Ask Me a Question: Productivity

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 18, 2010

Filed under: Personal 72 comments


RPharazon asks, “Programming work, a Gmod comic, a video LP, a normal LP, a weekly column, a healthy family. HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME?”

I’ll add to that list the fact that feeding the blog, Stolen Pixels, and Shamus Plays requires an overhead of gaming time each week.

So… how do I find the time?

1. I work from home

Apparently people average an hour and a half a day driving to and from work. (That figure might include other bits of driving, I’m not sure.) People also end up wasting their lunch hour at work. I have all of that time to use as I please. So I probably have two more hours a day than the average person.

Yes, I do realize I’m lucky.

2. I don’t watch TV

I guess this is becoming more and more common. But a lot of people still watch “a little” TV or “a few shows” without realizing how many hours that really is. Or how much could be accomplished in that time. That’s fine. I’m not one of those people that sneers at TV watching. It’s relaxation and entertainment time. I’m just lucky in that for me, banging out 1,000 words on the thematic and plotting shortcomings of Mass Effect 2 works as “entertainment”.

3. Everyone stays home

My wife is home all day, and the same goes for our kids. She paints as a hobby-job, and educates our kids. That makes it pretty easy to get family time in whenever it fits. I know it’s murder trying to spend time together when mom and dad both have jobs and the kids have school and soccer practice. We don’t have to look for spots where everyone’s schedules line up like a slot machine and we can spend time together.

Again, I realize this is a fortunate setup.

4. Day job doesn’t take all day

I’ve had this job for the last 16 years. I don’t want to talk too much about the details, but recently I’ve been working fewer hours. The LOTRO series is the result of my taking those extra hours and trying to put them to productive use. (Please don’t ask for more details about this.)

5. Scheduling

There is a clear rhythm to each week, which lets me keep track of projects. Sunday morning is for recording Spoiler Warning. The rest of the day goes to the blog and Tuesday’s comic. Monday is for Shamus Plays. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night go into the column and Friday’s comic. Saturday is NO WORK DAY. This is important. I spend a full 24 hours NOT WRITING or producing content. It lets me decompress and avoid burnout. I spend the day playing games I want to play and hanging out with the family.

If I miss a day, I cut some content instead of pushing everything else back. Otherwise the problem would just snowball. (Like last weekend we didn’t get any posts because Other Stuff ate those hours.) So this blog is basically the safety valve.

6. I enjoy it

I don’t think I’d be able to keep up this pace if this wasn’t fun. I’d probably be doing a lot of this even if nobody read it. (Except for the comics. I couldn’t imagine taking the time to make comics if I thought nobody would read them.) This blog began with me slamming out a few thousand words a week, back when nobody even knew about it.

I had another blog before this one, back around 1999-2002 or so. All hand-crafted HTML. It was called “Pixel Factory”. Nobody read it. No internet archive has any memory of it. It was a hole into which I dumped vanishing words. So while having an audience is certainly rewarding, I’d still be doing this even if there wasn’t one.

Some people pour hundreds of hours into their model trains. Or a garden. Or a classic car. Or music. “Creating stuff as entertainment” is pretty common, it’s just in my case I happen to want to create something that can be read by thousands of people.

7. Having said all that…

I’m pretty much red-lining at this point, which is bad. I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve been taking bites out of the blog. We used to get 4 full posts a week, and now we’re down to two. (And yes, this one is one of those two.) I don’t have time for tabletop gaming.

Thanks for reading.


From The Archives:

72 thoughts on “Ask Me a Question: Productivity

  1. Mark says:

    You’re lucky that you’re doing something you want to do. It’s been my experience that that will get you farther than anything else. I wish things worked that way for me.

    That said, with two #5s and lines like “My wife is home all day, and so do our kids.”, maybe you could stand to benefit from another rest day. (Kidding of course. I hope you never change. At least not in ways we’d notice.)

  2. Superkp says:

    No time for tabletop gaming? Shamus, you have lost your first love!

    …or at least, the love that we share…

    whatever, my point is that you should not abandon that one.

    1. Dazdya says:

      I second this. Even though I’ve never posted before, this is too important to let slide :P. Just remember all those wonderful campaigns, and it will come back to you. :)

    2. Henebry says:

      For me, Tabletop’s been an increasingly big sap on my free time over the past few years. I’m happy with the lifestyle, actually.

      1. Skeeve the Impossible says:

        You think you guys want him to start table topping again. You have no idea. I am one of his players and i get crap. At the very best i get a fun conversation about roleplaying dynamics. *shakes fist at shamus*

      2. Heron says:

        Before I moved to Seattle from Utah, I had a thing going to some friends. We played Rifts, we were going to play Star Wars, and we were thinking about Heroes Unlimited or maybe D&D 3.5e. When I moved, we played one short D&D 4e game over Skype.

        But now, all my friends are two states away, gaming over Skype doesn’t work very well, and I don’t know anyone here. I could probably find guys at work, we have mailing lists for that sort of thing I’m sure…

        I guess what I’m trying to say is, I want the tabletop-gaming lifestyle, but I don’t have it :(

        In other news, Shamus pretty much has the life I want.

        1. =Dan says:


          Giving up Tabletop gaming is not fun. I lost my regular group a few years back and have had no success finding a new one. Online gaming is a hollow replacement for the fun I had before. I really wish I could find a game unfortunately finding a game with people who aren’t young enough to be my kids is really tough.

    3. David V.S. says:

      “whatever, my point is that you should not abandon that one.”

      No one really abandons it, Superkp. It’s just a phase. All of us family men who love pencil-and-paper RPGs will some day be empty-nesters again, with homes and kids’ college educations paid for. And wait until we retire: the retirement homes will be great, except for John, who keeps losing his miniatures, and Fred, whose too blind to tell the kobolds from the orcs any more.

      But I do, now and then, hint that Shamus should try to get his kids hooked on RPGs with a kid-friendly RPG system. I’ve even pointed him to my system designed for only two people, in case he can only lure in one of the kids.

      1. illiterate says:

        we have a semi-regular grown-up game with friends. Our five-year-old has been begging to play.

  3. Interesting to hear how you fit everything in Shamus, I’ve always wondered how you fit so much content around a job and a family life.

    Procrastination has always been a problem for me, but reading your work I started to think, “Hey if Shamus can get so much content done in a week, while having far more responsibility’s then what is my excuse?”.

    You should market yourself as a productivity guru :)

    Keep up the good work sir.

    1. Lambach says:

      You know that’s exactly what Shamus needs, another iron in the fire.

  4. SoldierHawk says:

    Very interesting indeed! Thank you for the little window into your week. I too have always been curious how you get so much done.

    Now, please forgive me if this strays into “too personal” territory, and feel free to tell me to go soak my head…but I am curious. Obviously you have your ‘real’ job…but doesn’t the Escapist pay you (for your column and Shamus Plays and Stolen Pixels)? Do you count the hours you put into those activities “work time” or is it just entertainment time that you happen to get compensated for? (Obviously that doesn’t apply to Spoiler Warning and the content on the blog, aside from the ads paying for hosting and such–but that’s not employment, that’s just breaking even.)

    I will say I have missed having more blog posts (the musing kind of blog posts that is.) Its not like there’s not a ton of Shamus-content around, but its very *regimented* content–always the same format-ish. I do miss having more posts where you just went on about whatever it was that was crossing your mind at the time. You’re a good writer and very good at getting your feelings and thoughts across, so it always makes for fascinating reading. (This, by the way, is not a criticism or a ‘you sold out!’ accusation, I promise. I love all of the content you provide. Just an observation piggybacking off the one you made in this post.)

    It does make me feel kind of bad you don’t have time for tabletop gaming anymore…is this something you regret, or are you days so packed that you don’t really notice?

    1. Heron says:

      I suspect the Escapist pays him per article, or perhaps per word (going off my mom’s experience writing for online magazines).

      1. SoldierHawk says:

        If Shamus does get paid per word, I seriously admire his restraint and discipline. Hemingway and Victor Hugo were both paid by the word, and well…let’s just say there’s a reason that Les Miserables contains a 40 page non sequitur about the history of a random abby that the main character hides out in. (Hint: that reason has nothing to do with literary merit, although I do love the book and its author, and don’t begrudge the extra money it made him ;) )

  5. kikito says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I find it fascinating.

    I too work from home. I don’t have kids (I live with my gf, she works outside). And still it feels that you do plenty of stuff!

    I’ll try a bit of that “planning” that you mention.

  6. equinox216 says:

    Have you considered soliciting/publishing a guest column for one of those days? It’d (admittedly only ‘potentially’) rearrange effort spent from “a day’s effort for a day’s content” into “a day’s effort for multiple days’ content”, since you’d move from Author to Ultimate Supreme Editor.

    I realize that’d make for a sort of goofily nested situation, given your connections with Escapist, but YOU would be picking what you were looking for in guest columns, whether that would be something along a tangent, or a different point of view on a topic similar to one you’d already covered at some point.

    1. illiterate says:

      I believe Shamus has said he is reserving this blog for his own content. I am sure if he wanted to take on the task of editing and approving the writing of others, the escapist would let him have some “associate editor” time.

  7. Meredith says:

    I always wonder how other gamers with jobs manage to play so much, and adding in the amount of other stuff you do with games is mind boggling for me. Turning hobbies into jobs is a quick way to burn out, so I hope you’re not feeling too thinly spread. As others have said, I miss some of your old blog posts, especially the thoughtful reviews, but I understand that the paid stuff with deadlines has to come first. I’m also insanely jealous of you work-from-home types. :p

  8. Ell Jay says:

    When you play games for yourself on Saturdays, how do you resist the urge to take screenshots, or jot down comic notes concerning a point in the game to revisit? If part of my job involved playing games, it would seem like I was never off work.

    1. hewhosaysfish says:

      I was wondering this too. Perhaps you make a point on Saturdays of only playing those games you’re not going to reveiw?

      Also, am I the only one amused by the fact that you get more recognition for Stolen Pixels than you did for Pixel Factory? Who says crime doesn’t pay? :D

      1. Shamus says:

        It’s actually pretty easy. The HARD part is to remember to write and take screenshots the rest of the time. It’s always a bummer to get caught up in the game and realize I just sailed by the part where I was supposed to stop and take pictures. :)

  9. Casper says:

    Huh, and I thought SHAMUS stands for a group of people named Sam, Harold, Albus, Mark, Ulric and Shamus. So you are a one person after all.
    Or maybe you, Harold, are just good at maintaining the ruse? ;)

    1. Shamus says:

      This is a dirty lie!

    2. mark says:

      Don’t look at me! ¬_¬

  10. Felblood says:

    I’m single and unemployed, and I still don’t get as much done as you.

    Granted, I occasionally watch eight hours of television in the same week, and I still have time for gaming and extended family events, but I had to put my webcomic on hiatus just to have the creative energy left, for the indy game I’m working on with some of the guys.

    Your discipline, focus and drive are an inspiration, sir.

  11. Yontan says:

    Maybe you should use the new players handbook 3 instead of a pc game title for material.

  12. James Pope says:

    It’s obviously time to teach the kids to write your blog for you, so you can spend more time hot air ballooning.

    1. Mrs. Shamus Young says:

      This is a great idea! Shamus, you could just go ahead and rename the site to “LOLcats and Lollipops” and turn it into preteen girls site about Buildabear, how to trash the backyard and basement in 60 seconds, and Wii games! Perfect!

      1. Robyrt says:

        I’d like to see an article about the best subtitles in video games. “Build-a-Bear Workshop: Welcome to Hugsville” surely deserves a spot on that list.

      2. David V.S. says:

        I’ve also suggested the “kids review Wii games” topic. Sigh. No one listens to me. :-P

  13. bbot says:

    >but recently I've been working fewer hours

    Could I get some more… details on this?


    Amusing that you’re posting about posting so much, since from my incredibly narrow perspective, you’re not. I haven’t finished Mass Effect 1, so I can’t watch Spoiler Warning, or read any posts about ME2. I typically don’t read Stolen Pixels, since there’s no full-content RSS feed for it, and I would rather gouge out my eyes than read about the mockery the LotR MMO has made of the books.

    So I read the weekly columns, and the occasional random post.

    1. kmc says:

      Not to be too defensive about this (only a little), but are you saying that his recent posts don’t count as posts because you don’t like their content?

      You do emphasize that you’re speaking from your own perspective, so I realize you’re not trying to attack him or anything… I, too, look forward to the time when Shamus can go back to more of a free-association approach to post topics, but that’s about as far as I’ll go about it.

      1. David V.S. says:

        I don’t follow anyone on Twitter, but thought that some of the blog’s old style of brief posts about game review issues or personal news were not redirected by Shamus to his Twitter feed.

        My impression (perhaps false) was that between Twitter and the Blog, his “ideas shared per week” has gone up during the past year, not down. I expect his gripe about blog posts per week was the kind of unfair self-analysis we all engage in from time to time.

      2. Kyte says:

        He means “Oh, so I don’t like X, Y, Z and also A. So I read B and C.”, which implies the author writes enough about enough topics to give the reader something even if they don’t like half of the output. ;)

  14. Conlaen says:

    Speaking of finding the time. Have you found the time to write up that bonus strip on Chainmail Bikini yet?

  15. Kdansky says:

    Kids do not go to school? Either american public education is (even) worse than I thought it is, or this is a strange choice. You’d get thrown into jail if you do that in most european countries anyway, and the only people who (try to) do it are all but insane, along the lines of “The snake God of XLKZRTS disallows women the use of literature and electricity!” But then again, the things I hear about US schools are pure horror stories and I would be the first to protest against having to send my children to some of those.

    Still, working at home allows one to spend lunch-time with the kids, which is way more than most working parents can.

    1. Moridin says:

      In US homeschooling is pretty common, from what I’ve heard.

      1. Joe says:

        As an American,I can verify that homeschooling is quite common. As Shamus has said in the past, he gets some real gud book learnin’ in them kids of his. As a product of the public education system, however, I can also verify that the public schools ain’t that bad.

        Also, I apologize for my use of the term “book learnin’.” I’m sorry, internet!

        1. Audacity says:

          I can confirm firsthand the commonality of homeschooling in the USA. I myself was homeschooled start to finish, – I’m now in my second year of university – and know many other people who were also. Keep it up Mr and Mrs Young, it’s the one of best things you could ever do for your kids.

    2. Shamus says:

      Individual American schools vary greatly. (Remember how huge this country is, both in terms of geography and culture.) Some are fine places. Some are crime-ridden madhouses that act like prisons for kids that can barely read by 18. To say more would plunge us into politics.

      I actually really dislike the modern classroom model: Take a room of people of all exactly the same age but of varying abilities and feed them the same information all at the same rate. It’s certainly a good catch-all solution, but it’s certainly not going to be *optimal.* I also dislike the “teen effect”, where grouping people into very tight age bands seems to make kids more clique-ish. That thing where teens sneer at the younger set, mumble at adults, and become estranged from their parents between 15 and 19? That is not normal and you don’t see it in environments with age diversity. (This effect was *extreme* at my school because each building only served 2 grades. So you NEVER saw kids more than a year above or below you.)

      Anyway, I think this approach to learning is worth a try. I have a very poor opinion of the education I was given, and I’ve been impressed with all of the home schoolers I’ve met. (I was an informal tutor for a while.) My kids hold up fine against the averages, with a few spikes where their interests are. (My 10 year old daughter loves to read, and so she does so constantly. She was even with 18 year olds in comprehension last time we tested her, which was months ago.) I think someone would have a very hard time making a case that we shouldn’t be allowed to make this choice for our kids.

      1. Padyndas says:


        I agree with you about homeschooling. I have 4 kids, 2 of which are school age and they are homeschooled. We tried public school but went the homeschool route mainly because my Son has some disabilities that make it difficult for him to pay attention while in a classroom setting. He needs to be able to move around and not have a specific schedule to follow. My Wife mainly does the teaching as I, unlike you, do work away from home. However, the fact that he gets individual attention and his schedule can be adjusted to fit whatever he is most interested in at the time really is a big help for him. Also, like you, nearly every homeschooled child I have met has been very bright and atleast on par with regular schooled children and most of the time their manners seem much better as well.

      2. Jabor says:

        At the risk of entering into political discussion, I think there is a big case to be made for streaming (i.e. instead of putting a group of children of similar age but disparate ability in a room, do the same with a group of children of similar ability but disparate age).

        Of course, this only works when you have a large body of children to pick from so isn’t so much of an option for smaller schools, and while I know first-hand that it works well for the higher-ability students, I am unsure what effect it has on students with poorer ability.

        On the other hand, it’s questionable whether “lower ability” really means they’re not intelligent, or just that they don’t fit well with the method of teaching. Which is where homeschooling comes in – tuition tailored to exactly what they need. I hear it works better for those kids that find regular school too slow as well.

        1. Blake says:

          I went to a small primary school whose entire student population was 46 at its highest point during my time there.

          We were always lumped based on ability and not age and it worked fine for all of us in spite of the very small number of students.

          Because the focus wasn’t so much on ‘you should be at this exact level at this time’ students who didn’t feel ready for high school were happy to stay back and spend an extra year there and nobody treated them any less for it.

          I think grouping based on age just forces those with ability to not be able to use it and those without to just fall even further behind.

      3. midget0nstilts says:


        The problem is, is that parents run the range from thinking it’s the school’s responsibility to raise their children to thinking their children should never, ever leave the fenced village, outside of which are devil worshipers!

        When you see a child whose parents just don’t care, it’s obvious, and unfortunately it’s those children who hold everyone back. I always felt that segregating them was the best solution as far as teaching goes.

        On the other hand, if you have parents who are Nazis with their children, they end up becoming either Nazis or party guys/gals in college.

        I feel the community has a collective responsibility toward children’s education, sort of like how if the parents of a child can’t or refuse to take care of their child, it’s the community’s responsibility to do so.

        At the same time, parents MUST be involved in their children’s education and discipline!

        In many ways, high school mimics adult life. Yes, they are clique-ish. Yes, the rich kids get the better treatment. Yes, because of morons we can’t do X or must do Y. But work is like that too!

        It doesn’t really matter who teaches the children, be it at home or at school, but either way, we must have a balance between collective and individual responsibility.

      4. Joe says:

        Ah. We didn’t see too much of that in my school. Except for the “same age, different skill levels” gripe. Regular &$%##@ idea, that. I was one of those with a “general aptitude for learning.” (I hesitate to use the word gifted, because of politics and a lack of a good definition.) I was outpacing my peers even in the ap classes. Without getting into politics, suffice to say that the better part of those years feel rather wasted.

    3. midget0nstilts says:

      Having worked at the Department of Education in the past, I can say that the competence usually varies amongst districts. (The states regulate their own schools, but must follow Federal guidelines if they want Federal funding. IMO, the power should be concentrated at the state level. Local level, you risk corruption/gross incompetence; Federal level, you get No Child Left Behind.)

      I’m not super-familiar with Pennsylvania’s education system, but I believe in the area Shamus lives in (somewhere in southwestern Pennsylvania?) they are much more competent than, say, Philadelphia, where the first day of school might as well be called “Teachers’ Strike Day.”

      In any case, you can’t just be any schmuck who wants to teach your kids in order to do so. You have to demonstrate that you are capable of properly teaching your children to the state. The children must also take standardized testing.

      I’ve noticed that typically homeschoolers are Protestants who live in rural areas. I’m not exactly sure why.

      1. Robyrt says:

        A number of fundamentalist Protestant groups encourage home schooling as part of insulating themselves from the outside world. This dovetails nicely with “A woman’s place is in the home”.

        A more charitable answer is that rural schools are likely to be worse and more of a hassle to get to than suburban schools, and the average income may not support a private school in that area at all.

        [Edited to tone down the flames]

        1. Shamus says:

          That was about as inflammatory as you can get. You don’t imagine some of the people you just insulted with your blanket statements don’t read this? You think they won’t want to respond?

          Think before you post.

          1. Robyrt says:

            Thanks for the reality check – I’m sorry to come across so heated. To clarify, I am not against homeschooling at all, just the lunatic fringe who are more interested in ideological purity than educational benefits. I’ve seen that end very badly for the kids involved.

        2. midget0nstilts says:

          I can understand why in rural areas parents would prefer to homeschool. It might sound laughable, but rural schools are just as likely to be as bad as inner-city schools.

          I’ve seen bad rural schools, and I mean scary bad. You might not have to worry about Bloods or Crips in Corntown, Iowa, but they do have gangs. And the gods help you if you’re not white.

          And they say public education will give you a more worldly view!

          And yes, there are families that homeschool in the city, too, if they can afford the time and money.

          Still, I like to think I did my part to work toward the point where parents can rest easy knowing their children are going to a safe and nurturing environment.

      2. illiterate says:

        I am going to make some broad, sweeping generalizations about people.

        People who live in rural areas often tend to have larger families, and there is more often a need to have one parent stay at home. Also, in rural areas people are more likely to have jobs which are done close to home, for one reason or another.

        People who live in urban or suburban areas will tend to have smaller families, and higher housing costs (and cost-of-living in general) will generally make it more likely that both parents will be working. We have that situation, and I don’t know that my wife or I make enough money that we could get by (with sharply reduced lifestyle in terms of the extra car, more toys, and such). Even if we wanted to pull our son out of public school (tempting, but our plan right now is to supplement his education at home where we think it’s needful), we would probably need to tighten our belts a bit and use a private school.

        Therefore in rural areas, you have one adult member of the household at home (plus, very likely, an elder as well), and therefore someone who can make the decision to homeschool (my wife grew up in a rural area, and doesn’t have kind things to say about the school… I think my school was good, but you could get by with a very poor grasp of scholastics).

        Now, some protestant affiliations would be exceptions to this, but most don’t have the sort of strong standardization and central authority as Catholicism. To my knowledge there aren’t a lot or “Lutheran Schools” or “Assembly of God Schools”. There are, however, Catholic Schools, Hebrew Schools, Islamic Schools, etc.

        This would, indeed, result protestant, rural families being more likely to homeschool.

        1. Felblood says:

          As a former member of the home-schooled rural protestant children of America, I’d like to weigh in on this a bit.

          My rural protestant parents pulled me out of home school for practical reasons. The education I was receiving was terrible, and poisoned me against several subjects for many years, that I later found a great aptitude and enjoyment for. Moreover, I was firmly instilled with ideal of pacifism from a young age, and so I got beaten to a pulp on a daily basis (Wonderful theory, passive resistance–doesn’t work on children though).

          However, there was another family of home-schooled children in my church that really were raised by a controlling, paranoid mother who forbade them any social contact outside of church and approved socializing activities for home-schooled children. I gather that the primary career skills she expected from her daughters were sewing and cooking pot-roast.

          My parents monitored my television viewing habits, and forbade me from watching X-Men when it made me bounce off the walls, their parents forbade them from watching Toy Story for fear that Babyface (the mecha-spider who is initially misunderstood because of his grotesque appearance) might “be evil.”

          This woman once accused a song leader of practicing witchcraft in the middle of the service, complete with screaming conniption, and a change of churches. (She had herself lost that position to a younger, more talented singer. Yeeeah.) After that, I had little contact with the family, but their situation seemed to grow worse with time.

          In my experience the ratio of crazies to conscientious parents is about even, but that’s just what I gathered from the annual socializing for home-schooled kids. (Some counties have enough home schooled kids that these are set up. There were also a number of field trips that were taken at the same time and place, more to let kids be with other kids than to teach them about zoos or shot-crete dome construction.)

          1. Shamus says:

            Yes, the homeschool “community” is a crazy patchwork of different groups with different motivations. The fundamentalist types seem to get most of the attention, but as far as I can tell they’re not this dominant majority. A lot of them are the opposite of the fundamentalist types: “Pagan hippies” who think that disciplining kids is “smothering” them. (“Pagan Hippies” is a self-applied descriptor. I’m not belittling anyone.) It’s odd when these groups find themselves on common ground and I think it’s generally healthy for everyone involved when they interact. Some buy desks and curriculum and basically re-create the school system of learning. Others sort of just let the kids do as they please. (I don’t advocate this, but it’s amazing how well this works in some cases. Some percentage of kids out there are fully willing and able to see to their own education once they get to the point where they can read.) There are all sorts of intermediate positions between these two extremes.

            1. RustyBadger says:

              “Crazy patchwork” is a good descriptor, Shamus. As a rural Protestant who was partially homeschooled (dismal epic FAIL), and who chose to homeschool his own children (Epic WIN), I can certainly attest to the number of crazies who give homeschooling a bad name in the press. You always hear about the family with 19 kids that’s stuck in the 18th Century and won’t teach their daughters math, but you rarely hear about stories like ours: a daughter who was homeschooled until the age of 12 (Grade 10 with honours), took a year off at age 13 to be a full-time nanny for some friends, and went on to graduate from public high school at age 15, top of her class; and a son who sports a hella-tough learning disability (having been born premature, with collapsed lungs, etc) and who is now a leader in his Grade 10 class (also at public school, age 15). We chose to homeschool our children not because our church suggested it (it didn’t), or because our friends were doing it (some were), but because we knew that with our children’s needs, we could best serve them through this method. They are both as far from ‘average’ as you can get, and the public system can only really work for the average.

              The amusing thing to us was how often, when people found out we homeschooled, they got defensive about their own educational choices. We didn’t care- we were doing what was best for OUR kids, and everyone else’s are unique.

              Here in Canada, homeschooling is pretty mainstream, and you see people from every walk of life and socio-political background involved in it. I think North Americans are a lot more willing to do it than Europeans because of our more relaxed attitudes towards things like post-secondary education and workplace principles. The Prussian model that is still used in public education is pretty outdated and while suited to the Industrial Revolution, is pretty much useless in today’s world. We’re not likely to see much in the way of education reform, though- in spite of Industry trying to make it happen- the way teachers are trained precludes any real possible improvement in delivery methods. (Note I am not slagging teachers here, ok? They work their asses off for the kids. But they are also inculcated with ideas and ideals in college that conflict with both geo-political reality and the economic constraints of a taxpayer-funded system, and the public system essentially lacks the flexibility to provide differentiated instruction in a classroom setting.)

              I’m glad to hear stories like the Young’s. Not that I need self-affirmation, but it’s nice to be able to point out another homeschooler who’s not a complete whackjob.

              1. Josh R says:

                As someone who has had ADHD from a young age and was often been ostracized at school, I still don’t think home schooling would work.
                I wouldn’t have got a single piece of work done at home at all.

                As much as you may not agree with the discipline that school teaches, for a lot of people, it is needed.

                Different strokes for different folks I guess.

                Whilst the benefits for home teachings subjects like Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics are quite clear, being able to move at your own speed and have the teacher deal solely with your own problems. On teaching certain subjects, However, say, English, Politics, Ethics, Music or Art, I think a group of people to take ideas from and to have discuss the issue is unparallelled by home teaching.
                The chance to meet people, learn social skills, form a group of friends, find love at first sight and the inevitable break-up can be hard on kids, But as someone who’s gone through the hard side of it, I wouldn’t go for homeschooling ever.

                (I went to one of the last All boys grammar schools in England, And stayed for the all boys sixth form attached to the lower school. The all boys bit was kinda gay.)

  16. Nazdakka says:

    [[[ Warning, the below is likely to be contraversial ]]]

    To be honest, I think that red-lining is beginning to impact your quality. I enjoy the blog and some of your stuff – I picked up this site about 1/3 of the way through DM of the Rings and thought it was excellent, and Chainmail Bikini was also pretty good. Stolen Pixels, however, feels really forced at the moment – you started out alright, but now… for me, at least, funny comics are the exception. Experienced Points is mixed; when it’s on a topic you are knowledgable about (RPGs, technical stuff) it can be quite interesting, but some of the rest can read like glorified forum posts (enough about DRM already!). On the other hand, I think that Shamus Plays LotRO is pretty good. Definitely the best thing you’ve done in a while. I can’t comment on Spoiler Warning, given that I haven’t started ME2 yet.

    If I were you, I’d focus on what you do best, and think about cutting back the rest.

    1. David V.S. says:

      I’ll politely disagree.

      Although I also love the Lord of the Rings stuff most among what Shamus is currently producing. Yet some recent Stolen Pixels and Experienced Points have been highly amusing and/or insightful even if they are not on average as personally enjoyed.

      From what I’ve seen, it appears that lately Stolen Pixels, the blog, and Experienced Points often weave a common cloth, for which each suffers slightly. In contrast, the LotR is unchained and enjoying its greater freedom.

      My guess is that cutting back paying work is not a good option, either because the income is needed or that The Escapist and Shamus are still exploring what they are aiming to do with Stolen Pixels and Experienced Points, and how to do it best.

      As someone who has enjoyed hours of entertainment from what Shamus produces, yet given back little, making any complaint seems rudely harsh. I enjoy seeing the process of Shamus developing as a writer, comedian, businessman, and family man just as much as I enjoy reading his funniest paragraph or comic. The former is not as full of humor or wit, but is a fascinating and valuable contrast to the more commonplace online ways people share a flood of surface-only life details.

    2. David V.S. says:

      I’ll add that perhaps I trust Shamus too much when I am not alarmed to read that he is burning the candle at both ends.

      Or maybe it’s his family members I trust too much…

      Anyway, I do trust that he won’t damage his happiness and relationships just because currently his schedule is busy. (Well, except for the minor and ephemeral mistakes all of us husbands make irregardless of jobs and business.)

  17. Mephane says:

    Shamus, I kind of envy you for not having to spend like 2hours a day just commuting back and forth. During my Civil Service, it was 5 minutes by bike to the place, but everything after that was at least like 40 minutes away, current job is one hour each trip, so two in total. I’ve probably literally spent whole months of my life just sitting in the bus or train between home and the job…

    1. Ross Bearman says:

      I’m starting my work placement this year (third year of university, spend a year working for an employer, salaried). One of the placements I’m looking at has a one and a half hour commute each way. The other has a two hour commute each way.

  18. ArcoJedi says:

    Just when I was beginning to feel really jealous of you, off goes the lid on how you manage it all. Now I see you are a regular person without super powers.

    Postscript: I just started working from home full time. Yay me!

  19. RPharazon says:

    My twitter post gets responded to by a big blog entry. Nice.
    Thanks for explaining stuff, Shamus. I’m still envious of your time though.

  20. Galad says:

    If I’m ever asked by aliens, like in the MovieBob’s Trope-a-dope article, to show an example of a happy human person – I’m going to tell them about you. If you don’t mind :)

  21. Mistwraithe says:

    And yet without super powers he still performs super human feats! Astounding :-)

  22. Jansolo says:


    You are a fortunate person. And you are aware of it (probably this is the best thing)

    Have you got any tool for scheduling? I mean, how do you get to focus in your targets either job or amusing?

  23. Psithief says:

    When do you spend time with non-family friends? It seems absent from your schedule.

    1. Shamus says:

      So my friends keep pointing out to me.

      So, yeah. That’s an issue.

  24. Squash says:

    I remember you saying you were redlining it a while ago, seems like it was before you added the latest three or four things to your schedule.

    1. Brian says:

      Infra-redlining, then. :P

      If only I had the luxury and discipline to make as much of my 24 hours a day as you do, Shamus.
      Props to you!

  25. Rick says:

    I’m envious. I’m trying to learn better time management. Between everything I’m juggling (new web design business, two jobs, partner), no time for me or friends. You definitely have great personal discipline to make everything work so well for you.

    I think the main kink in the home business productivity is having Google Reader open. It’s full of unread articles (a large chunk from this site) that “I’ll read when I have time”.

    1. Don J says:

      RSS is also the bane of my existence.

      But when I feel “caught up” (i.e. GReader isn’t about to start marking things as read), I have noticed that one of the first things I do is read “ahead” on whatever Shamus has been doing. :-)

      That’s what I’m doing now, hence the reply to an oldish post. :-)

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.