January 25, 2016
I'm pretty good at the whole early to bed, early to rise thing, when I want to be. Then every so often I have days like today, where I hit the snooze button, then on the second snooze, I simply reset my alarm to a later time. Then hit snooze again a couple times after that later time. Ugh. I don't have a good explanation other than I didn't HAVE to be up until 7 today. 

4:30 am is awesome. I get so much done when I wake up at 4:30. Even at 5:30, I still get a huge jump on the day. I have the warmth of the fireplace, the darkness before the sunrise, the solitude of a sleeping household. Peaceful, productive joy and the absolute delight of working from home. Once 6:30 hits I've already missed the most productive parts of the morning, but still have an hour before kids have to be up to ready for school. Sometimes Zia wakes up around then, she likes to talk, and I like to listen. 6:30-7:30 is my time for getting the rest of the day organized. List making, running down the calendar, occasionally calls with East Coast clients, and so on. Today, I didn't do all that pre-7am stuff. I chose to sleep in. Because today, I had that choice. And it felt really damn good. 

I still had a regular day of work after seeing the girls onto the bus. I got a lot done, had a really nice delivery-Thai food lunch with Ken. I wrote a lot for a client project. It was a great day!

Yet... still... I always struggle later with the decision to sleep-in. Imagine all the things I could have done if I'd made the decision to do them with those two hours of time. Two hours is a HUGE amount of time! Did I squander it? Did I really need the sleep? Am I really focused on goals and accomplishing them?

Sometimes I think I allow the decision of sleeping-in to cost more than it should. Or maybe it's an expense I need to think more deeply about. Hm. 

What's Stopping You?

January 20, 2016
Ever have a whole bunch of things on your plate, and you make a lot of progress on - seriously - a lot of things, but there are one or two things that always manage to fall off the priority list?

Half-started projects? Little stacks of things you intend to put away later? Books to read? Blog posts to write? Places to visit? People to catch up with? A basket of unfolded laundry? What else?

Things that you know if you could knock them out your life would be ever so slightly better for it?

What's stopping you? Serious question. I'm curious about the things YOU have on your list, and what stops you from doing them. Lay it on me!

Great Days in Different Ways

The past couple days have been really, really good days. Productivity always feels great but my productivity is often centered around time with people who add great value to my life. Catching up over coffee or lunch with friends. A phone or video call with someone who's far away. I try to make a point of doing this a few times per month. Some friends I see more frequently than others, and some I don't see nearly enough. Making time for people who matter to me has moved way, way up on the priority list. (Jim and Dee, if you are reading this I'm coming to get you soon!)

I have a lot of people I'd like to catch up with sooner than later. I'm chipping away nicely at that list in no particular order. It makes me giggle a little bit when people start their sentence with, "I know you're busy but..." I'm busy, yes. But never too busy for sincere, human exchange. That is the core of productivity for me. 

Did I work on my #tinychallenges today? Yep. Got it knocked out first thing this morning. 30 minutes down on the personal project today. A little bit jammed up on some stuff, but I'll get through it. ;)

Back on Track

Last day of holiday break. Kids had a stay-up late night so they slept reasonably late this morning. I slept until 6:30 am again, I hope I didn't mess up my 4:30 a.m waking abilities by doing this so frequently through the holiday, we'll see how tomorrow feels.

Today was great on the personal project. I set out to spend a minimum of 5 minutes on it. I sat down and dug in. First I decided to think about how I was approaching the project. I know from a lot of experience that breaking things down tends to make most things all the more approachable. So I broke my project down in two ways. First, I broke it into ten pieces and labeled my chunks in a way that made sense to me given what I'm doing (I know the 00-09 may seem weird just looking at it, but it makes sense behind the scenes.) Then I clumped batches into weekly sprints - I have no idea if this is realistic but I'm going to see how it plays out. Initially, I imagined the whole project running from January through March, if I can move faster on it, I want to. It feels like the right approach. I'm sticking with it.

It took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to break everything out, then another 30 minutes setting up some structural foundation so that moving forward all I have to do is sit down, pop open a document and start typing.

Once I set up my little foundation, my house was still super quiet, so I dug in. Before I knew it three hours had flown by and I had checked 00 and 01 off my list. HOLY MACARONI, that is some really exciting progress!

I should note that I have generated a lot of content for this project already — one of those things I started last year but never finished. I’d say I’m at about 60% complete right now, and the remaining 40% got shelved because it felt incredibly daunting. After breaking it down I feel more excited to finish. I hope I can ride the enthusiasm wave for a while!

Tomorrow will bring with it the day-to-day norms of work, getting kids to/from school and after school activities, recording episode 2 of our new #tinychallenges podcast, an interview with someone who's interested in having me write an article for them, some work on a new conference talk, and the day 04 installment of this here #tinychallenges daily journal. I will keep my target for the personal project tiny (5 minutes or less), because that is what #tinychallenges is all about. If more happens, I'll take it. 

See you tomorrow!

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When I Don't Start My Day With A List...

I’m a big fan of list making. I’ve done a few posts on it over the past year, including a couple YouTube videos on my process of having a master list, and extracting three priorities from that list each day for my sticky-note list. With the holidays I made the very conscious decision to let go of my schedule a bit and just see what happens. While I’ve found it to be relaxing and liberating, I’m starting to wonder if my personal project journaling is basically going to become a procrastinator’s log book. I’m still convinced that documenting things will help me look back and learn something valuable, though. So I’ll keep the journaling up! While today was all-in-all rather productive, the personal project that sits highest on my priority list saw none of my time again today. We’re 2 for 2. 

Here’s a funny thing. This is what happens to my day when I don’t start it with my sticky-note list. I HAVE to suspect other people operate this way but have to ask: do you ever start a task, then you realize you could knock out another task, and as you knock out this other ask you happen onto yet another sub-task, and before you know it you’re several levels deep into sub-tasks before you make your way back to the original task you started with. Does this happen to anyone else? 

I knew today would be a challenge to fit my personal project in when I made the decision to sleep past 5:30am. I woke at 6:30, fed the cats, and went to make coffee. My favorite mug wasn’t in the cabinet so I put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher. One of the cups had some dishwasher water cradled in the bottom of it which spilled onto the floor when I picked it up, so I went for a paper towel, but we had run out of paper towel. I went to the garage to grab a few rolls and since the toilet paper is right there, I grabbed a couple 4-packs while I was at it because I remembered the master bathroom and the kids bathroom were both running a little low. I passed the dryer on the way back in with my armload of paper goods, and remembered I washed/dried the bathroom rug because the cat had thrown up on it, so I could take that back to the bathroom and drop off the toilet paper. I set the paper towel down while I completed that task, and while I was putting the bathroom rug down I realized we had a whole load of laundry that needed to be done, so I went into the closet to collect the dirties and saw that I had a whole basket of cleans that needed to be put away so I started putting those away when I realized how much I really loved how clean my second drawer was from the clean-out I’d done last week, so I started cleaning out my third drawer to create that nice feeling I’d just experienced from second drawer. In order to finish my clean-out I needed a trash bag from the kitchen which reminded me I could take the dirties I’d collected back to the laundry room, start the load, and replenishing the paper towel supplies in the kitchen and finally return to my original task of making some coffee.  

The whole day played out like this, one thing leading into another, then another. It was a really good day and many things that needed to get done, got done. Yet I can’t help but feel like I failed a lot today because I didn’t spend that ONE HOUR on my personal project. If I learned anything from #tinychallenges, it's that sometimes we fail because we’re trying to take on more than we can reasonably handle given how much our day-to-day lives tend to require of us. SO. I’m going take a step back and stick to the #tinychallenges approach with my personal project tomorrow. I'm shifting the goal of working on my personal project for only 5 minutes tomorrow, first thing upon waking up. I’ll let you know how it plays out in tomorrow’s post.

See you then!