Project Update

Last project update happened in March. It should be relatively easy to tell that no updates on progress will tend to indicate no progress.
Considering the time that has lapsed since the last update, progress per unit time has been dismal. Fortunately, progress hasn’t been negligible, and I’m hoping that by writing about the small amount of progress I have achieved, I will be spurred into action.

To recap:
I’ve dropped office and work related things from this whole structured procrastination strategy. These are personal projects, for my own benefit. Not for the benefit of any other entity.
This leaves me with the following items in the structured procrastination list:

  1. Project A — Write the novel, “The Adventures of Commitment Man”
  2. Project B — Write 100 word stories for family and friends, and present them as gifts
  3. Play chess online
  4. Blog every day
  5. Take camera everywhere, and pretend to be a Japanese tourist

How are things going then? Since the last update on 9 March, some progress has been made, but not a hell of a lot:

  1. 903 new words were written, bringing the total number of words to 20,043. Appalling.
    So that you can get a full understanding of how appalling it is, consider that this is on average, 15.84 words per day — even though I wrote all of those words during one of the days since the last update.
    The average number of words per day, since I started NaNoWriMo, back in November, is 100.34.
    The shame of it.

    1. I also mentioned the creation of a handy mind-map plot and character diagram affair. Added nothing to it. At least it didn’t waste more time.
  2. One story completed. One. This is just not good enough. How am I ever going to make something of myself if I carry on in this fashion? The answer, naturally, is I’m not. Perseverance is key.
    It seems, at this rate, that some recipients really will get their gifts at Christmas — or worse — not at all.
    However, although only one has been completed, there are two stories waiting for editing (which in practise is hacking off up to third of the story, so that it meets the 100-words-long criterion).
    There is also 1 half-written story, and another waiting in the conceptual phase.
    In summary: 1 complete, 2 waiting for post-production, 1 in production, 1 at proof-of-concept phase. All this, over just 59 days. Bah!

    1. I’ve decided to break the family batch into two, in order to make it a little less intimidating. Thus, there will be a 5 story and a 4 story batch.
  3. Chess. There have been some games. I am bad at chess on-line, generally because the games are too fast-paced.
    How do I quantify my progress, in terms of actually playing chess on the server? I suppose I can post my rated games stats. Then, the next time I arbitrarily feel like giving you all an update, I’ll post them again. Then my loyal readers can see for themselves how apathetic I’ve been. Apologies for the icky formatting. I’ll look into it. Perhaps a screenshot will be easiest.On for: 9 mins Idle: 0 secsrating RD win loss draw total best
    Blitz 1069 141.5 15 39 3 57 1508 (28-Nov-1998)
    Standard 1998 350.0 2 2 0 4
    Lightning 1225 196.3 9 28 0 37
    Wild 1859 271.9 3 6 0 9
    Crazyhouse 1341 345.4 0 5 0 5
    Suicide 1346 350.0 2 12 0 14
    Atomic 1562 198.0 1 3 0 4

    Total time online: 2 days, 1 hr, 32 mins
    % of life online: 0.1 (since Thu Jul 2, 17:00 ??? 1998)

  4. Blog every day. Success rate on that has been 26.32%, although this doesn’t take into account multiple posts on a single day.
    Is just over a quarter any good? If 26% BEE ownership is good enough for the Department of Minerals and Energy, then it’s good enough for me.
    Aren’t logical fallacies great?
    And isn’t it great when I use the term, “logical fallacy,” but in all honesty am not completely certain of it’s definition.
  5. I am not a Japanese tourist, although I do have a minor guilt complex about the camera, and do tend to take it to more places than I may have taken my previous camera.
    764 pictures taken. That’s 12.95 pictures per day. Not sure how many photos the stereotypical Japanese tourist takes in a day. Google is no help on this. I assume it’s probably quite a young research field.

When I started writing this, it was meant to be a motivational piece for myself. It seems a little self-deprecating, when I look at it now.

Some focus is required as to which project is most important. Is the structured procrastination strategy really effective, in the long run? Am I really achieving a great deal of useful, meaningful things.
Honestly — no. I’m not getting anything done.
The question that follows is: what do I want to get done? Is there an end goal for each task? Yes. There is.

At this point I should probably apologise for the excessive waffle (although it is waffle group, and you knew that when you bought the tickets). Feel free to give up at this point, and go about your business (as if you were somehow restrained before). I usually try to remain at least somewhat coherent in what I write. I offer no such guarantees from this point on, at least today. What I write now is information I need to keep a record of for myself, and that I can refer to. By putting it out on the intertubes, I can try to make it binding. It’s in writing. I’m committed. I have to stick to it.

Right — back to the end goals of each task. What do I want to achieve? Let’s use those handy numbered lists again.

  1. I want to write a novel. I know that I can. I know there’s a market for the kind of thing that I like to write. Look at the internet. The geeky, fanboy, in-joke, population of the internet is just waiting for me to finish commitment man, so that they can ingest it ravenously, and be somewhat amused. And hey, if amongst all that quirky entertainment, I can also make some sort of point, that’ll be great.
    And if it makes me a little money, that’ll be even better. For myself, I just need to finish writing the damned thing. I passed Chemical Engineering Design — I can do frigging anything, and that includes writing a full-length book.
    Desired end-product: A complete, unedited novel. I’ll worry about making it publishable once it actually exists.
  2. Show my friends and family that I care about them by giving them gifts that I created, and not just bought, pre-packaged, just-add-water.
    This one is actually quite easy. By making the stories short, it isn’t a huge mountain to climb to achieve the end result. The most difficult part is figuring out what to write. What topic to choose. What event in our shared past to focus on? What aspect of the person’s personality to celebrate? And then, having chosen that thing the story is to highlight, condensing all of the details of those shared experiences into something so brief. That’s the hard part. 100 words just isn’t enough, but if I let myself write more then I’d probably never have finished one of the stories.
    Desired end-product: A gift for each of the people I hold dear. This is tricky though. As I get to know certain people better, it becomes clear to me that I need to write these previously unknown, but now well-known people a short story. Have I got myself into an endless cycle, out of which I can only break by refusing to get to know anyone else? Will anyone really be offended if they don’t get their story, but that other person did? Do people really care that much about me that they’d get offended over something like that?
    Desired end-product — revised: A written gift for each of the people I held dear at the time I devised the project, and whose names I placed on The List. If you weren’t on The List at the outset, you may have to cope with not receiving a 100 word story.
  3. Nothing to achieve here. I don’t take chess as seriously as I used to. It’s fun to play, but I don’t feel the urge to set quantifiable goals, like rating improvements, or number of games played, or any of the other stuff I could set. This one is truly a structured procrastination device. I’ll play chess, when I’m avoiding the Project A and B — which I should try not to avoid.
    Desired end product: None
  4. Blogging every day? What for? I’ll blog when I feel the need, or have a compulsion. The only reason I can think of blogging every day is to make statements of affirmation.
    Desired end product: Blog when I feel like it, otherwise make an affirmation every day (although this might begin to annoy my readers, I suspect it will get me to work on Projects A and B with more vigour)
  5. Take photos. This means getting away from the damned, cursed, evil, computer machine and its collection of tubes to other places that suck away the time and leave a would be project completer without completed projects.
    Desired end product: Take photos of the real world. Get away from the virtual one.

Ok, that was helpful. I’ve identified that the writing projects are what i really want to do. Getting away from the computer screen is also recommended, from time to time. Blogging and playing chess are not necessary.
File this under obvious, I suppose, but it has helped me to remind myself of these things.

Further, I think I need to stop reading crap on the internet. If I intend to read something, it must be printed — i.e. a book. If I intend to waste time reading crap on the internet, rather work on project A or B, or play some chess, or blog an affirmation. Or take a photo. or get back to work. Those are now the options.

Ok. Summary of the intended plan:

  1. No random browsing on the internet. Internet reading is to be restricted to information gathering for a particular purpose — and then stop. Stay away from slashdot.
  2. Google Reader will be not quite banned, but will be severely restricted. No more reading all the tech stories. Comic feeds are acceptable (I only have 3). Friends feeds are acceptable (because my friend’s blogs are updated intermittently, not constantly). That’s it.
  3. Email is still allowed. Links that I receive via email will be followed, but that’s it! No other random internet crap will be explored. No links from within linked stories will be followed.
  4. If I feel the urge to explore random crap on the internet at any time, instead I will do one of the following:
    1. Blog
    2. Project A
    3. Project B
    4. Play chess
    5. Take photos
    6. Read a book that I can hold in my hands
  5. Project A and B are going to be completed, and this kind of focus is the only way to get it done. I’m going Nazi on myself

If you’re still reading this, I’m flattered. But seriously, you’ve got better things to do too, so do them already. Procrastination will leave you withered and hollow at the end of your time, with no sense of accomplishment or meaning.
You know exactly what I mean. You know the way you feel when you wasted a whole day doing random crap that achieved nothing, or made no inroads into achieving something that you desperately would like to have edged closer to. You know you don’t want to go on like that any more — so don’t.

The waffle is finally over for today.

5 thoughts on “Project Update”

  1. Hmm, I’m confused. I didn’t see post the same blog update twice on the list.

    Seriously though. Good luck with it. Hope it works out.

  2. That’s an excellent point. Firefox crashed just as I posted, so I thought it hadn’t gone through to the server.
    I’ll delete the other one.

  3. Ok, a few salient points:
    1.In the short term , procrastination feels great. We both know this. People always say ‘think about how great you will feel once you have achieved XXXX’, but it seems to me that the whole motivation behind the feelings is different, so they aren’t really comprable.

    2. Little by little is good. But the internet is evil. Also, I feel like a gauntlet has been thrown in terms of sending you miscellaneous links or updating my blog semi-daily to vex the family.

    3.Sometimes a mountain seems enormous, and then you remember: I received (and loved;)) my personalised gift, as did Kyle. I understand that you want to make a time frame, but sometimes giving people gifts to let them know you care about them is ok, no matter when it happens.

    These were my best supportive, non self-deprecating feedbacks. Yes, feedbacks is a plural. Like the opposite of ‘pant’.

  4. Dear jenbug,

    1. Procrastination does feel great. Short term, but instantaneous, rewards. The feedback loop making you crave more short term instantaneous rewards. Over and over until you realise you have become addicted to the bottomless reservoir of pointless crap that is the intertubewebwebs.
    Then, when you sit there all day just reading random, useless, meaningless stuff, this empty feeling starts to emerge. It felt good all day while I did nothing, but at the end of the day I look back and see that I did nothing — then I get sad, because I have these things that I’d really like to get done, but involve consistent, regular effort. And it’s harder than reading crap on the web. And it takes longer before the reward part kicks in.
    However, we know the reward is so much more, and it is never marred by the empty “oh crap I did nothing meaningful today” problems that haunt extensive procrastinatory behaviours.

    2. the internet is evil. See point 1.
    As for gauntlets being thrown — take up the challenge. I am under no obligation to follow all links, I just allow myself to, should I choose to do so. If they are not deemed useful, my system should manage to properly regulate it.

    3. The gifts. There isn’t really a time frame for completion. There is a desire for completion. If I don’t force myself to work on them, or rather, prevent myself from doing other things, then I run the risk of never completing them and just reading slashdot comments all day.
    Enormous mountains need to be slowly chiselled away at, but instead of doing that I find myself using the chisel to dig little holes in the sand nearby the mountain. They aren’t very big holes, so the wind blows and fills them up really quickly and the next day there isn’t even any evidence of the holes that once were.
    Got to chip away at that mountain instead, because the marks I leave there are lasting, although the stone of the mountain is much tougher than the soft sand near its base.

    Wow. In quite a metaphorical mood today, am I not?

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