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Keeping Busy

September 23rd, 2011 · No Comments · Work, Writing

Upwards on onwardsNot having to punch a clock for someone else means ultimately I have to punch a clock for me. Self motiviation has never been a strong suit of mine, but the only way to get good at something is to practice and keep at it. The only person who can bring about success in my life is me, so I have to take charge of my time.

Here’s what fills up my day, when I’m not carousing at the biergarten or Oktoberfest:

  • Learning German
  • Right now this means spending at least thirty minutes a day with Rosetta Stone. I try to take care of this first thing in the morning, usually with breakfast. It’s a very defined task that’s good for a slightly unfocused brain, and it gets me in gear.

  • Blogging
  • This task feels the most indulgent, but it’s useful to capture and document this big transition in my life. Since I can tackle whatever I feel like with words and pictures it’s creative. But it is also social, as friends who are both here or far away can get a slice of my distinctive perspective. Another good thing from a psychological perspective is this is something I actually can complete within a given day. Since my other projects tend to have longer time horizons, this one has regular, tangible output, and that feels good and keeps me motivated on other goals.

  • Software Development
  • After ten years of mostly Visual Basic in Excel, you could say my brain has gotten a little soft. Learning iOS and Objective C has been a nice stretch. Until I get my bearings, I’ve been working through the chapters in iOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide and Programming in Objective-C. I ordered both for my Kindle, and keep them open on my iPad while I do the lessons on the MacBook Air. Yes, you can run Xcode 4 on the Air just fine, if you don’t mind the small screen. The Big Nerd Ranch Guide has been hugely helpful, and the lessons are grounded in real application development and practical experience. Ideally I can complete a chapter or two in a day.

    Sometimes I keep the tutorial books closed and roll up my sleeves and try to code something for myself. Mostly I focus on designing and implementing classes to be used as components in the apps I eventually want to make. I have a bit more work to do before I can actually build a complete app on my own.

  • Writing
  • While blogging is indeed writing, I have also undertaken writing some long-form fiction. That’s a humble way of saying I’m writing a novel. The first draft is up to 140 pages, and I’m probably less than half finished. It’s not really intended for a general audience, though. Specifically it is for grown ups who like things a bit “non-vanilla”. My intention when I started was to write some cerebral smut, but as it progressed, it got less smutty and more like a real novel. When it’s done, I’d love to publish it as a Kindle book, though mostly for shits and giggles. If it sold a dozen copies, I’d consider that a big success.

    The more important takeaway from doing this has been the realization that I could tackle writing a “real” novel after this. I enjoy the process a great deal, but it’s a lot of work.

Any day where I can check off each of these items feels like a productive, successful day. The novel has taught me that doing a little bit of something every day consistently can yield substanial results.

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