It’s frog and toad mating season on the farm. The nighttime is noisy with nature sounds and the pond water ripples with round tadpoles. The farmer is full of mating factoids, like toads enjoy a threesome. Here’s a photo from the farmer:

Frog Threesome

Meanwhile, Ben Casnocha sent this link to me about sexual harassment at work. I write a lot about harassment (like you should not report it) because the rules of harassment fascinate me. What is harassment? And what is “I love you?” For someone with Asperger Syndrome, it is not obvious. Also, like all women, I have had to deal with my fair share of harassment.

It turns out that men and women in their 20’s report the same levels of harassment. Some cases are considered harassment when a female manager calls a male subordinate “sweetie.” And because showing any porn at work sets the tone for disrespect among co-workers, (a big problem at the SEC,) this post might pass for harassment if I called a male subordinate in to my office to look at it.

But now I’m thinking about distractions. Sexual harassment is really only a problem to you if it distracts you from what you’d rather be doing in your life. The same way you judge if alcohol is a problem is, maybe, the way you judge everything. I am so easily drawn into an email like Ben’s. I click his link, then links within his link, and then, six hours have passed and I’m an intelligent conversationalist on a topic I had never heard about before that morning.

To the farmer, the farm is like the Internet–a tunnel of treats to fall into instead of getting back to work. There are the blackberries and deer and barn swallows and the frogs. But the farmer has self-discipline. He carries a camera, snaps a picture of the frogs, and then gets right back on the tractor.

My transitions are much more leisurely and, to be honest, I never know if I will make it to my intended next task. So I have started chanting a mantra to myself, (which I found on Lifehacker), that I think is going to help. The chant is all the productivity books in the world, distilled down to eleven words:

One thing at a time. Most important thing first. Start now.

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79 replies
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  1. Margaret Goerig
    Margaret Goerig says:

    Penelope! I had to come on here just to make sure my e-mail was not acting up and not delivering New Post notifications. Apparently, it is just fine. And you’re not? Hopefully, the others are right and you are actually just having fun and painting the farmhouse, though your tweets make me think otherwise. Whatever the problem is, I hope you get around it soon and all is better. Hugs, M.

  2. Concepció Roca
    Concepció Roca says:

    Penelope, is it something wrong? I’m following you from Barcelona (Spain). Love your posts. Admire your courage in addressing some personal – €“and painful, I guess- subjects. Your blog is on my listing. I even mentioned you in a post of my recently started blog (in Spanish). You are something of a guide for me! And now you got me a little worried since usually, you post more often – I hope everything is well with you and your loved ones. Keep your good job! Cheers, Concepció.

  3. jrandom42
    jrandom42 says:

    “But now I’m thinking about distractions. Sexual harassment is really only a problem to you if it distracts you from what you'd rather be doing in your life.”

    What about when it involves coercion, violence, sexual assault and rape? At what point do you report it? I don’t think Jamie Leigh Jones would regard sexual harassment in the workplace as a “distraction.”

  4. Brent
    Brent says:

    I enjoyed reading this article:)
    it was interesting how you brought farmer’s story about frog and sexual harassment problem at work together.
    I can’t agree more how you think about distraction.
    and thanks for sharing such a brilliant mantra!

  5. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I recently heard on the radio about a new book released less than three months ago titled ‘The Winner’s Brain: Eight Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success’. A good synopsis can be found at . “Psychological strategies that people can use to improve mental performance” is the heading of the article and it briefly discusses focus and productivity. It appears to me to be a very good book.

  6. robin day
    robin day says:

    Worried about you, is everything ok as there haven’t been any new posts lately?

    Hope all is well and you are just enjoying your new husband and your boys.

  7. Ben
    Ben says:

    I love this. The idea of capturing your distractions (I’m thinking GTD) and using it as a chance to refocus seems really powerful. Thank you!


  8. Mac
    Mac says:

    self-discipline, easy and simple word, but hard to hold it with yourself!

    By the way if you see mine self-discipline please let me know! I have to go to bed (Germany) but I read good articles! ;-)

  9. Vfrankz
    Vfrankz says:

    The author notes that the integration of the Square into the surrounding city was achieved through a diverse mix of materials and scaling. The upper floor of the city centre houses two-storey retail units.

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