N+1 or N-1

What are the metrics of your life? Do they tell the story?

Are we in the story? Have you seen the Scale of the Universe? A little humility is a good thing.

Return on investment, crowd size and election returns are on my mind these days. Along with journal package prices, budgets and bills –lately, these are my daily measures and nightmares. I love graphs and seeing if the representation of numbers tells the story. I have to laugh to look at these depictions of the crowd size at the Rally4Sanity (yes, I was there…lost in a very mild mannered crowd.) It was about the crowd there, as much as it was about the signs. What was the story? The story was – the middle holds. You are not alone.


I was there...somewhere!

I had fun watching Chuck Todd play with his technology during 2010 election coverage (see description of all 2002 election gadget use here) – I miss my SmartBoard (with its Smart Slate.) Technology is fun and frustrating. I can’t count the number of viruses we have had on our work computers these past weeks. Time tracking viruses and cleaning computers is not time well spent!  I am working with my new smartphone (Android) and finding it is taking up way too much of my time learning what all the little symbols mean, and do I need all these apps? I don’t think so…but, wait, I need to try the new twitter app for Android (which one to try?) … no time to tell the story now. Later.

I’m interested to read the latest report on the Blogosphere. Who’s blogging, what’s up with mobile blogging, and are short blogs better blogs? Who has time for everything? Not me, as has become apparent by my lack of blogging – short or long – lately. Though, longer readings like William Blake’s America 2010 by Mark Edmundson tend to stay with me a long time and I think of them often and want to discuss them with people smarter than me.

Do any of these numbers or technology things tell the story of my life? Not really. Do these activities add value to my life? Hmmmm…

I read something from Seth Godin’s blog about the idea of measuring additions to your life (N+1)… or subtractions to your life (N-1) …


Fred had an inspiring post about the ability to always add one more thing. His old roommate called it N+1. Just when you think there’s no more, you find a little room.

Perhaps it’s worth considering an alternative. N-1. There are tons of things on your to do list, in your portfolio, on your desk. They clamor for attention and so perhaps you compromise things to get them all done. What would happen if you did one fewer thing? What if leaving that off the agenda allowed you to do a world-class job on the rest? What if you repeated N-1 thinking until you found a breakthrough?

Seth Godin

Last month I read only in short snatches before bed. I started a great new book [Great House by Nicole Strauss] but was not enjoying it, much less concentrating on the plot or even noticing the beautiful language of the characters and story.  What was the matter with me? I was a mess. I don’t function well without my reading…long sustained time to read. I had to subtract something from my busy days to add time for reading or I was going to bust.

It is not enough to read the phone/computer screen for hours at a time. It does nothing for me (OK, it does help with work, provides a paycheck and adds links to this blog post.) I need book time to fill my mind and soul. What gets subtracted this week to make time for reading? This subtraction – whatever I decide it might be – will add to my life.

I need a story.


About Kimberly Hoffman

Twitter: KMH_nowinVA
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