Workflow: Blogging

While participating in #satchat last Saturday, Dr. Reshan Richards offered a concise master class in the how and why of blogging.  I embedded his tweets below with some brief contextualizations / explanations.

By establishing rules for himself — “format and schedule” — Reshan re-launched his blogging practice.

Focus allows side projects, like blogging, to feel manageable and not chew up too much time.

What gets scheduled gets done.

Constraints allow side projects to fit into crowded calendars.

As we learn in the gym or on the track, reps add up.  And, in creative practice, one of the key, though counterintuitive, insights is that habitual (i.e. predictable / boring) practice allows creative practice to thrive.

This is the point Twyla Tharp makes in The Creative Habit . . . and Austin Kleon drives home in an evergreen blog post called “Something Small Everyday.”   (See his related blackout poem below.)


Beyond habits, Reshan is big on internal motivation.  As I heard him recently say in an as-yet-unpublished interview, “any activities done as part of a learning experience should be done with intrinsic motivation. Human beings of course need boundaries and rules to feel safe, but they should also be given flexibility and understanding when a task is not complete.”  It didn’t surprise me, therefore, when he said:

Also, it didn’t surprise me when he said:

You get ideas by capturing them. When I was young, I marveled at the artists and writers I met.  They always seemed to have so many more ideas than everybody else.  A simple drive to a bagel store could yield five new poems, six new photographs, three new essay ideas, nine new short film projects . . .

Now that I’m older and have several hundred thousand words under my own belt, I know that everyone has ideas.  But people who traffic in ideas, people who need to generate lots of them, are simply more disciplined about capturing their ideas. They have more ideas because they keep more ideas.

Last, though certainly not least, is gratitude.

Check out Reshan’s payback / payforward at  It’s a wonderful assortment of fresh ideas, new every weekday.  Leave him a comment somewhere and let him know what you think.

Closing Up Shop: 12/4/15

Each Friday before heading home, I straighten up my desk (only so much) and think back over the week.  In this time/space, I’m looking for one thing the week really taught me, one thing I don’t want to forget.

Here’s a picture of my desk, as left on 12/4/15:


And here’s the insight I want to remember from the week of 11/30/15:

If you want to help students learn, you have to find a way to see their thinking about, and their struggles with, an assignment BEFORE you grade the assignment.  

Share your own insight in the comments.

Workflow: Email as Index

Here’s a workflow I’ve been using this year to make my inbox even more productive.

Some emails don’t require immediate action and yet you know you will need to reference them at a later date.

Instead of pulling data out of these emails, reformatting them in a different application, or putting them in a  folder, try this:

Open the email message.

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Then, forward the message to yourself, giving it a new subject line to help you retrieve it, via search, when you need it.

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Then, and this is the crucial step, log the category (in this case, Student Conference) in a place you can find it.  I use a TextEdit file, stored on my desktop, to keep track of any new category I add.  For some reason, this process works for me.  When an event occurs (like Clubs or a Student Conference, or a Reimbursement) and I have created a category for it, I generally remember to run a quick search, see every “tagged” email related to it, and then retrieve the right email at the precise moment I need it.

I’m sure there are better, more sophisticated ways to generate the same result — but this one works for me.

Obligatory note of caution: If you’re going to make use of this workflow, please remember the wise words of Dr. Reshan Richards:

Automation and efficiency are worthy goals, but once you have achieved one or the o

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