3 Theses, 3rd Thursday: Managing Things

Managing a “TBR” pile

I like to think of my “to-be-read” list as more of a … “relevant things I came across but don’t have time to work on” list. I follow up on these if I need them later so I can save myself the trouble of finding it later.

A TBR pile can become a little to much like a “to do” list. Like I should be reading it. Honestly…. I probably don’t need to read all of the neat stuff I came across that might be relevant and I didn’t want to lose.

A TBR that is more like a dumpfile of things that I might need later for research or might be in the mood for and don’t want to lose feels much more manageable. I don’t want my TBR to feel like an unfinished task hanging over me.

Reading should be fun, unless it’s work—and at that point, it belongs in my task list.

Managing Expectations

One of my secret dreams is to figure out pivot tables in excel. They have no usefulness for my job or personal life but the bloggers I read are forever talking about them and they sound so powerful.

I call this a secret dream because it’s one of those things I don’t talk about much because I don’t want someone to be like “oh they’re easy just do blahblahblah” and then have to be like “I know how to learn it, I just haven’t prioritized it” because I feel like there’s a stigma (maybe only in my own head, maybe a neuroses due to ex-boyfriends) of saying you want something but not taking steps to make it happen.

I said to my husband once something along the lines of “I don’t want to learn Linux, I just often find myself wanting to have been the kind of person who learned linux.” But I don’t usually talk about it, because I don’t want to waste people’s helpfulness-energy on a problem I don’t intend to solve, ergo “secret dream”

Managing Attention

Music has always helped me focus but I always had trouble understanding (not believing, just understanding) my students (and programmers I know) who say they think better with a movie on. I usually get hella distracted by tv shows and movies, no matter how bad, because I have a very plot-centric brain. I once was really sick and couldn’t sleep, so I crawled out into the living room and put on the most boring thing I could find. Tennis.

It wound up being the longest running record tennis match on record — everyone was so excited! So I switched to ice hockey, a game I had literally never seen before. Over a decade later I remember deciding that I wanted to root for the Sharks and getting really emotionally invested in the outcome as I tried to figure out how the point scoring works.

TL;DR: I have trouble turning my brain off.

Listening to LYT and Obsidian Office Hours on YouTube was the impetuous for me realizing what ADHD people mean when they say that they focus better when they’ve got something going on the background — having them on in the background kept me from alt+tabbing when I get bored with what I’m doing and they aren’t too distracting to keep me from working on what I was working on, because I already knew most of what they were talking about. I can see how for someone who gets less distracted by plots than I do would find re-watching a familiar TV show to be helpful.

Have an opinion on the subject? Let me know in the comments — I’m curious to know whether y’all have had similar experiences with these topics! 


Eleanor teaches Ancient Civilizations and spends the bits of time left over writing stories that bring history -- and magic -- to life. She enjoys rock climbing, bullet journaling, & gardening focused on plants you can actually eat.

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