Journal: Identifying a Productivity Mini-Hump

Ah, I am encountering a moment of mental cloudiness! It feels like this: What is the next, clear, substantive step I should be taking? Let me try to work through this and see if I can discern the cause, and make it go away.

First, let me review what I’ve gotten done since the last post.

  • I had been exhausted from assisting my buddy Sid on a 7-hour long photo shoot on Tuesday, in the muggy summer heat. Afterwards I stayed up to enable the network (as in “multiple blog”) feature of WordPress, which took a few more hours to test. At the end of the day, I felt I’d done two good things that moved me a little bit forward.

  • I awoke later than usual on Wednesday, just past 1130, and took care of email. I became very irritated at the amount of “opt-in” email, so I unsubscribed from a lot of stuff. I don’t want to get notified by any of these services, ever. That includes YOU, Google Plus! Then I checked the usual news sites to see what was going on, and before I knew it 3PM had come upon me. I prepared to leave the house to run a bank errand, and planned to stop by Starbucks. I worked there until around 530PM on WordPress dev work for a client, until the power went out. At that point, I went home, and napped until the power came back on at 7PM. I cooked dinner. For the past couple of hours, I’ve been fussing with my WordPress installation and looking at WordPress themes, as I considered what the next step should be.

So it’s actually been a fairly busy two days, but they haven’t felt really productive. But what do I mean by that? Well, I think it’s because the work that’s going into my own projects hasn’t yet gone public. It’s not done, and therefore I haven’t shipped anything I can show to anyone. The reward of finishing is still a ways off. As a result, it feels like I’m in the doldrums, halfway between starting and finishing something of importance. Here, stuck between those two endpoints, I’m experiencing a surge of impatience-driven anxiety: WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP BEING STUCK IN THE MIDDLE? I DON’T LIKE THIS! I’m also realizing that I don’t have quite as clear an idea what being done entails. I’m concentrating on building-out the new blogs because I see this as providing me more room to stretch my writing legs. It’s the primary focus of my development work right now. However, there are a few technical challenges and content strategy decisions that I have to handle. I actually can’t in good conscious move forward without actually taking the time to sit and design the solution. And that’s why I’m stuck: the ghostly voices of uncertainty are creating hesitation and confusion. To fix that, I need to do a brain dump:

  • declare the goal: get the new sub blogs online! soon!
  • challenge: do I start moving older blog content into the new topical sub blogs? This will break existing links. Is there a technical solution for this (no, not really) or will I have to write some code (yes, probably). And is this important enough that I have to fix it? Well, it is if I want to have “meaty” sub blogs. But I figure that these can also grow over time, so this is not a critical challenge to resolved now.
  • challenge: How do I list sub-blog content on the main blog page? This will take some custom post queries. It will also mean I have to change the design of the blog.
  • challenge: how should I change the main blog? what is its focus? is it productivity, or is it something else?
  • challenge: what is the experience going to be on the main blog? it is sort of like a department store of ideas, in my mind. what does that look like?
  • challenge: I need to fix my image layout plugin to handle differing widths on a per-blog basis. Or, I need to design all the blogs to use the same width. That is probably a little easier, but it still means that I need to make new blog themes.
  • challenge: how do I handle feeds?
The two main questions really are about fitting content strategy to the theme customization work. My content strategy is not well defined yet either, so I should just state a working version of one:
  • My website is where I write about the process of becoming a better designer. It’s also where I share what I’ve learned and promote stuff that I think is awesome. The audience is people who like designing and making things, enjoy reading about how such things come about, and like to see creativity sprout up around them in novel and wonderful ways. The main website has always been written for the educated general audience with a curiosity about process and underlying principles.

  • The sub websites, made possible by WordPress multi-site, will allow me to start writing more narrowly-focused blogs for a specific audience. For example, this very blog post would be more at home in a personal process journal blog. Likewise, the highly-technical work I’m doing (and still enjoy documenting) can go into the appropriate development blog. I think this is the right direction, but I’m unclear about how it will look.

  • win: Specialty blogs allow me to be more verbose than I can be on the current site. I will be able to write with abandon, which is key to my productivity. I love writing about what I’m doing, and I love it when I do something so I have something to write about and share. But I recognize that not everyone will be interested in everything I’m writing about.

  • win: Specialty blogs also make it easier for readers to see only the stuff they are interested in. They may also help clarify what it is I do.

  • win: Specialty blogs really are more like departments in a department store, with their own themes and features, each with their own clientele.


p>So those questions cover about 80% of what’s on my mind. I’m going to sleep on it and answer these questions first thing tomorrow morning. The goal is to get out of the house and working on this for at least an hour.

ASIDE: You know, I think I will move this blog post to its own process sub blog. That just makes more sense to me.