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6 Mother’s Day Gift Tips for the Productive Lady in Your Life

6 Mother’s Day Gift Tips for the Productive Lady in Your Life

Mother\'s Day Gift

    The problem with picking a gift based purely on productivity is that most people like gifts that they won’t buy for themselves: people want something fun, something special — and your mother is no exception. And Mother’s Day is almost here: it falls on the on the second Sunday of May, which just happens to be this weekend. We each have only a few days to make sure that we don’t try to give Mom something as that drags down her productivity, clutters up her workspace or generally makes her wish she swapped us for more grateful children.

    Navigating the mall displays of gifts “Perfect for Mom!” can be incredibly difficult, But these tips can help simplify that last minute shopping spree you might be considering for Saturday night. Heck, with these tips (aside from the card), you might be able to check Mom’s gift off your to-do list right now.

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    1. Give the Gift of Time

    When I was a kid, I always made my mom coupons for Mother’s Day: she could cash them in on a couple of hours of babysitting for my little sisters, some help around the house — that sort of thing. And I still give her the gift of my time: right now, I’m working on teaching her how to run a blog. Offering up some of your time to help your mother complete pet projects can be an ideal way to give her something she’ll actually be able to use. A nice dinner out or a family get-together can fall into this category as well: just remember your time is valuable — valuable enough to make a good gift.

    2. Ditch the Gift Cards

    Conventional wisdom seems to say that everyone loves a nice gift card: you don’t have to worry about getting the right sizes or picking the right movie. But there are plenty of options that make for better gifts. After all, what’s the use of money that you can only use one place? Or money that you have to make a special trip to spend? There are some gift card options that allow you to provide money that can be used anywhere that takes Visa (or whatever card company you purchase through). It’s not a perfect solution, but it will save you from finding that gift card you purchased in your mom’s junk drawer sometime next year — a friend cleaned out his grandmother’s house and found, literally, a stack of gift cards. Her family had sent them for a number of occasions and she never used a single one.

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    3. Check for Gadgets They’re Lusting For

    Anyone who thinks that ladies don’t have just as much gadget lust as guys seem to is sadly mistaken. And, unless your mama really does enjoy spending time in the kitchen, skip the domestic gizmos. In the last month alone, my mother’s dropped hints about an iPhone, an iPod and a DVD player she can take in the car. I may not want to get my mother every gadget under the sun, but she’d be happy to get them — and she’s not all that into technology. She doesn’t follow it closely but she does hear about cool toys. If your mother has a favorite hobby, consider checking if there’s a gadget or tool she’s lacking for her pursuit. Sure, your gift may not make your mother anymore productive, but she’ll still enjoy it.

    4. Make a Donation in Your Mother’s Name

    My grandmother has made dire threats towards anyone thinking of bringing ‘clutter’ into her house. She doesn’t necessarily need anything and certainly would rather we spend time with her than mail off some present she doesn’t really want. We do want to honor her in some way, though, and she has directed us to her favorite charity. If you want to acknowledge your mother’s efforts in turning you into the wonderful individual you are today, consider making a donation to her favorite cause.

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    5. Share Your Memories

    This is the moment for all those family photos, recipes and everything else memorable that you’ve had stashed away. Pull out the photo albums and frame a few for your mother’s walls — or scan them and make a screensaver for your mom’s computer. There are so many possibilities you can try: turning a few favorite family recipes in to a cookbook, writing down a few favorite family stories and finding the accompanying photographs. Just a few fond memories can bring a smile to your mother’s face (and maybe remind her why she didn’t swap you in for a better behaved kid).

    6. Go in Together

    I have two sisters who I can team up with on a Mother’s Day present for my mom. I have seven cousins who I can go in with if I want to do something for my grandmother. To put it simply, not only can I get the benefit of my relatives’ ideas for gifts, but together we have more buying power as well. Mother’s Day isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about which relative can get the biggest, fanciest present. Instead, if you do want to get a relatively large present, it makes sense to make it a group effort. If it’s something nice and that Mom will like, your relatives will be glad to not have to worry about a gift on their own. (And, for those of us with the bad habit of waiting until the last moment, finding a relative to help out with the bill can cover your butt!)

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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