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506th Friday Blog Roundup

I was reading Susan Sontag’s best productivity tips on Lifehacker, and they were… as you would suspect from Sontag… simple and brilliant:

I will have lunch only with Roger. (‘No, I don’t go out for lunch.’ Can break this rule once every two weeks.)

I will write in the Notebook every day. (Model: Lichtenberg’s Waste Books.)

I will tell people not to call in the morning, or not answer the phone.

I will try to confine my reading to the evening. (I read too much — as an escape from writing.)

Lifehacker’s point was that she made rules for breaking her rules, but I was sort of more amazed that she set up clear, unapologetic boundaries for herself.  I do not have said boundaries.  I mean, yes, I have them in theory, tucked somewhere in my brain, but I rarely follow them.  I also do not want to “do lunch” in the sense that I lose an hour or more of work time when I do (from an already truncated work day).  And yet I say yes to lunch.  Because I like the person and want to spend time with them.

Because I work from home, people think nothing of calling to chat during my work day.  When I’m not on deadline, it isn’t technically a problem, except every minute I spend on the phone talking is a minute I’m not moving forward with a project.  The answer is that I should pull a Sontag and not answer the phone.  But then I feel rude.  I guess the point is that Sontag didn’t care if she was rude, and she reaped the consequences of having people think of her as rude.  But she got stuff done.

And I guess I was struck by her admittance that she used reading as an escape from writing.  I have two ways I use reading — to enjoy a story and as an on-ramp to my own writing projects.  I don’t really need the on-ramp for blog post writing, but I often need to read a chapter before I can work on a fiction manuscript.  Reading that she confined her reading to the evening made me wonder what she used as an on-ramp.  Or did she not need an on-ramp?  Could she sit down and just… write.

Interesting thoughts.


This is a really cool video on how passwords work on a lot of sites:


Yes, this is your weekly reminder to back up your blog, social media accounts, and email.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

And if you don’t know how to back up your blog, read this post on BlogHer that talks about manual backups and plugins.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.


And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

No Kidding in NZ has a post about the wall of baby photographs seen in the doctor’s office or clinic.  She wonders if the hope that some take from the wall balances with the pain seeing those pictures brings for others.  If they get under the skin of some people, whereas others don’t consider them at all.  It’s an interesting post and an interesting discussion in the comment section.

Climbing the Pomegranate Tree has a post about a divorced friend who lamented three years ago that she would never meet someone to build her family with who recently announced her pregnancy.  It’s a brief post that packs a punch.  And the title made me think of the difference between the sail boats and motor boats zipping around the harbour.

Lastly, An Engineer Becomes a Mom has a post that I want to hand people every time they say the words “just adopt.”  There is no “just” in adoption, for any member of the triad, and this post sums up the complicated nature of adoption, considering a situation from a multitude of angles.  Your heart will go out to everyone in the post.

The roundup to the Roundup: Susan Sontag’s productivity notes.  How passwords are stored (or not stored).  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between August 1st and August 8th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.


1 Tracie { 08.08.14 at 7:42 am }

I’ve started taking the phone completely off the hook when I’m working, and silencing my cell phone. This way I don’t have to even hear the ring letting me know someone tried to call.

2 Jen { 08.08.14 at 10:14 am }

Phoning someone does not give you priority over their schedule. I was so interested you said that not answering made you “feel rude”, then went on to say the author didn’t care if “she was rude” or “having people think of her as rude.”

Does it help if we stop thinking of putting everyone else before ourselves as essential politeness? Set ourselves free from thinking it rude not to? I would never think someone was rude for not answering. And how special it makes one feel to receive a mindful, unrushed call later when someone says,”I saw a missed call from you, how are you.”

3 azlu { 08.08.14 at 10:23 am }

I rarely go out these days with my phone in my pockets.

4 a { 08.08.14 at 11:20 am }

Shoot – I am theoretically required to be available to agencies who call my work phone and sometimes I don’t answer it. Either because I’m working and don’t want to be disturbed or because I’m not interested in talking to anyone. I don’t understand people who feel compelled to answer a phone just because it’s ringing. 🙂

That password thing is pretty cool…but why do I have to change my password all the time then?

5 Ana { 08.08.14 at 12:05 pm }

Agree with those above who wouldn’t consider it “rude” to not answer a phone when you are busy. No one really calls me to “chat” in the middle of the workday, but if they did, I’d definitely ignore it and get back to them later, when I had the time. When/if they ask where you were earlier, just say “I was working, I generally work between x & y”. That’ll also train them not to call during those hours again!
I try not to go out to lunch often, either. Its such a time suck. I do it about once every 2-3 months now. I do get together with colleagues and eat lunch (that we brought from home) & chat for 30 minutes or so, but not to restaurants, which take a minimal of 1.5 hours to get there, order, eat, deal with the splitting of the bill, and get back.

6 Mali { 08.09.14 at 12:50 am }

I really like the idea of Sontag’s rules, and I might think about writing some of my own. I do have some informal rules – I’ve been self-employed and working from home for 12 years now, and the first one I set myself was not to read during the day. (If it’s a particularly brilliant book, and I don’t have an urgent deadline, then I let myself break the rule, but this happens rarely). The second one is no wine before 5 pm (or 4 pm on Fridays)!

I don’t get a lot of phone calls, so it’s not a major problem for me. I tend to answer, otherwise I worry and can’t concentrate. But I do tend to leave my cellphone downstairs if I’m working (unless I’m expecting an important call), so I don’t hear the calls and don’t worry. I have been trying to convince myself that I don’t have to answer the phone as soon as it rings. I don’t think it’s rude not to answer, or to ask people not to call at a particular time. I just have to convince myself of it!

7 A. { 08.10.14 at 7:10 am }

Sometimes I think texts make slippery on-ramps because they tend to cloud my own voice, and I find the line between borrowing inspiration and stealing a little hard to navigate honestly. I’ve said before that writers are readers in general, but I think I also need a little time to digest in between in order to feel confident that I’m doing ‘me’ unapologetically. In that way, her rule makes sense to me.

Also, great blogs this week! However, the more blogs I read on adoption the more I realize that I’m just not built for that, especially the comments section of that post on Creating a Family–so callous and demoralizing.

8 loribeth { 08.14.14 at 7:45 pm }

Nicole at Real Life & Thereafter had a great post about her own struggles with depression in the wake of Robin Williams’s suicide this past week:


9 deathstar { 08.18.14 at 10:57 am }

After losing her job of many years, Loribeth from The Road Less Travelled attended seminar about life transitions and related it to infertility and childlessness.

10 Geochick { 08.25.14 at 5:11 pm }

Good grief I am behind! Thanks so much for the shout-out on that post. 🙂

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