Just gonna have a bit of a waffle about the things I want to do next year. This is mostly for me but please feel free to read along too!

More structure!

The biggest change I want to make 2019 is to put in place a bit more of a foundation to see where I’m being productive and where I’m lounging around like a slug pretending I’m doing useful things. To do this I’ve started using Toggl more to track time spent on projects with an assumption that any non-tracked time is spent doing unproductive things.

Downtime is good of course and I hope to spend a lot of it sleeping, but I figure the more I know the ratio the more I can have a decent look at where I’m sitting in terms of doing things and not doing things. Good times there.

I even made a dealy that hooks in to my calendar (powered by Skedpal and Todoist) so I can easily see what I should be doing right now as well as toggle a timer for that task.

Nice and simple really, it just pulls my Skedpal and Todoist calendars (using the great spatie/laravel-google-calendar package), displays whatever event is active right now and gives me a button to start a timer. It polls an API endpoint every so often to get the current task and receives the current event in the form

    "name": "2018 review. 2019 plans",
    "project": "Blog",
    "timer": true

The timer true/false being true means there’s an active timer in Toggl with this event’s name. It’s pretty basic but it’ll do for now.

I then display it on an old Kindle Fire HD which is held by a cheap plastic arm above my monitor to act as a handy display and touchscreen. I made it poll using ajax because originally I tried to cut a corner and just meta-refresh but wanted to scroll the address bar away, which returns when the page refreshes in Kindle’s Silk browser.

That was a decent time sink, which brings me to

Focusing the beam

I keep starting new projects. Some see success. Others end up on the dead pile. That’s fine, at least they had a fair shot.

Most however end up in limbo between the two because I get distracted by the shiny of a new idea and neglect the previous at about the 40-60% stage. When I finally get bored of the new I have no idea what I was aiming for, so often convince myself to start fresh. That’s gotta stop else it’s all pointless!

I’m going to try splitting my projects into three-month chunks. Mainly because it fits in with the concept of quarters but also I felt a month was too short and a year far too long. It also gives me realistic deadlines to work towards, which I realised I need after reading the excellent Why Procrastinators Procrastinate by Tim Urban.

The other reason I want to do this is because the constant switching between the new and shiny means I neglect everything else, this blog for example. I keep wanting to write posts here and indeed I have blog topics in Skedpal but they keep getting bumped out the way by other tasks. If I’ve only got the one project1 on the burner at a time then there’s less to try (and fail) to get done freeing up some time.

During an active project I plan on just jotting down any ideas in a low priority task list I’ve called “Idea Factory”. At the start of each quarter I will weigh up all the ideas there to see what interests me the most and will then work on that for 3 months. At the end of the three months the idea either lives (at least a MVP public beta) or dies (code burned & deleted).

Projects that live will of course be maintained in future as needed, and may indeed get another quarter to move from a beta state to full release if the workload requires it.

Registering companies is a boring idea

Some time in 2015 I thought that if I registered a company for this sort of stuff it’d give me the push I needed to get things done.

Hah. No. All that’s done so far is add extra tasks that needed doing every year in the form of tax statements and accounts. I’m in the process of shutting that company down and will refrain from registering any new businesses until something actually needs it. The definition of need in this case is “earns enough that it can pay for an accountant to deal with the noise”

Spending money is fun

This is one that keeps dinging me. New idea, new DigitalOcean server! It’s only $5 a month, oh wait this project will be huge it needs more resources, $15 a month. Will need to monitor all these servers, $5 a month. Oh wait there’s a fair few things going now lets make the monitoring server beefier, $15 a month. It adds up quick!

I’ve already got the sysadmin nerdery out the way and combined all the servers into one and switched from Laravel Forge to using Moss.sh - the reason behind this is I didn’t want each site running under the same user with Forge and moss.sh seemed like a decent alternative. More basic, but good enough. Can’t remember why I ruled out Runcloud and I scrapped ServerPilot instantly because they charge per app despite they don’t need to do anything extra per app /salt

As an aside to the projects and nerdery I need to put “make food” in my calendar too I think. All this pretending to be busy meant it was so easy to order a takeaway instead of pop downstairs to cook..

Start streaming

No, not related to tears streaming out of my face about a dwindling bank balance. I want to get into live code streaming.

Relating to the dwindling bank balance, over the years I’ve bought so much random guff to do streaming (Stream deck, green screen, three point lighting, etc) but never actually done it properly. I’ve even got all the assets ready and set up in OBS.. I’ve even got a second PC set up with an Elgato capture card so the main PC isn’t encumbered by running a stream!

The new projects and schedule mentioned above I hope to stream on the Twitch channel. I know it’s more work to code and talk at the same time but it might be fun.

Regular reviews

I’m planning on doing a personal review for myself every week, month, quarter, year. Nothing too interesting in the weeklies I imagine but the others if I have anything interesting to note I’ll put up a blog post for them. As mentioned earlier I hope to write more for the blog in general too. If you’d like to hear more either hit up the RSS Feed or subscribe to the mail list.

Let me know if you’ve got any feedback on this post!


  1. One personal dev project. I’m committed to working on Would You Like to Restart and the day job of course! ↩︎