Posted on Wed 01 June 2016

Monthly Review: May 2016


At the start of each month I do a review of my goals, habits, and experiments from the past month. In January 2015 I started publishing my monthly reviews on my blog instead of keeping them private. You can see them all in my monthly reviews category.

At the start of 2016 I stopped publishing my monthly reviews, as I felt I was censoring myself and getting less use out of the process. I've decided to start sharing these again, though I'll create an edited version based on my original, private notes. I hope you find them useful!

What goals did I attempt this month ?

  • [X] Switch my Patreon account to cover all my creative projects
  • [X] Finish refactoring Exist dashboard to use a delegate and protocol set-up
  • [ ] Finish Larder for iOS task list: I only got 2/10 items done. I'm really frustrated at how inefficient I am with iOS development. I spent all of yesterday trying to make one tiny thing work, and fighting against various libraries that wouldn't work for me. I'm not sure how to improve this apart from more practice.
  • [ ] Publish 2 posts for BBC: 1/2, Two ways to level up your analogue planner (I did publish a couple of other smaller posts, but they don't really count as far as what I was aiming for with this goal.)

What 1 habit did I focus on for this month ? (How did that go?)


I got sick with a nasty virus in May that made it really hard to breathe and sleep, so I ended my 132-day streak of French practice. I ended up with 24/31 days, which is not too bad overall.

What experiments did I try?

Planning one main task per day and doing it before lunch

This works quite well, and helps me get my hardest work (usually client work) out of the way early so I can relax and do things I enjoy for the rest of the day. I found it easier to do afternoon exercise and spend time coding when I did my client work before lunch.

Exercising at the park

I managed to find ways to do a few useful strength exercises on the play equipment, and I've got a good routine of jogging to the park, doing the exercises, practising some cartwheels and round offs on the grass, then walking home and doing stretches and handstand practice while I'm still warm.

Set up a Patreon account to support my independent writing work

I only got one new patron in May, though they did choose the highest reward tier (yay). I'm undecided about whether this is not going to work for my audience, or I just need to promote it more and give it time to grow. I'm still looking at creating and releasing more products for now, as I'd really like to spend more time on my own writing projects but I don't have the financial support to do so yet.

Keeping an iOS notebook and a journal in my new Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter

Love this! Something about notebook cover systems like the Roterfaden and the Midori Traveler's Notebook really suit me. I'm more likely to pick them up and carry them around, and they offer an easy way of ensuring I always have a pen handy (though I find the pen loop in the Roterfaden way too small for most pens). I'm using a hardcover Leuchtturm notebook in my Roterfaden as a journal for sticking tickets and other momentos in, writing journal entries, and writing down quotes or ideas I want to keep long-term. I think this format will work well for long-term archiving. I'm also using a Moleskine cahier for keeping notes on the status of my iOS projects, which is handy for when I return to a project after a long break.

Most played music

Time spent coding

15h 10m

This went down a lot this month as I was feeling generally anxious and moody. Stress and frustration from my day job made it hard to focus on any of my own projects for a big part of the month, but in the last couple of days I've been starting to feel better, and as a result I'm finding more time for coding.

Books read

I just managed to squeeze in a fourth book this month. I'm aiming for a book a week on average, so I'm glad I made the effort to spend more time reading in the last few days and catch up.


Little Shop of Horrors at the Comedy Theatre

I enjoyed this a lot. It exceeded my expectations, though I think Josh found it a bit underwhelming. I thought there was some really clever direction, like the Mushnik & Son dance with the plant pots on their heads. I was a bit disappointed that I could see the actors behind the final plant puppet, as it started moving apart a bit right near the end, but overall this was really fun.

Money spent


I paid off my tax debt this month, so no more monthly $1,500 payments! From now on I'll aim to keep my expenses under $3k including rent.

Biggest expenses: rent, counselling, dental cleaning, haircut.

Yearly goal check-up

My friend Jeremey does a monthly review on his blog, and in his April review he did a check-up on his yearly goals. I think it's a great idea to include an occasional revisit of my yearly goals, so here we go.

In my 2015 review post I set six goals for 2016:

  1. Double the income from Hello Code (from around $3000/month now to $6000/month)
  2. Release 4 of my own products
  3. Pay off my tax debt
  4. Launch Field Trip, my online magazine, and build up its accompanying Patreon account to $1000/month
  5. Find a sport or exercise I enjoy
  6. Travel to Europe (doubtful this will happen, but if everything else goes well we might be able to afford it this year. If not, early 2017 hopefully)

Goal #1 is not looking good. I've had trouble finding time and motivation to work on Hello Code projects as much as I'd like, because my day job is sucking a lot of my emotional energy. I'm currently feeling a bit better in general, and have been finding more time for coding lately, so I'm still hopeful this is possible before the year is out.

Goal #2 is half done. I released Productive Habits, an email course on working smarter, not harder, early in the year. More recently I launched a book version of Productive Habits, which can be purchased separately or in a bundle with the course. I'm currently planning my third project, and should be able to get four launched this year. The ongoing effort of marketing these products is huge, however. I need to be continually publishing new blog posts and getting on popular sites like Lifehacker to keep the sales coming in.

Goal #3 is done!

Goal #4 has changed slightly. I rejigged my Patreon account to cover all of my independent writing work, rather than just Field Trip. It's not even at $50/month yet, so it has a long, long way to go. I did manage to launch Field Trip, though.

Goal #5 is done! I started an adult gymnastics class (you can read about my experience in this Field Trip article) and I love it!

And finally, goal #6 is still a long-shot. But I haven't given up hope!

Goals for June

I want to complete:

  • [ ] Send the update of Exist for iOS I'm working on to the App Store.
  • [ ] Get my income sorted out (I'm currently deciding whether to look for more freelance work or take a job, but either way I need to get enough regular income coming in to cover my living expenses).
  • [ ] Write two posts for the Hello Code blog.
  • [ ] Set up Larder's iOS app in TestFlight, ready for beta testing.
  • [ ] Publish my next Field Trip article.
  • [ ] Publish two posts on my blog.

I want to focus on this 1 habit:

Flossing and using tooth mousse

Tooth mousse is a kind of cream, a bit like toothpaste, that the dentist gave me to get more fluoride into my teeth. I have to put it on my teeth every night, and use string floss to push it down in-between my teeth. It's a boring and annoying process, but I need to keep up with this as a daily habit because I have a small cavity already, and a couple of other danger spots where I may get cavities if I don't floss and mousse regularly.

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