Refracted Input

Clare O’Farrell’s blog on books, TV, films, Michel Foucault, universities etc. etc.

I’ve just had the good fortune to be able to spend three months on long service and holiday leave and have taken the opportunity to undertake research and work on organising systems. It has been a process that has been worth its weight in gold. My goal has been to set systems in place that will allow me more space and energy to happily devote to intellectual and research pursuits in an evermore fragmented, distracted and frenzied world.

A quick rundown of some of what I have been reading of late.

I’ve just finished reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work.
Newport also published a companion volume last year in 2020 – The Time Block planner which handily has a 13 week schedule – perfect for a 13 week semester’s planning!

Newport, who is a Professor of Computer Science, writes from his experience as an academic. This means that although he seeks to extrapolate his reflections to the corporate sector – one can very comfortably apply his ideas in a university setting – something that is a bit less self-evident when it comes to much other management self-help literature.

Another very useful read has been Marie Kondo’s work on material organisation and our relations with the non-human material world. Her work interestingly resonates with unexpected philsophical complexities. I have previously cited a scholarly article on the application of her method earlier on this blog.

Another read has been Peter Walsh, Let it go – quite good – particularly on downsizing aged relatives’ households.

Berlin blogger Anuschka Rees’ book, The Curated Closet, on organising your wardrobe, is next on my ‘to read’ shelf. It has had very good reviews and a quick skim through the copy I’ve bought gives the impression of a good practical read with detailed concrete exercises. It is absolutely essential, of course, to look one’s best – let the wardrobe do the talking to counteract any impression of exhausted decreptitude!

Also on my ‘to read’ shelf is Cal Newport’s A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload. I’m not entirely sure that this book will offer any tips I don’t know of already, but one thing I do like about Newport’s work is his capacity to formulate tried and true techniques from a slightly different angle to solid practical effect. I will of course reserve judgement until I’ve read it.

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