2018 Goals Review 05: Narrowing Choices

Cherry Picking at Brookdale Fruit Farm Continuing with my Groundhog Day Resolutions goals for 2018, it’s time for the fifth monthly review! Let’s jump right in.

Last Month’s Action Items

Back in June’s review, I wanted to practice the following:

  • Concentrate on development work to accumulate some more billable hours. I need the money after the lull in income from taking the Taiwan trip and aftermath.
  • Emphasize the gift-giving mindset, which I identified as a major personal motivator (and possibly a super power).
  • Remember to look at my GHDR-related goals and action items during the week so I don’t end up looking just once a month. To make it easier, I added the goals to another worksheet on the Accrual Log, which I’m also trying to look at frequently.

The above goals were chosen because I was feeling very STUCK on my goals. I lack innate discipline and structure, so these seemed achievable.

June Recap

June was a month of small improvements and related insights. No big projects were completed, but several projects moved forward. Perhaps this is all I should really expect about of a month, but I tend to have the expectation that I can do it all. Anyway, I was able to apply some of the month’s goals; here’s how it went:

  • My programming work went well. I felt I was pacing myself well without pushing myself too hard. For variety, I worked in a variety of locations around my home town, which helped me feel free. And thanks to slow carb and intermittent fasting diet regimens, I even lost about 4 pounds while maintaining excellent mental clarity…no brain fog!

  • I applied the gift-giving mindset to my programming work in a few ways. First, I allowed myself the time to do EXTRA work to understand and clean-up our codebase before starting new code. While this extra work isn’t billable, it was a gift in that it will help me become a better programmer AND help establish new practices with my programming partner. Our deadline appears intact too. Early August is the next major deliverable.

  • I accepted that I sucked at reviewing my goals even when they are right in front of me. I instituted weekly reviews as a way of reminding me to look at the Accrual Log.

The weekly reviews are a major process improvement. I did three of them to capture my feelings and insights of the week. It’s from these reports that I took the insights I listed above, incidentally, but I’ll summarize them anyway so you can see how they arose:

  • June 17: I remembered that following and creating sparks of any kind is my key source of joy. I’ve known this for a long time, but was thrown off-course because people I respected told me that one couldn’t just make a career out of that alone. I don’t think they were wrong, but I’m now giving sparks more attention because it’s what makes me happy. The gift-giving mentality is an aspect of it. This is a very important insight.

  • June 24: I spent the entire week writing improved code for my major project, documenting and refactoring it beyond what was strictly necessary. It was more important to me to do it right, so I am not billing for most of the work. As a result, I’m a better programmer this month than I was last month, and this benefits the companies I’m working with. However, I did not get anything done with regards to GHDRs, not even remembering to LOOK at my Accrual Log.

  • July 3: Covering the previous ten days, I noted that it had seemed like a poor work week. I again did not check the Accrual Log, and so I made more changes to my daily task keeping. I now have a checkbox action item to do 5 reviews a week. Toward the end of the week, I was starting to make incremental progress by doing 15 min here and an hour there. This felt very promising.

Which brings me to today. My current GHDR mission is still:

  • Mission – Make a Nice Community Platform
  • Goods & Services – Stationery, blog, other media
  • Sharing – Whatever brings me and others the feeling of joy

I am still stuck on a variety of subprojects:

  • Patreon Presence and Rewards
  • Stationery Business on Amazon and Beyond
  • Website Redesign for better Information Accessibility
  • Producing better Blog Posts and Video Content

However, I am learning that I can be satisfied with progress just in one area. In this case, that area was programming, which delivers the side benefits of income from billable hours and skill improvement. This gave rise to a new thought:

As I believe that I SHOULD do all the things I am capable of doing IF ONLY I were more disciplined, RIGHT NOW I am UNABLE to do so. In the past I have regarded this as a badge of incompetence..

I HATE saying that I am unable to do anything, but let me take a step back and remember to look at myself more generously:

  • I am trying to do a lot of complicated things simultaneously.
  • I’m not only trying to do the major sub-projects above, but I’m also maintaining a virtual coworking community. I’m taking time to create and maintain ties with local groups.
  • These are time-consuming but essential for my wellbeing.
  • I know I need ample time to myself to recharge every day, because that’s how my brain just works.

So, I am overriding my desire to feel bad for sucking to go with the hypothesis that I am doing enough. For the month of July, I’d like to see if I can maintain this positive attitude while continuing to make progress.

The Month Ahead

The pattern that I’m seeing is that Reduction, Simplification, and Letting Tasks Pace Themselves is working for me right now. I am deliberately pushing away the other things out of my mind.

Here are July’s goals, which I will evaluate weekly on Sundays:

  1. Rather than try to work on half-a-dozen projects during the week, I will apply reduction and pick just one major work task and one goal-related task. There will be other tasks that pop up that I can’t predict, of course, but no matter. I think having just two possible choices, rather than worrying about SEVEN of them, might lead to improved productivity. This means DROPPING several projects and putting them on cruise control. I hate to do it because it makes me feel incompetent for not being able to do it all, but you know what? I’m ALREADY NOT DOING THEM. If I can avoid FEELING BAD about this reality, that is already a win. I will come back for them.

  2. In exchange for dropping a lot of projects for now (simplification), my GHDR energy will go into making the new website/research journal system that I’ve been talking about for a year. It is a critical path project in that it would allow me to (1) refactor the information on my website and (2) combine my development journals and public blogging into one continuity management system. I have been doing a little bit every week on it for the past few weeks, sometimes only 15 minutes a day but sometimes it is more.

  3. My ability to complete tasks is dependent on asking simple questions that I can answer. If I don’t have the answer already in my head, then doing a bit of writing in my interstitial journal often gets me unstuck. If that fails, Google is also great for providing material that helps me find the answer. By using a question-based methodology to get through projects, I tend to forget about time itself. In other words, it’s a reliable shortcut for getting into the workflow.

Action Items

Looking forward, let me recap what I’ll be focusing on:

  • I choose only two tasks to worry about this month: Do excellent development work and build the new website/journaling system as my “purposeful” productivity goals.
  • It’s okay to work on other projects that seem interesting as part of “Happy Bubble Time”; these are the “wild” bits that the Accrual Log is designed to capture as part of “Gathering-style Productivity.
  • Use the Accrual Log five times a week. Use the public #accountability room in the coworking Discord chat to remember this. The Accrual Log is filled with helpful insights, after all.
  • Continue the weekly GHDR reviews as a supplement to these monthly reviews. Measure what got done on the “purposeful” productivity goals. That will force me to be accountable and perhaps develop discipline.
  • It’s okay to visit people and see what they’re up to, because that makes me happy, and happy me is PRODUCTIVE me.

That’s it for now. Wish me luck!


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

DATE HOLIDAY DESCRIPTION
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.