Things have been changing a lot for me personally lately. Stress, lack of time, meetings at strange hours of the morning (or evening) due to time zone constraints and difficult project deadlines have been conspiring to keep me from doing much of anything beyond work. In addition, throw in the site's Squarespace upgrade, which put a crimp in all of my blog posting workflows, and you've got a recipe for an empty RSS feed to show for it.
Getting out of the habit can be a dangerous thing as far as writing goes because getting back to it can often prove to be a surprisingly massive task. I'm sure smarter and better writers than I can come up with the explanations for this.
The forced hiatus from writing has given me some time to explore other things and the frantic pace of the current project schedule has me stretching my abilities with regards to juggling dozens of tasks and managing the needs of many people during the course of a given day.
Watching What I Save
The busy schedule has forced me to pare down what I read, save, analyze and send to co-workers and friends. Lately, a tech article has to be big before I send it somewhere for later reading. My Instapaper feed and Pinboard have filled up so much started examining what was going into them with a much more critical eye.
With each potential link, I'd find myself asking some basic questions.
"How long is this?"
"Will I ever actually read this later?"
"How is this issue going to affect me in the short term?"
I often find that it is harder to recover from these types of overburdened states when you pile things too high. You end with a feeling of helplessness when you look at an RSS feed that says "1000+" and pages of unread Instapaper articles. Stack those with the unending sea of email, social streams, magazines and books and you have a daunting hill to climb.
Switching my focus from Twitter to App.net has disrupted things. I want to devote enough time to App.net that I can stay on top of how quickly that exciting community is changing and adjusting. New app updates for alpha apps are released on a near-daily basis.
Why bother with App.net or Twitter? Those who know my distaste for people in the past have always been curious about my love of Twitter. For someone as occasionally misanthropic as I am to want to see what others are saying and doing seems at odds but lately my views on people (in general) have softened. My focus has shifted away from what people say to what they actually do.
While serving a dark side, allowing people to air their insane views on things like the election and giving them a somewhat anonymous license to express them to the world, Twitter also allows people to show their humor, cleverness, and interests in a flowing stream of public consciousness. I love that part of it.
What I don't like is general populace groupthink and that is what Twitter is trying to foster with their new API rules and constant pushing of ads, celebrity accounts (written by handlers no doubt). And, like my shifting views on people being a measure of what people do rather than what they say, I'd say Twitter is doing all of the wrong things.
Enter App.net. Yes, the $50 barrier to entry seems high but, as a card carrying early adopter, that's the price you pay to see if someone is going to create -- realize -- that platform Twitter showed so much promise to be had they launched with a more focused business plan.
Nowadays, I'm ok with paying money for a service that I feel holds value for me. I think the people balking at (or criticizing) the cost of App.net probably never understood what was so cool about Twitter. Maybe they were following the wrong people or maybe they had different priorities or maybe they got their stream of social news from Facebook (gross) but I think people will either get it or not and the tide of criticisms don't really mean much to me at all. I remember when people were criticizing Twitter and trying to wrap their heads around why someone would want to bother typing out little 140 character messages to strangers. I think we can safely say at this point, most people don't know what the fuck they are talking about.
Doing the legwork up front to find the in-development App.net apps that look like they'll suit my needs (for now) has helped tremendously. After switching back and forth between moApp and Appetizer for a few days, I've decided to stick with moApp for a while. The developer, Michael, has been doing a great job cranking out new releases and the app is getting very stable and usable.
On the iOS front, AppApp has been my weapon-of-choice but it looks like there are a lot of nice clients coming. I suspect there will be a large number of interesting and innovative apps coming in next few weeks. For now, AppApp has a bunch of impressive features, cleanly implemented and stable as hell.
OmniFocus is still my go-to and I continue to use it daily. Unfortunately, despite daily reviews, large-scale weekly reviews and my ubiquitous capture, things still aren't getting done as quickly as I'd like them to. The main reason for this is that, despite completing things that need to get done, they often get submitted and require changes or, upon "completing" something, I'm often given a handful of new tasks as follow-up. It all adds up to falling behind.
All I can do for now is try to manage priority, delete the truly unimportant things in the queue to make more time for the critical, and hope that there will eventually be a light at the end of this brutal slog of a tunnel.
For now though, this part isn't too fun. It's proof that, despite faith in a tool and process, sometimes tools can't bail you out of a bad situation.
Obviously, it all comes down to priorities. How do you manage your time and focus on the pieces that move it all forward? How do you decide where to spend the limited time you have to put you in a position to provide the biggest relief? What do you do to get out of that space where there's too much to do?
Maybe the solutions will result in a few new and interesting posts on this site. It's something I truly enjoy doing and I want to make more time and energy for and I have three or four new pieces in various stages of completion sitting in Byword waiting for a few minutes to finish.