My May 2019 Retrospective

3 things that went well

  • Spent a lot more time writing
  • Succeeded in creating a mock api with Google Sheets
  • Found a new name for my agency

3 things that I need to improve

  • Do more German
  • Exercise more (did not reach 2 workout sessions per week on average)

What did I not achieve and why?

I set out to find one client last month, but I didn’t find any. To be honest, I didn’t spend much time looking. I spent my time coming up with a new name for my agency, writing a lot and learning some new technologies which I’ll be needing (like Angular and RxJs and Firebase).

I did manage to get all the documents sorted for the founding of the company. We decided to change the name last minute. The name of the agency will now  be: Pocket Revolutions.

Time distribution

The time spent on JesseMS was actually also time spent writing. So in total I spent a little over 20% of my time writing this month!

Pocket Revolutions

  • Changed the name of the agency (previously Studio Click) to Pocket Revolutions. I’m very happy with the new name. Post about the naming process is upcoming.

Rapid Breakup Recovery

  • Published 1 blog post
  • Started coding my own CMS for RBR

Revenue

Ebook sales: $38

Total: $38

Pingcoin

  • 5 coin recordings were submitted by users and were added to the app
  • First blog post about Pingcoin was published here

Monthly Planning

  • Sign 1 new client
  • Launch the Pocket Revolutions website
  • Publish a portfolio piece on Pingcoin

My March 2019 Retrospective

Introduction

I’ve started a digital product development agency to earn a living, get better at product design & development and to create space to develop my own products. (Working title: “Happy Path Studios”)

As of this writing I have two clients and both are interested in improving existing offline processes through the development of software. German-speakers like to refer to this as “Digitalisation” and it seems this would be a good focus for an agency.

This month I focused most of my time designing and developing the first version of an app for one of my clients, axova.ch, a solar-panel installation service provider.

March Goals

  • Yearly goals set
    • Failed. Did not take the time for this
  • Intercompanion podcast episodes edited and published
    • Failed. Did not take the time for this.
  • RBR podcast episodes edited and published
    • Failed. Did not take the time for this.
  • Accounting ready
    • 90% ready
  • Ionic course ready
    • Completed!
  • Taking part in the startup academy
    • 90% completed.
  • Finish onset detector
    • Failed. Did not spend any time on this
  • Finished Andy’s app
    • 80% ready

Even though I missed quite a few of my goals, I think it’s more a reflection of my difficulties in predicting what I want to be doing in the month to come. I’m very happy with my focus on the Axova app as well as with the progress I’ve made there. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice that for any gains in the above categories. What I’m taking from this is that I need to be more careful when setting my monthly goals. I’ve overestimated in the past, but this month I also set goals I lost interest in.

Kaizen: Account for your tendency to overestimate what you can get done.
Provoking Question: How might I set goals at the beginning of the month I still support at the end of the month?

Time Distribution

Project Distribution
Axova App 39.9%
Learning 19.9%
German 14.1%
General (Business/Productivity/Alignment) 12.5%
Reading / Summarizing 4.7%
Personal (Administration, Bills, Chores, etc.) 2.7%
Language Learning Logistics / Research 1.8%
My Basel Startup 1.6%
RBR 0.9%
Product Discovery 0.8%
Following My Curiosity 0.6%
Pingcoin 0.5%

Total: 155:56:47 (~35 per week)

Most of the Learning was spent learning Ionic using Maximilian Schwarzmueller’s Ionic course on Udemy (which is great). This is the second developer course I’m taking on Udemy and I find myself surprised again how good the quality is. It seems like there’s stronger competition between course authors on Udemy vs. subscription platforms such as Pluralsight which results in higher quality courses. It’s also worth noting that you can find some courses on Pluralsight or on Oreilly’s learning platform that are also avaialble on Udemy. You’re just missing out on the super valuable reviews on Udemy.

I also spent some hours figuring out how to best learn German (Language Learning Logistics / Research) and then 14% of my time (1 hour every morning) learning German. I’m not sure if my approach is worth writing about yet, though.

Updates by indie product

Rapid Breakup Recovery

Spent almost no time on RBR this month, because I wanted to focus on the work for my client. This also means that I still haven’t filled the vacuum left by removing drip. In other words I haven’t had an automatic email sequence for my subscribers in a while.

Key accomplishments

  • None

Revenue

  • Ebooks sales: $38
  • Coaching calls: $0
  • Total March 2019: $38

Pingcoin

Spent almost no time on Pingcoin this month. I fixed one bug that caused the app to crash for users.

Key accomplishments

  • Reached 100 downloads on the Google Play Store.

Revenue

– $0

Total Indie Revenue March

  • $38

What went well

  • Created goals for the month
  • Created a wireframe for the app, got it approved
  • Learnt Ionic
  • Started coding the app

What did not go well?

  • Not following up on my Kaizens
  • Felt a bit less present this month
  • Missed one week of planning / retrospective
  • Came up with the idea to timebox tasks, but never did it
  • Feels like I’m not reading enough
  • Goals w

What should I do differently

  • Make Kaizen review more explicit

Kaizen

  • Make my reviews of Kaizen more explicit
  • Account for your tendency to overestimate what you can get done.

Provoking Questions

  • How might I set goals at the beginning of the month I still support at the end of the month?

My February 2019 Retrospective

You can find a description of the projects mentioned on my Projects page.

Key achievements

  • (Pingcoin) Met with a Swiss coin dealer to speak about a possible collaboration. To be continued.
  • (Learning) Completed the web developer bootcamp Udemy course
  • (My Basel Agency) Got a verbal go-ahead for my second client for my (still nameless) agency

Other/personal

  • I’ve decided I want to reach native level fluency in German. This will help me in running my business here in Basel, Switzerland. This will be reflected in my goals for 2019.

Monthly goals check-in

  • Writing (5/10)
    • Started writing longer pieces in my daily journal
    • No other writing
  • Financial independence (8/10)
    • Found two clients that have agreed to first project together for my Basel Agency
  • Full of love (7/10)
    • Did okay. Daily meditation, gratitude journaling, EFT
  • Seize every day (5/10)
    • No particular achievements here
  • Reading (6/10)
    • Finished the Startup Owner’s Manual
    • Finished Emotional Design
    • Started The Overwhelmed Brain
  • Explore my subconscious and integrate my shadow (7/10)
    • Daily journaling and shadow ritual
  • I am strong (1/10)
    • I broke my routine here after getting sick. Haven’t been to the gym since Feb 7.
  • Travel (N/A)

Time spent

Total: 167:55 hrs

The plurality of my time was spent on Pingcoin, which had been more or less my plan. I’m working on an onset annotator in javascript, but it’s taking me a bit longer than expected.

A considerable amount was spent on the Following my Curiosity category. This is mainly due to the 18 hours I clocked working on the antique map with 3D relief. This was not planned, but I felt such strong curiosity and motivation that I felt I had to work on this. I’ve been trying to make it a policy to trust my subconscious and let it pursue anything that gives me energy. Next step? No idea. I’m really pleased with the end result though.

Revenue

Rapid Breakup Recovery

Ebook sales: $38
Coaching calls: $50
Total: $88
I removed Drip and thereby my 7-day email course. This has impacted my sales as I haven’t taken the time to replace it with anything else yet.

Grand total: $88

Overall

What went well

  • Clocked a lot of hours
  • Finished the web dev course
  • Got my second client

What did not go well

  • I have still not edited the RBR podcast episode and the 4 Intercompanion podcast episodes. I am struggling to balance my desire to focus with keeping existing projects alive. This month I tried to focus on Pingcoin (which you can see by the time that was spent there). However, in order to do so, I neglected other projects. I can’t help but wonder if I’m approaching this correctly
  • I still haven’t laid out my goals for 2019.
  • I’m behind on my personal accounting

What can I do differently

  • Do my accounting at the beginning of the month

 

My January 2019 Retrospective

Key achievements

Rapid Breakup Recovery

  • Recorded the first RBR podcast
  • Learnt about podcast editing and started the editing process

Intercompanion

  • No progress

Pingcoin

  • No progress

Other / Personal

I’m starting an agency!
While looking for consulting opportunities I hit it off with an investor in Basel who wants to work with me on developing an app and also help me bootstrap a product development agency. The app will be aimed at helping NGO’s do their bookkeeping and aid them in their relationship management of their donors. The agency will take on all kinds of digital product development assignments. Super excited about both the app and the agency.

Web Development Bootcamp
I made my way through most of a very long and thorough web development course on Udemy. I’m really enjoying the course and it’s filling in some missing pieces in my haphazard self-taught programming education. It also helped me settle on a tech stack (all JS).

Monthly goal check-in

I’m still in the process of writing up my goals for 2019. I’ve been using my 2018 goals until then as they’re still valid.

  • Writing (5/10)
    • Apart from daily journaling — no progress here.
  • Financial independence (7/10)
    • Found my first client who also wants to help me bootstrap a product development agency!
  • Full of love (7/10)
    • Did okay. Daily meditation and self-parenting.
  • Seize every day (5/10)
    • No particular achievements here
  • Reading (10/10)
    • Finished reading About Face, Atomic Habits, Hello my name is awesome, Ignore everybody and one chapter I selected from Midas Touch (as it came recommended)
    • Started reading The Overwhelmed Brain and listening to Big Magic
    • I’m still behind on summarizing the books I’ve read.
  • Explore my subconscious and integrate my shadow (8/10)
    • Consistently meditated, journaled, shadow ritual and did EFT when necessary
  • I am strong (physical strength)
    • Was consistent in going to the gym 3x a week following the 5×5 program
  • Travel (N/A)
    • Note: My travel goals have changed.

Time Spent

Total clocked hours: 150:51
Back at Chiang-Mai levels of clocked hours. This is probably also due to the fact that in January I was consistently clocking my time spent reading.

This month I spent the plurality of my time on Learning because I enrolled in a Udemy class on web development called the Web Development Bootcamp. It’s been a lot of fun and incredibly useful.

I spent around 18% of my time on Peter’s app which is the code name for the NGO app. This time was mostly spent doing research and understanding the problem space.

The “General” category is what I use for time spent on my morning routine, on my retrospectives etc. At this point it’s getting a bit unwieldy. I will look at splitting it up into different categories (e.g. work ON systems and work IN systems).

After general, the highest category is Rapid Breakup Recovery, which is mostly due to the fact that I spent time recording and editing the podcast.

Revenue

Rapid Breakup Recovery

  • Ebook sales: $38
  • Coaching calls: $0
  • Total: $38

Grand total

  • $38

Happiness

41% good or rad (down from 48% last month).
I’m still not sure how to report on this. Although I have a lower relative amount of good moods, I logged 25 good moods in January compared to 24 in December. It doesn’t feel like this month was much different than the one before. I would like to get a daily average with a standard deviation, but that doesn’t come out of the box.

Overall

What went well

  • Found a first client for the development of an app who also wants to help me build a product development agency!
  • Found a new coach for both personal and business-related issues.
  • Web development bootcamp (24+ hours)
  • Reading and tracking reading. I tracked pretty much all of my reading and I did a lot of reading.

What did not go well

  • I waited a long time before setting my January goals and doing my yearly retrospective.
  • It’s taking a long time to come up with a name for the agency.
  • My monthly retro has slowly expanded and it’s been taking up more time. I believe it’s time to start automating certain elements of it.

What can I do differently?

  • I will be naming this category “What can I do differently” as opposed to “What should I do differently” to emphasise the fact that it’s not feasible to implement all improvement points in the next iteration. Points of improvement should be added to my backlog. I should select some of these points for the next iteration during my planning phase.
  • Do my retrospectives & planning within 2 days of the new month
  • Somehow I spent no time on the Intercompanion project. In retrospect this makes sense, I was focused on other things, but I’m coming to the realization that shifts in time spent on projects on the month-level (and greater) are difficult to be aware of.
  • Find time to summarize and ankify the books I’ve read
  • Start automating my retrospective / planning systems

 

My 2018 Retrospective

Key accomplishments

  • Launched a beta version of my (physical) coin testing app, Pingcoin.
    • Learnt basic Java
    • Learnt basic Android development
    • Learnt basic OOP
  • Completed 8 months at FIFA and saved enough money for a 10-12 month runway in Thailand (ended up coming back early after getting together with my current girlfriend :))
  • Spent 2 months in Chiang Mai working for myself
  • I got to the root of an anxiety I had around money. With no monthly income I would get very agitated about spending money and spending time away from my computer. With help from a friend I was able to narrow this down to a deep seated fear of failure. Once I understood it was about failure, it lost 95% of its grip over me.
  • Recorded 5 podcast interviews. I noticed I really enjoyed the process. I still need to do the editing though.

Revenue

Rapid Breakup Recovery

  • Coaching calls: $810.51
  • Ebook sales: $1’045 (55 ebooks sold)
  • Total: $1’855.51

Goals check-in

Be present, full of love and surround myself with others that are full of love
Score: 7/10. I think I did okay here. Meditated daily.

Become financially independent
Score: 2/10. Although I worked hard towards this goal (I thought), I didn’t move the needle much. Need to fundamentally rethink my approach in 2019.

Be a strong man, in great physical shape and able to defend myself and my family
Score: 5/10. I didn’t do much exercise in 2018.

I do not postpone happiness & making an impact
Score: 9/10.

Travel the world and continually expand my frame of reference
Score: 8/10.

Explore my mind, my unconscious and integrate my shadow and become at peace with myself
Score: 7/10.

Read daily to expand my frame of reference and support my other goals
Score: 6/10.

Write daily to clarify my thoughts and to connect with other minds
Score: 7/10.

What went well

Goal setting

For the first time in my life I set yearly goals and I was fairly consistent in looking at them regularly (almost daily). There are many I didn’t reach (or didn’t do particularly well on), but overall I’m very happy with my progress. The goal-setting approach I used worked fairly well. I started by going through Jordan Peterson’s Understand Myself program and arrived at 8 goals. I then came up with some routines and procedures to support the achievement of those goals. My morning routine is the cornerstone of my day. I wake up as early as possible (initially I was consistently waking up at 4:30) and I meditate for 20 minutes. Then I go through a checklist which I consider my morning routine. It involves me reviewing my goals, doing some affirmations, journaling and an Anki card review session.

Anki review

After reading Michael Nielsen’s and Gwern’s blogpost on spaced repetition systems and Anki, I decided to try to incorporate it into my routine. Every morning as part of my daily routine I do an Anki review session where I review the cards that are due for that day (typically 1-10). Recently I’ve been using it for helping me remember coding concepts I’m getting introduced to. It’s hard to report on the results in an unbiased way, but I feel it’s very effective at refreshing concepts at the point where I’m just about to forget them. After several repetitions I usually end up remembering the card long-term.

Tracking Myself

As a consequence of setting goals and tracking my progress I’ve gotten into the habit of tracking more aspects of my life. I’ve been successfully tracking my time spent working using Toggl, my daily mood with an app called Daylio, my sleep with Sleep for Android and weekly and monthly retrospectives in Trello and on this blog.

Hustling before work

I didn’t track my wake up times, but many, many days I would wake up at 4:30, do a morning routine (including meditation) and I would be able to work from 5:00 to 7:00 before I would go to work. Waking up this early is great because you have zero distractions, you spend your best energy on your own projects (and not your job) and you do it when you’re fresh (as opposed to doing it after work). The downside is that you’re absolutely f*cked when you get back home from work and you really need to be in bed by 20:00 to get enough sleep. Waking up early is however the most effective strategy I’ve come across to hustling around my day job. That, and negotiating a 80% work contract.

What did not go well?

Goal-achievement

Although I had my goals written down, and I would visualise them and review them daily, there are still some I didn’t reach (e.g. $1000/month side income or going to BJJ training 3x a week). Why? I’m not entirely sure. But I think it has to do with not knowing I was off course and therefore not adjusting course. It seems that just writing a goal down and reading it daily works for certain goals (e.g. travel a lot, do fun stuff in your spare time) but not so well when there needs to be a clear, step-by-step plan to get you to the goal (e.g. $1000/month side income goal).

Coding was super slow

As part of the 24-hour startup challenge I attempted coding together an app in NodeJS. I assumed I could learn it on the fly. I assumed wrong. Even though I managed to code together an Android app in 2018, this doesn’t mean I can jump into any new technology easily. That may be an obvious statement to an experienced developer, for me it was a very valuable wake up call. In 2019 I want to be fast at shipping working software. I’ve already started taking a Udemy web development course after seeing @stephsmithio recommend it.

Achieving Financial Independence

Most of the work I did in the early mornings before starting my day job was done, ostensibly, with the goal in mind of achieving financial independence. I did not achieve this goal, so something about my approach needs revisiting.

Accountability Partner

I tried setting up a weekly call with an accountability partner on two occasions. The first partner and I lasted a couple of months and I found it very motivating and productive. At some point, however, he dropped out. The second accountability partner, a young lady running her own business, only lasted 2 sessions with me. I’m not sure why these relationships failed, but since I think it’s such a valuable ritual, I am looking for a new accountability partner in 2019.

Personal Network

I’ve heard it ad nauseam “your network is incredibly important for business”, yet I never invested in it or focused on growing it. Through college and my career so far I’ve come in contact with plenty of people, but these contacts never translated into a resource I felt I could leverage. I became painfully aware of my “lack” of network when I tried to find some consulting clients late 2018. I was working with a business coach to help me find my first clients and one of the first things he asked me was: “Who in your network can you call to find leads?” The truth was I could only come up with a handful of people I could call. If personal network is one of the factors that’s important in achieving success in business, then I would have to score myself very low on this dimension. This makes me want to turn this around in 2019.

Exercise

I did not do much exercise in 2018. I tried starting with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu again, but as I was living far outside of the city it was difficult to go to evening classes and still get back in time to sleep so I could wake up at 4:30. The silver lining on last year is that towards the end I started using the 5×5 workout app which helps you with a 3x per week compound lifting routine. The app is really a breeze to use and has helped me get into a steady routine of squats, deadlifts etc. 3x a week.

What should I do differently?

Revise goal setting/achieving system

In order to set goals I stand a chance of achieving and to make sure I adjust course when I’m off track I need to take a careful look at my goal setting / achieving system and revise it for 2019. Two questions that I’m asking myself are:

  1. How might I set goals in a way that I stand a chance of achieving them?
  2. How might I become aware I’m off-track for a certain goal and how might I effectively correct course?

Get better and faster at developing products

I want to be quick a coding together prototypes.

Try again to find an accountability partner

Working with an accountability partner was valuable. I should continue my search in 2019.

Exercise & Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Do compound lifts 3x a week and do jiu jitsu at least 3x a week (as soon as I can afford it). I have some mental blocks I run into when I try to go to BJJ consistently. In 2019 I want to overcome those.

Start building and strengthening my personal network

Learn how to build and strengthen my personal network and make this a primary focus for 2019.

Revisit my strategy for achieving financial independence

Aside from reviewing my general goal setting / achievement system I want to review my strategy for becoming financially independent. Some questions that I’m asking myself are:

  1. Do I need to focus more?
  2. Do I need to pick my projects better?
  3. Do I just need to continue and persevere?
  4. Should I put more importance on completing projects?