Wow. What a year. In my last post I talked about some changes in my life at work and at home. Work has been incredibly busy and “action-packed.” The product I’ve been trying to shepherd for a year finally shipped. If you’re familiar with the ads/media industry, the corporate blog postI wrote probably describes it best. There’s still quite a bit more work left, but I do feel like it marks a big accomplishment for myself, if not for my team.
I’m still working in productivity tools. Largely for myself to help tame the craziness, but these are projects that I can get excited about. It’s amazing how much time we spend just organizing and prioritizing instead of doing. For the past few months I’ve been trying out variants of Mark Forster’s autofocus system and building some tooling to make it more automatic and to gather stats that I can use to make and monitor improvements and processes.
Speaking of measurements, for the past few months I’ve been keeping track not only of my weight, but also stress levels and resting heart rate. Today, I grabbed my stress scores (from Azumio’s Stress Check app) and plotted them against time. I’ve been measuring both in the morning and after work, so each day nominally has a range of stress. Personally, I just find the chart aesthetically interesting in its own right.
Memory, measurement and quantification seem to be the big themes in my life right now:
Work projects: My role at work has changed. I’m now managing my company’s product lines having to do with audience and measurement. It’s a big change from the video player SDKs I used to work on.
Personal projects: I’ve been working on a toolset to help me work more productively. Really it’s a ser of tools that let me drive my workday off of Asana. Part of that toolset will be metrics and dashboards to help me understand where my time and energy are going. It’s also been nice having a coding project to work on.
Habits: I just started trying to get into some better habits. I’m using Lift to keep track how well I’m doing. I’m trying to do stuff like not read e-mail before my first coffee, and to take an hour each day to implement something.
Daily journal: I’ve been keeping a private journal in Evernote. Every day I save one picture, one thought, and one accomplishment. Keeps it easy and fun and gives me something to look back on.
Wow. Has it really been 11 months since my last blog post? I guess time really does fly. I can’t say too much has changed in the intervening months. I’ve been working pretty hard on some ambitious projects at work. That’s not all bad, but the hours have been a little brutal.
It was kind of funny to see some of the projects on my todo list from this time last year. I literally just did two of them in the last two weeks. So much for staying productive.
I’ve been chipping away at a music app 30-60 mins a day. That’s not enough time to make a ton of progress, but enough to keep the thing going without completely losing interest.
There are so many projects I want to work on. But, at the end of the day (or week), I usually end up vegging since my brain and body are tired. I’m not sure how to manage this. Maybe it’s just a matter of setting some ridiculously attainable goals. Some of the things I want to do:
- Move my bookshelf two feet to the right (more effort than it sounds when you’re doing it by yourself)
- Organize my tools into toolboxes
- Get my spare bicycle parts organized into divider boxes
- Get my Ray and Charles Eames poster framed and hung
- Sell spare bicycle parts I’m not going to use
- Build a window farm in my kitchen or bedroom
- Get my first iPhone app out the door and into the hands of users
A lot of this is small stuff and I just need to commit to spending the money for stuff. For example, the organization stuff could easily be done once I had the actual boxes. I can easily hang a poster once I have the frame.
I did make some progress on my app, which I’m excited about. A domain name has been purchased, and a Google Apps account setup. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I’ll be writing about how the launch went and whether I’m at least recovering the costs of developing and running the project. I’m going to keep it a side project for now in the hopes that it makes for a good jumping off point for other things in the future.
When I talk about a “long ride” I usually mean something like a fast ride to Nyack and back. I took a different kind of long ride today. I did a long loop through Harlem, over to Randall’s Island, then down through Astoria, Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg and back through the Lower East Side, SoHo, the West Village, and then came home via the Hudson River bike path.
I had a fun time just cruising along. Randall’s Island, in particular, was fun because it’s a mix of pavement and gravel/dirt paths. There are some great views of Manhattan and Queens from the island and the RFK bridge.
Next time, I think I’ll find some more places to visit in the various neighborhoods and make it a day trip through the outer boroughs!
Here’s an interesting 10 minute video I found. The message isn’t new, but it’s a good one to repeat. I’m guilty of a lot of the bad habits here.
I started commuting by bike in early 2009. After three years, I’ve tried a few different bike styles. To date:
- Single speed with drop bars and panniers
- Fixed gear with swept back bars and panniers
- Folding 3 speed (the Brompton!)
The Brompton was a bit of retail therapy, but I did enjoy commuting on it for the past year. The 3 speed hub is great and the fold is a neat conversation starter and solves a lot of problems storing the bike when at work. What didn’t work so well with the Brompton was trips that took me from one part of town to another.
As small as the Brompton folds, it doesn’t go everywhere in NYC and it can be a pain in the butt to move around crowded spaces. I ended up locking up the bike outdoors a lot — a process that’s easy but somewhat defeats the purpose.
I think I’ll keep the Brompton for now and perhaps try bringing it on some trips to Boston or Washington DC, but I’m going to go back to riding the Raleigh. I’ve been riding it a bit more lately and have forgotten how fun it is. I’ll be adding a generator hub so that I always have lights, as well as a two speed kick shift hub so that I have a low gear for the hills.
So here we are. Looking 2012 straight into the kisser and having given 2011 the proverbial bird. To be honest, I haven’t given much thought to what I want 2012 to be like. I know I’d like to continue growing and learning new skills.
Maybe that’s what I want 2012 to feel like:
- I want to feel productive.
- I want to finish some of my own projects
- I want to keep up a tidy home that I and others enjoy spending time in.
- I’d like to learn to meditate (and maybe some yoga) so that I can clear my mind and get some restful sleep for once in my life
- I want to cook a dish with at least one ingredient I’ve never cooked with before
I think it boils down to wanting to find my place or center in the world. When I look back on 2011, that’s what I feel like I’ve been missing. Something or someone to have my back. In 2011, I didn’t feel like I had that. Let’s hope I can build one in 2012.
I’m sitting in my kitchen with a fresh cup of coffee, some fruit and nut crostini, and a jar of pickled figs. For some reason, I’m feeling thoughtful and nostalgic. There’s no doubt I’m feeling this way because 2011 is about to end and 2012 about to start.
I’m still not quite sure what to make of everything that happened this year. I suppose the big event was that I started a new job in June. It’s not just a new company for me, though. This job is also a new position, and deals with a very different part of the same market I was working in before.
Adjusting has been difficult at times. There’s been a lot to learn both about my new company’s products, as well as learning to be a product manager. I still think it was the right decision. I’m getting the experiences I wanted. Nevertheless, there’s something uneasy about it. I still sort of feel like I’m living in someone else’s home, so to speak.
In January, I had my first surgery in a hospital. Late last year, a blood vessel in my fingertip began growing out of control. Sort of a benign tumor. Nobody knows how these things start. By the time I had my operation, the surgeon had to take a decent hunk of my fingertip off. All is well now, save for my right middle finger being a bit shorter than my left. You really can’t notice it unless you look closely, at which point you’ll notice a bit of dimpling on my fingertip. I make more typos now.
I did a decent job of stimulating the economy this year. Some new furniture was purchased, as was a new bike. Various consumer electronic devices were purchased as well, though these have not changed my life in any particular way. I’ve been (slowly) learning iOS programming though, and am excited about finishing up my first few apps.
I think I might need to start admitting to myself that I have a bike problem. I seem to buy bikes or bike stuff whenever I get dumped. If I’ve bought a new bike, chances are that something along those lines has happened. This year, it was a Brompton folding bike. The Brompton has become my go-to bike for heading back and forth from work. I do miss riding fixed gear from time to time, though, so I may put the Raleigh back into service in some form.
Dating in general has been hit or miss. There was an early-year meltdown which took me a long time to process. I didn’t handle it well and the fallout still haunts me. I’ve been seeing more girls, although things have slowed down over the past few months. I find that I still feel like there are codes of conduct which I never learned. Signs or signals that people take for granted, but for which I simply have no clue about.
I recently read an article in the New York Times about a couple who both have forms of Asperger’s Syndrome (“Navigating Love and Autism”). Some of the points hit home and made me wonder if I myself might have Asperger’s, but I’m not sure that knowing or being diagnosed one way or the other would change anything. The article is great, though, as art the short video interview segments linked throughout.
2011 in a Nutshell
So that’s pretty much been my year. I can’t say that I’ll look upon it fondly, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world around me. I suppose that’s not all bad. All I really want to say, though, is “Good riddance!”