2019 was a bit of a roller coaster for me. I moved back to California, went to my first two tech conferences (ElixirConf and Microsoft Ignite), Design Kollective’s customer base continued to grow, and I worked myself into a burnout state.
At the end of each year, everyone at Design Kollective gets a week or two to fully unplug and decompress, so I flew out to Louisville, Kentucky to spend the holidays with my family. That clean break was something that I really needed. Beyond monitoring for any issues (which is mostly automated), I didn’t spend any time thinking about work. This allowed me to spend that time reflecting on the year and and the decisions that led me to feeling the way I was. It was around this time that I came across Greg Schier’s post 2019 Year in Review: Prioritizing Health where he mentions that he was able to come back from burnout by pursuing creative hobbies and renewing focus on his physical health. That post inspired me to do the same, and I’m happy to report that a after a month of making an effort to take more breaks, play more music, and to start running, I’ve noticed a real shift in my day to day attitude and the level of enthusiasm I have towards my work! I won’t go into too much depth about this here, but if you’re in a similar situation and want to hear more about how to get out, you should listen to Greg’s guest appearance on Does Not Compute here.
With the idea of focusing on more fun or creative hobbies, my first project of the year is this site! Now I know that a personal site/blog might not be the most creative or ambitious project, but I think that it’s a great place to start, and I hope that in doing so I’m able to use it as:
- A way to be more creative within the ecosystem I already know and love.
- A place where I can write code and learn without the pressure or mental overhead of writing code professionally.
- A place where I can learn to better articulate my research and thought process through writing and reflection.
This core of this site is built on top of Phoenix and Postgres, it’s styled with Tailwind, and it’s hosted on Heroku (for now1). I chose this stack because it’s one that I’m very familiar with as we use it at Design Kollective. I did think briefly about building this site in a new to me ecosystem like Golang, but decided against as I felt that I’d get sucked into the iceberg that is learning a new language and libraries instead of actually shipping anything. I’ve spent a lot of time making just shipping a personal site for myself, but very little time going beyond and populating those sites with content.
I have a number of fun projects scoped out for it, like a LiveView based content editor (I’m using it now!), a real-time page view and metrics system, and some integrations with the Simplecast API for integrating content from Does Not Compute. As a part of these projects I’m planning on writing about the specifics of the implementations, so if you’re interested in learning more about using Elixir and Phoenix to build web apps, stay tuned!