Initiating new-stuff-lockdown


Posted by Steven

The last months have been great in terms of good stuff happening both in my private and professional life. I’m very happy with the multiple projects I’m working on in the company and the additional handful of pet-projects I’m doing on the side. However, life was so generous to me lately, that one or two opportunities too many have presented themselves to me. I often joke that 24 hours in a day is not enough time to act on all the great ideas. Generally, that isn’t a problem because most ideas can be stored away and acted upon at a later time. But when the amount of stored ideas gets too big, they begin to consume my energy level nevertheless. My rational side has archived them to be reviewed at least once a month to decide if the time to act has arrived. Still, it’s like my unconsciousness remembers those ideas and wants to act on them.

I came to the conclusion that it’s time for a bigger maintenance activity. Right now, I’m running in a mode best described as “I know I’m working on a lot of projects in parallel” and I want to go to “I know I’m working very focused on the most important projects in parallel”. To achieve this state, I simply could stop working on all the other things and only continue working on a small subset of projects, dropping all the progress I achieved already and potentially dismissing commitments I gave to other people. I decided that would not be the right way to focus my activities, so I will do the following: 

Starting from today (10th of March 2019) and ending on the 30th of April 2019, I will reject adding new projects or even tasks to my backlog. I will instead empty my projects- and task-lists by finishing the items on those lists. I think it’s like a full water drum that gets drained without letting more water into the drum. Of course, I have to define some exceptions from this new limitation. I will allow new projects and tasks from exactly three contexts. First, my main project in the company continues to get full attention, including accepting new responsibilities and tasks. That’s what I get paid for. Second, new commitments and projects regarding my family and close friends are also supported if they are important and urgent. Third and last, I know that the upcoming Javaland conference will spawn many interesting ideas and notes I want to process as soon as possible. Because I already am a speaker at this event, I will fulfill my commitment and do everything that is needed to make this project successful.

Like in all projects, I will need a metric of success. I choose to count all the lesser important projects and tasks from the lists where I manage them and use this sum as a metric. I hope that this sum will be zero at the end of the lockdown.

Here’s my list of lesser important projects and tasks:

  • 26 tasks and projects in todo.txt, an originally temporary storage for ideas and notes that somehow developed into a full-grown project and task list.
  • 25 tasks and projects in an OneNote page, regarding the architecture for my main project. This is where items could continue to spawn, which would be OK. However, my goal is to get rid of this list altogether.
  • 1 OneNote page that was originally designed to be a tracking list for my projects. It never really came to life and I think it was the first attempt to bring more order in the high number of projects I’m juggling right now. I think this page too should disappear.
  • 16 projects in an OneNote page for one of the teams I’m supporting. It contains ideas for new projects, reports of projects done and also tracking for projects currently in work. I think that I will still need this place in the future. However, I should deal with all the small projects soon.
  • Android-Phone-Project: In late 2018, I bought myself a new phone and wanted to upgrade the old one manually with a custom ROM to give it to my wife. I did not take the time to do that, but want to.
  • 17 tasks and projects in a list in my phone. This list was supposed to be just an inbox but developed somehow into more, just like the todo.txt mentioned above.
  • 30 tasks and projects in my main project list in my organizer. It’s OK to have a high number of projects here, however some of them are a couple of months old. My goal here is to finish most of the projects and tasks and re-organize the other ones.
  • Clean desk: I’m a fan of tidy workplaces. However, my home office desk attracted some sheets of paper with notes on them. The goal here is to get this desk clean.

To keep track of my progress and further motivate myself, I’ll write update-posts in my blog.

Let’s see how this will work out. :)

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