Week 50 Retrospective

Survival

February was quite the roller coaster of a month.

On the upside, it was a great and fun month from a personal perspective. It was a month full of travel—spending time in seven cities, three countries, and two continents; a month of relationships—spending loads of time with family and friends from all periods of my life; and a month of relaxation—with multiple vacations and lowest amount of hours I’ve worked since my honeymoon. I also was able to get my South African visa and can stay in the country for another five years—a huge relief to a source of stress that’s been weighing on me for months.

All that said, from a proactive work perspective, February was—for the most part—a complete and utter failure. I failed to hit almost all of the goals I set in the beginning of the month. I have virtually zero to show in the way of output on any of my self-driven projects. Place Card Me had its worst month since October and is in a two-month revenue tailspin. I haven’t written anything of note in more than a month, I’m neglecting my passion projects, falling behind on some consulting work, and generally just not feeling very inspired, excited or invested in working on the things I set out to do at the beginning of the year.

Place Card Dashboard

Among other things, Place Card Me had another down month

The largest work-related upside—and likely a contributing factor to other things—is that my Dimagi work has been quite motivating lately and I’ve started a few new projects that are both fun and hopefully going to produce real output soon.

Anyways, something isn’t working, and it feels important to get to the bottom of what it is so I can do something about it. As usual, I’ve turned to writing as a mechanism to try and unravel that in my brain.

My biggest answer for what’s going on right now is that I’m… busy. For the first time in a long time I feel like I haven’t had any proactive stretches of open-ended time to focus on my own projects. Instead I’ve been taking on external commitments, attending meetings, responding to emails, doing customer support, and generally spending most of my time either working for others, or being reactive. The most unpleasant part of the whole thing is that the combination of these things is making me feel something I haven’t felt in a long time: stress.

It doesn’t help that my new laptop arrived broken and I’ve spent hours troubleshooting and talking to support to try and get it fixed. It doesn’t help that I’m trying to squeeze in enough quality time with everyone I know in America to last me through the rest of the year. It doesn’t help that I’m currently commuting for an hour and a half each day.

But those are just excuses.

I think what’s at the root of it is that I’m just not particularly motivated to work on anything on my own right now. Whether that is a cause of my unrest or an effect of it is unclear, but for as long as it’s true I believe my output will be disappointing, and that’s something I need to come to terms with.

So how do I get out of this cycle?

The best answer I can come up with so far is to stop. Pause. Simplify. I plan to lower my expectations, temporarily embrace reactiveness and busyness, and put a short term stop to all proactive work.

My goal for the week is to survive. My goal for the month is to survive. If I make progress on my projects that’s great, but I’m giving myself the peace of mind to allow that not to happen. I’m going to focus on delivering on what I’ve signed up to do externally, on keeping the lights on everything that’s already in flight, and letting everything else slide.

Goal Report Card

It seemed like I blinked and February was over. Just a bloodbath of a month from a goal perspective.

Build With Django

Grade for the Month: C

  • Create two additional content pieces I can publish/promote

I finished one content piece which I’m going to start promoting this coming week.

Place Card Me

Grade for the Month: C

  • Revision on font options and look into font resizing
  • Create 5 new designs
  • Do a spike on moving text around
  • Post to Product Hunt

I succeeded in the two top goals for the month and did not attempt the bottom two. I will hopefully post to Product Hunt when I get back home next month, but I’m planning on punting any product development in March.

Passion Project(s)

Grade for the Month: C

  • Continue trying to make capetowndrought.com the best resource out there for drought information
  • Explore (and start?) a Dimagi passion project

I’ve neglected the drought site for now, though have started more work on the Dimagi side.

B2C SaaS (if time)

Grade for the Month: F

  • Make chat stats more awesome
  • Consider setting up a pricing test

Did not do a thing on this item.

Upcoming

Main focus for this week:

  1. Get my shit together

I’m dropping all goals for the month. What that means for my retro process is unclear, though my OCD will probably compell me to continue to do something each week.

Life

I don’t have any Instagrams this week (just one more failure cherry on top of the failure cake), but despite the negativity expressed here, it’s actually been a pretty good week and month overall outside of “work”.

I’m spending tons of time with family and friends, catching up on some long-neglected personal todos, and generally feeling like I’m making the most of my time outside of work.

For all the frustration expressed here, my life is still pretty darn good and I’m thankful for that every day. Being able to feel disappointed about my cushy work/life is a tremendous luxury that I don’t want to take for granted.

Though that doesn’t also mean I can’t do better…

…in April.

—Cory

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