My Year End Review

2022 is starting to wind down and I'm starting to take stock on a few things I'm "trying to do different".1 Some of the ideas I have are trying to do take a better in stock in my ideas. Other things are on how I do things from day to day. So I've taken the holiday break to look at three things I want to different in 2023.

Revisiting old skills

The first thing I'm working on is reinvesting into my site. This site has been, for a better term, a hobby. Changes on multiple fronts has made me want to reinvest in my hobby. My hosting provider has been amazing, however, if you decide to keep the same underlying OS on your VPS, you eventually get left on an island of "No Upgrade Path".2 So I've spending the past day or so looking at upgrade paths to a current OS version.

After spending a couple of hours running through a variety of forums I came to the following conclusion...

no direct update path found...

The closest path I could find was doing multiple in place updates:

  • Update from 2.x to 4.x
  • Update from 4.x to 6.x.
  • Update from 6.x to 8.x
  • Update from 8.x to Current Ver

Umm... no. I only say this because after multiple attempts to update in place, making the update from version 6.x to 8.x consistently hit a brick wall because too many underlying services were deprecated. This caused a whole slew of problems I didn't want to take on, so building a new VPS from scratch is the only choice left. 3

Revisiting my task lists

The second thing I'm working seems to be the system I'm always working on... GTD.4 I've been an OmniFocus user for a number of years now and I never did the steps to fully realize the value of my GTD system. I've always front loaded my task list with the Capture step, but rarely did the critical Review step.

This year I've put time onto my daily calendar to actually take stock of what I need to get, truly capture inbox items, and give myself time to create a plan to be productive versus reactive. Part of this assessment led me to look at how I'm actually doing my work (when I'm focused enough to do it) and the steps I've been taking to plan my weeks out. I'll have more to share on this part as the new year progresses as I look to revamp my GTD toolbox. Part of this assessment led me to my third item.

Revisiting my inbox

The last thing I'm revisiting is how I interact with email. This is going to be a two fold exercise for both my personal and professional use of email. For a long time I tried to compartmentalize my personal email into different accounts based on the context of how I was going to use the account. Having multiple accounts had its place when I was in a more technically "fiddlely" mindset. Over the holidays I migrated to single email account and went back to Apple Mail on my iOS devices and Outlook for work. I'm now down to just a few accounts that have locked my username/userID to my email account that was originally used to set up the account.7

On the professional side, my relationship with email during Covid changed. I was fortunate enough to keep working through the lock down phase. One of the tactics I took on was trying to be more responsive to requests during that time period. This meant constantly checking email for anything I could address. Two plus years later and that tactic has become a bad chronic habit. Over the holidays I was starting to catch up on a backlog of podcasts. One podcast made me stop and write myself a quick note, because it's funny how you've known something for a long time, but for some reason, resonates with yourself how when someone else says the same thing. From the podcast and some reading I caught up on, I had two "new" ideas.

First one was:

Email is an asynchronous form of communication.6

The other was:

Checklists are quick and simple tools aimed to buttress the skills of expert professionals.5

My work habits started to treat email the same as a Slack or Teams conversation. Between my concerns on how I was going to re-engage with my GTD tools and start weening myself of the check-check-check email syndrome, I figured out I needed to put a check list together on what I should focus on for a small window of time each day. Anytime outside of these work bursts needs to be project work only.

Daily Checklist

I've created a checklist to help me keep my attention on what's important. The goal is to keep myself to processing email only 3 times a day, remind myself to stay off any attention grabbing distractions, and review if I made good choices the day before.

Daily Action Items:

▢ Read for 30+ min
▢ Worked out for 45+ min
▢ Slept at least 8h night before

Morning Checklist:
▢ Check calendar for today
▢ Check calendar for next 5 days
▢ Process email
▢ Check task list for items due
▢ Check "Waiting For" tasks
▢ Check "Follow Up" tasks

Noon Checklist:
▢ Process email
▢ Schedule 20 min break for afternoon
▢ Identify time to work out

Afternoon Checklist:
▢ Process email
▢ Update "Waiting For" tasks
▢ Update "Follow Up" tasks
▢ Review calendar for next 5 days

I'm sure this list will get altered as the year progresses, but I wanted to start with good and work towards better.

  1. Cause I hate the term "resolution". 

  2. It's a real place and scary to be stuck there. 

  3. You should be are reading this on the "new" site right now. 

  4. Getting things done. 

  5. Gawande, Atul. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Henry Holt and Co. 

  6. Yes, very insightful and should have been completely obvious. 

  7. These accounts use an email address as both the userID and the email contact.