2018: Year in Review
Hello! Today is the last day of 2018, and a good time to reflect on my blog! It's an interesting feeling to take a step back and look at the results of my blogging efforts. I'm proud to say that I have been posting over the past few months, creating a total of fifteen posts. I'll begin this review by describing what the main goals were for this blog, reflect on how well I achieved those goals, and discuss some improvements I can make.
About the Blog
For some background, "blog" is actually a shortened form of "web-log", which was originally for publishing content about an individual's personal life. These days, blogs are authored by individuals and teams alike, over a multitude of focuses such as art, education, social commentary, and many more. The main purpose of this blog is to organize my thoughts and ideas in a persuasive, interesting, and cogent manner. Although it's difficult for me to gauge progress without external feedback, I believe I'm on track to realizing this goal. For this blog, I don't have a strong focus on a particular topic, so I try to write about topics that either interest me or that I feel are important for my self-development. This year, my posts varied quite a bit in subject, ranging from traditional blog entries, technical guides, email settings (for my own future reference), to even opinion or personal pieces. I try to keep the posts well-tagged, but it's tricky finding the sweet-spot between too many tags, and not enough.
Self-reflections are very important, and I believe they are even more important than goal-setting for self-improvement. I would describe it as being conscious of past behaviour, training our brain to recognize certain conditions, and therefore improved behaviour handling in future situations. That is why I'm taking the time to reflect on my blogging efforts for the year of 2018. I've also noticed a few patterns and tendencies about myself that emerged during the past few months, so I'd like to mention them here too for reflection.
My Time Management
During 2018, my goal was to blog regularly, as an experiment of my time and life management skills. However, looking back at my post history, I only blogged consistently during the summer. I feel this is because a low summer courseload provided me enough free time to spend thinking and blogging. Near the end of the summer, I was planning on doing a blog post describing my research experience at Sick Kids, but things got too hectic and I ran out of time/motivation. Unfortunately, I stopped blogging completely for a few months until I encountered a bizarre Linux data corruption bug, which I felt was something I needed to write about. This kickstarted me back into blogging regularly again.
Technically, anybody has the ability to blog monthly, even though a common rebuttal to that is "I don't have enough time". We all have an hour a month that can be sacrificed in order to write a blog post, so the real problem lies in time management. My current mental model of time management is complicated, but boils down to managing the equilibrium between: what you believe you can do, pressure from external sources, and internal resistance (like procrastination or emotional distress). I could explore this in a whole blog post of its own, so I'll summarize and say that I need to work on reducing the internal resistance to carrying out my tasks.
From simple correlation, I believe that my blogging frequency is an indicator of my current efficacy in managing my other tasks in schoolwork and personal life. Simply put, if I'm blogging a lot it probably means I'm doing alright!
In general, people don't think about their overarching goals constantly, but instead think about the sub-goals that will help them achieve these overarching goals. Similarly, my main goal was self-improvement, but I focused more on each of my blog posts as a sub-goal to improving skills such as persuasion and communication. That also means the blog wasn't, in and of itself, a motivated goal but simply the platform for creating and posting the content.
Much of the psychological pressure (I had no real external pressure) to create these posts came in bursts of motivation from various ideas, topics, or feelings in the moment. An example is when I felt that modern TVs were being subtly degraded, and wrote an article denouncing the introduction of motion interpolation technology. Another example is when I became interested in backing up my online file-system, and stored the commands I used for future reference. Although both these posts differ wildly in length, the amount of motivation and interval of motivation were the same: a huge amount of motivation for a pretty short period of time, around a day or two. I think I would describe it as sprint-like, hackathon-like, or just being in "the zone". As evidence, my GitHub commit history for my macOS virtual machine guide shows that I started off with a huge burst of concentration for the first 24 hours (first commit and last commit of interval), and then smaller bursts after that. A concept related to this is hyperfocus, describing people who have both a "concentration deficit and over-concentration". My motivation/concentration style is also reflected in my personality, where I'm much more eager to focus on a single goal as opposed to multiple goals, regardless of it being short-term or long-term.
As a consequence, this means I have a lot of drafts for blog posts that I fail to finish. There are currently over 15 incomplete drafts sitting in my blog editor! Ignoring the ones that aren't really "post-worthy", who knows if I'll ever get around to posting the better ones? Seeing as I probably can't drastically alter the way I get motivated or my intervals of motivation, I'll continue my habit of getting ideas down or saved while I am still "excited" about the topic. But what I'll try to do instead is smooth out my motivation levels and aim for completion as a new goal. As meta as it may sound, my new goal is to complete goals...
Improvements in Writing Quality
To end on a more positive note, I can confidently say that my writing has improved. Comparing my newer posts to my first few posts, I feel that I made improvements in both voice and word-choice, and that my more recent posts contain fewer awkward or emotionally charged words. It's a humbling experience to take a look back at my earlier writing (see the Dunning-Kruger effect).
Lately, I've been wondering if the inconsistent posting style or subject matter is a drawback. I believe that focused topics and ideas are more important when developing a grand story or idea, so I'll be spending the next few weeks thinking about who my target audience is, whether it's acceptable to have technical posts between the more general posts, and finding out the number of people that are reading the posts (if any!).