2016 new years resolutions

I’m not trying to act like I don’t care about git commit logs and streaks, because I do. In a greedy, childish way, I do and I will continue to stare deep into the soft green blocks of a Github streak. I even sit briefly-moody knowing that a job change in this year removed so many little boxes from the front half of this graph.

Blogging your resolutions and goals is a good way to put yourself to task. Last year I viciously wanted to do more (and I did). This year, I want to do less (but I probably won’t).

But my motto for this year is “Do a few things well.” (It’s also “no new projects” and you’ll see why later.)

Had to painfully convince myself not to invent a new typeface in the making of this, which just emphasizes my need to heed this advice.

A photo posted by 🐱Ashley🐱Blewer🐱 (@ablwr) on


Last year, it made sense to be so dedicated to the hustle because I was struggling to get somewhere. At the start of this year, I am here — I am where I want to be, and I just need to remind myself that it’s okay to take a breath if I need to before continuing climbing up the mountain. That it’s okay to say no, sorry, I do not have time for that. It’s okay to not submit to speak at conferences. That it’s okay to spend a full Saturday doing nothing but clicking the ‘next’ button on Netflix if that is what I need to recover from a stressful week. I think this is something most people do without an anvil of guilt hovering above them, but I guess I am not most people.

Also, making time for friends is always, always worth it. I have felt especially grateful this year to know so many comprehensively wonderful people, so many that I can’t even count.

BUT. How can I put this…

Must my determination of success always be contingent on productivity levels, even through weekends and holidays? I’m not even an academic!

I don’t really want to (nor plan on) being less busy, but I have two problems: I care a lot and I care about a lot of things. And what I have lacked is an opportunity to focus more on fewer things and do them well. Design has been on my mind lately—- I’m not a bad designer (nor is it necessarily a truth that I am good, but I’ve had enough training and practice to side-eye inconsistent page-centering practices, et al), but all the design work I’ve done is pretty bad because it is done as an afterthought to solving another problem and I don’t give myself the time to do it well.

For some of this year, I was working as a ‘front-end developer’ on a project but ended up spending the majority of my time setting up site backups, wrangling database structures, and designing the site. Labels don’t matter that much to me, but at a point I became very aware that if my work was the be judged as a ‘front-end designer’, it wouldn’t make me feel very good considering only 1/6th of my time (of which was already limited – as nonprofit budgets are, no shame there) had been dedicated to that component. So by the time I got around to writing HTML/CSS/JS, you bet I popped Bootstrap on it and you might even find some !importants strewn throughout a hastily-gathered base CSS template (sorry my front-end pals if you’ve since left screaming – the site is not done, I will make the !important un-important in due time, but sorry about the decidedly un-hip Bootstrap). When this site goes live or the code is made open, will I seem bad or lazy? I like to think that I am neither, but the constraint of time would perceive me as such. This also goes along with me liking to think that I have a “strong attention to detail.” Doesn’t everybody like to think that about themselves? But when there are a million details instead of a thousand details, it’s harder to give them all attention.

I’m not close to burning out (maybe because I just basically spent the last two days Straight Chillin’), but recognizing burnout as a thing and taking preventative measures is important in this upcoming year. A problem for me is that I like doing it all but there is so much value in focusing on less in order to produce better results.

For context, here’s an abbreviated list of things I will fret over in 2016: New York Public Library (in many ways, in many applications, and most important of all), MediaConch, XFR Collective, QC Tools, ffmprovisr, Screen Slate, La MaMa, Actual Material, Code4lib’s video stream, AMIA committees, W*iHPEM formations… and I’m sure there’s more than one of that-other-thing-I’ve-already-forgotten-about and that-thing-I-don’t-yet-know-about. There are also other, small, secret things that are just for me and I am sad they are not given the care and attention I wish I had for them. When I see an amazing side project or personal portfolio site, my eyes always flash green for a second, envious of time. I also tend to add things to that pile – the personal-projects-pile – because it is so much easier and more fun to think of something I’d like to do rather than actually spend time doing it. So a side-goal is to not start anything new until I’ve finished what has been started.

But… right? That’s a lot of stuff. Keep me in check. Keep me in ample quantities of chocolate-covered espresso beans. 2016 is going to be great but only if we take care of ourselves and of each other.