• Resolutions Review #06: Dropping Internalized Goals, Developing Conviction

    August 8, 2017

    Recapping July’s Review

    Last month I was very bored with my goals, and temporarily dropped them. Curious why I was feeling such boredom, I reviewed my current goals by drawing two maps of what I thought my life looked like, comparing them to the old map I’d drawn in 2009.

    After quite a bit of thought, I had two takeaways:

    • I was disconnected from people, including myself. I am primarily driven by the feeling of connectedness between what I’m doing and other people’s aligned deep interests/needs. None of my current projects was really hitting home in that regard.
    • I wanted to try a different kind of productivity approach, which I called “gathering-style” productivity that would somehow avoid the need to manage my tasks and time. I knew that when I am in problem-solving mode, a lot of my motivational issues go away and “good stuff happened”; the trick is getting myself INTO that mode.

    Though July initially seemed to be going poorly because not a lot of specific tasks were getting DONE, I think I’ve gained a new perspective on my need to express myself. (more…)

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  • Resolutions Review #05: Filling in the Boxes

    July 8, 2017

    "Groundhog Day Resolutions for July 2017" For this month’s Groundhog Day Resolutions, I’ve taken the time to reflect on my increasing disconnection with my goals. I really have lost sight of why I had goals in the first place. I am making decent money, and I have a manageable number of friends. I AM, however, rather BORED with life at the moment, and because of this I’ve been rather unmotivated to work on the self-improvement projects that seemed so important to me when I started Groundhog Day Resolutions 11 years ago.

    Time for a reset! With hand drawn maps! (more…)

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  • Resolutions Review #04: Staying the Course

    June 6, 2017

    It’s time for the June 6 Review for my Groundhog Day Resolutions, which is my yearly goal setting ritual. It’s like New Year’s Resolutions, except they start on February 2nd, and also have followup review days on 3/3, 4/4, etc.

    There is not much to report this month. I’m making progress on several GHDR goals, which are currently:


    Last month I augmented my approach with Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) which I’m updating on a weekly basis here. Here’s the main categories:

    • Gain Mastery through Work
    • Reduce Frustration & Increase Wellbeing
    • Not Be Bored / Isolated
    • Develop Cool Side Business
    • Aspirational 2024 Goals

    Each of these categories has a measurable action that I’ve determined lead to progress in these categorical area, which contribute to my more strategic Groundhog Day Resolutions. I think they need some rewriting to be more systematic, but despite this the addition of weekly OKR reviews is helping me maintain momentum.

    I’m not sure there’s much more to say. Some highlights of the last month:

    • The Virtual Coworking Chat Room continues to be a source of community energy and positivity. This is probably the biggest improvement in my work-life balance, since there are people “around” all the time in the chat room. I think we’re all getting a productive boost from just sitting in here.

    • New ETP Design to Press – I finalized the new design and did a second run of 50 and 75 sheet pads using it. They should be in-stock by mid-June if all goes well.

    • Patreon supporters slowly rise – This is great, and I’m learning to use the Patreon platform as a way to get more direct reactions from people. I need to put in some time updating some forms.

    • It’s warmer – This is hugely raising my spirits.

    The plan for this month is to keep hammering away at everything, particularly with respect to the work project which has some hard deadlines coming up.

    There’s nothing much to else to report! You can catch up on my daily escapades through the WHATS UP DAVE livestream or checking into the Virtual Coworking Chatroom. You can links to both places at It seems like I’m doing most of my “blogging” in the chat room, so this is a way you can connect with what I’m doing .

    See ya next month!

    About this Article Series

    For my 2017 Groundhog Day Resolutions, I'm challenging myself to pursue mindblowing productive synergy as a way to energize myself to do those boring (but necessary!) foundational projects like "making a living". All the related posts are gathered on the 2017 Groundhog Day Resolutions page.
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  • New for 2017: Updated Emergent Task Planner (ETP) Design

    May 18, 2017

    "The Evolution of the Emergent Task Planner" If you’ve been watching my Whats Up Dave daily vlogs, you’ve seen how use the Emergent Task Planner in my daily planning. For quite some time, however, I was DRAWING it every day on a piece of blank paper, because I just liked the act of drawing. For the vlogs however, I started using one of the pre-printed loose leaf sheets (this one) because they were handy. After about three months, I started to want more writing space in the DAY GRID area, and started redesigning the form as I streamed.

    A bit of design history: the ETP design dates back to 2006, and has undergone revision in 2009 and 2013. The header image of this article shows the original 2006 printed design that I offered to blog readers through PayPal at the very top. This was revised in 2009 for the first Amazon-fulfilled version, which saw the first major change of swapping the DAY GRID to the left. In 2013 I made some minor cosmetic improvements that have been present in all the full-size ETP on Amazon.

    I’ve been sharing the design process with watchers of the livestreams and also with Patreon supporters. This has been the first redesign process that I think I’ve shared so publicly, and it’s been fun because of the interaction I’m having with my virtual coworkers in the DS|CAFE Virtual Coworking Chat.

    Anyway, let’s get to the new stuff:

    "New Emergent Task Planner"

    1. Wider Day Grid Area

    The DAY GRID at the left was widened and simplified by removing the 15-minute blocks and replacing them with smaller markers. To maintain writing room in the TASK LIST, I reduced the amount of tracking bubbles from 4 hours to 2 hours. Focused work, I have found, doesn’t work well for me past about 90 minutes without a break, so two hours seems adequate to me. If you really need to log a four-hour or more task, break-it-up into multiple 2-hour tasks! It feels good! :)

    2. Revised Note Area

    The NOTE AREA has had the number of extra task numbers halved. They now number every other row; before, having a task number on each line made them a bit hard to use when writing out an extended task list. I’ve also subtly divided the space into 4 horizontal areas to make it easier to compartmentalize the use of the space. I have started to leave the first horizontal chunk free in case I have to write down overflow to-dos, and I put my additional notes starting in the second chunk.

    3. Checkbox Support in Task List

    The TASK LIST has long supported “indented subtasks”, but in practice I don’t think anyone has used it. I certainly never used it, though this feature was part of the Task Progress Tracker for project management. It makes sense on that form, but it never really worked for day planning.

    I have also had a couple of request over the years to provide some kind of checkbox, but never found a palatable design solution. It occurred to me that I could repurpose the indents as check boxes, or even have them still work as indents. I’ve brought back an earlier iteration of the indent lines, and now you can do both. You could also write a job code there too, or just ignore the indents and start writing from the beginning of the line.

    4. Long Last Hour in Day Grid

    Perhaps the most controversial change will be the LONG HOUR added to the DAY GRID. This is actually a feature borrowed from the ETP 5885 Half-Size Notebook; virtual coworker Jess mentioned she really liked it. I had forgotten I had done this, and after some thought decided to try a variation. Here’s the comparison

    "Comparison of Regular versus Long Hour version of ETP" In informal voting across my Patreon, DS|CAFE, Twitter, and Facebook social media posts, there are 6 votes in favor of the long hour compared to just 1 for the original. Unless the votes change drastically by Friday, I’ll be printing new ETP75 and ETP50 pads with this new design.

    5. Various Other Changes

    I’ve changed some of the wording to reflect my current thinking on task management, trying to be helpful and also encouraging in tone (this is an important part of the ETP philosophy).

    • The most obvious one is changing THREE MAJOR TASKS FOR TODAY to read THREE IMPORTANT TASKS FOR TODAY; this wording also matches better for people who like the “Three Most Important Tasks” approach to their day planning. The prompt for this has changed from “realistic expectations equals consistent daily productivity” to the more hard-nosed “Prioritize work that grants tangible benefits and/or meaning progress”. Grammatically it needs a bit of work, but you get the idea.

    • For tasks 4-6, I’ve reframed this as a chore block, so the prompt now reads “God additional chores/tasks? Clear your mind and go for it!” I tend to write down my “have to do” tasks in this box.

    • For tasks 7-9, the tone has remained largely the same but frames this as “ambitious” instead of merely saying “More than six major tasks? Reserve some energy for tomorrow.” I think the new wording is a little more sharply worded to invite reflection (“yeah, I’m an ambitious person!”) while still reminding you not to overdo it.

    • For the NOTES AREA, I’ve also reworded the prompt from “Life just happens. Use this area to keep notes on the unexpected. Use numbers to label day grid as necessary” to “Life just happens. Use this space to track pop-up tasks and take notes throughout the day!”

    • I’ve rewritten the instructions to to emphasize the suggestive, not prescriptive nature of the ETP. The goal of the ETP is to provide just enough structure so you can get going. One way to think about it is that the design can be used in a very structured way, but I encourage you to color outside the lines.

    Overall, the wording changes are more specific in their recommendations now. Before, the tone was more generically supportive. I think these are good changes, but I am open to suggestion!

    The Current Release Candidate

    Here’s a full size image of the new ETP design that will be going to press:

    Current Release Candidate Feedback is welcome! With luck, these will become the new ETP 8511 format for all print products on Amazon and also future digital products.

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  • Resolutions Review #03: Community Making to the Fore!

    May 5, 2017

    Megapoptart It’s May 5th, so that means it’s time for another review of my Groundhog Day Resolutions! These are my yearly goal setting ritual, beginning on February 2nd and repeating monthly on 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, and so on.

    The past month was a pretty relaxed one, though I’ve also started ramping up on a new NSF DIP grant for which I’m doing continued coding as part of the development team. It’s a cool project because I get to work with smart people I like for STEM, while learning new (to me) technologies. It’s also springtime in New England, which is kind of a big deal because the winters here are long. As soon as it’s 50 degrees, it’s NEW ENGLAND SHORTS AND T-SHIRT season. The celebration of warmer days makes it tough to work, but I’m also feeling refreshed and am excited about tackling some projects.

    The highlight of the month, though, was making a giant pop tart for my sister’s birthday! I discovered that I like making pastry dough so I plan on doing it more in the future. There’s a HUGE difference between fresh-made and store-bought pastry dough, which I only noticed because I used the store-bought stuff to make another pop tart out of the leftover filling.

    But I digress…onto the review! (more…)

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