Daring to Realize My Master Goals

During my themed work weeks experiment I found that focusing on just one “main project” a week got “the hard stuff” done, making this approach highly productive. At least, it felt that way.

Today, I realized that the reason for the feeling was because I have gained an improved awareness of my own mastery, which led to increased confidence in tackling unknowns, which in turn has helped me reframe my goals not just for 2014, but for perhaps my life! Continue reading →

Conclusion to Themed Work Week Experiment; Looking Forward

My themed work week experiment concluded last week, and now I “normal” scheduling. have to say I’m not looking forward to the change back, because I found themed weeks to be remarkably productive. However, maybe some of the new insights into my working patterns will help me cope. Strategic thoughts follow! Continue reading →

Designing Career Stickers for Future Tech Women

At last year’s Barcamp Manchester, some friends of mine started Future Tech Women (FTW), a group of women and men that support the idea of more women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields. I love to see empowerment of this sort happen, and so I’ve been attending their meetings occasionally and learning more about the difficulties and preconceptions that accompany their mission.

FTW will have a table at the upcoming Mini Maker’s Faire in Dover, NH on Saturday, August 23rd, and I was invited to contribute some design. I volunteered the template for my Cootie Catcher for Creative Self Reliance (which will be renamed, thankfully) and also modifications of the Barcamp Manchester Interest Stickers from last year. The challenge: create some 2-inch stickers that could be used to start discussions about STEM careers with girls to open their eyes to the possibilities.

After a brainstorming session, we had seven different “tech roles” that girls could choose from:

"Stickers!"
The text in the bottom-right was our original brainstormed ideas, but since I’m not a very fast illustrator (and I didn’t have a lot of free time), I re-used elements from old work or substituted items that were either easier for me to to draw. I also replaced items if they told a more interesting story or might be a little more clear. For example, “DETECTIVE” got piles of books instead of an archaic hat, and “EDUCATOR” got a lectern with a microphone because that seemed more glamorous than the megaphone idea. It took about an hour per sticker design, plus another hour to align, prep, and output all the files individually for use. I avoided stereotypical gender signifiers, having recently watched Anita Sarkeesian’s series of msmale videos, though I couldn’t avoid stereotyping the work roles themselves. Overall, they are not bad, but they are a little sterile.

Originally I was going to make 8 cool animal stickers so they could be customized further, but that would have taken me at least another 16 hours to do because I don’t really draw animals. It probably is easier to find some nice animal stickers at a toy store and use those! Career stickers, on the other hand, are more difficult to find.

It was a nice change of pace. I should practice my illustration skills more in the future, taking my time to develop a style that might be more fun than the usual nuts-and-bolts infographic design I do.

The Productivity of Themed Work Weeks: Week 5 Assessment

It’s time for a quick update for Week 5 of Themed Work Weeks. This week is devoted to my major client project with Inquirium, building an interactive animated web application to facilitate science education in young children for a research group at UCLA.

Overall? It’s been good, but I’m starting to wonder if I am being too productive at the expense of other activities. Continue reading →

2014 Resolutions Review 06: Unusually Productive!

I’m reviewing my year’s goals once again, as I do every month as part of Groundhog Day Resolutions. This month has been a DOOZY, packed with new processes and data-driven insights, which has culminated in a feeling of…balance? It’s probably too good to be true, but something seems to be working. Continue reading →

Migration Complete: New Website

Site Launched!
At long last, the new website is finally up!

The new website template, which is based on one I bought off one of those WordPress theme sites, is modern, responsive and has a cool drag-and-drop content interface that actually doesn’t suck, so I’m looking forward to being able to build some more interesting HTML-based resources.

This is the major delivery, too, for both Themed Work Week #4 and Groundhog Day Resolution Review #6.

There’s a whole boatload of post-relaunch things I have to look at, but at least the bulk of the content has been ported and moved to a new WordPress installation. I dropped the “Network WordPress” (aka Multisite) support, because it’s generally been more trouble than it’s worth for what I’m doing. All the process journals have been converted to categories of a single blog. This has killed a number of the links in these sub-blogs, but they were not extensively linked before. There’s little typography problems all over the place, and it looks like the WordPress exporter didn’t play nice with some of the content, but I’ll fix it as I come across it. I’m exhausted.

Hopefully no major disasters will uncover themselves in the next 24 hours. Fingers crossed!

Themed Work Weeks: The 21-Day Summary

It’s been 10 days since I last posted an update for the Themed Work Week experiment, which tests the hypothesis that I can be more “sustainably productive” by focusing on a single main project per week instead of “three tasks from three projects” every day.

After 21 days, I’ve gone through three different project theme weeks, and I can report that the experience has been very positive so far, in ways both expected and surprising. Continue reading →

Eureka! Impulsivity and Procrastination

I’m in the middle of my second experimental Themed Work Week, and I think I’ve discovered what I needed to know. It really comes down to addressing the difficulty in starting and its broader context. An article from The New Yorker kicks off the thread of reasoning. Continue reading →

Setting the Tone for Themed Week #2

[Note: This was originally intended to post on Monday, but I goofed up the publishing date]

This is the second of two morning posts about setting the tone for Themed Work Week #2. The idea behind a “themed work week” is to focus on just one major project (which has many moving parts) at a time, rather than try to juggle the projects on a day-by-day basis. My hypothesis is that I’ll find it easier to handle the load while being more productive.

Continue reading →

Super Social Weekend

This is 1 of 2 posts for the morning, starting with a quick review of the weekend. The next post will be about setting the tone for Week #2 of the “Themed Work Week” experiment.

Social Simulation

I spent nearly the entire weekend, from 10PM on Friday evening to 1AM on Sunday night, socializing online in WildStar, the massively-multiplayer online role planning game (MMORPG) that I’ve been playing for the past six weeks. As I’d mentioned before, I’ve been not actually playing the game, but participating in its virtual role playing community learning the ropes of improvisational group storytelling. I mostly stayed-in, leaving the house only to buy groceries. I got a few chores done: vacuuming the living room, paying some bills, giving myself a haircut for the first time, and doing laundry. The rest of the time I was immersed in new social experiences online.

Rather than go through all the details, here’s a few of the highlights.

Continue reading →

The Last Push of the Week: Evening Summary

It’s 9PM on Friday evening, officially the end of my first themed work week, which is an experiment to explore this question:

If I focused on one main project for the week INSTEAD of for the day, would I be any more productive, or would I just be giving myself a lot of room to goof off?

More specifically:

If I have a singular focus for the week, will that make it easier for me to tackle the harder work?

The theory behind “tackling the harder work” is that even an entire day does not seem like enough time for me to switch from one project to another, and get something done. Other people may be able to do it, but I suspect that I can not because of the nature of the most difficult aspects of my work and my own cognitive limitations. I say that not as something to feel BAD about, mind you! It’s just the way the situation might be, so let me deal with it like any other strategic challenge. Continue reading →

There’s Clarity, then there’s REALITY

You know those moments of wondrous clarity, when you see “The Grand Dream” so clearly before you? It beckons enticingly, and you know in your heart that it will be wonderful. It just will take some dedication and work to get there. You even know that the effort required can be applied in small steps, diligently-but-simply applied, because you’re an experienced creative. You put your foot down on the path, filled with anticipation and excitement…

Yep, I’ve been there too. I’m there right now! I’m working on a few remaining chunks of my new website, which I was hoping to launch this week. These chunks are pretty easy to comprehend, part of my Grand Dream of a better website. However, they’re also chunks that are as maddeningly subtle they are tediously detail-oriented. They are very clearly visible in my Grand Dream, but they are also worlds unto themselves. I’m here to issue a friendly reminder about Dreams and Appropriate Expectations. Continue reading →