Moving along slowly

Sometimes getting everything ready is just the start of a presentation driven adventure. The writing process took a little bit of time to get started today. It has been about 20 minutes since the start of things and I’m 3 sentences into my efforts for today. Things started a little earlier today than usual. I figured it was better to get up and start writing than to try to sleep for 30 more minutes. I’m pretty focused on my notes and observations about the presentation that was prepared. I’m going to really clean my office after this presentation is done and try to get some of the clutter picked up from the edges. A lot of stuff is just hanging out in boxes and stored around the edges of my office. Now is as good of a time as any to really clean out the unnecessary stuff and get things a little more picked up around my working area. You know it is a bad sign when my thoughts start wondering about cleaning up my office. That is generally a leading indicator that some type of procrastination is about to arrive. I’m going to try to use my years of experience to deflect that incoming procrastination and focus on delivering that presentation one time this morning and maybe a couple times this evening. Generally I don’t deliver the practice runs at full volume to help preserve my voice as much as possible. 

The Pandora internet streaming radio algorithm powering my Warren Zevon station is picking some great songs today. Listening to some great music has so far been the big highlight today. Sunrise is probably about 45 minutes away and that will officially start the day, but my ability to deeply focus on things seems to be limited at the moment. At the moment, clearing my mind and preparing to focus on something is not really the problem. The problem revolves around knowing what I need to focus on and not really wanting to spend all of my energy and focus on that one thing. That happens from time to time and is one of the harder things to overcome. It becomes easier to just focus on whatever pops up and staying grounded and focused on the thing that needs focus just becomes harder and harder. This is one of the cycles that you have to learn to deal with over time. Sometimes the introduction of a deadline or breaking the task up into parts can help make it easier to stay laser focused on the task at hand. 

Strangely enough I did not take any notes yesterday for topics to cover today. The day was spent working on things, but no major things jumped out and needed to be noted. Things around me at the moment are perfectly calm and the world is silent. It is the perfect environment to sit down and write and focus. That does not appear to be providing the kindling to spark any great waves of imagination or discovery. Maybe today is one of those days where you just have to execute the tasks in front of you and move along. That is not a recipe to make a dent in the metaphorical universe Steve Jobs style, but it is a method to keep muddling through toward tomorrow. Instead of just muddling through it should be a time to take decisive steps toward a perfect possible future with strong intention to do good, but that type of intentional effort does not appear to be happening at the moment. Right now I’m going to post this weblog post and get back to working on that presentation for the next hour.

It was lacking something

Sometime in the middle of the day yesterday I realized that the presentation I prepared for next week was lacking something. Each of the slides has a main topic and I sat down with a blank sheet of paper to write out 10 must know things for each slide. That seemed to be the right way to start adding something to the presentation. For the most part I will be done delivering this presentation next week. That means today and tomorrow are the entire window for figuring out what needs to change within the content. Overall I’m looking for the entire presentation to have a very distinct perspective and tell one strongly backed up story that is interesting, insightful, and makes the audience want to learn more and take action to explore machine learning use cases. That is where my thoughts ended up burning cycles of creativity yesterday. It was an all in sort of focused moment on what needed to change. It was one of those moments where the problem was obvious, but the solution stood just out of reach. I’m going to keep working on it here in the next few minutes. Right now I just finished my two shots of espresso and I have a solid hour before anybody wakes up.

Interrupted. Presentation work.

It took a few minutes to fill out the blank page containing space for 10 things per slide topic. Most of the slides ended up having between 6 or 8 solid comments. I’m going to have to circle back to complete a run at 10 things per slide. The next phase in this process is going to be to sit down and try to deliver the presentation again with some of these elements being incorporated to see if it improves the overall quality of the messaging. Initially all of this effort to expand the presentation content was focused on a blank sheet of paper with the slide numbers at the top and list of things below them. At the end of the exercise that hand written content pretty much filled up the page. I’m about to transfer the bullet points onto the slide notes section for each slide in Microsoft PowerPoint. That transfer process of typing up my notes and trying to read my handwriting took about 10 minutes and it has almost inspired me to rewrite a couple of the slides. At some point the entire presentation is going to need to get revisited slide by slide to build out something better, but that is not where my focus needs to be right now. At this moment in time, my focus needs to be directed toward delivering the best possible talk next week.

Those committed routines

Yesterday I started thinking about all the titles of books that I would like to read, but have not been authored by anybody at this time. Yeah, I was pretty much just inventing book titles. I’m not exactly sure how that topic bubbled to the forefront of my thoughts. It is an interesting thought exercise to try to figure out what types of things should be written. It also gives me the opportunity to go out and look for specific books that just might exist, but I had no idea had been written. It is entirely possible that things were written and I have no idea they were published. That goes for both books and academic journal articles. So much content has been produced that it is relatively hard to keep up with the highlights. It is next to impossible to keep up with the totality of publishing. One person simply cannot keep up anymore. Fragmentation has also made it hard to even get a solid line of sight into all the content. On the academic journal front you have to have access to the right digital libraries to see the bulk of it and it is almost all hidden behind subscriptions. 

After next week I’m trying to figure out how to allocate my time. Some of that time could very well be spent on a few different things. I’m curious about potentially finishing up some fiction efforts or maybe really digging into writing that real-time economic indicator piece of software. It is entirely possible I’ll have time for both of those efforts. The big piece of the puzzle is just staying focused and getting things done. Today started with a cup of coffee. It was one of those days without shots of espresso. I’m still pretty committed to waking up and writing at the start of my day. That is the routine I’m committed to fulfilling. Drinking some type of coffee and writing are the routines that have my commitment at the start of the day. That is a good way to think about making sure both of those things happen every day. 

Today I need to practice delivering that presentation a few times and really focus in on refining the important points being communicated. It should be pretty easy to work that out and use the Google Recorder application to make it possible to listen back to the effort. Taking the time to review the practice recordings is the important part of refining the presentation.  

More notes should have been taken

Waking up happened all of a sudden today in a flash of awareness. That did occur a few minutes after my two shots of espresso. The spelling and grammar editor built into Google Docs has definitely been improving over the years. Throughout the last 80 days of writing I have really been able to watch it make suggestions in real time and they have gotten better. Some people are using these new plugins to help edit content as they go, but I have not dug into that type of effort. I’m waiting for that functionality to get built into Microsoft Word or Google Docs before really giving it a test drive. The other piece of that equation is that I’m really making an effort this year to edit and look at my own words. That means that the quality of my prose should be improving as things move along this daily writing journey. 

More notes should have been taken yesterday. That is what I’m thinking right now. A lot of reacting to things and understanding the world around you involves navigating the day. Some people aim solely to get passed the day without having an overall philosophy to guide them as they move forward. That allows decision making to occur on a situational basis without a lot of foundation built on a distinct philosophy. I’m not advocating any specific philosophy at the moment just contemplating the difference between having an intellectual foundation built on philosophy and just reacting to things as they come up. That is a pretty complex thing to contemplate this early in the morning. I might need a lot more espresso to really think deeply about that inherent conflict in decision making. Assuming that things will just keep moving along and that the world is full of constantly changing decidable moments that makes the question even more challenging. 

Whoa… I lost focus for a few minutes and started browsing the internet. Right in the middle of that writing session all hope for finishing out this daily writing journey was put on hold and my focus went elsewhere. Every day I scroll through my subscriptions on YouTube to see what those creators have put forward. That pretty much helps me decide what I’m going to watch after finishing up the start of the day writing exercise. During the course of writing I try to only listen to music and engage in the act of writing. That seems to be the best method for focusing in and writing for a few minutes continuously. Watching videos on YouTube for some reason does not facilitate the writing experience at all. It actually has a chilling effect on my productivity as measured by the production of the written word. It is all about managing my focus and attention to ensure the right amount of attention remains on the task at hand and things get done. For example, right now I’m listening to Tom Petty play the song Wildflowers on my Warren Zevon Pandora internet streaming radio station. That song works fine to play in the background and it does not interfere with my writing process at all.

The important part of knowing

Today got off to a pretty decent start. I’m ready to get things done. It is one of those days. Let’s get right into the topic at hand and not waste a moment more on introductions…

Generally pretending that all of my online posts do not exist is how I got about things from day to day. It is a lot of online content to just ignore, but I really do just ignore it. Honestly, it is not like I spend a lot of time going back and reading my things that were previously written and posted online. It is much easier to sit down and focus on what will be than it is to sit around and review my notes and observations about passed events. Perhaps that is why I’m always much more interested in what is next than what I’m doing in the moment. That framework can be problematic and being a reflective practitioner is an important part of knowing how to move forward while improving and growing. Knowing that does not generally change my strategy of just pretending all my online posts are never really read or shared. 

The very thing that made me think about that last night was the act of sharing some conference content on my social media channels. Posting that type of personal advertisement seems to make things real for me and I’m always just striving to do my very best instead of trying to be the loudest voice in the room. One of the principal reasons that I am willing to engage in public speaking at conferences is the opportunity to engage with people who I would not normally talk to on a daily basis. Mixing it up and talking to a diverse group of people with new opinions and thoughts on things is a hugely beneficial element of attending conferences. 

Having short very focused conversations on topics that were just discussed can be very rewarding. It is like the stage is set with a shared perspective on things that allows people to get to the point of very deep and meaningful conversation very quickly. This topic was another note that I wrote down in my Google Keep application to spend some time thinking about yesterday at the end of the day. That strategy of keeping a fresh topic list does appear to be working out pretty well. Later this evening I’m going to need to run through my virtual presentation a couple of times using the Google Recorder to capture the audio. That will allow me to listen to a few variations of the talk back to back. I’m hoping that exercise will help refine the content presentation a little more in some of the sections that need to be a little more dynamic. 

The important part of knowing the value of working with others is understanding how the engagement continues on in the future. A conversation can echo on in the form for my conversation or even a little bit of sparked imagination. Ideas that continue on grow and spread in unexpected ways. Sharing things with others that have the potential to grow and continue to spread is a rewarding part of it. You can tell that the last few thoughts are divergent from my general philosophy of pretending that my online post and presentations don’t really exist. Intellectually I know those two positions are not consistent, but at the same time that does not stop me from muddling through on a daily basis simply working on what is next instead of curating a basket of previous thoughts. Once it is said like that I don’t really see any other way of saying it in a meaningful way.