Reflection for 2021

On my work anniversary, I got an email from our HR group that said this:

Congratulations Zandy! You've been with Automattic for 9 years now! Happy Matticversary! 

Some stats from the last year:
  • Posts: 160 (1674 likes!)
  • Comments: 537 (973 likes!)
  • Days AFK: 53 
  • Kudos Given: 31 
  • Kudos Received: 18
When reflecting over the past year, think about whether there were any Automatticians who were particularly helpful on your journey, and send them a Kudos!

Cheers to another year!
The Human League

In response to the email, I thought for awhile and sent kudos to two people who truly were instrumental in my journey (Beckett and Erica Varlese) and who I did want to know the way I regard them and their support. I also DMed a few folks to express gratitude for their support over my journey, and had a nice moment quietly reflecting on this near decade of work.

Note: “kudos” are an actual thing you can send to folks, via a few (internal) mechanisms. They’re brief and usually specific and give Automatticians a chance to thank each other publicly both in the moment and retrospectively. They can be both sincere and/or goofy. There’s no real rules, and that makes them fun!

Recentlyish, afaik, we now have word clouds for all the kudos we’ve received. I appreciate how there’s no filtering of words, so things like “day” and “out” and “what” appear in my cloud. “About” seems to be particularly relevant to my work.

I also took the opportunity to review all my past kudos (117) and it was a wonderful boost to my little ego. We host an internal page that displays all past kudos, and it is very fittingly called “the love machine,” which I adore.

I’ve made not very many posts and comments this year. More of my work has moved into discussion directly with team members on blockers, next steps, etc, via Zoom. Much of the outcome of these discussions ends up in other posts/comments, such as bi-weekly update posts, but also into posts that my team members themselves write. In addition to the 160 posts and 537 comments I’ve made on P2 from Dec 2020 and Dec 2021, I’ve made 28,500 comments in Slack. The number of Zoom calls is incalculable, though Zoom tells me it comes out to 376 meetings from Dec 2020 to Dec 2021, which is… too many.

My all-time word-count for P2s is 656,000, which comes out to about 200 words a day. This is a very low stat compared to some of my peers! Over time, I’ve found that I’ve achieved an economy of expression that is useful. I’m more direct, without sacrificing kindness, and can “save” my longer posts for those things that truly deserve time from folks.

You can see in the graphs below (from our internal reporting), that my post/comment count has fallen over time (you can also identify when I’ve been on extended leave, in 2016 for Grant’s birth and my sabbatical in 2018). This is partly from various leadership groups needing to pull discussion of sensitive material into places that aren’t tracked by P2, and partly from self-restraint.

Something that has been hugely beneficial to me over the past near-decade, is switching my keyboard layout from QWERTY to dvorak. It’s saved my hands. Dvorak is far more efficient for extensive typing than QWERTY, and I can write better, quicker, without fatiguing my hands and wrists.

Now let’s talk AFK. AFK is time away from work, at least ostensibly. I ended up with 52 days AFK in 2021 (going through the end of the year), and 53 days between Dec 3 2020 and Dec 3 2021. I’m sorry to say that several times this year on family vacations I’ve checked into work daily, and I wish I were able to shift my work in such a way that I could be fully away and refresh more fully. In the cases that I recall this year, however, there was a genuine need for me to be present in the work, and I don’t regret the outcome of that work. I pulled a report of my AFK this year, and only two days were logged as COVID-19 related, and were probably kid-related (in terms of unexpected schooling needs). I took a full week in October to do absolutely nothing, because I felt completely burned out between working full time, parenting full time, trying to keep up with the house full time. Too much full time. During that week, I resisted doing any chores that weren’t absolutely necessary. I also did not check into work. The beauty of an open AFK policy is that you can take the time you need, but that philosophy needs to be supported fundamentally. I see many tweets warning job seekers that “open AFK” or “open vacation” is a scam designed to keep people at work more, but that has not been my personal experience over the past 9 years with an open vacation policy. We set guidelines around what we expect work to look like, and we ask folks to plan ahead, particularly when it comes to supporting the business with coverage needs. I am able to have a significant role in high impact projects, and I am able to take time away from work. It’s as simple as that.

These things are the scaffolding around my work itself, and they’re important! They help me ensure I’m engaged, giving and receiving feedback (even in the microdoses of kudos), and stepping back. I’d love to see how much peer, team member, and lead feedback I’ve sent in annually through our feedback tool. It’s something I find a lot of value in and try to do often.

I have 4 more days of work before the end of the year, and in that time I have 8 more calls, and have blocked off my schedule to draft up end-of-year feedback for team members, so a fitting cap on the year, all in all.

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