There are so many great blogs out there — many have great tips, others serve up ideas for posts. I found a comment over at Write to Done by Mazzycat, and I really wanted to respond. But since the topic of the original post is about using reading to become a better writer (a great idea, by the way), I thought I’d espouse in my own little corner of the blogosphere on:
Frame of Mind
In the post, author Leo talks about ways to use great books to improve one’s writing. In one comment, reader Mazzycat lamented over the fact that after reading a great book, he (or she) would feel discouraged, often thinking, “I could never write anything as good as that…so what’s the point [of even trying]?” He (or she) often saw a great book as discouragement, as a obstacle that could not be overcome. However, another way of looking at it, as the original post suggests, is as a source of inspiration. Both ideas are true, from a certain point of view.
Frame of Mind determines Motivation
Recently, I explained that motivation is the underlying reason to do what we do. However, now I also realize that how a person determines that motivation is almost just as important, probably more so, since a motivation not determined means inaction.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
So, as a creator, when we see great works or art, see a great movie or play, or read a great book, we can either choose to aspire to produce our own great work and use those great examples as inspiration to determine our positive motivation for desirable outcomes. Or, we can see those same great examples and look at our own faults, our own perceived disadvantages, and put ourselves down, saying, “We’d never be able to do that.”
The same applies to other non “creative” vocations: the great athletes, singers, orators, “leaders” — all can serve as inspiration. If we choose to see them that way.
Optimist versus Pessimist
So yes, it’s really another case of optimism versus pessimism. I strongly believe either one affect one’s productivity and well-being, one for the better, and one for the worse.
How’s your frame of mind?
I know I touched on Driving Efficiently, but here’s a quick, simple tip on how to drive safely. It applies to both drivers and pedestrians:
Make Eye Contact with Other Drivers
Whenever I’m driving and come upon an intersection, whether I’m required to stop or not, and there is a car waiting, I strive to make eye contact with the car’s driver.
I often notice many drivers usually do not attempt to make eye contact, but rather they look only at the other car. However, only Autobots drive themselves, so it’s more important make sure that the other driver sees you, otherwise the odds of an accident increases.
This especially applies even when you’re a pedestrian. In fact, even more so, as your very life can be on the line.
I recall being one of three passengers in a car driven by a friend who was a fairly new driver. Upon making a right turn, she braked, and then looked left for oncoming traffic, unaware that on the right a mother and her child were about to cross the street. Our friend proceeded to turn, and almost ran them over! We were horrified, but luckily no one was hurt.
For me, there were two lessons to be learned:
- My friend was in the wrong — she failed to look right to make sure it was safe to turn.
- The mother did not look at my friend — she only noticed the car was stopped (momentarily while my friend looked for oncoming traffic). Had she tried to make eye contact, she would have noticed that my friend had not seen her. She should have then waited until either saw that my friend saw her, or until the car had made its (rude) turn.
To this day, I am especially careful crossing the street (even when the light is green). When it comes to Human vs Auto — Auto wins. Every time.
Why Being Punctual is Important in Our Society
Here in the U.S., being on time to appointments, dates, work, meetings, etc., is important. Unlike some cultures where tardiness is routine, or even expected, we’ve developed the expectation of punctuality because we live in a fast-paced society. With automobiles being as popular as they are (see how many on the road have only one driver), and cities full of things to do, places to go, etc., it becomes important to schedule events and tasks. Being late to something early in the day can have a domino effect on the rest of the day, resulting in frayed nerves and ill-feelings.
What Happens When We’re Late
- Resentment – A person being late will generate at least a modicum of resentment in the person that was waiting, unless it’s become such a habit that the other person EXPECTS the tardiness, which in case…
- Unreliability – A person who is late gains the reputation of being unreliable. This dependability issue may come into play when a person is being considered for a job or a promotion or even a pay raise or bonus, since…
- Uncaring – A person who is late will come to be thought of as uncaring. I would say that the uncaring borders on arrogance, as it seems as if the person has no regard to the feelings, needs and deserved respect of the person waiting.
Tips to Ensure Habitual Punctuality
So, if by now, you think as I do, that being punctual is important, I’ve put together a few pointers to aid in that endeavor:
- Acknowledge the Importance of Punctuality – Like ending any bad habits (e.g. smoking), the first thing to do is the acknowledge the problem, and develop the desire to do something about it. Without this important first step, it’s an uphill battle.
- Be a Time Realist, not a Time Optimist – Realize that we live in a space-time continuum where time flows non-stop whether we do something or nothing. So, be mindful of the little things we do: brushing teeth – 3-5 minutes; reading and responding to an email – 5-10 minutes; putting on make-up – 10-15 minutes, whatever, and know that doing a bunch of them will add up to a large chunk of time.
- Pad Your Appointments – Allow for things like travel and breaks, and even some “breathing room” when planning appointments if possible. Say you have two one-hour meetings. If possible, put in a 15 or 30 minute “break” between them to allow for things like having the first meeting run over a few minutes (because someone else was late), or so you have time to gather material and prepare for the second meeting without being rushed, etc.
- Have the Correct Time on all Clocks – I think it’s a better idea to have all your clocks and watches be set to the correct time, rather than setting them 5 or 10 minutes fast. By setting them fast, you subconsciously know you have an extra 5 or 10 minutes, and what usually happens is procrastination. To set the correct time is very easy these days — some clocks have built-in radio communication that automatically sets the time, and for all the other devices, use your computer or cell-phone as a reference point.
- Prepare the Night Before – Using the divide and conquer principle, figure what tasks can be done the night before, if being somewhere on time in the morning is your goal: getting clothes out, making lunch, etc. If you have kids like I do, getting their clothes out is a good strategy, as is making sure their schoolwork is already packed up in their backpacks.
- Work Backwards from Desired Appointment – Here is what I feel is the main key to punctuality. All the previous tips are supporting blocks to this one. Since life is filled with uncertainties, we allow for some time for little “hiccups” to occur. So, for a job interview, the target time to arrive would be 15-20 minutes before the appointment. For a regular job, the target time would be 8-10 minutes before the official start time. Once the target arrival time is determined, work backwards to arrive at a realistic time to leave. Use experience to determine a realistic amount of travel time, and from that derive your departure time. From that, continue working backwards to allow time to eat, satisfy bathroom needs, groom and get dressed, etc., to arrive at a realistic wake-up time. Then use an alarm to wake up at that time. If you have trouble waking up, then it’s obvious an earlier bed time is in order.
Being on Time is a Desire
In the end, being on time is as much a desire as it is a coordination of logistics.
If you have any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them.