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Blog Exercises: Priorities

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.A friend’s son was working on a school project when I asked him a question. “Not now, Lorelle. I don’t have the bandwidth.”

Unfortunately, I’ve had to use it over the past month too many times.

Consider this an apology for letting this site lapse recently for these Blog Exercises.

Bandwidth Overload graph.

Research published in “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much” by Sandhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir showcased how focusing on what is lacking in your life induces irrational patterns of thinking, “changing a person’s behavior and laying traps that spring later.”

Research on hunger in the 1994s found that volunteers didn’t just lose weight during the tests, they became obsessed with food, to the sacrifice of other thought. Tests in India with farmers found that before the harvest, when all their attention and worries were about the upcoming harvest, they scored lower on IQ tests than after the harvest when things calmed down. They found that 20-25% of fire fighter fatalities are not in fires but traffic accidents, often on the way to the fire. Fire fighters are trained to concentrate so much on the fire, they forget to put on seat belts and take care when driving to the fire.

When the pressure is on, our focus narrows down to our personal priorities, only motivated by rewards. The researchers found that rural Indians would not find time to get their children vaccinated – until free bags of lentils were offered as incentive. They showed up in droves, making the time.

Thus, when my attention was distracted and prioritizes moved into play, things that brought immediate results and rewards took priority.

Let me use the example of the crashed computer. Trying to resolve the computer problem myself, I kept poking it while turning to my old laptop to keep working. This took me away from my three giant monitors to a tiny screen. It put my fingers on a smaller, non-ergonomic keyboard, causing more typing mistakes, a slower typing speed, and hand cramps. That took time and energy, but I plodded along, moving slower and slower as the crashed computer kept sucking away my attention…slowing me down at every angle.

When the opportunity to get a new laptop/tablet arose, I jumped for the new Samsung Galaxy 10.1 2014 edition (more on that later), a sweet tool, but I had to wait for the shipment to arrive. Once it was in my hands though, my energy and enthusiasm for my sites returned. I now had a small, powerful tool that would allow me to get on with all the tasks at hand…but it had to be set up right, of course, delaying the process even more. Still, if you want to see Lorelle excited about anything, throw new tech in her direction. She promises to catch and run with it. TOUCHDOWN!

Add to this death, taxes, work, clients, and more drama and trauma, death, remodel, a plumbing flood, and my husband out of down for over three months – one person managing all of this gets complicated. I went days with barely any sleep, determined to be “super woman,” as my husband describes it. Of course I got sick with the plague going around the college, a virulent strain sending some students and their family members to the hospital. My health is excellent, so it just took me down for a week.

Such demands on your bandwidth shift your priorities around.

I’ve written about preparing you site for these emergency situations such as creating emergency drafts and using backups and alternatives, but these won’t hold up in desperate times where the blogger’s attention is completely diverted and bandwidth is so narrow, water won’t flow – unless the plumbing in your house breaks.

The research by Shafir and Mullainathan found that scarcity can hone focus. From the review of the book in the Oct 19, 2013, edition of Science News:

A lack of time, for instance, can drive a student to write a term paper on deadline. But this concentration involves a kind of tunnel thinking that can be risky.

Over the past few weeks, I found my concentration not only focused but pin-point accurate, helping me to decide what was most important in that moment, tossing distractions and fluff aside as I turned my laser-honed brain towards each task.

A part of me wished to live in this tunnel-thinking as they described for a longer term, but they are right. It’s not just risky, it can be dangerous, as served by the example of the fire fighters.

I found myself going back to my root personality, the tools I’ve used my whole life to survive when the pressure cooker is about to blow, behaviors I’ve not needed in a long time as I’ve not been in a state of scarcity. Some of these are old habits are healthy, many are not, such as staying up for days on end without sleep and not delegating responsibility and tasks. I shut out the world and glued myself to the projects that demanded me.

I’m sure you’ve done the same.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.We’ve all had such moments, and this blog exercise is your chance to learn from my behavior and examine your reactions in those moments and consider how to prepare your site for such moments beyond simple emergencies and backups.

What would I have done differently? Twenty-twenty is always so much fun.

Next of Kin Movie Poster with Patrick Swayze.The Next Of Kin WordPress Plugin would have helped. I’ve written about this novel Plugin, and Blog Update Reminder WordPress Plugin appears to replace it. It is a Plugin that automatically reminds a blog author with an email that they haven’t published or visited the site within a set number of days. Matt Mullenweg and I talked about adding this to the core of WordPress, especially WordPress.com, and I still stand by my desire to see such a feature included. If my blog nagged me, especially if it texted that nag, I would have come back sooner. In narrow bandwidth mode, I responded well to nags.

I could work harder to increase my backlog of backup posts and future posts. I thought I was two weeks head of schedule and I was only a few days. I wish there was a native editorial calendar in WordPress so I could tell with a quick glance what had been published and what was waiting to be published. My personal calendar got lost in the computer crash shuffle. I found it, along with a rotting banana, under tons of files and papers this morning.

I would also trust the cloud more. While I have multiple backups, my programs were not backed up and accessible via non-hard drive options. I’m not in favor of running full programs via the web. We have to be able to keep working when disconnected from the web, but having the ability to run my favorite programs from the cloud, or having a method to move from computer to computer without breaking stride, all updated and ready to use – this is a must. I’ve got to do more research on this, so if you have some tips, I’d love to hear them.

Your blog exercise today is to do your own 20/20 analysis. Shit happens. Parents and family members and friends get sick, need our attention, and die. Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and mother nature happen. House maintenance can disaster at any moment. Sick happens. Computer failures happen. All these things happen. Are you prepared?

Check in with your own history. How do you respond in these situations? Is it good and healthy, or bad behavior? What are the steps you can take to self-monitor and control the situation before bad habits return?

It is your life, and your blog, and the two are closely integrated. Explore your own emergency backup plans.

Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

8 Comments

  1. Posted October 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    Welcome back after a long lacuna, as SoundEagle has been missing you and your writings.

    Thank you for your analytical look/take on priorities and emergency backup plans.

    Happy November to you soon!

  2. Posted October 29, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad that you have returned. I got concerned when I didn’t see any posts from you in any series.

    • Posted October 29, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for noticing. I am glad to be back on track. Did I miss anything?

  3. Posted October 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    You haven’t explained what a 20/20 analysis is, and a quick Google search doesn’t explain it either.

    I’m a new subscriber, so I hadn’t even noticed your blog missing.

    • Posted October 29, 2013 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      20/ 20 vision – perspective. Looking back and analysing the situation in hindsight. Few people notice so I make ita policy to not apologize but to keep blogging on. Still, this served as a good example, a lesson for others to learn fromthe basis of these blog exercises,

      Welcome to the site. Please let me Know how I may help you.

  4. Rajesh
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    One advantage of being a blogger is being able to work anytime (flexi-timing). Unless we are writing for others (with a deadline), we can always reschedule our own work. Who knows, a long absence from blogs might as well be an attraction point for readers, to come back.

    • Posted October 31, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Flex time is great, but putting that flex time into your schedule can be problematic, LOL, when the distractions test the priorities of your ability to flex.

      A long absence from your site could be attractive, but only if your new content is attractive. You returning to your site isn’t an incentive unless you make it one. I’ve watched some cases where readers lost trust, and a bit of respect, for the blogger when they disappeared without warning for months on end, and others who just don’t care as long as the content is good enough to interest them.


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