Groundhog Day Resolution Review Day 7/7/2010

Groundhog Day Resolution Review Day 7/7/2010

SUMMARY: Setbacks, setbacks. But I’m cool with that. In this month’s Groundhog Day Resolutions update, I postulate that my “productivity engine” is actually a capacitor which stores engine from inspirational sources, and only fires when it’s full and “ready to burst”. Instead of trying to work like an engine or even a battery, maybe I should just embrace it.

I’ve been kind of dreading this report, because I not only missed last June’s review date, but I haven’t really felt I’ve made any progress on those important personal projects since then. That’s two months of little progress. I could say that I have been preoccupied with short-term projects and lining up new ones, and that would be somewhat true, but really it’s been a combination of low motivation. 2010 is already half-over, and my first instinct is to berate myself for being lazy. However, I’m going to refrain from self-flagellation and just roll with it.

Let’s see how things went.

Previously on “Groundhog Days of my Life”

I actually had a fairly good 4 months at the beginning of 2010:

  • Got the new design website done!
  • Tell people I’m available for work!
  • Be involved with other people’s work locally!

Where I’ve been stuck is building my own products, like:

  • The Printable CEO Website
  • Paid Digital Downloads of Form Source Code
  • iPhone Application Development

The “big push” from last month was this list:

  • Finish the Design Website
  • Promote design business, book work as it comes in
  • Build The Printable CEO™ Website
  • Create Commerce Opportunities from the Printable CEO Materials

Going further back to the beginning of the year, I had these goals:

  • Create a package for each of the five destinations that can be sold on Amazon or offered as a service.
  • Recruit people who are interested in being part of Dave Seah caravan.
  • Expand the product line from 1 to 5 things by the end of the year.
  • Offer it all (and more) on the website.

The direction is still there, but the wind power to drive it along has been lacking. It could be that I’m just a little burned out on pushing on this dream. I had a great conversation with my friend Ashish this morning about our respective business practices and motivation levels, and I proposed that there might be a different model for productive work for people like myself, that of “burst productivity”. There is a certain amount of energy that I can store, and it’s stored in a kind of capacitor. Capacitors, for those of you who don’t have an electronics background, are devices that store electricity for the short term from another electrical source. This is unlike a battery, which generates a relatively steady source of electricity from chemical reactions, or a generator which converts mechanical energy into electricity through magnetic induction. Each of these electricity-generating technologies has its strengths and weaknesses, and each of them can be used to understand (if you have an engineering background, anyway) different styles of motivational energy management. In my case, I store energy to do things from other sources (namely, inspiration from other people or thoughts that pop into my head) in my “motivational energy capacitor”, which must be quickly expended otherwise the energy is lost. However, I also must collect a certain minimum amount of energy before I can expend it in a glorious burst of productivity. If I were more like a battery, I would be generating a certain amount of motivation moderately over a period of time, and when the battery runs down it needs to be recharged. The advantage of a battery is its longevity and consistency of energy delivery, but it can not delivery a high-power burst. Capacitors, on the other hand, are great for delivering all its energy in one powerful surge; they’re used for high power applications where batteries can’t keep up. Generators, to complete the analogy, use some kind of fuel (like a gasoline generator) or source of free mechanical energy (water turbines in hydroelectric dams, wind mills). They can keep going forever until they run out of fuel, can deliver very high power, but tend to be more complex systems requiring both maintenance of the moving parts and the logistics of fuel delivery. The analogy I would make to a person is perhaps someone who is harnessing the power of other people (like a company) or has multiple sources of inspiration (say, a person supporting their family, who in turn provides emotional support).

Bringing this back to my particular situation, I’m more like a capacitor. I collect energy, and when the threshold is reached when it’s time to burst, I like to let it all go at once in a giant KABOOM of creativity. The rest of the time, I’m recharging for the next burst. For the past few years I’ve attempted to work more like a battery, with more modulated energy delivery and regular scheduled charging, but you know what? I’m not really wired like that. And the generator model is not quite me either, since I’m a solo act both personally and professionally at the moment.

So with this theory in mind, let’s look at the tasks I’d set to myself two months ago:

  • All PCEO forms packaged as ZIP bundles and available for download from ThePrintableCEO.com
  • ThePrintableCEO.com – up and pretty!
  • One form package designed for a specific application, ready for sale
  • One “tech jam” scheduled in June or earlier.
  • Find some local people who want to work with me to make stuff, under my direction, to co-develop some business.

The Printable CEO website has been bogged because I’m stuck in the “but it has to be PRETTY” mindset, and I’m undercutting myself before I begin. I really need to make it ugly first, and fast. I know I can clean it up after the materials are in place; letting go of the vestigial expectation that I can point my creative baseball bat toward the outer wall of the ball field like Babe Ruth and get that home run is beyond what I can do right now. What I can do, though, is whack a few base hits down the line and load the bases. Which gives me an interesting idea for a productivity form, actually…hm.

In my last blog post, reader Katrina pointed out that all the things that I’m not doing seem to be related to making websites. I laughed at this, because it’s true. When it comes to making websites for myself, I really am not motivated to do so. Again, it’s my hubris, expecting that I should hit home runs every time I get up to bat. Another thing, I’ve realized, is that I’m making the website development too difficult for myself because the platform I’m using, Expression Engine, is actually not well-suited to me. I’ve given it about 3 years to settle in, and it really isn’t. The new version looks very promising, but it’s a product designed for businesses and organizations to build a relatively conventional website that doesn’t change very often. In other words, it’s a system that would work well for a “generator” type person. For bursts and immediate gratification, the platform I should be using is WordPress, particularly now that 3.0 is out. It’s designed for bursty people like me, who want instant gratification through plugins and easily-changeable templates. And the kind of content I want to deliver is also bursty. The reason I switched to Expression Engine in the first place was because I thought I wanted to build a solid foundation for offering a host of online services with a set of community features that could be controlled from one administrative control panel. Expression Engine is GREAT for that. As the years have gone by, though, I’m finding that I don’t really want to do this at all. I just want to make content when the mood strikes and the energy capacitor is really to unleash, and package stuff up so people can find it. The one thing I might miss is the excellent Wiki module with its Markdown support, but I’ll live.

So, I feel I’ve had a few setbacks, but at least I have new work booked and new clients to talk to, which charges my capacitor. The new list is:

  • EMBRACE BEING THE CAPACITOR!!!
  • Make collecting energy the priority, which means talking to other entrepreneurs
  • When the moment strikes, then channel that energy into production
  • Make an Ugly Printable CEO Website that just collects all the information
  • Make it WordPress
  • Don’t Embarrass Myself by not having anything done by August 8 :)

The next Groundhog Day Resolution Day is August 8, 2010. Here’s the list of past reviews:

Oh, and Happy Tanabata, everyone!

4 Comments

  1. katrina 9 years ago

    [chuckle] … being an EE myself, I get the capacitor analogy.  I use a different model however. 

    I am an artist. 

    And in order for an artist to create, she has to be nurtured. 

    I go to Pier 1 just to take in the colors, I read blogs like yours to get me to think about my goals and intentions, I take yoga to get me into my body and take in some juicy yoga philosophy, and right now I am taking a knitting class on making socks to get me back into beginners mind.

    All in all, I constantly check in with myself to make sure I am on track for my goals.  Often when I get off track, it boils down to my taking on expectations that are not mine or expectations that no longer fit me.

    I use Drupal for my websites BTW.  And yeah, if after three years you haven’t found gold, you’re digging in the wrong mine, my friend!

    Good luck!

  2. Stephen Smith 9 years ago

    I feel your pain, Dave. My “day job” (it’s really mostly nights) has completely derailed my long-term plans and short-term milestones that I had planned for this year. I missed my own GHD reviews, won’t have time to bother with one in July, (oops, missed it already) and am looking forward to setting up a new set of milestones (more realistic this time) and have something in place by 8/8.

    On the other hand, the “day job” that I lament is going very well, as I am bending my attention to it and focusing on accomplishing those tasks to make it successful. I think that it is a little funny that my job, my financial support for the moment, is something that I consider to be a sideline and the thing that I most want to do (get back to freelance work) is currently my sideline, and that it really skews my perception.

    I am achieving a lot at work, tremendous productivity and growing profitability, but (as I am on salary) none of the extra effort results in any extra compensation for me. This rankles me greatly. I have some serious thinking to do, and some of the conclusion depends on what happens with the economy through the end of the year…

  3. Kelly Youngberg 9 years ago

    I used EE for all of my sites until recently, because it was the right choice for my first site. It turns out that it was the wrong choice for most of my other sites, so I’m slowly moving over to WordPress.

  4. Dave the Brave 9 years ago

    Actually your experience here is remarkably similar to mine. It all comes down to the making of my own websites, and I suppose it’s related to one of the rules I had to post up within my ‘business area’: No free work.

    So having all the ideas and knowing exactly how I would build them out doesn’t help because it’s still ‘free work’ that in theory belongs in my “free time” (who has any of that?). Sometimes it is just better to do the quick and dirty WP install and grabbing a premium theme and getting in with it, but I’ve got to tell you it’s pretty darn frustrating when you’re in it and you’re thinking “how can I do this?”, knowing exactly how you would have built it if it wasn’t WordPress.

    My own experience is on Drupal, so I typically run into Pages and Posts not being flexible enough, why aren’t there more content types for goodness sake? And no, categories and tags don’t cut it, I want more.

    Sigh. Honestly, though, sometimes it is actually better to hire someone else to build those sites out for you, so they are accountable, and it gets away from the ‘free work’ area which doesn’t get priority…