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March links

Interesting links on race and representation.

Article: For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It

National Geographic owns up to its racist past. The iconic magazine examines what was include and excluded from the narrative of their coverage.

Video: The guide book that helped black Americans travel during segregation

During the segregation, this guide book helped African-American tourists travel the open road. Check out 99% Invisible’s podcast for a more detailed look at the Green Book.

Article: I’m a Disabled Man, and Here’s What You’re Getting Wrong About Stephen Hawking’s Death

Andrew Gurza explains why the way we talk about the death of Stephen Hawking is ableist.

Article: How to be Authentic in a Fake World

Society often tells you to be yourself, but what does that mean? Gustavo Razzetti writes about shedding the masks we wear in order to be authentic.

 

Goodbye Monday blues

More often than not, positivity comes out of negative things. That includes Monday blues. Instead of ignoring it, I use it as an opportunity to address what is bothering me and how I can tackle it over the next week.

On Sunday, write down all the tasks you need to get done. Then, prioritise the ones you need done urgently. For example, you could mark it with a star. Also, mark the tasks that can be done in under five minutes. Note all your daily tasks — this will also be included. Set deadlines for all your tasks. Once you have a list of all the tasks you need to complete, you can start distributing them.

Start every day with your morning routine. While it is tempting to get started immediately, taking time to look after yourself in the morning can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed. If you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and tend to procrastinate, you can take advantage of this. Start the day with meditation — essentially “doing nothing” — and you’ll feel motivated to tackle those tasks you need to get done.

Group tasks that take less than five minutes together. You might discover that they will take less time to complete. If a task is urgent and takes under five minutes to complete, do it first thing in the morning. Plus, crossing out a bunch of tasks in quick succession can give you a slight focus boost.

Get started on the difficult tasks early. These might take time so set a deadline. If it will take more than one day or week, break them down into smaller tasks. This way, you’ll always have some progress on it.

Don’t rely on motivation. While motivation can help you work with more enthusiasm, it’s not going to be there all the time. Enjoy it while it lasts. It’s when you’re unmotivated that you need to keep going.

Allocate time to rest. Take a day off so you have something to look forward to. Decide when to stop working — either when you’re done with all your tasks, or at a certain time. Since you’ve completed your most important task early in the day, it is okay to stop for the day.

At the end of your week, reflect on what you can do better. Take note of when you’re most productive. It’s probably in the mornings — even for night owls.

Come Sunday, start again.

How to be inspired by where you are

Working from home save time and money on meals an transportation. My familiarity with my desk means it takes me less energy to get into deep work. But sometimes I need to shake things up a bit when the air gets stale.

Explore art galleries and museums. Explore what other artists are making. Find out what interests people. Instead of going to the movies, take your friends to the art gallery for a change of pace. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across free exhibitions. 

Learn something new or brush up old skills by signing up for workshops. Not only that, but you’ll also meet interesting like-minded people who are into the same things you are. Observe what it takes to run a workshop. What makes someone sign up for a workshop? What sort of things are people interested in learning? What does it take to market such an event? How much would people pay for these sort of things?

Visit a co-working space. Some coworking spaces have free days on the first Thursday of every month. Take the opportunity to try out hot desking and see if it’s something that works for you. Chances are your city has several coworking spaces within close range. I try out different ones to check out the crowd. 

Volunteer at events. Volunteering at an art festival gave me some insight on what it was like in the art industry. I later went on to spend a year working at the said art festival. Again, it’s one of the better places to meet people. I’m still in touch with the people I volunteered with.

Always have your name cards with you. You don’t know who you’ll end up meeting, even at family gatherings. 

Attend networking events. Like workshops, networking events are where you meet like-minded people. But this time, they are people who are open to getting pitched to. Think about how you want to introduce yourself. Be open to suggestions. Be interested to be interesting. Are there any people you can collaborate with? Think about how you can work together to benefit each other, rather than just to hire.

Talk to people who aren’t in the creative industry. If you’re a designer, talk to your friends who aren’t designers to learn more about they do. Ask them what they’re passionate about. You’ll find out that even accountants can teach you a thing or two about creativity – or at least how to keep your finance in check. 

Even so, inspiration means nothing without hard work. “Inspiration exists,” said Pablo Picasso, “but it has to find us working.

In defence of diary writing

Why bother writing if no one is going to read it? What do you even write about? The answer is, you can write whatever you want. Your diary belongs only to you.

Keeping a diary lets you express yourself freely. Without the distraction of likes and comments, you won’t have to worry about how others might react. When you put other people out of the equation, you can truly be honest with yourself.

Writing can help you out of a rut when you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed. Doing a brain dump — writing whatever that’s in your head frees up your mind to solve problems and hash out ideas.

Your diary can be an outlet. Angry-tweeting about the driver who cut you off in traffic might make you feel vindicated, but you wouldn’t feel any better the next time you had a bad day. Writing a diary allows you to reflect privately and in my own time.

You don’t have to perfect your diary for public consumption like you do with a blog post. Write about your dreams and fears, no matter how silly they may seem. A diary doesn’t have to be coherent . One of my entries simply reads (in all caps no less),

MAKE THE DECISIONS
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
GET TO ITS HEART
KILL IT

It might take a few attempts before writing comes easily to you. The place to start is with easy writing prompts.

  • Write a list of things that inspire you — books, films, even paintings
  • Write about a struggle you recently overcame, and give yourself due credit
  • Write about your earliest memory as a child
  • Write about all the nicknames people have given you
  • Write a letter you’d never send in real life

Writing is the best way to learn about yourself. Keeping a diary is the place to start.