After a stormy couple of weeks, weathering unexpected projects in domains I don’t usually travel, I’m feeling back to normal. It feels like I’ve been on a kind of Anti-Vacation, where you get to experience new and exciting levels of pressure that you’ve read about in books but never had planned to visit yourself. In my case, it was a return trip to the LAND OF WORDPRESS SECURITY on behalf of a friend-client; a malware warning had been reported by one of her website’s readers, which can be an ominous precursor to a flagging by the almighty Google itself through its “Safe Browsing” service. That would be bad for the site, so I spent about 30 hours over a weekend scanning, cleaning, and restoring the WordPress install while throwing myself through “bash shell bootcamp”. It was quite draining (I’m old) and it’s taken me over a week to recover from the shock to my schedule.
While I don’t plan on having these kinds of all-night benders in the future, every once in a while they do happen and I need a disaster recovery plan. I think this needs to be in the form of a checklist tied to a ritual, something analogous to a fire drill. When the cry of PRODUCTIVITY SLUMP! PRODUCTIVITY SLUMP reverberates down the smoke-filled pathways of my compromised brain, what do I need to do to get everything back on board? I have one method for this: write about it, which is what I’m doing now. The mere act of writing, for me, starts getting my thoughts aligned and ordered. The reason for this appears to be that I like typing and the computer is right here in front of me, so it’s a low-threshold way of getting the mind focused. But focused on what?
As usual, there are a lot of things on my plate that need doing. I’d like to see them get knocked off the list at a steady rate, and I’d started to see how my use of “opportunity lists” (what I’m calling my use of Wunderlist to make decisions) help me maintain the big picture and the sordid details of next-actions in one place. I like the big picture, because I like to see where I’m going. I also like knowing that I can pull out one of the big picture folders if it seems that it’s something that strikes my fancy at the moment.
The system works if I can maintain continuous motion, but even then this is something of an illusion. I seem to work in bursts. The typical cycle is to burst for a few days, and then have a day or two of downtime doing something else. When I have a big 30-hour burner weekend, that is an emergency burst that draws on reserves that aren’t usually deployed, and this has the effect of overwhelming the system. In science fiction spaceship terms, I’ve fired the all-powerful wave motion gun and while this has destroyed the flagship of the enemy armada, it has also over-taxed our engines and they are now offline until they can be regenerated and/or repaired. In the meantime, I’m a sitting duck, dead in the water. Burst energy is not available, for anything.
So that is where I am right now. I don’t like being in the situation where I am dead in the water, dependent on one source of power. Writing up the problem, as I mentioned earlier, is one way for me to get focused. It’s worked; it’s an auxiliary form of power that gets the lights working again so I can see what the damage is. The next step is assessment, and for that I need emergency assessment tools: checklists, human resources, and some spare writing gear. It’s going to be a little messy, which is probably something my brain is also resisting, but it must be done. It doesn’t help either than it’s 2:30PM and I feel behind, but when dealt these kind of setbacks heroes get off their asses and start moving.
At this point, I’m going to get away from the computer and do some checklist creation on some nasty college-ruled paper I bought at the supermarket, which is as close to “roughing it” as I can stand at the moment. Baby steps, Dave! Baby steps!