Fun, Amazing, Etc.

This is the official blog of indie author / adventure writer Andy R. Bunch, author of the fantasy book, "Suffering Rancor." As always, I'll post funny or amazing things I find in my travels or from poking around online. This is a great place to kick back and relax a bit. You may note that I’m not too clean or too dirty. For more information on my book, go to Here are links to first two books and

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Briefest of Life Updates

I don't know about you folks, but I never have just one or two things to accomplish. I always have 10 to 15 things I'd like to be doing, and at least 3 to 5 things that are either important or urgent enough that I really must do them right now. No matter which I pick I'm letting one or two things slide. Let's face it. You can't win them all--heck--you can't even attempt them all.

I try to maximize my efforts by not reinventing the wheel. I throw a lot of my needs out to social media to ask if anyone else has already devised something for my situation. While I wait for a response, I google to see if there's an answer from a willing stranger/expert. Sometimes I net a massive shortcut, but usually I get at least some amount of unsorted advice that at least helps me steer around a pitfall or two.

The ultimate answer is a personal assistant. Tim Farris gives great advice on using virtual assistance. Turns out that they are cheaper than you'd think if you work with someone outside the US. There's definitely a learning curve/adjustment period while you and your assistant learn what your needing help with and how much time/$ that should take.

I have no budget for that particular answer right now. I can't wait till I do. For right now I just want to touch on the basic life balance of it all. I tend to get overwhelmed, which brings my productivity way down when I most need it at maximum.  I need a couple things to avoid that. First and foremost, I've learned I need to chill out. No matter how tight the deadline, you can only do what you can do.

The second thing I need is to the best system I can find for organizing and time management. I write about my system often (it's a work in progress) so I won't address it right now.

The third thing I need is to remember that I have to alternate between urgent and important things. Stephen R. Covey first brought that to my attention (I don't know if he's the first dude to dream it up). If you make a grid with urgent on one side and important on the top you can sort everything into 4 basic categories.

Urgent and Important, Urgent Not Important, Important Not Urgent, and Not Urgent or Important.

He notes that the Urgent and Important category is a no brainer. You must spend time there. However the Not urgent unimportant category is often loaded with fun/relaxing things that help us recuperate. You get even more detail about that in the book, "The Power of Full Engagement." Which I recommend and link to so often you're probably sick of it. But seriously check it out.

That's one reason I blog. I tried to blog for years and hated it. I tried to journal for decades before that and was sporadic at best. I'm still sporadic, but what you don't know is that I'm more likely to blog when I'm uber busy than when things relax a little. It's therapeutic for me to externalize my thoughts and organize them a bit. I hope it also encourages folks along the way, or give a couple of tips.

My point here is this. Even if you don't have an organized system for organizing or a set of formal recovery rituals, you need to rotate between the values/priorities in your life. If only part of you life that get's attention is the value most urgent in this season your effectiveness will go down. Life a person who starves because he forgot to eat, he was too busy working. Sooner or later hunger will burden you enough to make continued work impossible. Just ask any survival expert. You can technically go without eating for over a month, but if you intend to make good survival decisions and carry them out, you'd better eat every three days at the least.

So why else does blogging help. Well there's a basic input/output balance that needs addressed as well. I'm in a massive study cycle right now, and not only is it killing my progress on writing projects but I'm going nuts for lack of opportunity to express myself. I'm not such an extrovert that I can't sit down for a period of time and just soak up information. In fact I'm a life-long learner. I can't watch TV shows that only entertain for too many days in a row. I have to watch a documentary, or a scientific special or a TED talk, or something to break it up. I also alternate between fiction novels and non-fiction for similar reasons. Most people probably do this to some extent, but I'm religious about it.

By the same token, I'm not so introverted that I don't need human interaction on a regular basis. Not just one or two people either. I love my new wife, but I have to have my friends around part of the time. I need the diverse input of thoughts, emotions, feelings, and ideas.

So here it is in a nutshell (sorry for dragging on about me, but I'll get to where this might help you in a moment) I've got a reputation for being able to churn out some pretty huge undertakings in a really short turn-around. But other times, projects last seemingly forever. I've discovered that I only have a focus on any one package of activity for about 72 hours. Meaning I can go with minimal sleep and focus on a project for 72 straight hours before I crash and need something different. By something different I mean to other end of the spectrum from what I've been doing.

If I've been learning something, I have to either teach it to someone, or express myself about something else for at least 8 hours. If I've been writing on a project for 72 hours, I have to learn something new for 8 hours. In addition to the push the opposite direction I have set back and read for fun or watch something asinine on TV for 6 to 8 hours, and/or visiting with friends for 4 hours + catching up on sleep. (I'm not claiming to be awake and working the whole 72 hours. It happens but I usually get 8 to 15 hours of sleep in that time.)

The world is on a 24 hour / 7 day schedule and I'm on sort of an 100ish hour one. Many projects can be accomplished in 72 hours (at least my part of them). I get a lot of push back from teammates when we have a planning session for a large project and I go home and bang it out/mail it off/ then go to sleep at whatever time of day or night. The say, "Andy we can't work that fast."

It all falls apart though when I'm on a deadline and the project can't be done in 72 hours. So I'll make tremendous progress on something, say Monday to Wednesday, then I don't want to think about it again that week. If I do too many cycles of one type of activity (72 on 28 off) then I have to do an activity cycle that's totally opposite. So best case scenario, I work 60 hours in 3 days, take a day off to rest, then work 60 hours in 3 days doing something totally different.

I've never been so confronted by this as I am now that I'm married to a 24/7 woman. I'm constantly flustered by having my workday chopped in half and worried that I'll look like I'm loafing when I take a day off to screw around. It's a challenge. And I wish I could say that I've got some answers, but I don't just yet.

Thanks for listening. I hope this gives you all some things to ponder. What are some things you've been back-burnering for too long? If you spent even an hour or two doing one of those, would you productivity go up in other areas?

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