Yes, you CAN read the whole Bible in a year!

small__5474106444I’ve lost count of how many times I started out to read the Bible through in a year and failed. The number has to be less than thirty-eight, since that’s how many years I’ve been a Christ-follower. If I could count the times I’ve started out on that journey, it would be easy to figure out how many times I’ve failed—all I’d have to do is take the number of tries and subtract one.

Yes, that’s right—I did it!

On December 31, 2012, I finished day 365 of “The Bible in a Year” reading plan from the American Bible Society. I finished a day late, but I finished. I expected to experience a hootin’, hollerin’ victory-rush celebration when that last checkmark appeared on my tablet, but the reality was a quiet moment of humble thanksgiving, a moment that surprised me almost as much as the realization that I’d actually finished what I started.

When I shared my victory with a friend, they asked what made the difference this year. I’ve thought long and hard about that question and came up with this list of ten experience-based tips I’d share with anyone who wants to start—and finish—reading the Bible in a year.

Tip #1: Start Where You Are.

Your plan doesn’t have to start on January 1, on your birthday, or on any other future date that empowers you to procrastinate. The best day to start a new reading plan is today.

Tip #2: Have a Plan

The old cliché is true: Failing to plan is planning to fail. A plan is a roadmap that defines your destination and details how you’ll get there. It lets you measure your progress along the way, and helps you get back on-track if you’re off-course. Starting at Genesis and reading until you reach the maps and concordance isn’t a plan, it’s a roadmap to failure. Been there. Not pretty.

Tip #3: Got Devices? There’s an App for that!

Our brethren at LifeChurch.tv have developed the free YouVersion Bible app for virtually every mobile device known to man. One of the best features of the YouVersion Bible app are the integrated reading plans. I used one of those plans to keep myself on-track last year, and I’m using a different one for this year. The only mobile device that doesn’t have a YouVersion app available is an abacus—but I hear an abacus makes a great holder for a paper Bible.

Tip #4: Work it into your daily routine.

I generally read my daily plan in the morning over breakfast. What part of your day is best for you? Find it, and then be consistent—the experts tell us it takes six weeks to develop a habit (good or bad). Develop a daily Bible habit.

Tip #5: Give Yourself Permission to Catch Up.

Stuff happens. You will get off-schedule. Every time you do, it’s an opportunity to give up. Don’t even entertain the idea. Weekends are challenging for me because my schedule is different. When Monday comes and I’m behind, instead of flogging myself I read more and catch up.You’re never so far behind that you can’t get back on track.

Tip #6: This will not always be fun.Or convenient. Or pleasant, even.

I know it sounds terribly unspiritual, but let’s be honest here. There are days when I don’t want to read the Bible. There are days when I do my daily reading and can’t even remember what I just read. And let’s face it, there are parts of the Bible that are, well, tedious (and a little boring). I’m sure God had a good reason for all those genealogies, but that doesn’t make them easier to read. Push through those days and keep going!

Tip #7: Listen.

God not only wants to talk to you, He yearns to talk to you. He can speak to you and your specific circumstances in passages you’d never expect. Even in those tedious genealogies. He always tries to talk to us, but we’ve got to get quiet and listen if we want to hear Him.

Tip #8: Watch for the Threads.

As you read your daily assignments, look for those threads that run through the entire Bible. They’ll change the way you see yourself and the way you see God. For example, the #1 thing in God’s heart is restoring His relationship with fallen humans like you and me. We can see that agenda first in the early chapters of Genesis, and if you look you’ll find it in every single book of the Bible. Yes, even in the genealogies.

Tip #9: Watch for the Ordinary.

As you read, be on the lookout for those ordinary people who God uses to accomplish His work. God loves using ordinary people. He particularly enjoys using them to do things beyond their limitations, and He even has a sense of humor about it. Who would have thought that a former Super-Pharisee (Paul) would be the one God would use to reach out to the Gentiles?

Tip #10: Watch for Opportunities.

As you read through God’s word, be sure to look for opportunities. When you start looking for them, you’ll find those opportunities on every page. For example, never miss an opportunity to use God’s favorite word. Whenever we respond to God with this word, something wondrous and powerful happens, and we’re never the same. It’s a word that always makes God smile when He hears it on our lips in response to Him—a simple, unconditional “Yes.”

 

 

 

photo credit: Brett Jordan via photopin cc

The Magical Book

When I was a second grader, my school held a fundraiser to fill some empty shelves in the school library. Rather than just asking parents for money, the school had each child select a volume from a table filled with new books, take it home and ask Mommy and Daddy to puhleeeeze buy their sweet little offspring a book. After reading their new acquisition, the child would to donate the book to the school library so it could be enjoyed by all.

As class 2-A herded past the book tables, my ADHD brain locked on to a book wearing a bright yellow dust jacket with the title in bold red letters:100 Pounds of Popcorn by Hazel Krantz.

The cover illustration closed the deal: Four kids making a huge mess while popping mass quantities of popcorn. The random messiness made those kids seem more like me, and the fun they were having made me want to be more like them.

Sold.

However, when the day arrived when we were to donate our books, it became apparent that I hadn’t been properly briefed on the etiquette of school fundraising, for I committed the mortal sin of refusing to surrender my book to the librarian.

I’d already developed somewhat of a reputation by then (in 1962, ADHD was still known as “Rotten Little Brat Syndrome”), so when I made a bit of a scene over the librarian attempting to steal my book, the case was automatically escalated to the principal’s office. I’d already spent so much time there that I wouldn’t be surprised if even today there’s a chair in the waiting area bearing a brass name plate in my memory.

When my case came up on the principal’s docket, I stated my position in clear and certain terms: It was my book. I’d chosen it from the book table with my own grubby little paws. I paid for it with cash my mother gave me to buy a book. I’d even written my name inside the cover with a red pencil (though I don’t recall if I wrote it before or after they pressed me to donate it). I loved my little book, and the librarian couldn’t have it. End of discussion.

The battle escalated, as such battles are wont to do. When gentle reasoning failed, the principal hinted at the possibility of eternal damnation (being a Catholic school, they  could get away with that), and when all else failed, she pulled out the biggest weapon of all: a call to my parents. That threat almost worked, but one glance at my book’s cover renewed my resolve to endure any punishment required to win my case. After the threatened call, my father grudgingly agreed to buy a second copy for the library. He later extracted the price from my hide.

What drove me to fight so stubbornly for that book?

Reading 100 Pounds of Popcorn had revolutionized my eight-year-old life. Before that book, I thought everyone in the world was just like me. I had no idea that other families were different. In the pages of 100 Pounds of Popcorn, Hazel Krantz transported my tender heart to a world very unlike the one in which I lived.

To most, the Taylor family would seem unremarkable. A father, a mother, eleven-year-old Andy and his eight-year-old sister Sally Jean. On the way home from the beach, they see a huge bag of popping corn fall from the back of a truck, and being a moral, law-abiding type Mr Taylor tries to return it to its rightful owner. The owner isn’t able to retrieve the bag before it would spoil, and offers to let the Taylors keep it if they would like. Andy sets out to start a popcorn business with the help of his kid sister and several friends, and they all learn the hard way that there’s a lot more to selling popcorn than they thought.

Okay, so it’s a nice little story. How did that revolutionize my life?

The first time I read that book, I waited with tense anticipation for what I knew would happen. I waited, but what I expected never came. I read it again, just to make sure I hadn’t missed something. Then I read it again just because I didn’t want to leave the magical world.hidden in those pages, a world  where Andy’s father never yelled at him, never threw things in anger, and never once hit his wife or either of his children. Andy made some mistakes and learned lessons the hard way, but his father never called him stupid or any of those other names I’d expected. And Andy never once had to stop and discern whether his father was drunk or sober and adjust as needed to avoid his wrath.

In the pages of 100 Pounds of Popcorn, Hazel Krantz gave me a most wonderful gift. A glimpse of a world where children were free to be children, to learn and grow and live with all the hope and possibilities they could handle. I couldn’t explain it then as I can now, but that brief visit to normality changed me. It awakened my ability to dream, to imagine, to envision a better world than the one in which I’d existed.

Is it any wonder I fought so hard to hold on to such a magical book?

When God started talking to me about writing for children and young teens, I didn’t want to discuss it. I didn’t want to go back and revisit the wounds of my childhood. A dear friend and mentor (and highly successful children’s writer) finally took me aside and told me that those wounds equipped me to write things that nobody else can write, not even her. She then gently but firmly kicked my backside and asked me to quit making excuses and start doing what only I can do. (Thanks, Nancy. I needed that.)

Shortly after I returned home from the conference where that discussion occurred, I spotted my ragged, dog-eared copy of 100 Pounds of Popcorn on my bookshelf, took it down and read it again, just as I’ve done hundreds of times before. And I remembered the magic.

And then I started writing for tweens and early teens—because somewhere out there, there’s a boy or girl who needs that magic.

Writing Lessons from Angry Birds: Boomerang Bird

Like many of my peers,  I’m semi-addicted to Angry Birds. I used think of flinging birds and obliterating bad piggies as a mindless waste of time (we all need a little of that once in a while), but I can honestly say that playing Angry Birds has improved my writing—enough that I could write off the cost as a business expense if the Android versions weren’t free. Those cute little birds are very effective writing teachers. Seriously.

Angry Green BirdOne of my first Angry Birds Writing Reminders featured that Toucan-inspired guy to the left known as Boomerang Bird because of his interesting ability to double-back and hit things from behind.The first time I encountered Boomerang Bird, the spiffy introductory graphic told me what he could do, but without  revealing his deeper capabilities and nuances.

Boomerang’s behavior after tapping the screen is dependent on his exact speed and trajectory when you tap, and there are so many nuances that in the beginning he rarely did what I expected. With time and experience, I’ve gained some instinctive knowledge of exactly how to launch Boomerang bird and exactly when to tap to get the desired results. I also learned a few things the introductory graphics didn’t mention.

Which brings me to the writing lesson.

Know Your Characters

When I began writing fiction, my characters were so flat you could read right through them. I recall one critiquer who asked point-blank if I’d taken time to get to know my characters, asking a lot of obscure questions I couldn’t answer.  I thought she was nuts. After reflecting on the conversation and recalling the character development process I learned in the theater, I got the point. Since then, I’ve talked with many successful novelists about their character development process. Some journal, some do detailed character profiles, and others (myself included) use method acting principles to get inside characters’ heads and see what makes them tick. I’ve talked with successful novelists who spend months getting to know their characters before writing a single word of their manuscripts. Others just free-write and watch what happens, with the understanding that their first draft will be mostly dreck (which they normally are, anyway).

Whatever method works for you, do it with all the gusto you’ve got. The resulting character depth is like the difference between a plain, flat greeting card and a pop-up card with music and motion.

Just because they can doesn’t mean they should.

I was stuck on one level of Angry Birds for weeks, so stuck I considered deleting the game and trying to forget the thrill of obliterating those bad little piggies. I simply couldn’t get that Boomerang at the top of the birdie lineup to turn around the way I wanted and hit that sweet spot.

Out of pure frustration, I launched Boomer straight into the leading side of the pile and watched in amazement while it all crashed, pummeling the pig population and producing three stars. In a flash of realization, I understood why I was having problems with one of my characters.

I’m writing a series with a couple of characters that have unique and unusual abilities. The easy way out as a writer is to let my characters use those special abilities, but after my Boomer Bird revelation, I rewrote a few pages and forced one to not use them. The entire dynamic of the inter-character relationships changed dramatically, and as I dug into the character I found that she was afraid to use her special ability in that situation. It made her vulnerable. Her best friend (my protagonist) picked up on that fear, but interpreted it as anger and rejection, adding even more tension to the friendship, along with layer upon layer of character depth.

Like real life, we don’t know what a character might be capable of until we corner them and force their hand. Take away a man’s job, a mother’s children, or a Pastor’s church and you’ll discover a whole range of hidden strengths, weaknesses, motivators and flaws. It’s those hidden things that make characters interesting. Next time you’re face-to-face with a bland, boring character, boot them out of their comfort zone and see what happens.

Just don’t be a piggie about it.

 

Reflections on Writing for the Ages

It’s been almost two weeks since I returned from the Writing for the Ages workshop at Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs. I’m just now beginning to process the week, thanks to a hyper-busy day-job at a company that changed ownership the day after I returned to the office. I knew that change was coming, and the timing of this trip couldn’t have stunk worse if it tripped over a skunk. I almost pulled out of this workshop, but something told me I needed to be there. That something was right. Writing for the Ages was the best four days of my writing life. Ever.

This was my first trip to Glen Eyrie, but it won’t be my last. It’s an amazing place. The staff—all the way from the bottom to the top—were wonderful, friendly, helpful people who approached the work with servant’s hearts. They said they prayed for us by name before we arrived, all through our stay,  and would continue to pray for us after we left. I believe them. They did a masterful job of creating an atmosphere where we could relax, learn, and reconnect with our calling as children’s writers.

God spoke to my soul through so many different mouths that week, seemingly random but so superbly coordinated it had to be God putting the right words in the right mouths at just the right time to reinforce his call, encourage me on my journey, and speak clearly about His purpose and plan for me as a writer and as a child of God.

On the last day of Writing for the Ages, my friend and unofficial mentor Nancy Rue looked me in the eye and asked if I’d gotten what I needed from the event. I said yes, but I found it a little difficult explain what God had whispered into my heart that week. Nancy shared a few precious words of encouragement with me that were like the cherry on top of the affirmation sundae God served me over the course if those four wonderful days at Glen Eyrie.

It was a God thing. It had to be. In the face of so much encouragement, my natural self would have puffed up like the Hindenburg. Instead, I experienced a profound and surprising sense of humility.

I left Glen Eyrie with God’s thumbprint on my head, my heart and my feet—humbled, blessed, and thoroughly aware that any success I experience writing for children has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the God who called me. And He did call me.

 

 

Casey Anthony, Vitamins, and Judgment

I did something really dumb yesterday that cost me thirty bucks. Granted, thirty bucks isn’t going to bankrupt me. It just ticks me off.

I bought a bottle of vitamins at Sam’s Club, along with a a few cases of this and that. The girl at the checkout put that bottle of vitamins in the top of the shopping cart (the part designed for a child to ride in). When I unloaded the cart into the back of the car, I never picked up the vitamins. I guess they were the right color to blend into the cart, because I even pushed the cart over to the cart corral and never noticed the expensive little bottle hiding just inches from my hands. I never even gave it a thought until last night a little before midnight when I went to put them away.

I went back to Sam’s after church today to pick up some cheese that I forgot to buy yesterday, and I asked at the Member Services counter to see if anyone had found my $30 bottle of vitamins. They keep a logbook of items left behind, but my vitamins weren’t there. Left with no other option, I did what I had to do. I accepted responsibility for my dumb mistake and bought another $30 bottle of vitamins—and personally escorted them to their destination.

Casey Anthony Leaving Jail

Oddly enough, my experience today made me think about Casey Anthony.  Everyone and their cat has been talking about the surprise verdict in the Casey Anthony trial this week, and the rumble of dissatisfaction has re-surged today with her release from prison early this morning. The vast majority of vocal Americans believe Casey got away with murder and haven’t hesitated to let their feelings be known. There have been credible death threats, ugly crowds, and lawyers making money helping Casey hide.

I haven’t made a single statement on the issue since the verdict came out, in part because my opinion is a definite minority and I don’t want to get beaten up. I’ve decided to break my silence.

There are exactly twelve people who are qualified to decide whether the verdict was correct. Period. I wasn’t in the jury box. I didn’t get to see all the evidence presented. I didn’t get to debate that evidence behind closed doors with eleven other jurors. I am, therefore, not qualified to pronounce Casey Anthony guilty. I sincerely believe that there were jurors who wanted to find Casey guilty, but the prosecution failed to prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the eyes of the only twelve people whose opinions count.

It should be noted, however, that the jury didn’t pronounce Casey innocent in the death of her daughter. They said the prosecution didn’t prove her guilty. I know of only one person who knows whether or not Casey is truly innocent, and that’s Casey. Even if she is truly innocent, the jury didn’t set her free. Today, Casey’s in hiding. She may never be truly free again.

My vitamin debacle brought Casey Anthony’s case to mind because I had to accept responsibility for my mistake. I had to accept the consequences of my mistake. I had to pay the price of the replacement. If Casey is guilty, she’s not “getting away” with anything. She knows the truth, and has to live with that knowledge. Eventually she will answer to her creator. Either she will face eternal judgment or Jesus will take her sin and set her truly free, just like he did for me.

Until that day comes, instead of throwing rhetorical (or physical) rocks at Casey Anthony, we ought to pray for her and her family and love her the way God loves us—unconditionally.

K-LOVE: Radio Listening Even I Can Love

I’ve been listening to a lot of radio lately.

Yeah, I know. Big deal. I work for a bunch of radio stations, so I listen to the radio all the time, right?

Okay, true confessions time. No, I don’t listen to the radio all the time. I listen to the radio when I have to. With ten different transmitters to monitor, there comes a point when I’ve heard all the radio I can stand.  I seldom listen to those stations for enjoyment—I’m evaluating the technical quality, coverage, or audio processing. I’m listening for technical issues that cause subconscious annoyance to average listeners and, in the wrong quantity, can make them tune away. Even when I try to listen to one of my stations for enjoyment, I can’t turn off that evaluating-the-signal thing. It’s even hard to turn it off when it’s not one of mine, but for the right programming I can do it.

Like any other consumer, when it comes to listening for enjoyment, there are some things I just don’t listen to. Sports, for example. I’m not into sports all that much, and I find no pleasure whatsoever in listening to grown men talk smack like ten-year-olds (a primary component in some—but not all— sports talk programs). I also don’t listen to Hip-Hop when I don’t have to. I find some of the songs outright offensive, and that offense has nothing to do with ethnicity and everything to do with content. I don’t listen to a lot of talk radio either, and when I do there are certain triggers that will make me tune out faster than you can say Arbitron. Any form of racist rhetoric for example, including those who believe I should apologize for being born Caucasian. I have zero tolerance for racism in any form. Period.

A common thread that runs through all my tune-out triggers is negativity. I don’t need any extra negativity weeds in the garden of my mind, thankyouverymuch.  I have to tolerate a certain degree in order to do my job and coexist with a negative world, but I don’t have to consume negativity when it’s optional. I prefer to put as much positivity into my ears as possible. I need encouragement to fuel my soul so I can encourage others. That’s exactly why I’ve been listening to a lot of radio lately.

My favorite radio station these days is known as “Positive, Encouraging K-LOVE.” It’s not just a radio station, but a network of hundreds of stations coast to coast all carrying the same programming. Some are full-power signals owned by non-profit Educational Media Foundation (EMF), some are leased signals (what the industry refers to as a LMA, or Local Marketing Agreement), and some are low-power satellators (satellite-fed translators), but all carry the same listener-supported format of Contemporary Christian Music with relevant personalities and content. K-LOVE’s mission statement is:

To effectively communicate the Gospel message to those who don’t know or fully understand it, through full-time contemporary Christian music and short educational elements over radio and the Internet-using modern day language and the highest professional standards.

As I see it, they’re doing exactly that, and doing it well. It’s remarkably close to the kind of Christian radio we used to dream about producing ‘back in the day.’  K-LOVE is exactly what I need (from a listener’s perspective) in a radio station. It cleanses my head, encourages my heart and feeds my soul. I don’t just like K-LOVE, I need K-LOVE.

Even if you don’t have one of K-LOVE’s over-the-air outlets where you are, you can listen anywhere you have internet connectivity. There are K-LOVE apps for iPhone and Android phones, as well as streaming through their website that works well on my Android tablet.

I love K-LOVE. I think you will, too. Check it out.

Conquering The Vortex

vortexEvery now and then when I have to run into work after hours—just for a second, a quick in-and-out where you’d leave the car running if you weren’t paranoid about having it stolen—Sharon will say, “Don’t get caught in The Vortex” as I’m walking out the door.

And, I understand exactly what she means.

And, it often doesn’t stop me from getting sucked in.

But, at least she tried.

I admit it. I’ve got a nasty tendency to get sucked into things. It’s a product of my non-linear ADD brain chemistry. If you’re a linear person and you’re already shaking your head like my fifth grade teacher, let me just say that the ADD community forgives you. God loves everyone, even linear people. It’s not your fault. Seriously, it’s okay. We’re used to it.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. The Vortex. Let’s take a peek behind the curtain at a possible “quick trip to the office” on a Saturday morning to reboot a problem satellite receiver:

9:50 AM: Arrive at office. Window of opportunity to reboot is from 10:00 to 10:06, so I have ten minutes.

9:51:00 AM: Log on to computer intending to check the errant receiver and see if it’s still misbehaving.

9:51:30 AM: Paper I left on keyboard reminds me I didn’t file my expense report, just as intended.

9:52:00 AM: Open Excel, pull receipts off the cork-board, begin entering into expense form.

9:54:15 AM: Realize I’m missing a receipt from one of my online vendors. Open browser, surf to their website.

9:54:30 AM: Promo on vendor’s home page reminds me  need to buy some USB cables. Click promo. Prices look pretty good, but can I do better?

9:54:45 AM: Staying on-task, I log into my account and send the missing receipt to the printer.

9:55:00 AM: While receipt is printing, browse to competitive vendor’s website to comparison shop.

9:57:30 AM: Competitor’s prices not bad. Try a third vendor just to be sure.

9:59:45 AM: Third vendor has best prices. Order a dozen.

10:00:15 AM: Discover why third vendor’s price is so good. They don’t have any in stock.

10:00:30 AM: Google USB cables looking for price as good as third vendor.

10:02:00 AM: How many cheesy discount cable places are on the internet? At least 3,437,294.

10:05:30 AM: Find better price, but product looks like poor quality.

10:06:00 AM: Click back to original vendor. Price doesn’t look so bad after all. Place order.

10:07:30 AM: Print receipt, walk down hall to network printer, right past rack full of satellite receivers.

10:07:45 AM: See errant satellite receiver’s blinking alarm light. Check watch. Say something neither edifying nor uplifting. Next opportunity to reboot satellite receiver is 11:00 to 11:06 AM.

10:09:00 AM: Back in office. Since I have fifty-one minutes before I can try again, I might as well get some work done. Finish expense report.

10:14:00 AM: Check email. Order confirmation says USB cables are out of stock, back-ordered six to eight weeks.

I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. You get the point.

The Vortex is one face of a multi-headed creature living inside the ADD brain. It can be an ugly face—A very ugly face—but before you go all condemnation on me, I have to point out that the same brain chemistry that supports The Vortex also supports another face, a beautiful face, a face that is a pure and wonderful gift. I call it The Elevator, because just as The Vortex pushes you down, The Elevator lifts you up.

The Elevator is the face of those wonderful spurts of creative energy that lead us to new inventions, new ways of solving old problems, and new ways of thinking, interacting, and managing our world. The Elevator gives us new stories to tell, or radically different ways of retelling classic stories that make them new again. The Elevator lifts us up to places where we can see things that nobody else has seen. A ride in The Elevator is one of the most exhilarating experiences a person with ADD will ever know. In fact, it is The Elevator that causes me to be a bit offended at the very term Attention Deficit Disorder. In The Elevator, ADD isn’t a disorder. It’s a gift.

The conflict here is that we can’t have one without the other. Remove the chemistry that enables The Vortex, and The Elevator becomes a sweet memory and nothing more. The price of our Elevator ride is The Vortex, just as the price of riding in your car is insurance, fuel and maintenance. We can’t remove The Vortex, but with a little help and a lot of work we can manage it.

Vortex Management

There are no magic check-lists that will keep your Vortex at bay. If there were, I’d be selling it and making a pile of money. You need to find what works for you, and when you find it do it with all you’ve got. Here are a few tools that have worked for me:

  • Understanding.

When I was diagnosed with ADD and began to learn about my brain chemistry and how it works, a whole lot of things about my life began to make sense for the first time. Once I understood that I wasn’t bad, just wired differently than the majority, I could begin to see patterns in my life, ways I’d adjusted and self-medicated and learned to cope with the difference—and ways I hadn’t. This is an area that can be difficult to work on alone. You might need a coach, whether professional or amateur, to help you see yourself. Understanding how you’re wired will equip you to make the most of what God gave you.

  • Nudges.

What I’ve come to understand about The Vortex is that all I need to do to be sucked in is do nothing. In the scenario above, I was sucked into hunting mode. All it took to pull me out of that was a reminder. Understanding how easily I can be sucked in, if I had arranged in advance for a reminder that my window to reboot had arrived, I could have accomplished the reboot the first time around. All it would take is something as simple as an alarm on my phone, or listening to the satellite feed so the silence at the top of the hour would get my attention.

  • Proximity Effect

I’ve learned that there is a direct relationship between proximity and focus. In other words, the farther you are from the thing you need to keep in focus, the harder it is to maintain focus.

Duh.

In my office, I could neither see nor hear the offending equipment I’d come to reboot. If I’d chosen to pass my time working on something close to the receiver, the odds of forgetting the primary mission would drop exponentially.

  • Triage

My friends at Merriam-Webster tell me the word triage means “The sorting of patients…according to their need of care.” In other words, when you go to the ER with a sprained nose, the guy who’s bleeding all over the floor gets first priority. I use triage in my work every day, prioritizing broken equipment, technical requests and deadlines constantly. I’ve learned that a little triage can go a long way toward keeping me on-task and out of The Vortex. In the example above, I didn’t have to go into my office. I could have seen what I needed on the front panel of the receiver. If I’d never opened the office door, I probably would have done the reboot on schedule.

Management=Results

Imagine the scenario above with these simple Vortex management tools applied:

9:50:00 AM: Arrive at office. Window of reboot opportunity is from 10:00 to 10:06, so I have ten minutes.

9:50:30 AM: Stop at office door. TRIAGE: Is there anything in there I NEED to reboot the receiver? No. Don’t even go inside.

9:52:00 AM: Arrive at satellite rack. Observe blinking error light. Check other readouts. Check time.

9:53:00 AM: NUDGE: Patch audio from target receiver into speaker, so end of program will remind me to reboot if I become distracted.

9:55:00 AM: PROXIMITY: Error light on rack a few feet away catches my attention. I investigate.

9:57:30 AM: Error not a big deal. Clear error light.

9:58:00 AM: PROXIMITY: Standing near rack, Take out iPhone, check mail, browse Facebook feed.

9:59:00 AM: Bored. Fling angry birds at pigs to pass the time.

9:59:50 AM: End of satellite program audio reminds me why I’m there.

10:00:00 AM: Reboot receiver.

10:00:30 AM: Fling more birds.

10:03:00 AM: Check receiver. Reboot complete, everything is happy.

10:06:00 AM: Listen to satellite-delivered program on car radio while driving home.

10:12:00 AM: RESULTS: Arrive home and thoroughly surprise Sharon, who expected my “quick trip” to take hours.

If it seems a little too easy, that’s because you’ve never done it. It’s not easy at all, and there are days when it’s nearly impossible—but it will always be impossible if you don’t try. I’m not parroting that “You can do this if you’ll just buckle down and try harder” thing linear people are so fond of bashing us with. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me in my childhood, I would have squandered all that money long ago.

Here’s the thing: those linears are half right. You—and I—can do it. We just can’t do it their way.

Discover how you’re wired.

Find the way that works for you.

Then, meet me in The Elevator.