Week of March 31, 2019

Sunday

Wow, an actual day of rest! I played some video games, read some articles, and watched some Netflix. Mainly because of this. It's not like the snow was deep enough to impede my ability to get out of the house—it simply impacted my desire to. I really dislike Winter.

Monday

Every minute of the day was filled with meetings until the last hour...even over lunch. So, I tried to get a few tasks done in those 60 minutes, which wasn't nearly enough time. I moved a bunch of tasks in my list to another day. I carved out desk time during other days this week in the hopes that I can meaningfully get anything else done. Where I work, it is very common to see my schedule blocked off and people schedule things right over it anyway. So, this week means I will have to decline any other meetings that show up and hope it doesn't impede someone else's progress or mean I don't get to weigh in on some important decision.

Tuesday

Had one long meeting all morning. A lot of the information was way over my head. I exited it about 45 minutes early because I had a lot of work to catch up on. I managed to knock a few tasks off my list that had been moved 3 or 4 times. I didn't get all caught up, but I feel like I'm making some progress. I did some testing a on project that is supposed to wrap up this week. I didn't want to be the barrier to getting that launched.

Wednesday

I was run ragged. I remember blocking time on my calendar to try to get some tasks on my list done and had made some progress the day before. Not this day! I was chasing down information for something that appeared to be !!HOLY-SHIT-I-NEED-IT-NOW!! My team is already bogged down with 5 existing A1-top-priority-must-do projects:

  • Meeting compliance specifications for accepting payments on the site
  • Updating the antiquated implementation of our site's analytics
  • Providing marketing support for the second highest selling period of the year for our company
  • Designing the experience for integrating our site with a third party program
  • Planning, scoping, and designing a system for reporting across the entire company

There simply isn't room for more as all of those are non-trivial efforts. I had a face to face conversation with the individual making the new request to ask, "What's driving the urgency on this?" It allowed for me to understand where they were getting their pressure from, while I explained the pressure we are currently under. My aim was to find a way to get them what they need, but at a time we could actually do it. When they realized my team's plight, they understood how difficult it is for us fulfill their need in an immediate fashion. The urgency of their request was quite real, but they extended extra effort out of compassion for our situation to buy my team more time. We got an extra week and a half. It's still going to be tough, but it is much more plausible for us that delivering it right now.

Thursday

I had a bunch of meetings cancel, so I opted to work from home. I only had to call in for one meeting and got the rest of schedule cleared out. I imagined I would get so much done because of it. I made some decent progress, but not all I had hoped.

I went to my first meetup in a really long time. We Make the Internet invited Ben Callahan from Sparkbox to present on Buidling a Human-Centered Culture. Ben is a really good presenter. His topic was great. I really enjoyed it. He has presented it other places. Fortunately there is a video of it on Youtube, so I recommend watching it if you have a chance.

I booked flights for Scott and I to go to my nephew's high school graduation at the end of May in the San Francisco area. I've been to San Fran many times, but this will be Scott's first time. There are limited options for non-stop flights from Ohio to California and Scott isn't great at tolerating layovers, so I took what I could get.

The phone rang at 11pm. Scott said, "Well, that can't be good."

I took a deep breath, expecting to hear someone was being taken to the hospital. My dad was on the other end of the line. Over a very scratchy connection, he asked me if I could schedule time with him to discuss my mom and his situation. It was really difficult to hear him, so it wasn't the right setting to try to get into it then. During the brief time we spoke, he seemed like he was having a very lucid moment. He didn't seem like the lost little boy he usually is when he calls me. I felt bad that I didn't ask him what was on his mind in the moment because I know too well that by the time I can talk to him about it, he'll forget he called me in the first place.

In complete honesty, I was worried that he would want to discuss where they should live. It was far too late on a “school night” for me muster enough energy to endure his pleas not to move them out of their home of 40+ years. Even if I say reassuring things like, “You'll be included in the decision,” or “That is certainly something to keep in mind,” those conversations never end quickly and I've been through it with him numerous times, which he doesn't recall. If I tell him we've had this conversation many times before, he replies, "Indulge me."

He's desperate not to leave home and will cycle through all his arguments that he thinks are logical in order to plead his case. None of these statements factor in their safety. When we have these discussions I don't just go along with what he's saying to keep him appeased because that feels like lying, and yet I withhold full honesty to avoid agitating him. Because I can't be certain which turn the conversation will take, I straddle the line between truth and falsehood in the sake of keeping the peace.

Friday

I spent the day with a member of my team talking code and implementation strategy. During our 1:1 conversation earlier in the week, we discussed concerns about developing a portion of our design system within the confines of a project scheduled to begin next week. Our design system needs are not nearly as complex or robust as companies who have multiple design & development teams maintaining user interfaces across multiple products. The main goal for a design system in our situation is to increase our speed of delivery and to provide Marketing with the components they need to do their job without requiring our assistance for all their efforts. We've been talking and planning and scoping this out for months. We've been looking for the right opportunity to get it moving and make it a reality.

My teammate and I had differing beliefs how feasible it would be to approach a design system by scoping it inside the delivery of a project not dedicated to the design system alone. I booked a conference room so we could be tucked away in a space people wouldn't look to find us and break the existing project down into its list of deliverables. We wanted to see how far short things would fall from our aims for the foundation of our design system. The conversation was very candid and lively. By the end, we both felt very comfortable with our choices and had a much clearer sense of our path forward.

This was the best day I've had at work in quite some time.

Saturday

Had an appointment to get my parent's taxes done. This is a task that is beyond their abilities anymore—not just preparing the tax returns themselves, but having a professional do it. At least it was a warmish, sunny day.

Tried a new sushi place since, as I had mentioned in last week's weeknotes, my favorite sushi place is kaput. I really liked it. Will go again and try different varieties. I can't yet determine if it will be considered a new favorite place, though. It's too soon tell and I'm still mourning the old place, quite frankly.

Stuff I read this week

  • Responsible JavaScript: Part I, by Jeremy Wagner. In this article, Jeremy stated, “A <span> is not a substitute for a <label> element, which provides accessibility benefits <span>s don’t.” It's not just that a screen reader will make the input easier to comprehend, interacting with a label will also set focus on the input with which it is associated. Essentially it extends the target surface area by default which is very convenient, whether or not a disability is involved.
  • In Defense of Taking Your Time, by Jen Myers. In her article Jen wrote, “Do things—but you can do them at your own pace.” This applies to so many things! I'm so glad she wrote it down for the world to find.
  • Defining Productivity, by Jeremy Wagner. I seem to be drawn to him this week and I don't mind one bit! He triggered a post out of me this week.