This "say no" strategy totally changed my life.
I’m a high functioning person with the capacity to get a lot done in a limited amount of time. However, when I have a lot of projects on my plate (which is pretty much always, between Boston Mamas, Posh Peacock, and my other freelance writing and editing gigs), sometimes I just feel utterly overwhelmed; every task on my list seems too large to tackle, and I procrastinate. And the thing is, lately I’ve become a little disgusted by the ways in which I tend to procrastinate, particularly given the constant state of disorganization I feel mired in, my overflowing inbox, the lovely bird greeting card collection that has been half-designed for about 6 months, and the fact that Laurel’s closet is filled with clothes that are 1-2 years too small for her. The list goes on.
I queried on Twitter about people’s worst forms of procrastination and they involved things such as TV (@vpzdesigns, @that_danielle), web surfing (@allisonpeltz, @wbgookin, @loveyoga), food (@kidmuseumnh: I loved their response, “either eating food or talking about food if no actual food is available”), or forms of procrastination that actually are productive, such as laundry (@k_patterson).
There are some similarities, but my list also includes a few more ludicrous items. So my hope is that by confessing to the absurdity of my worst procrastination tendencies, I can shed them. I want to make better use of my time. And if I do find myself with a few minutes to kill between meetings or whatever, I’d like to spend them better.
So, here are the worst ways I tend to procrastinate, followed by related, more meaningful replacement behaviors. I'd love to hear your confessions too.
I completely blame my Dad (may he rest in peace) for my interest in the Ivy League (most recently piqued by this New Yorker column on Ivy League percentages in presidential administrations). A classic Korean immigrant, my Dad was obsessed with Harvard. In fact, my parents settled in Belmont (a suburb next to Cambridge) so that all 7 of their kids could live at home and be but a short bus ride to Harvard (unfortunately, he went 0 for 7 on that dream). I wasn’t a good enough high school student to consider the Ivy’s for college, but by the time I finished my Master’s I was, and was accepted to several schools – including Cornell – for my Ph.D.
But then I was faced with a problem. Should I follow my (or rather, my father’s?) Ivy envy to Cornell, even though I was warned by multiple faculty members and students that my potential advisor was crazy, had an intellectual property lawsuit waged against her (by a former disgruntled graduate student), and that I should be prepared to change advisors (and fields entirely) if I came to Cornell? Was I tempting fate to walk into that situation with those famous suicide gorges nearby? Was it worth suffering 4-6 years of academic torture to attempt to validate my intellect with an Ivy League pedigree?
I ended up heading to Queen’s University in Canada, where the advisor seemed (and ended up being) the perfect fit, the tuition was a pittance, and my Master’s would actually count for something (at Cornell, they would have made me start over again). When I told my Dad about my decision, he hung up the phone on me and didn’t talk to me for 3 weeks. It wasn’t until sometime told him that Queen’s was considered the “Harvard of the North” (disputable, what with McGill and University of Toronto, but whatever…) that he perked up and started talking to me again.
Ivy envy apparently runs deep.
Compared to how I started Boston Mamas (laboring over the design endlessly, creating at least 50 new pieces of editorial content before telling anyone about it, etc.), the launch of this blog was lightning quick. As in, was struck by the idea Tuesday of this week, ran the domain name by the incredibly fabulous Jennifer James (of The Mom Bloggers Club and The Mom Salon… another one of these chicks who puts me to shame), set up the domain and hosting, picked a Wordpress template, banged out a fast banner so the site looked vaguely less template-y, and started to add content. The look isn't totally perfect yet, but I decided not to let that stop me.
I’d like to credit my therapist for this fast launch. My perfectionist nature typically bogs me down – sometimes to the point of paralysis - and thanks to my continued hours on the couch, I’m working on letting go and embracing imperfection. It’s delicious when it works.
I find that inspiration – and an intense, irrepressible need to act – often comes when I’m at-the-end-of-my-rope-busy. Like this week when - eyeballs deep in projects and deadlines - I decided to start this blog.
My history is this: I’m a lifelong Bostonian, first generation Korean, and the sixth of seven (intentionally conceived) children. I used to be a semi-professional violinist, but I knew that I wasn’t good enough to be fully professional, so I forged a related career in music psychology. (I later learned that this field was a gathering place for other former semi-professional musicians.) I spent 10 years honing my expertise in music and brain processes, won prestigious grants from the NIH, and made it to the hallowed halls of Harvard and MIT for my postdoctoral fellowship.
Then in 2006, I decided to jump academic ship in pursuit of more creative pastures. I founded Boston Mamas (a stylish resource portal for families in Boston and beyond) and, shortly thereafter, gave my design work an official place in the world by launching Posh Peacock. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, serving as the managing editor for a music psychology journal, and writing on kiddo issues for Care.com and Shoestring Magazine.
Last but not least, I’m mother to an amazing 4-year-old daughter and have a really spectacular husband. But I won’t bore you with those happy details.
So now you’re wondering, why Pop Discourse? Why now, when I already grumble about being short on hours, sleep, and time to enjoy cocktails with my girlfriends?
Well, I’ve always been a person who relies heavily on gut instinct, from the trivial (should I buy that pair of black pumps even though I already have 5 pairs in the closet?) to the maternal (is my baby really sick or is this just run of the mill daycare-inspired boogers?) to the major (should I flush my Ph.D. down the toilet?). And as I’ve become more immersed in social media, I’ve strangely found that there’s been no space for my personal discourse on pop culture, either contextually (given that Boston Mamas is resource driven and the Posh Peacock blog is for my design work) or literally (the personal voice I share on Twitter is limited to 140 characters per thought).
So here I arrived at Pop Discourse. A place where I can give voice to my fascination with the intersecting streams of pop culture, the intellectually interesting or absurd, motherhood, and trying to “make it work” (I heart you, Tim Gunn) as a modern woman. I hope you’ll stop by, tell your friends, and share in the discourse.