Planning My Daily Workflow

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 02/25/2013

I’m going to try to move my daily journal entry once again back into the Tiger code-base. This has a few advantages. It helps ensure that I actually go into the Tiger code-base every day, which is where much of my capabilities and productive momentum comes from lately professionally. But it also keeps me immersed in the vim text editor, sharpening my skills and forever reaching that elusive infinite limit, which is total vim mastery—one of the ultimate achievements for anyone considering themselves a heavyweight tech.

Okay, it’s Monday morning, and a perfect time to think through my overarching habits and workflow that I’m trying to get into place for my new job responsibility. It goes into effect full-time on March 11th, but I’m being allowed to put up to 50 percent of my time against it starting right away. And the projects are there. The projects are interesting and right up my alley. And the projects are truly valuable to the company and in some unexplored territory. All I have to do is get myself a bit more immersed into it. It has to be as interesting to me as anything else going on.

The other thing going on right now that is just as interesting is my release of my own respun Linux. I’m calling it a distro, but really it’s just a respin. But with time, I think I may actually be able to turn it into my own true distribution. That’s a longer term thing. The Tiny Core Linux people have already done a miraculous job getting a minimalistic Linux kernel that gets the average I’ve seen of around 50MB down to a much more reasonable 2.5MB. They also got the command-set, thanks BusyBox, down to about 6MB. I’ve finally got it up on my website in a decent form with a download tracker. And I think it’s going to be the center around which I refine my evolving online identity.

I don’t want to talk about that TOO MUCH before I dive into my real work today, but it is important to say that this is going to tie into EVERYTHING I do. I am going to try to make the Recipe system I have for inflating an unlimited variety of JeOS-box servers as close to what I’m using on Rackspace, and potentially Amazon EC2 as possible. And as much as I like Tiny Core Linux on the desktop, switching over to something based on the Debian Package Manager (dpkg) or possibly the Redhat Package Manager (RPM) to make reproducing Levinux work in the cloud much easier. Okay noted and put in my roadmap.

Okay, my workflow goes like this.

First and foremost, I set my Chrome start-page to my new mikelev.in/roadmap/ page. My one-page-plan page is also good, but its basically too high-level to be my constant reminder about what to do next. The roadmap is my daily evaluation list of what to do next, in which I ask: what’s most broken, where do I get the biggest bang for the buck, and what plates need spinning? The roadmap page lets me think out-loud, and remember what was important to me just days prior. Continuity!

Next most important is going over my recent writings, no matter where I typed them in. Chances are that it’s on iPhone Notes from my commute on the subway, and the worst crime is when these good thoughts get buried in the notes without having impact on my daily work-flow, and without ever getting refined further and published into an article, or otherwise leveraged. All the little things that make a big difference are buried in my captured notes—sometimes Notes. Sometimes Google Docs. Sometimes right here in this journal. So, take inventory and quickly scan the important stuff.

These two steps help immensely with immersion. One of my fundamental rules is that what you’re working on has to be at least as interesting as anything else you could be doing in life right now, and to get into that state of mind, you have to remind yourself about what you loved about that subject-matter just recently, and the things you’ve been meaning to do regarding it, and the benefits you expected to gain by getting that work done. Which leads to the next workflow item, which is wrapping up those latest thoughts into the beginning entry of a new daily journal—a lot like this, and now according to my renewed determination—in vim, so it keeps me centered, focused, and in pursuit of mastery in at least one parallel simultaneously exercised skill.

Okay, so we have reviewing my roadmap, reviewing my recent writing, and starting to gather my latest thoughts into a new daily journal entry, based in vim and intended for publishing on MikeLev.in. We have to actually get to starting the work itself, because the nature of contemplating one’s own navel could too-easily become an all-day affair, and tip the scales of excellent planning for brilliant execution to excellent planning for the sake of excellent planning, pontification, and public posting for glory’s sake. And that’s no better than drilling down plan-less and rudder-less on the work.

So, this next step in my work-flow is… call it, putting the fear of failure into myself. Visualize the penalty of NOT carrying out the most important work at-hand. I’m a doer, and without doing, I become less valuable. I always need very recent examples of what I’ve done. You always need to be able to answer: what CAN you do, and what have you done LATELY. This piece of the workflow keeps me driving forward and getting over some of that strange stand-still inertial momentum that the act of writing itself can create.

Okay, in the spirit of moving onto actually DOING the work that’s important for today, and to keep my publishing level up on my website for public commitment and consistency, and keeping the process of publishing from my vim Mercurial hg code repository to WordPress, I’m going to push this out as a new public post right now. Hmmmmm… I shall call it planning my daily workflow.