• Groundhog Day Resolutions Kickoff 2021!

    February 2, 2021

    "Snow on the Ground"

    random pic of the month: we got a big fluffy heap of snow on groundhog day!

    Ah, February 2nd! This is the day I declare my resolutions for the year in an ongoing attempt to find a sustainable path to creative independence. I’m still not very good at finding this path, as this is the fifteenth year I am trying to find answers to the complicated questions of What am I doing with my life? and How will I find fulfillment, meaning, and purpose in what I am doing? earts.

    After 14 years of looking, I am starting to question whether such gratification exists at all. I used to think that the solutions would be in the form of a tidy bulleted list that helped me understand my value to the world so I could make a living of some kind:

    • What am I really good at?
    • What really makes me happy?
    • What do I offer the world?
    • What does the world offer me in exchange?

    In subsequent years I came to think of the search as the pursuit of a particular state of being:

    • How can I create financial stability by pursuing creative activities? I call this creative independence
    • How can I find a community of like-minded folks to create a positive interdependence?

    More recently, I’ve looked critically at the hypothetical character flaws that stops follow-through on the actions that I want to take. What the heck is wrong with me? I’ve been asking myself:

    • Why is it so hard for me to start projects?
    • Why do I seem to lack intrinsic motivation, discipline, and sustained follow through?
    • Why am I so easily bored?
    • Why is my sense of timeliness, responsibility, and competence a source of stress?

    In 2020 I was so exasperated that I didn’t even do Groundhog Day Resolutions. No tracking of tasks and time. No weekly reports. Not even any goal setting. Instead, I just said I’d focus on just one thing, and let everything else “just happen”:

    • I focused on getting better at software development because I was doing a lot of it. While it’s not what I ultimately want to do, it does pay the bills.
    • I backburnered all other projects related to creative independence. This pained me, ,but I had to admit that I really wasn’t able to do more than one things at a time.
    • I tried to be more relaxed about the work instead of stressed out with thoughts of not being “enough” to do everything instantly.

    The end result was that I DID get better at software development, and felt pretty good about it. And it turned out that having that “singular focus” didn’t stop me from doing other things. They tended to happen organically! The major takeaways:

    • I got better at allocating my limited disciplined energy toward a singular goal. That meant I worked more hours and made more money, which has put me in a better position for 2021.
    • My fear feeling trapped by singular focus didn’t come to pass. Since my disciplined energy was limited, afterwards I would naturally indulge my curiosity and I would feel fine.

    This was very surprising to me, and it worked well enough last year that I’m officially doing it again for the 2021 Groundhog Day Resolutions.

    So here is my preliminary plan. (more…)

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    D.Sri Seah
  • 2021 Word Counting Calendar

    December 31, 2020

    2021 Word Counting Calendar

    It’s finally done. This always take a long time to update, but this year was particularly bad because of crash issues with InDesign and Acrobat’s tendency to not load the latest files. The editing capability in Acrobat, which I use to remove unused rows in the template as a final step, seems to be broken. It’s never been GREAT, but this year I had so much difficulty with it that I used Affinity Designer to load it and boy…it was a much better experience! 2021 might be the year I try to break away from Adobe at least in the key illustration, layout, and photo editing categories.

    Overall, this took 9 eye-destroying hours to do, squinting at the screen (below) and checking and double-checking and pentuple-checking that the data was entered correctly. If I make this calendar for 2022, it will only be if I completely automate the calendar generation with the same level of visual quality. That’s a tall order, but I think it’s worth doing.

    Some of the programs used to update the calendar

    You can find the Word Counting Calendar at alongside the ETP Almanac. If you’re supporting me on Patreon you have received both these digital downloads as part of your perk package.

    Now, it’s time to make some dinner and ring-in the new year!

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    D.Sri Seah
  • 2021 Updates for Emergent Task Planner Almanac

    December 30, 2020

    ETP 365-day Almanac for Book Making I’ve got the 2021 Emergent Task Planner Almanac updated in the digital shop. It’s a pre-formatted and dated 365 page version of the ETP. I’m selling two packages again this year, each with 12 different PDFs to meet all the possible scenarios I can think of if you want to print your own journal and bind it. As a bonus, you can use the Adobe Acrobat Forms to enter up to 9 tasks and save them. Be warned, though, that this is not a real application. It’s just you editing a PDF document using its built-in features!

    I’m working on the Word Counting Calendar next to squeak it out by Dec 31. It is the most laborious update to make because so much data changes every year, but it’ll also be appearing here soon :-)

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    D.Sri Seah
  • 2021 Compact Calendar

    December 30, 2020

    "Compact Calendar 2021" I’ve finally updated the 2021-2022 Compact Calendar, which you can find at the 2021 Calendar Page. It’s free, and includes:

    • Excel Version to generate your own calendar starting any day or year
    • Numbers version (limited function compared to Excel, but still useful)
    • Nice PDFs for the years 2021 and 2022 formatted for 8.5×11 and A4 paper sizes

    There are also some online generators that other people have made; I’ve listed the ones I know about on the page.

    If you have found an interesting use for the Compact Calendar, I’d love to hear about it!

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    D.Sri Seah
  • GHDO for December 12: Scheduling Difficulties

    December 12, 2020

    "'Test Pattern' by phdstudent is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0" I’m really crunched for time, so I’m posting a very abbreviated report today. I’ll post a more detailed followup with the 2020 summary sometime after Christmas.

    But since I’m already here, I’ll make a few quick observations

    • Not tracking was not bad when I gave myself permission to focus on only one thing (software development) this year to the exclusion of all other projects. There was time between lulls where I could do a few chores, but it was impossible for me to start an entire other project with an entirely different context. It may have always been this way, but I thought I could think my way out of it.

    • Tracking is better for managing multiple projects, but still requires time awareness and time management skill. These are two areas where I am really deficient. I’d like to address them in a future post.

    • Focusing on one thing for the year did yield noticeable improvements in the skill level! I don’t think would have been possible had I kept splitting my attention between two or three other projects as I have in the past, though I still feel somewhat guilty about backburnering so many things.

    • I have noticed that a lot of internalized anger from my childhood is still there. Instead of overcoming it as I thought I did, I have merely redirected it into becoming more knowledgeable and more independent. However, my internal calm is still a facade over deep anger just beneath the surface. I don’t want to be that way; this maybe a candidate for 2021. I am not as evolved as I thought.

    I am really burned-out, having not had a mental break from project work since March. As a result I am feeling quite out of balance but there is so much work to do. I’ve been buying a lot of cooking gear as a kind of “retail therapy”, because cooking is the only break I’m really allowing myself. No games, though I am itching to try Red Dead Online, Star Citizen, and now Cyberpunk 2077. NetFlix is reserved for watching while eating; currently I’m working my way through The Repair Shop which is just lovely.

    Quick Notes:

    • The Virtual Coworking Chat is still going strong. It’s really a source of camaraderie these days.
    • Working more has the side benefit of bequeathing extra income, so I am now the owner of a Cosori air fryer, a Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus multicooker, and a Anova Sous Vide Precision immersion cooker. These kind of “fire and forget” devices are helping me focus more on work while still getting decent food results.
    • My Carmen Sandiego costume is coming along for Halloween 2021.
    • My laptop (a 2013 Macbook Pro 15) is starting to get really sluggish, but I think I’m going to wait for the ARM-powered Macbook Pro instead of getting the current 9th-gen Intel model. It looks good, but (1) I can survive with this 7-year old laptop for a little while longer and (2) I would be pretty mad if the 2021 Macbook Pro w/ Apple Silicon is as fast as I expect it to be.

    That’s it for now! I hope everyone is maintaining their sanity in these trying times!

    About this Article Series

    For 2020 I am NOT doing Groundhog Day Resolutions, and am instead thinking about what life is like without them. You'll find the related posts on this subject at 2020 NOT Groundhog Day Resolutions page. You can also find the link under the INVESTIGATIONS menu item on my website.
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    D.Sri Seah