I’ve been trying really hard to be generous with the backyard bakery.  Making extra large loaves, being accommodating around special requests and the like.

But sometimes I’m my own worst enemy.   Take this week for example.

I opted out of baking on Saturday because that’s Remembrance Day.  I don’t want to be working that day – it’s a day for veterans and for peace.  So I moved the second bake day to Sunday instead.

The only thing is, nobody was ordering for Sunday.  Maybe 20 loaves total, spread across 5 kinds.  4 Seeded Rye.  2 Pain de Campagne.  1 demi baguette.

It’s crazy.  It’s a waste of wood to get the brick oven hot for 3 half bakes.  And how do I even mix a single 300g baguette?

So I cancelled Sunday’s bake, but offered to bake the bread on Friday along with the Friday orders.  Friday wasn’t so big; one extra bake will cover it.

But I forgot about the varieties.

I’m off to bed early tonight, because tomorrow I have 10 mixes to do.  Granted, some are quite small (those 10 mixes will cover 5 bakes) but it’s going to be a pretty hairy day to keep everything straight and hopefully have everything proof at a predictable rate.

But you know what?  That’s the point of the whole project.  To be generous.  To go the extra mile for people.  So I’m not complaining, even a little bit.

I don’t want to waste wood (hence cancelling Sunday) but I also won’t disappoint my bread buddies.  So I’ve made good notes, double checked all the labels on my little preferment containers and will give it an honest go in the morning.

I’ll keep you posted…


Avoiding the Hard Part

I sat at my computer this morning and started fretting almost immediately.

It was still early. The sun wasn’t even up over the houses across the street. But I knew I needed to work on my podcast. It’s my Big Project. I need to ship something.

So what did I do today? (Project work is in italics.)

  • Start revising the concept and goals for the podcast.
  • Check email.
  • Make a cup of coffee.
  • Check Slack
  • Get a stewing hen doing its thing in the slow cooker.
  • Brainstorm show names.
  • Look at logo sites.
  • Email by buddy about making the show logo.
  • Worry about this weekend’s bake
  • check email
  • Send a reminder email about this weekend’s bake
  • Write a letter to a friend.
  • Check Slack
  • Eat lunch.
  • Go for a walk and mail the letter.
  • Surf YouTube
  • Start a fire
  • Check email again
  • Once more through Slack
  • Start thinking about supper
  • Write this post

Not exactly focused on my Big Project, am I? What’s happening here?

I’m running away from the tension. Avoiding the hard part. In general terms, I’m hiding.

The crazy thing is that I can’t sit still long enough to figure out what the hard part actually is!

But I’m definitely avoiding something.

Introducing the Daily Micro Habit

Avoiding the hard part is expected behaviour. It’s an automatic response from the ancient lizard brain. So the key is to notice the avoidance, then trick the lizard and get back to work.

That’s where the Daily Micro Habit comes in. What’s the new habit that you’ll repeat 100 times a day if needed to notice when you’re hiding?

When I first wrote my podcast goal down, I wrote this as the habit:

I’ll make progress by keeping daily office hours, which I’ll track. Typically they will be in the mornings, Monday – Thursday.

Each evening, I’ll take a quick reflection on the day to make sure I’ve kept my promise for office hours and will set a mini-goal for the next day.

So far, so bad. I’m not blocking time and I’m not reflecting either. I may need extra medicine.

But I see the problem. That’s a start.

Shipping Matters

One of the best things of the altMBA course is that we were forced to ship a new thing every day.

Either a project, or good feedback on other projects, or reflections on the feedback we received.

Every. Single. Day.

One of the best things of the altMBA course is that we were forced to ship a new thing every day.

Either a project, or good feedback on other projects, or reflections on the feedback we received.

Every. Single. Day.

Sometimes two things.

At first, I didn’t think I could do it, especially around my other work. I was literally spinning around trying to get myself under control. Scrambling to make every deadline.

But after the first week, I got my feet under me and fell into a sort of rhythm. I had ‘work time’ and ‘home time’ and ‘altMBA time.’

And you know what, not only did everything get done, but it got done well. Or at least, good enough.

Shipping is More Important Than Perfection

The biggest lesson is that you’re better off shipping something on time rather than getting it perfect.

Why is that?

  • You’ll never hit perfect anyway. It’s just a stall tactic in your head to avoid the vulnerability of shipping something real.
  • The longer you wait, the longer you avoid getting feedback. This is no good. Quality feedback will change your work anyway, or at least your ideas. Better to ship and get that feedback quickly
  • Missing dates is addictive. It’s too easy to miss your second date. So don’t miss even one.

Imperfect Is Not Garbage

It’s just not perfect.

There’s a difference between shipping crap and shipping imperfect work.

I define ‘crap’ as dishonest, shallow, or purposefully vague work.

‘Imperfect’ is still honest, deep, thoughtful work. Maybe it’s not 100% complete, or could benefit from some generous feedback, but the core is there.

If you feel you need to keep polishing, just ship. Get the feedback then ship again.

You’ll be glad you did.

The Resistance Won A Battle. But I’m Still Fighting The War.

There’s reading about it, and then there’s living it.

I’m a big fan of Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art.”  The book is a kick in the head for all creative people, including writers and entrepreneurs.   It both names and to helps fight the Resistance, that shitty part of your brain that stops you from doing the (seemingly) risky, scary and essential creative work you were meant to do.

I’ve read all of Steven’s non-fiction work and it helps.  But oh boy it’s not helping this month.  The damn Resistance has me hard.  It’s clawing at my brain stem right now.

Some may call it a migraine, but I know exactly what it is.  You don’t just get a migraine when you sit down to write.  But I’ve had three over the past week. Each time it takes me three days to get the courage up to write again.

I tried to trick it, by painting or recording a video instead of writing.  Smart, eh?

Well it wasn’t me that was being smart.  It was that f’ing Resistance again, deflecting the whole time.  Don’t create!  Research a new medium instead.  Look for tripods.  Adjust the lighting.  Watch yourself umm and ahh on video instead of writing clearly like you can.

It took a ‘knock me in bed’ migraine today to finally get it.  I See You.  You prick.

I’m writing about you now, Resistance.  Then I’m hitting Publish.

Then I’m finishing my article.  And starting another one.

You won for the last three weeks.  I won today.



What Are You Up To?

Saturday Farmer’s Market, Estremoz, Portugal

Cindy and I walked down to the Farmer’s Market today. It was fun to see the vendors again and catch up on things. It’s been two years since I baked for the Market but lots of people still want to see our bread there.

There was lots of interest in our trip and what we saw. There was even more interest in what we were doing next. Sadly, I think my response was a poor one.

I have this habit of telling people I need to figure something out, because I can’t be “unemployed” for much longer. But that’s the wrong answer.

  • I’m already talking to several places in town about starting or improving their bread production
  • There are people signed up to The Baker’s Bench who are ready for another baking course
  • I’m running into people on the street who say they enjoy our travel blog and want me to keep writing

So whether I say it or not, I’m already a baker, a teacher and a writer. And I’m doing all those things. I just didn’t get paid today.

It’s too easy to describe ourselves only in terms of what we do for money. That’s a trap. There’s a lot more going on in all of us.