Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Finale Rack

I've been having trouble you might have noticed recently. What you might not have known is that over the three years I've followed the Atlanta Dream I've had my paws in three separate pies: this blog, an unnamed National Sports Website, and Swish Appeal, a new website hosted by SB Nation and devoted to women's basketball.

It's taken a long time to figure out what the problem has been. Namely, "how come I can't blog?" I felt more and more disorganized with less and less to say. Furthermore, this affected the other areas in which I was writing. I wondered if I had hit some sort of mental wall and if I should just walk away from blogging with maximum apologies all around.

Part of this was, as close followers of the blog know, caused by a change in my work environment. For the first two years of Pleasant Dreams, my work environment was rather lax in how it monitored by personal time. I had unlimited access to the internet and there were no expectations as to how I should be using my time. This gave me the time to be able to devote attention to all of these aspects of my blogging life, as well as to follow the WNBA on the internet and elsewhere, to play with statistics and to otherwise make blogging about women's basketball fun.

Then, last year, things changed. My unlimited access to the internet became very limited all of a sudden. No blogging from work. And then, after a while, no substantial use of the internet from work, either - the bean counters were now counting every bean. This killed not only the chances for me to post from work, but even to work on the background of posts from work. Of course, I could do this at home - but home was supposed to be a time of relaxation and reflection, not a time for furious blogging. Trust me, when you're slaving over a computer for eight hours at work, it can be tedious coming home and doing the exact same thing you did at work, shutting yourself away from everything. It becomes something you don't look forward to doing.

So I soldiered on. I would try to eat three pies at one setting, to extend this analogy past its breaking point. I would keep all of these plates spinning, and do the best I could. Pleasant Dreams slowed down to a trickle. I was unhappy with the work I was turning in at the sports website, although it was getting some play from big women's basketball websites. Swish Appeal seemed almost forgotten.

Most of the time, I just blamed myself for the failure. "The reason this isn't working, Pet, is because you don't care. If you cared you could make this work." Then I read a recent article called Solitude and Leadership. The article discussed, among other things, the concept of multitasking and said something that might seem obvious to you but which was rather surprising to me.

One thing that made the study different from others is that the researchers didn’t test people’s cognitive functions while they were multitasking. They separated the subject group into high multitaskers and low multitaskers and used a different set of tests to measure the kinds of cognitive abilities involved in multitasking. They found that in every case the high multitaskers scored worse. They were worse at distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information and ignoring the latter. In other words, they were more distractible. They were worse at what you might call “mental filing”: keeping information in the right conceptual boxes and being able to retrieve it quickly. In other words, their minds were more disorganized. And they were even worse at the very thing that defines multitasking itself: switching between tasks.

That described me to a "T". My mental filing and organization system had simply broken down. "Disorganized" wasn't the half of it. By trying to do three things well, I ended up doing none of them well. The problem wasn't that I was inept at spinning plates, or that I was neglecting my plate spinning duties, or that I didn't care if the audience was assaulted by flying shards of broken glass. The problem was that I was spinning too many damn plates to be good at keeping any individual plate spinning.

Don't spin so many damn plates! Don't expect to do so much! That was the solution. Focus on one thing, and one thing only.

The question then became - "what thing? Where should I be putting my time and effort?" The answer, after thinking about it, became obvious. Parts of my blogging life had to be pared down. And until I can figure out what goes where in my life, there has to be a temporary walking-away process.

I will continue to maintain my obligations in the women's basketball blogging world, as best I can, until the end of the Atlanta Dream's 2010 season. I will keep the plates spinning - not very well, or not very carefully - until then. After that, I will be ending some of my obligations, formal and otherwise. I will continue to attend Atlanta Dream games during the 2010 season and, when able, write about them.

However, when the season is over, this blog will go into hibernation. There might be a few months or so after the season where I just...think about things. So don't expect any posts of any sort here after the final ball bounces for the Dream in 2010. I'll keep occasionally blogging here during the season, but beyond that, who knows?

So thank you for your patience. We'll be seeing out the rest of the season together, and I know that we're going to playoffs...and beyond that! Until next time, what did Casey Kasem say? "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars?" Sounds good to me!


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy this blog. This is the only blog I read regularly that pertains to the WNBA. Here's an idea: how about having "guest bloggers"? People can submit WNBA/Dream related articles (maybe on a topic of your choice) during the off season and you can choose one to post every so often. Just an idea.

pt said...

Sounds like a good idea. I'm open to guest blogging. If anyone wants to help out with the blog, just contact me at