What I Want To Achieve In 2013

Earlier in the week, way, way back when it was still 2012 I looked at the goals I set for the old year and reflected on whether or not I was successful in completing them. Today it’s time to set some goals for the year ahead. I’m being ambitious this year, which will probably have me eating some crow at year’s end. Wish me a bit of luck or be entertained by the failings of another.

As usual I learned some things about myself and my business in reviewing my goals for the year. The process helps me better understand why I do and don’t accomplish certain things. It also helps me plan out where to place future focus. This year was no exception.

If you’d like to see the goals I set in previous years here they are. Otherwise continue on and see what I’m hoping to achieve in 2013.

Calendar open to October, 2013

My Goals for 2013

Like I said, I’m being ambitious this year and might be taking on more than I’m capable of doing, however I’ve already gotten started on two of the goals below, one of which is an ongoing goal that I set every year. Another is simply a learning exercise, which leaves three. Maybe it’s more doable than it seems on the surface.

Here are the goals.

  • Transition my business toward product based revenue
  • Set up a better development workflow
  • Make improvements to this site
  • Continue down my new blogging path
  • Improve task and time management
  • Learn more about color

Transition my Business Toward Product Based Revenue

I’ve been talking about this one for far too long. It’s time to place it at the top of the priority chain and do something about it. Each year there’s a familiar story of good intentions on my part and then I find these things called bills in the mailbox and I take on a project that I should probably have turned away.

Most years I find that whatever I decide I most want to accomplish I usually manage to get done, so this year this transition is moving front and center.

I’m defining the goal in more general terms to give myself some flexibility, but it’s really about getting that book done I’ve been wanting to write. The good news is I’ve started on it again and plan on devoting some time to it next week (for me and last week for you).

My goal is to get this thing bootstrapped and started. Even modest sales of a book probably mean a few less articles to write for other sites or a couple less client projects I have to take on during the year.

I don’t expect that by the end of the year my business will be radically different from what it is now, but I would like to see it having taken a step or two toward the business I envision a few years down the road. If I’m selling even a single product by year’s end I’ll call this one a success.

Of all the goals listed here this one takes top priority.

Git

Set up a Better Development Workflow

I’m sad to say that much of my development workflow is the same as it was 5 years ago. I develop locally using Xampp, but at some point everything gets uploaded to the server via sftp and then as much as I don’t want to, I practice some cowboy coding live on the server. That needs to change. Ideally I’d like to do all my work locally and then push changes to the server. When an update is needed it’s done locally and pushed.

I’m also not proud to admit that I’m not currently using any version control system other than saving files occasionally with a new name or date appended. There’s absolutely no excuse for this and you’re free to yell at me about it.

Enter Git. I’ve decided to join the many and go with Git for version control. Ideally I’d like to maintain an exact copy of any project locally as it exists on the server and do all my work locally. Once I know something is working, I’ll push the changes to the server. I’ll also be better prepared to explore different branches off a solid code base. I should have done this long ago, but better late than never.

I’ve collected a lot of resources to help me make this happen. It seems the most difficult part is going to be maintaining identical databases, though I think there are some solutions to that problem. At some point during the year it will likely make sense to purchase additional hardware for use as a server too.

An addendum to this goal is incorporating Sass more into my workflow. After writing about preprocessors awhile back, I’ve been using Sass more and more and no longer start projects without it. I’d like to up my skills using it and take better advantage of what it has to offer.

Make Improvements to this Site

The redesign was only the beginning. I had and still have a long list of things I want to do here on the site. It’s not literally a mile long, but it feels like it might be. I have been making some small improvements behind the scenes since launching the redesign, but there are many more things to get to.

A few things I’d like to do:

  • Optimize the speed of the site — It’s way too slow. I’m not entirely sure why. There are some tweaks I know I should make, but the ones I’ve made in the past haven’t seemed to have the impact I expected. Maybe I need another server upgrade. It could be something I do on my forum that’s slowing things down here. I’m not entirely sure, but I’d like to figure it out.
  • Add a forum — This is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile and I’ve been waiting on bbPress to mature (though I might go with another forum plugin). I think forums lead to better conversation than blog posts and I’d also like to test the feasibility of moving my business forum to something like bbPress.
  • Create unique designs for pages outside of the blog — That was the original idea with the redesign. I held back as a compromise so I could finish the design and take it live, but I would like to have more fun with some of the pages.
  • Improve the archives filtering — This comes out of the above. I want to give you better options to filter by tags in addition to year. The current page is a compromise to what I envisioned and it’s also too slow.
  • Redevelop the site using sass — This is more pipe dream and probably won’t happen until the next redesign, but why not dream big?

I doubt, in fact I’m sure, I won’t get to all of the above. Most likely I’ll even change my mind on what this site needs, but those are a few things from to do my list in addition to all the little tweaks I’ve been working my way through. I’m not entirely sure how I’ll decide this goal a success or failure at the end of the year. It will probably be a judgement call about how much I get done to specifically improve the place.

Continue Down My New Blogging Path

A few weeks ago I talked about some new things I want to incorporate here on the blog and I did that through one of those new things, audio. I’ve published 3 short podcasts so far. It’s been to mixed feedback I think, but I plan on continuing nonetheless. Audio isn’t the end goal. It’s preparation for screencasts, which hopefully you’ll see here soon.

I also mentioned that I want to find a better way to house demos on the site. You can read and hear more of my thoughts on these changes on the post where I discussed them.

I don’t expect this goal to be too challenging in the sense that it’s already underway. I’m planning an attempt at a screencast for my next week and your last week in addition to some time spent on the ebook. I’m listing it here as a reminder to myself more than anything. It shouldn’t be too hard to tell if I’m completing this one. If you see some screencasts before the year is out, then check this one off as a success.

More Time and Task Management Improvements

The goal that never ends. No matter how much I get done, I know I could always be more productive. It’s probably not something I need to list here, but I hope setting this ambitious list of goals will remind me to keep at this one more than I otherwise might.

A couple of years ago I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. His system resonated with me, but I’ve had trouble implementing it as fully as I could. Part of the reason is my not entirely understanding the system and part is not entirely understanding how to use the software I purchased to help me with it.

As luck would have it no sooner had I started thinking about GTD recently when Merlin Mann began talking about it on his podcast. Over the last few weeks, I’ve reread the book, listened to Merlin, and spent time searching the Things forum (my app of choice) to learn to use it better. I’ve been taking what I’ve learned and improving my system.

So far it seems to be working, but again I know this isn’t something that’s ever really complete. It’s more a goal to continue to work on and improve over the year, which should ideally help me complete the other goals on this list.

Pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue colored squares

Learn More About Color

When I talked about redesigning the site, I mentioned that my skills with color were weak and so it’s time to improve them. For the last few years I’ve put in more time learning about typography and layout, specifically grids, and while I have, I’ve pushed color to the side. It’s time to put in some structured time into learning more about and practicing working with color.

I have some books on my wishlist, plenty of sites bookmarked, and some ideas for how to direct my practice. For the most part this shouldn’t be too difficult a goal to complete. If I buy some of the books everything else will follow naturally.

You’ll know I’m making progress if you see some posts later in the year about color. My guess is to look for them in late spring or early summer.

Summary

It seems like a lot to take one and it probably is a bit heavy on the ambition. Somehow I think it’s all doable. 2 of the goals I’ve already started and another (learning about color) is something that should be easy enough. The other 3 items will be a little more challenging to get done, though I’m feeling confident.

Of course, Im always, confident, hopeful, and optimistic at the start of the year when I’m writing down these goals. It’s the doing that takes effort. I’m usually confident I’ll accomplish all the goals I set each year and seldom, if ever, do I complete them all.

We’ll both have to wait a year to see if my optimism is reality or fantasy. Hopefully the former. As always a little luck would be gladly accepted.

How about you? I know I ask this every year, but do you set goals? If so are you able to complete them by year’s end? How do you balance what you’d like to get done with what you realistically can get done?

Happy New Year everyone. Here’s hoping it’s a good one for both of us.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

2 comments

    • Yeah I think once I get used to using it, I’ll be very happy . The biggest thing will be changing my own process.

      The advantages are obvious. I don’t expect it’ll be too difficult. I’ll likely go with a GUI, but I am planning on learning as much as I can about the command line as well.

      Thanks for the cheat sheet.

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