Posts, page 1 of 21
Three years ago today, I started my second stint as a freelancer. It’s still my best career move to date.
After the company I worked for went under—making me redundant 48 hours before my second child was born—and a subsequent hellish period of going through interview processes with Tech Companies™, I made the right choice to fuck all of that off and go back to being a freelancer. Three years on: I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever.
This year has by far been my most successful work year, but also, the busiest and most stressful. I vowed to work less this year, but after making what has turned out to be the right choice, to turn my back on making educational content: getting more into client services work has kept my schedule very busy.
This has now been my longest role in tech. The longest prior to this was 2.5 years in the agency I joined after my last stint as a freelancer.
I’m in a completely different place since then. Mostly, I’m a lot more experienced. I started freelancing when I was essentially a junior and that was a baptism of fire. I now recommend that people in a similar position work for a company—for at least a couple of years—just to get that early experience and hopefully, mentorship.
I would definitely recommend to people beyond that phase of their career to consider freelancing though. The freedom that freelance provides is worth so much. It helps me work to live, rather than live to work. There’s also a 100% guarantee that my employer—me—won’t turn out to be a horrible company.
Anyway, that’s enough work stuff on this blog. I’ve got big plans for next year that will hopefully—long term—make life all about working to live in a sustainable and sensible way. For now, though: I’m just off the back of a horror deadline, so I’m gonna make a celebratory brew and think fondly back to how happy and relieved I was on November 1st, 2018.
Some things that have had nothing but an overall positive impact recently:
- Removing my work email from my phone (turns out you can actually do this if you work for yourself)
- Saying no, a lot
- Allowing stuff to be suboptimal (in my eyes); not everything I deliver needs to be perfect (in my opinion) if it overall, makes things way better
- Finally accepting that tech is no different, nor more special than other industries. It’s teeming with bellends, just like the rest
- Setting myself set work hours and sticking to them relentlessly
- Finally accepting that although making education stuff was cool, it’s realistically not for me and client services stuff very much is for me
- Banning myself from scrolling all forms of social media
- Setting my business operations and pipeline up that will almost certainly guarantee at least a couple more years of me working for myself, even if shit hits the fan
- Prioritising personal and family life over everything else
Our eldest kid is 5 years old today. We’ve been parents for half a decade. To say I’m proud of our little family is an understatement.
Happy Birthday, Brooklyn. You’re a good kid.
It’s been over a month now since I stopped looking at the Twitter timeline and my mental health has improved drastically—so much more so than I thought it would. Thanks to tools like Front, I haven’t actually logged on to the site at all—only once to post an image because you can’t post alt text with Front...
The timeline is what has been the killer for me. The absolute awful daily takes were grinding me down and speaking of grind—the vomit-inducing coding journey bullshit was getting too much. Part of this is that I just gave up making courses and stuff—which by measure of feedback, I was doing pretty good at—because I can’t stomach the reflux-inducing hyper-positivity that a lot of educators use to flog courses. I’m too pessimistic and frankly, British to do that. I’ve actually enjoyed slingin’ code for clients instead.
I’ve pretty much already been booked up for 2022, too. So much so, I’m quietly considering building on that and looking at how I could potentially take on a junior/apprentice. I would love to give someone who comes from a similar, poor, working class background that I do, because as vomit-worthy as Tech Twitter is: the tech industry is a great industry for social mobility. A lot more thinking to be done on that front.
Anyway, I couldn’t recommend having a hands-off relationship with Twitter anymore if I tried. I don’t feel “behind” and treating it like an inbox, with Front, has actually made it all more manageable.
I shared yesterday that I’ve been using Front to manage my Twitter replies and DMs and Sara asked me to write about how I have Twitter stuff setup at the moment, so here goes.
I’ve got documented issues with Twitter. It has a severely bad impact on my overall mental health and I’m addicted to it. I wish I could get rid of it completely, but unfortunately, the industry I work in insists on centering everything on Twitter, so I am in effect, held hostage by Twitter.
I refuse to use the main site and apps anymore and participate in the algorithm that dismantles communities by driving controversy. I also refuse to participate in the fucking awful takes of Tech Twitter Personalities™.
Let’s dig into the nuts and bolts. Because I still need to engage with Twitter, I want to do it from afar. All I’m interested in is:
- Replying to mentions
- Having control of my DMs
To tackle points 2 and 3 I’m using Front. It’s actually a support tool, but I’ve found it really useful because it lets me run Twitter like an inbox. I fucking love email, so this setup is perfect for me. I can set rules, snooze items, tag items and be super organised, just like I am with email. I now push my Gmail stuff into there too.
It’s not cheap though: $38 a month because you have to have at least two “seats”, which is daft. But, the way I see it, $38 a month is nothing if it helps my thinker stay healthy.
For posting, I’m using IFTTT. For this blog and my music blog, I have an RSS recipe that reads my feeds (this feed, music feed), the auto tweets the title, url and content. I can also post directly from Front. Perfect.
For Piccalilli, I decided to tweak it a bit. I still use an RSS applet, but I created a specific Tweets feed that allows IFTTT to post the title, summary and url. Works a treat.
IFTTT also make you pay for running multiple applets, but again, it’s worth it. It’s $3.33 for unlimited applets. I fucking love IFTTT as a service and use it for a few handy automations, so again, more than happy to pay that.
Hopefully this helps someone else have a healthier relationship with the hell site that is Twitter.
Take it easy 👋
You’d think the fastest thing is y’know, light, but it’s actually me muting a new channel in a community Discord.
I got the best sentence in an email today:
“You were due to start jury service soon but you have now been excused”
I got a call yesterday and didn’t want to really believe it until I had it in writing. I imagine jury service is fine if you’re in a salaried position—mostly because you have to get paid your salary while you do it. As a freelancer with a very busy schedule at the moment (my fault), it was the cause of a lot of stress.
Feelin’ much lighter today.
It’s our kid’s first day at school today. It literally feels like yesterday that I was driving her and her mum home at 20mph from the hospital.
That was nearly 5 years ago...
Anyway, Twitter is the subject of today’s article.
A week ago, I decided it was time to go on an extended—potentially permanent—break from Twitter. I did this because friends, I am terminally fed up with not just Twitter: but social media as a whole.
The reason I’m focusing on Twitter today is because I can’t escape it. Let me explain why.
Last weekend was a bank holiday here and we had a lovely few days where my partner’s family came over. Lots of good food and good LOLs were had. The subject of social media came up and me—being a few wines down—went into a full-throttle attack on Facebook and its devastating impact on society.
Long story short: after they learned of Facebook’s genocidal history and the penny dropped about how small rewards for engagement is the game—not “keeping up with family”: my partner’s sister and I decided to deactivate Facebook products in solidarity with each other. I only had an Instagram profile because Facebook itself is long dead to me.
I deactivated Instagram and all that was left…was Twitter. I have two accounts on Twitter: my main—what I call “work” account and a private, mutuals-only account. I opened the latter a few months ago because frankly, I got fed up of fucking reply-guys.
The problem we have here is that the main “work” account can’t be deactivated because the industry I work in decided that Twitter would be integral and I am freelance. Yep: the platform that limits content to 280 characters and actively rewards hot-takes and negative interactions is the bedrock of the tech industry. Yes, there are blogs and people read blogs, but really, it’s all on Twitter. The problem with my private, mutuals only account is that a lot of mutuals work in tech, so that content (through no fault of theirs) follows them into the no-work zone, so the nice LOLs I have on there are constantly tainted with Jon McWanker’s “well, really, the cascade was a mistake” shit-takes.
Ideally, I’d nuke both accounts and deal with the consequences later. The problem is that very rarely, Twitter does bring upon good opportunities. A lot of my work is credited to that Twitter account too, so loads of links would just stop working overnight, which is not cool. So in short: I’m fucking trapped.
What am I going to do then? It’s time to go fully hands-off with Twitter. This is the first step: posting from a third party. Even with Tweetbot muting the living daylights out of almost everything: Twitter is still hell. I just can’t be around it anymore. It’s severely impacting my mental health and as I’ve written before: I’m fucking addicted to it.
What I hate the most is the fucking asinine takes on everything. Lucky for us, Chad McDickhead has strong opinions on CSS frameworks and painfully naive takes on the impact of US Troop withdrawal on Afghanistan. He also thinks that the COVID vaccine is “experimental” and we should all “get back to normal”. Let me tell you dear reader: after losing a loved one recently to COVID, those latter comments hit different.
Anyway, I just thought I’d share what’s going on. You’ll be happy to know that since last week, I feel endlessly happier and also, weirdly burned out. I think I knew a big burnout was coming and luckily, I know the signs to deal with it now. Getting away from Twitter will only help that.
I’ll auto-post from here and my new music recommendation blog and hopefully, that’s all you’ll see from me on Twitter—for a few months, at least. The sad thing is that I like to use my following to give people a leg-up by signal boosting them. If anyone has ideas how I can still do that, let me know.
As always, email is the best way to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org), but if you really have to: I will periodically check Twitter DMs using Twizzle.
In closing, I managed to quit smoking—after 15 years—and have a sensible relationship with cigarettes, so I can damn-well do the same with Twitter.
Take it easy.
I’ve been working way too hard recently so I’m treating myself to starting a fun, personal project I’ve been meaning to start for a long time.
I’m creating an index of my music collection and will be rebuilding what I lost. I’ll be buying a combo of physical copies of albums and downloading high quality digital versions. I’ll record vinyls to digital, too.
It’s going to take fucking years but so be it. It’s going to be wholesome.