Bubbling Through

Bubbling Through

SUMMARY: Using “bubble charts” for quick visualization of immediate goals.After writing yesterday’s post about going into build mode (among other things), I’ve been feeling the need to replan. However, I haven’t been feeling the desire to replan. The gap between need and desire calls for some kind of bridge, and I find that I’m favoring rapid deployment these days. It’s more important for me to cover ground rapidly now, and that means using a different planning strategy than I’ve used before. In the past, I would have sat down and outlined everything I had to do, created long lists of inter-related tasks, and then broken them into bite-sized chunks. The thought of doing that on a sunny day like today, especially when I’m not exactly sure where what’s about to drop in terms of work, is not very motivating. I dimly recall reading something similar to this in J.R.R. Tolkien’s biography when I was still in high school, about how making a detailed map creates the daunting proposition of writing about it. Whether I am misquoting Tolkien or not, the sentiment is an accurate one. The last thing I want to do right now is create a giant plan that may change tomorrow.

That said, treading water and doing nothing is not a viable plan of action either, so I’m turning to an interesting productivity tool that my friend Gary developed out of an argument with old girlfriend. It’s based on the idea of “bubbles” of various sizes with intersected areas of interest. By visualizing everything that’s important to him, Gary can get a quick visual lock on what he’s balancing, and therefore remind himself of what he should be focusing on and what he should be keeping distinct. It’s a fantastic tool, somewhat similar to Mind Mapping without all the fussing about with lines.

Last February I attempted to make my own version, but decided to make two passes. Here’s the first pass:

Bubble Plan 1 The second pass was to merge the bubbles together and resize them to create the Venn diagram-style intersections, but it turned out that this chart was enough by itself. I got everything I wanted on a piece of paper that I could look at to remind me what was on my mind, and I could essentially choose something to work on. I made this first diagram sometime in February or March. I’ve updated it to the following just now:

Bubble Plan 2 Again, I have not bothered to redraw it with intersections, though I was sorely tempted to make cool dynamic Flash-based resizing bubbles, but that would be a distraction. I’m also noticing that I seem to have naturally divided the bubbles into two groups:

  • On the left side, the bubbles are about one-to-one interaction with people, both in terms of commerce and community fellowship.
  • On the right side are the things I need to do by myself: building assets, putting in the alone time in the shop to get stuff out.

Anchoring the very bottom is my major piece of continuity, The Wave with Colleen, the place where I can hold myself accountable and be held accountable with the understanding that we’re figuring out what the heck we’re doing at the same time. Having a place where you can be safely unfocused and blather-on is very mind-cleansing.

I may redraw this diagram to add more instructions and note my expectations for measurable progress.