Thing 11: Reflective Practice

imageNothing says “reflection time” like golden hay bales swimming in slanted shadows cast by a setting sun right? Well that’s exactly what I thought when I stumbled upon this beautiful scene during my run last Friday night and thought it would be perfect to accompany this post! I love this picture because not only does it portray the beauty I’m lucky enough to live so close to (and yes! I do work in central London, this is called having your cake and eating it!) but I think it was very symbolic to see the sun setting on a very chaotic week and it was the perfect opportunity to spend some time reflecting on how everything is going so far.

It seems to have all tied in quite nicely that the Google hangout was on Sunday and after participating in what I’ve considered to be some rather challenging tasks it’s great to step back and evaluate the bigger picture. As Siobhan has pointed out in the Thing 11 post, time management is one of the key skills to this (or pretty much anything of this nature). One of the decisions I made at the beginning of this course was to spend more time on the things I’m less familiar with. It’s easy to write like a maniac about the applications that already well ground in to your daily routines or weekly current awareness practices but for me, the most rewarding thing has been to look at new things like storify, screencasting podcasts and streaming (though I admit I was a less active participant in the latter due to lack of resources).

Though I’ve felt slight pressure on the tasks I’ve found more challenging I’ve also felt the most rewarded. I’m aware of a point that Wayne reinforced during the hangout on Sunday, that there are is no wrong or right way to experience this course, it’s all about the journey of discovery – this reminded me that any pressure I had felt throughout the course so far has been largely self-imposed. If perfectionism was a queen, I would be chained as a slave in her dungeon; I used to pride myself on this relationship but I now see that it can be a barrier as well as a gateway to success. Another gain I’ve made throughout this course is all of the amazing content available through the medium of podcasts which I was unaware of before now. When speaking about one of her books on the Green Light podcast, Elizabeth Gilbert (one of my favourite authors) addresses perfectionism as a curse – she says her mother always drilled into her as a child that it’s better to produce something that’s a little rough around the edges than forever strive for perfection and produce nothing. In the podcast Gilbert is being interviewed by Rebecca Mead who has written a book about my favourite novel, Middlemarch and she draws the comparison here between perfection and Mr. Cassaubon who strives so laboriously to produce his masterpiece, “The Key to all Mythologies” but his work is never produced, he dies in the process of tirelessly indexing, alphabetising and conducting further research in his dusty old books. The lesson here is don’t die amongst dusty old books in the quest for perfection! Realise when its time to let it go and put your work out there – its through this process that we can allow development to take its true course.

I have struggled with time management a little but I’ve been realistic about what I can achieve, there have been times when I know it just won’t be possible to apply myself fully to every option that is listed. In this case, I think about what I do have time for and work towards that. In other weeks when I’ve had a little more time I’ve taken advantage of the ability to explore all of the options, I do therefore really appreciate the fact that each “Thing” has multiple options. It allows me to be in control of the learning process. I’m not sure whether an hour long commute each way to and from work is a blessing or a curse but I’ve turned it into a positive, using train time to read others’ blogs and write my own and walking time to listen to podcasts.

So far what I’m doing has worked well for me. Every week I look at what I have coming up and identify the snippets of time that I will have free and utilise this as a rough guide for how long I realistically have for each task. I’m starting my masters next month and I’m really glad this course has given me the opportunity to brush up on time management skills! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when commitments start piling up: there’s the preventative measures (I.e don’t take on more than you can handle in the first place) but there’s always a way to manage what is to be done whether it means reshuffling your schedule or just having to accept that you will have to spend less time on something than you originally planned. And one last tip – 10 minutes of meditation before bedtime (Spoonful of sugar optional).

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