2018 Goals Review 01: Gathering Style Productivity Seems to Work

2018 Goals Review 01: Gathering Style Productivity Seems to Work

"Gathering Style Productivity" It’s time for my first monthly review of goals set for my 2018 Groundhog Day Resolutions! I’m a day late because I caught a cold a couple days ago, and in my snot-induced misery forgot to write the post.

In the past, my report would be a matter of seeing what I got done and whether it seemed like progress was made. This year I feel the need for something more. I can’t even remember what goals I had set, which suggests that I need to be more proactive about my reviewing. Let’s see what I come up with!

Jogging my Memory

I don’t know what the New Review Plan will be, so I’ll first recall what happened last month. This is not a new process, and it’s easy to look at the following places where I leave tracks:

  • My Excel timesheet for billable work
  • My Camera Uploads folder on Dropbox
  • My Instagram, Twitter, Skype, and Facebook Messenger accounts
  • My Blog posts for the month
  • Apple Messages and the coworking chat room
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Drive “Recent” accessed documents
  • Google Mail
  • Personal journals, process journals, old todo lists
  • Descriptions of “WHATS UP DAVE” streams on YouTube

The goal of this review is to jog my memory to pick out the notable events. I don’t go through every resource unless I need a thorough reconstruction; the Excel timesheet, Camera Uploads folder, Calendar and Social Media links typically have been enough to jog my memory.

Not in the above list is the new source of remembered tasks: The Accrual Bucket that I’ve been writing about. This exists in the form of a spreadsheet, and it turns out that it’s THE prime source for this review; making it was one of my Groundhog Day Resolutions! Duh! But before I dig into it, let me list notable events that were not in the bucket, since they were experiences instead of building blocks for the future:

  • Catching up with Alen – Every year I usually have dinner with my old friend Alen, but I missed last year due to being sick. It was great to catch up with him and get some birthday presents, including one his daughter made for me based on our shared love of Sam ‘n Max. Humanity connection points +1!
  • Susan Son’s Heavy Cream Protein Coffee Beverage – During one of the random discussions in Virtual Coworking Chat Room, Susan mentioned this beverage: heavy cream + dutch chocolate protein powder + coffee. I tried it. It was good! It’s also low carb! Novelty Experience points +1!
  • Red-Braised Pork Shank (Hung Shao Rou) – In preparation for celebrating the Lunar New Year with some fellow Chinese/Taiwanese Americans, I practiced making this dish and then served it. It was a success! Cultural connection points +1!
  • Matzo Ball Soup – My cousin is married to a nice Jewish girl, and has been exposed to an entire different culture of cooking. I mentioned idly to him one day that I’d never had Matzo Ball Soup, and didn’t even know what it was, so he made some out of some instant stuff that I didn’t know my supermarket even had, augmented with some additional chicken. After posting pictures to Facebook a number of vocal Jewish friends weighed-in with their take on what made a great chicken soup, and it was amazing. Cultural appreciation points +!
  • Sumo Lounge Otto Review – I’d done a couple of reviews for Sumo Lounge, the bean bag chair manufacturer, and they provided me with another item to have a look at. I took pictures and posted a review on it. The marketing guy liked it, and I also got a really nice picture of my cat sleeping on top of it! Retail connection points +1!
  • Poaching Eggs – One day in the Virtual Coworking Chat Room we were discussing eggs, and I learned some tips on making a decent poached egg. It turns out that it’s less straightforward than I thought, and after a few tries (augmented with YouTube videos) I came to a process that is founded in good principle. I can now make a great eggy toast! Food prep points +1!
  • Living Room Cafe Facilities Updates – Having built a new living room PC and organized the big TV nicely, the Living Room Cafe was ready for testing. This came in the form of my cousin visiting for a 5-day “Technical Kickoff” for six-month project. I also had acquired a ReadyDesk since the last time he was here he had noted that he is not used to sitting and working anymore; this worked out pretty well so he was very comfortable working here. Hosting points +1!
  • Mexican Butcher Visit – While my cousin was visiting we watched the taco episode of Ugly Delicious, chef David Chang’s latest media outing. We got to wondering whether the pulled pork I had made would work good in a taco, so we visited the nearby Mexican butcher to see what they had. They had several things I can’t normally get: fresh pork belly, good corn tortillas, bulk beans, and even a brand of canned refried beans that was really good. Culinary resource points +1!
  • New Curries Arrive – I had brought an article about better Japanese curries to my friend Joy’s Asian Market. She ordered the two we had not seen before from her supplier, and they arrived a couple of weeks ago! They’ve been sitting on my desk awaiting the next curry night, and I am extremely excited about having some people over to try them. Culinary resource points +1!

Looking at this list, I can see that the excitement comes from both the enhanced experience that comes from making something good and the sharing of the experience with others. This dovetails nicely with my Happiness Level Theory from last February, which is that my “core happiness” comes from sharing, and my “second level” of happiness comes from mastery. I think that the second level must be linked to the core, so it’s not “mastery in isolation” that matters to me, but mastery that can be shared. I think this is an important insight.

Reviewing What Was Accrued

Let’s look next at what actually was gathered in the Accrual Bucket! Since this was the first month of having an Accrual Bucket, I really didn’t know how it would work. I decided to just add things to it that seemed like they had some value beyond the moment, and could be used in the future to either save time or contribute to an existing business initiative.

Accrued Productivity for February I’m happy to see that there are 45 worthwhile things that I noted for the past 30 days, which means I have been averaging more than one “reusable thing” per day. That’s good news, and I’ll try to maintain that pace.

Looking at the actual collection, however, there are no items that seem like tangible building blocks. There are some packaged consumables such as podcasts, but most of what I’ve logged seems related to personal interests and have been converted to shareable data (e.g. writing down the recipe for the red-braised pork shank). These are the low hanging fruit in my fruit orchard. Combining them as a collection of useful tidbits in the blog format could be how they are converted into something attractive for my roadside fruit stand.

An unexpected addition to the Accrual Bucket Log is the insights category. There are quite a few of them, which I’ll repeat here in abbreviated form, tagged with what I think is a relevant category.

  • Vickii@Chat: “Coworking and Cooking” is a viable livestream | product
  • Studel@Chat: What is in the Accrual Bucket can be offered as raw materials to others! It doesn’t have to be finished. | product
  • Vickii@Chat: My writing appeals to thoughtful people who realize I am not trying to control them. My real “product” might be providing the kind of place where such people would like to visit. | product focus
  • Jenn@Therapy: My writing about anything is thoughtful, novel, and interesting. Writing publicly may be something to do | product focus
  • The Internet is filled with angry people. Making my own place that isn’t is good for my mental health, and also others. | product focus
  • Ben@Visit: I am motivated by people and their personal development; I am like a “process concierge” | product focus
  • Me: Unwrap one uncertainty at a time. | process wisdom
  • Me: Don’t take “hard” so personally. What is done accrues over time. | process wisdom
  • Me: Happiness Level III “ego projects” serve to legitimize my sharing of unedited process, not as goals in themselves. | sharing is core

There are three or four main categories, but I think the big takeaway is that sharing is at the core of what I do. And it is a very specific kind of sharing, one that is designed to empower and encourage people to move toward realizing shared community dreams. The insights above give me clarity where I can make my contribution.

Reviewing Last Month’s Goals

I know, I’m sort of doing this review backwards by looking at the goals AFTER analyzing last month’s activity. Let me restate them and see if I’m surprised.

  • Resolution: Make a viable GATHERING STYLE PRODUCTIVITY system, and apply it.
  • Resolution: Focus on Mastery in Javascript Software Development as I build BIG SYSTEMS
  • Resolution: Create a public identity built on all my disparate activities, leadership in standing for the things I love, and sharing them all as my NEAT SIDE BUSINESS.
  • Resolution: Build the product mix, consolidate the store, share them widely as part of the NEAT SIDE BUSINESS ecommerce identity!
  • Resolution: Swear less! Make a swear jar!

You know what? I have been working on all of these, with the exception of making the swear jar. I did talk about it in the chat room, though. What I really want to avoid is swearing with ANGER and BITTERNESS; I have felt this urge rise up in me and I don’t like it. Perhaps instead of a swear jar I will implement a swear log in the same spreadsheet document as the Accrual Bucket.

Last month I had defined a number of DAILIES too:

  • DAILY: Actively SHARE or BUILD+SHARE or DOCUMENT+SHARE for all activities and dump into ACCRUAL BUCKET
  • DAILY: Making a Thing a Day seems to be great! Just make it less demanding of time (L1)
  • DAILY: Try to find the links between the small things a day that combine into emergent BIGGER things! Look in the ACCRUAL BUCKET and PRODUCT COMBOBULATOR (L1)
  • DAILY: Continue to make and share via VIRTUAL COWORKING / STREAMING (L1)

I have been doing these too, as they naturally flow from the Gathering and Accrual Model. However, I have not pushed hard on “making a new thing a day” and “finding the emergent bigger thing”.

There were some “negative factors to keep in check” too, regarding speed, uncertainty, boredom, and frustration with bad information/bad tools. Largely I’ve been doing well at that, I think. More interesting to me at the moment are the “metrics for success” I wanted to monitor:

  • Publishing of something everyday
  • Identification of “emergent bigger projects” in the Accrual Bucket
  • Making what I accrue visible to the public
  • Periodically noting how I feel during the day

I have been doing these things too! Amazing! Everything seems to be handled merely by focusing on the Accrual Bucket. Adding the Negativity Log to that spreadsheet will help too.

The Next Month

My assessment is that the last month went well despite me not being very conscious of my explicit goals, because I had chosen goals that already were aligned with what I was doing. I think I may have uncovered future directions for my work.

  • I am driven to share. It’s even at the core of my “mastery” and “big impressive projects” happiness goals. If I am going to make an important product, sharing is going to have to be part of it.
  • Creating a product that promotes sharing is something I hadn’t even considered before, like being a process concierge or hosting an establishment that promotes sharing like the coworking chat room.
  • A big question is whether I am maximizing my potential for happiness by maximizing productivity. Is this a naive belief? What are the daily habits and processes that make this work? What are the metrics that help me know that (1) I’m being productive and (2) I am happy?

I’ll go out on a limb here and make working definitions for productivity and happiness:

  • Definition of productivity: Something is being made, something to look forward to
  • Definition of happiness: Excited to get out of bed and share my research while participating with others doing the same, and having many reasons to be grateful for being alive.
  • Prequisite: Having financial and physical security for the foreseeable future.

This has been a weird report to pull together. I’ve been writing this post during the bits of lucidity I have when not blowing my nose or coughing. I’ll probably have to revisit the post in a few days to see if I made any sense at all. But in SUMMARY:

  • Gathering Style Productivity appears to be working, thanks to the Accrual Bucket.
  • Put my goals into the accrual bucket spreadsheet so I remember them during the month.
  • Goal: look for things in the bucket that can be made public or packaged as single complete ideas.
  • Goal: look for opportunities to create bigger finished pieces from what’s already in the bucket.
  • Goal: look for other signs that SHARING is an essential part of the products I am making.

That’s it! Now to go to sleep.

"Groundhog by Pearson Scott Foreman" Here’s this year’s calendar:

MON 1/1 New Year’s Day Start thinking about resolutions
FRI 2/2 Groundhog Day Make your resolutions. Assemble your peer group.
SAT 3/3 March 3 Review w/ group.
WED 4/4 April 4 Review w/ group.
SAT 5/5 Cinco de Mayo Review w/ group. Think celebratory, spring-like thoughts!
WED 6/6 June 6 Mid-Year Review w/ group. Optional break for summer.
SAT 7/7 Tanabata Star Festival Private Review. Make Wishes. Rededicate.
WED 8/8 Chinese Father’s Day Private Review. Plan for future completion.
SUN 9/9 September 9 Review w/ group. Three months left.
WED 10/10 October 10 Review w/ group. Two months left.
SUN 11/11 Veteran’s Day Review w/ group. A Day to be Grateful.
WED 12/12 December 12 End-of-year Review. Break for Holiday Madness.

About this Article Series

For my 2018 Groundhog Day Resolutions, I'm challenging myself to develop "gathering-style productivity" as I pursue the year's goals. You'll find the related posts on the 2018 Groundhog Day Resolutions page.