Lazy Blogging?

Sunday again, and no blog post for a while. For a second or two the “l” word entered my head, and was just as quickly booted out with the guilt trip. ‘Lazy’ I haven’t been since the last post, though a casual follower of my blog would assume I might have been. Perhaps a day off to contemplate that slower-moving world out there that I have sworn to get back to some time? Time to work at my photography, garden, read, blog, catch up with friends, cook a good meal even? Fat chance.
Fact is, I have been at work in another kind of dark room creating a particular brand of magic known as a theatre production. The other blogging has been on the production site, and the actors are also hard at it, posting their reactions to the project and seeking comment, which I’ve diligently done. So, no lazy there. No lazy anywhere actually; just the particular brand of stupidity that is prevalent these days and manifests itself in rushing about from project to project, doing work less well and feeling guilty about it, aka the spiral of defeat.

I’m hearing the badge of honour/complaint (not sure which it is) from some colleagues in full-time work recently: “Everyone is working a job and a half!” Stop the madness, say I, and then resolutely jump back on the treadmill myself.

The diminuition of quality in work as well as the exhaustion and joylessness haunts me at times like this. I work in a creative culture for god’s sake, and here I am hanging it out to dry. Merlin Mann produced a great podcast The Richard Scarry Book of the Future a while back on his 43 FoldersPodcast. I like Merlin’s style, his absurd sense of humour, and in this one, the touch of real anger at how we’ve allowed our creativity to get shanghied in the name of increased productivity (my take anyway). I should listen to it every time I get stuck in overwork and distraction down ratholes (another lovely little metaphor for taking a thought, a conversation, an action down to a dead-end) is no substitute for focussed work.

End of rant.

Where have I been?

There have been very few posts to this blog for a couple of weeks, and for good reason. They have all been made to another (private group) blog of mine, which is currently charting the progress of work on a production with a group of acting majors in production on a play Mad Forest by the English writer Caryl Churchill. This play is based on the events surrounding the fall of the Ceaucescu regime in Romania in 1989.

My decision to get the student company members to use this blog as a research tool, and to share their findings, is another experiment on what I am discovering is being called “e-learning” “social networking” and (in creating their own blogs on process which I share as an invited reader) “personal learning spaces.” Results are relatively good; some students have taken to the reflective practice in their own blogs very well; others are either not used to the habit of reflection sufficiently well to make the blog work for them, or simply resistant to using the medium (lack of access at home could well be a problem for some). I’ll be keen to get their feedback at the end of the project as I’ve decided to write a conference paper for delivery later in the year on my own experiments in the field of e-learning.

I’m also enjoying trialling a new app iGTD which is in beta right now. It’s a handy-dandy, very nicely designed productivity tool right out of the GTD box. Each week brings new and better features, including excellent integration with that other beautiful Mac-only app Quicksilver. Part of me misses the Kinkless GTD/Omni Outliner app where I was processing my stuff, but I am liking iGTD very, very much especially how well it syncs info with my .Mac account on the home desktop, my G4 laptop and work machine (iMac).

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What makes a good meeting?

Autumn Light Queen's Park Toowoomba
Image by Dramagirl via Flickr

Stocktaking at the end of the week yesterday, and I realised I had chaired or attended 12 meetings in 5 days. Now I know universities run on meetings, but this seemed a bit excessive. It’s when the stocktaking (aka weekly review) happens that you realise how sensible it is to be as productive as possible. I’m also on something of a one-woman mission to make meetings leaner and more productive; as time poor as we are, we can’t afford to sit around chewing the fat. Far too much fat gets masticated in corridor meetings anyway. OK, so much for the whinge, and it’s fair to say that some of these meetings were very good ones indeed.

IMHO the meetings that do work work around the format that characterises our theatre production meeting: a round-table, “paper production” where the heads of all departments within a production (the show) report on progress, share concerns, prioritise, and map out next actions. It’s chaired by a student Stage Manager, who is learning on the job. Good teaching and good GTD stuff this. Yesterday’s production meeting for a show in the upcoming SiQP Festival (Shakespeare in Queen’s Park Festival) was a model in this regard. Run to time, focussed, and with everyone prepared, we got lots of things through the pipeline and back into the workshop, rehearsal room, and into other meetings (inevitable, but that’s how it goes). So, left the week feeling the week had been a good one meetings-wise.

The other side of the week, and the light side, concerned work during the mornings in the rehearsal room on the show mentioned above, a compilation called Sonnets at Breakfast to be presented in Queen’s Park on March 11 in Toowoomba. Working with the creative energy of actors is a real charge to the system, and it certainly worked to dispel some of the meetings lethargy that had descended on my week.