2018 Yearly Themes

This post is coming a bit late as we are already well into February, but most of the below thoughts come from the end of 2017 and I've already shown marked progress in towards many of my 2018 goals.

2017 in Review

While looking forward to what my goals are for 2018 I first took stock of how things went in 2017, and overall I'm very pleased with how the first half of the year went and less than pleased with the second.

There were two major life events which occurred for me in 2017, the first of these was our family trip to Switzerland from February through May which was, as usual, wonderful and we had a great time spending it with friends & family.

The second event was my decision to step down from my position as the Digital Campus & Media Team Lead at Signum University. This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one I still stand behind. I really miss all of the wonderful people that I had the opportunity to work with weekly, but stepping down freed up quite a bit of time and even allowed me to restart my Master's Degree at Signum with my first class in many years Germanic Philology I.

While the first part of the year was great, starting in late September I felt as if life started to get wildly out of control. Looking back at the last 4 months of the year there are many things that I regret

  • I was no longer reading for pleasure
  • I didn't have much free time to spend with the family
  • We were no longer making any home improvement progress
  • Finances seemed to slip out of our control
  • I was losing the progress that I had made in my health
  • I wasn't communicating with friends & family much anymore
  • I didn't take time to play with the kids
  • I didn't spend enough time alone with Jorlanda
  • I spent almost all of my waking hours in my office but felt like I wasn't getting anything done

In summary, I felt like I didn't have enough time in the day to do everything, and life seemed to be out of control.

Looking Ahead to 2018

As I've been an avid listener to Cortex since the beginning I decided that this year I would create my own yearly theme as Grey has done for the past several years [1]. Based on the current state of my life and the chaos that I felt I was in I decided that my yearly theme would be the "Year of Order & Intentional Work", as it turns out "The Year of Order" would also become Grey's 2018 yearly theme.

After reviewing the state of last year I realized that I felt so miserably and unproductive because I wasn't approaching work systematically, and many of the times I was wasting time on busy work and not intentional work. My theme for 2018 is to change that and focus on creating and being accountable to systems that will provide order to my life. As part of this though, I want to focus especially on the systems that I spend so much time on with busy work which should free me up to do more intentional working get more done in a shorter period of time.

2018 Progress Update

Seeing as how we're already well into February I might as well give a progress update on the significant steps I've already taken in these themes.

Finances: Business Expenses, Tax Prep, & Budgeting

It took awhile, most of January in fact, but I switched all of our financial information over to Banktivity. I now have it setup with our monthly budget using the Envelope System as well as all the information I'll need to make tax preparation much easier when I go to file our taxes for 2018. I just need to stay on top of categorizing our expenses and do weekly reviews of our finances, but in all, I'd say this area of my life is definitely under control now.

Task & Project Management

I have been a longtime user of OmniFocus, but I found that in the last half of 2017 I was starting to get less and less benefit from it. I am sure this is no fault of OmniFocus but something in my mentality shifted and the system that used to work for me no longer was. At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to try out Things 3. So far the transition has been great and I have already started to feel more in control of all the projects I am in involved with. I don't think this has much to do with using a different app, but more that Things required a different way of thinking about and approaching task and project management that fits better with the current state of my mind. Learning a new approach to project management itself has been a great benefit and I'm sure that if I ever decide to go back to OmniFocus[2] I'll be able to take my new mindset with me and be much better off.

Time Management

I have been using Hours for years to track my billable time. But I haven't done any extensive time tracking outside of that, also based on the workflows mentioned in Cortex I've decided to use Toggl to do more extensive time tracking. I've already switched to tracking all major time blocks of my day, including billable time, to Toggl and have felt a bit more at peace knowing where my time goes. I'm not sure if I'll stick with this forever and I will definitely be tweaking my Projects/Clients list in Toggl but so far I'm liking this. [3]

The 12 Week Year

David Sparks recently mentioned The 12 Week Year on Free Agents 37. I picked up a copy of the book and while I'm not yet finished I have enjoyed what I've read so far and have decided to put it into practice.

What this means is that this year I'll be planning what tasks/projects I want to accomplish in 12-week blocks of 12-month blocks. The idea is you'll be able to have a quicker turnaround and more motivation for those 12 weeks and see better results. I'm half-way through my first 12-week block and definitely think this simple change has made a big difference.

Goals & Projects

Besides the overall theme of Order & Intentional Work for 2018 I have a number of specific Goals & Projects which I want to make progress on this year, in light of the 12 Week Year from above I'm not working or planning on them all now but they are on a list from which I'll grab projects when planning my next 12 Week stint.


At the moment all of our income comes from my consulting work, I'd like to diversify that a bit. My plan is to start that by releasing a couple of my own apps. I have two different apps that I'm working on but I'm not willing to share details on them just yet, my goal is to get at least one of them released this year.


Oh, joy, finances!

As mentioned above last year our finances got a bit out of control, we never went into debt but we lost the feeling of being in control of our money. This year we want to be much better about sticking to using a budget (through Banktivity) and not buying whatever we feel like right in the moment. Besides that, some tangible goals we have are to restock our emergency fund after we depleted it at the end of last year and once that is done re-start our retirement investments and saving for some long-term goals such as our next vehicle.

Home Improvement

We've made some minor improvements to the Kingdom Hall since we moved in on Thanksgiving 2015, but really no major progress has been made in that time. This year I'm aiming to finish the main house bathroom, our hearth-wall in the living room, as well as possibly enclosing our carport into a two car garage and replacing the septic tank.


Overall I really want to spend less time doing my own personal stuff and spend more time with my family. This starts daily for me by not rushing through lunch and leaving as soon as I'm finished, but instead taking a long break and a nice point of relaxation and conversation through my workday as well as taking more time with the children and Jorlanda in the evening when I should be finished with work for the day. On top of this, we are going to take a family vacation this year, since our honeymoon Jorlanda & I (and now the kids) haven't taken a vacation without anybody else. We're not sure when or where this will be, but it will happen!

Exercise & Fitness

Several years ago I put forward an effort to lose some weight and ended up losing about 25lbs over the course of a year which I've been able to keep off without too much effort at the same time our diet is much better then it used to be. I feel great about that, but I want to do more. This year I'm making my fitness a high priority, I spend too much time sitting down in a chair in front of a computer to not be worried about it.

I'm very happy with the weight that I am but very unhappy with the overall fitness of my body. My goal for this year is to establish an exercise routine focusing on bodyweight fitness to improve my strength, posture, as well as my fat/lean body composition ratio.

After much research last year I decided to start by following the /r/bodyweightfitness Recommended Routine. I did this routine on and off throughout the year and noticed a marked decrease in the number of headaches I got as well as overall satisfaction with how I felt in my body. This year I'm making an effort to do this routine 3 times a week without giving up on it meanwhile focusing more specifically on what I'm eating.


I have been working on learning German in some form or another since 2007 (over 10 years!) and have logged over 500 hours in Anki on vocab flashcards. I should be fluent in that time! Well, this year I want to make substantial progress, I'm very good in vocabulary with familiarity in over 4,000 words and over half those being words I can actively use or identify. But I still am nowhere near where I would like to be. I'm planning on diving into a couple of German grammar textbooks as well as starting to read and listen to books, watch some tv shows, and converse with Jorlanda and the Kids in German to raise the bar.


In general, there are a number of other things that I want to start doing but are not major goals for 2018 these include

  • Reading more. It doesn't need to be much but at least a little each day, I'm keeping a log of everything I read to review at the end of the year
  • Write more on this blog
  • Do more that is creative or artistic. It's been a long time since I did any creative work so I want to start back up with photography and start getting into knife making
  • Pick up my Masters degree. I re-started in the Fall semester last year, but I want to take at least another class or two this year to make tangible progress towards my Master's degree
  • Be less critical and sarcastic, I want to start being more positive and give out praise easier to those I'm around. Overall, I don't want to be a negative person.

That was a long post, but I hope that it will provide me with a bit of accountability as I progress throughout this year and I look forward to the beginning of 2019 when I'll be able to look back on this list and see what improvements I made.

List the Cortex episodes Yearly Themes appeared on here 2017, 2018, ↩︎

I will definitely try out Omnifocus 3.0 when it comes out later this year ↩︎

In addition I also have Timing and RescueTime installed on my Mac for tracking smaller bits of time that are not worth it to me to track in Toggl. ↩︎

Keli Fancher

Keli Fancher