Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm Not a Forty-Year-Old Kid Any More: Time, Organization, Energy, and Priorities

My wife told me that she'd like to see more of me. Apart from giving me reason to question her aesthetic sensibilities, it brought me back to an issue that I'd noticed.

Properly Prioritizing Projects

Several promising projects have slid off the back burner, and are somewhere behind the stove now. These include:
  • Artwork for an existing website
  • A new website's
    • Graphic Design
    • Site architecture
      (fancy talk for organization and navigation)
    • Copy
    • Artwork
  • Content for a somewhat-lapsed blog
I'd known that I'd been letting a bit of the non-urgent slip by, but hadn't realized how big that pile behind the stove was.

Worse, I realized that I hadn't been spending as much time with my wife and kids as I could - and probably should - have.

Sound familiar? Nothing new here.

This week I took a deep breath, and about a half hour, to think about where my time and energy was going.

I'm Not a Forty-Year-Old Kid Any More

The first thing I decided was that it was time to admit my limitations.
  • I need sleep
    • At regular intervals
    • Around 8 hours a day
  • When I don't sleep I get tired
    • When I get tired I get stupid
    • When I get stupid my productivity goes down
  • I need exercise
    • There's a cartoon, doctor saying to patient, "What will fit better into your daily schedule: exercising for one hour, or being dead for 24?"

Family is Important

Sure, an exciting, rewarding career and a thriving business is fine (I'll let you know when I've got both!), but there's not much point to either if you don't have, and keep up with, your family. At least, that's the way I see it.

Urgent and Important Aren't the Same Thing

I've been paying attention lately to blog posts and website issues that needed to be dealt with now, or sooner. That sort of thing can be distracting.

Details are Important - So is the Big Picture

I've let two things happen: Concentrated on the details of keeping an ambitious set of blogs and websites fairly up to date; added little tasks one at a time, until the principle of the camel's back applies. Since I'm the entire staff, as well as the manager and head of the company, I can't let the detail work become overwhelming.

Or, rather, I shouldn't have.

Reality Check and the Next Step

I don't do my best work after about 10 or 11 at night. What made me aware of that was a late-nighter I did recently, when I couldn't think of the word "pretentious." For me, that was spooky: like a driver not being able to remember where the switch for the headlights is.

So, I'm cutting back my workload: to get better work out of me; make more time for my wife and family; and have the brains, energy, and creativity I'll need to spark up "Easy Griller" and "Minnesota for Web-Wise Travelers," and create "Loonfoot Falls," the website.

It's probably going to mean lower traffic in the short run, since the biggest time-eater right now is "Apathetic Lemming of the North." I've been doing six posts a day - mostly what I call 'micro-reviews.' It's fun to do, people like to visit, but I think I need to grow other places online.

We'll see how this works.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Microsoft Update and Zone Alarm: a Tribute to Tech Support

I didn't spend Wednesday morning of this week as I'd planned. A Microsoft Windows update and my household's firewall software (Zone Alarm) didn't get along, resulting in my being entirely cut off from the Internet.

If I'd just read the home page of Zone Alarm's publisher, I'd have known what was going on - but that's not a practical possibility when my browsers aren't allowed online. (More, at "ZoneAlarm Microsoft Update Cuts Internet Access " Apathetic Lemming of the North (July 9, 2008).)

Several crews are tearing up the street outside, so one possibility was that communications in general were down. Nope - the phone worked.

I called our telephone provider (Charter), assuming that the problem could be in the rather complicated data connections we enjoy these days. As it turned out, the house's modem was a bit temperamental, but once that was fixed, I still couldn't get online.

That's when the person at Charter tech support learned about the Microsoft update and Zone Alarm issue. Problem solved. Sort of.

It involved uninstalling that update - and having my computer trying to reset itself at annoyingly frequent intervals. But, at least I was online again.

Which, for a business that exists strictly in cyberspace, is rather important.

It's sort of like a business owner coming to work in the morning, and finding out that someone had changed the locks.

Why this post? Two things:

  1. I don't think tech support, and the people who work in that department, always get the positive feedback they deserve - This is a sort of 'Thank You'
  2. This little incident is a good illustration of how much businesses can rely on technology and infrastructure - communications infrastructure, in this case
Postscript - This morning, after collecting a bit of information and sleeping on it, I upgraded Zone Alarm. I should be good to go - for a while, at least.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Reacting to Events Before They Happen

"Seasonal Traffic and How to Capture It for Your Blog"
ProBlogger (July 4, 2007)

"Don’t Miss Seasonal Opportunities on Your Blog for Spectacular Traffic. Read to the bottom of this post for an example of how I’ve used the same content three times in 18 months to generate 50,000 page views on one post.

"One of the skills that I encourage bloggers to develop is to think ahead about what events might be coming up that will impact the niche that you’re writing about.

"The web is a fairly rhythmic place and every year there are waves of activity across search engines and other websites that are quite predictable...."

In common with most reasonably valid advice, this is mostly common sense.

It's interesting, though, to see the 41 comments that accumulated during the year that this post has been up.

The post has examples, charts, and links to related posts.

All in all, a pretty good resource.

("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

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