Three years ago I wrote my first, and last, year in review for White Peak Software. I had hoped I would continue doing a year in review each year, but life, and the book, got in the way. A lot has happened in the last three years, but I want to focus on this last year, 2012.
I’ve been disappointed throughout most of 2012, but looking back, I’m not sure why. Overall it’s been a good year, and I realized I have accomplished quite a bit in very little time. But since starting on the book back in mid-2010, I have felt like I can’t deliver, missing one milestone after another after another. And this is why I have felt disappointed throughout 2012.
A Quick Look Back
I started writing Learning iPad Programming in May 2010. My original goal was to have the manuscript complete by November 2010, a lofty goal for a first time writer. The manuscript, which was more than 700 pages, was completed in September 2011, nearly a year late. I sunk into a depression over the delays in finishing the book, which of course led to more delays. I stopped work on all other projects so I could focus on the book, but it didn’t really help. If not for Tom Harrington, who agreed to co-author the book with me in June 2011, I don’t think I would have ever finished the book.
Working with Tom gave me the motivation I needed to crank out chapters from June through the beginning of September, and crank out chapters we did, writing over fifty percent of the book during that time.
The book was finally published in December 2011, and I planned to return my focus on White Peak Software. But I was once again distracted, this time by a video project related to the book.
A week before the book was available in bookstores, I went to Chicago to record the Learning iPad Programming LiveLessons, a training video based on the book. Like writing the book, this was the first time I had ever done anything like this, and I was ill prepared. I thought I would knock out the recording in a couple of days, but that didn’t happen. But unlike the book, I didn’t have months and months to record. I had to finish the project by the end of the week. This meant very little sleep for me each night as I re-thought and re-worked the topics that I planned to cover the following day. I left Chicago completely exhausted, but I was very happy with what had been accomplished.
At this point I had basically ignored White Peak Software for over a year and a half. Not good for business. Product sales had declined by nearly fifty percent, and we were cash poor (“we” being my family and me). I took on a client project in October 2011, which shipped February 2012. The project was suppose to help us with cash, but the project was for a startup that had its own cash problems. The project ended up hurt us more than helping us.
In Tough Time, Go Snowboarding
Despite the struggles, the family and I packed our bags and headed to Killington, VT, for a month. We were broke, but living the dream getting to ski and snowboard almost daily. Unfortunately it was one of the worse winter seasons in recorded history for Killington, which meant there was very little snow. On the plus side, the temperatures were warmer than expected, which was perfect for Rowan, age 3 at the time, to learn how to ski.
Returning from Killington, I took on one more book related project. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I guess I was in the need of more personal shame.
I needed cash, and I needed to focus on the business, but I, shamefully, decided to do one more book related project, an enhanced epub version of the book. The enhanced epub version would include audio and video to enhance the book’s content. I had produced over four and a half hours of edited video and audio by the time I finished my part of the project. Unfortunately the enhanced epub book never happened due to production problems by the publisher.
To help with cash, I took on a few short (40 hours or less) client projects. But even better was the first royalty check for the book. Turns out the book is a hit, and while I went broke writing it, I was very happy to finally see some money coming in from that effort. Granted the book hasn’t earned me a lot of money, but I have been able to pay some bills with the two royalty checks I’ve received so far. (Thank you, readers!)
This encouraged me to do a second edition of the book. Yes, fool me a fourth time. Instead of focusing on my business and getting back on track, I decided to do more writing. But first, I needed a break.
Take a Hike
I decided to take a month off from everything and attempt a thru hike of the Long Trail in Vermont. The Long Trail is a 272 mile hiking trail that starts at the Canadian border and runs the length of Vermont to the Massachusetts border. I disconnected from the world and set off on a four week journey. Unfortunately I injured my knee and had to stop after two weeks of hiking and covering nearly 100 miles.
I returned from the hike with new energy and motivation (and a lot of pain in my left knee). I also came back with a different outlook on life and business. I realized I shouldn’t be disappointed about what I perceived as a lack of accomplishment and failure. Instead I realized that despite how much it seems like I’m working and un-delivering, I’m actually enjoying life at lot more.
The disappointment I felt over much of 2012, as well as in 2010 and 2011, was caused by the transition I was going through, a transition from being a workaholic to a successful slacker. I felt disappointed about the last year, feeling like I can’t deliver. But here is the list of what I’ve done since December 2011:
- Published a book (yes, the book was written before December 2011, but the fact that it was actually published and made available in bookstores across the country gave me a huge sense of accomplishment, bigger than finishing the manuscript).
- Recorded and published an 8-hour training video.
- Recorded 4.5 hours of audio and video for an enhanced epub.
- Shipped a client app.
- Completed multiple small client projects.
- Wrote an article on Xcode code snippets.
- Released two updates to Labor Mate
- Spent a month living in a ski town.
- Spent 2 weeks hiking the Long Trail, followed by two more weeks of traveling for fun.
- Completed the second edition of Learning iPad Programming
- Re-wrote PhotoWheel for iOS 6.
And I’m a few weeks away from shipping another client app. I’ve also been hosting a monthly happy hour for Mac and iOS developers called NSHappyHour, and I co-organize the CocoaHeads Boston monthly meeting.
I look at this list, and I think, “Wow! What a great set of accomplishments.” Others have done more, a lot more, and this is where I start to feel disappointed. The workaholic in me wants to accomplishment more, but then I remind myself this one interesting little fact. I have tracked a total of 1,293.75 hours for 2012 in Harvest.
Based on a 50-work week year (giving 2 weeks off for vacation), the 1,293.75 hours comes out to a weekly average of 25.88 hours. That means I’m working just under 26 hours a week on average. Granted, that’s not what is really happening. Instead I have weeks were I work 50 hours or more, but I also have weeks where I work no hours at all. Also the list above includes the video I recorded in Chicago, but the time recording the video was not logged in 2012. The 1,293.75 hours is for time logged in 2012, but my accomplishment list covers 13 months. Still, I list it here because the video was released in February 2012.
Also, there are times when I answer support email, a minute here and there, that I don’t log to my time sheet. So maybe there is an additional 20 to 40 hours not represented in my 2012 timesheet. Still, keeping in mind the amount of hours I devoted to work related activities, which is low compared to most, I don’t feel as disappointed when I look back over the last year. I feel like I have accomplished quite a bit while only working part-time. I’m well on my way to becoming a successful slacker, as I like to call it.
So this brings me to the end of 2012, a year that had me feeling disappointed through most of it only to realize I don’t have anything to be disappointed about. Well, that’s not exactly true. While I’m happy with my accomplishments over the last year, I am still disappointed that I have ignored White Peak Software for most of the year. So that’s what’s next for me…a returned focus on White Peak Software in 2013. This mean some changes to existing products - some good, some bad depending on your point of view. It also means some new products. But most importantly, it means I return to my number one passion, writing code.
I’m looking forward to seeing what I’m able to accomplish in 2013 while maintaining my status as a successful slacker.