GHDR Review 5: Holding Steady

How time flies. I’m realizing that I haven’t really put any new “money making activities” (MMAs) into action. On June 16th, however, I did complete the documentation for the “Inexpensive Websites” package I’m creating for local artists. Read onward for more details about my ongoing struggle to create a business enterprise for myself.

Where Did the Time Go?

I really have no idea, and that points out an ongoing challenge I have: maintaining continuity on my goals. I’m growing increasingly convinced that a lot of productivity woes fix themselves if you can ensure that you can spend no more than two minutes a day thinking about all your goals. That has not one, but two ramifications for goal organization:

  • You need to be able to see all your goals at once and make sense of them
  • The goals need to be organized enough that it actually takes no time to look them up.

I’ve been using Wunderlist as a project-minder in this capacity, and it’s great for me because I can review every project that has tickled my fancy in seconds. My problem is that I just don’t look at it enough. It’s just not as interesting to look at the project minder because it doesn’t show me anything new, in the way that my email folder or Boing Boing feeds my desire for new contact. Because of this, I’ve come to recognize that I actually do need to get off my butt and create some kind of software solution that will work for me. That requires that I learn how to take on modern software application development, something I’ve never really learned though I am a pretty competent programmer.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been stymied by the sheer enormity of the task, but this time I’m stealing a trick from my friend Elise, who is a music teacher / music venue operator: Commit to practicing only 15 minutes a day, but commit to doing this every day. The idea has been further reinforced by a story I read in the opening pages of Tim Ferriss’ body-hacking book The 4 Hour Body. It’s **make it small and temporary: the immense practicality of baby steps*. It seems that one Dr. B.J. Fogg wrote his graduate dissertation by making the following commitment: “Even if he came home from a party at 3:00 A.M., he had to write one sentence per day. He finished in record time while classmates languished for years, overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.”

I’m only on the second day of this, but I think this is a very practical implementation of the old “Tortoise versus the Hare” fable. However, I don’t think it’s the “slow-but-steady” progress that is the sole factor here. Spending 15 minutes on a goal every day is the same as putting your attention on it. If you don’t even get much done in that 15 minutes, you have at least thought about it in context with what you did yesterday. That builds all-important continuity, which in turn leads to expertise, which develops from mindful application of one’s attention.

ADDENDUM: I should add that 15 minutes is the minimum I spend; what is likely to happen is that after that 15 minutes passes, I’m well on my way to exploring other topics. I suspect that 15 minutes is enough time for me to get my brain past the “ugh, this is a pain in the butt” factor, much like getting past that first 5 minutes of cardio at the gym. Also, it’s important for me to have a place to keep notes, so I can see progress accrue; here’s my Windows Presentation Foundation noteplace, for example.

What Got Done

The goal was to get more MMAs in place, but instead I ended up working on the regular “work for hire” jobs to bring in revenue. There have been more inquiries about interactive work, some quite lucrative, but I have had to turn them down because they are paths that lead in a direction that I don’t really want to go. If I was part of a team of bad-ass designers and developers, maybe I would be encouraged to bring the thunder. As a solo act, though, I know that these jobs, high-paying as they are, will only distract me from where I want to go.

That said, I’m doing more mechanical work: simple website design, WordPress theme customization, consultation on productivity form design, and local new media classes on a one-to-one basis.

I also did complete the first-pass documentation for “inexpensive websites II”, which is the product I’m developing for the local artist market. You can view the documentation here if you’re so inclined. Since WordPress 3.2 came out on July 4th, I now have to retake all the screenshots and check that the system still works as designed. Sigh.

The Numbers

They are holding steady from last month.

Product Projected Revenue Actual Revenue Notes
AdSense $70 164.37 payment received for May/June
ETP pads $400 $559.17 $26 more than last month
PDF 12-pack Cals $5 $5 holding steady at 1-per-month
PDF A5 7Task ETP $20 $30 holding steady at 3 per month
PDF A5 5Task ETP $10 $20 holding steady at one per month
Donation $10 $0 No donations received

While the $559 for ETP pad sales looks great, keep in mind that this is gross revenue that doesn’t take cost of materials into account. The actual profit is more like $100 on sales of $500.

There are technically two new products that don’t appear here. The first one is that European version of the Emergent Task Planner Pads, which is a separate operation being handled by my friend Al Briggs in Germany. The second product is the aforementioned “Inexpensive Websites II”, which is in limited testing and is generating no revenue.

Recovering the MMAs

It’s amazing to me just how many years it’s taking me to get to these relatively simple MMAs. The Gun Safety Poster, for example, has been languishing for over 5 years. There are a lot of little moving parts to making this project a go, which makes it harder in my mind than I think it actually is. Implementing the 15-minute-a-day approach for a specific MMA might be a good thing to do. That is, if I remember to do it every day.

The most effective way for me to do this might be to design a portal around my cloud-based management services. I already have a shared home page that is on all my computers and browsers, so I look at it dozens and dozens of times a day. Adding the 15-minute tracker thing might be a useful addition. Hmm.

ANYWAY, let’s do the gun safety poster this month…take this puppy to print! To be on the safe side, I’m also adding a Google Calendar reminder to SMS me next Friday, so I don’t forget to maintain momentum on this.

2011 Groundhog Day Resolution Posts