in Prose

S02E09: Why do you write like you’re running out of time?

Introspection and honesty

Also chocolate. Like a lot of chocolate

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What went well this week?

My partner stayed longer in Latvia than me and arrived back on Monday evening. We were both starving and in no mood for cooking, so we selected and ordered food that arrived at our house shortly after us.

We live in the future and it is unbelievably cool.

I finished one piece of coursework — it solves sudoku⁰. It takes less time to solve than it does to write them in. I think that’s a good metaphor for computing generally.

The reactions to my last weeknotes were really very positive, and Sam wrote something really flattering and also insightful, so you should read that. I got to speak to an extremely interesting CTO called David Carboni and fangirl² about organisational culture and programming languages while throwing serious shade at Java.

I was approached to write some software for a group of people I respect to help them achieve some awesome user needs and felt bad about charging for it. I would like for this to change, either by me becoming more comfortable with the value of my own time or the immediate implementation of Universal Basic Income so I can just do it for the love of doing it.³

A vast oversimplification but still a valuable tool, and better than the actively awful Myers-Briggs test

I spoke to my peer mentor Morgan, who is wise and brilliant. She put some pressure on me to reflect more deeply on why I’m leaving, and it’s been immensely helpful. She’s also suggested some avenues I hadn’t considered for new jobs. All this from a chalet in the Alps!

Finally: I made more progress with my side project. I’m making a pitch deck, because I figure if nothing else it’s good practice. Plus — and I have to whisper this –

I actually quite like slidedecks for transmitting information

For example:

Oooooh, mobile

Aaaah, numbers

What didn’t go so well?

Today — Friday — was a bit of a crush of different things. I didn’t get everything I wanted done because there was a lot of context switching. We’re getting back into our clients’ peak seasons, which means our customer support time suddenly picks up again. Normally we’d be okay, but we’re thin on the ground when it comes to staff right now and it meant I had to keep picking up the phone. No easy solution here — I’m just going to need to sweat it out until I get my new person trained up.

The approach to write the software I mentioned above came at the start of my lecture on Thursday, and I couldn’t focus properly on what was being said as I was thinking about database structures.⁴ That makes for a funny aside but it’s not easy work, and I need to be better at putting my stuff away and not being distracted. I’m going to try an old-school notepad approach for the next lecture to see if that helps.

Lastly, I got feedback that I am sometimes so blunt as to be unpleasant. One of the reasons I blog is because with the space and time to think I (think) I can say what I want in a way that’s efficient and eloquent. When I’m pushed for an answer on the spot I tend to be abrupt, because I feel like my inquisitor wants an answer now. That’s an explanation of why I’m like that, but it doesn’t take away from the hurt I cause when I am like that. And I strongly believe in the principle that the more senior you are, the greater your responsibility to adjust your style to suit the people who report to you.

I’m going to work harder on this, so if you see me in the next four weeks and find me being unpleasantly blunt, I’d like you to call me out if you’re up for it.

I’m down in the bottom right. Where do you think you are?⁵

⁰ Japanese doesn’t really do plural nouns, and it’s the kind of tiny grammatical hill I’d die on¹

¹ sorry, on which I’d die

² fangirl is the gender neutral term, don’t @ me

³ fingers crossed for the second one

⁴ Database architecture is the most perfect in-between for people who like constructing theoretical shapes to solve problems and people who like making things. You’ve not lived until you’ve seen tables you’ve designed filling with neat, efficient rows of data.

⁵ This diagram is from Radical Candor. It’s a book with a whole host of questionable suggestions, and there’s plenty to argue about the extent to which vulnerability and honesty in the workplace is a good thing. All the same, it’s worth reading.

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