2020 Status: Productive in a Pandemic

2020 Status: Productive in a Pandemic

In 2019, I worked with two companies, about 10 people.

Then I started consulting.

In 2020, I worked with fourteen companies, about 90 people! Projects lasted from two to six weeks. It was fun, if sometimes chaotic.

Here are some…

Lessons Learned

Reach out for 1-on-1s with the Team

Life as a consultant is measured video-meeting to video-meeting. A ton of acronyms and terms and ideas and people whirl around, to often float away never to be seen again.

By establishing a clear relationship with individuals in the team, the team lead and your coworkers, it’s much easier to focus on what the project’s goals and objectives are, and your role in delivering value to the client.

Take lots of notes with pen and paper

Research shows that the mind more easily focuses when using a writing implement (pen, pencil, or digital pen). Even drawing in circles while people speak, helps the mind focus. In 2020 between engagements and John Tells All work I filled eight journals!

one year in eight journals

Do self-management of Tasks

Projects have variable, and often minimal, project management. Do your own definition and tracking of Tasks and Goals. I’m a fan of the Pomodoro method to enhance focus and get things done, combined with Pyramid Method to organize lower-level Tasks into those that contribute to Goals, and those that should be set aside.

Pyramid Focus task management is in my book, so I’ll be advertising it on this blog soon 🙂

Pyramid Focus: Goals (Job, Health, and Career) support Vision (my Best Life)

Prioritize self-management of health

Projects want everything done with best practices, fully documented, production-ready, and now. To help this along, we take care of ourselves, our bodies and minds:

  • take walks to relax the body and reset the mind
  • use Pomodoro or other techniques to create a focus muscle to make it easier to produce on demand
  • study mindfulness meditation (using Headspace or other tools) to be able to be calm and not react against challenges
  • schedule 1-on-1s with friends to chill out and get perspective


It’s not hard to get overwhelmed and run around in circles. By establishing a relationship with your team, you define your expectations and next actions, then discuss to ensure you’re moving forward.

Prioritize life

It’s a job. Do your work, create value, but at the end of the day your friends and family will be there to support you. Be with them, cherish them! My lovely wife is always with me, and I strive to keep myself in shape to be with her and support her for a long time.

Next steps

My career focus has been Quality DevOps/Dev with a side of Kubernetes. Consulting in 2020 was fun but for Q1 I’m interested in other challenges. Bring it on, 2021!