A Post a Day, December 2014

I’m going make one post a day to Nuketown in December 2014. It’s a busy month to do it, and I may regret it as things ramp up for the holidays, but damn it, something must be done.

I made two posts in November. Before that, there hadn’t been a post to the site since August.

It’s sad, it’s frustrating, and it’s gotta change. My goal here isn’t to increase traffic to Nuketown (though that would be nice). It’s about finding time — some how, some way — to reflect on life, liberty, and the pursuit of geekdom. It’s about finding time to hit the pause button when all the world wants to do is keep racing by.

Making changes to my workflow — both at my job and at home — has been on my mind for quite a while, but it crystalized when I went to HighEdWeb 2014 in Portland, Oregon. HighEdWeb is the annual conference for higher ed web professionals, and it’s one of the highlights of my year.

The best session at the conference (as voted by all of the attendees, including me) was David Cameron’s (Ithaca College) “Human at Work or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Get Better at My Job” presentation. The presentation was about a lot of things, but one of the big takeaways for me was that creative time is something that you need to defend. It doesn’t matter if it’s a project at work or a blog post at home, you need to figure out a way to defend that time.

It’s hard, because it’s so easy to cannibalize that time in the name of false productivity (“I’m just going to knock out these 1,125 emails, and then I’ll work on that Moodle project”), yet another meeting, or helping people solve their own problems. As Cameron pointed out though, concrete, consistent blocks of project time are necessary for keeping our own sanity. You can’t do your best if you’re constantly working on things in 15 minute increments; you need to be able to focus.

Cameron referenced the book Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, and I made sure to buy it before leaving Portland. I devoured the book on the flight back to Pennsylvania, and I’ll be writing about it more later this month.

The key thing I took away from it — and from Cameron’s presentation — is that in the past I’d done all the things they recommended. I had discrete blocks of time for working on projects. I had a balance of work projects and hobbies that kept my mind engaged, sharp, and hungry. The thing is … it happened by accident. It happened because I was young, didn’t have kids, and had far fewer responsibilities.

Nowadays I can’t rely on luck to find time to work on my projects. I have to purposefully schedule that time … and then defend it. To be sure, this is something I have done — I was certainly already on the road to increased focus — but it wasn’t enough. I need to be more rigorous … and more importantly, I need to make sure my own creative time — including Nuketown — is factored into the mix.

Thus, Post-a-Day. I’m allocating 60 minutes a day to writing for Nuketown — 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at night. I think it’s a reasonable allocation of time for writing — I want to write shorter posts anyway; imposing a 30-minute limit reinforces that.

I will cheat a bit. I have a few old GameCryer.com articles I want to re-print on Nuketown so I can complete my Star Wars: Saga Edition reviews, but even then I plan on revising them to include actual play notes.

So here we go. Thirty-one days. Thirty-one posts. Wish me luck.