GHDR Review 8: Balancing Priorities

GHDR Review 8: Balancing Priorities

"Happy Groundhog Day"


It’s time for the 8th review of my progress on my “Groundhog Day Resolutions” for 2013. I actually have forgotten what they are, so let me look back and see what I wrote in February:

  • Strive toward excellence and mastery in what I am doing.
  • Learn how to make wonderful things, by first learning how to make sucky things.
  • Share what I make and what I know with like-minded, self-empowered, conscientious, kind, competent people. That is my primary audience.
  • Build the means for converting ideas into tangible, shareable goods and bringing them to market for the people who can use them. That’s my secondary audience.
  • Be fully present in every personal transaction, as conduit for the values expressed above.
  • Most of all: be visible, accessible, and willing to fail on the world stage.

A few months later, I later came to think of what I wanted in life as “creative independence”, which I summarized as follows:

  • To be my own boss: mastering process, making money directly from work I produce under my own name.
  • To have the time, freedom, and money to operate my business without anxiety.
  • To act according to my values as a human being, friend, and maker in the pursuit of mastery and success.
  • To live according to my values with a community of like-minded self-empowered, positive-minded, conscientious and competent people.
  • To be respectful and mindful of others, while not being swayed from my path by their expectations.
  • To document the process so it can be replicated by others in similar paths.

So for 2013, I’ve continued to try-out different ways of achieving these desired goals. In a nutshell, I have been figuring out ways to acquire resources and have ongoing conversations within the above frameworks. The two major challenges in this regard are:

  • What do I need to DO to acquire resource (as in money) and have great conversations? What’s the strategy? What are the specific actions I should focus on? How do I know it’s working?
  • How do I maintain the positive, productive attitude operating in a constant state of uncertainty? I want to maintain momentum, and it is not easy for me.

I know, I know…big questions! I think I’ve got a handle on it, though…

The Challenges and Insights from September

There were several ongoing working themes for the past month:

  • Balancing existing client commitments with the pursuit of Creative Independence
  • Balancing my need for time with the needs of speculative / volunteer work.
  • Finding the time to blog
  • Finding the time to have good conversations
  • Finding the time to participate in community building

I have two major projects going on in addition to my own creative work that put a constant pressure on my week. It’s not a feeling I particularly like, but at least they are good projects with (mostly) flexible timelines. There are also a number of meetings, one-off projects, and international business opportunities that compete for my time. That doesn’t include personal commitments to local community events, family needs, important marriages, major household repairs, and the tedium of daily domestic chores.

To deal with the increased burden, the first thing I did was re-institute The Morning Ritual, which consists of getting up early (around 5AM) and spending the first two hours in a distraction-free bliss working on a “first important project of the day”. I documented this in part 1 and part 2 of a series I thought of as “Working Slowly”; while I don’t want to feel rushed, I also want to be working consistently and efficiently. I was able to maintain the ritual for the first two weeks, but it completely crashed in the last two. My hypothesis regarding the crash is that I’d forgotten a critical element of the Morning Ritual that I may not have made explicit, and therefore allowed it to become dogma. That element is the focus on my own desires and goals over being productive. In other words, the mission of creative independence is foremost on my mind, and it’s what I need to be making progress on for me to feel good. That means being productive on my own tasks while also maintaining momentum on my external commitments. If I don’t make personal progress, I feel like crap, and this leads to a downward spiral of motivation.

My sense of balance, as it turns out, is not about granting equal time to all my commitments. That is the trap of practicing rituals just to be “more productive” in a never-ending cycle of meeting other people’s expectations. Instead, I need to prioritize my own goals daily, and work a bit on them every day to maintain continuity of practice. This leads to progress. Lesson re-learned!

What Got Done

Focusing just on the “creative independence” tasks, I got the following done:

  • 1000 new Emergent Task Planner pads with an improved design have been produced. Most of them have been shipped to for fulfillment. They were out of stock for a few weeks, so I lost some sales because of that. I’m pleased with the new design, though.
  • I designed a new “diary” for a Russian entrepreneur, conducting the business through the vaguaries of Google Translate. The diary incorporates the Emergent Task Planner with some other design elements, and I think it’ll be pretty cool! The project has also reminded me that I need to start using lawyers and accountants to set-up my business structure for international deal-making.
  • I registered “The Emergent Task Planner” in the Amazon Brand Registry, which is apparently something new. This allows me not to have to have UPC codes for the products I sell on Amazon, though apparently I have to add product listings using a different method.
  • I created an Arc Notebook prototype using the half-sized Mini Emergent Task Planner, just to see what it would look like. It looks cool!

Things I didn’t do but have been eating at me; these will now become the focus of my daily 15-minute “focus on Dave’s creative independence goals” time chunks:

  • Consolidating all the digital projects on one store.
  • Updating calendars for 2014.
  • Making a new Nanowrimo 2014 word counting calendar.
  • Creating “how to use” collateral for all the productivity tools I’ve designed.
  • Creating wholesale packages for the Shopify store.
  • Ading more products.
  • Blogging frequently, and more accessibly.
  • Clearing the backlog of reader emails and conversations that need to be shared!

The overall goal of creative independence (as I define it, anyway) is to generate the monetary resources I need by practicing creativity in the way that works for me. That is the explore – learn – build – share model. For the month of October, I hope to chip away at this list. Every one of them produces a useful asset that will help me move forward.

As for my other projects and commitments? They’ll get done too. I’m hoping that by maintaining momentum on my own projects every day or so, the feeling of accomplishment will carry over to everything. Deferring one’s own mission is a terrible feeling. However, I suspect it doesn’t take a whole lot of time for me to make significant progress if I remember to spend at least 5-10 minutes on it every day. I think that will be the theme I’ll report on in the November 11 Report.

Groundhog Day Resolution Posts for 2013

Here are other posts about Groundhog Day Resolutions for the 2013 season.

  • 02/02 Kickoff - Setting 30 Products in 30 days.
  • 03/03 Review - The Aftermath of 30 Products in 30 Days; What's Next?
  • 04/04 Review - New Website, Increasing Opportunity
  • 05/05 Review - Winding down a long chain of external commitments, getting ready for a hopefully-productive month.
  • 06/06 Review - Reducing Friction from internal struggle, picking the winning attitudes and tasks that produce tangible assets.
  • 07/07 Review - Mid-year Review, Focusing Process
  • 08/08 Review - An unexpected vacation for me, Relaxed Progress Made
  • 09/09 Review - Slow progress made, but that's OK; I'm accepting the slow and mindful way!
  • 10/10 Review - After a month of experimenting with early rising, I realize that prioritizing my mission of creative independence might actually be what I need to do. Duh.
  • 11/11 Review - Not much progress made on Creative Independence, but I have attained a sense of surety and calm about what needs to be done--and how to approach it--while maintaining balance between external commitments and personal goals by accepting that they take time and that's OK.
  • 12/12 Review - The year ends without closure, but looking back I see that I've made progress. More importantly, I believe that I'm generally on the right path.