I wonder if there’s any point in this. And by “this,” I mean several things. The blog. The fight. The stress.
I’ve been writing on this blog every weekday for a long time now. Enough to accumulate almost 200 posts, and in that time I’ve never had a substantial amount of traffic come through. Things are fairly consistent: 22 people per day visit, on average. And although that’s great and all that, there have been zero positive results to come from it. I’ve likely lost gigs because of my writing here, and there’s always the risk that I could lose one of my current clients because of it as well. Because I never build up an audience, my goal for this entire site seems like it will never be reached. I’m in a position where nothing seems to ever come out of what I’ve done here, nor will it ever. As a result, my Twitter and Facebook feeds read like spam posts, and I’ve probably turned off quite a number of my friends. I might as well just buy a journal.
My fight with IBS just doesn’t seem to get better. Had another bout on Sunday, which killed about four hours from my day. A few months back, I went to a doctor to get a prescription, and was told I needed thousands of dollars in tests and several days off of work to get the problem solved. I couldn’t do either, so I bailed. Today, things are different — better insurance and understanding employers — but I’m still scared of what they’ll find. After Sunday’s bout, I decided that fighting against the problem wasn’t helping. Today, I’ll call.
I’m under a lot of pressure, both physically from the IBS and mentally from my workload. The two seem to combat each other all the time, and when I add in the pressure of working on this blog every day, it just doesn’t seem to help out. My stress level is unbelievable, and every day when I sit down to write out another post for this blog it becomes more of a chore than a fun thing to do. There’s no positive end. Just another thing to do that never seems to have a result other than adding to my Pepto Bismol budget.
So with that, I’m taking a break. I’ll be back when I’m back. If you need me, find me on Twitter: @kevinwhipps.
I used to be so good about handling my email. I’d get back to people quickly, respond with the necessary information and move on my way. But now, I’m just not doing so well with the massive influx of messages, and it’s killing my productivity. Let me explain how it works.
I have lots of clients, and therefore, lots of specialized email addresses. There are eleven active email addresses on my devices, which means that I have a lot of mail to sort through. Just last night I whittled my inbox down to 21 messages. I was happy with that, so I went to bed satisfied. I wake up and there are 21 new messages. No biggie, just click and delete a lot of them, but still, at least 10 to address. Then I had to do some basic morning stuff, plus we had to take KJ to a new school for an open house. When everything was sorted out a few hours later, I had 41 new messages, and at least 20 had to be addressed. By the time lunch hit, there were 75 messages in my inbox, all that needed my attention in one way or another.
I’ve done a lot of things to try to sort out the issue. I use rules in Apple Mail to filter and sort my email for me, that way I can cut down the lists in short order. Most of the time, my inbox displays all of the email in my inbox, but I sometimes filter it down to each individual account. This gives me less to sort through, and it’s easier to just tick them off the list this way. Still, it’s rough.
And then there’s this one client. They send me emails constantly throughout the day, in just a barrage of seemingly random facts and information. Nothing is clear, often I’m just trying to figure out what to do with no real understanding of what the problem really is. As a result, I don’t often communicate well with them, and that’s a problem.
My system needs a shift, and I’m not sure what it is. Some suggest checking your email just once a day, that way you can handle it all at once and get it done. But for me, that would result in hundreds of emails to take care of, which could easily lead to hours of additional work. I find it’s easier to knock stuff out in small batches, but even that isn’t really my forte. I’m not quite sure what the answer is.
What I may do is get a little bit more brutal in my filtering. Or I could just dedicate sections of my day to the task. Honestly, I just need to figure something out.
Yesterday, I met some of my coworkers at Envato (the parent company for AppStorm) for the first time. Being one of those guys who works mostly on the Internet means that you don’t often have a chance to speak to anyone you work with unless it’s via IM or email. Shaking hands and saying hi is a big step forward, and I really enjoyed it.
While talking to my colleagues, I realized that they all had these wild experiences with traveling the world. Each person had been overseas and spent a good amount of time in a country other than the United States. Holy shit was I jealous.
Although I was born in Montréal, I spent the first 18 months of my life there — that’s it. Other than a few trips to Mexico here and there, my life has been spent more in this country than anywhere else. I’ve never flown farther than Hawaii, and I received my first passport last year. Point is, I don’t get out much.
While talking to my coworkers, I learned of another person who lived in a beautiful part of England. Rolling green hills, farmland and one-lane roads as far as the eye can see. Sure, they have a hard time getting orange juice over there, but it sounds like an amazing place to live. Frankly, it seems like a place I could spend a lot of time.
I’m awfully xenophobic about going anywhere. Often, I’d rather just spend my days in my desk chair than on a flight, but I so badly want to see the rest of the world, I just have no idea when it’s going to happen.
Getting on a 14-hour flight with our toddler doesn’t sound like a good idea, and since we’re just five months away from having K4, I don’t see us going on any long trips anytime in the next three years or so. Even then, exploring Europe or Australia (my two big travel destinations) with kids doesn’t sound like a blast, and going without them sounds worse.
I know I’m making more of this than I need to, but I do really want to go out and see the world with my family. I just want to do it sooner rather than later, and I have no idea how that’s going to happen.
I’ve got a huge story to finish by the morning, I’m meeting one of my bosses for the first time tomorrow and I have lots still on my plate, but I wanted to say something real quick.
I don’t really care who you voted for in this past election, and I’m not going to tell you who I voted for. I was born in Canada, and about 10 years ago, I became a United States citizen. I was the last one in my family to convert (my sister was born in Boston, so she was fine, natch), but back then something made me hold onto my Canadian citizenship even though I had no real connection to the country. Becoming a U.S. citizen was a big deal for me — something a lot of Americans take for granted.
The important thing in this whole deal is that you voted. That you spoke your voice, no matter what your opinion may be. I don’t care if your thoughts are different than mine, I just want you to tell me why you feel the way you do, and explain it clearly. That’s the democratic process, and that’s what’s important.
I don’t think our process is perfect, and I do think it needs lots of work. But right now, it is what it is, and that’s what we’ve got to deal with. I did my part, make sure you do yours.
With that, back to deadlines.
I’ve reorganized my office at least four times in the past year or so, and recently, I did it again. Now, a few weeks in, how does it feel?
It sucks, and it needs to change.
I’ve written at length about my requirements with an office, so there’s no reason to rehash that all here. At the core of it all though, I need a few essentials.
These are all pretty simple things, and most of them have been addressed. I have a small couch in the corner that I use for daytime retreats, or when I need my inspiration to come forth from a place other than my desk. I have a comfortable chair, that, for the most part, does pretty good. It’s easy for me to move around and get to my stuff, it’s flexible enough for me to find what I need, and I have lots of storage. But the problem is putting all that in a 10X11 space.
The way things are configured currently, my walkways are pretty tight. It’s easy for me to catch my belt on a cabinet handle, or feel cramped when moving from one area or another. It’s so tight that KJ even has issues walking through, and that’s just not right.
Ultimately, the problem comes down to my couch. It’s a “necessity” that doesn’t easily fit in this space, particularly when I have a big desk in the middle. But it is used daily by either myself or my family, and it’s funny how often it becomes a place for us to all hang together. KJ likes to play “hide” with the pillows, and my wife and I will chat throughout the day there just to keep each other motivated. It’s cool.
So the couch has to stay. The desk, well that’s the next question. I’ve decided I’m going to buy a Geekdesk Max after recommendations from friends. It’s pricey, but compared to the competition, it’s a steal. If I get the 63-inch desk size, I’m exactly where I am today. I could drop to the 48-inch, but that’s pretty tiny; I can’t imagine losing seven inches or so on either side.
The final option here is storage. Right now, my storage is packed with LEGO sets, mostly because my toddler loves to play with them, and I’d rather that not happen. Until I give them all to him in a few years, I need someplace to put them, and I have no idea where that is. But because of them, I have two cabinets that would otherwise be unnecessary. I’m hoping to consolidate them or put them in some kind of storage so that I can keep them safe for KJ in the future, but get them out of my office.
There is another option, that’s a bit more complex. My office closet is fairly decent at 48X51 or so. Currently it stores our Christmas tree, a bunch of framed art, my monitor’s box (handy for moving), magazines in storage boxes, misc. equipment and my camera gear. Mostly, it’s a bunch of stuff in plastic bins, stacked high and sorted. The problem is that when it comes time to get out the tree, it’s a goddamned nightmare to pull it out.
So my thought is that if I restructure my closet a bit, add some shelves here and there, that I can have more room for more stuff. Should that happen, I may be able to get rid of the storage I have that’s holding my LEGO, which means that I’m clear and good to go.
There’s lots still to debate here, but until I rustle up the cash for the desk, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. For the moment, I’ve just got to deal with the weird placement of everything and figure it out from there.
That’s what she said. ↩