do what you are doing.

It seems somewhat tautological but really it’s a piece of advice I need reminding of every 6 months or so.

If you spend your work hours compulsively checking your email or your relaxation time compulsively checking your code then you’re probably not getting the best out of either. It’s hard to think that you’ve had a successful day of work if you’ve read 20 news articles. It’s hard to think that you’ve really had a weekend if you’ve checked your computer program every half hour.

Sometimes I’m good at sticking to this advice and, of course, other times I’m not. Every now and then I need to stop myself and make up some arbitrary rules in order to get back in the habit of doing what I’m doing (I’ve checked email and tumblr while writing this up so I must be going through a bad phase.)

Here are some various rules I use to focus on doing work at work:

– The Pomodoro Technique (work for 25 minutes in every half hour)

– Turn off your internet (often impractical for me)

– Don’t check any media (incl. email), or leave your seat (at all!) for the first 2 work hours of your day

– Set mini goals with time limits

And, just as importantly in my opinion, focus on not doing work at home:

– Don’t bring any maths books or papers (or whatever you do) home

– Turn off your computer (if you use it for work)

– Go outside

– Choose to do something or nothing rather than being absentmindedly online doing neither (hence this blogpost)

I think the main “problem” is that life has natural pauses. I’m waiting for code to run, I don’t know what to write next, my maths got a bit too hard, whatever. When there are natural pauses we should stop and evaluate what we use those pauses to do. Before you stand up, before you change tabs or windows, work out whether you really need to. All the techniques I mentioned are really just ritualistic ways of forcing us not to do whatever we normally do during a pause.

Does anyone else have any good focusing methods?

PS: The photos are from Austria.

I’m home now.

I’ve got a lot of thoughts about a bunch of different things so you can expect some wordy posts to be coming up soon. But while I try to wrap my thoughts into sentences, let me just say:

         
           
         
           
         

I’m also called aivlysann on instagram for those of you who are interested in such things.

I’ve had a wonderful six weeks and I’m glad to be at home.

Young Writers Prize

I did not make the shortlist and I must be getting thicker skin because that doesn’t bother me too much. I know my work has improved significantly since I sent it to them and I knew from the start that my topic was a bit too Australian to translate well internationally. I am obviously disappointed but it is safe to say that my world is not ending.

In other news, I gave my talk at Combinatorics12 this afternoon. It went well. I have ideas to investigate and a conference dinner to attend.

Life is good.

storm’s a’coming

The wind coming into Ischia today is a herald of the storm tomorrow. And no matter how my travel plans may be affected and/or ruined by tomorrow’s storm: I love the wind today.

I think that the wind is one of my favourite things about being alive. And there’s something in particular about a warm wind on a warm day… It’s excitement and happiness and hopefulness. It makes you want to laugh and spin in circles. It gives you confidence that, no matter what, things will be better than just okay. Because life is precious and beautiful and worthwhile.

If all is well and good I will fly out of Italy tomorrow and, even though I’ve loved it here, I’m excited to be going to Austria. These photos are of Ischia Ponte and Castello Aragonese, each taken from one and looking at the other.

Italy in summer.

The beauty of Italy in summer took me a little while to see. Everything was dingier and more ordinary than photography books had led me to expect. Yes there are incredible cobble-stoned, tiny alleyways but they are lined with garbage bags. Yes there are hundreds of white houses in the cities but they don’t have grass like nice houses in Australia: just dust and tiles. Yes there are lots of old buildings but they are dirty and falling apart.

It didn’t help that I was exhausted from 17 hours of flying. It didn’t help that I’m not really a fan of crowds. It didn’t help that it’s just plain hot. Once I got a good sleep and really looked around I realised that this place is incredible after all.

The beaches are warm, maths is going well, the food is beyond exceptional and most days I wander around barefoot. (This house has grass because it’s out of the city.)

Love from Ischia.

Writing Update

It’s hard to say that my story is done but I think it is. At the very least I think I am done with it. I’m about to go overseas and if, when I return, my full manuscript has not been requested by Hot Key Books then I’m going to send it to Australian publishing companies. I’ve set up my lovely list of who I think would most like it, how to submit to each place, and personal deadlines by which each activity should be done.

And I’ve started writing my new book. I’ve been mulling over the idea of it for ages – almost the whole time I spent editing the last book. It’s going to be really different, it’s going to be fun and I am psyched. I’m not sure how much I’ll write while I’m overseas but I’m sure the ideas/inspiration part of my brain will be working in overload.

While I am away I’m not sure what you should be expecting of this blog… There will definitely be photos, possibly poorly explained maths, and hopefully some words here and there.

Bye for a while, City of Perth.

the search for what it was really all about.

Everything I have ever written and will ever write comes out of my own mind. I cannot write anything beyond my own thoughts. My memories and experiences, then, are the most important things I own. Along with language. But that’s not the point right now.

In order to write stories we delve past the names and events and dates to see what it was really all about, to see what it meant then and what it means now. And once we’ve worked it out, or while we’re working it out, we wrap it all up in a separate package. We tell the story with different names and events and dates. Perhaps one lot of events happened over six weeks in an Australian highschool but the other will happen in Paris over a few years. Or vice versa. But at the centre of it all will always be the truth; the essence of what it was all about. At the centre of it all we’re reaching out and asking if others will join us.

Will you be brave with me? Will you learn with me? Will you suffer with me? Will you dream with me? Will you understand me?

adventures in ikea

Today was beautiful. It was one of those days which makes me wish I could take Perth’s weather with me wherever I go for the rest of my life. It’s almost exactly midwinter and today was 23C and sunny. Infact, it’s still warm now at 6pm.

We went adventuring in Ikea today. The plan was to buy a cheap bookshelf but we didn’t like any they had on offer and bought two candle holders, 4 blocks of chocolate, and lunch, instead. The candle holders were only 75c each so we spent the most money, by far, on food.

Fortunately we decided to take a wander around the area and found a couple of op-shops nearby, one of which contained a stock standard white bookshelf (which was originally from Ikea) for $20. I’m considering doing something interesting to brighten it up (spray paint, decoupage… I don’t know) but in the mean time we’ve loaded it up with all our books. The strangest thing about today was the realisation that we don’t actually have very many books. They’ve been piling up everywhere recently but ordering them seems to have diminished their magnitude…

Anyhow, I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend.

Yep. That is all.