Getting Things Done When You're a Dumbass

If I ever write a self-help book, that will probably be the title. Of course, I don't get much done, so I am unlikely to ever write that book. Consider some of my entries here to be notes to such an unwritten life-transforming masterpiece. As I've written before, part of the problem with inspirational stories of self-transformation is that the people transforming themselves seem way more on the ball, even as alleged disasters, than any of us actually are.

"I was a nationally known newscaster, but I worried that maybe I did not entirely deserve my success, money, and beautiful wife, and sometimes fretted that I would suffer some kind of setback in my steady climb to even greater success...though fortunately I was wrong about that" was pretty much the starting point of Dan Harris's 10% Happier, a book about meditation.

I listened to it on audio while running, lifting, and considering starting a meditation practice. The chipper and self-important Harris (who ably read his own book) did not persuade me, and I am still pretty unmeditated. By the way, audio sucks for anything you want to fast forward through, and Harris's book, like many similar books, is an OK magazine article packed with so much filler it's like one of those OTC nostrums you get that somewhat glumly fesses up that, when you really give it a good look, it is made up of "98% inactive ingredients". It's made for skimming over at hydrofoil speeds.

But enough about him. I'm not well known or successful, so when I try something and think maybe it works, and then tell you about it, it might work for you, though probably not. But mostly I can tell you what doesn't work, isn't working, or probably won't work, and so probably will not work for you either. News you can use! That is, assuming you are not the lighter-than-air Dan Harris, but a regular shlub kind of like me.

This is generally known as "bitching", "whining", or "this explains why you're sitting alone writing blog posts", but I prefer to think of it as a deep look into procrastination and despair for the benefit of my readers.

And that's just the introduction!

I just redid my website, with a new design, and a new generation of Squarespace (I procrastinated so long I jumped right from Version 5 to Version 7). On my original website I had several stories for download. They had been there forever, and for the new version I wanted to upgrade and add a few newer stories. Like a lot of things, I had been putting that off, and recently decided to get down to it.

Cover with one of the stories

Cover with one of the stories

First off was finding the original of each story.

So then I search around my folders, and see my original submitted version of the story, and also the marked up galleys, which is what actually got published. Those changes are not reflected in the original electronic draft, they are scribbled on a PDF that was then scanned.

Versioning is always a problem in marketing as well. You have original text, changes in editing, changes in review, changes in design, and even changes later on when you discover some awful mistake. If you have not rigorously kept track of those changes and saved them back into some master as-produced version, someday you will be asked to reprint an updated design, or with someone else's branding added, on a really short timeline, and you are left desperately trying to figure out what the "real" version actually is, which you should know because you wrote and produced the damn thing.

And here I'd finally gotten to this task after putting it off for weeks, only to find it is even more work than I thought it was. But I've written about this before. And here I'm writing about it again! Is it any mystery why I may not be as productive as I should be?

Then, once those changes are incorporated into the document...choices, choices. Fonts, formats, links. Grumbling and whining. And you know what? I did it! It still doesn't look quite like what I want it to, but you can get some new stories at my Free Stories page. So it was all worth it. Pretty much. Now, to get to those five or six other important things I had written down on my list this morning....

What always takes longer than you think it should?

"Everything", while a reasonable answer, is not acceptable. What has the biggest disproportion between estimate and achievement, even if you know perfectly well that's true, and has been true every single time you've done it?