GHDR Review 10: End of 2011 Review

GHDR Review 10: End of 2011 Review

This is the final Groundhog Day Resolution Review (GHDR) post for 2011, when Holiday Madness officially kicks in here at Dave Central. It’s been an oddly dissatisfying month after what was a very productive November.

Impressions

I steadfastly continue to refuse to establish a routine, even though I know that routines help maintain a steady pace. When left to my own devices, my days tend to go either really fast or really slow. The fast days are productively hyper-focused. The slow days are spent recovering. This exacts a heavy toll on my sleeping schedule, with the major casualty being my sense of connection to humanity.

If I assume that this is OK, then what I need is a some kind of landmark to point me in the right direction. It’s got to be lively and open 24 hours, a place that always has room for me at the counter and a menu guaranteed to please my palate.

I’m not sure what that landmark or hangout will be, but it doesn’t currently exist. I can possibly combine multiple informational sources into one destination. It probably would live in my web browser, since I am constantly online. This was one of the goals of developing a software application for task tracking, which is ongoing but not a priority at the moment.

Goal Review

I declared it to be becoming financially self-reliant through my own applied creativity. The conclusion I drew last month was that it has taken a long time to figure out and accept what that entails. This month, I am starting to accept how long it takes to build a self-sustaining system, when you are building something from one’s own personal store of knowledge. This doesn’t just apply to business, either. It applies to learning how to do anything for the first time. It is long and frustrating work.

It’s also important to remind myself of the following:

  • Business and Commerce are not the source of my joy. However, I see the mastery of business principles is necessary if I want to maintain freedom of creative and personal expression.

  • The process of figuring out how to apply these insights to my own peculiar set of values and hangups is part of the creative struggle. This is a good thing, because in the end, working through frustration breeds solutions that did not exist before.

There are multiple ways to overcome frustration, too. It’s worth writing down:

  • Pay someone to do it. Requires ample cash.
  • Follow a recipe that someone else has created, and accept the results. Requires a bit of luck to find a good recipe.
  • Explore and observe through trial and error, until you have found what you wanted to know. Requires perseverance and a discerning eye.
  • Give up, and come back to it later when you have something new to try.

What Got Done

My logs, which are usually copious, are stunningly sparse. A lot of what I did were not on the books. That’s because my sleeping schedule has gone crazy, and I have been sleeping very long hours. The rest of the time has gone to retainer-based client work and email. A reader pointed out that it might be Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome (SADS). I suppose it’s possible.

Revenue Related Activities

There have been more inquiries into work this month. Some of it is coming from ongoing client relationships. The rest of them break down into new web, graphic design that has come through the website. This requires me to be a bit more strict with my scheduling, as I’ve found that 7AM to 10AM is the best time for me to tackle the toughest problems, before I read email. It has been difficult to adhere to this schedule, though, because of my recent run of erratic and long sleeping hours. This is where the money is coming from to sustain. The personal projects are related to my goal of financial independence through application of creativity. Specifically, through product making and merchandising:
  • Continued tweaking of the e-commerce for selling ETP pads in Europe.
  • Moving the 4×6 StickyPad ETPs forward
  • Making blocks of my time available for consultation
There are also activities related to personal strategy and visibility on the Internet, which creates new connections with people I haven’t yet met. Those activities include:
  • Blogging / Writing / Website Improvement
  • Maintaining Twitter, Google Plus, and Facebook postings
And lastly, there are the activities that give me some feedback throughout the day:
  • Web Analytics
  • Personal referrals and in-person meetings
  • Email with Readers
I think that covers everything that’s on my mind.

Blogging Highlights

This was a light blogging month, but what I did post was fairly useful stuff:
  • Announcements about the european store
  • Links to useful articles I found on the Internet
  • 2012 Compact Calendar release, with several new features
  • 4×6 StickyPad ETP design discussion
  • A new version of the Fast Book Outliner
That’s really it. Just 9 blog posts on the main blog, but web traffic overall has been a bit above average. The main blog on davidseah.com is increasingly about things that are of potential interest use to readers, and less about what I’m thinking and learning. That’s what the process journals are for, though:
  • A stab at compiling a Windows C# and WPF Application to understand how it works
  • An evening of figuring out music theory through critical listening and signal theory, by banging on piano keys and seeing how I react to them.
  • The “Limbo Brain” series in my stream-of-consciousness journal, which chronicles my low-energy state that may be due to SADS.
  • Some design notes on shrinking the ETP design
So I’ve done some interesting things this month, but nothing that will pay off any time soon. The great struggle right now is sleep schedule.

Projects

As I mentioned above, there were several new products made:
  • ETP 4×6″ StickyPad Design
  • 2012 Compact Calendar
  • WP-Ecommerce configuration
  • New version of the Fast Book Outliner
Two of these are related to money making, while the other two are examples of foundational design work that was on my mind. I also laid the groundwork for photography-related work, which will support the blogging and document writing:
  • Cut and painted various pieces of wood to serve as backdrops
  • Researched and ordered a Century Stand with Boom to help with the lighting setup

People

I have been a bit withdrawn compared to last month:
  • Did a podcast
  • Hosted a Geek Lunch
  • Attended a birthday party dinner
  • Skyped with a couple clients
  • Google Waved with Colleen Wainwright (weeks 98 to 102!)
  • Visited Diane Vautier to talk shop about selling goods and entrepreneurialism on a personally-achievable level
That’s pretty much it. Didn’t go anywhere or do anything. OH, I did renew Star Trek Online on December 8th to see what was new in Season 5. I’ve reconnected with a few people there. Oh, DUH:
  • Cooked a Thanksgiving Dinner
  • Had family and friends over for 5 days
That’s where a huge chunk of energy went. I was totally drained for the following three days.

Upcoming Chores

These are things that make improvements in my day-to-day operations. One big realization is that I don’t associate an effective working environment with working at home…I always escape to Starbucks to do the critical thinking work. I need to fix that.
  • Christmas shopping
  • Christmas decorating
  • Create a better work shrine or methodology for working focused at home
This doesn’t include things like doing the dishes, vacuuming the house, and so on. Those activities are good for clearing my head.

Qualitative Assessment

I guess I DID get stuff done this month, though my initial feeling was that I was slacking off. I’d completely forgotten about Thanksgiving, for example. I’d say there are three issues that have been coloring my impression:
  • The erratic sleeping and lack of energy
  • Not writing things down as accomplishments as they happen to maintain context
  • Frustration with lack of progress since last month on the software and design projects
I need to remember last month’s reminders:
  • POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE gives energy. It’s as easy as having gratitude for all the things that are wonderful in the world, and how lucky I am to be a part of it.

  • CONTROL MENTAL FATIGUE by getting up so early that you can see the sun rise. This does wonders for me, if I’m not exhausted from lack of sleep. I think I should make that a goal for the month.

Quantitative Assessment

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p>It’s time to do the numbers, starting with the financial side. Incomewise, they are holding steady from last month:

Product Projected Revenue Actual Revenue Notes
AdSense $70 $0 Last month was $170.
ETP pads $400 $519.26 Holding steady
PDF 12-pack Cals $5 $0 I took these off, since it’s almost 2012
PDF A5 7Task ETP $20 $10 4 orders. Up from 1.
PDF A5 5Task ETP $10 $10 3 orders. Up from 1.
Donation $10 $5 BUPKES.
Simple Websites II $100 $0 Haven’t been pushing it
ETP Pads EU ??? €0 No sales
Gun Safety 11×8.5 ??? 0 Haven’t taken the class yet that I could evaluate market for this

Looking over this, I’m reminded of things I haven’t thought about in a while. Simple Websites II…is it time to resurrect that? What about the Gun Safety Posters? They should be an easy make-and-sell. What’s holding me back? And then there’s the ideas for new products that I should have ready for January 1, based on the ETP and Compact Calendar.

This Month’s Web Traffic

Month Pages Uniques Notes
June 92K 26K From Mint
July 85K 25K From Mint
Aug 104K 30K From Mint
Sep 114K 34K From Mint
Oct 107K 33K From Mint
Nov 104K 35K From Mint

Holding steady. I am seeing a surge, though, this month from all the calendar traffic. And I have noticed that when I post, traffic does go up. There is quite a bit of organic search traffic coming through on any given day.

A thought I had earlier: I might take down traffic generating posts that add nothing to my online presence. For example, the Mac Decals page gets a lot of traffic for really no good reason. It badly skews my analytics. I should remove it and see what kind of effect it has. A dip back to August levels. Statistically significant? It’s a net difference of 7K pages. This might have been due to the spike from a Polish productivity site, or perhaps in September there were a LOT of people looking for new calendars for the school year.

The End of the Year

This concludes the 2012 Groundhog Day Resolutions Season. I’m going to change things up a bit, though, and do my year analysis on January 1st in preparation for Groundhog Day Resolutions 2012 on February 2nd.

I think I’ve started to get some momentum going for 2011, and I’ve laid down the groundwork for a better 2012. For now, though, I’ve got to focus on finishing client projects and preparing for holiday madness.

Whew.

UPDATE: Here are some other Groundhog Day Resoloution Wrapups! Posting them as I find them (tell me about yours if you have one:)

  • Stephen Smith – it’s interesting to see how someone else has broken down their goals. Stephen is more concrete than me in identifying specific tasks.

All 2011 Groundhog Day Resolution Posts

15 Comments

  1. Stephen Smith 8 years ago

    Very thorough Dave, nicely done. I just finished mine as well.

  2. Author
    Dave Seah 8 years ago

    Thanks Stephen! I’m adding a link to your entry :)

  3. Stephen Smith 8 years ago

    Thanks Dave! Re: “Stephen is more concrete than me in identifying specific tasks.” I think that our different styles complement each other well and make for a useful set of examples of different ways to execute this program.

    (I would love to see more, do you have a list of other folks that share this?)

    I am often envious of the way that you are able to express more of your thoughtfulness in the decision-making and creative-making process. I am working on training myself to capture more of it, although I believe I am more of an “intuitive” type, as I seem to make logical leaps rather than taking incremental steps.

    I love teh interwebs. So much to learn.

  4. Author
    Dave Seah 8 years ago

    Stephen: I very much follow my intuition also, but I also like to recreate the chain of events that may have lead up to it. The conversation I have with myself is “Hey, I think this might be a solution! Now, why is that?” It may be that I tend to present in terms of incremental steps more often than not, so perhaps this has created the impression that I’m an incremental thinker. On the other hand, maybe I just described what an incremental thinker does in your mind!

    • Stephen Smith 8 years ago

      Bingo.

      For me, when a solution appears I tend to grab it and run without considering where it came from. I look for ways to implement it and consider effects and impacts. Origins, not so much.

      Until now. I had a ton of inspirations yesterday and thinking about where they came from is something that I worked on all morning.

      Interestingly, I was also able to plow through the list of to-do’s that it generated and have one of the most productive days of the month so far. The power of reflection on motivation…

  5. Author
    Dave Seah 8 years ago

    Stephen: Now that I think about it, the reason I reflect at all is to do a gut-check and a reason-check. It’s a way of thinking ahead, by examining motives that have roots in the past. That helps me clarify and refine my goals so I can be a little more efficient about it. But it’s also because I just like to be certain, and there is a part of me that is lazy about doing work that doesn’t pay off.

  6. Ian 8 years ago

    I see your AdSense revenue is $0. I assume this is from placing adverts on your site – but I see none. Just interested in knowing where the projected of $70 comes from?

    • Ian 8 years ago

      Ok just looked at your 11/11 review and you say you killed it “on the inner pages”. So I suppose the question is why kill it if you get $170?

    • Author
      Dave Seah 8 years ago

      Ian: AdSense doesn’t pay out until you have accumulated at least $100, and then they cut a check at a certain time during the month. As I count income only when I receive it, that means for most months I am not receiving income from AdSense. As I’ve removed AdSense from the site, the amount has dropped.

      I used to have the AdSense in two places: on the blog post pages when the site was running on Expression Engine, and also on the Wiki. I finally removed the Expression Engine part of the site a few weeks ago, which removed the Wiki. This has not been directly linked from the main site for some time, but still had residual Google juice. I pruned some additional Google-popular content recently as well.

      As to why remove it if I’m getting money? Partly it is image, and also I’m going to be replacing AdSense with more targeted advertising in the future, and I found that the lack of control of ad selection irritating, and I felt it cheapened the website. If it had been more like $1000, I would have reconsidered :)

      Some of the process journals may receive an AdSense treatment; they are more targeted content than the main blog, and better for AdSense. I may bring more of it back under a different tracker code, but only on selected portions of the site.

  7. Susan 8 years ago

    Hi David,

    I find your blog very interesting because I have many of the same struggles surrounding getting work done and also sleep. If sleep issues persist for more than 3 months, you should be seeing your doctor and likely be referred to a sleep clinic so they can observe a night’s sleep. My husband and I have both had sleep studies in the past 3 months, and they detected serious issues/sleep disorders that required ongoing treatment.

    From our own experience and research, here are some suggestions that really do make a difference if you try them and be consistent with their use:

    “Most importantly, make sleep a priority. You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your “to-do list” and cross it off every night. But don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done – stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.” Read more on the National Sleep Foundation’s website here http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

    Buy a blue light box (Phillips GoBlue is what my husband and I use) and a wakeup light (Phillips again, bought through Costco). The wakeup light starts to gradually light up your bedroom a half an hour before the alarm (you can also set it to a dusk simulation). The blue light is to add blue spectrum, which is missing in the winter months. With the use of these, we feel quite a bit more alert in the mornings.

    According to researchers, a young person needs to fix a time when they get up in the morning, the same time every morning, even if they stayed up late the night before. Older people need to fix an evening going-to-bed time. We’ve found that we’ve now been able to get up at 6 am, formerly an ungodly hour. We do go to bed earlier in the evening although at times the internet is an atttraction that’s hard to resist. The book/CD “No More Sleepless Nights” is an excellent read for insomniacs and anyone who has sleep issues.

    One of the key things we recently found out was that light is extremely important for circadian rhythms, and humans have royally messed this up with artificial light. It’s the blue component in the light that is the problem, it breaks down melatonin in the brain and that’s an important hormone for sleep. You can take melatonin supplements, but that’s just a bandaid solution, it’s better to address the real problem, which is …

    COMPUTERS are the worst offenders. Simply getting off the computer earlier in the night (a few hours before going to bed) made a HUGE difference. My ADHD specialist described it this way – because you are sitting closer to the screen than when you are watching tv, for example, the light from the computer goes directly to a specific area of the brain that is responsible for sending signals to other parts of the brain to trigger hormones that regulate sleep or wakefulness. And as you can guess, it triggers wakefulness. So it’s a big culprit. Any bright light, or light with blue in the spectrum at night will disturb your sleep. So once you go to bed, you should avoid lights. How? there’s a solution to that too …

    One really useful thing we discovered is Uvex amber safety glasses. It sounds really silly, but it’s not. Dental offices use these kinds of glasses to avoid UV rays from the equipment they use to cure fillings, etc. They aren’t difficult to get but you want to be sure they are rated for that kind of use. We bought ours on amazon.com – you can get amber safety glasses or ones that fit over prescription glasses. We use them about 1-2 hours before going to bed (so you can still work a bit on the computer or watch tv or a book). We also have amber booklights, amber bulbs (we put on in the bathroom, no more night lights with blue components) as well as tiny amber flashlights. When I’m wearing the amber glasses, that little bright blue power light on my netbook is completely invisible. And I start to get sleepy, because the light is so similar to post-sunset that my body knows it’s time to unwind and starts to cooperate IF I don’t stimulate it with light or other activities.

    This link talks about bipolar disorder and light, but if you ignore the comments about bipolar, it’s an extremely relevant article for just about anyone. The author includes links for where you can purchase amber glasses, etc.

    Our lives have completely changed for us in a matter of a few months once we got our sleep issues resolved. It’s so challenging to function in a busy high-paced world when you haven’t had a refreshing night’s sleep consistently.

    Good luck, thanks for your post!

  8. Susan 8 years ago

    Sorry, I forgot the link to the bipolar and sleep article – here it is http://www.psycheducation.org/depression/LightDark.htm

  9. Author
    Dave Seah 8 years ago

    Wow, thanks for the fantastic writeup on sleep! I hear you on the “sleep as a to-do” list, but hadn’t come up with a comprehensive sleep management plan. Thank you very much for sharing!

  10. Susan 8 years ago

    I forgot to mention, my husband’s problem was also that he slept a long time, but never felt refreshed. I would never see him up before 10:30 or 11:00 in the morning, and he would nap in the afternoons (he’s now retired). His problem was severe sleep apnea, it’s only detectable in a sleep study (one person I know stops breathing twice a minute). It’s quite dangerous to leave untreated, but easy to detect in a study, and easy to treat. My problem was similar (severely fragmented sleep), but a different disorder, different treatment, also required a sleep study to confirm. Neither of us had any idea we were waking up so frequently during the night since the arousals were so short.

    The point is that even if you are sleeping longer, you may not be getting a good quality of sleep. One of the things I forgot to mention is a sleep log, there are plenty on the internet, usually keep 2 weeks worth before pursuing it with your doc if you feel there is a problem.

  11. Angela 8 years ago

    Also very helpful if you simply must use a computer in the evening is a utility application called F.lux http://stereopsis.com/flux/

    It operates on the basis that computer monitors are designed to mimic the sun/daylight (i.e. that blue light component) but that this isn’t what we should be looking at in the evening or night time. You tell the app what kind of artificial lighting you’re using and what time zone you’re in and it then adjusts the screen settings (brightness and colour spectrum) accordingly during the day. Customisation features allow further fine-tuning. If you’re working with photography or anything that requires true colour display it’s possible to disable the app temporarily. I highly recommend it.