Review: Goodreads

Lately, I’ve been convicted about not reading enough.  Maybe convicted isn’t the proper word, but it sounds harsh enough to be accurate.  I love playing video games, but the fact of the matter is that becoming a gamer made me no longer a reader.  I’ve decided that it’s time to bring the reader back.  Its not as easy as you might think.  First, I don’t read as fast as I used to (being out of practice), but secondly,  I don’t have as much time to read as I used to.  With a family and a job, I collapse exhausted into bed most nights.  What I need is something to help me keep up my motivation and track how I’m doing.

That’s when I found Goodreads, courtesy of Jeff Green’s Twitter. On a whim, I signed up.  One thing I appreciated off the bat, is that the site gave me something to do.  It was time to start entering books I had read.  I enjoyed the fact that as I entered the books, I could look through different editions and pick the one with the cover that matched mine on my shelf.

By the time I was done entering most of the books I could find on my shelf,  I felt like I’d invested enough time that I should see it through.  I entered the books I was currently reading, as well as the books I needed to read that were either laying around my house from friends or had been recommended to me.  Then I discovered their iPhone app.  Now I could track where I was in my book and add instant thoughts from anywhere.

So far, I’ve found Goodreads to be a fun resource, and something that’s helped me be more excited about reading again.  The interface is simple and well laid out, the iPhone app is easy to use, and it’s helping me keep a good inventory of my books while planning ahead for what I need to read in the future.  The only thing I’ve found lacking is that I don’t have many friends on Goodreads.  There are very few people I know that I’ve been able to join up with.  If you’re reading this and think Goodreads sounds like something you’d benefit from (or you’re already using), feel free to add me as a friend. Regardless, I hope you’ve got the time to enjoy a good book.

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Operation Organize: Part 2

I was finally able to get my hands on an inbox, and it seems to have made a big difference:

Desk post inboxIt may be hard to see in the image, but green inbox ended up on right side of the desk.  The clock, pens, and George Washington moved over the left, while the gnome collection is in temporary storage.  (They may be on holiday; it’ll depend on if I find a envelope of pictures of them in various places when I get them back out of storage.)  Hopefully you can see that the iPod now sets in its own clean space, rather than on top of a large pile of papers.

There are still some things that need to be done, for example, I hardly ever use pens or pencils, and yet my cup is stuffed full of them, so it’s time to clean them out.  Then there’s the matter of the desk that’s not actually desktop.Still messy The sides of the desk are composed of three shelves, two large and one small.  Both of these are overflowing with papers, CDs, etc.  The hope is to gradually take each shelf and then place it’s contents into the inbox.  Once the inbox is empty, I move on to the next shelf and so on and so forth.

For now, it just feels good to have some clean space on the desk.  It allows me to feel more productive and less stressed when I sit down.  Once the shelves and floorspace around the desk are finished, I’ll have finally recaptured my workspace at home.

Operation Organize

This is my desk:

As you can see, I have a serious problem.  Organization is something I’ve struggled with for basically my entire life.  In the past year, after encountering Lifehacker and then reading (by their recommendation) “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, I’ve come to an actual appreciation for continual organization.  This appreciation has been applied to my desk and workspace at work (picture not available), but, as can be noted by the picture above, I haven’t taken the principles home.

My wife, who is wonderful, did her best to try to help me with some organization by setting up areas of my desk to put things.  It didn’t quite work for me.  I think I need an enclosed space to put things in, or they spread.  I hope to pick up a couple of supplies in the next week that will help me reorganize and fix the desk.  My goal is to strip down the desktop to a minimalist fashion, with only the necessary items there, move some of the non-essentials nearby, and then go through the GTD process on everything else.

Hopefully I’ll have an updated picture of the new and improved desk in the next few weeks.  I’m looking forward to being able to write/read/play while not feeling like my desk could eat me or bury me at any time.

Lazy Consumption

I should preface the following by pointing out that I generally don’t like writing posts about how I’m not good at writing posts.  I’ve written enough of that post type, and considering my track record, if I was to write posts full of pathetic half excuses for not writing more consistently, that would be half the posts here.  So we’ll skip the excuses.

The other day, I posted to Twitter:

When I’m at work, I think “I should really write some blog posts.” When I’m home in front of my computer, I play games instead. Typical me.

I continued to ask this question, and I’m still not totally sure on the answer, but a recent article on the Art of Manliness has added another piece to the solution.  Brett and Kate McKay discuss the fact the one of the aspects of maturity for the modern man is a transition from consumer to creator.  Their argument is that a man invests and creates something himself rather than limiting himself to the choices laid out by a consumerist society.

To say it a different way, a man gives of himself and a boy takes for himself.  Because of my personal beliefs, I believe there’s more to it than just creator vs. consumer, but the point is extremely valid and one I can take to heart.  My desire to write here and other places, to learn how to build a website, and more is constantly battling with my desire to sit on my butt and play a computer game.

That’s not to say that it’s not ok to relax and enjoy a game, either during some down time for myself or with my wife on the Wii.  But when the day blurs together, you’re tired, and your primary thought is, “I really could just sit down and play a game for a while,” it’s time to rethink some things.  So the rethinking begins.  Will I invest my time in myself and laziness by playing more video games alone?  Or will I invest time into my family, activities that benefit others as well as me, and hobbies that involve creating rather than consuming?