Question: What do you need to create flow?

Flow is the state when all systems are go and you just do and forget about time. It’s when you feel completely involved and concentrated on whatever you are doing. Even if the task involves a strong challenge, you feel that you are able to meet it. You’re in control, yet not pushing anything. And you feel happy and whole and at peace.

It’s a term developed by a pschologist whose name I can’t spell or pronounce: Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi. (I remember the name this way: “Mick: ‘High chick sent Mick high!'” I’m not the only person who has trouble with his name:

These days I’m working against the clock and around the clock, like many of us at this time of year. But sometimes flow kicks in. Do you experience flow in your working life? Do you have any tips on how to get into flow?

Was ist das Blogprojekt? Mehr dazu unter Englischlernen mit Anne! islandweeklycover300 Subscribe to the Island Weekly podcast by RSS or in iTunes.

Question: What risks do you like, and what’s your survival kit?

I’ve been called a control freak by people who actually call themselves my friends. So what do my enemies call me? I think it’s a teacher thing, wanting to be prepared for all eventualities. Yet I’m fascinated by teachers who “teach barefoot”, taking nothing but a smile and a good night’s sleep. I know that will get you far, and I do it too, quite a lot, actually. But I only do it when I know the terrain, when I figure that I have enough tricks up my sleeve to handle pretty much anything that can happen. So while I hate taking blind risks, I love taking calculated ones.

I always take my survival kit with me. These days it consists of a high tech gadget, my multimedia MacBook Pro hooked up for wifi, which is really worth having made me computer-poor, along with my low tech tools: index cards, empty sheets of paper, colored pens, pins, sticky tape. A key element in my survival kit is my beloved Moleskin diary in red – so I can always find it, even when my desk is a mess – containing not only my appointments, but lists of all kinds: ideas and to dos, completely illegible to anyone but me. I love my Moleskin, and if I lost it, well, I might just take a lengthy holiday to run away from my clients and creditors.

How about you? What risks do you like taking, and what’s your survival kit to get through them?

Tipp: Sie möchten Ihr Hörverständnis verbessern? Zwischen dem Podcast und dem geschriebenen Text gibt es viele kleine Unterschiede. Hören Sie genau hin, um sie zu entdecken.

Was ist das Blogprojekt? Mehr dazu unter Englischlernen mit Anne! islandweeklycover300 Subscribe to the Island Weekly podcast by RSS or in iTunes.

Question: What do you do alone, by yourself, on your own?

One may be the loneliest number, and no man is an island, but some things are better, or turn out better, when you do them yourself. The process itself may be more effective or rewarding. Or the product may be better or more enjoyable if it’s (mostly) yours. Perhaps you have learned to do something and there is just nobody else who can do it as well, even though you’re banging your head to find someone to delegate it to or share the job with. So you do it yourself.

Let me tell you about the things I find myself doing alone in this week’s podcast. And I’d like to hear from you about what you prefer to do alone. Please post your response as a comment, or as a link in the comment section below. If you want to join this project with a blog of your own but are not sure how to start off, read this, watch this video, or get in touch with me.

Do it yourselfselbst machen: I made this jam myself.
Do it (all) by yourself1. ohne (jegliche) Hilfe; I can’t lift this by myself, it’s too heavy. Wow – she did it all by herself.
2. (völlig) in sich versunken: I was in the garden (all) by myself.

Do it on your ownaus eigenem Antrieb; I’d prefer if you cleaned up on your own. Don’t tell me, let me figure it out on my own.
Do it aloneunbegleitet; “I want to be alone.” (Marlene Dietrich)

islandweeklycover300 Subscribe to the Island Weekly podcast by RSS or in iTunes.

Sex and … grammar?

I’ve got a fun job, writing an exercise a week for learners of English. We think up a topic related to the magazine and a grammar issue that should be addressed, or a set of vocabulary items and an approach to learning them, and then I’m off and running. It’s funny: The more bizarre the task, the more it gets my creative juices flowing. This week I have to write something to accompany the title story “Sex in America”, and it’s going to be in the “grammar” section. So: Sex and grammar?? Hmm… These are some quotes I’ve found quite amusing fishing around the Internet for inspiration:

  • Remember, if you smoke after sex you’re doing it too fast. ~ Woody Allen
  • When a man talks dirty to a woman, it’s sexual harassment. When a woman talks dirty to a man, it’s $3.95 a minute. ~ Author Unknown
  • Men get laid, but women get screwed. ~ Quentin Crisp
  • Tell him I’ve been too fucking busy – or vice versa. ~ Dorothy Parker
  • I’d like to meet the man who invented sex and see what he’s working on now. ~ Author Unknown

Taken from Sex Quotes compiled by Aparna Chatterjee.

Teacherz and football

It’s springtime in Cardiff. We had lunch on the lawn outside City Hall, not too far from a fetching medieval castle. The daffodils are out, seagulls are everywhere. We weren’t here for the the recent rugby game where 100,000 people watched Ireland win, but did see Germany beat Wales yesterday in the half empty, really huge Millennium Stadium with 26,000 spectators. A good number must have been English teachers from the IATEFL conference.

Still getting my bearings. Walking across the street is sometimes exciting, because I’m forever surprised by buses coming around the corner from directions I simply don’t expect. I’ve only been to England once before, and that was a week in London, so dealing with traffic makes me feel like the alien I am.

I’m enjoying all of the accents I hear. It started on the bus, with an elderly couple actually using “isn’t it” and “don’t they” in every sentence they said. Then it’s really interesting to hear the accents of the many, many foreigners who are living here and working down at reception or around town. Finally, of course, there are the speakers and the people you meet from all over the world, from different social classes and lifestyles. I’ve got my ears wide open.

I still don’t get the money, but it’s not a problem because people are so very nice.

I went to some good talks but need to think things through before I write about them.

The best part for me, professionally, is having come with a group from my two professional frames of reference, MELTA and Spotlight, and being able to hang out with them. At such a massive event that really helps.

What is work?

When does work start, when does it end? Is life compartmentalized into “work” and “play”? I mean, apart from private “downtime”, of course, which is nobody’s business. But what about thinking, reading, talking, surfing?

When I’m surfing, am I doing so as a private individual or as a business woman? This blog is a product, too, even if it’s free. Oh, there must be a way to tell if it’s work or a hobby. Maybe there’s a special part of my brain that lights up when it’s work, and another when I’m just fooling around. Right? Rrrright.

I remember the definition of work in physics is the amount of energy transferred by a force acting through a distance. So work is whatever it takes to get the job done. Only, friends, what exactly is “the job”? For a freelancer in language services, “the job” is a series of projects, and nobody knows exactly what “the job” will be tomorrow. It might build on whatever I am fooling around with on the side today. Frankly, I don’t mind as long as I’m having fun … and as long as I can claim tax exemptions 😉

Do these questions puzzle you, too?