The new year is almost upon us. Here is a list of eleven things I hope to experience more in 2011.
Once upon a time (actually, back in the 90s), I drove a car and listened to radio. Radio was an important source of news, commentary and new music. But, when I stopped owning a car in 1998, radio also stopped being a part of my everyday experience.
Thankfully, podcasts allow us to stay tuned into radio – which is a good thing because as a recent New York Review of Books feature made clear, this is a golden age for smart, fresh radio. Start The Week, RadioLab and This American Life are a few of the great podcasts out there. I just need to make a little more time to listen to them.
This has been a productive year, but a number of times I’ve fallen into the trap of having two to three different projects on my desk and trying to switch between them during the day. OK, that isn’t quite the same as multitasking, but it is a little too close it for my liking.
As always, my best work has come from focussed time with minimal task switching. In fact, the days I spent in Ladakh, with virtually no internet or phone connection had a profound effect on my thinking about this. Mono-Tasking is not the goal – it’s something on the other side of mono-tasking that I’m aiming for.
Within two months of returning from India I had some Ladakh photos on display at Fuel Espresso. It is very unusual for me to turn around a big personal project that fast. Normally I’m prone to the Hamlet complex (over-thinking to the point of paralysis).
Perhaps the answer to some stalled long term projects is not a continued effort to complete them, but the creation of new, lighter projects that will take their place (and, of course, actually get finished).
I’ve fallen in love with photo prints! There’s something about looking at a good photo, printed well, on quality paper, that can’t be matched by a digital image on screen. Whether I buy a high-end printer for faster proofing, or try to strike up deal with a developing house, there will be a lot more prints in 2011.
I live in Hong Kong, although I spend around three months a year away from the city. Moreover, having lived here for four and a half years, I’m starting feel like a move will happen sooner, rather than later. So I want to re-embrace the city, on a completely audio-visual level. I will be dedicating the equivalent of one-day a week to a personal project on life in Hong Kong.
2010 was a lean year for this blog. I made a conscious decision a couple of years ago to switch from writing about religion, politics and globalisation. My focus now is more everyday; music, photography, writing. That reflects a number of changes in the way I live my life now and how I see the world. I’ve already overhauled the blog during 2010 and all that remains is to maintain a better pace with writing and updates.
During 2010 I saw few films. I wanted a bit of a break from cinema while devoting personal time toasted other areas. But, in 2011 I will be back to more regular pattern of film-going. I’ve set a modest goal to see 150 films and will return to writing the occasional review on this blog.
I realised two important things in 2010. First, I struggle to read deeply on electronic devices. The technology is still too laden with distractions for me. Second, I’m more productive when I’m printing stuff out regularly, be it drafts, sheet music, or plans. Time to accept that for some tasks, paper is still the best technology.
As I said recently, 2011 was an extraordinary year. But, compared to my most productive years, it lacked structure and routine. Partly I miss the liturgical calendar and partly I miss the seasons that come with living somewhere that has, well, seasons.
Even people in the corporate world have seasons, what with all the monthly, quarterly and annual reporting that they do. But, those of us who work by ourselves, have to create those patterns.
On the one hand I’ve maintained a good exercise routine and cooked a lot of meals at home. On the other hand I’ve had three bad colds this year that have cost me weeks worth of time and I’ve often felt tired for almost no reason. Whether it is patterns of sleep, ways of coping with stress or the city I live in, something is not quite right. 2011 is the time to figure that out.
No, not the final frontier. Rather, I’m thinking about my immediate relationship with the things around me at work and at home. Like a lot of people I have more stuff than I need or use. In fact, these days when I don’t buy something, it is usually because I can’t afford the space, rather than because I can’t afford the price.
I can keep pruning my stuff, throwing things out that I no longer need. But, I also have be smarter about what I keep. It’s time to redesign my studio and, in particular, the way I store things.