Know When to Doldrum

Let’s face it: February is exhausting. Every year I seem to hear people joking that this is the shortest month because if it was any longer we’d go crazy. In fact, people seem to have felt that way about February for almost as long as the month has existed.

Snow Mountain Right now the town where I live and work is smothered in piles of snow that keep growing and won’t melt away. Woveling snow off my driveway is my new part-time job. Our cars are coated with ice and snow, their climate controls left constantly turned to high heat and defrost; black, crusty chunks of road spray freeze into wedges in the wheelwells that we kick off into parking lots and driveways, only to see them reappear like a snow fungus with each drive we take.

All day and night, an endless mass of freezing air and wind sits upon us like an invisible, empty sea. We don’t walk as much as scurry from building to building, inhaling deeply to brace ourselves before we exit, then plunging into it with our armor of hats and scarves and gloves and puffy coats. Each arrival back in the warmth of a destination is announced with a short dance of stomping boots and exhaled huffs of relief.

By mid-February, a day above 35F degrees is a joy. You feel confined by the elements, your movements limited, and efforts doubled. You may have a primal urge to stay indoors and burrow deep into a soft nest, envious of all the small mammals you sense curled into a state of torpor or hibernation somewhere in the dark. Everything seems to slow down, stagnate, as if Mother Nature has hit the pause button at the worst time, leaving us in a snowy limbo until she decides to let the seasons advance once more and set us free.

Welcome to The Doldrums.

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How a Hoarder Handles 208 Hours of Reading in One Day

My name is Dave and I am a hoarder. Not the “piles-of-garbage-in-the-living-room” kind of hoarder but a virtual one. I have an invisible mountain of magazine articles, blog posts, and other random bits of information in a stack that stretches on and on for what feels like miles, with little to no organization or purpose other than at some point I thought I needed to read it or otherwise act on it. And even though these are not physical piles that I am walking past and ignoring, they have grown large enough that I can feel them there, waiting for me to do something about them.

The primary enablers for this bad habit have been my favorite “save for later” web clipper apps, Pocket and Instapaper. I’ve been using them for many years without any cleanup, and between just those two apps I have enough unread articles saved that I could read for 8 days straight and still not be finished. Many of those articles I no longer even remember why I saved them. And yet I still haven’t done anything about it because it’s “virtual” clutter.

But tomorrow is the start of a brand new year, and I’m determined that I am going to start 2015 with as much of a clean slate as possible, so it’s time for drastic actions.

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The Truly Productive Gift Guide

This post started out very differently, as yet another list of recommended “gifts for productive people” or something along those lines. I spent a couple hours collecting my list over the past week, finding images to embed and establishing details about each item and why it was on the list and blah blah blah.

It was looking really good, like a lot of other similar lists I’d been seeing. Which is when I realized that nobody needed that blog post. Not even me.

All I was doing was adding to the noise, creating another listicle that didn’t really say anything, and I wasn’t really learning anything by writing it either. So instead, I’m happy to present a “gift guide” that not only encourages productivity but is in itself productive because there’s only one suggested gift on it.

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