Prepping for 2011

"Planning for 2011" SUMMARY: A personal post about my Dad’s recent visit that segues into my thoughts for getting 2011 off to a productive start.

Dad just flew back home on Saturday morning, ending a six-week stay at my house here in New Hampshire. I’m sad that he’s gone back to Taiwan, as I’ve grown used to the quiet routine he had worked out. The funny thing is that we didn’t really do anything that special. Dad’s quite self-contained in his interests, and in prior visits we’d worked out the essentials: Cello (Dad took it up in his late 70s), Cooking (Dad seems to see this as one of his major contributions), and Investigating New Stuff Around the House.

Apparently I am descended from a long line of gadget-loving Asian ministers, with grandparents on both sides of the family having been known for their resourcefulness in using technology to better their community and church life. This resourcefulness goes hand-in-hand with an uncommon vigor to transform environmental spaces. In the first 24 hours of Dad’s arrival, he had completely reorganized the laundry room after washing and folding every item of clothing he found in the house. The kitchen, which I had been fairly happy with already, was subtly reorganized for more efficient cooking; I’m particularly fond of the new “vegetable box”, in which Dad’s variation of mirepoix (onions, ginger, and garlic) was kept staged for instant use. The gray table in the guest room, I was later told, was actually white when he was done cleaning it. Coins appeared magically sorted by their value, stacked neatly on my shelf. Pairs of socks were joyfully reunified after a long sundering.

It’s this spirit I’m attempting to channel on my own now, as I prepare for 2011. I’m sitting at Starbucks kickstarting my interrupted ritual. I’d actually stopped coming here some 10 weeks ago, when I contracted a horrible cough and couldn’t be in polite company without hacking up a storm of particulate germ-carrying mist, so it’s kind of weird to be back here.

I haven’t yet started to process my 2010; I did in fact miss the last Groundhog Day Resolutions Review on 12/12 (a reader had to remind me), and so this remnant of last year’s resolve still dangles in the periphery of my hindsight. However, for the purposes of today’s planning for the future, I’ve broken down the major themes as follows:

  • The Blog – Form Updates (still continuing!), Site Enhancements (for improved navigation), Writing (more personal, and less one-track). A major task for 2011 is just getting the site in a form where it’s easier to find the “good stuff”. The addition of the “Productivity Tools” link has created a major shift in incoming trafffic; I think it’s because there is finally one place to start looking at stuff.

  • Queued Work – I’d told people that the six weeks my Dad was visiting, I was taking on no new work. That didn’t entirely work out as planned, but overall I was able to carve out time to just be around with Dad. Anyway, getting the queue moving this week without going nuts is on my mind. I’ve theorized that there are two kinds of day schedules that will work for me: a 5-hour day (3 hours for light billables, 2 for light blog stuff) and an 8-hour production day (two 4-hour chunks of intense production work).

  • Products – 2011 will be the year, it seems, where I finally have more than one physical product for sale. The Emergent Task Planners sold better than expected; my last run of 250 pads ordered in November are almost sold out, and I have to scramble to get another run printed. Compared to the 8 months it took to sell the first 250, that’s quite an improvement. It’s funny also how some obvious things, like shipping my own packages to the warehouse instead of going through the printer, opens up some new possibilities. And I’m just scratching the surface of Digital Downloads; there’s quite a few fun things I could start doing there.

  • Offerings – I continue to play with the way I answer the dreaded So, what do you do? question. I seem to be able to do a lot of things, but there are only a few things that seem to really come from the cool spring of personal satisfaction. I’ve dug a lot of holes in 2010 looking for the source of this fabled spring. I think the innovative thought for Q1 of 2011 comes from the wonderful based-on-webcomic-picture-diary EMITOWN by Emi Lennox. My sister, always with the eye for cool independent comics, got it for me just a few days ago after being charmed by it herself. The relevant takeaway for me was that one’s sense of happiness and worth can be found in the creative community you work excitedly to keep. That’s a question that I think is easier for me to answer than, “What market niche do you want to dominate?”

  • Health – One of the Christmas presents we gave to Dad was a digital picture frame, and I spent quite a lot of time reviewing the past 15 years of my photos to create a representative sampling of Dave World. It was fascinating to see my weight fluctuate, mostly upwards, in rough correlation with worsening hair loss. There was, though, a bright period in 2008 where I was 30 pounds lighter than I am now, and my hair actually matched my build! At the time I didn’t think I had lost enough weight, but looking back at that I was pretty fit. It should only take 4-6 months of effort to get back to that point, so that’s one of my goals.

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p>So that’s where I am right now. There are a lot of techniques from the past year that I can draw upon to stay focused. One of them I’m planning on using is sharing through writing; the Wave Experiment with Colleen has taught me the value of continuous writing. More importantly, all that writing in 2010 that didn’t make it to the blog turned out to be important formative thinking; Colleen herself realized that this is what the Wave was doing for us in her recent newsletter (it’s the January 2011 one, which is not archived at the time of this writing). I’d like to bring some of that personal writing back to the blog, and that means overcoming a few personal hurdles too. But I’ll hopefully write about that tomorrow.

10 Comments

  1. I love this post (and not just b/c I’m in it). It’s generous in spirit and well-written in, uh, writing; both of these things make it more helpful as an externalizing of process.

    I think the Wave Experiment has wrought wonderful things in its quiet, background-ish way.

    • Author
      Dave Seah 6 years ago

      I just had that thought this morning…The Wave was a year-long writing workshop for me!!! :)

  2. Avrum 6 years ago

    Dave,

    As a child, my dad and I spent little time together. After my parents divorced (1998), he swore he’d do things differently. I didn’t believe him. In 2002, my dad broke a vacationing habit (sun/golfing) to visit me in the land of drizzle, caffeine and fleece (Vancouver). We had such a lovely time. I wish I could say we did this more, we did not. This past June I became a father, in July I lost my father. Thankfully, he met his grandson 3 weeks before he died.

    This line:

    “I’m sad that he’s gone…”

    sums up how I’m feeling.

    Great post.

    p.s.

    Speaking of Vancouver, it would seem we both know Noel. Funny guy.

    • Author
      Dave Seah 6 years ago

      I’m glad you were able to find the time to get to reacquaint yourself with your dad, and have him meet your grandson. I had a related guilty thought when Dad was here about the desolate grandkid situation.

      You know NOEL? Wow! I’ve only met him virtually. I did write a blog post about him a long time ago back in 2005, at which point I figured I no longer needed to be an interactive badass designer because the position was already taken :-)

  3. Aurelius Tjin 6 years ago

    Well written. Looking back plus taking stock of the present equals moving on…All good things for 2011. Cheers!

  4. Sue Thomas 6 years ago

    Nice to hear about your time with your Dad. Thank you. (reminds me ….) I also appreciate the alternate day schedule reminder. I can come up with something like that starting in February after I’ve retired. No externally imposed schedule means lots of opportunity for goofing off in a far too unproductive way.

  5. Stephen Smith 6 years ago

    Great thoughts there Dave. I am so busy at the Tavern that I am envious of your 5- and 8-hour day schedules…nothing like that can exist in the world of Hospitality.

    I haven’t been able to do nearly as much writing as I would like, so I have set some appointments with myself to make that time happen. Thanks for the reminder.

    I am looking forward to seeing some more products from you and wish you all the best in 2011!

  6. Federico Figueredo 6 years ago

    Things I took from this post:

    • Must think about work schedule. It’s always hard to figure out how much time something is going to take when just starting a project. Much more so when dealing with an area you don’t have loads of experience in. Much more so when the area is something like writing or graphic design. Still, I think it’ll pay off to give greater attention to the limits of what I do and create some routines I can stick to.

    • Keeping my eyes peeled for communities I’m excited about and (I will add) projects I have a strong emotional reaction to. Lately I’ve been making an effort to give a hand in many independent projects that I thought were exciting and ended up building a nice little income from it. Must look into this further.

    • All products should be presented with care. I strolled on to your tools page after reading the post (wasn’t the first time I’ve been there though) and it struck me how much more excited I’d be to try out your tools if the same care/love/design that was used to make them was also used to present them. [note: great work on the site improvement, keep at it!]

    • Your dad is pretty cool.

    Cheers!

  7. Katrina 6 years ago

    Can your Dad come visit me too?

    Excellant summary per usual of just the things I need to consider.

    Keep it up!

    Cheers

  8. Josie 6 years ago

    Wow. My mum came to visit in New Jersey between Thanksgiving and Christmas and apparently matching socks is some kind of zen relaxation technique for the older set. I’m mentally prepping for my Groundhog Day resolutions and love the new stuff you are putting out there.

A message from Dave:

I believe we all benefit when we respectfully share our perspectives on common experiences. My house rules are "please be respectful of divergent views" and "enjoy the flow of ideas!"

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