“In 2014, the average blog post took about 2.5 hours to write. Today, bloggers are spending a lot more time on a typical article; time spent per post has risen 44%. The average blog post now takes 3.5 hours to write.“— 5 Years of Blogging Statistics (Orbit Media)
It’s been a year since I laid out my New Year goals for 2019.
I’m ashamed to say they were mostly a miss.
- Complete coding courses & share the results: I didn’t finish any coding courses.
- Do more creative work and share it: I doodled a bit in my sketchbook towards the end of the year, but I didn’t share anything.
- Publish one new page per week to my site: I only published a couple — my Newsletters and Bookmarks.
- Read at least one book per month, share the takeaways: I read a few books but never wrote takeaways.
- Record and publish one podcast episode per week: I didn’t record any podcast episodes.
- Learn audio production, share my notes: Nada.
- Learn video production, share my notes: Nada.
- Get back into gaming & streaming: Nada.
- Send a monthly newsletter: Nada.
- Spend more time with family: I’ve been able to visit my family a bit more, now that we’re east of Toronto, but not nearly to the extent that I wanted.
- Keep the road trips going. Share the experience: We roadtripped through Italy for our honeymoon, but I didn’t do any sharing.
- Return to a healthy lifestyle: Last couple of months are better, but my weight is still where it was from years ago.
2019 wasn’t a total flop; it was full of life-changing milestones.
We were engaged and married in the spring; vacationed in northern Italy for our honeymoon; bought our first new car in August; and bought a house in September.
On the professional front I moved back into a community-focused role at GoDaddy; presented at a handful of WordCamps; and co-led a workshop at WordCamp US in St. Louis.
I also learned quite a bit about how I work.
Goals are great, but it’s the day-to-day tasks that makes progress. I learned that I need to make the time to work against my goals, and defend that time, otherwise they won’t happen.
Mornings are the most productive time of the day for me, so I need to defend that time and keep it free from meetings.
That time is finite, though — so as I look ahead to 2020, I’m thinking about how to plan my goals around what time I have available.
That means not trying to do too much, limiting my goals, and figuring out how my weekly routines will make progress against those goals.
Underlying all of that is a philosophy that my life is a latticework of projects and relationships, professional and personal.
It’s a duality of my identity. Neither side defines me wholly — but both sides are important.
So, with all of that said, what am I thinking of for 2020?
“When I began that Nakasendō walk, I set a number of arbitrary rules. One was that I had to take someone’s portrait by 10 a.m. each morning. Or else what? Or else I was a dope, a hack, and I would be forced to self-flagellate my way through the rest of the day. This turned out to be a great forcing function.”— Process: Words and Pictures and Walking (Roden)
“Writing in your journal is the only way to find out what you should be writing about.”— What’s All This About Journaling? (New York Times)
Most of my journaling happens in the Notes app. That’s where my ideas first take shape. Then they’ll flip over to Google Docs, Notion, OneNote or my blog, depending on what the journal entry is about.
Related: Austin Kleon on journaling
Deepfakes. Targeting children on Instagram. Cancel culture. Bad YouTube recommendations for kids. Constant surveillance culture. Those same video cameras getting hacked. The fall of journalism and the rise of Buzzfeed. Mass Whatsapp hysteria. The fall of creativity online. The spread of anti-vaccination information on social media platforms. An increase in anxiety and depresion due to the use of social media. Facebook moderators dying on the job. Apps circumventing your privacy settings. No file ownership. Scammy Amazon reviews. Yelp extortion. Gaming Google results. Data rot. Bad self esteem on Instagram. Weird Brand Twitter. Social Credit Monitoring. And, of course, TayBot.
Why is it like this? We took this beautiful thing with so much promise and trashed it. Why are WE like this?
Because we as people are terrible at grasping web scale in our minds. People cannot scale up like machines. We can’t possibly think through all of the consequences of creating behemoth sites and systems that impact billions of people. No one has so far, and no one will in the future.— Humans are not web scale (Normcore Tech)
“There are two types of schedule, which I’ll call the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour. […]
When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.— Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule (Paul Graham)
I’m riding the fence between a manager’s schedule and a maker’s schedule through aggressive timeboxing. I block off my mornings for focused time (typically from 9am – 12pm) knowing that my afternoons will be chopped up by interruptions and meetings.
Whenever possible, I try to stack my meetings — often on a Tuesday or Thursday — so I can drop another block of “Get Stuff Done” time on my calendar for Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.
Colleagues who don’t understand timeboxing get confused — “why is your calendar fully booked?” — but it’s for a reason: to make sure there’s protected time to do the deep work.
My timeboxing estimates aren’t perfect. If a task takes longer to accomplish I’ll extend the time or add more time elsewhere in the week. But the exercise itself, of carving the hours out of my daily schedule, is incredibly useful.
“USWDS is a library of code, tools, and guidance to help government teams design and build fast, accessible, mobile-friendly government websites backed by user research and modern best practices. USWDS 2.0 is an important update to the design system — it introduces a powerful toolkit of new features to help make creating useful, consistent digital services faster, simpler, and more fun.”
U.S. government… issues… aside, I appreciate that the Digital Service puts out their work like this for other organizations — including other governments — to learn from.
“24 ways is the advent calendar for web geeks. For twenty-four days each December we publish a daily dose of web design and development goodness to bring you all a little Christmas cheer.”— 24 Ways
The annual tradition of 24 Ways has chugged along since the nascent days of Web 2.0. Every December, a group of web designers & developers come together to share useful tips and tidbits for their peers. It’s a fun trip down memory lane and you may learn a thing or two along the way.
P.S. Merry Christmas…!
“Most writers have their own special “rules for writing,” even if they don’t talk about them. A lot can be learned by reading about other authors’ approaches to writing.”— 40 Writers’ “Rules for Writing” (Authors Publish)
A roundup of “rules for writing” from 40 authors.
Good writing is table stakes for the future of work. I’m not a great writer, but I’m trying to improve every day, usually by learning and borrowing from others.
“Most of us have heard of the generic advice – use smaller images and don’t forget to compress them, avoid too many plugins, pick a faster host, leverage browser caching. But if we’ve done all that and want to improve further, what next? How do we further optimise our WordPress websites to boost our speed, improve our responsivity and encourage Google to rank us higher?”— 10 Micro Optimisations for a Faster WordPress Website (Jem Jabella)
Found this useful compilation of WordPress speed optimization tips while cleaning up my Todoist backlog.