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Blogging for Kids

Blogging for Kids

Warning: No, you’re not on Parent Hacks all of a sudden, but I want your take on this.

I was never a big fan of report writing, especially the research portion. But when I could make it into a dazzling project, then it was kind of fun. My mom helped me with this big report on the Black Rhinoceros. I remember facts about that creature today (26 years later- ouch).

But the tools of the time were the photocopier, the clear plastic sleeve, the one-inch ring binder, and clearly-written labels.

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Blogging for Kids

My friends’ oldest son just started a blog. He’s six. Mom and Dad help administer the blog, and probably keep him safe from inappropriate comments and the like (oh, and he’s a comment FIEND- loves them!). But here’s some interesting behaviors and why I think this is a neat hack for parents with younger-than-you’d-expect-to-be-thinking-about-this kids.

  • He’s six.
  • He likes changing the colors of the words every bit as much as the research.
  • He must be using Google to research, or Wikipedia.
  • He’s using blogging tools.
  • He’s observing social software (his love of the comments).
  • He’s getting good follow-on feedback from readers, which drives him to research more.
  • He’s actually planning posts.

Do it Yourself

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It’s easy to set up a blog, and easy to set it up with protection from typical spam. If you maintain the admin rights, you usually can keep the blog safe from things that will bug you as a parent. If you can disable urls in comments, all the better (to prevent malicious pointers).

So, what would using the shiny fun of a blog do to teaching your kid how to research? How does the adoption of social software and other new and emerging web applications impact how you might share knowledge with your kid?

Go further. Would a home wiki be useful? Even offline (like GTD Tiddlywiki), wouldn’t getting kids in the habit of using technological tools be another step up in their future abilities to use web tools for research and expression?

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Is this “kids growing up too fast” fodder? I don’t think so. I see a blog being far more useful as a way to promote learning, sharing, and developing broader perspective on the world.

The Same Tools

You know why lots of tech gadgets and sites fail to reach kids the way they intend? Because they make the products DIFFERENT than what the kids see their parents use. My daughter loathes kid versions of adult things. (This becomes tricky around scissors).

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Why NOT cook them a Blogger.com or WordPress.com account? The tools are usable, laid out relatively simply, and if they’re not getting all tricky (I haven’t used blogger in a few months, but how is he changing those colors?), it’s easy to teach them how to use the basics.

You can choose privacy levels appropriate to your take on the internet. I put my kids on the net, and others don’t. That’s not the primary issue. That’s an internal-to-your-house debate.

It’d be interesting to know your thoughts on this one. What would your kids do with a blog like Aidan’s? Would it drive some other use for their time? Would it promote research and presentation skills?

–Chris Brogan had to go out and buy his own computer, after surrendering the other to his four year old daughter. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to write [chrisbrogan.com]

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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