Getting worked up over nothing?

Today I caught myself getting rather ticked off after spending around 2.5 hours trying to script out changes to around 25 SQL Server stored procedures. To explain in a non-geeky (if that’s possible coming from me) way, I had to comment out a common line in all 25 procs that needed to be disabled in order to use the proc in my test system. (OK, that failed only slightly in the non-geeky department.)

I’ll be the first to admit that once I get focused on solving an issue, it pretty much consumes my attention, to the point of near obsessiveness. This was no exception, with me getting more and more worked up as attempts to automate this change (rather than cracking the code open on all twenty plus one at a time) failed. Finally I threw up my hands in disgust and walked away, having undoubtedly raised my blood pressure a notch or two in the process.

A short time later, it occurred to me that most of what I was trying to accomplish was completely outside of the work necessary to accomplish my pre-stated goals for this project. In effect, I was trying to change twenty plus bits of code, when this particular effort required just one change. Yep, you heard me, just one. So why even make the attempt to automate the process?

I suppose it’s mostly because I’m a lazy coder by nature; if chances are better than 50-50 that I’ll need to repeat some action in the future, I’ll probably at least take a stab at scripting or otherwise automating the process. Plus, in this case, it presented a worthy challenge, which is always more than enough to entice me into jumping in over my head. I’m a sucker for challenge, almost to the point of it being a character flaw.

In hindsight, perhaps if I’d stopped at the onset and thought things out in a rational, methodical manner, I would have saved myself not only a brooding headache, but almost two hours of time as well. Two hours. Think of all the things you could get done in two hours time.

Next time, I’m going to follow my own advice, and make sure I properly define what my work is going to be, lay out all the time and effort needed, and only then consider adding scope to my plate. Sure, automation is a wonderful thing, but only when used with discretion. Spending two hours to avoid doing something that ultimately took around 10 minutes to accomplish manually just isn’t worth it.

It’s Not Easy To Be An Expert (or Pretend To Be One)

When I first started up this blog, I had a fairly clear vision of where I wanted to go with it. Having browsed the musings of established GTD bloggers like Merlin Mann of 43folders.com and Andrew Mason of Did I Get Things Done, I wanted to follow in their mold of becoming an established voice in the field. But then along the way, it seemed that I hit a wall. You see, one of my goals has always been to have some useful, original content to post; trouble is, GTD is such a hot topic these days that original thought or advice is rather hard to come by.

Now granted I could talk about how to set up your “trusted system”, or how to maintain discipline with starting tasks, etc. But the truth is, someone has probably already written about it, and with far better clarity and experience than I could claim to have. I’ve been at this game for just under two years now; hardly enough time to call myself a guru of any kind. So what’s a disenchanted productivity geek to do?

In short, I’ve decided to take the blog in a bit of a new direction. Instead of trying to write some authoritative pieces on how you should integrate the concepts of GTD into your life, I’m going to keep it rather simple, and just talk about me. Now before you ask, this is not going to turn into some ego-maniacal diatribe on why Josh Is God or some such nonsense. No, instead, I’m just going to write as what I am: a guy coming from a world of disorganization and ADD-exacerbated messiness, trying his damndest to learn how to keep everything together (or at least keep appearances of such, but don’t tell my boss).

From now on, it’s going to be a more journalistic approach. I.e. “I read this really interesting post the other day, here’s how I’ve tried to incorporate it, here’s why it worked / didn’t work.” I’ll be happy to tell you all about my struggles and triumphs, and maybe even those of others I meet or talk to. But from now one, the one thing I’ll try not to do is tell you how to do things. If you ask (comments still encouraged), I’ll be happy to give an opinion, but outside of that, the advice column is closed.

Beyond that, I’m also going to try and expand a bit on the non-GTD topics that are holding my interest. I think a while ago I wrote a pretty decent introduction to a series on e-mail encryption… maybe it’s time to pick that up again, eh?

Here’s to a little diversity and change in focus. Hopefully it will be just the thing to help break out of a bit of writer’s block and get this blog up and running again.