Resolution Advice From a Project Manager

Posted by Seattlejo on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

someecards.com - I say we open our own gym and call it

Did you make a couple of resolutions on January 1st? Are you now wondering how to execute on your vision and how to reach your goals? Did you realize that as we hit the 15th of the month that you don’t really have an action plan for your success? As a project manager I live and breath making and executing on plans. I take a vision, either my own or something given to me by someone else creation an action plan and help make things happen.

So here are the things you can do to make sure your resolution

1.Be REAListic. 

Goals are great, but some are more achievable then others. Start small, or if you have to start big set milestones that can be completed easily. You’ll notice I have some financial goals on my agenda. In a couple of years I’d like to be buying my first house. That’s a huge goal. Instead of tilting at windmills and pushing ahead immediately, I’m employing some strategy. Small savings goals, milestones of controlled expenses and I’ve even included rewards for some of these smaller goals.

For example, part of my interim goal might be to control my dining out expenses. I’d average out my expenses for eating out over the past 6 months, then make a goal to reduce it by 1/2. Will this add up to a housing down payment? Not directly but it’s a step in the right direction.

2. Task it out.

Take your big goal and write out all the little things you’re going to have to do to achieve it. Think of all the little things that are going into your resolution. Write them out in a list. It’s going to seem overwhelming at first but remember we’re not doing all these things at once. This list is only a draft, expect to update it.  If you know someone who has completed your goal in the past you might bring it to them and have them give you input. This is a living document

For an example, let’s look at my first goal, Skate Roller Derby. I know i want to skate the Rat City Roller Girls Making Bacon camp in 2013 so my list looks something like this:

  • Join local gym
  • Contract trainer for training sessions
  • Research roller derby minimum skating requirements
  • Research gear requirements
  • Purchase skates
  • Purchase helmet
  • Purchase pads
  • Find Roller derby practice sites
  • Attend practice events
  • Attend Roller Derby Matches
  • Strength work-out
  • Cardio work-out
  • Volunteer at Rat City Roller Girls matches
  • Register for Making Bacon camp
  • Attend Making Bacon camp

Some tasks will become reoccurring. For example “strength work-out” and “cardio work-out” will become regular events. Other tasks won’t be possible until we’ve completed other tasks. For example, I can’t attend a Roller Derby skate practice  until I research skates and purchase skates and pads. This leads us into our next item. Remember you want small, easy tasks, tasks that should take no more then 3-4 hours at a given time with few exceptions. This means you can sit down and complete a task over the weekend, without giving up your whole weekend.

3.Build a Schedule. 

Look at your tasks that you’ve created and figure out what order things need to happen in, what items need to finish before others need to start and develop a sane schedule to make things work. You want to make sure you give yourself time to breath, plus wiggle room in case things don’t work out right the first time. Again, using my roller derby example, I might decide to have my skate research done by the end of January, so I can order my skates. Instead of scheduling my first skate practice for the first week of February, I’d probably push it out until mid- to late- February. Just in case the skates are delayed  or I find the skates I order don’t fit, or I need more gear for skating.

With a larger, longer term goal like my goal to buy a house, you might schedule a couple of “goal review” sessions, to ensure you are on track, with some sort of bonus if you reach a goal. For example, if I can reduce my dining out expenses by 50% or more for 3 months in a row I might treat myself to a nice dinner out. Or there may be reoccurring rewards, for every $500 saved, I may put $50 in my free-spending money. Having a schedule lets you see when these milestones should be met and when the rewards would be met.

While many project managers use Microsoft Project, I simply use Google calendar and Google Docs to keep track of all of this. I have a spreadsheet set up for all of my projects, with an index recording what step the project is at, and a tab/sheet for each project. I’m also very fond of physical lists, and white boards to document ongoing projects.

4.You might fail

Project failure is a fact of life. You may not be successful at completing your project. However, by planning out your project like this, you’ll know how and why you got derailed and be able to retool your plan, so you can be successful. Most often  failure comes from overly ambitious schedules or unrealistic requirements. You are your own boss and stakeholder in this project, you can decide what is imperative to success or what can slide until version 2.0. Don’t be afraid of failure, be afraid of being stagnant.


This isn’t my box.

Posted by Seattlejo on January 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

Someone, to remain nameless, decided to recycle Tristan’s big box over Christmas.

To be fair, he’d chewed it up a bit and it looked like a hamster box with cardboard shavings. Tristan went hunting around the house for a suitable replacement and found this one a little…. lacking.



Welcome to 2013

Posted by Seattlejo on January 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

I spent last night in the company of those I love dearly. We played games, we ate, and we toasted to the New Year. It was exactly as it was supposed to be.


Now all the guests are gone after a long day of lounging, movie watching and more game playing. I’m settled into the couch  with the cats and looking ahead at 2013. It’s the time that one traditionally looks at resolutions, so here’s the score from last year and the intentions I’m setting up for 2013.

For 2012 I had 1 resolution. To reduce my responsibilities. I gave myself permission to let go of the blogging both here and one FatandCrafty. I decided I’d spend less time worry about providing public updates on my life and spend more time just living life.

Mindful of my tendency to overcommit I decided to push back on the idea of picking up new hobbies, and even returning to old hobbies until I’d put some temporal distance from the commitment that school and graduation was. This worked. I didn’t pick up any new hobbies and have let the old ones settle out.

I’m calling my intention for 2012 a success.


So where does that leave 2013?

With some goals to achieve, and a clean slate to start with.

1. Skate Roller Derby. (Summer 2013)


I want to do the Making Bacon Derby Camp held by the Rat City Roller Girls. They’ve confirmed they will have one during the summer and I’m working with a trainer to prepare for it. This means building my core, increasing my stamina and getting back on skates for the first time in a decade. I don’t want to actually skate with a team, just to make it through the training camp and see how I like it.


2. Creativity (December 2013)

More creativity in writing, storytelling and craft

I’m going to retool the blog a bit here, and start bringing in posts from my other blogs, making this sort of a central clearing house for everything I writing. I’m hoping to get at least 1 good post each week, and at the end of the year to have cleared 50 posts total.

I’m also going to play with fiction again, I have 2 stories that I owe to friends and my failed Nanowrimo idea from last year.

To push forward in story telling, I’m going to try my hand at a couple of RPGs, leading two different games as GM. One will be based on the world of Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni, the other in a Steam Punk Universe of sorts.

Lastly, I’m going to try my hand at sewing. I have 3 new patterns to try: a bag, a portfolio for the iPad and a small wallet.

3. Finances (December 2013)

Lastly, I’m looking to clean up my finances and get into a rhythm with my student loans and start saving for a house. I’m going to see if I can reduce my spending, and maximize the purchases I do make. By the end of the year, I’d like to have my credit under control, to have cleared up my credit card and to have a savings account that is growing.

It’s a start for 2013, just a few things to work, some broad goals, set intentions to guide my new year. I’ll get more specific and reset these goals as appropriate through the year.



Looking Back at 2012

Posted by Seattlejo on December 31, 2012 in Uncategorized
We’re at the end of 2012 already. I’m not entirely  sure where the year went but it’s time to look back at what happened.

As expected I graduated in June. This turned out to be more emotional and more satisfying then expected. I was honored to receive the department award for my major, and was treated to having my Dad watch me walk across the stage. I completed an extremely complex Capstone, leading a team of 15 people to success in creating an online learning portal for information science curriculum. The site turned into a proof of concept, and inspired a number of follow-on projects.



Another friend  of mine just graduated from law school and lamented “I miss school, those were my people”. I feel very much the same way. My classmates were a peanut gallery of creativity and academia. there was always someone willing to let me pick their brain  or to make me laugh when I was having a rough time and stressed out.  (In particular, I remember Nandana and Lu making fun of me when I tried the 4-hour energy  shot and ended up with a hangover )


And while it wasn’t part of 2012, my trip to Indianapolis with Smriti and Priya will always be on the top of my list


Leaving the iSchool was difficult, and I took a break from some of my colleagues there as I moved on to a new employer, a new place to live and tried to find my balance. I’m still pursuing educational options though, looking at the Virtual Worlds Certificate, working on coding, and joining a PMP study group for the new year.  A PhD is still on the horizon, though not for another 3-4 years ideally. (In 2014 I’ll start interviewing potential schools)


In the end there were three job offers, and I took one with a large local employer who promised to invest in me as an employee. I don’t talk a lot about it publicly, but my position offers a lot of development opportunities, and my manager is extremely supportive of me finding my stride in the organization and following my dreams.  He’s willing to let me chase down new challenges and look for opportunities in the larger organization.


It’s a rotational position, meaning I’m going to hold my current role for 1 year, then move onto a different part of the IT organization. All told, there will be 3 of these positions and I’ll end up  with a larger view of the company over all. The only drawback is that I’ll likely be moving from Everett when I switch my position next time.


Leaving RIM was difficult, as the organization had been so supportive of me. Coming into my own as a Scrummaster, traveling to Waterloo on business, and working with a team overseas. My internship at RIM really helped me sharpen my skills and figure out my focus for the future.




For the first time in a decade I moved out of the metro Seattle area, 30 miles north to Everett. I’ve got a great little apartment for the cats and I. I’m walking distance to shopping, theaters and transportation. Getting to work is a breeze and I’m able to easily wander down to Seattle. My local gym (YMCA) is awesome. My local library has a coffee shop built inside, a fantastic selection and it’s quick to get my reserves. (Plus their renewal policies are very lenient).


There are some drawbacks. Very little is open on the weekends, things close early in the evenings and sometimes it’s hard to convince folks to come visit.


I don’t know too many people up in my neighborhood, and very few folks in the building, but that’s to be expected as a newcomer into an urban area. Now that I’m settled in, I’m looking forward to exploring the neighborhood more and documenting some of the best bits of living outside of Seattle.


This year saw really big changes for me relationship wise. Romantic relationships transitioned into friendships, Other friendships became more critical as I found the support I needed.  There’s been some ebb and flow, but again Ryan tops my list as the best “Bro” over. I’ve seen him mellow a little bit as he’s entered a relationship with my new “Bro-amore” Nikki.  The two of them were amazing through my move, and beyond. My favorite weekend of the year was spent out at Silverwood for Nikki’s birthday, just the three of us. A long road trip, punctuated by picnic dinners, stops for ice cream, and the best tilt-a-whirl ride ever.


I won’t lie, I had my heart broken in 2012, more then once. (and perhaps created some disappointment of my own)  I’m not reeling from the heartache anymore, but I am learning some lessons about trust and vulnerability. An invitation to be part of my life as a friend, companion or significant other is a precious thing. I’m disappointed that it wasn’t treated with the care it deserves, but have dusted myself off and am moving on. I learned a lot about who I am, what I want and where I think my path lies.
And there is some hope. Late in the year I met someone, someone persistent, who made sure I knew he was interested, who’s gone above and beyond the pale to show me how he feels for me. A late in the year spontaneus adventure to Orcas for dinner clinches it. He’s going to feature significantly in the New Year.


Having my dad come out for graduation was a great present. Simply sharing with him my life in Seattle, introducing him to the people who are important to me, and letting him see that I’m ok.  Rebuilding our relationship has meant a lot to me this year, and I considered seriously taking a job opportunity back in Chicago.
Chicago is more then just my hometown. It’s where my family is. Dad, Carolyn, Grandpa, Jason and Melissa, and the world’s cutest Nephews. I’m hoping to make a trip back early in 2013, possibly convincing a gentleman to accompany me and meet my family. Ideally I’ll make a couple of trips this year, once in March and once closer to the holidays next year.
In the end 2012 was about changes, connections and a whole lot of growth. I look forward to a more stable 2013, but there will be a whole seperate post about what I envision and hope for.
Signing off for 2012


The 50th Kickstarter

Posted by Seattlejo on October 17, 2012 in Current Affairs, Kickstarter

At this point I’ve backed 50 Kickstarter projects. This means that I’ve contributed anywhere from $1 to $100 in support of someone else’s creative ideals, helping them launch their work into  a tangible product.

My first, like a number of those that followed, was a friend’s project. !Zombre!: Part Zombie all hombre. Most of my projects have been video game related. Since I’m a  supporter of Indie games and the game industry in general this isn’t a surprise.  Second place is a tie between publishing and food.(One of my favorite authors has found I’ll back most anything he considers, I think he’s just that awesome)

For my 50th backed Kickstarter project I opted for something a little different. A radio journalism program taking a deeper look at politics and decoding what is there, providing a unique perspective, different from the typical Red/Blue stories you see today.

They are about 48 hours out, and haven’t quite made goal yet. Please consider giving them a listen and tossing a couple of bucks in? It’s not as shiny as a new game, but it’s entertaining, educational and important.


Home Alone.

Posted by Seattlejo on October 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


So I’ve been living in Everett for two months at this point.  I’ve also hit a milestone where I did not actually go down to Seattle at all in the past 2 weeks. (I did leave Everett to go to Kirkland once and Bellevue once, but beyond that it’s been all Everett all the time.)

I’m learning what living alone is about, and how to manage myself without anyone else’s input.  There have been a few bumps and bobbles, for example I’m having a hard time finding decent coffee up here. I’ve got a nearby Starbucks  but really I’m looking for a Ballard Coffee Works or Makeda to buy beans at on a regular basis.  I’m also learning to cook for just one, and that I need to make sure I do eat. It’s occasionally too easy to just keep working or writing and blow off dinner altogether. Shopping and cooking for 1 is a completely different ball game then cooking for 5. I’ve had to apologize to Ryan for insinuating that it was easy, and I’ve been eager to cook for house guests. I’ve also had a request to teach Russell how to cook, so I’m thinking about that and will likely be working on that.


The cats are calming down, and  are well behaved for the most part. I come home and find proof of their misbehavior on the counters, but most nights they let me sleep and Tristan is learning that curling up to sleep with me is not a terrible thing.

The house is shaping up as I’d like, though I need to add some more furniture to make it more comfortable. Before my next dinner party I need a few more plates and silverware to go with it.  I’ve also got to have someone come in and help me put up shelves and artwork. I’ll likely find a handyman for that.

While I may only be in this apartment for a year, depending on where next year’s rotation is,  learning to live alone again is a valuable skill, and I’m trying to be mindful of the lessons I am learning.  How to handle the quiet, how to stay motivated and how to ask for help when I need it.


A Morning in Mukilteo

Posted by Seattlejo on October 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


Playing in Everett. (Adventures in Baseball)

Posted by Seattlejo on August 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

There were fireworks at my house last night.

So Everett is the home to an “A” Baseball team. Not AAA, not AA, but A. The Everett Aquasox statdium is a short walk from the house and I can see the lights from here. My friend Susan contacted me after I moved. “Lets go to an Aquasox Game!”

She got the tickets and we were off. My baseball experience is pretty limited to the occasional cubs game or stitch and pitch at the Mariners so I wasn’t too schooled on the mechanics of the game, and that clearly didn’t matter.

From Blog Photos

The park was small and the brochure I got clued me into some of terminology I had never heard before. For example “Can of Corn” for an easy catch and “Plunk” for being hit with the ball as a batter. The seats we got were amazing. As the team warmed up we were right behind them, protected only by this mesh netting.

From Blog Photos

Thankfully everyone held onto their bat. There was chair side drink service, Susan had a beer, I had a vitamin water and we settled into watching the game. While the Aquasox themselves didn’t do so well they went a long way to make the game entertaining. Mid-game there were dance contests, hula hoop contests, and the cutest kids race around the diamond, where at each base they added another piece of the baseball uniform. (Imagine if you will, two little boys running in full size baseball gear, dropping shoes, pants that come up to their nose, and shirts to swim in. I couldn’t stop laughing. )

From Blog Photos

Unfortunately the Aquasox lost their game, and the season is almost over. The All Star game is coming up on the 4th, and after that I think I’ll have to wait until next year to enjoy it again. Evidently they have theme nights each week from Vintage Car Night to Ladies Night. Saturday nights? Fireworks. I sat on my balcony and watched them in the distance, delighted at my new home town.


Exiled in Everett? Escape to Everett?

Posted by Seattlejo on August 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve been in the apartment for 2 weeks now, and spent most of this weekend unpacking. I’m down to 6 boxes left, and those are waiting for the new bookshelf delivery on Wednesday. In searching through things I realized just how much I have and how much I am missing.

For example:

  • I have my grandmother’s china, but no every day plates.
  • I had a pair of chopsticks but no silverware. (Fixed already)
  • I have eating bowls, but no  medium serving bowls.
  • I have coffee cups, but no drinking glasses. (Fixed already)

In due time these things will be filled in. Since I don’t plan to do a ton of entertaining  (in part due to the distance) I figure I’ll do fine with what I have.

The Clock of the Odd Bells

Everett itself has been entertaining. First off, everything closes up by 9 at the latest. Since I’m a night owl, this is frustrating. Going for dinner or coffee  after 8? Not going to happen.

Secondly that belltower you see above? Has the most bizarre pattern. Some days it goes off every hour for the number of hours. Six bells at six. Other times it goes off 1 bell for whatever hour it is. On a Sunday morning it went off seven times at seven, but once at three pm. It doesn’t appear to be consistent, and always has me wondering.

I’m slowly exploring places to eat and shop. I don’t need a lot of things and don’t like to eat out too much. Plus I’m still spending time in Seattle a couple nights/days a week. (Brunch this morning, a dinner last week etc.)

More as I figure out what it’s like to live so far north.



What lies beyond?

Posted by Seattlejo on August 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
What lies beyond? by tanuki_green
What lies beyond?, a photo by tanuki_green on Flickr.

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