Forgive me, for I have sinned, it's been 2 years since my last year notes 👼
So much happened last year that it feels way longer than a year. So, discipline over motiviation - here are my 2022 year notes. Or at least as much as I can write while the house is empty of other people.
Goals from 2021 year notes
and whether I achieved them or not
(slightly reogranised since I see themes with hindsight that I didn't at the time)
- ❓ read about leadership and get over myself
- ❓ by March understand what business and team goals I'm contributing to
- 😅 meet one-on-one with everyone on my team at least once
- 😅 keep those meetings going with some of them
In retrospect I was struggling with a role that was poltical and not technical. 2021 saw me move teams, see that the grass wasn't greener, realise that the garden was (for me) poisoned, and move jobs to a technical role.
- 🙃 record a video of event sourcing from scratch
- started but not completed
- three videos I recorded
- ✅ make time to write code for days at a time
And the move (back) to a technical role was harder than I anticipated. New stack, new org, new culture. But I wouldn't change the decision for all the money in the world (well, maybe all the money)
- ❌ start weeknotes again
- ✅ practice Italian every day
- ❌ 15km running on average over 40 weeks of the year
- 43 runs totalling 168km = 3.9km per run
- I ended up struggling with achilles pain in 2021 and hardly running at all in 2022
- but physio is helping
- ✅ 4 leisurely cycle rides
- not in 2021, but I did in 2022
I'm more who I want to be, but there's more to do
- 👀 use the unfair super power of being a white, middle-class, middle-aged, straight man to lift others up
This is the least I could do. I should take it for granted and figure out the answer to "Great, you want to help others, so what?"
Working at PostHog comes with a number of benefits. Freedom to travel because the work is remote, and travel for the work, is one that I've been loving!
In 2022 I visited 6 countries
- Barcelona, Spain
- for the engineering offsite
- Reykjavik, Iceland
- for the all company offsite
- Forte Di Marme, Italy
- because I wanted to take the kids to Italy with their Nonno
- Pescara, Italy
- for ten days because my family are wonderful and I wanted to spend time in Italy
- Rome, Italy
- for the product analytics team offsite
- Paris, France
- because I wanted to take the kids to Paris
- Lisbon, Portugal
- because we have a budget to meet each other,
- my colleague let us use their house for free,
- so Ben/Paul super-fun-time could happen to make real user monitoring.
- I've never worked anywhere where we are as free to choose our own goals
I spent nearly 20 days in Italy in 2022. More than I've spent there for 20 years. The older I get, the more I value my heritage (#SoCliche). My spoken Italian has progressed from "Nouns and pointing" to "Hangry three year old".
Travelling for work has been an incredible thing. Lisbon was superb. It was fun to have a goal, work hard all day, and then have food and chat in the evenings. Barcelona, Rome, and Reykjavik were amazing. I'm convinced that intermittently coming together is one of the things that makes remote work, erm, work. Not only that though. Having a budget to meet and socialise is a super power.
Pescara was like breathing out. It's only the second time in my life I've travelled overseas by myself. And it's the longest I've spent not needing to parent for a decade and a half. I'm incredibly lucky that my family put up with me being away.
Interestingly, there's a step change in my GitHub contributions around the time I went to Pescara too. And, without wanting to seem big-headed, I think, a step change in my performance at work too.
Changing back from a leadership role to a typey-typey-software role, at the end of 2021, was way more of a change than I anticipated. Alongside going all-remote and discovering which habits that helped in an office job that don't help anymore. It's amazing how much engineering you can forget in four years of talking to people about engineering.
What do I think has helped 🤔
- I like to have a large(r) spike PR where I can experiment and gather feedback
- and then splitting smaller pieces of work from that
- the smaller pieces are easier to engineer well
- and way more safe to release
- aiming for merging more than one PR a day
- stopping and thinking
- decide a goal, figure out how to get there, figure out how much of your time to give it
- and then do that
- extreme ownershp and turn the ship around
- a very incredible colleague bought me "turn the ship around"
- another incredible colleague suggested "extreme ownership"
- they're both great books
- although I struggled with the "yee-haw shoot people" presentation of extreme ownsership
- "This isn't going to happen until I make it happen! -> How do I make it happen? -> How do I remove things stopping it happening?"
- improvements accrue if you let them
- this is maybe a corollary of "stopping and thinking"
- I had a great pairing session where a colleague made (to them) a throw away comment about how React works
- it changed the model of how I think about it.
- Spotting that, I asked myself how that should change how I approach work
- the last three months I've been working with another colleague on application performance (the back-end of the back-end)
- they're incredible, if I can learn 1% of their skill I'll consider it a success
- but now I want to find other work I can prioritise to practice what I think I've learned so I can trick my brain into storing the knowledge
- talking to users
- I've spent time supporting users
- joining video calls to help them
- running user interviews
- understanding the users and seeing the struggles they have is 💯
- I've been working a lot on our dashboards, not because I thought it was important but because they did.
Annoyingly, I not sure I know what made the difference. I really want to figure it out so I can take advantage of it well. I'm surrounded by amazing people and finding that wonderfully motivating.
### Open Source
A brief aside about working on open source software. An unexpected (for me) side-effect has been how incredible it is to be able to share exactly what I mean when talking to people about software. "I think it is good to do X" becomes "Here's a PR (or set of them) that I think demonstrate a way to do X well".
I think that's awesome.
Also, sometimes in remote work I miss the power of someone looking over your shoulder while you work. It's way harder to cut corners when someone is watching. Remembering that anyone can watch my work helps remind me to take the step from "make it work" to then "make it right"
For example, I fixed a bunch of bugs in our dashboards product (I think more than I introduced 😅). In doing that we learned about what made it easier to introduce those bugs than to avoid them. I could have moved back on to my main priority… but the world is watching, so I figured out a way to make it harder to introduce the bugs than to avoid them ("four rules of simple design" for the win) https://github.com/PostHog/posthog/pull/13630
Since last year notes I've graduated from three kids to four kids. It's still incredible. I'm still always very tired. So amazingly worth it. They have said they don't want to be on social media so I won't mention much here.
And now they're home… so I'm going to publish without editing and procrastinating.
What writing this taught me I want to do in 2023
- continue becoming a better engineer and team-mate
- practice Italian every day
- train at the gym at least twice a week every week
- 8 leisurely cycle rides
- visit Italy at least twice