Dev Diary - 2023 in Review
As 2023 comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to recap some of the exciting things that happened this year with some "Top 3"s in different categories and a look forward to 2024.
This has actually been a tough year, but I want to highlight some exciting things that did happen this year for me.
- Starting this Blog - This blog started this year and I can't believe the response! 1,000s of monthly views and hundred of clicks from Google has surpassed my wildest imagination. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read what I have to say, I hope you have found it useful.
- Learning iOS - I nearly on a whim decided to start learning iOS to help widen my knowledge to be more helpful at work. I had a great time going through 100 Days of SwiftUI and learned a ton. I've even been able to apply it at work, answering questions and helping with PR reviews. I hope in 2024 to get my first personal app written and to build on the foundation I formed this year.
- Watch Collecting - I got to own and experience a lot of cool watches this year including the amazing Timex Weekender Chronograph (Split Second Chronograph, Jumping Hour, Date, and Quartz Accuracy for only $40!?!), a Grand Seiko SBGM221 (beautiful Dressy GMT), a Tissot Gentleman (a true GADA watch with amazing accuracy for the movement), Tissot Seastar 1000 36mm (high-accuracy quartz in a compact size), and the Casio GW-5000 (my first G-Shock).
Best Books #
Each month I read at least three books; one fiction, one non-fiction, and one on religion/philosophy. I started this about half way through the year and I got through about 35 books this past year and here are my favorite three.
- Book of Night by Holly Black - A fantastical thriller set in a world where people can control their shadows to perform magic. A page turner that found me falling in love with fantasy and fiction books all over again.
- Deep Work by Cal Newport - Cal presents the hypothesis that the secret to great work is intense focus and attention on a task at hand allowing you to do "Deep Work". I picked this up after reconnecting with his podcast Deep Questions. I try to do at least one 60 minute block of Deep Work each day, and I absolutely notice the difference in quality when I make the time for it.
- Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler - Crucial conversations presents a toolbox and approach for handling difficult and high stakes conversations. This was given to me when I started at WillowTree and I read it early in the year. The biggest takeaway for me was the idea of a "Shared Pool of Understanding" that needs built and added to by all parties in order to ensure the conversation is joint and productive.
As I reflect on the past year, I think I can synthesize three key things I picked up this year that I hope others can apply to
- Discpline - I hit a rut in the middle of the year and was inspired by Cal Newport's podcast to try starting with several daily disciplines to reconnect with my values. So I started working out, praying, reading, and socializing daily. The impact was immediate as it gave me something positive to focus on and it helped me establish the idea that I was someone who could do difficult things and things I didn't "want" to do in the moment.
- Time-blocking - It is a cliche but if you don't tell your time where to go, it will disappear. I started time-blocking my day and started getting more things done and I started getting more realistic about what I could do in a day. Frankly this blog wouldn't even exist if I hadn't started time blocking and realizing I had time to do more things. It also made me question my phone usage and I dropped my screen time from 3+ hours down to 30-45 minutes a day.
- Alcohol - I partook in Dry January in 2023, fully planning to drink on February 1st but I began to feel so much better without the alcohol, that I just never picked it back up. Plus after learning about the negative health impact from Andrew Huberman's podcast on alcohol and the book "The Naked Mind" I can't imagine going back to drinking at this point. I feel healthier, I'm more patient with my family, and I'm far more productive.
Looking Forward #
2024 is looking to be a busy year, so I'm not making any lofty goals for this year, in fact if I have any plans for next year, it is to draw back from some of my own intensity. I'll be starting off the year participating in Exodus 90, a program of fasting and fraternity to help me reconnect with others as the year begins. Beyond that, I want to finish my Bible Reading iOS app and a Web version I started recently. To help facilitate slowing down and getting more time back, this blog will be transitioning from weekly to twice monthly (first and third Thursday). For now the dev diary posts will be going away, but there will still be a healthy stream of deep dives and tech tidbits to keep everyone busy.
I'm happy to have 2023 in the rear-view mirror but I think I've laid the foundation for a successful 2024. For anyone who has read these dev diary posts, thank you! I've enjoyed writing them and I hope someone has found them useful. Here's to a great 2024! Until next time, thanks!
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