Daynotes 2023-05-17

Must be busy, as I’ve not been writing day notes. Today is sunny, and there are two mini chainsaws yelling outside of the front door. The heron at the pond matched the shape of a tree, and the paths are overgrown with nettles and cow parsley. I suspect this is a metaphor for something.

A path leading away through overgrown plants on both sides, with the top of a house visible in the background.

Since last time:

  • Finished looking into GoGoCarto – it’s a nice tool, but may not do quite what is needed. "What is needed" is then the question.

  • Doing more work in spreadsheets to organise my understanding of different projects and how they work. Something about 2D working seems to fit code documentation nicely a lot of the time, as if copying-and-pasting and flexible functionality are inherently non-linear.

  • Attended a welcome event run by Arts Council England as our charity is now a National Portfolio Organisation, along with all the governance and reporting that goes along with it. Secretly excited by the challenge of overview and data here, although now working out how to make a bit more time for it.

  • Eurovision happened, and I still can’t get Finland’s song ‘Cha Cha Cha’ out of my head.

Coming up:

  • I’m thinking about a way to order my time better, as I still feel like I’m jumping haphazardly between things a bit too much. I think I might try blocks of 2-3 days for a project at a time – enough to get into some solid work, but that allows a bit of flexibility over a 2 week period.

  • I also want to start building in deliberate breaks, what some might call "mindfulness" breaks, but for me, at least, it’s about giving myself the opportunity to step away from responsibilities for a moment. Mid-life seems full of these things, and TBH I’ve been jumping from one set of responsibilities to another for years now: Feeling responsible for my own path, for client deliveries, for parenting and family, and for company Boards, and it can be quite tiring a lot of the time. Ten minute breaks to stop thinking, even just once or twice a day, may go a long way.

  • Thinking about both of these in terms of mini-metrics – I have a large spreadsheet for planning and timelogging, and it would seem to make sense to add it in to that somehow.

Personal Mini-Metrics: 1. An introduction

This post thinks through the idea of lightweight use of metrics for personal reflection and focus. It comes out of a week of daynotes – writing small notes each day – which was inspired in turn by Justin Pickard’s post on binnacles and ships’ logs as a form of taking progress, combined with my own background in data for policy making plus an interest in approaches such as OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results, to provide some form of rallying post to bind together time and people. So I’m aware this is, in many ways, nothing new and there are certainly plenty of "habit tracker" apps out here which cover similar ground.

Thinking back, it also ties in with growing up around the practice of confession within a Catholic setting, and the ideas of "safe" personal reflection spaces and quantification of ritual (X Hail Mary’s, Y rosary beads, etc), merging with Michel Foucault’s discussion of honesty and parrhesia – the art and practice of an "authentic" or "bold" form of speech – in Fearless Speech, and from there directly (IMHO) to the modern day rituals of things like regular retrospectives in agile methodologies, and weeknoting. Bullet journalling fits in here too, and I especially like its explicit use of paper as a medium of record.

To tie it all together then, how do these rituals of reflection and spaces for honesty feed into a more personal, meaningful idea of almost hyperlocal metrics? That is, how can I talk about this idea with an air of universal practicalism, yet maintain the notion that the configuration and usage of personal data is entirely a subjective one? And – to offer something different to many other practices – is it possible to stop the data nerd in me thinking too much, and keep the process to something as minimalist as possible?

Perhaps the answer lies in metric theory as a guiding principle, but its application as an intentionally private endeavour, even if worked out in a more public setting such as an open blog. That is, we can learn from each other and from history about what generally works or doesn’t for data, but ultimate responsibility for entering into the practice, crafting something useful, actually reflecting, and "adjusting course" (or changing it significantly) comes down to our own self. We are the captain of our own ship, even if the ship has been built by others, nautical knowledge comes from thousands of years of exploration, and the winds are forever out of our control.

At its heart, a mini-metrics practice should be "lightweight" in the sense that it encourages regular reflection, to bind together our own self-narrative through time. That is, its main purpose is not to generate data or blogposts, but to reconnect our own imagination with our own memory, in a way that has been disrupted by the constant interruption of the attention economy.

Furthermore, the process should grow our own sense of self-awareness, in order to "merely" ascertain our own place in the world. While we should not set out to judge and criticize ourselves, there will be times when reflection may generate either a flash of realisation that ties back in with a sense of weakness and humility, and equally times when we will achieve a sense of pride. (Mental note: Perhaps either of these states of realisation should trigger a re-orientation, and a re-scoping of needs, goals and metrics?)

With that written down, I’ll come back to thoughts on running mini metrics another time, but suggestions and thoughts very welcome. I’m at

Scan of an old sailing ship's log, a table written on parchment paper with various columns with numbers, handwritten text for events, and some images of the boat in question.

daynotes 2023-05-11

Nope, brain not keeping track of day of the week currently. That’s ok though, the sun is out and things are happening.

Since last time (2 days):

  • Been assessing and writing up my state-of-play on a longer term project, in which a lot of under-the-hood refactoring work has been done alongside large amounts of codebase orientation. It was feeling … "messy" in my brain, so I took some time to summarise the key changes in infrastructure I’ve been working on, including why I needed to work on them. Coding can get like that a lot – you need to factor in and schedule time to see the wood again, and reassert why you’re where you’re at. It also means I have more clarity and transparency around communications with the client, which is hugely important on a project like this.

  • I deployed a bit of work I’ve been looking at over the last couple of weeks. While I’m happy to take the end users through what’s been set up, there’s always the chance that a) they’ll forget how it works, b) I’ll forget how it works, and/or c) other people may be brought in to edit the content involved. So I spent a little extra time writing the steps up into a document, including screenshots.

  • Both of the above have been good tasks to do alongside a slightly fragmented day involving bank meetings, shopping, and school pick-ups. Consolidate understanding. Set out plans. These things will stand you in good stead in a busy, choppy world.

  • I also had a good day delving into code properly, really understanding (or not) some of the flow of WordPress hooks.

  • I watched Eurovision semi-final 1 on Tuesday with son 1.

Today is rapidly hurtling towards tools-down time, but has been mostly:

  • Trying out GoGoCarto open source mapping tool for a client. Chance to practice reading French a bit, as well as installing a translation plug-in. Docker install went very well and I’ve had some good initial success importing data and configuring the tool locally.

  • Trying out a gitlab-to-Digital Ocean docker deployment for the first time, but just hit an error message.

  • Last night I got MOP3, a Mastodon-to-POP3 bridge, set up, and accessing/posting Mastodon via a new Thunderbird account has been oddly soothing.

In terms of progress – well, see above really.

Also been thinking about this Progress section. Separate post needed, but I think there is merit in "micro-metrics", in the sense that boats might record a fairly simple set of data in their logbook (I assume – compared to today’s modern data capture, at least). Personal progress metrics for a week, lightweight and relevant. Yeah, something there…

Daynotes 2023-05-09

What day is it? I feel like Link waking up at the start of Link’s Awakening – somewhat discombobulated, but somewhere around here there was a world and an adventure happening. Now if I could just get down to the beach…

Since last time (a long time ago):

  • Dug back into an ongoing, longer term project to make more refactors. After a fairly major shift to bring multiple WordPress sites together into a single site, there are some finer details rearing their heads (or the expected unexpecteds, to put it another way). I spent some time looking into custo URL routes in WordPress, and "acceptable" ways to pass variables between filters and template includes, and generally understanding the space better. It’s a slight rabbit hole, so I may park it and document it.

  • Voted.

  • Generally early starts. Somehow managed to get a lock-in in Seaford, so Saturday was a rather fuzzy day. Up early on Sunday to get the bus over to Eastbourne for my and son 1’s second official Pokemon TCG tournament. (He won a prize pack, I didn’t come last, and I can now happily discuss 90% of mdoern Pokemon card tactics with random strangers 🤔). And another early one Monday to pick up a bike.

  • Also, a weekend of lots of clearing out cupboards and shed junk. I think there is a) something definitely more therapeutic about clearing things out, and "curation therapy" should be much more of A Thing than "retail therapy" IMHO, and b) there feels like significant overlap between the joy of refactoring code and the sense of zen that comes from decluttering, and maybe I should make more of a thing out of that, personally speaking.

Black and white photo of a wheel and side of a car, with rippling reflections of sunlight being cast onto the nearby pavement


  • I’m going to spend a bit more time in the same project as before, but need to set out some overview structure to start locating progress and testing plans as things come together. It’s at the point where I need to make more functional changes, and I don’t want to lose track of which things are broken, which things aren’t, and which things are being intentionally changed.

  • Eurovision semi-final 1. Can you believe that these are actually being shown on BBC 1?


  • A bit of mental progress really, which is often more important than tangible or otherwise-visible progress – that is, development of an understanding around where you are on a piece of work, what the challenge is, and what the next steps are – even if you haven’t technically done anything to show. I wish people understood this aspect of "knowledge working" more, as it’s the key to unlocking a lot of productivity. In my case, it’s the realisation that I need to step back and document things before ploughing on with code.

Daynotes 2023-05-04

Missed yesterday’s day note – I almost put off writing this as things are busy, but let’s see if I can’t make it that 5-10 minute check-in that I was originally aiming for last week.

Since last time:

  • Long but good weekend away, seeing the folks, and then a day looking after the boys while the school was striking (solidarity!) – a bit frazzled currently (possibly an understatement), a mix of late nights, being extroverted and conversational for a few days, driving, and context switching.

  • Wrote up some Board minutes Tuesday afternoon, but really trying to balance looking after my energy with pushing myself to get on with things. So trying not to put too much pressure on myself – my instinct is to plan things out, but even deciding to do that can be extra pressure sometimes.

  • Spent a good day yesterday starting to familiarise myself with a new codebase I’ll be working on soon. Well, 3 or 4 codebases really. Slightly wide-eyed, crash course moment of checking out the repositories and scanning through all the tech stacks in use. I still find myself wondering how others cope with juggling frameworks and tools. Still, I can load up docs and get a rough idea of what a tool is for quite easily before touching any of the code itself. Maybe that’s a sign of experience?

  • Staring at docker logs to figure out why docker-compose up wasn’t working isn’t too fun after an hour though.


  • Left the house and have come to the Skiff co-working space to decouple from domestic clutter for a day. I’m pretty sure nobody has got their head round what the whole Working From Home movement actually means, socio-psychically speaking.

  • Handy meeting that covered network architecture for the codebase above, and agreeing some initial steps. Exciting stuff and made me feel a bit more awake! I do like that spot between technical architecture design and business needs, and the process of making decisions about tools based on stakeholder needs across the whole system.

  • Going to do some of that planning I talked about and get my time scheduling a bit clearer.

  • Voting.


  • Finally getting in touch with some frameworks I haven’t really looked at yet – Vue, nuxt, Laravel Doctrine. Feel a bit like Willow absorbing the books of magic.

Head of the charcter Willow from Buffy the TV series with lines of unreadable words covering the lower half of her face

  • But, you know, not as end-of-worldy.

  • Hopefully.

Daynotes 2023-04-28

End of week check-in. Yesterday was about as busy as expected, and today is a wrap morning before heading off – sans les enfants! – for a weekend away. Actual gasp.


  • Quick round of feedback on the work for client. Had a brief look into whether the changes were easy, and turned out seemed to be, so I proactively made some changes in under an hour, and got rough quotes prepped in my head. Timelogging spreadsheets are a godsend sometimes.

  • Had our first Board Meeting for Writing Our Legacy with a new Board member, which was late in the date but went well. It’s going to be interesting to let/help the Board find a new ‘rhythm’ for its (volunteer) members, alongside a fair bit of change and structuring within the team itself, now that we’re an ACE NPO. But it’s a good team, I think we’ve got this.

  • Tried out using my Bluetooth keyboard to write notes onto my phone, as an experiment in more portable writing (ie not having to fetch the laptop from upstairs). Works well (Logitech K380.)

  • Decided to pick up Sigur Ros’ new digital version of the Kveikur album, with digital book, through their Heimr community. I’m intrigued by what they’re doing, and as a long time fan (over 20 years since the Brighton gig now? wow) it’s fascinating to watch them evolve, creatively and technically at the same time. I figure there are lessons there for how any creative organisation runs over time. It’s also really intriguing to see what role blockchains and NFTs can play, especially now the hype has died down.

  • Ordered a few more Pokemon cards. The kids and I have really got into the TCG (The Card Game) in the last few months, especially around deckbuilding, and so it’s become a bit like buying in Lego pieces to make that model you can really see working. More thoughts on deckbuilding and life another time.

Also an extra one to mention – you know that time of the night when everyone else has gone to bed and you’re brushing your teeth and the strapline for what you want to do and be pops into your head and you have to go back downstairs and turn the lights on and find a pen to write it all down? Yeah, that.


  • Writing up Board meeting notes
  • Sending invoices
  • Getting ready for the weekend, which is a whole nother to-do list.


  • An ever-clearer vision for where I want to take myself in the next few years. And a sense of brash confidence in the idea that you can actually do a broad range of things rather than specialise, so long as you can tell a decent (and succinct) story around it.

  • Project work – some slightly delayed, but some I think is closer to finishing that it would have otherwise been.

Random thoughts:

  • Pet user story peeve: When delivery companies give you the option of setting a back-up location for if you’re going to be out, and then say it WILL be delivered there. Really not clear if the option is for if they try my house first, and I’m not there at the time, or if they’ll just deliver straight to the second option.

  • Really enjoying doodling notes on the new Pretendo Miiverse replacement. Not figured screenshots out yet, but here’s a couple of photos of recent efforts…

Sketch of Captain Toad, Treasure Hunter waving hello with his giant mushroom head, with the word TOAD in large letters.

Sketch of Mario with a hammer chasing a flustered Twitter logo bird