Improvised Life » productivity/work If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:10:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Effective Workouts WAY More Fun Than a Gym Tue, 14 Apr 2015 05:33:16 +0000

These two quick, compelling videos (and recent research) make the case for “functional fitness “workouts that are pleasurable AND integrated into your life, rather than having to take place in the confines of a gym.]]> 0
Pamela Hovland’s Perfect Mutable Business Card Wed, 08 Apr 2015 20:00:34 +0000

Sally Schneider

Nestled in one of graphic designer Pamela Hovland‘s very cool folded magazine page envelopes I received recently, was the brilliantly mutable, multipurpose business card she designed years ago. To me, a perfect business card is one that never gets out of date, and this is one. (more…)

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5+ Happiness Generating Questions Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:50:00 +0000

As ever, Neil Gaiman nails it. But there’s a question in his wonderful words, one that many people we know have been asking themselves: What Do You Have that Nobody Else Has? What is the particular flavor/quality/aspect/talent/vision unique to you? And even more importantly, what are ways it can thrive in the world?

Ko Im over at Thought Catalog (via 99U) poses additional questions about ones SELF that he says will prompt you to discover patterns that point you toward greater happiness: (more…)

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A Happiness Strategy + Agnes Martin Thu, 19 Feb 2015 08:34:53 +0000

Agnes Martin/Hiram Butler Gallery

We know a lot of people who work to be mindful of how precious their life is and savor each moment. And work it is, a practice, because it’s so easy to get caught up in bad moods, what we think is wrong, the stresses of each day. We stumbled on an interesting happiness practice unexpectedly while reading I Bought Andy Warhol.  Richard Polsky describes art dealer Jack Glen as “the most upbeat person I ever met”, and asked him how he stayed so positive. Said Glen: (more…)

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Do You Need Permission to Stop? Tue, 17 Feb 2015 07:54:44 +0000

Ellen Silverman

While I was on my sudden, much-needed hiatus last week, I emailed Susan Dworski, a frequent contributor/now-dear-friend, about the heartening and supportive messages I’d received from readers. She sent the image, below, (titled appropriately “I’m Wired“), with this note:

Maybe it’ll take a village to get you unplugged.

She hit the nail on the head. (more…)

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Four Principles for Generating Good Luck Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:30:57 +0000

Psychologist Richard Wiseman completed a ten-year study to figure out why some people, even smart ones, are luckier than others. He explains how and what he found in illuminating detail in Be Lucky —It’s an Easy Skill to Learn” in the Telegraph.

The gist: people who generate good luck practice four essential principles. (more…)

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Tiny Powerful Practice: Notice What You Notice Tue, 11 Nov 2014 09:00:28 +0000

Note to Self:

Starting NOW, practice noticing what I notice.


What am I tuned into? 

Through what filter am I viewing things?

What’s of real interest, gives true pleasure? (more…)

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Marie Kondo’s Philosophy of Decluttering Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:55:03 +0000

Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has taken Japan and Europe by storm. And it seems, it is in the US as well. What sets Ms. Kondo off from other decluterring experts is her underlying philosophy that dictates the work of “tidying”.

An article in the New York Times outlined Kondo’s two basic, somewhat radical/spiritual, tenets:

Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service and… (more…)

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Adjustable Rolling Table for Matisse AND Us Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:33 +0000


When we looked closely at images of the invalid Matisse sitting in bed or in a chair making his beautiful paper cutouts, we realized that he used an adjustable bed table similar to one we’ve had for years.

We came across ours while trolling Ebay for mid-century furniture nearly 20 years ago. Billed as a Danish Modern Teak Rolling Tray Table, it looked mighty useful so we bought it. Over the years, we’ve found it to be astonishingly versatile: (more…)

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Seth Godin: Make Two Lists, then Choose Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:12:29 +0000

We were struck by Seth Godin’s recent post about the two lists we seem to carry with us at all times, which become apparent during a crisis or moment of doubt: one is the positives, the other, the negatives we perceive in our lives. His point: we have a choice in which we choose and the choice we make determines how we will proceed: (more…)

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An Engineer’s Strategy for Getting Things Done Thu, 09 Oct 2014 08:30:32 +0000

One of the great gifts of Improvised Life has been correspondence with readers, who are a mightily varied, creative and surprising group of people. Recently, Michigan-based engineer Kevin Neff, responding to the contest/challenge we published a few weeks ago,  has been advising me on how to rig my bed to stop it from transmitting the mysterious vibration that comes through the floor. In addition to the practical solutions — making or buying concrete bed legs of a certain, carefully-calculated weight, and sandwiching them with visco-elastic Sorbothane —he offered an excellent strategy for getting project done. (more…)

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Noticing Gratitude Tue, 23 Sep 2014 07:48:08 +0000

Sybille Palmer

A message came in from a reader today that knocked us out. It was forwarded from our friend and frequent contributor Susan Dworski: (more…)

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Air Baths and Other Ways to Enhance Creativity Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:15:17 +0000

At Improvised life,  we’re always interested in ways to become more creative and productive. So when we came across Mason Currey’s latest book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work we were excited. Currey describes personal quirks and daily rituals developed by many of the world’s great artists, musicians and film makers.

From the bizarre right through to the strikingly simple – the book reminds us that we all work in individual and often improvised ways: (more…)

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Be Alert for Bad Productivity Advice Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:32:20 +0000

We are big fans of 99U and have found quite a few ideas that foster productivity. Some of their posts definitely do not. They got us thinking about all the “sure-fire advice” from supposed experts that we find on the internet, and how easy it is to think we’re doing things wrong.

Here’s an example:
“By waking up just 30 minutes early and jumping right into the work, we can block our mental editor from hindering the idea-generating process. “


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