Bug parts in the Similac, and getting more efficient over time

There’s a lot of literature out there on how to be more productive. It’s full of tips and tricks, like making to-do lists, possibly while you’re watching TV (per a recent post on Dumb Little Man). But over the years, I have found that the best productivity “trick” is to actually get better at what you do. That is, you recognize what kind of craft you are practicing, practice to get better, and watch things take less time.

Chefs, for instance, can whip up some eggs pretty quickly. A professional tailor can finish up a button in less time than it takes most people to find their scissors. I have noticed these things myself with writing. When I would first be assigned a 1000 word article, I would write a draft, hit word count, and see some ridiculous number like 1600. This is pretty hard to hack down without changing the entire focus of the piece. But over time, I’ve gotten more efficient about this. A 650 word column winds up being, in the first draft… about 650 words. You just know what it looks like. And you know how to write those words faster.

At least that was my experience on Friday. I was minding my own business when I got an automated call from Costco informing me that the Similac I’d purchased there a month ago was being recalled. I looked up the story, and found that it was because of potential bug parts from the factory. This sounds gross, but I also know that food has lots of bugs in it, and babies put gross things in their mouths anyway. So I decided to write a column about it for AOL News.

One problem: I don’t have childcare on Friday afternoons. I figured I’d write the piece over the weekend, but then Sam got distracted playing with various things from the floor (many no doubt more gross than bugs in the Similac) and so I cranked out the post (Bug Parts in Baby Formula: What’s The Big Deal?) It got a fair amount of attention, and I’m happy to report that for a while if you Googled “bugs” and “Similac” together, you’d find me.

Sometimes I get a little tired of blogging every day, in addition to various other things I write. I know that my readership here is growing, but sometimes it’s easy to shove blogging to the bottom of the list. But then I remember that writing a short essay every day is practice for the times when I do need to write something fast. If I weren’t blogging, I couldn’t do that.

What particular skills in your profession do you need to call on in a pinch? How do you practice those skills? Think back — what are some signs that you’ve gotten better at these skills over the years? If you want to be productive, you can fold laundry while watching TV. But maybe that time would be better spent getting better at what you love to do.

  • (UPDATE) In other 168 Hours news, congrats to Nancy R., who will be doing the time-makeover! We are working on her time log now, and will have her guest post up in the next few weeks. What intrigued me about Nancy’s time challenge is that she works for herself, and doesn’t have children, so as she put it, there are really no constraints on her time. On the other hand, there’s nothing to stop her from working around the clock either! So how should she divide her time? How can she enjoy leisure time when she could always be working? I believe that all of us have a “blank slate” of time, but Nancy truly does, and so I look forward to figuring out some tweaks with her.

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5 Responses to Bug parts in the Similac, and getting more efficient over time


  1. sukeina says:

    I like this piece… it give me another reason to start blogging… improving my writing skill…now if I could only decide on a suitable/good topic!

    BTW–I assume that the winners of the time makeover have been decided? I might have missed the announcement/post about it.

    Thanks

    • Sukeina – yes, sorry, I’ll add that to the post. I was confirming that the person was up for it. Blogging is good for writers – you learn to come up with something to say and get better about saying it!

  2. sukeina says:

    Thanks Laura for the update and prompt response. If you ever need someone who is trying to do more with their time with 3 kids and accomplish more… let me know:)

    I will keep working on my168!

    • Of course – and yes, I intend to do more of these…

  3. Cara Marcano says:

    Let’s do more challenges!

    I love the focus of this Similar article, very unique angle, and very much your voice! And if you seriously did that while your one year old was playing on the floor without TV I am in awe!!

    I do feel sorry for how much pressure there is on women to breast feed and how woman who don’t do it are made to feel guilty and this kind of formula scare doesn’t help! I did breast feed my daughter until one year old but not exclusively and not only on the breast by any means. My breast pump was my best friend for one year!!!

    It is true that newborn babies are more delicate than one-year-olds and yes folks are a little overprotective. We forget those of us who are moms and in our late 20s or 30s that most of our moms gave us formula. Those of us who have siblings know that a good parent of yester generation would never have gotten off their seat while reading the paper at the park to take a stick out of your mouth! My mom definitely would have let us chomp on it!

    Reasonable supplementation of the breast milk is completely sane — especially for working moms! And also new research has come out about how it is more risky NOT to give your kid a bottle by 2 months old than to give a bottle of breast milk ideally or formula if not breast milk — to him or her week one or two home from the hospital.

    I gave my first kid a bottle of colostrum and breastmilk the first two weeks b/c the kid would not take the breast and I was terrified she would not breastfeed. The research does nto support this but rather supports keeping your milk supply up until your kid gets the hang of it! I thank god every day both for reasonable birth control so I could have my kids when I was ready but also for the bottle and the breast pump — I would never have breastfed as a working mom without either and we do need to change the conversation a bit from this radical focus on breastfeeding which is oppressive and discouraging.
    Anyone who has a kid in daycare also knows that life builds immunity.