Harry Cresswell

Intentions 2020

No unrealistic goals for this year. Instead, all I want to do is outline the things I’m keen to focus regular time and energy on in 2020. I’ve also chosen a set of principles which I plan to use on a daily basis, to help guide my behaviour throughout the year.

I’m sure not all this will work out, and I’m ok with that. This exercise is about finding clarity in how I wish to spend my time. It’s a rough plan of action that provides myself with a sense of direction, and ensures I make some progress towards positive long-term results.

To kick things off, here are the areas I’ll focus on.

Client Work #

Client work is still the source of most of my income and this will stay the same for 2020.

This will be the first year working exclusively with JAMStack technology. That means a lot more Hugo, Gatsby, Netlify and Sanity, which I’m pretty excited about. I’m keen to give 11ty a go too. I’ll do my best to record and share what I can.

I’m keeping my client list small. Working on longer projects with fewer clients seems to be the sweet spot. It keeps the quality of work high and the stress levels low.

In Detail #

We worked hard on the evolution of In Detail last year. This will continue. We’re launching quite a few changes to the website later this month and plan to focus on three things:

  • Content creation
  • Client acquisition
  • Marketing funnel

We plan to work on internal tooling to improve the efficiency of our process and spend time working on our inbound marketing strategy. I’m excited to see what else is in store for In Detail this year.

Learning #

This year I’m allocating specific blocks in my week dedicated to studying and taking courses. Work-related subjects that I’m choosing to focus on are:

  • Vanilla JavasScript
  • JAMstack
  • IndieWeb
  • Accessibility

New technologies I’m interested in exploring include Svelte, Vue and KeystoneJS.

Other non-work related subjects I’m interested in include:

  • German (I’m on the hunt for an online tutor to supplement my Duolingo practice)
  • Designing variable fonts
  • Generative art / p5.js / Processing
  • Abelton Live

Reading #

I’m going to read more books on design in 2020. A few books I’m particularly interested in reading are:

  • Every Layout by Andy Bell and Haydon Pickering
  • Inclusive Components by Haydon Pickering
  • Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro

I also have a few on my non-design related list:

  • Factfulness by Hans Rosling
  • 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson
  • Future Ethics by Cennydd Bowles

I’d like to read more non-fiction, it’s something I’m not very good at. I promised Rebekka I’ll give Harry Potter a shot (in German) a while back, so it’s time to fulfill that promise.

Writing #

I didn’t write enough in 2019. I want to change that in 2020 and get back into a daily writing habit. Here are some rough plans for my writing:

  • Make part of my morning routine
  • Block out at least 1 hour each day
  • Document as I learn new things
  • keep writing simple and concise
  • Avoid long convoluted articles, which are easy to lose interest in
  • Focus on short, insightful reads
  • Break longer articles into a series of shorter posts
  • Consider writing a course (a few people have suggested Hugo might be a good place to start)
  • Share new articles on social media
  • Re-post coding tutorials on dev.to
  • Provide an article image for RSS feeds and social

Newsletter #

I plan on keeping my newsletter much the same for now. I am keen to work on a microsite that archives past issues. I find myself referring back to old emails often, so this will be a useful tool. I’m sure it might be useful for everyone subscribing too.

I’d like to pick up where I left off with the spreadsheet that accompanies the newsletter. The aim is to index all the content into a searchable format. It’s time-consuming to build but will be a powerful addition to the newsletter.

Health #

In 2019 I managed to stick to a regular weekly routine of running, meditation and yoga. I plan to keep this up in 2020, with the addition of a few new plans:

  • Climb more
  • Get better at batch meal prep
  • Increase my headstand practice to 2min/day
  • Fermentation (I started making my own Sauerkraut last year, which is good fun and much cheaper than buying it)
  • Find a new meditation app (I’ve used Headspace for years so it’s time for a change). Right now I’m trying out Waking Up by Sam Harris and Insight Timer.

Travel #

I’m going for 4 countries this year. That’s two on top of the usual (UK and Germany), which will include France and I expect one other (?).

Rebekka and I have a few summer road trip ideas. We’re thinking of driving the van either down to the Alps or possibly to Slovenia, Denmark or Sweden. We’re still undecided.

Networking #

I’d like to make more of an effort to meet up with other designers and developers this year. Finding an interesting Meetup to join is a top priority. I’d also like to make it to an industry conference. I’ve not done much of this in the past, so need to work on this.

Side projects #

I’m trying to be more conscious about the time I spend on side projects in 2020. I’ve dedicated specific time blocks for side projects on Mondays and Fridays. I failed to do this in 2019, so the time I spent on side projects suffered.

A few of the projects I’m interested in pursuing this year are:

Type Design #

It’s time to evolve Type Services in a new direction to better reflect my current interests in typography.

This year I’d like to create at least one new typeface. Something simple like a geometric monospaced font could be a good place to start. I’ll stick to Latin letters for now, but I’d like to build something systematic, which I can expand in the future.

Something else I’m keen to look into more is variable fonts. I haven’t found much out there in the way of learning material, but I’m up for the challenge.

I expect this will include rebranding the project and building a new website.

Generative Art #

Matt and I had a few discussions about generative art towards the end of last year. We talked about making graphics that connect with the music he creates, in the literal sense. Coding graphics that interface with music is something that interests me a lot.

Lately I’ve been playing around with P5.js, following videos from Daniel Shiffman, who I discover through Dan Eden. Daniel’s videos are a great introduction to processing and I’m keen to see how this evolves.

Moodboard #

I used to create personal mood boards to spot themes in my interests. I’ve not been doing this so much lately and I’d like to get back into it. A while back I set up a mood board but have since let it fall by the wayside. It’s time to pick this up again and start posting some ideas.

Music #

If time permits I’d like to get back into making some music. It’s been over 10 years since I made anything notable. I dug out a few old tracks towards the end of last year which reminded me how much fun it is to play around with sound.

Other ideas #

  • Course creation. This is something I will be considering more in 2020. Particularly when I find myself tempted to write long articles. I’ll ask myself whether I can make a series of articles or whether it would make sense to create a course.
  • Aggregation sites. I have a few spreadsheets collating tools, open-source fonts, and UX resources. I figured it could be helpful to build these out into searchable websites.
  • Printmaking. I used to screen print and I have to say I miss it a lot. Mono printing might be a simple alternative that I could do at home without needing a studio.

Principles for 2020 #

Ok, on to the principles. To recap, this year I’m setting myself a few principles to follow over the next 12 months.

I’ll use these simple ways of thinking to guide my process and apply to various aspects of my commitments. By affirming these principles I hope to make some progress towards the person I wish to become.

Keep it simple #

Avoid complexity when it makes sense to do so. This could mean any number of things such as:

  • focus on less
  • reduce to only what’s necessary
  • make writing more concise
  • subtract not add
  • simplify

Through simplification we remove things standing in the way of progression. By simplifying we find clarity in our thoughts. Focusing on less can reduce cognitive load and lead to an increase in productivity.

A few question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately; “What constraints are preventing you from getting X done?” and “What can you remove to make things easier?”

To be clear, constraints of this type shouldn’t be confused with design constraints, which often have the opposite effect.

Occam’s Razor is a useful mental model to apply to this way of thinking. To paraphrase; “the simplest solution is more likely to be the correct than the complicated one”.

Be Consistent #

Consistency comes up for a second year running. Ironic maybe, but important nonetheless. Generally speaking, the more consistent I am with commitments, the more I seem to create good habits. With time, good habits result in positive improvement.

I continue to remind myself each day that “consistency is key”.

Consider the impact #

“Are the things you’re doing having a positive impact on the people around you and the world we live in?”

It’s an important time to consider the impact of the work we create. I will be more conscious of my actions in 2020.

Wrapping up #

This was a rough outline of how I wish to spend my time in 2020, and the principles I have chosen to keep myself on track. It’s a simple way of improving my chances of living the life I want to lead over the next 12 months.

I decided against setting any fixed outcome goals this year. Strict weekly, monthly or even quarterly planning seems to stress me out. Instead, I’ll follow whatever course my energy chooses to take me and keep these affirmations at the front of my mind.

This way I remain flexible with my commitments, as things change throughout the year. Providing I put regular time and effort into a few of these things, I’ll make good progress in the right direction.

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