• September Groundhog Day Resolution Report – Trackerless Outcomes

    September 11, 2019

    Happy September! It’s time for another Groundhog Day Resolutions Update!

    To recap, in last month’s review I realized that (1) I was tired of tracking and (2) it really wasn’t delivering the results it used to. I decided to substitute MORE EXTERNAL MOTIVATION TRICKERY in place of tracking to see if “harnessing my tendency to help others before helping myself” would have positive results. In other words, I was trying to WORK WITH the following personality quirks rather than FIGHT or WORK AROUND them as I have in the past:

    • My main motivation to work is meeting someone’s immediate aspirational need. (I like helping people if I know how to help)
    • My ability to focus is very fragile. (I am easily distracted without external aids constantly redirecting my attention)
    • I am easily angered and frustrated when I can not move fast. (I am enraged by poor tools and information that wastes my time)
    • I do better work when I don’t think about time. (When I am thinking about time, I could have been doing focused productive work)
    • I feel trapped by too many scheduled tasks. Unscheduled tasks, though, are fine. (When I am worried about missing an appointment, these worries interrupt my focus constantly)
    • Any scheduled event prevents focus for 8 hours afterwards. (My brain takes time to process external stimuli and is very “noisy”, so deep work is constantly interrupted by memories of the event).
    • I absorb other people’s emotions easily and need to guard against sadness.
    • I can’t rely on my brain to always be in charge, so have a backup.
    • Despite all my shortcomings, I can always rely on my brain to converge toward a good solution, because that’s the way it’s wired.

    Instead of fighting them, I wanted to try using them in my favor. Over the past 15 years I’ve tried a lot of tracking systems and productivity tools, and they ALL work so long as you stick to them, but these quirks seem to be innate traits. I’ve developed a lot of good habits and empowering perspectives, but these traits are stubbornly rooted in my very psyche.

    So here’s what I did. (more…)

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    Dave Seah
  • August Groundhog Day Resolution Report – No More Tracking!

    August 9, 2019

    Living Room Cafe Happy Groundhog Day Resolutions for AUGUST 8! It’s a day late, but it’s taken some time to figure out how to write about the month. The big news that I alluded to in the recent Fear of Losing Information post is that I’ve dropped a lot of the personal activity data capture + analysis I’ve been doing for the past couple of years. The reporting has always been time-consuming and tedious, but the insights I derived were often useful. I’ve come to realize that I’m well past the point of diminishing returns; in hindsight, many of the insights of recent years are refinements of old ones I’ve had ten years ago, KonMari-style!!!

    Instead of detailed GHDR weekly tracking, I’ve started using my digital notebook (Good Notes 5 on an iPad Pro) for my continuity management (photo above). It’s a lot more satisfying and flexible, and I already have switched to using the notebook for ALL “thinking away from the computer”, replacing multiple paper notebooks with one relatively-compact device.

    Before I dump the entire tracking process (and get HOURS OF MY LIFE back every week), it’s worth making a list of what I think I’ve learned from it. The result is a kind of “operating list” that I believe keep me feeling balanced.


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    Dave Seah
  • Fear of Losing Information

    July 29, 2019

    I have spent a lot of time looking for personality quirks that block my own productivity. Over the years I’ve modeled these as a weird microcomputer and a system diagram to tackle demons such as lack of self-motivation, inability to start, lack of connection to people, and lack of disciplined progress. Now I have a pretty good understanding of all those things, and more importantly I know what is important to me. After 15 years of blogging about myself, it boils down to this:

    I want to have an excellent time doing excellent things with excellent people to make the world more excellent.

    I can’t help but think party on, dudes! after that, because it reminds me so much of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure but it’s also quite a resonant feeling. I’ve spent my years pondering:

    • What IS an excellent time for me? What are the activities I find enjoyable and worthwhile?
    • What ARE excellent things as far as I’m concerned?
    • Who ARE the excellent people? And am I part of that tribe? Do I have to gather them myself?
    • What DOES make the world more excellent? Is it teamwork? Community?

    I’m happy to say that I have answers to ALL of those questions, and if anyone is curious I’ll be glad to write them up sometime (leave a note in the comments). But still I am stuck on the actual DOING OF THE EXCELLENT THINGS. It’s difficult, and it’s slow, and it seems that something else always comes up to throw my planning into disarray. Not to mention that while I like planning, I don’t like following plans at all. My Groundhog Day Resolutions have been my ongoing attempt to follow those plans, be disciplined, and produce those concrete results that are at the heart of making any sort of progress in life. And after 13 years of it, I’ve learned a whole lot about process but I still suck at it.

    Today, I have a new theory about why I suck at my own planning: it’s driven by fear, specifically a fear of losing information. I’d like to talk about it for a minute. (more…)

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    Dave Seah
  • Weekly Review 0715 – Single Mission Necessity

    July 16, 2019

    In the official July 7 GHDR Assessment, I wrote a rambling analysis of what I was doing wrong in thinking about my goals.

    • ANALYSIS: I’m not making progress that feels meaningful.
    • HYPOTHETICAL FIX: I should define my tasks as complete mini project briefs that embody desire, questions to answer, and a target person’s actual needs so I have a complete context to work with.

    While I really want to do is make progress on my big aspirational goals, but for the next few weeks I need to focus on developing software for our internal August 1 deadline. This gives me clarity about how to proceed, but the thing I’m not doing are weighing heavily on my mind. To help keep my head clear of these distracting details, I spent a couple of hours making a list of everything on my mind:

    Weekly Plan There are three project areas on the left, and I’ve highlighted the key areas that I’ll focus on this week. A large miscellaneous task list and scheduled interruptions are the other happenings for the week that will eventually get done.

    A challenge for myself is to make ANY progress on a non-software job, particularly posting something new to my site to try to get things moving. I find mustering the discipline to make progress on projects that no one is asking for very difficult, but that will be my challenge to report on next week.

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    Dave Seah
  • July Groundhog Day Resolution Report – Bad at Goal Setting

    July 8, 2019

    I wish setting goals were this easy Time to do another monthly progress check for my 2019 goals! The short answer is I am bad at setting goals. The longer answer is that maybe I need to repackage goals so they work with the peculiarities of my brain. Something more enticing to my natural tastes, perhaps? (more…)

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    Dave Seah