2022-11-19 – Saturday

  1. Busy day, Christmas food shopping. Derc had an M&S voucher which we split 50/50. We ended up buying loads of finger foods which we could freeze for Christmas.
  2. Of course, our freezer is full, and Tam tells me we need another freezer!
  3. This is frustrating because we’ve got an American-style fridge freezer, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that we had all the freezer capacity we needed
  4. But alas, no. We can’t seem to freeze any more than we used to when we had a much smaller under-counter freezer. Volume-wise they appear to be the same.
  5. Anyway, a new freezer is arriving on Wednesday.
  6. Just because everything is bigger in America, don’t assume that American-style European fridge freezers will be too!
  7. Back to the finger foods, I’m especially looking forward to the mini sausage in batters and the reindeer bau buns.
  8. Sadly, I noticed that the finger foods of my youth are not represented in the M&S Christmas range. There was no prawn vol-au-vent, for starters!
  9. Reading: Makers by Cory Doctorow
  10. Wordle 518: 4/6

2022-11-18 – Friday

  1. Development process: For a few months, we’ve been having issues with the concept of DONE. This seems to be one of the trickiest aspects of digital delivery; perhaps it’s the misunderstanding of agile as a concept.
  2. Not being DONE is a common issue, and when you run a business paid on milestones or project completion, it’s a real challenge. You can easily miss a payment milestone because of done-creep (done-creep is that process of being told something’s done, only to test it to find out that there are stupidly obvious bugs or design issues).
  3. So we’re trying something new (to us) to resolve this issue, and it appears to be working okay. Here’s the gist: When a Dev thinks they are done and ready to do a PR, they arrange a session with the PO and UX designer and run through the feature. If it’s DONE, the PR is approved (code review is still to be done). If it’s not done, bugs are raised, and the developer gets back to work.
  4. Arguably this doesn’t initially change the time to completion, but what it does is reset what done looks like to the whole team. I’m expecting to see fewer rework cycles over time as people adjust. I’m also hoping our POs and UX gain a better understand the complexities of development.
  5. Planning: another small win today. I feel like we’re getting on top of our scheduling issues. The combination of Float (Scheduling/Timesheets) and Monday.com for project management seem to be paying off. I have a reliable view of our committed work for the next month and 2 weeks of tentative work after that. Most importantly, I know what questions I need to ask my team to make sure we’re on track!
  6. Reading: Makers by Cory Doctorow
  7. Wordle 517: 5/6 too many consonants not enough vowels!

2022-11-16 – Wednesday

Wednesday

  1. What have I done today?
  2. Meeting with another new client about a UX Review project they’d like us to do. It’s my favourite type of project. Something people have to do but don’t want to do. So how do we make it super easy? So having to do it doesn’t add to the negative column in your life. It’s not sexy, but it has an impact.
  3. I Ran a client through some design/UX work today, went well. Dan, as always, knocked it out of the park.
  4. A thought occurred to me today when we discussed expanding the system’s CMS capability to include a horizontal rule to separate content blocks. We discussed moving from using a standard HTML HR to allowing the editor to change colour/style. On the face of it, it’s a simple job, but what bout the future? Every time they get a new client, will they want a stylised line for them? If so, that’s additional development, maintenance and cost. How is that better than what they do now? Currently, they upload an image to act as an HR which they can customise without additional dev work. Perhaps we should design a pseudo HR, which is the same functionality as now but shows a default grey line, which they can replace with an image.
  5. I also had a pleasant discussion with a partner about our ongoing relationship, which made me think about our why and why I started UXC and what I want for the future.
  6. Reading: Makers by Cory Doctorow
  7. Wordle: 6/6 today was a hard one, and I’m still suspicious about my wordle group results!

2022-11-15 – Tuesday

Tuesday

  1. The day is full of meetings today! Which means I’ll not get any work done.
  2. The weather is horrible, raining and windy! Should have anti-fouled the boat yesterday. I’m not holding out much hope for Friday and Saturday. A week is a long time, meteorologically speaking.
  3. Analytics: Really interesting chat with Anna Corbertt about analytics today. Creating a meaningful dashboard is really tough because you need to be honest about what questions you’re asking. Page views are meaningless if your website is the default website in a corporate browser, Page views with a duration of great than x seconds/mins is much more meaningful. The follow-up question is, what is x? How long does someone need to be on the homepage before they leave or move on? What content is there? What are we expecting them to engage with? Meaningful KPIs are really hard but really fun and fascinating.
  4. I’m really unsatisfied with today’s work didn’t get half of the things done I wanted to.
  5. Had a kick-off with a new client; it’s a really interesting project in health care. Looking forward
  6. Started to re-read [Cory Doctorow’s Makers][https://craphound.com/makers/about/] I Read it when it was first published in 2009, and I am now curious how the near-future sci-fi holds up now that [i’ve got a 3D Printer] and device programming is so much easier now we have Arduino, Raspberry Pi (Pico W specifically). I bought the audiobook directly from Cory Doctorow as Amazon (Audible) rip-off authors re: Audiobooks, and he emailed to say thanks. How nice!
  7. Reading: Markers, Cory Doctorow
  8. Wordle: 4/6 again!

2022-14-11 – Monday

  1. Really slow start to the week! I’m finding it hard to concentrate as I had an awful night’s sleep! I didn’t nod off until 01.30 and up at my usual 06.30!
  2. I’ve also got to anti-foul the boat before the bad weather sets in this week, although Fri and Saturday are good. So can hold off until then if necessary.
  3. Work: I need to stop getting involved in the nitty-gritty of projects. I have to try to ensure that I can support the POs to take control of their projects, but I can’t help but worry things are being missed. I just need to trust the process, but it’s hard when you can’t see the workings out. The answer, I suppose, is to make sure the working outs are visible.
  4. Had a chat with Mark on the dog walk, and we lamented the knowledge workers lot! Nothing to show for the hours of toil. I suppose at least ‘we’ build digital assets, but it’s not physical.
  5. I really do believe in Matthew Crawford’s thesis in the Case for working with your hands Building something, physically manipulating real materials to create, something new is as close to nirvana as a human being can get. There’s something about getting your hands dirty that I’m not sure will ever be exercised from the human soul. I suppose the secret is to find work that is meaningful and that most other people ignore, don’t want to do, are too scared or don’t have enough time to do themselves but are skilled enough to require a reasonable day rate.
  6. I sometimes think I could make things with the 3D printer or laser cutter to earn a living. (3D printer pre-fab shop? ‘We’ll print your widgets for you’ style hardware store! Which is partly why I’ve finally bought one. Can I be creative? Create my ‘art’, as Seth Godin says. 
  7. My wife’s been waiting for the Ninja Air fryer since June. Ours finally arrived two weeks ago, and we’ve used it daily. I thought they were a gimmick, but we’re getting good use out of it so far. (fryer is a stupid name, though). 
  8. Except I still have no idea how to adjust to cooking times for the air fryer. Jacket potato: 5mins microwave, 20mins 200° air fryer = raw. Fish fillet: 18mins 200° = burnt!
  9. I’ll try fish at 10mins next time!
  10. Wordle: 4/6 have a family wordle group now: Tam, Dad, Kate and William. Some suspicious scores today!

The Second Brain.

Sum:

  • Create a reliable system for storing and managing information inputs
  • Use it consistently
  • Engage with the inputs and consciously add them to your system.

Influences

David Allen GTD
One touch inbox! Process inputs as they happen and offload to the system. 

—-

The productivity system has four components. 

  • Capture
  • Organise
  • Distil (progressive summarization)
  • Express (Show your work)

Tips for academics who are researching/teaching from home?

I was asked the following question on twitter (https://twitter.com/polaricequeen/status/1255768550138052608?s=21)

Q) What are your top tips for academics who are researching/teaching from home?

A) Hey, 👋 I’ve got five tips which may help

1) Firstly, remember right now is crisis working, and not true remote working

2) Redefine productivity. Think about Writing journal articles as a project (not a task). Break the project into manageable steps and allocated a timebox to work on that step.

3) Work the time available, and it’s probably not 9-5. It may be knowing that it’s a 30 min window before the kids wake up, or after they’ve got to bed (if you’ve got the energy). Plan the most important task for that uninterrupted window.

4) if you’re managing a team—have a group comms channel, so it’s easy for you to co-ordinate your work and let your teammates know when you are/aren’t available.

5) Keep a paper or video diary of what you’ve done with your time. It will help you to remember just how productive you have been, even if you can’t measure it in publications.

HTH 🙂 if you or your friends from #academictwitter have any other qs then please reach out 🙂

Minding others time when working remotely

When you need someone’s help when working remotely, be mindful of the other person’s time. 

Try “Hey Sarah, can you ping when me you have 5mins, there’s something I’d like to go over with you.”

Rather than 

“Do you have 5mins?”

The former allows the other person to keep control of their time and helps you to manage your own expectations about when you’ll get the help.

If you need help urgently, then be clear.

“Hey Sarah, when you have 5mins in the next hour there’s something I’d like to go over with you.”

Asking “Do you have 5mins” demands attention now, which the other person may not be able to give at that precise time. 

This causes stress and frustration on both sides of the exchange and life’s too short for that!

What your business should be thinking about when planning for a future of remote work.

It’s looking more an more likely that remote work will be an ongoing feature of our working lives.

It’s been a big adjustment getting to this point, but now’s the time to plan for an extended period of remote work.

Answer the following questions and be honest:

1. What important activities have you or your colleagues had to put off/not be able to do without being at the office?

2. What limitations has there been in your, and your colleagues ability to communicate and collaborate effectively?

3. How easy has it been for you and your colleagues to share and access data and files, without having to resort to sending documents via email? (Email is a close channel of communication meaning that documents will get out of sync when modified by multiple colleagues)

4. How well have you been been able to support your colleagues to fully participate in their work activities even if they are unable to attend in real-time?

5. Do you and your colleagues have clarity on what you’re being asked to achieve and by when, and do you have access to all the tools, data and assets they need to complete the task?

If you answer no to one or more of these question then now’s the time to work on your longer-term remote working strategy.

Not all collaboration tools are created equally.

Q) What tools should we use to support our remote work?

A) As a rule we try not to focus on tools. For us the tool ≠ goal, we want people to focus on the principles behind good remote working practices first and then find the best tools they can to support it.

As a refresher the basic principles of remote working are:

  • Trust – Trust that your workforce will do the right thing, it’s natural to want to interrupt them frequently to make sure they’re working but resist. Without trust your remote working experience will be poor and you’ll create stress for yourself and your team.
  • Clarity – Make it clear what you want your team to achieve and by when. Allow your team the space and time to work towards those goals.
  • Transparency – Find tools that enable your team to share their progress, outputs and to communicate with their colleagues and stakeholders easily.

Out of the three principles Transparency is the only one that refers to the tools we use.

We recommend using tools designed to support remote working such as Slack or Microsoft Teams

  1. These tools support open channels of communication, meaning that team mates can be aware of what’s going on with the rest of the team without actively participating in that conversation.
  2. These tools have persistent chat channels. That means that everything you write in the channels is preserved when the team has change and moved on. This historical record is invaluable for on-boarding new team mates and helping existing team mates remember what’s been done before.
  3. They are available on as both desktop and mobile applications meaning you can easily access any shared outputs or chat from either platforms without having to copy and paste content from one app to another.
  4. They have video conference built in (or can easily integrate with a video conferencing provider). As you collaborate more digitally you will experience the limitations of the chat. At some point you’ll want to move the conversation to a video conference. Swapping out to another app, away from the documents and previous conversations can reduce your productivity and make the meeting less productive.
  5. It’s important to use a tool that’s distinct from the ones you might use to chat to family and friends. Tools like WhatsApp, SnapChat and Facebook messenger are personal chat tools and should be left for that context. It’s easy to blur the lines between work and home. Using separate tools helps to create a distinction.

There are also some really good security reasons.

  1. Most collaboration tools, have much stronger security features, such as single sign on which protects your data from external threat. It also allows you to remove access to, or content from staff members who leave the organisation.
  2. Most collaboration tool vendors have European data centres which adhere to European privacy laws which protect the data hosted in them, and your companies intellectual property.

Personal chat tools typically do not have these features and should be avoided when discussing sensitive business matters, or clients related topics.

While you can use any tools that support ‘chat’ to collaborate with your teams, finding the right digital collaboration tool now will pay dividends in the future.

Resist the urge to choose what you’re familiar with just because it will dig you out of a hole now. Take the time to find, and adopt a dedicated digital collaboration tool and ensuring it works for all your use cases. 

Pay particular attention to mobile/desktop use, how you’ll share and collaborate on documents, and how you’ll escalate discussion from chat, to video and your remote working journey will become a LOT easier.

In December 2018 Gary Walker and I wrote a book called Ready For Remote. We wrote it to help business adapt to the changing work environment caused by remote working.

If you need any further tips then drop me or Gary Walker a note and we’ll be happy to assist. Don’t forget you can see some more useful content on https://readyforremote.com. Or if you fancy, our book Ready for remote is available on Amazon.