Thursday, June 21, 2012

My work week sabotaged by distractions

I had grand ambitions for this week’s productivity. I was going to write a travel story about fans making Alabama pilgrimages to Jimmy Buffett’s birth place, send copies of my new book to media friends who might help me promote it, and send query letters to agents who might be interested in my novel.
Here it is Thursday and I haven’t done squat.
Instead I’ve been besieged by an avalanche of pesky distractions.
I tried starting projects and never got any traction.
Woe is me!
Or when it comes to starting productive work, me is “Whoa!”
I’m too distracted now even to put together a coherent post about the distractions. So I’m just going to run ‘em down before all the good seats are gone at the Happy Hour.
• The Blue Angels -- The nation’s premier aerobatic group has been roaring what seems like just inches above my head for the past two days. They’re in Latrobe for Westmoreland County Air Show 2012 at the Arnold Palmer airport. The airport flight path runs directly over my office and the first roar of the F/A-18 Hornet’s jet engines nearly blasted me out of my seat. They’re all over the skies and it’s riveting. They spent the afternoon flying directly over my home and I’d run out the door every two minutes just to catch a glimpse. They’re loud, awesome and right upon you before you know it. Air show week is the one time all year where everyone in Latrobe collectively ducks. Distraction Level (scale 1-10): 7
Heat -- My office is unbearable and I’m rethinking my commitment to not use air conditioning all summer. I’m distracted thinking someone else is going to get rich off my idea to develop a line of clothes that we’ll wear to keep cool, the way we wear sweaters to keep warm in winter. If you’re cold and cheap in the winter, you could conceivably never use the furnace. But the only to way to keep cool indoors in summer is to crank up an air conditioner that is working its mechanical little ass off cooling down 98 percent of the room where you’re not. It’s a terrible waste. D.L.: 8
• Bacon -- I don’t know what the lunch special was at The Pond on Tuesday, but the main ingredient was bacon. It’s impossible to work in an office where the restaurant below you is cooking lots and lots of aromatic bacon. Another link alert: you can read my ode to bacon here. I’m surprised no one’s developed a bacon perfume for women. I’m sure men would find those wearing “Eau de Bacon” irresistible. D.L.: 7
• Twitter -- Like fatherhood, Twitter is another thing I used to ridicule and have since fully embraced. Ever since I got a big rush of new followers (well, big for me), I’ve felt an unreasonable obligation to tweet more faithfully. I enjoy the art of it and sometimes smirk when I think I’ve composed a dandy. But my tweeting is distracting me from my other distractions. I don’t know whether it will lead to anything profitable or not. I’m doing about a dozen a day now. You can check them out here. D.L. 6
• Crayons -- I’m now spending about an hour or so each day using crayons to sign  books for friends or buyers -- and those categories are interchangeable. Anyone interested in my book is a friend. But, I promise, no one signs a book like me. I use nearly a dozen crayons on the title page, sign it in crayon and even include a tiny crayon self-portrait up in the corner. Takes me about 10 minutes to craft each one. A distracting idea? Certainly, but I think it makes the book special. I hope so. And, man, I’m really digging that part of my duties now includes about an hour a day spent scribbling with crayons. Try it! It’s fun! D.L. 6
• Golf -- I’ve played more golf this year than in the past two. And I still stink. When people ask me how I play, I say, “I’m erratic, which is an improvement from lousy.” Erratic golfers hit at least a few good shots. I was invited to my second fancy function at Latrobe Country Club in one month yesterday and played mostly lousy with some erratic shots thrown in for good measure. I don’t know why I can’t improve. I told my friend I think my problem is I’m too social. If I golf with people I dislike I play better, but that’s about four hours spent with people I dislike. I play lousy with people I enjoy because I never shut up, tell jokes and do more giggling than golfing. My friend said, “Well, can’t you concentrate on golf for four hours and save the social element for the 19th hole?” No, I can’t. I’m simply too much fun. D.L.: 8
• Kids -- Val works Monday and Tuesday every other week so I’m home those days watching the kids. I can’t work with the kids around. They’re too distracting. And it makes me feel noble when I think, to hell with work, my daughter wants me to play with Barbies so I’m playing with Barbies. That crayons and Barbies are two of my key distractions doesn’t reflect well on my wage-earning diligence. D.L. 20 (10 per kid).
• Beer -- As I mentioned, I’m a very social person. I get calls nearly every day from someone who wants to see me. None of these people play pinochle. But they do uniformly drink beer. And they’re my friends. I like to drink beer with them. But my friendships distract me from getting more done. Like I said, right now I’m typing fast and furious -- and that’s not a current events reference -- so I can get to the bar for a few before dinner. That’s crazy. But, hang in there, boys. I’m on my way. I’m distracted by all the time I spent wondering why my priorities are the way they are. D.L.: 6
• “Bein’ a Dad” -- This is a 1998 Loudon Wainwright III song I heard on Father’s Day. It’s catchy and hilarious. It keeps going through my head. Check out the first two verses:
Bein' a dad isn't so bad
Except that you gotta feed 'em!
You gotta shoe 'em and clothe 'em
And try not to loathe 'em
Bug 'em and hug 'em and heed 'em
Bein' a dad can sure make you mad
Man it even can drive you crazy!
It's as hard as it looks
You gotta read ‘em dumb books
And you end up despising Walt Disney
Now I’m distracted by wondering whether I need to devote about $50 and a dozen hours getting caught up to speed on I guy I only recall from a few appearances on M*A*S*H. D.L. 5
• Tech problems -- The homepage for was down for the past two weeks. This is a cosmetic distraction. Most readers wouldn’t notice it. But it’s a spiffy gateway to new readers and, thanks to Twitter distractions, I had a bunch of new readers the past two weeks. Several said they tried to click onto my blog by the Twitter link and found the page closed. So I had a golden opportunity to reach new readers and am fearful some of them may never come back because the blog with the word “Amish” in the title operates like it’s run by tech-resistant Amish people. I am distracted with worry that one of them may have been Stephen Spielberg. D.L. 8
Total Distraction level: 84 out of 100.
Total earnings for the week: about $100 in book sales.
Productivity: Dismal
Scorecard: I had a hell of a lot of fun.

Golf, kids, crayons, beer, bacon and Blue Angels -- there are some real angels in heaven who probably didn’t have as good a week as I did.

And I can just about guarantee next week's going to be super-productive!

I'll just need to concentrate.


Unknown said...

Definitely spend some time getting to know Loudon Wainwright III. He's a great storyteller. I've seen him twice. He sings it like he sees (and feels) it.

(Albrecht Burke)

Chris Rodell said...

Thanks, Sue! Any recommendations on where to start?