Happy October 10! It's time for another progress report for "Groundhog Day Resolutions". In summary, I don't feel that I've made ANY progress on my goals from last month, these being (1) Clear up some more physical space and (2) Make progress on e-commerce/product fulfillment. To answer why I felt this way, I did a standard review of my timesheets, camera photos, blog posts, and other writings in the Coworking Discord. There are
1. Progress on Physical Space
I had been excited about starting work on the basement, imagining how nice it would be to have a big empty space to do things in. However, this excitement evaporated when faced with reality...here's how things looked on September 6 before the cleanup started:
To help me get moving, I shared my progress in the Coworking Discord "Microblogging" channel so I didn't feel quite so alone. By October 3, there was significant progress, though there still is quite a lot to do. While it might not look like a big change, reducing the number of storage boxes by about 30% ain't nothing. I also eliminated some of the larger boxes I'd been keeping "just in case I was going to move" that hogged a lot of space in the unfinished part of the basement.
While it looks good, many of the items were moved into the upstairs dining area, awaiting disposal at various recycling and donation centers. They have been there for weeks, and of the time of this writing are still there for me to trip over.
Once all this stuff is out of the house, though, dare I say that will feel like an accomplishment? I'm amazed at how tiring this has been...in my head, I thought this was maybe 2 or 3 days of work that I could stick to. I have done it before when I knew guests were going to stay with me. It's a LOT harder when there are no external motivators to push me forward (I touch on this in part 3).
2. Progress on ECommerce/Product Fulfillment
The other major task this past month was to do something about my Online Commerce setup. I did manage one thing: on September 20 I sent some "found stock" to Amazon, then posted to the notification mailing list that it was available. No other progress was made, but that's fine because I'm settling into the idea that each week has a MAIN TASK and a SECONDARY TASK.
3. Bonus Progress: Correlating ADHD+ASD with Sri
"Auxiliary tasks" are unplanned but often related to what I'm doing. Because fighting it is a futile waste of energy, I just spend time on them to satisfy the impulse and document it somewhere. I suspect a lot of my best work depends on these moments. There is another version of this called Happy Bubble Time that is the "on purpose" version of these tasks, pursued for the sheer curiosity of what might be possible.
The MAIN TASK / SECOND TASK split is part of my Two Slot+Aux model of task management. This month I have been redefining my personal productivity routines with ADHD and ASD and possibly GAD in mind. I summarized the systems thinking behind this and have been mulling it over.
I'm not quite sure what the new framework will be or what the compelling "shtick" will be yet. That said, there were several takeaway observations that will have to be woven into the new narrative that will ground the system:
I find it easier to adopt an all or nothing approach when it comes to prioritizing tasks, because if I have more than two tasks to juggle I spend more time tracking than doing! The tracking mindset can not co-exist with the doing mindset, so I currently believe that it's just easier to drop stuff as much as that pains me to admit it. This is the idea behind my two-slot plus aux tasking model. (ADHD trait?)
In practice, I'm motivated by engaged people to start working. Great ideas alone are not sufficient! I am driven when an idea can be turned into a tangible artifact that others will use for their direct benefit. Starting is the hardest part for me, and if there are no other stakeholders then it is extremely difficult to start then maintain momentum. If there are no stakeholders other than myself, I can sometimes use body doubling for a boost. The preferred way, however, is direct high-intensity collaboration (ADHD trait).
Ironically, being motivated by people has to have a limit, because I need a lot of alone time to do the deep work! While I crave people energy to start, that same energy disrupts my ability to focus. My brain seems to be divided into two parts that are at odds with each other. (ADHD vs ASD trait)
I spend a lot of time processing data into models and narratives of how the universe works. Only then can I figure out what my role is in the overall picture so I can start something. It is this story that grounds me in a task, otherwise I tend to "lose the context" which is quickly followed by "losing motivation". (ASD trait?)
For me, focus comes from creating the conditions where I am "alone with the problem" so there is nothing else for my mind to chew on. By picking a prompting question and limiting sensory inputs long enough, I seem to start working (it's getting here that's hard). There is one sensory input that I can't shut off: my own brain. It constantly generates new ideas. Once I hit a slowdown or obstacle, those ideas start thinking of more interesting things to do that don't suck. It is in these cases that my lizard brain craves stimulating ideas so it doesn't feel like it is dying of boredom or starving (ADHD, ASD traits?)
I can't imagine how to use time that is before a pending event; having any appointment scheduled puts my brain into the mode where (1) it is constantly reminding me about the event because I don't want to forget about it and (2) worries about being unprepared. This lasts up until the event passes, exacting a recovery penalty of around 4 hours to 2 days. Because I feel locked-down and trapped by the event, I can not imagine planning anything ELSE until the event has passed. So, I try not to schedule anything if I don't have to. In other words, it's like I have just two notions of time: "right now" and "a thousand years in the future". (ADHD traits)
I've worked a lot of these ideas into my daily practice, but I never have directly addressed ADHD or ASD because I didn't know how well I matched them (the ASD diagnosis was a complete surprise). Now that I know I'm not alone in this, I'd like to revisit these traits and see if I can create a neat-o system that will help me hit my overarching strategic goal of making enough money to chill with inspiring and kindly people.
4. Bonus Failure: Sleeping Schedule
I finally have a good reason to try waking up early every day at the same time: people are around during the daytime, and I need people to feel motivation. I've been spending the past month trying to normalize my sleeping time, but the effort just seems to make it worse. I'm now waking up at 5PM and going to sleep 20 hours later. My natural waking/sleeping cycle is 20-22 hours up, 8 hours asleep. If I am up for less than 18 hours, I sleep for only a 2-3 hours and then I'm wide awake.
It feels like I've wasted a lot of time trying to synchronize to a schedule, and it falls into the same problem as spending time tracking rather than doing. Trying to manage my sleeping schedule without external obligations (say, a regular 9-5 job) is asking me to do something I am terrible at: managing and visualizing time. There has to be another way. One idea is to make commitments to meet with people every day by creating shared projects. As much as I would rather avoid scheduling anything, making sure that the commitments are mutually beneficial and joyful could make this work. Maybe I offer coaching sessions or workalong sessions every morning?
Sleeping when I feel mentally exhausted after creating or delivering something that day, followed by 7-8 hours of sleep feels best.
The irregularity only impacts reliable “jet-lag free” synchronized with normal people and business hours, though there may be other health things happening that I don’t know about. The effort trying to stay in sync feels like it has a much worse effect on my quality of life if I need to focus on doing hard things in isolation, but the need for social synchronization is at odds with it.
5. Bonus Media: New Podcasts!
After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, my buddy Sid and I finally put out a new podcast on iTunes, which you can find at Sid and Dave's Unnamed Podcast. Clearly we'll have to change the name since I no longer go by "Dave", so we'll probably be renaming it to the "New Hampshire Nerd Network", aka "NHERD". I've been sitting on the domain for years just for this. The original idea was to be a parody high fashion magazine in its style, but report on cool nerdy and geeky goings-on here in the Granite State.
It felt good to run the session, though I felt a bit rusty at first. It's all new hardware and microphones, and I had to spend quite a bit of time beforehand getting it all to work. I had software that needed updating and some of it didn't work anymore. In the creation of the new mastering process, though, I realized I could cut out a step and record multitrack directly into Adobe Audition which will cut down post production even more; as it is now, we do no editing except to balance out the levels and do noise reduction. A great thing with the new microphones is that they are dynamic instead of condenser, which gives the much better background noise reduction.
In 2022, there are more podcasting platforms than just iTunes AKA Apple Podcasts, so I'll have to look into that. Maybe after we do the changeover to "The NHERDcast".
Bonus Distraction: No Man's Sky
As I've mentioned in other posts, I'm pretty hooked on this game right now. Since September 15, I've put over 140 hours into it, which is a LOT of playtime over 4 weeks. I am applying all or nothing thinking to this game now, choosing to refrain from it and all other games until I hit a milestone with either the basement cleanup or product fulfillment goals.
That said, there have been a couple notable life takeaways from the No Man's Sky experience. The first is one of the quest lines that I thought originally was a throwaway tutorial but then I started to notice that the writing had that kind of 1960s humanist sci-fi feel to it, dealing with themes of loneliness and uncertainty in a vast universe. The prose is very simple and short, and I'm rather impressed by how it manages to achieve this without throwing walls of text at you like a Japanese RPG. I find it's rather remarkable how the story of the galaxy and its races unfolds. I cried for the first time at a quest line in decades as it concluded. Remarkable.
The second takeaway was this unexpected line in what seemed like a simple "talk to all the people" quests:
"Existence is beautiful, if you let it be. Life is not a question. There does not need to be an answer..."
I think this will be the theme for the month ahead, if I can let it be.
INDEX of GHDR 2022 POSTS
Kickoff - Defining the goals for 2022.
Focus Level Up! - Initial goals cleared. Added "daily making" criteria.
Working through the List - Progress.
Much Mental Processing - Thinking through mental health issues.
Too Much Work - Burned out on work. No report.
Back to Meeee! - Work commitments ending, looking forward to focus on my own work.
Setting Strategic Horizons - Need for "singular focus" stronger than ever. Hypothesizing goal-less strategic planning strategy based on structured procrastination.
Progress in Four Phases - Warming up to meet my strategic horizon goals took time, but the systems of the past are proving useful in the present!
Fighting the System, Letting it Be - Limited progress on the big yucky goals that must be done, reflections on the challenges, and a reminder maybe that I should just let things be beautiful.
Battling Impairment, Finding Heart - Addresses long-standing mental impairments as "personal fact" that GHDR does not directly address.
A New Roadmap - The key insights about ADHD, ASD, and Personal Mission summarized.