How’s 2012 Treating You?

How’s 2012 treat­ing you so far? Things have been insane­ly busy here. I’ve been hack­ing my job like a boss so far and the out­come is just what I expect­ed: a heap­ing pile of excit­ing, engag­ing work on my plate. Feel real­ly lucky to be doing what I’m doing where I’m doing it. Can’t share too much, but I think many of you out there will be sur­prised by some of the things cook­ing at my day job.

Can’t stress enough to “cre­atives” that work is only as fun as you make it. Do good work and you’ll impress some­one. Phon­ing it in not only makes you mis­er­able, it also means you have noth­ing to show for your mis­ery.

But enough about work.  (more…)

Hack Your Job

It was prob­a­bly three years ago when my friend Roz Duffy intro­duced me to the phrase “hack your job.” We were both talk­ing about what we’d do dif­fer­ent­ly at work and how we might reimag­ine what we did every day for eight hours plus. When Roz said “hack your job,” I didn’t even know what she meant. I felt like that was some­thing bet­ter left for the folks who built the web­sites that I pop­u­lat­ed with copy. (I copy-ulat­ed!)

She urged me to think dif­fer­ent­ly about work. In fact, she sug­gest­ed that I pur­sue every oppor­tu­ni­ty to make my job my dream job. I explained that I’d tried and done and exe­cut­ed any num­ber of things to make my job chal­leng­ing, includ­ing run­ning with a head full of steam into the estab­lished order, only to bounce back. She wasn’t accept­ing excus­es. I kept moan­ing about “burn out” and I start­ed to see what she meant. I need­ed to look at my job with fresh eyes. If I want­ed to remain employed — and you can bet I did — then it would behoove me to real­ly focus on mak­ing my job as cool as I imag­ined it could be.

It’s great advice to any­one look­ing to real­ize their pro­found res­o­lu­tions going into 2012. One of the things I’ve been able to think about this week are my 2012 goals and how I hope to achieve them. Part of that is rethink­ing the way I approach my job, the way I inter­act with my col­leagues and the way I go about exe­cut­ing my plans. The dev­il may be in the details, but you need to think big so those details don’t seem menial. If you find your­self “check­ing the box,” then maybe it’s time to think about hack­ing your job.

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Making the Internet Fun Again

I’ve been self­ish about how I share things online. When I was writ­ing reg­u­lar­ly as a crit­ic, wield­ing my blog like a bull­horn for what­ev­er I desired, I shared with near wreck­less aban­don on vir­tu­al­ly every plat­form at my dis­pos­al. Late­ly, I’ve turned inward, keep­ing cool arti­cles and ideas nes­tled snug­ly in Instapa­per, or worse, my head, like they’re some pre­cious bauble to hold close. Well, that’s going to change. I’m vow­ing to share more in 2012.

Some­thing I’ve come to love about the most excel­lent writ­ers (call them “cura­tors” if you must) is how they edi­to­ri­al­ize links. I think I’ve been slow to accept this because with music writ­ing, it could be mon­e­tized in clear ways by pub­lish­ing through a third par­ty. When you read great stuff at blogs like dar­ing fire­ball, you mar­vel at how far a link and an ounce of edi­to­r­i­al can take you. Same is true for Twit­ter fol­lows like David Carr, who just re-shared his insight­ful inter­view with Ter­ry Gross on Fresh Air specif­i­cal­ly about this top­ic. Serendip­i­ty! It’s what makes the Inter­net fun and I think that I for­got that some­where along the way while hoard­ing links and arti­cles and ideas in Google Read­er and Reed­er and Twit­ter and Tum­blr and Instapa­per and all the oth­er ways we use the web today.

So 2012 at Ram­say­ings will be about shar­ing those insights. Brace your­self.

I Want to Run

I want to hide, more accu­rate­ly. I’ve run just once since Char­lie start­ed sleep­ing more sound­ly, but that has to change. Not only do I need to run to blow off stress, I need to do a bet­ter job of man­ag­ing my weight. I can’t do that exclu­sive­ly through exer­cise though. Some­thing I need to do a bet­ter job of in 2012 is eat­ing smarter. I know I’ll feel bet­ter if I eat right.

I need to get to the gym, too. Right now I’ve paid $120 for one gym vis­it. There’s no good excuse for that. Can’t wait to get my act togeth­er in 2012!

Resolutions, I’ve Made a Few

I’m look­ing over the res­o­lu­tions I made last year. Hilar­i­ous! Apart from final­ly find­ing a theme I could live with and a cou­ple easy plug-ins for the right rail, I’ve done noth­ing that even resem­bles my goals for the year. In light of this I’m going to take some advice from Paul Rudd’s char­ac­ter ‘Kunu’ in For­get­ting Sarah Mar­shall and try to ‘do less.’

What does that mean exact­ly? It means mak­ing res­o­lu­tions that make sense to some­one who’s start­ed a fam­i­ly. I spend hard­ly any time on the com­put­er at home now. I stay con­nect­ed via my beloved iPhone, but it’s hard­ly an ide­al tool for try­ing out new things on Word­Press. No, I need to set real goals for 2010 that aren’t in any way con­nect­ed to my life online.

For exam­ple, I need to pack my lunch more often. Glam­orous, right? I fig­ure I could save about $50 a week if I just took the deli­cious left­overs in the fridge rather than get­ting yet anoth­er roast pork with sharp at Tony Luke Jr.‘s dur­ing my lunch hour.

A corol­lary to pack­ing my lunch: take cof­fee to the office! I usu­al­ly drink a small French press every morn­ing before I head into the office in the morn­ing, only to find myself in line at the Tir Na Nog branch of Star­bucks with my co-work­ers almost every morn­ing. That has to stop. I’ve cut back to a tall cof­fee there, but it’s still about $10 a week on some­thing I have read­i­ly avail­able at home. I think one of these new Klean Kan­teen trav­el cups should do the trick!

One thing that’s a con­stant in my life is the desire to read and write more. Since Char­lie was born, I’ve spent more hours in front of a TV than ever. It’s the per­fect anti­dote to being shut-in, but it estab­lish­es bad habits that I didn’t have as a child. I don’t want Char­lie to devel­op those habits either. Keep in mind, it’s very dif­fi­cult to do much read­ing when you’re tend­ing to a baby, but doing some would be bet­ter than what I’ve been doing. The days of read­ing 1200 pages per week dur­ing grad school seem impos­si­ble now. If I could read even just a book a month I’d be hap­py.

The writing’s impor­tant, too. As my job changes, I find myself less inclined to write about music. The time it takes to do it right, plus the lack of inter­est from the gen­er­al pub­lic in read­ing music con­tent have dis­cour­aged me from writ­ing. I still love read­ing great music writ­ing and I’m inspired by folks who’ve real­ly had to over­come set­backs in their careers as music crit­ics, name­ly my old boss Christo­pher R. Wein­garten and some­one who became a dear col­league and music crit con­fi­dant for me this year, Mau­ra John­ston. Their work con­tin­ues to amaze me, even as we’re told that the audi­ence for such writ­ing approach­es nil.

On a per­son­al note, I need to do a bet­ter job of get­ting my house in order. Lit­er­al­ly. I can’t hang a shelf in this place with­out some­thing going hay­wire, which might explain why there are so few shelves. I’m call­ing on my old high school friend Kevin Der­rick to help us sort out how to make life with a baby in a mod­est Kens­ing­ton rowhome a lit­tle more beau­ti­ful.

I’m not sure what awaits me next year. My won­der­ful, sup­port­ive wife and love­ly baby son amaze me every day. I’m excit­ed for the chal­lenges that lie ahead in my pro­fes­sion­al life. I’m excit­ed to focus on the prac­ti­cal rather than the per­fect. I feel the future burst­ing with pos­si­bil­i­ty. Bring it on!