Productivity Report, Week of March 3

by Sunita

No tomato post title or photo this week, because I (gasp!) did not use the Pomodoro technique. It wasn’t a conscious decision and I wound up getting quite a bit of work done anyway. Last week was also the unofficial start of my spring break, (it officially started yesterday). Rather than doing a day-by-day report, I’m going to write a more free-form summary.

We left town early Thursday morning after a very busy half-week. Monday was meetings, classes, review sessions, finalizing the exam, etc. Tuesday was extra pre-exam office hours and other meetings with students. Wednesday was classes, more extra office hours, dinner with a friend, and prepping for the trip (yes I am very last-minute). I probably could have squeezed in some Poms, but I was so tired and so itching to get out of town that I just forced myself to get done the things I had to and tried not to think too far ahead.

I had a longish list of tasks to finish over the week, and amazingly I managed to get quite a few of them done. Rather than making daily task lists I pulled out one of the ToDo sheets I always carry in my diary but generally avoid looking at. I wrote down everything I could think of, which came to 22 items. By early yesterday morning I had vanquished 10 of them, postponed 2, and had 10 left. I decided this outcome represented a minor victory, since the things I had finished were time-sensitive and the things I hadn’t completed could be rolled over to this week.

I found that I didn’t have to think in 25/5 blocks of time to get work done; I sat down at my desk and cranked through the things that needed doing. Some were small things I’d just put off, others were slightly more complicated, but with a few good nights’ sleep all were easier to tackle. And having done the most important tasks, the next set looks much more doable. I have a few more tasks to add to the list for this week, but not too many and nothing horrible; it’s a mix of teaching, research, reading, and household/personal stuff.

And I’ve managed to do fun things on my break. I told TheHusband that given how tired we both were by the time we got on the plane, we needed to make sure we took some real time off and did non-work things or we’d never make it through the second half of the semester. The winter has been so cold and icy and unpleasant that it’s made the semester feel brutal even though it’s gone by fairly quickly (does that make sense?).

So far, we’ve eaten out for lunches and dinners at old favorites and new discoveries, caught up with friends, walked on the beach, taken relaxing drives, and done a little necessary shopping at non-peak-hour times. The weather has been wonderful (sorry everyone) and the food has been delicious. The artichokes are popping up at stands along the coast, and Dungeness crabs are still in season.

Here’s a shot of Pillar Point, north of Half Moon Bay. This is where they hold the Mavericks surfing competition every year (well, every year the surf cooperates). The waves were almost Mavericks-sized and the tide was out, so we could walk out further than usual. It was just barely warm enough, and beautifully sunny.

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Oh yes, before I go, a quick reminder that DABWAHA is about to get under way. If you’re on Twitter and can’t stand hearing about it, the mute button is your friend (remember to mute both the word and the hashtag, folks). And if you enjoy it and want to participate, there is still time to nominate books for the 8th slot in each category. So Fanyons, Voinovians, Bone Rider lovers, and other fans of 2013 books and authors, get to work!

I saw a tweet yesterday by an author who was railing at other authors for promoting their books, promising she’d never ever buy a book by anyone who bribed or campaigned for votes. To ensure that as many people as possible would get the message, she used the #DABWAHA hashtag. Moreover, and I quote, “vote-begging proves polls online are popularity contests rather than about the quality of writing.” Well, no shit, Sherlock. Of course it’s a popularity contest, the clues to that are contained in the words online and polls.*

Look, DABWAHA started as a small event and has mushroomed into something bigger in one part of online romlandia. The vast majority of romance readers still have no clue what it is, but if you’re in certain corners of Facebook and/or Twitter, you can get inundated for two or three weeks. Some authors and readers enjoy it, others hide from it. Even I, a DA contributor, have been known to mute the hashtag, and I definitely DM Twitter buddies to express my outrage that certain books are even being considered for such a prestigious award. OK, I kid. Not about the DMing, but about the prestige.

Social media is this big, public space where lots of things get attention because some subset of participants want to talk about them. That’s why all the Twitter apps I use have to have the mute function. It’s not social media’s job to protect me, it’s my job to use social media in the way that’s optimal for me. I’m not going to defend DABWAHA, any more than I’m going to defend the Red Carpet fashion snark, or the many, many TV show hashtag conversations. But I am going to defend people’s right to participate and enjoy these communal activities. If they go overboard, that’s on them and they can live with the blowback. But good grief, telling people they’re horrible for engaging in a contest? Get over yourself.

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*Pedantry alert: Of course it is possible to conduct online polls that are scientifically sampled and therefore generalizable. This is not that kind of poll. In addition, the popularity-contest aspect is only partially related to the vote-mongering. Even if authors didn’t say a word, the outcome could be popularity-based rather than a reflection of quality, however quality is defined.

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