Weekly Review 0701 – Cutting to the Bone

Tomatoes and Basil Taking Root In last week’s report:

  • Declared that my goal was building and sharing things, and everything else should feed into that including my work and other responsibilities.
  • Recognized just how much distraction comes from scheduled events, and vowed to reduce it even further.
  • Pondered that I might be destined to be a community manager instead of a maker, and have been mulling this last week.
  • Considered how telling people what I think up front works versus inviting discussion from people to emerge what to do. In some cases, people just want to be told. In others, they are looking for collaboration,. I should be mindful of which approach to use when.
  • Reported that 60 minutes of cardio every day was having positive effects on my mental state.

Let’s review how the week went from there.

The Problem of Building and Sharing

I should have remembered this: building and sharing is not an everyday achievement. It is sufficiently rare enough for me that I created a whole productivity form back in 2005, The Concrete Goals Tracker, to account for all the other tiny things that lead up to it.

Another problem I’ve been facing is extreme distraction brought on by the need to do an unpleasant task: reviewing and improving our prototype-level code so I can add new features to it. There are some logical bugs that are due to an incomplete understanding of how the system really should, and that means a lot of reworking code that has already been written. Redoing work is one of my least favorite activities in the world.

In times like this, I find that I become more susceptible to distraction and it’s difficult for me to get anything done. I was especially frustrated by lack of progress on my personal important projects due to the work commitment. Recognizing I was also depressed, I put myself into TRIAGE MODE to work-out a GET IT DONE plan.

Brutal Triage

I came to the conclusion that I am still trying to do too much. It’s not just the number personal commitments, but also the number of projects even for something I thought was manageable like my Groundhog Day Resolutions. I picked THREE AREAS to focus on: (1) ecommerce stationery (2) work projects and (3) community building. I thought I could just do things as needed and credit the achievement to the right goal. This does work, but what’s missing is control of expectations and distractions. I have so many POSSIBLE things to do, the result is that many of them are behind and that feels terrible. There are a huge number of competing projects in just those three areas.

I think I need to acknowledge my limits once again:

  • I can’t handle many possibilities and maintain work focus. I only get the hard things done when I’m absolutely emotionless and committed to a single epic task.
  • Every personal commitment creates high levels of distraction in me. I’m definitely noticing that my brain MUCH MORE relaxed and able to function without worrying about upcoming appointments. My productivity and sense of well being benefit from having vast amounts of alone time.
  • I do not work well on a regular schedule. I’ve been doing my biphasic sleep schedule, and I really like it personally. I hate that it puts me out of synch with the rest of the world, though.

To address these limits, here’s what I’m planning on trying:

  • I’m dropping everything EXCEPT for Software Development Mastery as the focus goal. Building and sharing will draw from what happens within that focus area.
  • I’m limiting all scheduled outside interactions to fit on just one day per week. This limit doesn’t apply to optional opportunistic events that pop up, just scheduled ones.
  • I’m detaching from regular schedules because doing hard work requires it. That means I’m also detaching from people energy, but I don’t think I really need much at the moment. I’ll be able to follow my bizarre sleep schedule and be in my own world, which sounds kind of nice frankly.

It sounds extreme, and until yesterday I was very depressed that I had to do this for maintain a good clip on my billable work. I was worried that I would slide into existentialist angst, becoming a hermit detached from humanity. On the other hand, I also have a nice virtual coworking community to provide daily intellectual fellowship, and I still local friends that I can see. Frankly, I don’t see them very often as it is, but when we do get together it’s nice. Instead of becoming a hermit, maybe I’m just freeing myself from unnecessary feelings of obligation to indulge my own way of doing things. In other words, maybe I can still care about people without feeling obligated to affirm that I care in some performative manner.

I really don’t know how this will go, so I’ll consider it another two week experiment. I want to keep as much time for myself as possible. I still want to build and make things, but now that I am focusing on JUST ONE area of personal goals making, it may be more likely to happen more quickly. We’ll see.

I’ll write more about this on July 7th (Groundhog Day Resolutions Review Day). In the meantime, here goes nothing!

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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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