What a difference a year makes.
There you go! It's been nearly a year since the last post and the intervening period has marked the end of the freelance role and launches a new chapter in which I'm constantly thinking of ways to repurpose this blog. I've been here before of course with my old improvingwithage blogspot but this time the intention is to carry on with a new (middle) focus on things that catch the senior eye - old dog, new tricks comes to mind or maybe that old Yiddish expression - Too soon old, too late smart!
Retirement has been gentle so far and has offered plenty of scope for reflection. Maybe some of that thinking and new/old insights will find their way into this blog, who knows? The past year has been a time of letting some things go, holding on to others and finding new things to seize upon.
A friend once remarked that retirement is so good that he wished he'd done it when he left school! Don't know about that but I can honestly say that I'm enjoying this time as the last year has seen visits abroad, cuisines sampled, dozens of books read, films viewed and new music heard.
Turn back time?
Growing up we learned that one door never closes but another opens. My dad, who worked for a while in a watchmakers, once remarked in the face of a major political upheaval that "there are some clocks that cannot be put back!" - referring to the fact that the mechanism of some old clocks had to be adjusted in a clockwise direction, letting them chime out each hour. Patience, Time was needed for the recalibration. Taking the quick and easy approach of turning the mechanism anti-clockwise risked upsetting the delicate balance of the timepiece.
Retirement is rather like that. There's comfort in slowing down from a busy career but also excitement - experiencing new things, places and people; savouring refreshment. But always moving forward - Clockwise.
So the posts here will continue but with different chimes, different focal points; reflecting new directions or giving vent to new insights on old interests.
We'll see where it goes. One thing's certain: Time may pass but friendship remains.
If you are anything like me when you use social media apps like Facebook and Twitter then you know how time somehow slips by without you realising it. On some social media, I manage different accounts within the same platform so the problem simply gets bigger.
Rather than cut out social browsing and interaction completely I decided instead to take a different approach. I grouped the various apps into a folder on my iPad and iPhone - I'm sure this is possible to do on Android devices as well. This hides them to an extent which means that I have to go look for the folder among other groups. I decided also, at least for the time being, to add the clock app in the folder as well. That means that it is readily available for setting the timer to limit how long I want to spend browsing. An advantage is that closing the Facebook app for example brings you back to the folder where others such as LinkedIn and Instagram can be readily accessed.
Then when the allocated amount of time is up, that's it ! A bit of discipline and out of the folder.
To add a little bit more clout to the app folder idea, you can use the facility for naming it. In my example it's called - Social but it could also be labelled as 20 mins only or Limit use!
What about you?
Are you disciplined in relation to how much time you spend on social media? Do you ever lose track of time? Have you a different approach? Or an idea for using time productively when online?
If you have please share.
You know that moment?
You see something and straightaway it reminds you of something else.
There I was in a little coffee shop when I spotted a clever and so simple means of showing what the day's food offerings were. The menu was presented on a large roll of brown wrapping paper attached to one of the walls making it easily visible and yet well out of the way. All that's needed each time the menu changes is for someone to tear off the previous choices; pull down a clean portion and add the new. Clever and so simple.
And that reminded me of a proponent of Simplicity - Dr Edward de Bono - who in 1998 provided us a book of the same name. He gave us many other ways to think of course, including his ground-breaking Six Thinking Hats. In a post some years back on decision-making I mentioned his PMI technique which you might like to come back to here.
Why did it remind me of Dr de Bono?
I had the great good fortune to be present at one of his seminars. He had been invited along to the educational organisation I worked for at the time and all staff were invited. He had asked only for an Overhead Projector (an OHP remember those? I loved them!) and a roll of transparency film - Getting the connection?
Sitting at the projector with a handful of OHP pens, he spoke and wrote at the same time, mesmerising us with his ideas. And those ideas kept flowing and as they did so too did the acetate roll; clearing the bright write on platform at the speed of creativity. It was an experience that I shall never forget. Clever and so simple.
I've since seen and applied variations of thinking on a roll. In workshops when we needed to generate loads of ideas we would sometimes get participants to write their thoughts onto a roll of cheap, plain wallpaper. Strips would then be torn off and left on the table, the floor and obviously attached to any available wall. At the end of the session the roll would be rolled, ready for recap or reuse at another session.
Rather like our workshop wallpaper, Dr de Bono also left with his roll.
I wonder how the menu has changed at the coffee shop.
A quiet time to doodle with the Apple Pencil and the GoodNotes app brought this result. I'm happy with that; not only with the ease of writing, pen and paper styles but also the export facility. It took only a few moments to paste the finished map into this blog post.
For the past while when reading books I've been making notes and sometimes even marking the pages. The first time I did this apart from texts studied at school was on the advice of an author who said it was his habit and since I was reading his book at the time thought there was a good place to start. Reading apps on my tablet device make mark-up very straightforward and because the highlighting is easy to remove doesn't leave the physical damage that marginal notes and underlines do.
From time to time I revisit books and its nice to come across hand written notecards drawing attention to interesting anecdotes or quotes. That happened earlier today when I came across an interesting observation by acting veteran, June Brown who plays Dot Cotton in the BBC's Eastenders.
June recalls in her autobiography, Before the year Dot, advice given on acting by Sir Laurence Olivier at the New Vic. The advice which she says that she has never forgotten was: "We must be careful not to let our ambition outgrow our ability." p165
Good advice that.
I can think of some very able people who lacked that spark of ambition, and sadly other people whose ambition flattered their ability. It seems to me that the two go hand in hand.
Ambition and ability. What do you think?
Before the year Dot -the autobiography (2013) Brown, June. Simon and Schuster. London
Ever hurried back to the car park but not fast enough to avoid the charge for an extra hour? Me too and I've noticed from previous tickets that this has been happening quite often. Just a minute! I thought, time to quicken that pace and get there sixty seconds earlier next time. And if it looks as if the extra hour charge is unavoidable then rather than paying for an empty space I let the car sit on for a while and take time out, parking myself somewhere nice for a tea or coffee and some light reading.
Now that's just the ticket.