Remember Recess

According to this article in the New York Times, new research indicates “play and down time may be as important to a child’s academic experience as reading, science and math, and that regular recess, fitness or nature time can influence behavior, concentration and even grades.”

hopscotch 

(photo by pimpexposure, courtesy of Creative Commons)

I’m here to say it’s important to an adult’s career experience, as well. I recently took a day off work to spend time away from a stressful project, and I also spent two full days completely offline. No e-mail. No blogging. No Facebook. That’s unusual for me! Not twittering for four days was something I didn’t even do when traveling northern Italy last summer.

And, yet, unlike Steve Jobs, no one seemed to really notice. The world did not stop turning, the work project did not fail and I returned to the office much rejuvenated. Just stepping away for a small amount of time enabled me to re-engage in my work with a much more level head and lower stress level.

So, for all of us who do not have the jobs 40 percent of Slashdot readers apparently have that require fewer than 4-5 hours a day of work, let’s remember to take recess occassionally ourselves. Reconnect with our families or with nature or with our faith or simply with our internal compass.

It will do not only ourselves, but also our coworkers and our employers some good.

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Loving the Austin Scenes

When traveling recently I began to think about how much I enjoy living in Austin, TX. While being from Louisiana is a big part of my identity, and although I love to see new places and meet new people, it’s always nice to come home to Austin.

Soon our town will experience the annual influx of visitors from around the world who come to “make the scene” at the South By Southwest Music + Film + Interactive conferences and festivals. But, it’s the more common day-to-day scenes that remind me what an interesting, quirky, relaxed, fun place this is to live.

Downtown Austin, TX

There’s the Sunday afternoon pictured above when the Auditorium Shores park filled with dogs and their shorts-wearing people who can’t quite believe it’s not summer year-round, while families in their Christmas finery, and even a fur coat or two, file in to watch Ballet Austin’s inaugural performance of The Nutcracker in the Long Center.

Waiting at Austin Bergstrom Airport watching three grown men play each other on their Nintendo DSes while nearby a camouflaged soldier enjoys a burger and taps his feet to the sounds of Shelley King performing live and free-of-charge for passing travelers.

A triple-digit heat day at the liquid heart of town – Barton Springs Pool – where the sun shines on lots of skin in all sorts of colors and shapes, while turtles, silver-haired lap swimmers and the occasional whiff of something herbal drift by.

I’m sure you’ve got a few vivid scenes in your own memories where ever you are. I’d love to hear about what makes your town a great place to live, too!

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Blogging Tips for Austin Women (and Anyone Else)

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed a nice new profile photo today. It was taken for the March issue of Austin Woman magazine that will feature several local Austin women who are involved in social media, including Sheila Scarborough and Connie Reece.

As part of that, they asked me to share some brief blogging tips. The third one I listed made me feel hypocritical because I haven’t posted here in so long; so, I decided to publish them here now and try to do a better job of taking my own advice.

Tips for Blogging

Be ready for a conversation. Blogging may seem just an outlet for your thoughts and opinions, but what differentiates a blog from other web sites is the interaction with readers.

Read and comment on other blogs. This jump-starts the creative process, introduces you to bright minds you can link to from your blog and creates links back to your blog.

Post often. It doesn’t have to be daily, but once a month is too infrequent for you to develop your voice and build rapport with readers. Blogging as a team can help with frequency.

Don’t fear the blank page. A great way to get more comfortable talking online is to start microblogging at Twitter.com. It helps you develop your voice, and you soon find topics you want to expand beyond the 140-character limit.

Don’t be afraid, but do be aware: You can share your thoughts without sharing too much personally identifiable information; but, always remember that those thoughts can be searched and found online by anyone. (just read my previous post here for a lesson on that one)

Lagniappe: include photos and videos, make it easy for readers to share, enable RSS feeds and get to know these sites: Technorati, Google’s blog search, Friendfeed, Flickr, YouTube, Stumbleupon, Delicious.

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