2011-0811 Thursday

SUMMARY: New client work, updated forms, thoughts on why I am moving on my creative projects seem to move so slowly (one a day, when it could be two or three). Creating an “energy profile” and fitting the right kind of tasks to the time of day.

I awoke, after pressing the snooze button several times, at 730AM. Setting the alarm is an important act in maintaining the regular sleep schedule. I think it helps enforce a certain expectation in your body.

Not sure what I’ll work on today, as most of my client tasks are in review or are open-ended. The main technical task is to build a new WordPress theme that will serve as a modular framework for future websites. This is an interesting challenge. I also have a client call at 2PM, so I’m setting an SMS reminder.

Got to Starbucks at 9AM, doodled a bit in my notebook, confirmed some meeting times and sent out suggested courses of actions to various clients. Then I got caught up with comments on the blog. One comment in particular reminded me that I still hadn’t updated one of the 2010 forms for 2011: the Resource Trackers, which are a kind of project breakdown form in two parts. I like it primarily because you get to cut one of the forms into strips :)

1145 to 1245: Updated the RTT form 1 and form 2, created comparison images to post on Facebook page.
1245 to 1315: Modified PDF to have editable fields, uploaded files. Need to create RTT page in new page system.

1315 to 1345: Stopped by supermarket for quick pre-client lunch, eaten while driving home. 1345 to 1400: Munch munch munch in car, power up computer, set up new client folders. 1400 to 1500: Client Sounding Board Skype Call!
1500 to 1515: Set up new Client area, copy notes and initial email threads into BC.
1515 to 1530: Queue up new tasks for other client project from emails.

Ok, I am now OFFICIALLY FRIED and need to switch gears. Instead of staying home, though, I think I’ll try to go somewhere more fun. But WHERE?

1530 to 1730: ended up watching a couple hours of Hulu, specifically “Community”, which is now my favorite sitcom. It’s genius. It was a welcome respite of not thinking, being passive. Also checked mail. It has been a productive day in that I made a few blog tweaks, posted a long-delayed update to some PCEO forms (that came out nice), and scheduled work for 4 clients. I also have a back log of blog posts and information to upload, some there’s no shortage of things to do. Just gotta do them.

I feel I need to spend some time doing something else, though, to restore the reserves of energy. I’ve had this feeling for a few days, actually. It’s like I want to get some kind of reward that I don’t have to work too hard for, like a treat or a bonus. I’m not sure that’s a healthy attitude…shouldn’t I be satisfied with reaping the rewards of my own labors?

I am so tired right now. It’s not even 6PM. I vegged on the arm chair for a bit, carefully avoiding the couch because it lulls me to sleep every time. It’s almost magical, that couch. I managed to get myself up to cook some dinner (curry!) and have just chopped my way through the ingredients. I was pleased that the inexpensive Wustof knife sharpener, when applied a tad more firmly, worked much better on my knife. I think the instructions that they provided with it anticipated someone with a much more ham-handed approach to sharpening, so I was being TOO gentle with it. A small bonus in the kitchen.

I had the thought, as I was preparing dinner, about how lucky I am to be where I am. I have the luxury of being bored about my choices about being more productive. I have choice and freedom and autonomy. I should be more enthusiastic about that, and be thankful for it every day.

Of course, as if the universe wanted to make some kind of point, I just burned the onions. Picked out the burned bits, though…as it happened, I had put way too many onions in anyway.

Let me get back to something, though…there is a significant number of creative backup on the production line. Why aren’t I doing those things? Quickly, they are:

  • fountain pen notebook
  • etp hardbound journal
  • creating the new page for the updated RTT form
  • four product reviews
  • three book reports
  • one database web app project (for fun)
  • one 3D graphics projects (for fun)
  • reassembling the scooter
  • one flash to jquery project
  • gun safety poster marketing

As I look at these, I realize that these are all “work”. Sure, they’re my own projects, but I had mis-filed them under “fun”. These are interesting and fulfilling projects, and they will be satisfying, but they are not “easy fun” unless I decide that struggle is fun. Each of these projects requires a hard start and a threshold time of at least fifteen minutes to start and three or four hours to make significant progress. Because of that, it takes a bit more OOMPH (like, being up early in the morning and well-rested) to get these things going.

What I probably should do is relegate the evening time, when I am drained, to only doing support work. Looking stuff up. Gathering and collecting resources. Making lists of questions, but NOT answering them. Essentially, being my own production assistant in the evening. Maybe for an hour. And make it FUN and UNLIMITED in scope. Allow myself to explore and take copious notes, and not put myself under the pressure to really start them unless I have the time. The goal of the evening support work is to (1) find inspiration (2) find knowledge and (3) put it all in one place so it’s ready to go. This is all very easy work that feels like wasting time in the “no excuses” mindset, but I think it’s probably more realistic.

It’s currently 6:30PM. 12 minutes to go on the stew.

I just thought of something else: there are chore-like tasks like creating the page for the RTT form. I think this is probably more of a later morning task (I did plenty of those). That suggests the following day structure to match my energy profile:

TIME ACTIVITY
FIRST THING Shower/Eat. No Email. Leave the House by 630AM.
EARLY MORNING Do Creative Work. No Email. Work up to 930AM.
MID MORNING Check email. Handle sundry tasks. Up to 11AM.
MID DAY Break. Eat something. Surf the net a bit. Socialize.
EARLY PM Sundry tasks: writing, email, modifying/tweaking existing works. reading.
LATE PM Social break. Wind down for the day. Playtime after 5PM.
EARLY EVENING Light surfing, inspiration hunting, organizing and collecting useful info.
MID EVENING Start winding down to sleep. Read a bit. Watch TV. Play STO.

Also, I just thought of a trick to get me to get off my butt. I like to predict how long it takes me to do something, and then test it. If I remember to ask myself that question, it gives me more of an incentive to do things. For example, I’m thinking of how I’m putting off making that new RTT page. In my mind, it’s a pain in the butt task because I have to…uh, what do I have to do? It just seems like a hassle. But then I just asked myself: “really? you might be able to do it in just 15 minutes. 30 minutes tops.”

This is a variation of my “15 minutes only” rule of thumb, modified to test just how fast I am. I always want to be faster. And I always believe I can be fast. Challenge myself to be fast…maybe that’s a way to start.

6:45PM now…almost time to drop the curry roux into the pot, and then it’s another 10 minutes until dinner.

22:15 ate, did dishes, and played a few missions in STO. I found that after I ate something for dinner, my energy returned. I’m not sure if it was the pleasure of eating, or whether I am just needing nourishment without feeling any appetite. I guess I haven’t been eating as much as I have in the past, nor as often, with this more intense drive to monitor and fulfill my productivity potential. Hm!

Well, time to sleep! Will probably read in bed a bit.