April 24, 2009

Bulk view

Thinking about those newsletters

I sent my test newsletter to 30 people randomly selected from my LinkedIn network. Half the people opened it, half the people skipped it. Three people clicked on a link (not bad!), but two people unsubscribed (hmm).

Based on those numbers, I think I will not send an e-mail campaign out to my network. Yes, it will remind people I exist, but it will also cost people attention when they skip over it or when they unsubscribe.

So if I don’t feel comfortable using e-mail marketing, what else can I do? I can make weekly, monthly, and quarterly feeds easier to subscribe to. I can make it easy to subscribe to those feeds by e-mail. I can focus on creating lots of value so that people come across me and perhaps even subscribe to what I share. =)

Different strokes for different folks. That was a good experiment, though!

Weekly report: Week ending April 24, 2009

From last week’s plans:

  • Work on Transition2 some more. Design phase…
  • Share my experiences with delegating illustration Yay!
  • Finish the two blouses I’m sewing I should’ve followed my hunch that the interfacing I bought was too heavy and the collar style I checked using a muslin was unflattering. Oh well! I’ve bought lightweight interfacing and I’ll shelve the other blouse until I find a collar style I can use to rescue it.
  • Send my paperwork after getting the new salary letter Hooray! Hooray hooray hooray hooray! I sent in my paperwork for permanent residency, so now it’s just a matter of waiting to see if the Canadian government (which had been pretty nice when it came to taxes) will give me residency before my work permit expires.

I also:

  • shared my Drupal staging and deployment tips, finally
  • got an e-mail from Dries because of that post!
  • got invited to give a presentation at the IBM Technical Leadership Exchange – *squee!*
  • had great conversation with
  • prepared my personal business commitments for the year, with some handy metrics
  • prepared my individual development plan for the year, with great insights from my mentors
  • made lots of maps: how I manage my money, what makes me happy, what makes me happy at work
  • experimented with sending a newsletter to a small random sample of my LinkedIn contacts
  • started updating our installation profile at work
  • practiced more piano – got the hang of the left hand of Tolling Bells
  • learned a little bit of Notes customization
  • sketched some more in a reflection on happy-do
  • fixed the template issues on my internal IBM blog, hooray
  • biked a little less than 18 km (9 going, 9 back) so that I could buy some sewing supplies from downtown. Yay!
  • attended Simon Boccanegra performed by the Canadian Opera Company – hooray!
  • …and prepared muffins for breakfast for four days! =)

Next week, I plan to:

  • get better at making design documents, thanks to my team members’ feedback
  • prepare background research for upcoming talks
  • develop a presenter’s guide for internal conferences
  • spend some time going through some of the great learning resources we have at work
  • mentor a colleague on Drupal application development
  • sew a skirt
  • sew a muslin for a blouse
  • sketch five new stick figures
  • … and continue to have and share tons of fun!

On the practice of happy-do

Happy-do If you have a clear picture of what makes you happy, it becomes easier to transform things you don’t particularly enjoy doing into things that you do. I like to think of this as happy-do: the martial art of happiness.

Like aikido, happy-do is about using your opponent’s energy to “gain control of them or to throw them away from you.” (from the Aikido FAQ). Like judo, it’s about timing and leverage. In both aikido and judo, the first thing a beginner learns is ukemi–how to fall safely. Then they learn different ways to transform other people’s force while developing flexibility, speed, and proficiency. In happy-do, you start with being able to see the silver lining and pick yourself up off the ground, and then you learn how to make things even better.

Yesterday was a fantastic happy-do day. I turned some of my most frustrating tasks into things I enjoy. For example, I really don’t like working with clunky databases where I can’t find the information I want. I needed to get a better sense of the documents relevant to our project phase, though. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the jumble of documents, I spent some time learning how to make a database view that showed me only items created this quarter. It made things so much better. I helped my team members learn how to make it for themselves, too. That turned the task of working with clunky databases into the more enjoyable activities of learning something new, building tools, relentlessly improving processes, and helping others grow, too.

I also don’t enjoy writing design documents, particularly as I get frustrated when the word processor I use messes up my layout when I insert images. Instead of struggling with the word processor and with the tiny eraser-type mouse on my laptop, I imported the wireframes into my favorite drawing program and used my tablet to move things around. That turned it from the frustrating task of working on design documents into drawing, one of the things I enjoy a lot.

Bicycle My last example–and all of this was just yesterday!–is about exercise. I’m not particularly fond of cardiovascular exercise (yet), and I never liked running (too much impact). I also don’t really enjoy commuting, which is one of the reasons why I try to work from home as much as possible. =) But if I take exercise and commuting, and I throw a bicycle into that mix, it becomes a whole lot more fun! After work yesterday, I biked to Yonge and Bloor (a good 30 minutes with a number of inclines), picked up some lightweight interfacing for a sewing project and some more Vogue patterns to try, and then biked back. That was a lot of fun, and it was good for me. Hooray!

Map out things you enjoy doing, and think about how you can transform your other tasks into something like them. Not all tasks lend themselves well to happy-do–sometimes you just have to do what you have to do–but you might be surprised at what you can transform. Enjoy!