Notes: 1 of 13. 2024

I’m experimenting with writing private week notes. It’s been a rewarding practice for the last four weeks. Purging my mind when it’s overwhelmed, forming better memories of what happened over a week, what I’ve been thinking, what I consumed, who I hung out with and so on. The shift from only journalling to clear the fog to taking a few minutes a day to log activities, wins, discoveries – has been joyful in comparison. I feel that my writing muscle is marginally improving just by being consistent.

I set up a template in Notion with a few fields, days of the week and a division between life and work. The template started to add friction over time and words are just landing on the pages now. If this practice sticks around I’ll write a longer meta analysis, for now though I’m interested in outlining the last four weeks. There’s 13 blocks of four weeks in a year, that feels like a sweeter spot for publishing web post summaries for me than every week. Lets see, this could be the first and last one.


Summary 1-4 weeks

It’s nearly been a full house of January cliches: weight loss, health regimes, exercising more, eating better, budgeting, planning and dollops of productivity (reading and doing). Boozing and vaping didn’t fall victim though. We are 7.69% through the year.


Health & Exercise

A bad skin flare up in week one drove me to revisit buying a UVB light, big thanks to Hugh for suggesting, supporting and chatting me through it all. I’m a week into treatment right now, 8-12 weeks to see results. Had a second flare up in week three.

I logged 14 spinning sessions, four weights (one was with Dan) and zero runs. Found an awesome YouTuber who captures rides, perfect for riding along to. Dropped 2.4kg at my best, down from 72.4kg, I’m at 23.1% body fat, from memory it’s around 17%/63kg the magic happens and the lard packets around my body feel less bulbous and grim. I’m not going too obsessive with the daily weighs this time. Need to get the frequency of exercise up after eating though, tackle those glucose spikes. Sleep is a shit show right now, 4-5am wake ups, black out blinds soon to be ordered. Deep cleaned my ears (yum) with solution a couple of times, it worked really well.


Self Initiated

No-code all the way on Inventory Supplies/House/Design and Playground. Picking back up the dusty projects using only no-code has been a huge motivator. The speed of making really is a thing for me. I’ve set myself a target of getting all sites running Gutenburg no-code fully by the end of the next four weeks. In addition, it felt great to leave Super.so, not because the product is in anyway bad, I can’t justify hundreds of pounds a year to run a few simple websites that are just for me. Had a failed journey down buying ACF Pro and implementing custom blocks. That’s going to remain on ice until I’ve got the sites migrated and populated – who knows WP updates this year might solve the most of my features (doubtful bidirectional database relationships though)

x3 Web posts published: YouTube Diet, No code, Inventory. Capturing progress on self initiated stuff is very low friction compared to the many draft ideas I’ve got stashed away. I penciled a few ideas for others: spinning set-up, Mac Mini Server, content design for internal process.


Work: Design & Research Operations

I’ve been campaigning for the approach of defining outcomes first then exploring outputs on a few projects, some lovely wins where we’re now exploring what we want to change and why not just discussing the gut feel of a solution.

This led me to the murky world of KPIs, never ending lists of measurable measures. My system radar started wondering about cheatsheet-ing it, it was a breeze to get sector examples quickly from ChatGTP. Furthermore, can we create formulas for some of the transformation programs. This then bled into prioritisation frame+(subframe)works for transformation. Revisiting after I have cleared a delivery.

Speaking of which, the main focus of my time has been writing, pairing and reviewing our first team career framework for the Experience Design & Research team. My fourth, fifth? framework in my in-house operations roles. It’s getting easier to work out what good looks like and simplify the usability, but getting the terms right is still the biggest challenge. I’m always fighting the corner of plain English, but alas jargon is near unavoidable in our sector whilst trying to be concise. Launch is days away, we’re now in the calibration with HR phase.

We’re going back and forth on how we frame and simplify a strategy. More to come on this as we go into annual reviews and push the button on a new approach with frameworks.

I’ve started a big push to glow up our knowledge management, documentation and content design across the business. Created a quick guide on what’s possible for coms and knowledge roll out today with pain-points exposed. We’re getting buy in from our partner teams on new workflow suggestions, next steps is a meaty but lean business case with actual tasks prototyped out to show what’s possible.

We’ve been exploring vendors for brand documentation and marketing workflows. A good reminder that SaaS sales can be a nightmare, especially those with a closed product. I’m keen to get to the bottom of the use cases we have and aim to stick down some estimations on workflow cost savings, if any.

Finally, I’m guessing a lot of folks in the industry are looking at the cost benefit of Figma Dev mode right now as the beta ends and we roll into paid seats. I’ve got some time penciled to go deep on this now the career framework workload is tailing off.


Organising Stuff

Created a shared Notion for all our favourite dinners, freezer meals, meal plans. Being more mindful of what we’re planning to cook and eat at home has saved us loads, really good for the vibes too. A couple of meal prep freezer dinners here and there have felt magic after a busy day.

Hollie and I sat down and updated all our finance spreadsheets, adjusted the outgoings based on recent cost increases. Planned our war chests, overpayments approach (added a calculator into our mega spreadsheet for this). Used ChatGTP to diagram and calculate finance compounds, repayments and options for the future, really solid. Moved pensions and ISAs over to Vanguard, it feels good to have more agency over the funds and use an infinitely better product in diversification and user experience.

Opened a new Halifax current account within a minute using their app, really impressive onboarding for existing customers. Doing a switch away from First Direct as their feature set and UX is low grade.

The house got de-Chistmassed, a few cupboards and spaces faced and cleaned up, still got more to go, I’m looking at you paperwork cupboard. Yikes.

I’ve been consistently plugging away at sorting the tech stack for my new Mac Mini Server project. Mostly deplatformed off Google Drive & Photos. A big long documentation page of the new “server” is in the making, might put the basics up and add to it soon. Highlights included: first pass sort on the photo library – mad feelings sorting years of photos, started to create photo collections and set-up Arq backup with tight controls. Tired a Local LLM and that went badly, need to revisit now I’ve freed up space. Started looking at Audible backup and self-hosting audiobooks using Bound (thanks Mathew) and Libation.

Builders have been looking at the wall leak, no report back yet, it seems to have stopped since a site visit. Windows are proper screwed though, all the alkaline from the bricks has built up on the glass. Measured up for frame black out blinds, order is going in this week. I’ve been researching air purifiers for the living space as oil smells are really getting to me these days. Tracking on CamelCamelCamel. Dealt with a pot plant fly infestation, Caro’s cuttings had to go into water quarantine for a few days and are now back in pots with the most expensive soil I’ve ever bought.


Travel

Planned a lot of trips in the space of a couple of weeks: Madrid, Barcelona (x2), Split, Lisbon. Two of these are home exchanges, helping us go further with our money. We’ve been aggressively stashing away out of our fun money.


Delights

Morning coffee walks with Hollie to Dark Arts, sometimes with dog, they know our orders and feels like a Hackney proxy to our routine in Barcelona – just x10 more gritty.

Spring springing, it’s just started and I stand by that it’s my favourite time of year, can’t wait to get gardening this year.

Pairing with James on our career framework, lots of figuring it out chats that help understand each other and what we’re making so much better than doing it solo.


Catch-ups

  • Pints with Simon at The Buxton, Commercial and then Carpenters
  • Pub trip with Barney, chats about the beauty of some computer games
  • Pizza with Andy, life chats, comfy chairs
  • Wines with Alex, hearing all about baby Dotty, congrats to Jane & Alex
  • Pints with Jess (she was off the booze), old work chats
  • Lunch with Pan at the Vincent, lovely vibes and conversation
  • Gym sesh with Dan then lunch with Caro and Dan, what a treat to have Caro in London
  • Food hall and cocktails with x2 Dans, where are all the web designers now?
  • Hollie’s folks down at Hailing Island, looked after us, beautiful coast walk


What the Hell Stuff?

My kindle couldn’t register itself after I lent it to Hollie. Amazon told me to buy a new one as it was too old – jokers – found my way in eventually through 2FA being triggered on the iPad which made the SMS in my hand fail.

I thought the smart fused spur was messing with our bedroom ceiling lights after it magically stoped working, again. It made no sense to me why that would happen with them being on unique breakers, I just got paranoid the device was sketchy. Turned out the wardrobe was rocking a light switch on and off. We had forgotten we put a wardrobe over it. Proper lols. Asked the sparky to swap out the smart switch for a basic LED timer, blank off the switch and add two lights to the downstairs bathroom.

Trip to Portsmouth was cursed. Stinky smoke car, failing CarPlay, congestion charge fears, route madness, dog chundering twice, A3 traffic jams, GMaps freaking out and re-routing, dog eating its toy and needing a £512 emergency vets visit, finding two screws in the tyre of the car. On the bright side we avoided the dog being seriously sick or the car crashing at motorway speed. A lesson in looking at the positive sides of shitty situations.

Two puncture repair kits glue had vanished, is that just what happens to that type of glue?


Pondering

  • People who make/improve/question systems vs people who don’t.
  • Easy way to always find the cheapest flight route day before fixing to holiday dates.

Media Diet

Films & TV

12 Strong. OK war film, hammy in places and kinda forgettable.

Anatomy of a Fall. Essential, great film.

Kandahar. Terrible, was hoping for slapstick Gerrard lols, fail.

The Creator. Amazing graphics and sounds, lost interest though.

Poor Things. Watched at The Castle with Hollie, fell asleep, missed the sex chapter of the film. Not sure its for me.

The Wire S1, S2. Love that Hollie and I are watching this together, her first time.

Reacher. One eye on it, pretty terrible, junk food.

Oppenheimer. Watched with the KEFs for audio, great, rewatchable for sure.

Wall Street. Never seen it, Andy mentioned it and it’s a silly classic


Music

Bandcamp techno purchases (thanks mum for the voucher). I will write up a Q1 summary so I have time to get into what I bought.

Have had a few Hi-Fi and headphone listening sessions on my own.

Anthony Naples, Jacques Greene, Monolake, Four Tet, Skee Mask, Andrea, Gang Starr, KAYTRANADA, Leon Vynehall, DeepChord, Robert Hood, Blur, DJ Heartstring, Overmono, MJ Cole, Tourist, Radiohead, Joy Orbison, Job Hopkins, Richie Hawtin, Nils Frahm


Books

The Slight Edge. Listened. Bought this after watching a finance YouTuber reference compound psychology. It’s an OK book, ideas are solid but implementation is cheesy and repetitive. I do like the mindset of always figuring out what is the next best thing to positively compound for you.

Be Useful, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Starting listening. I’ve got a soft spot for him and I thought as I’m listening to so much self improvement waffle, why not enjoy Arnie’s take on it.

Feel Good Productivity. Reading by tucking into chapters. I followed Ali a few years back, fell off as the content was a bit too intense but I’ve always been curious to what he’d put in a book having no experience working for a company. Some nice nuggets here and there, but somethings not quite nailing it.

I must branch out now, theres only so much self-improvement I can handle, I’m pretty much just bingeing them for the hell of it.


YouTube

Privacy and security researcher tips and guides helping me broaden my tech view

The Jones Act – you can’t ship between two American places without an American owned and crewed boat – this makes things very expensive for remote locations in the USA

Veritasium’s Oppenheimer story is a great partner to the film

Telekon Electronic Beats: Blind Test 90s Dub Techno – some bangers here

State of the Word 2023 WordPress updates coming in 2024, exciting stuff here for my sites

Matt doing it the Armstrong way made me well up this, dead dad trigger for sure.

Bonkers custom Porsche – presenter is a bit much, the car though, wow


Web Posts I Read

The David Heinemeier Hansson post about “We tried that, didn’t work”

Neil Williams week notes, an inspiration for me and enjoyed the “joined-up single department that delivers deeper and more sustainable change”

Maggie Appleton’s amazing site and ambient copresence, got me thinking about “digital gardens” again, a huge motivator for my self initiated projects

A home cooked app this hits all my buttons of making, analogies and writing all at once

The Verge’s beautiful page on the dire state Google and SEO

Interview with the former CEO of Aldi UK – Paul Foley. Loved every bit of this

The internet is full of ai dogshit even more fuel to get publishing yourself

Taylor Swift Workout an ultrarunner tries to keep pace with Taylor’s tour training regimen

Rob Boyett put some really helpful camera prompts up for image LLMs

My first year as CPO (at Eventbrite), really valuable post for anyone involved in product

A year of output from Andy Kong, I’ve bookmarked to see how this progresses

The Early History of the Channel Tunnel, great bit of history coverage here


Gaming

Grid Legends on macOS. Not playing as much as I did over Christmas, still nice to bust out a few laps in 10 minutes when I need some gaming time.


Phew, that was a lot of stuff. Compiling this from four notes and writing at speed took around two-three hours. Let’s see how this experiment fairs.

 

Written by
Lawrence Brown on 1st February 2024