2014 Resolutions Review 03: Coding, ADD, and Incremental Progress

It’s time for my monthly review of yearly goals as part of Groundhog Day Resolutions! To recap, this year’s goals were chosen to create forward momentum in both my personal projects and personal relationships:

  • Take more “first steps”, with less planning. Trust in my ability to solve problems when I encounter them.
  • Write and deploy software applications
  • Share my interests with everyone to see where it goes
  • Create better marketing content for my stuff

It’s been a very busy April, more work than play, but I’m happy to say that I’ve made incremental progress on every goal. In general, I’ve been better about accepting slower progress as I’ve gotten drawn deeper into complicated work. Insights ensue!

The Work in Review

April, like March, has been largely dedicated to working on the big Javascript project. I’m growing increasingly familiar with the Javascript development environment, which has grown quite powerful in the past five or so years, particularly in the area of “build tools” that help manage the process of editing, compiling, and debugging code. On the other hand, there are aspects of Javascript programming that make me cringe in my old age, like the idea of going on vacation and sleeping on someone’s uncomfortable couch instead of getting a hotel room with all the amenities; that development environment is called “Visual Studio” and “C#”. That said, there’s something very exciting about programming in Javascript for the browser, because it’s SO BROADLY ACCESSIBLE to anyone. Distribution is as simple as posting something on your website, and there are a lot of amazing things that are being done with it. That doesn’t mean I particularly ENJOY it, but does get me excited about applying what I’ve learned to future DAVE projects.

Additionally, all this programming work has forced me to resharpen my work habits. For example, I don’t have a particularly good short-term memory, so I have rediscovered the joy of writing stuff down on paper as I work so I don’t lose my place. I have also rediscovered the need for daily continuity, because if I am not revisiting this complex long-term project every day, I forget important things and as a result my productivity drops precipitously as I waste time reloading my brain. The experience has given me a new appreciation for Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret to Writing Tip of not breaking the chain. When I’d first read about it, I had no interest in maintaining an affirming chain of days, as I had no sense of urgency to maintain it. The reason I buy it NOW is because I know if I don’t revisit something every day, I will literally lose my progress because I will forget where I was. I find that reason much more compelling; the daily progress is almost a bonus.

There’s just one problem: I like scheduling my days so there’s only one or two major things to do, but maintaining daily continuity on my active projects and commitments means that I can’t do that anymore. I need to manage the process now, and the added burden of this has me thinking about my personal preference to keep things as simple and memory-free as possible.

As I was thinking about reworking my workflow, starting with these thoughts on document management, I came across a Reddit thread about what ADHD was like. I haven’t seriously considered myself a candidate for having attention deficit disorder, but I found this list of coping mechanisms from the thread eerily familiar:

  • Pomodoro technique for productivity, google it.
  • High-stimulation, reactive tasks (Quake 3 is perfect) to relax. What you need is not less input, as you just bounce off all your inner thoughts, but to stop trying to filter.
  • Personal whiteboard, in reach of your chair, for task management. Nobody else to touch.
  • Don’t overload the short-term memory of an ADDer. Give them a string of tasks, and they’ll forget all but the last one. Give them a list, and ask for their full attention when they can give it, instead of asking them to pause for your request.
  • If we are managing to be productive, don’t for god’s sake interrupt us unless it’s urgent. You can totally derail us fo

In particular, the short-term memory and relaxing through high-stimulation tasks struck a chord, as did the mention of personal whiteboards (I have a small collection of them). While I don’t consider myself heavily impaired in the manner described in the thread, this got me thinking about my own possible relationship to ADD/ADHD. Last August, a reader with a background in treating starting me thinking about it, but I hadn’t really looked further into it. I like to believe that willpower can overcome any obstacle, and instead of feeling bad about my slow progress, I’d continued to feel optimistic about achieving eventual “creative independence”. Perhaps what I’ve inadvertently done is craft an ADD-friendly career path, where the pressure to perform is absent and I can indulge in my scattered attention without risk. So I picked up a book, Delivered from Distraction, and am now willing to add “ADD” as a pattern that fits several of my quirks. It joins the following list of Dave-correlated patterns:

Now, it’s important for me to say that I don’t feel bounded-by, labeled, or otherwise constrained by any of these patterns. They are, however, useful pools of experience to draw from. I’ll write about this more later; just making a note here as a placeholder.

The Sharing in Review

One of my goals for the year is to share more of myself and my interests, because this will help me connect with like-minded people. Because of work I have actually blogged very little about what I’m doing this past month, so most of the sharing has been done via Social Media (Twitter, primarily):

  • The heartwarming experience of New England Give Camp, with pictures to help promote the event next year.
  • Building a temporary standing desk; ordering a new standing desk on Kickstarter
  • Acquiring a new office chair, a Steelcase Leap Version 1 (the older version from 2001 or so).
  • Guest on the Home Work Podcast
  • Did a couple of our own podcasts with buddy Sid.
  • Evaluated a local BBQ place.
  • Had a couple of non-profit committee meetings on fixing website/infrastructure
  • For the Living Room Cafe, sanded a temporary tabletop and prepped some paint, and obsessed a lot about fancy German track saws.
  • Looked into packing cubes for clothing, particularly Eagle Creek’s compression folders.
  • Various cable modem and internet infrastructure upgrades, bumping my download rates from 5Mbps to 25Mbps!
  • Acquired new keyboards and a laptop stand for the upstairs laptop.
  • Playing new video games Landmark and WildStar.
  • Acquired grapefruit spoons!
  • Started putting together a Patreon page as a possible non-sellout “monetization” approach. Jack Conte is Indy Jesus…I want to follow him! Check out his awesome talk at last year’s XOXO.

I would have liked to spend more time talking about these experiences in more detail, but I’ve been too busy to blog about them. Which brings me to the next section: the website!

The Marketing/Website in Review

Progress I’ve been working on getting the new website ready, and implemented some significant technical needs:

  • Wrote a plugin that batch processed my old posts, creating “featured post images” from images found in the content, so they show up in the blog post layout. Looks sweet!
  • Got more familiar with the use of the Visual Composer plugin, which allows me to make more dynamic layouts within WordPress. This will make the “product” pages more browseable.
  • Hacked-together an add-on to allow the use of Markdown inside of Visual Composer, which allowed me to convert my old Productivity Tools page.
  • Added category and archive template that work better with my existing content; as a result, it’s WAY easier to browse old content quickly. I’m amazed at what a different it makes.
  • Added a better reusable post snippets system as part of the theme customization. Ho hum.

So overall, it’s starting to look pretty good. What’s left is going through and preparing the content, and then doing a final push. By June, I’m hoping that the new website can go live, and I’ll fee a bit more free in expressing and sharing new stuff.

Other Observations

I’ve let a lot of other habits slip as the pressure on the programming project has increased. We were working under some pretty tight deadlines, and so my exercise, eating, and mental rituals fell apart. I started to sleep later and later, and the dishes piled up in the sink. To unwind, I started playing video games, which made me stay up even later. NOT GOOD.

I am, however, feeling good about making progress, and it’s been interesting to re-examine my working traits under the lens of the ADD personality type.

The plan for the coming month?

  • Launch the new website!
  • Make progress on the Living Room Cafe by visiting a highly-recommended flooring center
  • Share a lot of weird, fun stuff

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!


Groundhog Day Resolution Posts for 2014

Here are other posts about Groundhog Day Resolutions for the 2014 season.

  • The original post about Groundhog Day Resolutions
  • 02/02 Kickoff - Setting Goals!
  • 03/03 Review - So Far, So Good!
  • 04/04 Review - Setting Realistic Expectations
  • 05/05 Review - ADD and Incremental Progress
  • 06/06 Review - Trudging through the Blahs
  • 07/07 Review - Limited Progress
  • 08/08 Review - Unusually Productive
  • 09/09 Review - Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
  • 10/10 Review - Shifting Goals
  • 11/11 Review - Chugging Away
  • 12/12 Review - End of Year