The Usual Tech Ramblings

Trackable Progress

I think there is a conspiracy at the moment to get me to try and track things. What I mean is in terms of projects, tasks, goals, and such. I think some of the blogs I read are also in on this conspiracy.


It started back in Feburary when I decided to start seriously going back to the gym. I had a goal in mind, get fitter by summer. I had also planned to lose a little weight, and improve my strength. These are all general goals, and quite subjective without a numeric behind them. This is where I first noticed the need to really track what I am doing, and how well I am doing at it. I decided to take a look for some software for my (work inflicted) blackberry. There didn’t seem to be a huge amount of software, so I went for some general PC software, all of which seemed to bulky, and not entirely what I was after. So I went back with the classic… the notepad. A simple A5 notepad, with a pen, so I can at least scribble down what I did (exercise), how well I did it (weight, sets, rep), and what I felt like afterwards (too heavy, too lite, etc).

Then procrastination kicked in again. Well it was more like work kicked in, and while I could have easily squeezed the gym into my schedule, I really didn’t want to. I was constantly low on energy, tired, overworked, and generally not in the mood to sit on a bike, or thrust weights into the air for an hour or so. This led me to sitting at home, either working, or playing the odd game or two.

Then it kicked in again, an urge to go to the gym. I think it was taking Christopher to the swimming pool, and not having any urge to get in, mostly because it was cold, but I had a twinge inside me that said I needed to work out some more first. This got me going back to the gym again, pretty regularly. At least Monday and Wednesday at the moment, and I’m trying to get my mind into going on Friday’s too.

This goes back to tracking. I have to set some concrete goals, something I can measure towards, and set stages to see if I’m achieving them. For example, get my weight down to 160 with 10% body fat. That’s a concrete objective, and then you set a deadline, I’m going to say July 1st. Probably very achievable from where I am now, it will just take an effort to track what I’m doing, and ensure I stick to it.


We’ve recently had a number of new members of staff join the company, some in management positions that are ready to get our portion of the company to where it should be after 5 years of operation. Currently, most of the operations run haphazardly, with little structure, or processes. One of the new managers has decided to have a regular team meeting, and listen to everything that’s going on, make sure everybody is “happy happy joy joy”, and that there are no major problems. One of the first meetings, he decided to talk about SDLC. It was an interesting discussion, covering various different models for software development.

During the whole meeting, the general thought that kept cropping in my head was tracking, and accountability. Everybody wants to make our product better, however that’s subjective, and doesn’t mean a huge amount, unless you can measure the change. So we ended up stumbling back to tracking again, and setting a goal, and doing what we can to get there, whilst tracking our progress.

It also got me thinking about the number of projects I have on my plate at the moment, and how I keep dropping stuff without remembering it. I’m going to have to start tracking what I am working on, and what tasks I have to do… You know, like a proper project plan.


Then we stumble onto a little hobby of mine. I enjoy photography, and I blame my uncle for it, and allowing me to watch him at his studio. It dawned on me the other day that I don’t take nearly enough pictures of anything, and that I’m not going to improve unless I get some feedback. This was all spawned by a post on John Harrington’s Photo Business News and Forum. I realize I’m not up to any super standard, but I’m also not really doing anything to improve myself. The very first item on John’s top 10 list is “Don’t set goals”. Sadly, I think I hit 9 out of 10. I don’t expect instant success, in fact, it’d be a miracle if something of mine was published, but to even get it to that spot, I have to send it somewhere… Which goes all the way back around to setting myself goals, and challenges, tracking them, and acheiving them.

So last night, I started something I’ve been wanting to do, but yet again procrastinating over, for ages. I did some looking on eBay, ordered myself a light stand, umbrella, ordered a flash from “BH Photo and Video”, and the only thing that really cost any money was the flash. The other items were all covered by funds I’d had deposited in my Paypal account from hosting services (well all but about $10). I think all I need to pick up is a lightstand flash mount, and I’m done with my lighting spending spree. This is actually partially the wife’s fault too, she suggested that I get some backgrounds, and start taking pictures of people. Pictures aren’t anything without good light, and while I’m not getting a studio strobe, I am getting an Nikon SB800. While I’m starting with one, these can easily be added to, and work together (they have a cool wireless system).


I have lots to do, lots to track, objectives to reach, and goals to complete. So I started thinking of a method of handling these. I thought about The Printable CEO series from David Seah. He has some great ideas about project tracking, goals, and task management. I’ve used some of his forms for work, and I will probably start doing it again too.

Then I considered a quick application myself. The format can be pretty generic, at least on the outside, and maybe customized per goal type. The ultimate output is going to be tasks towards a goal. This could be an interesting project as it has a personal interest in it, so it might actually be something I can complete.

The other method that could be used, is the classic notebook again. While it’s simple, easy, and handy to carry, reporting off of it becomes difficult. So it might be handy to use a notebook for logging, but ultimately keep the data in some kind of reporting application.

So, off I go to inspire myself to get back into the gym routine, lose some weight, become an amazing photographer, kick some projects at work, without forgetting anything, and then, with 5 minutes to spare, take over the world.