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EBER Project -- Bullet Ephemeris Redux

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Since I'm in the middle of flushing out the EBER project, I wanted to explain how I've been using the bullet ephemeris for project planning and management.

First, I created a main project page to capture the high level stuff:


Sorry for all the blank space, but it is a personal project after all.

I ended up using vision statements rather than a long narrative paragraph. This means that my vision statement sounds a lot like the kind of things I'd make sigils out of -- and don't think I won't take advantage of that.

I also very briefly outlined the first two main phases of the project, which are scheduled to take a year. Then I'll have a month long review / planning period to define and kick off year two. This is important for two reasons: one, the entire first year is focused on information gathering so I won't know what's next until I have more information and two, with agile planning I don't have to know everything in advance.

Consider how lightweig…

Talking About Magic and Project Management with Gordon

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I was so pleased to be able to chat with Gordon on his RuneSoup podcast recently. He's a great interviewer and is really good at putting people at ease. Pretty much everything he does is highly recommended.
Amusing note, I'm so bad at marketing that the spouse had to remind me that maybe I want to mention it on my blog too!

The EBER Project -- Backlog and Schedule and Phases Oh my!

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So, let's talk a little bit more about the component parts of a major agile project like the EBER project. At the highest level, your project contains goals, plans, and deadlines. However, we now know more about how each of those things is handled.



Goals



The epics, stories, and tasks that you started creating become part of the backlog of work. A backlog is basically a stack-ranked list of things you need to do to meet your goals. So for example:

[EPIC] story
    task
    task
    task

So for my physical fitness epic, I might have the following stories and tasks

[Fit] I want to get additional regular exercise to increase strength and stamina
        Buy new running shoes
        Take the dog for a run instead of a walk
        Take a walk at lunch during the week
        Research three gym options in the area
        Update budget to account for gym membership
        Schedule gym visits in advance 3x per week
        Sign up for membership
        Pack a gym bag
        Get your a…

The EBER Project -- Epics and Stories

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One of the things that appealed to be most when I first learned about Agile was that they had epics and stories (and themes too, though I don't usually work with those). Since I take a narrative-focused view of life and magic, it makes sense that these terms would appeal to me.

In the last EBER project post, we walked down from strategic to tactical as far as goals. But it's not always a clean jump from a goal to the day to day things you need to do to meet the goal.

I'm going to steal an example from Dave Ramsey's Getting Things Done (tm) method here. I don't like everything about his method (his hoarders-level attitude to saving paper, for example) but there are lots of good nuggets in the system. He talks about how you probably have items on your to do list that never get done like "clean the garage." This is because "clean the garage" isn't granular enough. It's too overwhelming. You really need to break it down to much smaller bits …

The Bullet Ephemeris

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I promised a review of this to someone on Facebook, so I figured why not write about it here and get a 2-fer.

I currently track the majority of my magical stuff in a bullet journal style ephemeris. I know there are some very awesome magical astrological journals and such (like this gorgeous one by Benebell Wen) but for me, there's something important about having my own journal.

First, it's always going to be more accurate. I track some things that are either less common (thanks to Gordon I'm a Decan fan) or completely personal (like times when the current astrological alignments match my personal horoscope). Things that I don't care about don't get in the way. Plus everything is in my timezone.

Second, there's a real power to handwriting the information in. There's skin in the game and a sense of ownership of the book. Plus unlike digital solutions, it's a real world object, which is important in my very digital life.

So what's a bullet journal? Th…

The EBER Project -- Connecting the Dots

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OK, for those of you who work for a company, does your company have a mission statement? Do they have values? Do they articulate some annual or quarterly vision? (Quick Googling is allowed here).

Odds are they do (this is what E-staff do on all those off-sites and retreats after all). However, odds are lower that you know what those things say. And even if you are familiar, those lofty sounding and buzzword laden statements may not have any discernible connection to or impact on what you do every day at work. This is super common by the way, and has been the case at most of the companies I've worked for. They can't connect the dots between the strategic and the tactical. The strategy might actually make sense, but there's no link to your actual work. And the values sound good, but the company may not live by them.

But we aren't talking about companies here, we're talking about your life. And in your life you can do better. You are your own CEO -- who creates the s…

The EBER Project -- Goals and Tasks

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Note: Big update to the Index Page...

One really common mistake people make in projects is confusing goals and tasks. It's such a common mistake that I recently slipped up on this myself during my last personal project (Project Ivy).

A goal is an end result that you want to accomplish. A task is a thing you will do to get to that end result. 

First issue: mistaking tasks for goals

When I started my project (about this time last year actually) I listed "get more outdoor exercise" as a goal. Certainly, getting more exercise isn't a bad idea, but if you think about it, it's not really a goal. The end result I wanted wasn't "more outdoor exercise" -- that was just a means to an end. Really my goals were:

Be more physically fit (which in itself is kind of a crappy goal -- more on this later)Spend more time outdoors The outdoor exercise was just a way of reaching those goals.
So why is this a problem? Well, if you have a small project this may not be a big …

The EBER Project - It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

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You know how it goes. You start some new thing (class, project, exercise routine) and it's all rah! and charge! and jumping in with all kinds of energy... and then a few weeks later, you get burned out and it's not so great anymore. Or things are going OK, but then you get sick or something else comes along and it doesn't stick.

This is really common and happens all the time. And it derails even short-term efforts and goals. But let's be honest, three years is a long time. My energy is going to flag. I will get sick (I haven't been feeling that great actually). Work will get really busy (like right fucking now).

Something will come along -- something always comes along.

Which is why this is my mantra for long and complex projects: It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint.



I'm currently planning for my project initiation and I've penciled it in for the autumn equinox. First, that's when I started my last project. Second, it's past Mercury retrograde. Third,…

America Eclipsed

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This is less a post than a public service announcement.

The eclipse is a bad omen (for the country it traverses, for the ruler of said country, for the people who live that shadow). The space weather is terrible specifically and in general. There is a potential for unrest and violence.

The science geek in me is looking forward to seeing the event, but the witch knows better than to try to make any magical goodness out of it.



Eyes up? Yes, but also head's down. Take care and stay safe.

The EBER Project -- Getting Started Guide

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For those of you who don't read every single thing I write (what's wrong with you?) EBER is my Early to Bed / Early to Rise Project... which isn't even an official project yet because I only just formulated the idea -- this is what beach vacations are good for.

So think of this as a pre-start-start of the project... and kind of a user's guide for those who want to follow along.

PMPM
For those of you who might be new, PMPM is practical magic project management. It's a way of leveraging the tools of classical project management for use in practical enchantment. But like regular project management, PMPM is technique agnostic. That means that you apply these skills to any kind of enchantment you prefer from witchcraft to chaos magic to Goetia. Just like I can use my PM skills to help create software, design a garden, support clients, make hardware, and so on. You do need to know something about these things in order to manage a project for one of them, but the PM skills…

The End of the Summer - and Things to Come

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For my birthday this year we took off for the coast again. The same place we went two years ago. Of course, Gordon recently wrote about how you never step in the same river twice and no place you return to is ever the same... that said, this particular house was alone at the center of a Venn diagram with circles labeled "beachfront" "hot tub" "available" and "we can remotely afford it." So off we went, and no it's not the same, but getting out of town is a good way to wrap up the summer.



So yeah, I've been out of the loop and things have been quiet around here, but not for long. August will always feel like the end of the summer and the start of a new year to me. Probably because I still remember the feeling of starting a new year of school (which where I'm from is mid-August, right after my birthday).

The past two years really have gone by in a flash. My job is still busy and I've had a lot of (admittedly very cool) travel this …

The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Risk Management, Informed Intuition, the Hard Part

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In our last installment, we collated a list of known risks in our lives and we identified the ones we could do something about. But that's the easy part and it's only a start.

It's much more important to identify the risks you don't know about, the "unknown unknowns" to quote some douchebag. And that's more challenging and doesn't just require objectivity, but also informed intuition.


This is going to touch on some some of my old posts, so I recommend following the links.

Here are the three approaches I've identified that can help you get a feel for where the risks are that aren't objectively obvious:

1. Divination
2. Fragility identification
3. Alternative analysis

Divination Divination loves dirty laundry. I've long found that the Tarot, for example, is better at delivering the bad news than the good. I used to think this was just me or the nature of the cards. After all, different types of divination have different modes, approaches, or …

Project Ivy: End Game

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I started my year-long personal PMPM project in 2016 on the autumn equinox. Therefore it's time to take a final look at what I wanted to accomplish before the project wrapup and post-mortem.

Of course, what I want to accomplish is less interesting (except to me obviously) than how to run a year-long project. So this won't be so much about my progress as the hows and whys of following and ranking progress on a long-term project. Note: see the Index for other posts in this series.

So, with just a couple of months to go, I decided to do a gap analysis. This involves looking at the original plan and comparing it to the current plan and status in order to identify anything else I want to focus on or wrap up before the project ends.

You should know that my project had several different goals that landed in different areas of my life. I tried to create a balance of mental, physical, emotional, and magical/spiritual items so that my project would be well-rounded and I could easily shi…

The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Risk Management, Objective Analysis, the Easy Part

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In the previous post, we talked about adopting the correct mindset for risk management. This is critical, because people are either all "la-la-la I can't hear you" or "OMG it's the end of all things!" about risk. Neither of these attitudes are at all helpful. What is helpful?



Objective analysis and informed intuition.

First, analysis: If you are going to deal with the risks in your life you need to be able to look at them. Let's start easy... with the risks you already know about.

Once upon a time, when we were so young that looking back, I'm surprised we ever survived our own naivete, the fellow who's now my husband and I moved in together for the first time. And someone older and wiser (read, late 20s) suggested we get renters insurance. These days no one's going to rent to you without proof of insurance. But back then this wasn't the case and we were pleasantly surprised to realize that for about $11 a month all of our stuff would be …

Sustain-ability: Bitches Get Shit Done

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So, for the past couple of weeks I've had reason to be a bit emotionally under the weather -- sad even. The reason doesn't matter. But due to a couple of techniques, I've been in the upside position of being able to objectively evaluate what I'm feeling and see how it's impacting me... and therefore to do something about it.


As a disclaimer, this isn't about clinical depression, I'm not a medical provider, and I don't give medical advice. In fact, this isn't even about me so much as it's about this process that I went through that I found helpful. Your mileage is totally going to vary.

First, the new things in my life that helped me:

1. Mindfulness practice. In recently months I've been much better about meditating. This is due to a recommendation by Gordon over at Runesoup for Headspace. So credit where credit is due and both are highly recommended. This also happened to be a goal of my PMPM project (kicked off last year and blogged about o…