What the work happened #3A very personal reflection on my work in March 2021.
Hey there 👋
This is my third monthly reflection and I’m still not sure how to structure it. So it is a wild west. Again.
But I noticed one curious thing which happens independent of what structure I use. And it’s this.
Sad → Happy
At the start of each month, when I sit down to write this, I feel like I didn’t achieve much last month. I feel like I have not done my best – like I could and should have done better.
However, once I start going through my journal, I realize, I actually finished more things than I thought. I just forgot about some of them. And just like that, I feel better.
This happened every time I did this. I always think I let myself down, only to be surprised by forgotten projects from 3 or 4 weeks ago.
This reveals various things about me (and you, if you know these feelings):
- I have a shitty memory
- I judge too much of my worth as a human being on the work I do
- Having a system for this is saving my sanity
Let’s dissect them just a little bit.
I tend to focus on the future, and neglecting the past seems to be the price for that.
It has upsides – I don’t dwell on things that didn’t work – I move on quickly.
But as fast as I can move away from bad things, I move away from good things too. So I don’t remember what I did a week ago unless I go back to my journal.
Overall, this seems like a fair deal, and I’m okay with it.
Human worth vs. Work done
Yeah. This is a thing I do. My daily wellbeing is sensitive to how much work I get done and how good (I think) it is. I judge a decent part of my perceived worth based on whether I produced good work.
I know this about myself and I haven’t decided yet if that’s a feature I want to keep or a bug to be fixed.
It certainly makes the highs higher on the good days, and the lows lower on the bad days. And it seems I can’t have just one without losing both. So I’m keeping the whole package for now.
System for sanity
Having a system for managing this feels crucial to me. Without it, I would be an anxious ball of insecurities with a majorly inaccurate memory of 80% of the things I’ve done a month ago.
Daily journaling is the backbone of my system – it’s the first thing I do every morning after I sit down with a coffee and open my laptop.
I write about anything that’s on top of my mind. And during the day, I add notes about everything I worked on. That’s what later helps me get a more accurate image of the work done.
Also, I recently switched to a new project-centric system that combines the other 2 things I need for creative work:
- Knowledge management (notes, research, information)
- Project management (tasks, goals, deadlines)
Together they form a productivity system optimized for high creative output. In other words, they help me produce a lot of things that make my inner productivity junkie happy.
A 10-year reflection of what I care about in my projects
On 17th March, I reviewed the last 10 years of every project I worked on to understand how What I do overlaps with Why I do it.
And the questions I answered for myself helped me make a few important changes in my plans.
So I thought I’d share the template with you in case you’d want to ask yourself the same questions.
Template for reflection on Values vs. Projects
There are 2 parts. The first part is about creating a snapshot in time from the past, present, and future. And the second part is about digging for insights within them.
Part 1: Creating a snapshot in time
- What did I do in the last 10 years? (Past)
- I wrote down a few short paragraphs for every year in the last ten years. I mentioned only the things that felt important to keep it relatively short. (5 years would also work.)
- What am I doing now? (Present)
- I described the projects and areas I’m committed to right now.
- What are my plans for the near future (~6 months)? (Future)
- I wrote a couple of scenarios I’m considering as the next step in the following months.
Part 2: Digging for insights
Now, when you have your past, present, and future clearly laid out in front of you, it’s time to dig for answers.
- What connects my projects together? What are the common themes? Where are the patterns they share?
- What do I care about the most in what I do?
Bonus: Ask some wild What if’s.
- What if I could work on just one thing, what would it be?
- What if I had to quit one thing, what would it be?
- What if I could take one year off to do whatever I want and live off my savings, what would I do?
I did the whole thing in 2 or 3 hours of unfiltered writing. It was fun and helpful for deciding what I want to do next. You should try it.
And if you come up with some good What if’s – let me know. I’m curious.
Work that happened
Next, we get to what this piece is supposed to be about – the work that got done. Let’s keep it short.
This is my new baby. It’s a 4-week online course in a community of independent creators that support each other to finish 1 creative project every week.
I pushed this from an idea at the beginning of March to something that’s actually happening with 8 participants right now. (We first met on 31st March.)
I made some quick web prototypes and tested them every few days with people who might be interested in joining, most of them were, so I launched it as an experimental run.
(The latest prototype)
🚀 Innovation lab
I finished 3 segments of content for weekly online sessions with students participating in the Innovation lab (a seminar I co-create under the Charles University in Prague).
- How to find your personal mission in projects
- How to prioritize your next step in projects
- How to give feedback in a team
🌱 Wellbeing Dashboard
Our team in The Greenest Company continues working on the app for HR managers that helps them understand what their employees need to be happier and more productive.
I wrote an article–interview with one of our clients, and I adjusted our business model to work monthly.
This is an experiment I’ve challenged myself to try. I got a new phone and I wanted to make a video as a novelty from what I normally do (write articles).
So I did. I wrote 2 scripts for 2 topics:
- How to start anything (recorded but not out yet)
- Why start making videos (only scripted, not filmed)
I recorded the first one (I planned on doing both but filming yourself is more time-consuming than I anticipated).
So I have over 60 minutes of video material for what I’d like to be a 5-10 minute video about starting things (by starting to make videos – get it?).
But I’ve delayed editing it because I’m a chicken who doesn’t like to look at himself on a video. That is, by the way, another reason why I’m doing this – to get more comfortable with being on camera.
So I will eventually edit and publish the video online. Probably during April. Oh my. What have I done?
I returned to writing articles and I want to write more and consistently. I finished 2 articles this month, plus I made a new intro page for my Student Entrepreneur Guide.
Articles in progress (coming soon):
- Build your life in learning loops
- How to avoid procrastination instead of fighting it
- How to make a prototype from your idea in 5 minutes
- Do whatever works for you
Last words and what’s coming next
I’m still getting used to sharing things I make, and I keep looking for a way that’s useful, feasible, and fun for me. And also convenient, useful, and fun for you.
So I’m going to adjust the way I share. Again. 🤷♂️
- I’m going to publish one article every week on Sunday
- I’ll send out a brief weekly newsletter with the link to my article (instead of sending the article itself) and 1 or 2 ideas that are at the top of my mind including resources you can use to dig deeper.
- Also, I’ll keep writing this monthly reflection which is a zoomed-out picture of how my creative process evolves in time. (And because it keeps me sane.)
P.S.: As you can see, these monthly emails are unpredictable – not even I know what is going to be in them before I sit down to write them.
So please tell me what you liked and didn’t like. I’d be very grateful to know.
Or just reply to the email with something like: “Dope, bro.” That’s fine too, and it warms my chickles.
Take care and see you soon.