Archive for January 29th, 2013

January 29, 2013

Level Up: my personal long-term time management strategy for writing and everything else I want to learn about

My well-loved 'Level Up' binder

My well-loved ‘Level Up’ binder

A few years ago my little brother talked me into playing Morrowind, an Elder Scrolls roll-playing video game that I came to love much more than was good for me. After playing it straight through about four times in a year and a half, I was finally able to set it aside–mostly.

It’s only ‘mostly’ because, although I don’t have any games on my computer at all, I learned some valuable lessons by playing that game.

  1. You’re generally happier and more successful in your personal quests, both in real life and in games, if you ‘Level Up.’ This means practicing your skills, increasing your expertise and generally taking all your talents to the next level.
  2. If you want to truly succeed at something, you should ‘Level Up’ in several skill areas–not just one or two.
  3. Reading, practicing, talking about skills and generally seeking all kinds of knowledge key components of the ‘Level Up’ philosophy.

It was after I realized these things that I set the game aside, found an empty three-ring binder and listed the skill areas I want to personally ‘Level Up’ in, in real life. For me, these include:

  • Spiritual conversion
  • Service
  • Wellness
  • Fitness
  • Scholarship
  • Progression
  • Providence
  • Orderliness
  • Marketability
  • Willpower
  • Industry
  • Leadership

Each of these topics has a specific definition for me, something I came up with that was meaningful enough to encompass all my major life goals and still leave room to add more.

For example, my ‘Providence’ area allows me the goal of learning to make soap, and also a goal concerning humanitarian giving, and one for recycling and green living…and the list goes on. I keep adding to my goal lists, although I understand I can’t do everything at once.

The ‘Level Up’ idea actually brought balance to my desire for education. My binder allows me to see all my focus areas at one time, as well as chart the hours I have in one certain area or in certain goals within each area.

Most of my goals within each area are 100-hour projects. I have to gain 1000 hours of experience in one area, and advance at at total of 10,000 hours, before I consider it a ‘level up’ occasion-which, although I’m working at it, hasn’t happened in the past year or so. I’m looking forward to throwing a ‘Level Up’ party when it does.

Why am I bringing this up now?

It’s been in the back of my mind for a month or two, but it really surfaced this past week. Sifting through my grandparent’s belongings was like sifting through bits and pieces of all that they accomplished, and I realized that their achievements helped make me who I am. What better legacy to leave for my children? I want to achieve like they did.

That thought was compounded when I began reading about comedy writing and realized it’s another area of writing I’d really like to learn about. My education won’t be complete if I can’t seek learning here, too. Most likely, that will become a new 100-hour project goal under my ‘writing’ area in the ‘Marketability’ section.

It’s sort of my long-term time management strategy that allows me to continue working on skills in all areas of life. While it may sound like a complicated system, it’s actually working very well for me. This blog is how I’m tracking a few different aspects of writing and marketing, both under my ‘Marketability’ section, and while progress is slow, I’m moving in the right direction.

Why is 1000 hours important to me, and why do I need an entire 10,000 hours to ‘Level Up?’ My answers are wound up in the following web posts:

Apparently, I’m not the only one that this idea has struck a chord with–see 1000Hours for another interesting case study.

I sometimes think my efforts feel scattered, and maybe I’d be better off spending 10,000 hours on just one subject.

However, the reason I developed my ‘Level Up’ program was to make sure I was pacing myself and advancing in every important area of my life–not just one or two. Most likely a separate area of expertise will simply be added to my ‘Level Up’ sections–and yes, I think I’ll try to find a focus area now.

Based on my past experiences, that area could well have something to do with writing. I’ll post about it as soon as I figure out what it is.

January 29, 2013

Writing at my new (old) desk


My sweetheart and I spent most of the weekend helping clear my grandfather’s house of furniture, books, dishes–all the things that living people seem to collect and love. In some ways, it was completely freeing to be able to throw away forgotten trinkets that no one wanted. In other ways, it was hard to see so many memory-laden pieces go.

We came home with a truckload of treasures that no one else wanted. Among them was an old wooden desk, rickety by any standard but still completely lovable.

This desk was old long before my elementary school years. In those days, it sat in the corner of my grandparent’s family room, supervised by a single lamp that illuminated my colored-pencil sketches.

It was there that I designed new wardrobes-generally in purple and green-for the Scooby Doo gang. (Did it ever bother anyone else that they never changed clothes?)

It was there that I first designed a logo, meant to represent my future fame and fortune, although I don’t remember what kind of business I planned to own.

I wrote there, too, on long summer days when I was tired of watching cartoons or playing out in the garden.

I write here now.

We moved the desk into my office oh-so-carefully Saturday night. Today, after a jumble of non-writing activity and a Flylady reboot, I’m back to work at my new (old) desk.

It feels good.

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