Month: August 2007

Weekly Update: Web Focus

This week I managed to get my new web site design and first draft of the blog design up!

  • Fitness: Still consistent! I forgot to exercise on Thursday (missed the noon swim time) but otherwise have been good at going to the gym and/or walking on the other days.
  • Routines: Pretty good at keeping track of my food, although I was a bit lax on some of my morning routines. It’s  hard to have morning routines when your house is half-packed, I’ve decided. This next week is our final push to pack everything before we move on Saturday, so I probably will have another two weeks of poor routines.
  • Custom Shadow Box: I’ve had some inquiries placed, which is encouraging! No official orders yet, but then again, I haven’t started officially marketing. (Nor do I have a plan for that yet.)
  • Branding: Huge leap forward with finally getting my new web and blog design out. Still lots of tweaks to be made, but I’m very happy to have gotten the bulk of the work done.
  • Work: Got the short end of the stick. Monday was my day off to work on my site design, and Tuesday ended up being a mostly off day as I had some last-minute dentist and eye appointments made (last-minute standard cleaning, not anything bad — they had an opening that was very convenient). But I did wrap up a project and made some good progress on other ones, so I’m satisfied overall!

The tenants are moved out of our new place, so this weekend and most of next week’s evenings will be spent prepping and painting the interior (on top of trying to finish packing…)! We’re moving into a four-bedroom duplex with another couple so that we can both save on rent money. The husband’s dad owns the rental, so we get to paint the interior nice colors (and are getting the linoleum and carpet and stove replaced, as well!). No murals this time. 😉

Thanks to this week’s commentating visitors: Brandon, Penny, Shawn Hyde, LizB, JKD, Angela Yee, Bronwyn, Doodah, Entropicon, Marcia, organising queen, funDiva Christy, John (I couldn’t tell if this was a spam comment or not, actually), Janine, Joni, @Stephen.

Blog under construction

Last night I did a quick-and-dirty switch to the WordPress Sandbox theme and copied, tweaked, and hacked at my CSS to get it into a rough working condition. I think it took about an hour and a half, in between watching kittens play and selling off a chair to a Craigslist person, so I’m talking very quick and dirty! It mostly works in Firefox right now, although I noticed some text spacing issues with IE6 (apart from the non-png transparency issues), but please leave a comment if you notice anything else funky. One thing new is that I have TWO sidebars to play with (right now one is mostly hidden) so I get to figure out what I want to do about that! And I might change the color, because although I like the blue on its own, it clashes a bit with the teal WordPress Admin bar when I’m logged in (which is all the time).

I do like the background effect that I ended up with, however — less “messy” than my site, so I’m thinking about switching the site now!

Anyway – don’t be surprised if you see things moving about frequently. Or just stick to your RSS reader and wait until I ask for official bug testing. 🙂

Update: I changed to teal from blue and played with sidebar stuff and gave myself a new headline (“This is my blog. I can be wordy. But I take cute photos of kittens, so it’s all good.”). Now I need to get to work, so I’ll leave this as-is for now!

Funny cats

Nutmeg keeps jumping into the kitten pen (relocated to our hall bathroom) and bringing out the cat toys and depositing them in the hall or office. We’ll pick them up and toss them back into the bathroom. Not too long afterwards, we find mice and tasseled balls in the hallway again. This picture below shows her with ALL of the cat toys in the office, after bringing them out one at a time.

Nutmeg bringing out cat toys

Tofu fell asleep in my lap. She started up sitting up with her head leaning on my stomach, then slowly tipped backwards.

Tofu asleep in my lap

Before we relocated the kittens to the bathroom, they loved to jump up and slide down the table legs over and over again. I miraculously managed to get a picture of Sophie at the apex of her leap. It was one of my favorite things to watch.

Kittens sliding down pole

For a while, only Tofu was interested in solid food. Then all of a sudden, all the other kittens started eating. Except Rocket. He takes it as a chance to nurse. Here are some silly pictures, taken at different times, of Rocket trying to nurse during mealtimes.

Rocket nurses while the others eat.

Rocket nursing while the others eat.

Rocket nurses while the others eat.

By the way — our cat barrier has gone from three file boxes to four boxes high. That Rocket — he’s way too advanced a jumper for his age, in my opinion.

In the evenings, one of our favorite things is to close ourselves in the office with all the kittens and watch them run around like crazy. They love to climb the first level of bookshelves, get into the fun tunnels of boxes and stuff we have piled up in the corner, and chase each other around. We end up with some cuteness like this:

Rocket sitting in a basket.

Unfortunately after the kittens run around for 20 minutes, Nutmeg’s eyes dilate, her tail starts swishing, and she starts seeing the kittens as prey. She has stalked and tackled them at times to the point where they squeal and cry. Nutmeg is probably pretty young and just wants to play herself, but she has a rather unfair advantage with her size (especially when she has them by the throat and starts kicking at them!), so it’s goodbye to Nutmeg for now during evening playtime.

Organizing interview meme

Marcia tagged me, so I’ll play:

1. What is your most difficult organizational challenge?
Art and craft supplies. According to It’s All Too Much, I should be purging a ton and then limiting myself to the space I have on hand. The hard part is that I really do use most of it — just not very often! Or is that what everyone says? My second most difficult organizational challenge has been a tiny apartment kitchen, but that’s about to change in two weeks!

2. Who inspires you?
Lots of people! Anyone who is living with passion. Anyone who does something that I think is cool. Anyone who writes well about their lives.

3. How did you start organizing?
When I was four or five, I realized that markers and crayons looked pretty cool when all spread out in a long row, ordered by color. Does that count?

Otherwise, I suppose it would have to be in high school, when I found that it was important to keep track of things that were going on so I wouldn’t forget them. It helped that one of my sisters gave me my first DayRunner as a Christmas present.

4. What do you love about organizing?
I like making things more efficient, which I think organizing does (once you get over the initial organizing part of it!). I also like having objects “fit” in a space as if they were meant to go there. I wish I had a picture of my freshman year dorm room — I still can’t believe how much stuff I was able to fit in my half of the room while allowing everything to “have it’s place”!

5. What is your guilty pleasure?
French fries. The thin-cut fast food type, not restaurant-style. McDonald’s or Burger King, specifically. In-n-out ‘well done’ fries are an okay substitute.

Hmmm… the only other official organizer I know is my sister, but I don’t know if she has time to answer these questions! So, if you’re a reader and have an interest in organizing, please consider yourself tagged! redesign

Previous rounds: v1, v2, v2.1

As I mentioned in my August goals review, I was going to try to carve out time on 8/13 to work on getting my new web site design up.

And I did!

The rest of this week, I’m going to try to commit an hour each day to clean things up.

  • The older HTML is a bit sloppy, and I want to make it a little bit more semantic (using strong instead of bold, for example).
  • I changed “services and rates” to just “rates” and “portfolio” to “work,” so the page titles (and file names?) will need to reflect this change.
  • I need to weed older stuff out of my portfolio and add some newer projects.
  • I might switch to the larger thumbnail (bottom of the home page) for the main work page.
  • I want to think about what else I can do for the right column and dividing sections. Something with the headings? Some sort of divider? It’s missing something, but I’m not sure what quite yet. Maybe more fun/whimsy.
  • I want to think of more clever things to put in the talk bubble for each section.

I can’t say that I love this new design (whereas I do love my Custom Shadow Box design), but it will do for now. 🙂

Measuring productivity poll

Dave Seah is having an informal “how do you measure productivity pre-poll,” by which I mean, the poll is currently more about your to-do list than about how you actually measure productivity. Here are the questions:

  1. How many tasks are on your To Do list?
  2. How many tasks are you getting done a day, on average?
  3. Are you satisfied with what you’re getting done?
  4. What makes a task hard to start?

And my answers:

  1. How many tasks are on your To Do list? My main to-do list is housed at Remember The Milk, which holds all of my immediate next-action lists for both work and personal stuff as well as “waiting” and “someday” items. I have about 37 next-actions, which range from two-minute to half-day tasks. This does not include the inevitable 2-5 work-related tasks per day that come up on their own, from customer requests to starting the next next-action on a project to “life.”
  2. How many tasks are you getting done a day, on average? While it sort of depends on how long the tasks take, I think my average falls around 6-10 tasks. Of course, I’ve had days where I’ve only completed one or two tasks because they were things like “redo all pages of xxxxxx project.”
  3. Are you satisfied with what you’re getting done? Yes, at least if I speak for last week!
  4. What makes a task hard to start? A task is hard to start if I think it will take a long time or if I feel inadequate to the task. The good thing I’ve been learning is that my pessimistic time estimates for things I don’t want to do are usually way off, and if I just start them for the sake of checking them off my list, they usually don’t take very long. Feeling inadequate to a task is a tricky one; usually I only say “yes” to things I know that I can deliver or to things that I’m excited to learn more about, so if I really feel inadequate (don’t know how to do it and don’t think I can learn how to do it), it’s a hard roadblock to overcome.

Some thoughts about the poll’s meta-question, “How do you measure productivity?” and the meta-question’s meta-question, “How can I be happy?” (which Dave phrases as “How can I make time for the people in my life while maintaining optimum forward momentum in my work?”) They may not be direct answers but somehow they relate in my mind.

  • I feel satisfied about my day when I have done one or more of the following things:
    • Checked off the to-do items that I thought I could do today
    • Spent quality time with loved ones
    • Made a conscious choice to do something, or not (for example, choosing to not work on a weekday in order to do something else)
    • Overcome an obstacle
  • I think I can summarize the above: I feel satisfied about my day when I have been in control of the things I can control: myself and my choices. Did I choose to work hard, or did I allow laziness to overwhelm me? Did I choose to relax and “be lazy,” or did I let emails and the pressure of a to-do list drive me at a frenetic pace?
  • Interestingly, my satisfaction level doesn’t often correlate with how “productive” I was, although I’d say that I generally enjoy being productive.
  • Some of my projects are discrete entities with a specific end-date, after which I can send them off and never deal with them again and cross them off my project list. Other projects — like laundry, cleaning cat litter, and web maintenance — just keep going and going and going. I can be very productive with maintenance tasks, but sometimes doing them is not very satisfying because I know I’ll be doing them again next week.
  • Do I think of “being happy” and “living a balanced life” as equivalent statements, as Dave as sort of defined them in his own post? While I can be happy about living a balanced life and while not living a balanced life can lead to unhappiness, I think being happy could be a choice in itself despite circumstances. My day might get away with me and I can be disappointed with not accomplishing as much as I thought I would, but ultimately I can be happy and grateful for the day that I ended up with and the fact that I am loved.
  • My values and beliefs include the concept of stewardship — that all I am given, including my time, is something to be used and invested well. I’m not great at it, but this value definitely affects how I view using my time and why getting lots done seems to be important.
  • At the same time, my other values and beliefs should help to define what kinds of things I want to spend my time on. I think this second part is harder for me as I’m not as much of a big-picture person. Not having a big picture to work towards, however, can be frustrating because then I don’t feel like I’m “really” accomplishing anything of value despite all my checked-off to-do lists.
  • Which puts me in a bit of an angsty mood; I have plenty of goals (as you can tell from my monthly reviews), but I’m still lacking a calling, or vocation, for my life, at 29 years of age. Ack!

And on that happy note, I’ll get to work!

Slow reading week

Working hard this week = less reading.

Finished reading:

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – I picked this book up because it was one of entropicon’s favorite books and the title sounded interesting. The book mostly follows a pair of fraternal twins, jumping back and forth between past and present, but as it develops you start to see how the twins were deeply wounded in their childhood by adults who are supposed to take care of them while the adults are living out of wounds of their own. The language is beautiful but I felt sad at the end as there wasn’t really any redemption, just more wounds all around.

With a bookmark:

(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • The Miracle of St. Anthony by Adrian Wojnarowski
  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

About to pick up from the library:

  • Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

Weekly Update: Productivity Galore!

I’ve got a set of new monthly goals and pushed the routines reset button this week. This combination has resulted in an extremely productive and satisfying week.

  • Fitness has been pretty consistent with visiting the gym three times a week with Steve. And, starting TODAY, I’m working in some kind of heart-healthy 30 minutes minimum exercise on the non-gym days. (I’m planning to go to the university pool to swim laps at noon — I have my bag packed already!)
  • Filling out my routine and food bubbles has been going consistently as well this week. The one thing I’ve been slacking on is harp — my last lesson is in a week and a half*, so I think I’m uninspired to improve.
  • Custom Shadow Box moved forward one more step as I designed business cards yesterday morning.
  • Branding hasn’t been doing anything, but I have a plan now!
  • Work has been great. I’ve been energetically working hard all week, making lots of forward progress on my projects and making clients happy.

This weekend we’ll be celebrating my father-in-law’s birthday and getting more packing done. My goal is to purge and pack the office closet, which has become a sort of catch-all for hobbies and crafts. As a bonus, I’d like to also pack up the pantry items that I’m not going to be using.

I forgot to thank commenting-visitors last week, so here is two weeks’ worth: Doodah, Penny, Angela (who has a new web site!), Tonia, Dave, Kate, Gilda, Liza’s Eyeview, Entropicon, Gene Wong, bijouhamtaropika, Britt, Organising Queen (Marcia), ddrdancer, Michael, and @Stephen!