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Thinking In Public

May 12 · Issue #3 · View online

I appreciate the build in public movement. It allows people to share ideas, get feedback and learn quickly. So why not do the same with our thinking?

That’s what I try to do with this monthly newsletter, send on the last Sunday of each month.

The current iteration has 3 sections:
- Clarify - Something I’ve tried to think through.
- Consider - Ideas I’m playing with. Normally with questions.
- Collect - Thinking I’ve collected from others.

All thinkers welcome.

Hey everyone - I hope you’ve had a good month.
I’ve decided to set a regular cadence to these newsletters. You can expect an email here once a month, on the second Sunday of each month. I hope this will a) force me to share more of the ideas I think about and b) start interesting conversations with you. So please do feel free to hit reply and send me a question or thought.
The normal format of this email will be in three parts. First, a quick note from me. Second, a longer-form essay or post I have written. Third, a few other things I’ve been thinking about (normally in the form of Tweets). I hope each of these sections inspires some further thinking.
This weeks post below is a bit different. For the last four years, on my birthday, I have written and shared an annual review. Below is my annual review for this year. It is not a themed essay, so much as it is a personal deep dive. I share it to keep myself accountable.
As always, thank you for joining me on this email.

This year represents one of change. I started a new career as a software engineer, which has been one of the most challenging changes I’ve made. I’ve also tried to focus on living a slower, calmer and more deliberate life.
Toward the end of last year, I significantly changed my attitude towards sleep– placing more importance on it in my lifeThis year I have tried to make my bedtime (10.30pm) more consistent and have developed a bedtime routine to wind down beforehand (30mins). The routine is simple – no phone and paper book before bed. I also have a light that slowly dims as my bedtime approaches. I’ve found that these simple steps have helped to improve my sleep (although it’s still not perfect!).
Hours spent sleeping
Hours spent sleeping
Over the course of the year, I slept an average of 8 hours 10 minutes per night (up from 7 hours 20 minutes last year). This year I also had very few nights with fewer than 5 hours of sleep, which is an improvement from last year.
I started the year with a very poor gym habit. After returning from traveling, studying with GA and then starting a new job, I completely lost the habit. In the new year, I did return to a more regular 2-3 session per week habit.
Hours spent in the gym
Hours spent in the gym
I stopped actively tracking alcohol consumption, but I have definitely been drinking a lot less. The primary driver here has been a firm no on alcohol during the week. I’ve also managed to do more social events that are not alcohol dependent (e.g. I’ll often have dinner with friends but no alcohol).
I did not focus on meditation as a habit this year. I have found that the Apple Watch has been an interesting tool for mindfulness. The reminders on the Breathe application have given me nudges during the workday to take a breather that I have found more helpful than I would have imagined.
Professional/Personal Development
I continued with a decent reading habit. I read 14 books this year (down from 19 last year) which I’m quite happy with considering I’m back in full-time work following my career change. I’ve found it helpful to use Cedric’s 3-book tip – reading 3 books of varying difficulty. I generally read non-fiction, but having a lighter book to pick up is useful on more tired days.
Hours spent reading
Hours spent reading
In terms of professional work, I completed my training as a web developer with General Assembly and started work as a software developer with Digital Fineprint. The first four months were tough, but I now feel like I’m making valuable contributions to the team and really enjoying it.
I have launched one side project this year –! It’s a tool to help me track and visualize how I spend my time. It produces the graphs you see above. If you think it could be useful for you too, please do let me know (email or Twitter).
I continued some intermittent writing. I managed to publish 14 posts this year (down 23 from last year). I want to do more essay style writing (see my essay, Thoughts On Hard Work) in this coming year.
I’ve stopped tracking individual social events, but I do track the balance against other spheres of my life. I’ve found this year my relationships focused on building depth rather than breadth.
Balance of hours spent
Balance of hours spent
This year I’ve tried to focus on fun activities that are calmer and involve less alcohol. I’ve become a member of a cinema, which I enjoy a lot.
Hours spent in the cinema
Hours spent in the cinema
New Things I Tried This Year
I tried some new things this year, which I thought might be worth sharing.
  • Consistent sleep – Already mentioned above, but worth reiterating.
  • Jazz music – I never listened to Jazz before. I started this year after a friend at General Assembly mentioned it. I find it great to listen to in the evening as I cook a meal or begin to wind down.
  • Cycle to work – I love cycling to work. In connection with better sleep, I feel this helps me start my mornings in an active, fresh way that has me arriving at work feeling ready and switched on for the day.
  • Me-work before work-work – I’ve started to get up earlier before work so that I can spend some time (typically an hour) working on my own projects. It feels nice to start the day by doing something meaningful and creative on your own terms.
  • Commonplace book – I’ve always created notes in Evernote. But this year I’ve made a meaningful effort to more consistently record ideas and learnings in notes that I revisit regularly. I’ve found this to be a great window to evolve ideas over time.
Looking Forward
I’m happy with the year. I managed to follow through with a lot of the directional goals I had set out for myself. I am now a software engineer, I launched a side project and I kept up a reading habit. I also better managed my finances and cultivated a more deliberate social life that centers around alcohol less often. I achieved the above with a more deliberate and patient mindset that I set out to.
This coming year, I’d like to build on some of the foundations here. I want to continue with the solid base of good sleep and good exercise. With my new skills as a software developer, I’d like to continue building credibility as an engineer and product person. I want to be known as someone who develops ideas and launches products. I want to continue leaning into the IndieHackers community in London – people who I feel closely aligned to in terms of goals. I want this year to be a year of making.
You can view my previous yearly summaries here: 242526.
Other Thoughts
What is the best tactical career advice you would give someone?

By tactical, I mean a) things they can do daily, weekly or monthly. Not yearly or only when they move between jobs; b) get promoted, get better salary, more responsibility, etc.
I really enjoy how people like @eriktorenberg, @naval (startups) and @GavinSBaker (investing) use twitter to germinate ideas and then share them. Who is doing the same thing on topics of software engineering?
What’s the best way to build and host a blog in 2019?

Context - technical person but desires low effort on the tech side and ideally SEO performant (from technical side).
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