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.