Categories
Life

Building schedules through timeboxing

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.

Categories
Tech

United States Web Design System

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.

Related: Canada’s Web Experience Toolkit (WET)

Categories
Tech

24 ways: The advent calendar for web geeks

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…!

Categories
Books Life

Rules for writing, according to famous writers

“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.

Categories
Tech

Micro optimizations for WordPress

“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.

Categories
Books

A good sentence

“A good sentence imposes a logic on the world’s weirdness. It gets its power from the tension between the ease of its phrasing and the shock of its thought slid cleanly into the mind. A sentence, as it proceeds, is a paring away of options. Each added word, because of the English language’s dependence on word order, reduces the writer’s alternatives and narrows the reader’s expectations. But even up to the last word the writer has choices and can throw in a curveball. A sentence can begin in one place and end in another galaxy, without breaking a single syntactic rule.”

How to write the perfect sentence (The Guardian)
Categories
Books Life

Retaining more of what you read

Knowledge will only compound if it is retained. In other words, what matters is not simply reading more books, but getting more out of each book you read.”

7 Ways to Retain More of Every Book You Read (James Clear)

From James Clear: A helpful list of tips for retaining more of what you read.

I’m giving this a shot by treating every book as if I need to write a report on it afterwards. That means a lot of note taking. I’m hopping between physical notes on steno pads and using Notion more frequently as my personal knowledge base.

Categories
Community Life

Coffeeklatch

“Coffeeklatch is an online interview magazine filled with personal and interesting stories, shared by creative entrepreneurs over coffee in their homes.”

About (Coffeeklatch)

Beautiful visuals and thoughtful conversations. It’s a really interesting approach that I could see other orgs adopt, e.g. coworking spaces, team profiles, et al.

Categories
Business Tech

Improve your UX design with copy docs

“Copy docs stem from the advertising world, where they’re typically called copy decks. A copy doc is a single document created in a word-processing tool like Microsoft Word, Dropbox Paper, or Google Docs. It holds all the copy for a single project: a landing page, a series of mobile screens, a set of onboarding emails, or anything else.”

How to improve your design process with copy docs (Dropbox Design)

Something that’s irks me to no end is when I see product mockups or screenshots with filler text that makes no sense.

Text is just as important to the product experience as everything else (arguably even more important for things like dashboards).

If I’m drafting a product announcement or a guest post about a product, I don’t want the embedded screenshots or demo videos to have lorem ipsum filler fluff.

Enter copy docs.

Riffing from the source article:

“Many user experience writers (UX) and content strategists are familiar with design tools like Sketch, InVision, and Balsamiq. These are great resources for a team to share feedback on wireframes, mockups, and prototypes.

But what about the copy? How do you and your team decide on in-product copy to place in those wireframes, mockups, and prototypes? For many teams, the answer is something like, We copy and paste from an email or a Slack post. It’s scattershot, without a straightforward process. There’s no single place for copy iterations to live or get feedback, the way there is for design.

If this sounds familiar, your UX team could benefit from using copy docs. These are also known as copy decks, content templates, or copy platforms. A copy doc is a one-stop “source of truth” for all the copy in a project.”

I think copy docs are something that product marketers and product developers should jam on together. Why? Because if these designs are going to make an appearance in marketing assets, the text should fit the context.

E.g. if you’re going to use a scenario, telling a story about a fictional user trying to complete some task, the text in the example screenshots should feel like they’re part of that story.

Categories
Life Tech

Visual storytelling in meetings

“Story telling matters as a foundational part of communication between people. You can tell stories by writing, speaking, filming, drawing, coding, and much more. […]

By adding visuals to your communication, you invite others in to participate and understand. You’re able to focus on the idea rather than each other, which is disarming and makes communication smoother.”

The value of quick visual storytelling (Automattic Design)

Shoutout to Joshua Wold for this blog post on visual storytelling.

I’m also a visual thinker. On the rare occasions that I’m meeting with folks in person I’m usually hitting the whiteboard.

Unlike Joshua, though, I rarely lean into this skill during virtual meetings.

It’s not that I don’t have the tools — I have a small Wacom tablet on my desk at home — it’s just that it feels so… weird?… to initiate this sort of thing over a Zoom call.

Maybe I need to change that?