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Today I am going to start a new series of articles, which I am hoping to continue regularly, called Sunday Muse.  Essentially it will be a bit of a look back over the week, covering any good articles or podcasts I have checked out over the week, activities I’ve been up to and any thoughts and ideas I may have for the week ahead.

Babbling Engineer Sunday Muse

We’re currently super busy at work at the moment.  There are lots of deadlines looming and a push to get analyses out.  The joys of working in an understaffed Engineering industry.  I’m currently a stress checker, which means I check over other people’s analyses, before they get signed off.  This can lead to conflict at times, especially when people are working long hours.  That has given me 2 ideas for future articles – one on working long hours and your productivity levels, and the other on dealing with conflict in the workplace.

In between all of that I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on site design and improving traffic for the site.  What a minefield of information – and full of pandas and penguins!  I’ve made a few changes to the front page – I’ve got rid of the featured post section (it may come back, but for now, its gone) and I’ve expanded the front page to display the last 9 posts.

Between all of that, I’ve not had much time to read any books, but I have been listening to a few podcasts and read a few news articles.  Here are some of the highlights:

Interview with Merlin Mann (Beyond The To Do List)

Episode 32, which is an interview with Merlin Mann, of 43 Folders and Inbox Zero fame.  I’ve always been drawn to Merlin Mann’s approach, and occasionally I manage to follow it.

Some of the stuff that I picked up on in this interview was taking care of inboxes.  Merlin reminds us not to allow too much stuff into your life – only what you accept.  He uses his example of his phone.  He has no control over who calls him, but he does have control over how he manages that particular inbox, so he constantly redirects it to his voicemail.  I take a similar approach and keep my phone on silent most of the time, with no voicemail.  He furthered this with an analogy – there’s a reason his house has a door – so people can’t just drift into his house.  It enables him to control the input into his life and prevent it bombarding him while he is doing something else.

He also talked about Sunk Cost Fallacy, which is essentially not throwing good money after bad, even if there is emotional attachment.

How to Listen When Someone is Venting (Harvard Review)

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This was an interesting article on handling someone who is venting, or getting something off their chest at you.  I read this article with some interest, as this is a skill I have tried to hone over the years.  Whilst the article felt a bit plastic in parts, a lot can be gained from it.  The main one being, how to strike that balance between telling the venter to “pull themselves together” (RARELY a good thing – they need to get it out of their system), and sitting there like a dummy, and not responding.  I’ve talked about active listening previously, and this article essentially suggests a good dose of active listening.

How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People (Lifehack)

These articles tend to be ten-a-penny these days.  However, I’m constantly looking for ways I can improve my organisation skills and become more efficient.  Therefore, I am a sucker for these.

I wouldn’t normally share these out, because there are so many out there, but this article summarises the main things that I am currently trying to do in my life.  I may even bas an article on some of the points in this article at some point, and document how I got on with them.

Can Coffee Enhance Productivity (Lifehack)

This infographic perked my interest.  I’ve just made the switch from my instant decaf all the time, to having a nice cup of ground coffee first thing in the morning, as a treat when I first get into work.  I’ve really noticed the difference in the mornings that I miss it!

There’s some interesting statistics in there.  Apparently 46% of workers claim they are less productive if they don’t drink coffee.  Up until recently, I’d have rebuked that claim.  Now, however, I think I’d agree – especially when I’ve had a bad night’s sleep.

Shades of Structure (Dave Seah)

I’ve followed Dave’s blog now for a little while.  He’s a designer working in the US.  He discusses his workflow and productivity methods quite regularly and has produced some great tools for managing his workflow.  He is currently having a bit of a productivity reboot, and documenting all his thoughts and ideas as he goes.  It makes for quite an interesting read.

So, as for next week.  Well, I’m going to try and get into a regular schedule of a full article being released on a Wednesday and then my Sunday Muse post on a Sunday (funnily enough!).  I’m also having a play with some website design and as always, constantly plugging away at work.  Next week should hopefully be the last week of the project I am currently working on at work, so I suspect a manic week is ahead!

Until next week!