Regrouping for May

Regrouping for May

The past eight weeks have been draining, beginning with the difficult push on my website redesign and yearly tax preparation. I also had to flip the house upside down, moving everything in the upstairs bedrooms (a lot of junk) into the basement, and then fixing the rooms up to accommodate four extra people and 1 extra cat for 17 days. Today is the first day that I don’t have any looming deadlines since the beginning of the year.

I thought I would start off the day by diving right into some project work, but instead I felt a tremendous desire to sleep in. This happens to be the first rainy day I’ve seen in 17 days, too; the entire time that Dad was visiting with his foster son had been bizarrely sunny, without the usual mud that accompanies the typical New England spring. I managed to strip the sheets from the beds upstairs, falling asleep on the futon couch only once, and get them to the laundry room. THat has so far been the highlight of my day, and I’ve decided to not beat myself up over my lack of productivity. This is a day I need to myself, I think.

Still, I feel the desire to do a bit of writing. I know from experience that when I take the time to write, my thoughts become clearer and I gain a renewed sense of purpose. I haven’t been writing for myself at all for many weeks, other than the occasional mandatory blog post. Writing is the driver of my thoughts and actions; if I don’t write, I don’t do anything. Writing is the way I can productively spend time alone.

Now that I’m a few minutes into the writing, I can see that I’m feeling some resistance to doing work. I’m also feeling kind of blah about my goals; maybe some stream-of-consciousness writing will help me figure it out.

Unpacking Small Resistances

I’ve been thinking that I haven’t been writing on my website as often as I should for an odd reason: I don’t feel like I can write anytime or anything as I used to be. I also realized that I didn’t particularly enjoy writing at my desk. I like sitting somewhere else with my laptop and just letting the words come out. Or at least I used to. The Stream of Consciousness blog is intended for this; I have to get over the feeling that I should be making Epic Content and allow the words to flow.

I’ve also been avoiding my laptop because I’ve found the experience of using it rather unpleasant. This may be a resistance factor also. I’ve just reinstalled MacOS X on it fresh, with a newly-partioned hard drive, in an effort to get it to run at a reasonable speed. Previously, I had used my laptop primarily in Windows 7 through bootcamp, as I wasn’t ready to make the switch from PC to Mac. It didn’t help that Mac OS X ran universally slower than Windows 7 for the things I wanted to do, and that I didn’t have a Macintosh license for Adobe Creative Suite. Now that I’m on the Creative Cloud, this is no longer and issue, and so I am making the effort to use Mac OS X as the main operating system on this laptop.

Since reinstalling Mountain Lion, I’ve gotten a bit more used to Mac OS X, and I think this is helping lower my resistance to booting it. Next, I have noted that I am not enjoying the typing feel of this keyboard. I hadn’t really noticed that it was creating a tactile feeling that I was subconsciously reacting to. I just hit it with some windows and paper towels, scrubbing down each individual key. While they still feel kind of gross compared to my $150 desktop keyboards, they are now tolerable. Small improvements like this are incredibly important to me. Call me fussy.

The next small resistance is the act of writing itself. Lately I’ve not been enjoying the writing activity inside WordPress, because browser windows feel impermanent to me. It doesn’t help that the browser editing experience is awkward. Scrolling up and down requires that I have clicked in the right window to activate the right set of controls, and I find this aggravating. I’m not a big fan of the distractionless writing mode in WordPress either. Not sure why. So today, I’m writing this blog post in Sublime Text 2 as I sit on my couch. I’ve expanded the size of the font several times, and it feels quite comfortable now. I’ll copy/paste this into WordPress later.

Unpacking the Big Nuts

Now that the small silly resistances have been dealt with, I feel that I can start to piece together a new routine for the next two weeks. I have some immediate client work to take care of, but I can simultaneously start to address the big nuts that I wrote about in my recent post on Groundhog Days Resolutions plus a few more:

  • Content Audit / Continual Website Improvements
  • Form Organization & Explanatory Materials
  • Index Card Blocks
  • Making Products Every Day
  • Game Programming
  • 3D Modelling
  • Music Composition
  • Learning Chinese
  • International Fulfillment
  • Going Back to the Gym

This is a lot, so I need to structure my approach so I am not overwhelmed by everything at once. It’s easy to make a big list and think the solution is tobe more efficient and disciplined. That is a high-stress and energy-intensive solution, and I would rather avoid it. Instead, I’m going to designate Content Auditing, Forms, and Making Products Every Day as my main “job”. This will be accompanied by another chunk of client projects or reader requests. The last chunk will be going to the gym; everything else will fall into place as “Happy Bubble Time”, which is my unstructured exploration time. I’m going to place extremely low minimal times on each of the three chunks: 15 minutes! From past experience I know that this is enough to get moving, and I’ll likely do more than 15 minutes. I’ll try this for a week, starting next week for certain. I may start the routine as a practice run tomorrow (Thursday, May 9) just to get a feeling for it.

The schedule may seem extremely light, but I am not interested in packing my days overly full. My theory is that if I keep the minimums low, I will actually be more productive than if I try to schedule more. When I’m working with other people in a leadership role, a challenge list is more exciting because the team is also the audience, and I am fascinated by interpersonal dynamics. When I’m working by myself, however, I find a big challenge depressing because it takes a lot of effort to discover then build what is needed, and there is no audience to report to.

Which makes me think that this is why I’m thinking of taking up the daily blogging again; I like solving problems and trying things out with a group, and this is one way of doing it.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings!