A not-quite-midlife crisis sent me back to school last year--VMFA Studio School. There I tried to shed my business journalist skin by enrolling in a riot of short story, poetry and photography classes. The highlights: the heartfelt tutelage of writing instructor Susan Hankla, quirky new friends like fellow over-enroller Kim Drew Wright, and a glut of writing that made up in fun what it lacked in skill. I love Kim’s deeply imagined and affecting stories and so I jumped at the chance to . . .
This Is How I Do It
I’ve got big dreams and a small child so tips for the work-hard-sleep-short set are my sweet spot. I appreciate when a blogosphere tidbit saves me time or money, and I hope to pay it forward with how-to posts like those shown below.
I’ve probably bought 200 volumes in the genre, all promising to offer up the keys to eternal happiness, flawless skin, heaps of money or somesuch. On my desk this moment, I’ve got “The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right,” “The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful Fund-raising” and “52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life: BS-Free Wisdom to Ignite Your Inner Badass and Live the Life You Deserve.” . . .
Years ago, I volunteered with an understaffed nonprofit that struggled to recruit hands-on board members willing to pitch in beyond scheduled meetings. I vividly recall a colleague relaying the tale of how a longtime donor shot her down when she invited him to join the board. He declined, saying: “I give my time or my money to organizations, but not both.” His strange pronouncement just killed the conversation. Put in a tough spot, she couldn’t jeopardize his financial contribution by . . .
Stanford Graduate School of Business marketing professor Jennifer Aaker devised this idea and explains it in a Lean In lecture. Aaker argues that finding such multipliers will help us stay ambitious, feel less rushed and accomplish more. If you want to be a great athlete and a great partner, go for a run with your partner, she says. If you want to volunteer at a nonprofit and be a good friend, take a friend volunteering with you. Aaker calls such productivity pairings “doubles.” Extending . . .
Dear Maya, I am a first time homeowner and currently having some major renovations done. I need to figure out paint options for all rooms including the bathrooms and kitchen, and I have to pick out fixtures, tiles and flooring!! I generally love all things about home decor and renovations, but I am feeling overwhelmed because I have to make all these decisions so fast! I am familiar with the website Houzz and I can spend hours searching that website! But I need to start making some decisions . . .
First, a warning: Don’t judge "Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection" by its cover. The illustration and the title give the wrong impression. The cover (designed by a man, incidentally) features a glorified stock photo of a white woman in stilettos, button-down shirt and trousers standing on her head while peering at a laptop. Outsized blood-colored boxes imprison white text stamped across the poor woman’s body. Ugh. Written by Debora Spar, a mother of three and the . . .
I love a good list. I list things to do, errands to run, calls to make. I even record things that I want other people to do for me. These Do Lists and Delegate Lists are stellar organizational tools, especially when synced and stored in the cloud so that you can access them anywhere from any device. But when the lists get long, as they inevitably do, another variety of list is required—The Kill List. It is the more forceful cousin of the Not-To-Do List touted by productivity experts. It . . .
Given our frequently complex and unpredictable lives, we all need a few daily anchors—little things that make us feel grounded and in control—if only fleetingly. For me these things include a made-up bed, a clutter-free kitchen counter and an empty email inbox. The bed won’t stay made. The clear counter will inevitably yield to an onslaught of dishes, ingredients and mail. But at least once a day for a brief interval--let's call it a Martha Moment--I will set things right and experience a . . .
Dear Maya, I delegate a hundred little things in a week. How can I make sure every single one of them got done? Should I go through my sent mail once a week to see what’s still out there? Sincerely, Outbox Checker . . .
I knew I had a problem when, in a meeting with a couple of block-print Moleskin types, I pulled out a crumpled piece of bright yellow legal pad paper and began jotting down some notes. They watched my pen like a movie trailer. Now, granted, part of this reaction was due to my red lacquer pen with a dragon pattern etched in gold. But these super-organized colleagues were mostly staring at the notes themselves—loopy non sequitur scrawls on unmoored paper. I vowed that when we met again, I’d . . .