Category Archives: Journal

Write every day. That’s what you need to do, apparently. Write every day and learn to touch-type. That said, I’ll be trying to do both here…

Destructive Rampage

“Destructive Rampage”

Those are two words that every parent wants to hear when they pick their toddler up from nursery, aren’t they?

While his mother and I go over what should be done, we turn to our respective social networks for any form of opinion or support. Laura-Jane’s friends came back with well crafted and reasoned responses full of advice, experience, links and generally well intended words of encouragement. Mine, on the other hand, came back consistently with the same response…

“Good lad”

I couldn’t help but raise a smile.



My last stock photograph

For some reason last year I obviously had cause to purchase Istockphoto credits, because I received an email the other day informing me that I had a bunch of them left over and about to expire. Not wanting to take away from working photographers and give to Istock, I  jumped in to look for an image to buy for no other purpose than to use up my 2 remaining credits.

An hour later of spiralling down the stock photo timesink, I got fed up and searched for ‘desperate’, ordered by reverse number of downloads and bought the last photo. For some reason this photo had never been downloaded before. Can’t think why.

Worth noting – it took EVERY bit of energy I have to not buy this photo that came up for ‘weird’, although now I somewhat regret that decision…

Standing desk

I’m pretty sure that most of my back pain stem from being over 6’2″ tall. Most desks / chairs aren’t really designed for people my size and as I spend the vast majority of my waking hours sat working at a desk this can lead to real problems.

When I had the luxury of being in the employ of a company that cared about these sorts of things, I made it my business to ensure that I had a chair that suited my height, I had some nice desk raisers purchased on my behalf and my screen and laptop sat on their own adjustable stands. All of this not only helped me to achieve good posture so that I could avoid the headaches and back aches that might otherwise have made my working life very uncomfortable, it also drummed into me the guidelines for good ‘workstation ergonomics’. I won’t bore off with those here, but there’s a wonderful image on Wikipedia.

Since going the route of the freelancer and working mostly out of a home office, I’ve found myself without the luxury of an office supplies catalogue, a bank account with thousands of pounds in it and a health and safety representative to badger for this sort of thing. As such, there were old-outdated computer manuals under my screen and a 24 pack of Tesco value cola under my keyboard &  mouse mat. This all seemed to work quite well, and I have been comfortably working with this arrangement for a couple of years.

just lately I have started to become a little sick and tired of sitting down all the time. I sit down to work. I sit down to relax. I sit down on the train or in the car on the way to a meeting. I sit down when having dinner or lunch and then, finally, I lay down to go to sleep at the end of the day…

Sedentary lifestyle, you say? Exactly.

I first heard of the (now becoming very fashionable) concept of a standing desk when listening to Build and Analyze episode 21 , but it wasn’t until I read 5 Ways to Stay Healthy As A Freelancer on that I decided that it might be time to try it out. I think it was while mulling over the paragraph…

If you’re particularly ambitious, you might also want to look into a standing desk. Research has shown that people who stand on their jobs live longer than those who sit.

…that something finally snapped and I grabbed my old tea-chest bass and a wooden shelving unit and away I went…

Will update a fresh blog post with how it’s going very soon!

If you’re interested How and Why I Switched To A Standing Desk is an interesting read on the subject.

Protect your time

Writing every day – that’s what you’re supposed to do. it doesn’t matter what you write about as long as you just write something.

I’m doing my best with it. I’ve actually managed to take a break from motoring through the 3 web dev projects that I have to finish before Christmas and sit here, drink a big Sports Direct mug of coffee and write a few paragraphs.

That’s right – 3 projects to finish before Christmas. I’m not quite sure how I let myself fall back into the deadline hole again, but it’s certainly not a nice place to be at 3:30 AM.

The problem with being in the deadline hole is not the volume of work that has to be done, but the incredible mood swings it brings out in me as I stomp around the house and generally be obnoxious to my family. I complain of perpetual headaches, yet guzzle through a jar of coffee every two days. I complain of being tired but sleep for 3 hours a night. I complain about the constant interruptions but don’t get up and go and work in the office, choosing to stay at home to ‘get more done’.

I’m going to go on record officially that New Years Resolution number 1 is going to be getting back on the productivity wagon. My pseudo GTD/Pomodoro technique works well, but I’ll also be putting into place some pomodoro sized units of time into my diary and booking everything out again.

Another web dev friend mentioned that he holds me up as a good example of time management while freelancing when talking to other young freelancers, and that’s because he only sees the highly organised side that I pretend to the outside world is always going on back here. When he told me this, it made me realise that it was probably the best way to be.

Rambling on, I think the point that needs to be made is that you should Protect your time. It’s your only real commodity, and everyone is out to get it. Seriously – protect it with your life.


I’m perfectly happy to accept that I’m not much of a writer. I’m also perfectly happy to accept that auto-feeding all my Twitter status updates into my blog was probably a bad idea and the reason that I stopped updating it.

Rewind a second… Who am I trying to kid there? the reason that I stopped updating is because I didn’t have the time any more. Work became super-busy (which is nice) and Laura-Jane severely injured her back (which isn’t nice) leaving me pretty much on sole parenting duty for a few months over the summer. Anything that didn’t involve a two-year old or earning money to pay the bills pretty much went on hold. Networking, studying, the podcast, the videos, exercise, socialising – everything.

That’s not really the issue. Now Laura’s back is almost better, the problem is that I am still keeping everything else on hold. I find myself working whenever possible out of habit more than anything else, telling myself that everything else will have to wait until I don’t have any work to do.

Here’s the rub – I’m a freelancer. If I don’t have any work to do then that’s a pretty serious problem. To put it in context; I keep a running to do list, the last item of which is ‘get a job or sign on’ – this keeps it clear in my mind that being busy and having lots on is not just a good thing, but the permanent state that I should be aiming for. Therefore it follows that I just have to make the time for all the other stuff that I want / need to be doing. Either that or rule it out altogether.

I make time for my son. I can do that. The phone goes off, the inbox builds up and we play or go swimming or read stories or any number of other things. I need to make time the same to study. To exercise. To write. To record. I can do that too.

So this is me, making the mental decision to do so on the side of Christmas where it actually means something. I look forward to still being here in 12 months…

Office Skiffle & The Effervescing Elephant

Yet another video blog that has absolutely nothing to do with web programming.

I hope you enjoy it and actively encourage you to get involved in the office skiffle movement. I’m not sure if there’s anybody in the office skiffle movement other than me at the moment, but we’re definitely changing the musical landscape.

Instruments featuring in this video are:

  • Recycling Bin Bass
  • Keyboard Washboard
  • Stapler
  • 30cm Ruler
  • Rotary Pencil Sharpener
  • The ubiquitous Flying-V Ukulele