• Ambient Coworking Chat on Discord

    August 26, 2016

    Dave's Discord Chat Room

    For the past three weeks I’ve been livestreaming a 15m project push on YouTube so I could have an anchoring daily ritual. This has helped me recover from an extreme slump in productivity I experienced at the end of June through July. While I’m not completely back to feeling 100%, I’ve gained a new insight into the condition that caused the slump in the first place: the lack of creative community interaction coupled with a sense of meaningful progress. Livestreaming early in the morning for just 15-30 minutes seems to set the tone for my day, even if there is no one watching. It’s a habit I’m thinking of maintaining at least for another few weeks.

    Discord, the chat room for gamers

    One issue I’ve had with the livestreaming is just being aware when someone asks a question in the chat. I’ve spooled up a Discord server to help with real-time chatting on YouTube AND also when I’m not livestreaming. If you’re not familiar with Discord, it’s a “chat room app” like Slack, except it is designed for gamers instead of business. Discord provides the basics in an accessible and free platform that is easy to use. I’m using the Discord App on my computers and mobile devices, but you can also just open the chat room in a browser if you don’t want to mess with yet-another-program.

    Chat room organization

    I’m starting to sit in the chatroom throughout the day. It’s split into two main kinds of channels: working channels where text/voice is primarily work-related, and the social channels for any random socialization or conversation. Discord supports both text and voice pretty well, and it’s easy to jump between channels. To get to the chat room, use the link. At the moment I’m sitting in the #chat text channel and “ambiant work” voice channel, so you can hear me typing and muttering to myself.

    It’s surprising how reassuring I find it to hear that someone else working nearby. I’m planning on sitting in the chat room whenever I’m working on my computer.

    Patreon supporters

    If you are supporting me on Patreon, let me know your Discord username and I’ll add you to the special patron list. Currently this just allows me to recognize who is supporting me so I can be supportive right back! As time goes on, I will be using the Discord as a way to facilitate real-time group chat for Patron-related projects. Thanks for your support!

    Read more
  • This Week’s Experiment: Testing Daily 15-min Project Pushes

    August 15, 2016

    Last week I did a soft experiment in doing a 15-minute chunk of time first thing in the morning, a repeat of a 2013 daily session I did with a friend of mine. The surprising takeaway was that a small chunk of time applied DAILY did seem to improve my feelings of productivity. I’m curious if I still feel the same way, so I’m running the 15-minute-a-day experiment again for the week of August 15, 2016. This is actually the second week, continuing from last week;

    Instead of meeting friends in a chatroom, I’m livestreaming my 7AM-730AM sessions. You can catch the archived streams or check out the livestream if you want to maybe ask some questions there or in my discord chat room.

    Read more
  • Groundhog Resolutions Review #6 (August 2016)

    August 9, 2016

    I’m a day late posting my Groundhog Day Resolutions for August 8. Happily, it marks the end of a month of burnout recovery; the combination of semi-adventurous travel and relentless goal-seeking did me in. Since then, I’ve been operating in a kind of limp-to-recovery mode while administering self-diagnosis.

    I am feeling better today because I have a renewed clarity about my end game, shifting the emphasis from “what I have made” to “what I learn and document”. With this change, I think I may be better off. (more…)

    Read more
  • Project Updates and Insights for July 2016

    July 25, 2016

    Lazy Cat I’ve been having a lazy few months, working through a depressive funk by taking a break from systematic, scheduled, productivity-oriented thinking. Quite a lot of time was devoted to family and household matters versus work and business. I think I’m coming out of the funk and regaining a sense of positivity. Here’s a hodge-podge of updates, with lots of pictures of food! (more…)

    Read more
  • Groundhog Resolutions Review #5 (July 2016)

    July 7, 2016

    I know I said that I was closing down the blog, but in the meantime it is where I am posting my Groundhog Day Resolutions, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t continue to do so. The eventual plan is to resurrect the website organized around projects, not blog posts. I am also planning to migrate away from WordPress to a “static site generator” called Metalsmith. WordPress just has not been very joyful to use for a long time, particularly with the number of hackers and spammers that try to break into the site every day. It’s also gotten quite slow, even on fast server hardware. I’m ready to get rid of it.

    Anyway, if you’ve been following my Groundhog Day Resolutions journey this year, you’ll know that it started with grand plans for daily progress but collapsed around April as I was preparing for my trip to Taiwan for four weeks. This does not mean I have given up on my resolutions completely, however. I’ve been taking the time to reflect upon what is really bothering me. In the meantime, I’ve chosen not to push myself too hard.

    What was on my plate for June

    The goals that I defined in my Goal Tracker V2 still stand. However, in my last review I felt that I had too much other stuff going on to really focus on them. Today, I think there are three main issues I’m dealing with.

    1. I am not satisfied with the quality of my creative output, which is frustrating.
    2. I am also frustrated with my current working environment and sense of creative isolation.
    3. I have a lot of intense programming work to do, which demands my full attention AND demands creative isolation

    I’ve decided to focus on completing the living room cafe project, which is about making my home office much more conducive to project collaboration and coworking. I’m not really sure if it will help, but finishing this project—it’s coming up on a year since I started this conversion—will bring a sense of closure. I am also hopeful that having a comfortable and inviting space will help break the creative isolation, as I will be able to host my own private events.

    That said, I’m still having trouble dealing with the third issue. I’m feeling isolated creatively from other people who like to do what I do. However, to do the programming work requires creative isolation for me to do the work. It’s very demanding and requires my full attention, and I don’t want to “go in the box” so to speak. It’s quite a conundrum. I have in the past used livestreamed coworking to break the feeling of isolation, but the current work is exceedingly boring and I don’t think is of interest to anyone. It’s not even that interesting to me. Plus, my living room is a mess again and streaming from this location creates more stress.

    New Unplanning System

    Since I was feeling overwhelmed with the number of projects, I tried creating a new tracking system that is loosely inspired by Mark Forster’s AutoFocus System.

    NotebookThe RulesSome recent entries

    I’ve been feeling very anti-planning these days, and thought that perhaps I could just focus on tracking just the things that were “necessary but boring”. That is the idea behind the notebook. Every day, I write down something that I didn’t want to do for one reason or another. It’s exactly the system I need for right now; I don’t have the energy to do anything more. And things do seem to be getting done, at least. As more unpleasant tasks are getting taken care of, I am feeling lighter in spirit. I’ve been doing this for about a month, and it’s providing me with the bare minimum of disciplined focus. It’s been still difficult to start these tasks.

    Plans for July

    In my original Groundhog Day Resolutions schedule, I make the month of July an OPTIONAL month. The summer is short in New England, and July is that time of year when one takes the greatest advantage of the sunny weather. I sort of took June off already, but I think I will continue on with it. There are three main goals:

    • Contract Work — getting at least 40 focused hours into the project would be great.
    • Living Room Cafe — Finish painting the walls, move the computer standing desk downstairs, clean up the downstairs and put a futon bed there, soft open with co-working event in August.
    • Take Care of Chores — accounting, continue to take junk to the dump and to Good Will, continue to organize and optimize all spaces in the house, get the home maintenance out of the way for the hot water heater, windows that need replacement, car detailing, doctor visits and tests, etc.

    Bonus goals would be releasing new ETP products on Amazon along with transitioning my WordPress site to Metalsmith and relaunching, but I am going to have to prioritize the above main goals. I don’t seem to have the energy to deal with all of it this month.

    About this Article Series

    For my 2016 Groundhog Day Resolutions, I'm challenging myself to make something goal-related every day from February 2nd through December 12. All the related posts (and more!) are gathered on the Challenge Page.

    Read more