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100 words, 100 days.

Blending my love of words, the web, and psychology.


Hi, my name is Amber and I like words. Words like cognizant, parallel, and stupefy. English is my native language and I enjoy its nuances. I also enjoy other languages, especially German. I can't explain where my love of language came from. I didn't enjoy English classes at school and I took German classes on a whim. Playing with language makes me happy, no matter which one it is. Reeling off long, complicated sentences is fun - even more so when you have a friend to bounce them back at you. Is nothing in this world free? Words seem to be. #


I feel like I should link each day's theme with the last. So, let's keep talking about language. I get a rush of englightening, fresh, and positive energy when I read a beautifully crafted, pertinent, yet deceptively simple sentence. I crave books that contain such prose. For example, Helen Macdonald in 'H for Hawk' writes "I stared at the sun going down and the sun coming up, and the sun in between". These ordinary, seemingly insignificant words perfectly capture, to me, the picture of a person taking time to quietly contemplate life whilst connecting to nature. At one with nature. #


"Capture the mind and the heart and the body". This is something Don Norman said about designing things for people. I recently discovered this man after his book was recommended by Steve Krug in his book 'Don't Make Me Think'. I have seen videos of both men speaking and was really captivated and impressed by their humble natures and humility. Both seem really engaging, passionate and down to earth. These are qualities I really aspire to and I feel so happy I can learn from such people. The way design is entwined with psychology is so significant. This fascinates me. #


Inspiration comes from an infinite amount of places. Just about anything that exists has the potential to inspire at least one person. What sorts of things follow on from inspiration? In some, it may manifest as a reason to get out of bed in the morning. To others, it might lead them onto great things. Then again, great things are achieved from a cumulation of thousands of tiny steps. Getting up in the morning counts as one of them. Little steps should be celebrated and effort should be praised, even if no discernible progress was made. Keep up the inspiration. #


Once again my mental capacity cup runneth over with all the stuff I am trying to learn. Content management, conversion rates, static sites, blogs, CSS, SEO, databases, semantic code, JavaScript, user experience, logos, branding, analytics, design, what to do, what not to do, etcetera. The list goes on but these are things that immediately spring to mind. My mind, as it always has, constantly screams 'LEARN ALL THE THINGS!, while flooding me with the excitement this involves. Sometimes, I feel like I live inside a skydiving machine, with pieces of information flitting and floating about. Pieces eventually come together, relax. #


There are certain characteristics, one may agree, which describe each generation. I know I couldn't succinctly list them all, or if anyone could. In my generation, and most likely even more so in the next, there seems to be a growing concern about instant gratification. How does this affect us all? This is certainly a broad question that cannot be answered in one paragraph. Personally, my thirst for it often holds me back from respecting certain time-honoured truths: good things take time, hard-work pays off, being kind to yourself and others brings peace and connection. Learn to enjoy the ride! #


Does every person assume that others think how they think? This is something to watch in user research design. One of the many psychological intricacies one must consider in all steps of the design process. The job is not for one person in the team, but all members. A collective empathy is infinitely more powerful than when it is confined to one individual. However, empathy is not overt. It cannot be physically observed, so naturally has less emphasis and respect placed upon it. Empathy doesn't only form great products but also makes us better people. Put yourself in another's shoes. #


The fundamental component of empathy may be the ability to put yourself in another person's shoes. Can you imagine how another person thinks or feels without this ability? If not, can you respect the opinions, wishes or desires of others? Lack of respect in any sphere rarely fosters positive relationships or good business. User research is person-centered, and the person is the client. This is a psychological term used in therapy, support plans and interventions. Psychology can help us create extraordinary user experiences when it is correctly focused. By the way, new favourite word, murmuration. A wild flock of starlings. #


Something incredible about nature is the feelings it brings when all one does is quietly observe. If you want to clear your mind, soul, or lungs, nature is there. As well as bringing peace, nature brings me focus. On the occasional day I feel confused or unlike myself, stepping outside helps me. If I'm feeling reclusive, time spent outside among people can reignite my urge to connect with others. It reignites my passion and motivation. A person is a person because of people. It pays to remember we are an innately social species and connection with others is incredibly important. #


There are some people who underestimate the power of connection with others. I've seen people blossom under its influence. Disconnection from others may breed irritation, contempt, even hatred. The reasons people choose to keep to themselves are plentiful, I'm sure. I think that information and education on the matter can help people understand how and why to become more connected. Can technology help with this? I think it can. Social media is one method, although it has been slammed for creating the opposite effect. What other methods exist? With the boom of smartphones, perhaps an app would do quite well. #


Apps are all the range. Some people say Apple's App Store values quantity over quality too much. What is needed to create a quality app? I don't know the answer, although I'd like to learn. Indeed, I constantly feel my web-naivety slipping away. I'm slowly learning that a quality app is not built in a day, by a single developer, on a single system. Most importantly, I now appreciate that a good app needs maintenance. This point taps into the life-long learning ethos of programming. Systems change, new ideas arise, fierce collaboration occurs. Loving learning sets you in good stead. #


What do you like to learn about? How often do you learn it? Are there days you focus on it more? Why or why not? Curiosity may have killed the cat but I'm sure that learning in a safe and non-intrusive manner is always okay. Reading books or quietly tapping away on a laptop are harmless ways to learn. When might learning become unsafe? Curiosity may also engender gossip, or "unnecessary investigation or experimentation" as stated on Wikipedia. Gossip seems a natural human trait that fits with our penchant for learning. Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. #


Why do people work the way we do? We are a social species. Many of us search for what makes us different. I believe the greatest harmony arises by focusing on similarities. Isn't it a wonderful thought? To be able to say that some traits are shared amongst us all. 'Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs' is nice to think about. He lists physiological wellbeing, safety, love, belonging, and self-esteem as traits we all share, or at least long for. There may be others, too. Knowing what unites us fosters respect, understanding, and tolerance for any type of person we may meet. #


How much does psychology really permeate different aspects of our lives? Why, if certain fundamental psychological principles exist, do people not consider these and act more kindly towards each other? Do negative feelings including jealousy and anger tend to override more positive ones, and, if so, why? Why is human nature so, that there is even a word to describe the pleasure we get when we see others fail? Schadenfreude. Is it the case that people expend effort to take the moral high ground but allow progress to evaporate at the whim of an emotion? Endless queries into human nature. #


Human nature can be depressing at times. So much anger, hatred, irritation, annoyance, passive-aggression, jealousy, name-calling, shame, guilt, etc. The list goes on. In a world that is becoming more connected, we may expect negativity to diminish, but it seems these primarily virtual connections don't always encourage positive emotions. Add in the mounting pressure felt by a constantly stretched world, and its ever-stretched population, and there leaves even less room for positivity. It is the responsibility of each individual to advocate positivity in their own lives. A little positivity spreads to the next person, then the next. Positivity can snowball. #


Speaking of snow, not only of course that it's magical and fantastic, but in the context of positivity - a bus driver told me animatedly this morning that he loves snow. I was surprised by this in several ways. Firstly, not many people like it, especially those who drive for a living. Secondly (and most shockingly), he was like a fountain of positivity. Each syllable he uttered trilled past his lips as if he was an elated schoolboy trapped inside a tiny elderly man's body. I am exaggerating but I'm actually not. His impact on me was just that large. #


What does it take to insert positivity into your lifestyle and be able to keep it alive and kicking? Perhaps if we visualise ourselves as robots with some SD card slots. Picture inserting the positivity card, installing the programme, and keeping it quietly running in the background. Things like social or cultural updates might periodically become available to help keep algorithms running smoothly in pace with real world events. Would such a robot seem inhuman? Of course. Nobody is endlessly positive, are they? As people we can't be expected to be, but we can do our best to promote positivity. #


I watch a vlog on blogging that mentioned Tumblr. I check out my old Tumblr account that I am certain is around eight years old by now. I love the first picture on my homepage, no surprise there. The picture belongs to a portraits blog. I scroll through the images and am captivated. The beautiful way people are captured in the pictures breathes emotion and clarity. They are gorgeously sculpted yet fragile and delicate depictions of the physical attributes common to us all. Lips, eyes, ears, noses, hair, clothes, jewellery, scars, etc. We can relate to these pictures. See #


Pictures are something very close to my heart. My first camera was a £20 lump of gold plastic from Argos. I don't remember being excited about pictures then. My interest sprung up in high school. A best friend with similar interests may have been a catalyst. We loved design, photos and art. She is now a successful wedding photographer. I pursued what I deemed a much more academic path. Eight years of psychology sounds a lot but I cherish the memories I've made along the way. I kept photography as a hobby and it has continued to feed my soul. #


Yesterday, a developer at Codebar Brighton helped me implement a responsive navigation bar for my site. Due to my HTML and CSS being messy, the navbar did not work. I was advised to clean up my code to see if it helped. I'd been planning to do this anyway. Today, I created new files and copied over all non-obsolete code into them. I implemented the navbar code once more, and, voila! It worked. I achieved something today. A small victory but enough to get me publishing on Github once again. There's so much still to do, and not enough time! #


I went to my first user experience session today. It was run by a couple in their pleasant house situated in Upper Rock Gardens. There were two web developers, seven other testers, and plenty of nice cheese and wine. The hosts were extroverts, the web developers introverts, and interestingly many testers identified as introverts as well. It made me wonder whether I am introverted, extroverted, or otherwise. I'm reminded of a term for those between both extremes: ambiverts. Those comfortable doing both extroverted and introverted things. It'd certainly fit well with my name. Is it good or bad to label? #


Today I feel overwhelmed. I remained calm. The only way I can achieve something is to keep on working and learning. Managing my emotions is just a small part of life, really. Emotions are the things that drive most of what we do, which can lead us to naturally place large precedence on them. These primal, lizard-brained, atomic influxes of feeling can feel domineering and controlling. We need to show emotions that we are boss. We can still respect them, consider their opinions. After all, they exist to guide us. However, our rational side can be the leader. Just persevere. #


Many of my posts have been based on emotion, thinking, and introspection. Are they too many? Should I try to strike a balance between psychology, design and simple, light-hearted words? I will definitely try. I enjoyed my musings on lighter topics when I first started this writing challenge. I think I need to take more time to write during the day, in moments when I am inspired by something, or feel a lot of joy. Writing at the end of the day when I am inevitably tired doesn't always yield as large a variety of topics as I would like. #


Blogging. A mystical, magical, sparkly way to reach umpteen gazillion viewers from the confines of dark, musty room. A skilful foray into clicking your mouse button whilst sitting in one spot can ensure connections and networks are formed, agreements made, content published and big bucks brought in. I just ordered a book on blogging, looking forward to reading it. I have some small experience vlogging about learning German. I gained Youtube subscribers. Time and priorities zapped the energy I needed for the project. Now I regret I didn't keep it up. People want content, let's find how to provide it. #


Nick DeWilde of said "Be a rocket ship. Don't worry much about your title but worry about what you're learning and what you do every day. Skills are important but having the right attitude is just as important". This is a lovely piece of advice for people worried about where learning to code might lead. It strikes me afresh each time I read or hear advice from a person in the industry. Each person I meet seems to delight in sharing their knowledge. Where else will you find that? I'm actually not sure, but I'm happy I found it. #


It seems to be easy to connect emotionally to the physical aspects of others. It is interesting that we can struggle to connect emotionally to the non-physical aspects. I wonder if it is that we are afraid of what we can't see. It could be that we fear having to deal with the emotional baggage of others, and that it may influence our own feelings in a negative way. I am reminded of the iceberg analogy where what we see is just ten percent of the real picture. Ninety percent of a person is below the surface. Invisible but there. #


People see a pretty site. They might spend a few seconds there. Perhaps longer if the site visually pleases them. Do they know what's going on under the site's surface? Not too likely. Can they appreciate the many hours and people needed to make the finished site? Also unlikely. As people, we look for tiny snippets of overt, physical clues in our environments. Like blackbirds collecting worms whilst remaining vigilant for cats. This is a part of human nature. We have no time to look deeper. Our survival depends on piecing together multiple bits of information as fast as possible. #


Tiny bits of information. Thousands go into code. Programmers build applications up with miniscule strings of letters and numbers. Or is that arrays, or variables, or booleans? JavaScript terminology is a topic for another day. What I mean is that programmers are masters of information architecture. They can build you a beautiful house. They have frameworks at their fingertips that can cause a fully-formed, 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom detached with a garden and a view spring up from the earth as fast as you can blink. Maybe an over exaggeration, but the process is nonetheless as exciting as it sounds. #


Coding is exciting. There is so much to do. Endless topics to learn, re-learn, discuss. Boundless enthusiasm from people working within. People from strikingly different backgrounds. The power to benefit people and empower society. Opportunities growing as the reach of technology increases. Niches to find and fit into. Mentors willing to help you get there. Open source as a well of openness providing free opportunities to practice and network. The work is not easy, but the rewards are there, and they are worth the effort. I like feeling my mind light up when I go to pursue each new goal. #


There are plenty of moments where life seems ordinary. Occasionally, quite a different moment may permeate our consciousness. Unique to each person, a sudden feeling that life is wonderful and contains boundless opportunities. We feel we can change the world and want to seek ways to do it. The difference between the ordinary and wonderful moments are quite striking. I'd like to experience more of the latter. Although it's hard to write a solid list of ways to do this, I believe feeling happy and fulfilled in life is at the heart of everything. Like the drummer in a band. #


When someone feels wonderful and inspired, do they become tired any more quickly? Can anyone realistically feel this way 100% of the time? I'd love to conduct a large survey on what makes people feel inspired, creative and empowered. Perhaps I could do this as a mini side-project. I can envision a poster campaign that uses happy, smiling portraits of people, speech bubbles containing their wisdom, and a bright colour palette. It might not change the world but it can get people to think, which is a good initial driver for change. It's amazing how design can inspire social good. #


One of the things I love most in the world of design, amongst many, is architecture. Zipping along the railway towards London I am privy to fleeting but detailed views of people's houses. In a split-second, I get to observe a dwelling where the occupants have spent countless hours. I feel almost as if I've been invited in for tea. My favourite part, though, is the opportunity to appreciate each house's collective history. The location, proximity to other houses, condition, windows, bricks, roof, garden. Wondering why it was built, when and by whom. What different story could each house tell? #


I want to work hard. My motives are many. I want to create. Not just in one medium either. I long to release the fiery passion I've had inside me for decades. Turns out I was always a wannabe designer. From doodles in class, to Neopet page HTML, to animated boy band GIFS, to PaintShop Pro, to Photoshop, to photography, to drawing portraits, to blogging, to vlogging, to stop-motion animation. I want to use my skills to make a positive change in the world. I feel that responsibility. I don't think talent should ever go to waste. Release the flames. #


Keeping a creative flame burning requires more than fuel, say in the form of food. As people we also have advanced CPUs to run (our brains), and for this we need plenty of sleep. A need is quite a particular thing. User experience designers can explain the difference between user's needs and wants. What people want may not always be in line with what they need. On one hand, carefully researching and listening to users through a series of planned questions can help distinguish the two. On another, merely observing how people interact with their environment can say a lot. #


We probably think and make decisions based on emotions. Advertising and businesses rely on this. There may be very few people in control of all their emotions, even if we'd like to be. What about being 'in the moment' with an emotion? Say we're angry. A negative feeling. Can we embrace this feeling as our own, unique experience, appreciate it even? A negative feeling isn't forever. It's more like a brief snapshot in the story of you. Let the feeling flow through you, relish what it means to be human. Not only are we physically capable, but mentally as well. #


There are capabilities available to us that escape the vast majority of life. The ability to ponder decisions, actions and situations and arrive at one of an infinite number of conclusions. Recently, a friend engaged me in conversation around such things. He explained how amazing it is that we're blessed with our cognitions. I believe life is something wonderful and precious. It should be enjoyed and relished. Hard work is important, but play is as well. A developer speaking on a podcast I heard today reiterated this. We can't realise our full potential unless we are happy in all aspects. #


When I take care of myself, give myself that respect, I find everything else much easier. I can accomplish my goals faster and retain lots more information. People take care of themselves in different ways. What might work for one may not work for another. This isn't to say that gathering different perspectives from others isn't useful. I actually believe this is one of the most important things we can do. Other perspectives can refresh our own, sometimes stale, perspectives. It could be that true happiness occurs when we connect with people, learn their stories, and are in turn open. #


Travelling is something I do that brings me what nothing else can. It is impossible for me to say what could be more life-giving. However, it may increase my awareness of the world that I know too much. Residing permanently and happily in one country must be a soothing bubble. I haven't done so for eleven years, and never in my adult life. I still believe life is too short to be happy remaining in one place. Life and wonderful experiences await those who are hungry to jump into the unknown. There are billions of people, let's meet them all. #


The people I've met so far in the tech world have inspired, encouraged and amazed me. Knowing there are so many more I have yet to meet makes me really happy. They are part of a group who are always learning and excited to push boundaries. Brian Chesky of Airbnb said "Never assume you can’t do something. Push yourself to redefine the boundaries." Mark Hurrell of GOV.UK explains how designers and developers will often be challenged, be uncertain, and not know the answer to things. Ambiguity seems to be something to grab by the horns, rather than being afraid of. #


Is ambiguity ever something to be afraid of? Would most people like to live the same every day, with no changes or challenges along the way? There might be something desirable about a comfort bubble. Though, in my experience, I've never learned much while being in one. Pushing boundaries at home, not just in work, might be important. I jumped out of my comfort bubble by travelling and living in different countries, meeting as many people as I could. I learned and grew so much doing it. On top of this, I can enjoy having a worldwide family for life. #


I got back from Berlin today. As the clock struck midnight I climbed into my own bed. Today in Berlin it was cold, windy and rainy. I rented a bike again but gave it back soon after because cycling was no fun. The city leaves me feeling many things. I can't quite work out where the feelings come from. I have a lot of history in this country, and especially in this city. 9 months, two jobs, four different flats, many friends and a relationship. The city makes me feel happy and yet engulfed and lonely at the same time. #


I have lived in Brighton almost 9 months now. The longest I have lived anywhere since I studied in the Netherlands in 2014. The longer I live here, the more at home I feel. Leaving for holidays and coming back requires some adjusting though. I am getting closer to being able to complete my career shift. Leaving Brighton for a few days throws me off this focused course slightly. After the wobble, I slowly but surely gather momentum and can really put my foot on the gas peddle. Although, I will of course drive carefully and watch out for hazards. #


I realise more and more how each person's journey to becoming a developer is different. This must be largely due to the vast number of different things one can do as a developer. A close second is likely to be that people from any background imaginable can become developers. This, along with demand for new developers and attractive career prospects, sees more people entering into this journey. It's becoming ever more important to let your passion and hard work shine through. A friend of mine told me JavaScript gives her a dopamine rush. She's on her way to big things. #


My friend describes JavaScript as logical and CSS as creative. And she prefers the former. It made me wonder if my preference for the latter was due to a difference in our brains. Studying psychology, I learned about the apparent contrast between the left and right halves of the brain. Is one side really more logical or creative than the other? I found a book recommended on a tweet called 'A Whole New Mind'. I ordered it straight away. It is written by a former Obama speech writer called Daniel Pink. His writing is so engaging and down to earth. #


I'd be interested to know what books mean to different people. Personally, I like collecting books that can teach me something about the world, and tend to do this faster than I can read them. I find value in fiction but don't have time to enjoy it. A friend told me the non-fiction he's encountered has always seemed to be a bit on the dry side. I gently disagreed, countering that those who write non-fiction usually do so because they are immersed in a topic they are highly passionate about. I revel in feeling the passion bouncing off each word. #


I want to write a post on words. Words, to me, are magical. To me, they breathe culture, history, emotions and knowledge. Everyone, everyday, uses words. Words bind the world together in so many ways. Their fascinating nuances and rich histories hail back to when our species first gained the ability to use them. Countless thousands of languages, some now lost forever, developed over thousands of years. In no one language does one express themselves the same way. "To have another language is to possess a second soul" - Charlemagne. Learning a new language brings you outside yourself, an exhilarating process. #


I have recently thought about re-starting my YouTube channel 'MyGermanLearningJourney'. The last video I posted there was from late 2014. I stopped due to lack of time and stress. I've wanted to continue improving my German ever since. Now I'm settled in a great place and feel warmth and inspiration from countless people around me, I once again feel like helping others improve as well. I even have ideas already. I had struggled to think of any before. I feel many vloggers publish on a schedule, say Monday mornings. I want to do this too. There's planning to be done. #


There is planning to be done but how do I fit it in? I keep asking myself this question. There is so much I want to learn. I really want to learn all that I can about the world of web and software development. In an attempt to organise my learning I write myself goals but these pile up and are hard to follow. I have begun writing down the things I do every day. The lists are long. Information comes at me from all angles. I love it but it's exhausting. I just need more hours in the day. #


Tonight was SheSaysBrighton. There were five women speakers. They spoke about the future of women. Of successful women. Women with a voice. Women not afraid to pursue success and have their voice heard. One speaker, a woman named as one of Elles's thirty women under thirty changing the world, called the stage 'my stage'. My first impression is that she was being cocky, but it soon dawned on me she was asserting the power she has every right to assert. She encouraged us to be 'upfront' and bold, and explained that there's a huge lack of diversity on stages worldwide. #


The talks at SheSaysBrighton made me realise that there is no one set path to success or changing the world. Even if you begin your journey later than others did. Does the old adage 'better late than never' ring true? Yes it does. Rejoice in the sound of a thousand bells, encouraging you to achieve what you really want. Step back, look around and observe the beautifully diverse film reels that are everyone else's life paths. Strength comes from diversity. Multitudes of different experiences foster shared understanding, connection and knowledge growth. We are stronger together. Always encourage others to succeed. #


I read that those who are jealous of others' success will find it hard to be successful themselves. Conversely, lifting others up and celebrating their successes, no matter how big or small, can increase your own chances of enjoying success and growth. I would like to find a credible scientific paper and backup the claims I have made here. Even without solid evidence, it may not be hard to imagine that choosing happiness over bitterness can only affect one's life positively. Making an effort to introduce and maintain snippets of positivity in life can spark a snowball effect of happiness. #


Making a conscious effort to be positive can promote happiness. Simply being yourself is another way to do this. Being yourself is often overlooked or undermined. I have been told that if you want to be good at public speaking, try to be yourself. Others want to see the genuine you. They don't want to see a copy of someone else. Everyone is unique and that's a wonderful thing. Bring yourself to the table and people will be able to learn from your one-of-a-kind perspective. Don't put on a show, be a show-stopper. It requires so much less effort, really. #


Public speaking appears to be a scary thing for everyone. Not one person I've spoken to has told me they aren't at least a little nervous stepping up on stage. Personally, some audiences scare me more than others. I am more likely to speak confidently to a whole room of strangers about a topic I have no knowledge on (i.e. Toastmasters) than a smaller group of peers about a topic I've thoroughly researched (i.e. a Master's class at university) Why? I don't know. I do know that I want to practice public speaking. So I can share my passion live. #


Speaking to people in the tech industry can also be intimidating. People with many more years of experience than me seem like giants. Towering above me, it seems their head and shoulders are shrouded in opaque, soundproof clouds, through which I can discern fast-paced mumbling but not much else. At times, they bend down, look you me the eyes, and talk to me. Eventually, they inevitably end up in the clouds again. Goodness knows what they are doing up there. What exciting topics they are discussing. I like giving visual explanations. Perhaps my vision is complete nonsense. What is yours? #


It's a good kind of exhaustion, creative exhaustion. Throwing yourself into twelve straight hours of talks, discussions, meeting new people, and thinking of ideas. You feel your brain starting to ask "okay, what's up here?". Talking to a friend who recently moved from a physically demanding to a mentally demanding job made me consider the differences between these. How many types of exhaustion might there be? Perhaps, broadly, only physical and mental. Physical exertion can, in short bursts, give you endorphins. Being on your feet all day probably won't give you any. Being creative all day? That gives me plenty. #


I am trying to be more and more productive every day. How can productivity be defined? Put simply it may mean getting as much done in a short a time as possible. How, then, can one measure productivity when there are no set goals? Learning about web development and the massive umbrella of skills that covers it makes it hard to set tangible goals. There's simply too much to learn. How can new developers (who are also very curious beings) feel productive while learning? I make lists of small tasks I want to achieve. This helps me focus my time. #


Small lists. Post-its. Facebook messages. Twitter messages. Facebook saves. Twitter saves. Screenshots. Pictures. ColorNote app. Word of mouth. E-mails. Bookmarks. And more. The places I store tiny snippets of useful information are plenty. Consolidating them all is difficult. One thing that helps me get tasks done and leads me back to relevant snippets is writing a to-do list daily. I know everyone does things differently, which is a fascinating topic by itself. Finding your own, personal, best way of doing things can open up the doors of productivity for you. Want exclusive membership to 'Productivity Manor'? Search and earn it. #


Let me take a quick foray into the topic of success. There can be much said about it. It can scare some people. I wonder if it is really so scary, or elusive, or undefined. Maybe people get worked up pursuing it. Perhaps it's easier to obtain than many think. Stepping back, taking a deep breath, and spending a few moments thinking realistically can bring your path into a clearer view. Note in simple terms what you want and, much more importantly, why you want something. The honest and unique reasons behind why you want something are important to know. #


I talked about the importance of being yourself, about being honest and open. I get reminded of this multiple times every single day when I talk to developers. How is it that I get reminded of this with such frequency? Developers, the ones I have met anyway, are some of the most open, empathetic, and intelligent people I've ever encountered. I'm not one for mushy sentiments, honest. They remind me of an over-the-top, airy-fairy teen beauty queen acceptance speech every time. You can believe that I'll only give them where credit is due. Get to know a developer, they rock. #


As a budding developer, is it more important to read a lot, practice a lot, talk to lots of people, have your own site, build a stunning portfolio, worry all the time about the skills you'll need to be hired? I am realising more and more that there's no prescribed path, and there's no one thing that's more important than another. In the world of development it might, just infact, be most important to show passion, willingness to learn, kindness, empathy, openness, honesty, etc. A genuine, fiery, popping enthusiasm for the world of web development gives you the best start. #


I got some unexpected advice from someone at Codebar. It reminded me how magic it can be to connect to someone in such a meaningful way, just by sharing stories and encouraging each other. It's a pretty good incentive for talking to as many people as possible. The definition of a good life for me is being able to connect with other people, share experiences, and find common ground. Life is too short to be worried about what people will think of you or if they'll reject you when approaching them. Be yourself, don't deprive other people of your magic. #


All the emphasis is architect or designer, scientist or engineer or whatever, as opposed to where do you want to live? What kind of life do you want? I saw this quote at a job fair. It spoke to me as I've always been primed to think of jobs in rather black and white terms. Study this to be this. If this prescribed path isn't followed, success can't be guaranteed. I believe this stifles creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, which is a big shame because the world needs more of that stuff. I'm finally starting to ask myself the right questions. #


There is a somewhat inherent feeling of security attached to the promise of a prescribed path. Maybe the feeling comes from how our education system is formed. Being told to read certain books, practice certain questions, pass a highly standardised exam, just to get a certificate proving you are in fact smart. Twelve to fourteen years of this may foster a strong attachment to following set guidelines. Ones written by people you'll never even meet. Do we need to move away from this and promote more out-of-the-box thinking in schools? There could be reasons why this shift hasn't already happened. #


The phrase 'out-of-the-box thinking' seems quite ambiguous to me but I think it'd be fun to analyse. For me it conjures an image of a brown, nondescript, cube-shaped cardboard box. The box is shut, but quietly humming and occasionally twitching. Through the cracks I see a bright, colourful light seeping through. Wrapped messily around it is a yellow tape reading 'caution, do not enter'. I pick it up and realise it's heavy. I hold it up just high enough to peer through a tiny gap on the side. Inside are a million thoughts whizzing around with no place to go. #


I can credit the secondary and tertiary education systems for exposing me to a broad range of subjects, teaching me to write well, and showing me how to learn. I can thank my time at university for some very formative experiences involving great friends and teachers. Even so, I'm happy to now be free of these systems. Learning something in order to battle for the highest grade feels counter-intuitive to what learning should be about. For me, learning springs from a desire to spread knowledge that empowers society and helps people lead happier lives. Why do you want to learn? #


Ever wondered how to tell if you've learned something well? A good marker is the ability to explain it simply, concisely and confidently to anyone who asks. This is a lot harder than it looks. It requires deep understanding. Explaining an intricate or complicated topic in one hundred rather than two hundred words may appear easy at first. Trying it is another matter. In web development, where content is key and user/stakeholder time is short, this ability is much appreciated, and is often essential for good business. I practiced it a lot during my Master's. It's a fun challenge. #


Learning and sharing knowledge makes me happy. Writing or designing something that can spark someone's imagination or motivation drives me to create things. I want people to be informed and educated. I believe so much of the negativity in the world, whether between nations or within families, can be lessened through education. I learn more about myself all the time. I learn why I think or behave a certain way, what the function is, and how to address it to help me feel happier. The web can help educate us, especially if people are allowed to freely publish their perspectives. #


Words and the web, what a wonderful combination. What there is to learn about the web, it's history and intricacies, is almost as engaging as the content of the web itself. Even more exciting, there is a solid group of smart and sparkling individuals whose vast, combined knowledge helps advocate for the continuation of a strong and fair web. A web that's accessible by all, regardless of age, gender, status, disability. One that's secure. One that can be used as a platform for free speech. I'm so thankful for these people who fight for a web that belongs to all. #


On the flip side of creating a web that's fair for all is building a corresponding workspace that's fair for all. The 'WomenInTech' hashtag is heavily trending right now, and for good reason. Google's Laszlo Bock said that development teams are not diverse enough, but diverse teams have been shown to produce the best work. He also mentions sexuality, background, "...whatever". I believe it's mostly about normalising the role of minorities in technology and smashing through traditionally-held stereotypes. People naturally feel uncomfortable challenging the status quo, things long embedded in their thought processes. A gentle but confident nudge will work. #


The best way to challenge a status quo is to stand your ground. The best way to do that is being sure of yourself and know who you are. In tech, people talk of learning. Love the process of learning, feel the fire for it, and you'll go far. Many may assume this refers to new programming languages, design techniques, web strategies, etc. It does. But, something just as important receives far less attention. The need to learn about yourself, iterate your own thought processes, morals, and wishes. We need to constantly development ourselves, not just the technology around us. #


Have you ever thought to yourself; What am I doing here? What's the next step? What's the best option? What if I fail? Who should I bother? Should I ask that? How did that person do it? Am I good enough? What's my value? Where do I fit? What can I offer? Should I play it safe? What if they don't like me? How can I possibly be successful? I have. I answer by focusing on my passions, seeing everyone as human, and practising empathy. Please believe you are as good as everyone else and have great skills to offer. #


Worrying about things can give you mind block. It doesn't matter what the things are. Worry begets worry. To-do lists pile up. The demons of procrastination and fear snuggle up on your shoulders exchanging sly grins. The simple truth is, though, that nothing gets done where worry exists. Analysing where your worry comes from is essential. Find it, and explain away your reason for it. Write your divs, write your code, read your books, talk to people, and refine everything later. Rome wasn't built in a day. You want to build a lot, I'm sure. Do it little by little. #


Don't worry about what you can't do yet. The knowledge will come. Your job is to enjoy the journey. Learn as much as you can, but don't overly strain yourself. Learning isn't a means to an end so much as it is a lifestyle. There is no mad sprint to the finish line. Learning is meant to be enjoyed, both alone and with others, but especially the latter. The wisest among us in the digisphere suggest we slow down, as only then can we do our best work. Take your time and treat information as a companion, not a collectable. #


Slowing down in your work is good advice, but it applies even more so in your non-work life. The foggy mind and lapses in judgement acquired from rushing can affect your work but also affects how you take care of yourself and others. This brings to mind the phrase work-life balance. It seems we don't just have to balance the boundary between life and work but also the boundaries within each one. Slowing down can be hard for some, me included. I imagine that if I don't have things done really fast, people will be irritated. Is this always true? #


How can we all slow down? UX designer Andy Budd wrote that the best design takes the most time. He also mentioned instant gratification, something I believe is becoming more pervasive in society today. The automation of more and more processes, the creation of more and more effective algorithms for carrying out said processes. Humans have always loved a bit of convenience. With the technology and know-how at our fingertips we are constantly treated to more of it. Will humankind forget how to slow down, or eventually laugh off the concept as ridiculous? If we do, we'll certainly lose something. #


I've been offered an incredible opportunity to speak at a very meaningful web conference in one of the most beautiful places on earth. It's a huge responsibility, and one I will in no way take lightly. I need to find a topic and write something for a 20 or 30 minute slot. I'll be brainstorming in the coming days. I'd really like to weave in the quietly pertinent matter of slowing down and what it might mean for the future of the web. I'm excited to write something that will spark a healthy discussion on where the web will go. #


I often feel I am juggling too much at once. Although I really like being busy and keeping my mind active, it seems my life revolves around balancing various needs. Work, social life, food, exercise, and web stuff. I am always wondering how I could be more organised, not that I'm exactly bad at it. Is there room for self-improvement in organisation? I'd really like to hear thoughts from others. In fact, that's a great idea. Discovering new perspectives from other people has only ever sharply increased my own personal growth and happiness. The road to happiness involves building bridges. #


I was offered an internship by a design agency today. Now I can tell people that I work at a design agency. It's still a bit of a dream come true. Although it's a dream I didn't know I had. Things have materialised in the past ten months that I didn't plan for. A year ago I was in Warsaw and planning to pursue a doctorate in psychology in the UK. There I experienced tiny sparks of interest in web design, but nothing more. Now my career has done a total 180. Life is a circus and I'm an acrobat. #


I doubted for a very long time that it was possible to find a job you like so much that it doesn't feel like work. I thought that, surely, this kind of phenomenon only occurs in the lives of a select few. I don't know how to ascertain this. All I can do is enjoy it and take every opportunity I can. There is so much scope in the world of web development to work on projects you find meaningful, and to work with people you really connect with. This fosters such a positive, giving and dynamic atmosphere between people. #


Today I was reminded how important connecting with others really is. There's never been a time I've been able to prove this wrong. What I'd like to do is prove it right much more often. In my short time living in Brighton, I've become friends with so many great people. Their willingness to share and advise has brought me to where I am today. When I am unsure of or nervous about something, I gather advice from as many friends as possible. The amalgamation of their different perspectives makes me feel I can do anything. Connection is the way forward. #


I've been told that newbies to any field, including web design, can often bring a fresh perspective to subjects that experts have been bogged down with for years. Are experts really not able to see the wood for the trees? Where do I see myself nine months into learning about the web? Have I begun traversing the woods, going in deeper and watching the branches swallow the light behind me? It's definitely fun to think up analogies like this. Where in the woods do the most renowned experts sit? This is delicious food for thought and I'll never be full. #


I wonder if analogies are effective at helping people understand events or circumstances in their lives. I think they are. Analogies are simply a different perspective on things. They lift you out of holes that you've dug over time. They grant you different ways of looking at problems, often allowing you to leave behind frustrating thoughts or ideas that weren't getting you anywhere. I now find it easy to understand why experts value the contributions of newbies. Nobody at any level of expertise can thrive in isolation. The best work is accomplished when many angles are considered. Perspectives are powerful. #


The web was once new, unchartered territory. It used to be seen as confusing and inflexible. It hadn't yet grown to its modern size. Jeffrey Zeldman had a blog in the 1990s that half the web (three million people) had read. Almost thirty years on, the web is a lively, dynamic playground. It's still confusing, but for different reasons. With thousands of frameworks, libraries and CMSs, web development should be easier and more transparent than ever. In some ways it is, but the transparency lies at the surface. Not many understand fundamental web concepts, how the web works and why. #


What draws people to web development? Reasons are plenty. People often reason they enjoy it. But, which aspects? Web development as a career is broad and multi-faceted. A fantastic thing about it, echoed in a talk by Terri Trespicio, is that you don't need to specialise and focus right away. Terri tells us not to feel pressured, but just to do things. To grab as many experiences as possible. We shouldn't follow our passions, but rather let our passions follow us. The world of web development is all about connecting, communication and contributing. Enjoy the experiences, it's a fun time. #


In web design there is fun to be had. At the same time, though, it's a serious business. With abundance of play comes equal quantities of hard work, and designers have to be prepared to accept this. It's potentially all too easy to be swept away by the funner parts of the job. This can breed aversion and procrastination towards what needs to be done. Similar to much of life, we must find balance. We have to surf the wave and enjoy it, but at the same time remain focused, lest we fall off our boards into dangerous waters below. #


The distinction between work and play really interests me. It reminds me of the line separating childhood and adulthood. In my opinion, this should never take the form of a line. It's best when play and work are interwoven, even in very young children. This way, a child is prepared to face adulthood, and when said adulthood is reached, the magic of childhood is not entirely left behind. The immense joys of childhood - discovery, learning, adventures, fairytales, close and loving relationships... should those be forgotten? Not at all. Embracing our inner child makes us better in life, love and business. #


The connections between psychology and web development have recently been at the forefront of my mind. This August, I'll present them, carefully weaved together, as a talk. I've wondered how to begin this process. The quality of research on public speaking I've unearthed so far has actually surprised me. One of my favourites is from Chris Anderson, head of TED Talks. His basic premise is that an idea can be presented in such a way that it changes someone's world view, and concurrently how they think about things. I would love to get my ideas out there and do this. #


What's the best way to get ideas out? The most important step is surely writing down the ideas in the first place. Writing an idea so that people will understand it and leave thinking about it. Perhaps this is the most stressful part of the process, full of worry about coming across as boring or out of context. Mindmapping could be a good technique to get ideas out and link them all together. For this, it's best to shut the computer and begin drawing. Maybe putting technology to one side and grabbing traditional pen and paper would work written wonders. #


Being creative and having the motivation to do so comes from being in a good place, no? There are periods of time when life gets busy and responsibilities bog you down. I can confidently confirm I know what this feels like. It's a challenge to push yourself in one direction while trying to remain alert to another. There are certain people who just work too hard and think they can do everything at once. Who can put their hand up and admit they fit this bill? There is no shame in it, just a promise to make to slow down. #


What can we learn from slowing down? It's a difficult task to accomplish and one that requires lots of conscious, effortful willpower. Especially for those of us whose minds move a thousand miles a minute, who lust for knowledge, who feel a deep need to piece information together and understand the universe we live in. There have, in the past months, been several divs written on the importance of slow design. The idea is to be deliberate about what we do. Why work hard when we can work smart? A lazy person can find an easy way of doing things. #


The idea of working smart rather than hard really interests me. We might be taught that hard work, blood, sweat, tears, can get us to where we want. Think 60 hour weeks, demeaning tasks, lack of appreciation and exhaustion. Maybe putting a little effort into working smart would reap a lot of benefits. Playing to your natural strengths is a good starting point. Thinking about what makes you happy, when you are at your most creative, making sure basic needs such as fitness and nutrition are in place. It's easy to be busy and let things important to wellbeing slip. #


A lot of success boils down to confidence. Being sure of the things we do is really important. We do so many little things every day and they all end up interconnected. When sure of ourselves, everything flows more smoothly and allows us to progress in desired directions. Having respect for ourselves means we don't only look out for ourselves but also others. We're able to be better learners and teachers. We can more easily contribute value - something I'm sure many have the urge to do. Being ourselves is the best thing we can do for us and everyone else. #


People are fickle. This is something I heard from a seventy year old lady yesterday. This lady also had a school friend who lived next to John Lennon before he excelled to fame. By now, she told me, she knows exactly who she is. In psychology we might call this self actualisation. Our entire lives centre around needing and wanting to know who we are, as Anne Lamott puts it. This is the case whether we care to admit it or not. Writing is a great avenue to journey down as we attempt this. I'm doing that already, are you? #


What you write may or may not be useful or valuable for other people, but it will always be so for you. It could be that not everyone really 'gets' it, but that's okay. If your thoughts make just one person out of hundreds think about things slightly differently, then I think it's worth making them public. I'm coming to the end of my 100 day 100 words challenge but don't really want to stop, so I'll think up another writing challenge. I tend to cringe a bit when I read what I've already written but that doesn't bother me. #


Writing might be seen as a gargantuan, seemingly impossible task by many. However, I've learned recently that there are a thousand clever ways to approach it and write something that, after a few tweaks, sounds quite excellent. I can imagine the majority of my friends saying to me "I can't write". Much the same as they say "I can't draw". I fully believe people can do both. We all have a propensity for creativity, thanks to our complex and dynamic minds. It's entirely possible to find and utilise techniques for drawing out pictures or words. What if everyone tried this? #


I seem to have a nack for meeting and making friends born in different countries. I might be drawn to their language, their knowledge, their culture. Brighton is a fantastic place to be if you're like me and enjoy friends from distant lands. Most recently I met a Bulgarian man and a Spanish lady. They both exclaimed how English often surprises them. One played with and tripped over words in English that have multiple meanings, for example crane, rose or date. The other wrote and gave a talk in English. An impressive feat when English is not your first language. #


Memories from travelling often sneak up on me, but in a good way. They sneak up and give me a big, warm hug. Random memories present themselves as if they were popping by to say hello and ask how I'm doing. Today, I remembered my cycle paths between home and work in Berlin. A few days ago, I was suddenly subject to a cinema reel of late night kebabs in Leiden. Another time I was whisked up into the air, reliving a virtual rendition of my time in a theme park in Spain. Memories are like little pieces of soul. #


I'd like to piece together little fragments of memories, whether mine or someone else's. Perhaps if I take enough little shards of glass from very different places, I'd be able to craft something beautiful that nobody has ever seen before. Maybe someone would be able to relate to this person through their own experiences. What could this do for such a person? Bring their own suffering into perspective, let them know they aren't alone? Help them understand other people don't just get but have also experienced similar things. I think these are some of the greatest things writing can do. #


Character creation seems to be a tricky exercise. Each character needs to have a personality, life history, and flaws all their own. Also, a character's dialogue cannot be prescribed. All of these things need to form of their own accord, through listening to the character. Or, in other words, by listening to many people, then merging these people's thoughts into a character until a brand new person is slowly but surely built up. Done right, a character will breathe and walk and talk and the author will subconsciously know what to write about them. Done right, the character becomes real. #


Today is the last day of my writing challenge. I can't believe I have written ten thousand words. If I were to read everything out it would take me almost an hour. Yet, one hundred words seems like such a small amount. An amount that only takes a few minutes to write. This teaches a great lesson. Do a little, achieve a little every day. Small steps do lead to greater things. This is something essential to remember in the world of web development where tasks and learning can appear to be never-ending. Don't stress out, just keep doing stuff. #