Hello 2016!

To those stuck with the Gregorian Calendar:

Happy New Year 2016!

To everybody else:

Happy Year!

Many people start their year with setting themselves up for failure in two easy steps: Make a long list of resolutions (preferably in your head), drop them all within the first weeks. I never understood that and occasionally poked fun at it. My modus operandi has always been to try to change whenever it felt necessary. But here I am, making a long list of things I plan to do. And I even started to recommend it to other people! So why the 180?

The answer is simple: I don’t see it like that. I’m not resolving to do things I always wanted to but never had the energy for. It’s not a wish list of how I’d like to be. It’s more like a business plan for my public alter ego. A year is just the default time frame and the days between Christmas and New Year’s simply lend themselves to heightened reflection.

A written set of goals shortens the feedback loop for gauging progress.

Of course none of this prohibits course corrections or even entirely new endeavors. But it does require me to convince myself with a good argument before I can head off into a different direction. A couple of days ago I summarized another benefit of having such a written set of goals: It shortens the feedback loop for gauging progress.

I was going to pep-talk you into doing the same but that’s another post, which I might write at some point. Let’s stick with this one and talk about what I plan to do in 2016 and when I plan to do it.

What?

Blog

I like the rhythm of publishing a post every ten days. Writing more would leave little time to do anything else and writing less might lead to mental constipation because the list of things I want to write about is already bursting as it is.

I might tweak the blog’s look and structure. It feels cluttered while at the same time not doing a good job of presenting the most interesting content. There’s good stuff about, e.g., Jigsaw, comments, and Java 8 but you wouldn’t know by looking at any random article. So I’m wondering where I could place a visible but neither annoying nor distracting list of recommended articles.

And then there’s my flirt with Jekyll. Since creating Disy’s blog I would really like this one to be built the same way. But switching platforms comes at a high cost and I am reluctant to pay it. I don’t think this will happen.

Branching Out

After about 15 months of serious writing I feel like it’s time to branch out. I would love to write for high-profile outlets, speak at conferences, create an online course, write a book. Or something. Or all of it!

But where to start? Since I don’t really know, I plan to discover possibilities and avenues thereto. So my goal is exploration and experimentation, giving me the means to declare concrete goals this time next year. To not let myself off the hook that easily I add the requirement to accomplish at least one item on the list, preferably being on the way to achieving a second.

Jigsaw is likely to be the door opener. I slid into it at a time when it was still bleeding edge and am sure I can use this to sell myself with the topic – the pig in the poke so to speak.

I also decided to give Stack Overflow another try and am currently watching the Java 9 tag. I’m hoping to use my knowledge of Jigsaw to help other developers discover its intricacies.

Open Source

In my review of 2015 I wrote that I feel my contributions up to this point had little impact and wondered whether I should commit to a single project and stick around. With everything else on this list and the new schedule (see below) this is unrealistic. And while it is bearable to let some private side project slide and disappoint myself it is not cool to do the same to a community that came to rely on you.

So I will stick with long-tail contributions to whatever looks interesting and my own projects. Besides LibFX and the relatively new JDeps Mvn these might soon include other tools related to Project Jigsaw.

Linux

As I wrote a couple of days ago, I finally switched (back) to Linux in summer. But since I was very time-constrained and use my machine purely as a workhorse (as opposed to a lab) any minor hindrance annoyed me to no end. And instead of deep diving into problems to come out with more knowledge and a solution, I just googled some fix and was done with it. That didn’t really deepen my understanding, which I feel is necessary.

I thought of “if it hurts, do it more often” and decided to switch to Gentoo. This will surely give me more reasons to interact with my OS on a deeper level. And I will set time apart to do it thoroughly.

Haskell

I’ll try to channel my hunger for new things into Haskell. So if there’s some time left or I just don’t feel like doing anything else, I will continue tutorialing my way into the seemingly strictest functional programming language around.

Long-Term Work

Leftover time will be invested into my overarching life goal:

When?

Now it gets interesting. The list above is longer than the one for 2015 but in my review of last year I pointed out that I felt exhausted. I’ve seen first hand what severe burn-out does to people and I have no interest to go through that experience myself.

To reconcile these aspects I plan to use a well-known technique: timeboxing.

You might have noticed that the goals are pretty lax. There are few clear requirements to achieve anything in particular: no minimum number of posts, no list of projects I would like to contribute to, no level of Haskell knowledge I would like to achieve. I made the scope intentionally flexible to be able to fix the budget.

After massaging my schedule I created four two-and-a-half-hour boxes and a single five-hour box. This is the best case and there will be weeks where other things will take precedent. If that happens, I hope I can let it go but I might want to catch up on it. I’m not making plans for how to handle that, I will have to decide from case to case.

To preserve energy I forbid myself to invest more time unless a fixed, external deadline is looming. I’ve also set up some activities that will improve my physical and mental balance. (Yes, sport is one of them and is definitely in danger of being abandoned sometimes next week.)

I am going to devote the first ten hours to content work and the other five hours to infrastructure work, as I will call it.

Content Work

Prioritized list of how I plan to spend my ten hours for content work:

  1. writing articles, presentations, courses, SO answers, books or whatever else is part of branching out
  2. writing posts for this blog (never go below two per month)
  3. working on private projects
  4. learning Haskell

Infrastructure Work

Prioritized list of how I plan to spend my five hours for infrastructure:

  1. polishing my Gentoo install
  2. finding ways to branch out
  3. tweaking this blog

Hello 2016!

So these are my professional plans for 2016. If you want to know how I’m doing, make sure to check back!

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As I said, I wanted to pep-talk you into doing something similar. Whether you do it or not, I hope you reach your goals and have a very happy and fulfilling year!

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