The Dog Ate My Blog (aka: Lame Excuses)

Okay fine. The dog didn’t eat my blog.

In fact, we don’t even own a dog.

homework

But yes, my blog has been MIA for a couple of weeks. I had this long list of potential lame excuses as to why there haven’t been any new posts.

  • My kids have been hogging the computers. My tablet, too. And my phone.
  • I woke up one morning with blog amnesia. I remembered everything else — just forgot that I had this blog.
  • I joined a professional wiffle ball team, and we had to train for the Wiffle Ball World Series. (Okay, I just found out that that is really a thing).
  • My real parents finally arrived from Jupiter, and I spent three weeks showing them how humans live. I even gave them my copy of Earth (the Book). By the way, if you haven’t read it yet, you are really missing out on a vital part of your anthropology education.
  • just-didnt-do-it-excuses

Then I decided that honesty was the best policy. So I’ll be honest: I hate reading blog posts about why people haven’t been blogging lately. I hate writing about it, too. The truth is that I only have so much creative energy. And it occurred to me that I can spend it all on writing blogs, and writing mediocre poetry, or I can focus it on editing the YA novel I wrote, so that maybe someday, a publisher will want to pay me money for it and turn it into an actual book. But to reach that goal, the novel has to be super-awesome. And to write a super-awesome novel, a writer must learn to focus.

focus-on-the-important-things

Don’t take me wrong. I’m not scrapping my blog so that I can write. I’m just spending a lot less energy making sure that I post new material here every week. That’s lame, I know. But it’s so much better than coming up with lists of excuses about why I still haven’t finished editing the novel.

Like blaming the dog. Which we still don’t have.

Hoarder (aka: The Pursuit of Everything)

Confession: I am a hoarder.

No, not a hoarder of junk. In fact, I can’t stand too much clutter around me. Not a hoarder of animals, or food, or anything else that could land me on a TV reality show, my secret bad habits displayed for the world to see.

However, I am a hoarder of hobbies. Is there such a thing?

I am an avid reader of all sorts of literature, from poetry to science to fiction stories great and terrible. I could read all day if not for the competition with so many other hobbies. Sports — playing and watching. Cooking, baking, exploring new recipes and cuisines from around the globe. Television shows and movies from every decade, in any language. And speaking of languages — Spanish, German, or programming languages?

And did I mention computer games? Or hiking/camping/outdoorsy stuff?

 

Life is too short

 

That covers about half of my hobbies. I think. Maybe it’s not so bad, have so many interests in so many things. It seems unfair, at times, that we only get to do this life thing one time. That’s it — one shot to get it all done; to go to all the places and do all the things. Many people have bucket lists longer than their life spans. If only there was a mod for this — an age slider like on The Sims, which we could extend until we’ve had a chance to live the full and rich life we dream of.

bucket List literally

I still haven’t learned to make a soufflé. Or surf. There are still thousands of books I would like to read, films I haven’t seen. I still haven’t finished editing my novel. It is a challenge to maintain this blog, let alone my other two.

Just as a hoarder of junk probably doesn’t really get to simply relax and fully enjoy every single thing she has collected, a hoarder of hobbies comes to realize the sad truth — that in one’s desire to pursue her every passion, she can rarely manage to pursue just one. Something will be neglected. So what shall I do? Must I apply spring cleaning to my long list of favorite activities, weeding out the many in order to focus on the few? Or shall I continue to spread my energy around, living a life full enough for two people, though within the time limits of an individual? Would cutting back increase my focus, or kindle a restlessness for more — more activities, more learning, more of life?

list of hobbies

 

Pay Attention! (aka: Multitasking is Way Overrated)

PrintOkay. Judging by current statistics, I will only be able to keep your attention for around 8 seconds. (Or 5 minutes, depending on which link you click). Either way, current research indicates a decrease in the average adult attention span. The latest scapegoat? The Internet.

If there’s one thing humans love to do, it’s rewire our brains. And in fact, it appears that our constant web surfing has managed to do just that. It’s funny, isn’t it? We all love to boast about how we are such skilled Multitaskers. We can do half a dozen things at once! We can text a friend on our cell phones while simultaneously playing a game on our iPads, watching a streaming episode of Gray’s Anatomy on the television, and listening to our kids talk about school, all while paying attention to dinner cooking in the kitchen. We are Superhumans.

Or are we?

The sad truth is this – multi-tasking does not mean that we are performing those tasks better. In fact, the reverse is true. In the article Why the Modern World is Bad for Your Brain, neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explains why we have the concept of multi-tasking all wrong. He quotes Earl Miller, an MIT neuroscientist and expert on divided attention, who says that human brains are: “not wired to multitask well… When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

In other words, multitasking makes us stupider.   multitasking myth

Here’s the thing: the very word multitasking was coined by the IT industry. It was meant to describe the way computer processors can switch very rapidly from one task to a next. Human brains, however, were simply not designed to do so. At least, not without a cost. In his article, You Say Multitasking Like It’s a Good Thing, computer engineering professor Charles J. Abaté explains, “As with a microprocessor, the interruption of one task requires us to remember where we stopped, so that when we return to this task we can resume the activity. The same is true, of course, for the alternate task(s). Now, whereas microprocessors are quite efficient at storing and retrieving these interruption points, brains are decidedly not.”

The bottom line here is that there is very little benefit to multitasking. While we may think that attempting to manage several tasks at once is making us more productive, the research indicates that what we are actually doing is juggling three separate tasks and executing them poorly. Want to become a more effective learner? Turn off the television. Want to perform better at your job? Stop checking your email every few minutes. Having trouble paying attention? Turn off your cell phone.

Too Many Distractions

Just as we are capable of rewiring our brains for the worse, we are also capable of rewiring our brains for the better. By living in the moment and focusing our attention on the single task at hand, we can rise to our potential.