Being effective in 2017

In my last post I wrote about some of my achievements of 2016, and the things I feel were successful. In this post I’m going to share my goals, along with some notes as to why these things are important to me. Most of these things are areas in which I feel I failed to some extent in 2016.


As I do my annual GTD reset I am aware of how many projects I have on the back burner. I’m intending to start to consolidate things, and be strict at closing and archiving old projects in some way. I have a bad habit of leaving things sat there, with actions I think should be done, but never get onto them. They then make me feel overwhelmed when I see them in my “on hold” list. They probably need to go!

Owning my own content

Related to the above, I’m also aware of how much of my output and content isn’t owned by me. In 2016 I began the process of making the main source of truth about my speaking engagements and related assets this site, rather than Lanyrd. I’m still partway through collecting the various slides, videos and photographs for each past engagement but recent ones are all hosted here.

I’m going to pick this up in the New Year and aim to make this site the main repository for everything I do. As this site uses Perch Runway the nice thing about focusing on this means that if it turns out there are ways we can make Perch better for people who want to host their own stuff, that can be opened up to our customers too.

Health and fitness

I mentioned at the end of my last blog post that I’m recovering from another surgery on my elbow. In mid-January it will be four years since I went running in the snow and ended up with a 6 hour emergency operation to put together what the surgeon described as a complicated 3D jigsaw puzzle. In many ways I am lucky I have any use of my dominant arm at all, however I have spent 2016 becoming increasingly annoyed with my inability to fix it.

Some stuff is not fixable. So, while I am cautiously optimistic about the fact that this operation may have improved things to some extent, 2017 needs to be about accepting this disability as being my new normal. The baseline from which I work.

Having one wonky arm plays havoc with everything else, I’m having significant issues with it causing my spine to twist and I believe this is behind a lot of the hip problems that have been a constant issue when running in the last couple of years.

This is something fixable. However it is obvious that my default approach of powering through despite pain is only making things worse. For 2017 I’m going to commit to a daily yoga practice, with the help of the lovely new yoga studio that has opened 5 minutes walk from my house. I want to see if I can regain some balance in my own body, and that has to be the first goal before any ideas about new crazy running challenges or anything else.

In the last couple of weeks, two people I really admire have written about their own injuries and recovery – Amelia Boone and Garrett Dimon. I’m inspired by both of these to not only be better, but also to work on how I think and feel about this.

Celebrate and track the successes

Perch and Runway is Drew and I, a husband and wife team. Running something like Perch becomes all-encompassing in our lives. We get very bogged down in how much there is to do, as we could easily have 5 developers here to work on tasks around the ecosystem.

That is as it is, however we could definitely look at the situation better by being able to see just how much we achieve. So this year I’m putting into place processes to make sure we can see and celebrate our progress.

We also want to focus more on small sprints of work that we can complete and ship quickly. Shop and then the new UI of Perch and Runway 3 has been a lot of work, and unavoidably these were chunky projects. With version 3 out of the door we are going to look at shorter, more quickly shippable things. Trying to work in one week sprints. That always feels like we are getting more done and is nice for our customers too as they get new shiny things more quickly.

We also need to be able to go do stuff other than work stuff. It is so easy for every meal out, car journey, even when we go running together to end up becoming a work meeting!

Amplifying diverse voices

As a person with products, I’m very aware how helpful it is when my peers share my tweets or otherwise tell their audiences about my stuff. I always try and promote the things my friends and colleagues are working on – whether a product or a blog post or tutorial.

My travel this year made me realise how I was mostly doing that with other people like me, because these are my friends, and tend to be a similar demographic to me. To address that I’ve started following people on Twitter from other places in the world, and making sure I actively go check out their tweets when they happen in a time when I’m not awake. By talking to and learning about people who are less like me I hope I can help to amplify the things they are doing, by sharing them with my own audience. I really had my eyes opened to how much Twitter can become an echo chamber in 2016, and I’m going to try my best to make it less so – for me and the people who follow me at least!


I am one of the most goal oriented people I know, I like deadlines and thrive on shipping things. However it is very easy for me to scatter my efforts around on things that are less helpful. In addition to the major themes above, the following are things that are my main focus.

The Perch and Runway 3 Launch, this includes a whole heap of other things such as a relaunch of the websites and properly separating Perch and Runway in terms of how we market them for the first time.

I am focussing my long form writing effort on a new book project, as yet unannounced.

I would like to continue to build on the success of my online CSS Workshop, I launched it with little fanfare or marketing as we were also mid-Perch Shop launch, so I have been thrilled as to how many people have taken it up and the comments I have had.

I would also like to book in some additional CSS Layout Workshops whether public-facing or internal in 2017, plus do a limited amount of consultancy on CSS Layout and in particular Grid Layout. An ideal area for me to be involved would be to work with anyone who is building tools that will rely on Grid Layout – for example visual layout tools. I’ve been interested in that area since my days with WaSP and the Dreamweaver Task Force.

I want to find my feet in the CSS Working Group and find the places where I can best contribute to activities there.

With CSS Grid landing in browsers I’ll be continuing to educate and help people transition to this new layout method. I’m really excited to see what people do with it and I’ll be watching closely to see what content I can create to help.

In terms of speaking I enjoyed the few keynotes I was asked to do last year – my talks are often more technical, and code-based. I’d like to do more of that type of speaking but also improve my skills. I’m intending to do some improv as my main weakness is in being spontaneous and moving away from a script when presenting. That’s mostly a confidence thing and I think working on that would help a lot. I already have some exciting speaking gigs lined up for 2017, and I’m really looking forward to those.


I mentioned in my last post that 2016 had left me feeling somewhat downhearted, but I’m excited for the things I want to achieve in 2017. Looking back over my notes I think if I needed to sum things up in one word I’d choose effective. I want my effort to matter. Whether it is in fitness, marketing or working on CSS, I want the time I put in to not not be wasted. I want to look back at 2017 and know that I moved things forward, that things are better.

One Comment

Glen Wheeler January 3, 2017 Reply

Great post Rachel, really enjoyed the read. All the best for 2017!

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