I’ll alienate
people who might think this too utilitarian. Don’t worry, not every
get-together has to have an agenda. I also enjoy hanging out. =)

I think the key point is to have integrity in my decisions. How I
choose to spend my time should be in line with my values and my
priorities. It should be the best thing I could think of doing at that
time, or reasonably close to it. The people I spend time with should
be the best fit for it that I can imagine. That way, when I spend time
with them, they know that it’s a conscious, this-is-the
best-thing-I-can-do-with-my-time thing. If I get that sorted out,
then everything will fall into place…

I’m happy. Good stuff.

Random Japanese sentence: この種の猫には尾が無い。 The tail is absent in this type of cat.