Daily 021: Sidestepping through Overextension

Last week I mentioned I was cutting back on blogging and streaming because I was feeling like I had lost touch with something important. I realized that I was feeling overextended, not able to produce quality content OR spend time doing the kind of personal reflection that usually buoys me. Perhaps this is due to the sense that there’s a lot of coding work to be done, and this has been looming in my mind to the point that I didn’t feel I could do fun things. In the past, being able to livestream the coding sessions alleviated some of that feeling of being “boxed-in” by work, but problems with the YouTube video upstream servers have made it impossible to have a session longer than about 10 minutes. I don’t know what’s going on with that.

On a related note, I’ve been grumpy about the low quality / low information density of my recent streams. I have a desire to produce more polished content these days, and thus every rambling livestream I do feels like I am producing junk. I also have not been producing new work for sharing on the website and Patreon site, and this has been weighing on me. Neither have I made any changes to the online stationery products. Everything seems to be degrading in quality and interestingness, and this has me feeling slightly down. The one bright spot is that I do have a lot of billable work.

New Strategies

Now that I’ve recognized that I’m feeling constantly overextended, ineffective, and sidetracked, I’m glad that I reduced the livestream/blogging. I have devised a few possible stratagems:

  • Embrace Work as Shared Process – One way to get back into the more frequent blogging is to share everything I’m working on as part of the work. This is the essence of my “Whats Up Dave” livestreams, actually, but to produce more polished content would be better for both viewers and for better-organizing my site content. I think it would, anyway. The challenge is whether I can do this quickly AND produce succinct content, as to not waste anyone’s time or disrupt my own productive work.

  • Choose Another Line of Work – I’ve had the thought lately that perhaps my calling is to be involved with managing a public space for creative people rather than try to BE a creative person. Right now, I am trying to be a creative person FIRST (and not doing so well at it) and making the public space (through the virtual coworking / living room cafe efforts) second. Perhaps I need to flip the emphasis around. But would this pay off?

  • Reframe the Work as Gift Giving – I think I like the idea of managing a public space because you get to do nice things for people to help them have a good day. I made the association with that feeling and a conversation I had with a new friend about making mysterious packages to elicit excitement and anticipation in the recipient. In the past I’ve done this for friend’s birthday presents and “Secret Santa” office gift exchanges to great effect, harnessing all my powers as a multi-faceted designer to create a memorable experience. I love artifacts that are imbued with a powerful history and the stories yet-to-be-told. So why not convert my work into that? This might be the market-friendly strategy that I employ, a way to recapture my personal sense of joy.

I think these are all good possibilities, and maybe I’ll pursue all of them this week. I’ll try to report in before the end of the week. Oh, this week is also Groundhog Day Resolutions Review, so there will be a post on that too!


Today’s Video

Recorded rather than livestreamed, I spend a few minutes talking about trying to recapture a sense of fun in my blogging.

2 Comments

  1. Eurobubba 2 weeks ago

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but reading this post, I get the impression that your years-long quest has much less to do with productivity than with capturing and holding on to a mood… and that managing your moods is not actually something you have an especially good handle on.

    • Author
      Dave Seah 2 weeks ago

      Hey Eurobubba! That’s an interesting way of phrasing it, “capturing and holding on to a mood”. I would have described it differently, but maybe there is an element of what you’re saying that I haven’t seen. For the past ten or so years I’ve been using my mood as a kind of detector; prior to that, I wasn’t very aware of my moods and rarely talked about them. One thing I did know, though, was that my best design work seemed to be correlated with a particular mental state (call it a “mood”), and I’ve since tried to figure out the conditions under which they occur. It has only been recently that I’ve started to accept that I can’t create the conditions entirely by myself, but it seems that I’ve formed my current work-life situation into a kind of isolation bubble.

      I don’t try to manage my moods in the sense that I try to “force myself to be happy or consistent”. I’m trying to find a set of conditions that give RISE to happiness as a side effect. So I let the “moods” happen and see if I can work out the causes, and I write about the process openly here You’re right that the quest is not about being more productive (whatever that means) and is more about finding something else that I am not sure of. I don’t have a handle on what it is, though it seems every year I get a little closer to understanding what might makes it work, whatever it is. It is a long process that is unpredictable and not immediately rewarding, but I’m hopeful that the pieces I am uncovering will be meaningful and applicable to people who are somewhat like me.

      I am by no means an expert in being productive. The point of this website has been to share my experience, not claim expertise. There is value in sharing detailed experiences and hypothesis, but admittedly the audience is not “most people”.

A message from Dave:

I believe we all benefit when we respectfully share our perspectives on common experiences. My house rules are "please be respectful of divergent views" and "enjoy the flow of ideas!"

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