We were greeted with beautiful weather during our trip, with temperatures in the high 60s/low 70s. Check out these mountains I captured during our descent into SeaTac:
The weather was so nice that we decided to join a coworker in a nearby park for a few beers and some frisbee fun. Spring had recently sprung, and everything was so green. It was a nice departure from Chicago, which was just on the edge of spring.
The Sprout office in Seattle is right on the water, a block or two north of Pike’s Place. Our hotel was in such a location that we had to walk through the market every morning on the way into the office. The market early in the morning was full of great smells and vibrant colors.
Our hotel had an amazing rooftop bar that offered some of the best views of the whole trip.
A major highlight of the trip was getting to spend some time with the devices design team at Amazon HQ. We got to talk shop with some talented folks, and also tour the beautiful Amazon spheres and offices. Look at those views!
Seattle is a wonderful city, and I can’t wait to return. Hopefully next time I can get out of the city a bit to do some hiking.
Up until this week, saving money with Simple was pretty good. Their goals feature makes it easy to bucket money into categories. My process for managing money with Simple was something like this:
- At the beginning of the month, move money from my “safe-to-spend” bucket to various goals. Things like rent, groceries, entertainment, car payment, etc.
- Whenever I spend money, use Simple’s “spend from goal” feature to spend it from the appropriate goal.
- At the end of the month, whatever is leftover in my goals is mine to keep. I move it to a savings goal and replenish each goal with my monthly allowance for that category.
This worked pretty well. The main annoyances I had with this were that every month I had to manually refill the goals with the correct amount (after first emptying the leftovers into savings), and I had to manually set transactions to spend from certain goals.
Lucky for me, the Simple team addressed these exact frustrations this week with the launch of two features called Funding Schedules and Auto-Spend.
Funding Schedules allow you to automatically move money into goals on certain dates/frequencies.
Auto Spend lets you associate transaction categories with goals, so that transactions in certain categories always spend from a particular goal. They also added the ability for transactions to “remember” what category they are in and automatically categorize themselves in the future.
These features change the game for me.
Now, my process (after some initial setup) looks more like this:
- If Simple doesn’t categorize a transaction correctly, fix the category. I only ever have to do this once since Simple remembers my selection in the future.
- At the end of the month, move the leftover money in my goals to my savings goal.
Boom. Simple takes care of the rest.
As far as setup goes, it’s as simple (ha ha) as creating your goals and setting a funding schedule that fits. I like to do my finances monthly, so I set mine up to automatically refill on the first of every month. Simple gives you the flexibility to choose whatever dates/frequencies you like.
Next, you choose which categories go along with which goal. My “Groceries/Food” goal is associated with categories like grocery stores, restaurants, and convenience stores. Whenever I spend money at one of those places, Simple removes it from my goal instead of my safe-to-spend balance.
Now, my personal finance is completely automated. I can set my budget and forget it (aside from the occasional incorrect categorization, which is easy enough to fix). If you use an envelope-style budget, you know that the worst part is maintaining your system manually. With these new features I no longer have to do that, which encourages me to stick to my budget instead of ignoring it because it’s a pain to manage.
With these new features, I can’t recommend Simple enough. They had a period of moving very slowly with new features, but lately they have been knocking out of the park with shared accounts, paper checks, and these new goal features.
Probably the best piece of television I have seen in the past 12 months. Came out of left field and was more successful than most movies that attempt it. Atlanta is a masterpiece.
What is proactive work? Depends on your job.
For a chef, it may mean sourcing local ingredients before writing the menu.
A record producer may seek out up-and-coming talents to anticipate trends.
Photographers often shoot photos already knowing which edits they will apply later.
When good programmers write code they also anticipate change, so they make it as extensible and flexible as possible.
Architects never start designing a structure without understanding its location, purpose, and inhabitants.
So, what does it mean to do proactive work as a designer?
Just like a chef, we have to source ingredients (knowledge and context) before designing a product. We have to anticipate trends in the industry and know when to follow them, and maybe more importantly, when not to follow them. We have to prepare for how our designs will change with future requirements and when real users interact with them. We have to design responsibly, considering edge cases and social impact. And of course, to design well, we need to be informed about the contexts in which our work will be used.
In short, proactive design is design that takes its time to prepare for the side effects of real life.
That form you designed may not work on mobile browsers. That new feature you built might increase profit, but does it harm your user’s quality of life? Does your design system scale when you add a new feature to your product?
Designing proactively takes time, attention, and having the power to say no (or maybe “not yet”) to certain stakeholders. And if you’re not being proactive, you may not be doing your due diligence as a designer.