On Writing, Don’t Break the Chain, Habits Creating and Daily Life

After I left my job, I got to enjoy what looked the most like vacations I’ve had for quite some time. That was nice. Then it was time to get back on track and get back to work… Without any kind of work waiting for me to do it.

What I wanted to get done

There were a few things I wanted to do, to change and goals I had, I figured the best way would be to make a list. Lists rock, right ?

  • Get a contract
  • Get good leads for more contracts later
  • Learn new things
  • Contribute to open source projects
  • Clean my room and do the dishes more often

This isn’t some shiny list about becoming a better person, eating healthy and becoming a Jedi Master, it’s simple things but it’s what I really wanted to do, things I cared about and was ready to commit to.

How I decided to do it

Knowing what I wanted to do, all I needed was a plan. Sounds simple, and it kind of is… But it also isn’t.

Get a contract and leads

I need to earn some money now. I won’t be able to pay for rent and food for ever so I need to find myself some nice projects to work on. So I worked at it, without results so far, but hopefully it will work, who knows :

  • Find 50 agencies that do great stuff I’d like to work with
  • Email them to let them know I’m available
  • Email the companies I’ve worked before

I must say, I thought finding 50 agencies I’d like to work with would be much simpler than it was… I have my list and I started emailing those, but it takes a lot of time, but I do focus on listing only great agencies producing nice websites I’d be proud to have been working on. I know I’m picky but I want to be happy with my job, work with smart people, it makes things harder at first but I’m sure in the long-term it’ll pay.

Learn new things

After 2 years at my previous job, not always enjoying it, I kind of let myself go when it comes to being update and knowing the new trends and techniques of frontend development.

I started by filling my RSS feed with blogs, went back to my old Twitter account and followed a bunch of new people. Frontend Receipe was a great resource for that !

While browsing projects, blog posts, tweets and GitHub, I stumbled upon ScrollMagic, which I fell in love with and dug into even more and ended up writing a complete course about.

So a summary :

  • Subscribe to plenty of RSS feeds
  • Follow many smart people on Twitter
  • Scout on GitHub for nice projects

Contribute to opensource projects

That one happened on GitHub. My activity chart looked really dead, because it was. I wanted to fix that, for a few reasons :

  • Connections you make with other contributors
  • Importance of an active GitHub account to prospects
  • Force myself to really do stuff

That worked really well. I’ve been pushing things almost daily for 2 weeks now, hoping to find more projects to contribute to.

At first I felt like there wasn’t much I could do. My coding skills are good but I’m not some hard core JS guy with lot of knowledge about some specific obscure subject, so I didn’t really know how I’d be able to help. Turns out there are many things you can do :

  • Offer a re-design
  • Write docs and tutorials
  • Fix simple bugs
  • Answer to people’s questions and issues

Many people enjoy re-designing websites like WikiP├ędia or Facebook, while a lot of open source projects look really bad, simply because the owner is just too busy coding stuff. Why not help that guy instead ? It’s even better if you can manage to do so adapting to the current markup so only the CSS file needs to but changed and reviewed easily ! I have yet to find the idea project for me to do that for, but it’s on my to do list !

Write docs and tutorials, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m convinced WordPress became what it is today mostly because of the quantity of learning material that was available, compared to other CMSs when it came out that were just as good, but not so easy to get started with. Helping docs and tutorials helps a lot with the projects getting bigger, it really does help !

Cleaning and tidying

This has nothing to do with work, but with the idea of being active and not letting myself go. I’m in a flatshare and we each have our tasks, mine is to do the dishes and the laundry, and how clean my room is is obviously up to me as well. I’d let too many dishes wait in the sink, and would wait for my underwear drawer to be empty before I cleaned some, also 50% of the floor in my bedroom would be covered in clothes.

To changed that, I decided to commit to doing at least 1 cleaning/tidying task a day.

I installed Habit Bull on my phone, defined the Habit, so cleaning, and did just that : do one thing each day, every day. Turns out it’s not that difficult, for 12 days in a row now, I’ve done it, most of the time I actually did more than one task, and doing it bothers me less and less, it’s becoming a habit.

I’m expecting to use this Don’t Break the Chain method, for more things in the future, once cleaning really does become a habit, but at least for now I’m starting to enjoy a clean kitchen, a room I can just walk in without jumping above clothes, and I feel like the appartement is just nicer to live in, so I’m never grumpy about that and unable to focus on what matters.

Conclusion

I hope to get some leads about upcoming work soon, I can still live for about a month and a half on my savings, it’s not that much but my situation isn’t critical yet and I’m confident I’ll find something, it just needs to happen soon or I’ll be in financial trouble !

I’m glad I’ve been able to commit to regularly sit at my desk and actively work, even though it’s not work I’m paid to do.

I’m enjoying my days more than I used to when doing pretty much nothing, even though I’m cleaning the dishes daily, so it must not be that bad after all.

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