April 27, 2009

Bulk view

The ups and ups of Mondays

Clair e-mailed me a note about how wonderful it is to watch me grow (and she’s known me for quite a while!). I told her that it’s almost all W-’s fault, and that one can do a lot of things when one laughs every day and lives well every day. ;) But it’s so true. Whatever gives you happiness–a great relationship, a great vision, a great environment–makes a huge difference in your productivity.

Monday! If you can rock Mondays, you can rock any day of the week.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being awesome, I typically start the morning at a happiness level of 7 or 8. If it’s warm and sunny, that might even be a 9. =)

Breakfast and a good morning of creative work–brainstorming, developing software, finishing tasks, learning something new–get me to a 9 or 10. My energy dips a little at 10 or 11, which makes it a good time for a snack (apples, bananas, whatever we have handy). I can usually do that without breaking my concentration. I do my best work in the mornings.

Lunch interrupts my flow, bringing me down to about a 7 or 8 again. I sometimes delay it a little to stay in flow for as long as I can. I save the afternoon for routine tasks and things I don’t enjoy doing, and work through the rest of the afternoon at a happiness level of about 5 or 6.

If I’m frustrated or I need to work on things I actively dislike doing, I may go all the way down to a 4. If I’m anxious or stressed out about something (permanent residency paperwork, critical bug), I may get all the way down to a 3. The good thing is that within twenty minutes or so, I usually bounce back to a 6 or 7. If I’m very worried or frustrated or distraught, it may take twenty minutes and a good hug. I don’t really know why that is–maybe my defense mechanisms kick in almost automatically?–but it is.

Dinner time with W- usually brings me me up to the 7 – 9 range. Riding on my bicycle, playing the piano, helping J- with her homework, playing catch, getting stuff ready for the next day, fiddling around with sewing… lots of little things help me increase my happiness level even further, and I often end the day at a happiness level of 10 (or even 11!).

So yes, a day when I’m frustrated with word processing can still be an awesome days–and it keeps getting better all the time. =)

There might be a useful tip in here: Pick a good default happiness level (or gradually grow into it), then get better at tweaking where you are and how you manage your energy. =)

Notes from a conversation with Isaac Ezer and Andrew Louis

Isaac and Andrew dropped by for tea and a wonderful conversation yesterday. =) Here are some rough notes from our conversation.

  • Experiments with outsourcing: Andrew had been interested in trying out something like that, but he hasn’t yet taken the plunge. I told them a few stories about things that work and a few things that don’t work so well, and I shared some tips on how to get started. (Start small. Be prepared to learn. Think of it as an iterative process.) Isaac might find it really useful to have an assistant manage his social calendar the next time that he’s in town for two weeks.
  • The importance of managing energy, both in terms of when you do work and who you hang out with. Happy people bring a whole lot to your life, while unhappy people cost energy. Friends are important. =)
  • Andrew told us how he works the equivalent of three days a week and spends the rest of the time attending events and living life. As a result, he gets to enjoy lots of opportunities just because he’s around. =)
  • Small talk as a game: Isaac and Andrew encouraged me to keep trying it, and shared that it’s something you can practice and get good at.
  • Personal contact relationship management: I described the system I have in Emacs and how I’ve been trying to find web-based equivalents (Google Contacts, LinkedIn, and Batchbook still don’t quite measure up). Isaac suspects there might be a business opportunity in there.
  • Culture: Isaac shared stories from Japan and Korea
  • Critical Mass: Andrew told us about the Critical Mass event last FRiday.
  • Personal finance: Andrew asked me if I bought the I Will Teach You to Be Rich book. I told him that personal finance books typically don’t address my situation, and we talked about what’s next (creating opportunities, enjoying life, and so on.)
  • Facebook: Andrew finds Facebook to be really useful for asking questions, although he doesn’t like it when people send him Facebook messages instead of e-mailing.
  • LifeCamp: We should have another one, with speakers this time. That would be cool! =)
  • Music: Isaac played a couple of pieces for us, hooray! He’s got a gig next weekend. Looking forward to it.
  • Entrepreneurship: Tokyo and Toronto
  • Swing dancing: good stuff, and not a bad filter for finding friends; the power of niche interests

… and lots of other good stuff, too.

Three people, three hours of conversation, and plenty of good things learned and shared. Looking forward to our next conversation!