Turning my Kid into a Meme

My lovely wife took a humorous photo of our son having a babyccino, a classic drink in Australian coffee shops these days, purpose designed for the little ones.

The photo was super-cute and funny in its own right, but I couldn’t resist turning it into an image macro meme. I like to think it makes a funny photo into something just a little better.

black coffee meme

Now You CV Me

In a further effort to establish andrewcanion.com as a genuinely useful resource for all things pertaining to me, I have now included a page dedicated to showcasing my curriculum vitae.

I was looking at my current CV a few days ago which still exists as a Word document based upon a custom design I cooked up about 15 years ago. Since it’s creation I’ve just continued to add to and tweak the design rather than build a new document. This ‘lazy man’ approach has been made easier by not actually moving jobs very often. Turns out, staying put has some advantages!

My CV, though, was an artefact of a paper-based era. I wanted to have something that was more dynamic, and a little more design-oriented that could offer some visual queues about the relevant stages of my career to date.

The de facto place for online CVs in the work world that I occupy is LinkedIn, so of course I keep my record of employment there. It’s where recruiters, acquaintances and stickybeakers all go to check out your professional bonafides. The cold hard truth is, however, that LinkedIn is just another social network funded by venture capital that is leveraging your information and privacy to sell advertising and ‘premium’ memberships. So if I’m promoting myself, I also want to be able to do that on a site which I own and control completely, and that isn’t using my information to make money for others.

So the first version of my self-hosted CV is now online. I’m sure I will continue to tweak and adjust it, but that’s part of the fun. It’s a resumé and a creative outlet all rolled into one.

Day One Goes Subscription

So Day One has become the next software application to adopt a subscription pricing model. This app developer has monkeyed around with its price/product offering for some time, and Day One has always been towards the expensive end of the curve for what could harshly be described as a glorified text editor. I guess it was inevitable they would ultimately end up converting to a subscription model in an effort to smooth revenue flow. Currently the developer is stating it will continue to support the current app and won’t force a move to the subscription version, but there is no doubt the first foot has fallen. At some point, I’m sure the other shoe will drop and it will be subscription or bust!

I’m not against subscription-based business models for software. I pay subscription fees for YNAB, Setapp, 1Password, Fastmail, Headspace, and maybe some others. I am willing to pay for software that I use and enjoy, and that satisfies my own price/value decision matrix.

Day One’s announced subscription seems expensive, especially when converted to Australian dollars. Expensive enough that rather than happily paying to carry on with an app I have used for more than 4 years, I am instead casting around for alternatives. The best and most immediate alternative I can see is to move my journaling to Ulysses. I’ve found a Workflow, ah, workflow that auto-populates date, time and location into a neat header box so the journal entry has a basic level of context. What I would lose from Day One is the pretty and additional metadata and the journaling-specific user interface. Photo import can be replicated, albeit perhaps not quite as seamlessly. The major problem with Ulysses is that it just doesn’t feel like a journaling app – at least not yet. Maybe I would get used to it in that context with time?

As mentioned, I’ve used Day One consistently for four years, and it has gained enough of a mental grip on me that I might miss it were I to migrate. Still, there is a limit to the number of subscriptions my budget can handle. When I have other, fully paid apps just waiting to be used, it becomes difficult to justify paying yet more money on an on-going basis.

I’m probably still on the fence right now, but Ulysses may be taking the lead…

The Weekly Plan

I consider the two fundamental resources in work planning to be:

  1. The calendar
  2. The to-do list

The calendar represents the hard landscape: events that are non-negotiable, time-based and require you to be doing a certain thing, at a certain time, at a certain place, possibly with another certain person. If it’s in the calendar, it’s a certainty. Calendar entries are commitments to yourself and possibly others.

The to-do list is used to track tasks needed to be done to move the ball forward. The list is potentially filled with a lot of items that may not necessarily be linked with one another. They are commitments to yourself, but they are not tied to being done at a particular time and don’t generally require the involvement of others. I use OmniFocus for managing my task list, but it really doesn’t matter what is used, as long as there is a trusted location to track everything to be done.

As a general rule, I’m not a fan of putting tasks onto calendars. I think they are two distinctly different things that should exist in their own dedicated spaces. However, like any good rule, there are times when this rule should be broken.

Leveraging multiple calendars

The beauty of using modern electronic calendar systems is they support multiple calendars. The classic and most obvious application of this is creating seperate work and home calendars. In addition to these staples, however, it can be helpful to create a weekly plan calendar.

Each calendar’s visibility can be toggled on and off, depending on the needs of the moment.

Using the weekly plan calendar can facilitate the addition of tasks onto a calendar view without gunking up your regular calendars that represent real physical events and commitments. This leads to the next step: time blocking and setting commitments for your future self.

Time blocking

The purpose of time blocking is to help establish a plan for a forthcoming period of time and build accountability for your time. The idea is to create work sessions that are linked directly to items on your task list. Transferring tasks to a calendar and applying estimated timeframes in the form of a timed calendar entry can help build a visual map of work to be done. Visualisation is a great tool to help identify whether your to-do list is realistically achievable in the time available. It can also help enforce urgency by indicating how potentially little time is available for meaningful work. Finally, it can be a reward system. If you get ahead of your schedule, you’ve earned yourself some relaxation time, safe in the knowledge that you aren’t falling behind!

My approach

I generally reserve the time blocking approach for when I have a lot going on, and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by it all. Ideally, at the start of the work week I will set aside half an hour, and look at my calendar of commitments. These are the scheduled events with other people that are locked in (usually weeks in advance) and that I need to fit all my other work around.

The next step is identifying the tasks that represent the ‘big rocks’ that I need to progress. What projects need to move forward this week? What are the tasks that need large sessions of time to get into a flow?1

Once I understand what time slots I have available for task-based work, I start creating related events on my weekly plan calendar, filling my days more completely. I need to take some care here though. I’m not an automaton, so it is important not to schedule every last minute of time. Doing that is just setting myself up to fail. In any week, unexpected things are bound to arise and time will be needed for this stuff, in addition to the general administrative tasks of email, communications, management issues, and so on.

With the weekly plan calendar populated and tessellated with my other calendars, I end up with a clear picture of my work week. At any point of time I know what I can and should be working on. I know that if I stick to the plan I set for myself, I will be closer to my goals at the end of the week than I was at the beginning. It’s a practical approach to personal accountability.

The overhead of doing this planning is not always worth the effort, but when lots is happening and it feels like control is being lost, this is a great way to reassert your plans and ensure that the important is not being overwhelmed by the urgent.

  1. Writing is a great example of this – you can’t really do it for 30 minutes here and there; you need a solid chunk of several hours.

Moving to Ulysses

I’ve decided to go all-in with Ulysses for my writing. I’ve been a Scrivener user for the longest time, but writing in Markdown is now more relevant to me than rich text, and Ulysses makes writing in this format easy and enjoyable. Ulysses’ iCloud sync is also much less annoying than Scrivener’s modal Dropbox sync.