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On “Hell, yeah! or No” and other approaches

If you find yourself overcommitted, the “Either ‘Hell Yeah!’ or ‘No’” approach suggested by Derek Sivers (among others) might be a good fit. The idea is that if you rate things on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being awesome), ditch the things that are less than 9 instead of wasting your time and energy.

2014-10-22 On Hell Yeah and other approaches

2014-10-22 On Hell Yeah and other approaches

I can see the merits of this approach. Reflecting on it, though, I noticed that I prefer to do things a little differently, and I wanted to dig into the reasons why.

When it comes to requests from other people, I’m pretty good at sticking to the “Heck, yeah!” range. After all, whatever I say no to might be a good fit for someone else, or it could be an opportunity to help someone pick up new skills. Besides, if I make few promises, I have more flexibility when it comes to choosing what to work on at the moment.

For myself, though, I’m okay with working on things that aren’t an immediate “Heck, yeah!” I think it’s because I see a lot of value in the range of things you would rate from 3 to 8 on that 10-point scale, so it can be good to deliberately carve out time to work in that range instead of spending most of your time at 9 or 10.

When I look at the skills and interests that have become big parts of my life, very few of them were instant passions. I’ve always liked reading. I think I fell in love with programming immediately, but I’m not sure because I don’t remember enough about the beginning. On the micro-scale, though, there’s often a little bit of awkwardness and mediocrity when I’m learning something new. I liked personal finance and analytics as soon as I learned about them, but statistics took me longer to wrap my mind around.

Most of the things that enrich my life grew slowly. It took me years and years and years to get to the point of enjoying writing, drawing, or cooking. I didn’t look at W- across a crowded room and feel my world come into focus; I got to know him as a friend before growing to love him. Canada made me sad and homesick before it slowly became a second home. Biking was something limited and a little scary before it became freeing. I’m still working on enjoying exercise and picking up DIY skills.

Sometimes my goals for learning something burn brightly enough to keep me going, but sometimes I start something trusting that it’s good for me and that I might eventually enjoy it more. It can be difficult getting through the plateau of mediocrity, but it might be worthwhile.

I might not often rate deliberate practice and improvement as a 9 or 10 on the excitement scale, either. Sometimes I get impatient or distracted. But it’s good for me too, and it helps me do even better. So I’ll spend time on that, even if I feel a little blah about getting started. Sometimes momentum creates its own energy.

Still, it might be interesting to get more of my activities to that “Heck, yeah!” level of energy, when you’re jazzed up about things and you’re in the flow. It’s fun to have those happy-dance-“I rock! I rock! I rock!” moments. How can I amp up the things that I do, moving them up the scale, now that I understand my motives a little better?

2014-10-22 What kinds of activities do I want to fully enjoy

2014-10-22 What kinds of activities do I want to fully enjoy

  • Coding: If I’m coding on my own, I can encourage more “I rock!” moments by coming up with lots of little ideas for personal projects, investing time into improving my workflow, and practising in other ways.
  • Writing, drawing, packaging: This is tricky, since the “I rock!” moment isn’t as clear as in coding. Maybe if I come up with questions and explore them all the way to the point of packaging a resource…
  • Sewing: If my main challenges are patience and skill, maybe I can start with tiny projects and gradually work my way up, learning how to enjoy the process.
  • Exercise: Even small exercises have their own “I rock!” moments, and I can track my progress to enjoy this more.
  • Learning: Maybe progress tracking, speed, and practical application? Hmm…
  • Talking to people: Can I build up a stronger interest in people’s stories and lessons learned? Also, if I accept silences and the occasional awkward bit as normal, that reduces the downsides of conversations.
  • Committing to stuff: Actually, maybe I’ll continue to minimize this for now. =)  

Weekly review: Week ending October 17, 2014

We spent most of this weekend shopping for winter coats. W- and I are both on the smallish side, so it can be difficult to find things in our sizes later in the season. I bought a waterproof 3-in-1 jacket and a compatible down jacket that zips into the outer shell. I’m also experimenting with replacing my belt bag with a vest that has lots and lots of pockets. So far, this is working out well. W- hasn’t been able to find a coat that he’s happy with, though, so the search continues.

It’s also been a week for get-togethers: celebration dinners at work, Thanksgiving and anniversary dinners with family, other get-togethers with friends… The Hacklab launch party is this weekend, and I’m looking forward to helping with that. =)

Oh! And I bumped into a Hacklab member who’s learning R and who had good things to say about the Coursera course, so now I’m trying that. I still have a hard time sitting still for lectures, so instead I focus on taking the quizzes and doing the programming projects.

Lots of learning and connecting!

Blog posts

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (39.4h – 23%)
    • Earn (25.1h – 63% of Business)
      • E1: Attend celebrations
      • Interview potential accountant/bookkeeper
      • E1: Pick up pass
      • E1: Update analytics
      • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Build (4.2h – 10% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.9h)
      • Delegation (1.2h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (10.0h – 25% of Business)
      • Plan for office hours
  • Relationships (12.4h – 7%)
    • Attend Jade’s party
    • Get more kitchen things
    • Go to Thanksgiving thing
    • Help look for winter coat
    • Make egg tarts
    • Repackage spices in mason jars
  • Discretionary – Productive (4.4h – 2%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Buy winter coat
    • Have massage
    • Re-set-up dev environment for Quantified Awesome
    • Get passport pictures
    • Start working on kitchen organizer
    • Writing (2.5h)
  • Discretionary – Play (9.6h – 5%)
  • Personal routines (20.4h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (23.1h – 13%)
  • Sleep (58.8h – 35% – average of 8.4 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending October 10, 2014

Passed another big milestone at work. Yay! Now in the winding-down phase. How exciting! Next week has a bunch of celebrations (Thanksgiving and work). Also, more kitchen things… =)

Blog posts

Sketches

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (56.7h – 33%)
    • Earn (38.2h – 67% of Business)
      • Earn: E1: Help with milestone
      • E1: Attend celebrations
      • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Build (14.1h – 24% of Business)
      • Drawing (6.6h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (4.8h)
        • Consider upgrading Quickbooks
        • Deduct personal use of phone
        • Do quick method for HST
        • File HST return
        • Finalize accounts
        • Update Paypal amounts and save invoices
        • Update second savings account
    • Connect (4.5h – 7% of Business)
      • Chat with other QS Toronto organizers
  • Relationships (2.2h – 1%)
    • Make shelves for cabinet
    • Pick up extra shelf pins from IKEA
    • Picnicked in High Park, yay
    • Go to Thanksgiving thing
    • Make egg tarts
    • Get more kitchen things
    • Repackage spices in mason jars
  • Discretionary – Productive (3.8h – 2%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Clear out planters
    • Reducing my consulting
    • Buy parka and raincoat
    • Get passport pictures
    • Start working on kitchen organizer
    • [#C] Tracking: Update the number of tasks
    • Writing (2.1h)
  • Discretionary – Play (10.3h – 6%)
  • Personal routines (21.6h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (16.5h – 9%)
  • Sleep (56.9h – 33% – average of 8.1 per day)

Monthly review: September 2014

I wrote last month that in September, I was planning to:

  • Do more consulting (big milestone!)
  • Help with Hacklab move

It took lots of long days and late nights, but we did a great job on the major project I was working on in September. Woohoo! I got to use AutoHotkey, NodeJS, and AngularJS in interesting ways, and I helped out a different team too.

Hacklab is now at 1266 Queen Street West, and it’s shaping up nicely. I set aside some money to help with kitchen things and with the move. It was good to help with that and to get to know the other folks at Hacklab.

In October, I’m planning to:

  • Help with the last big milestone for my consulting client
  • Turn over all of my responsibilities and document things I’ve learned
  • Cook at the new Hacklab and explore more recipes at home
  • Do my corporate books: this year, I added dividends and HST quick method!

Blog posts

Sketches

Weekly review: Week ending October 3, 2014

We’ve been decluttering and fixing things up at home. It feels great! I swapped out my bedside bookcase for a low table, which I disassembled, varnished, and reassembled. We’re currently varnishing some pine shelves that we’ve routed to be IKEA-compatible. I enjoy helping W- with this sort of stuff, and I’m looking forward to learning more about making boxes and other containers.

Blog posts

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (37.8h – 22%)
    • Earn (31.7h – 83% of Business)
      • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
      • Earn: E1: Help with milestone
    • Build (1.7h – 4% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (4.5h – 11% of Business)
      • Chat with other QS Toronto organizers
  • Relationships (10.3h – 6%)
    • Connect Ernest with Pulat
    • Get rid of more stuff, clean up spaces
    • Make shelves for cabinet
    • Pick up extra shelf pins from IKEA
    • Varnish bedside table
    • Get more kitchen things
    • Repackage spices in mason jars
    • Start working on kitchen organizer
  • Discretionary – Productive (6.7h – 4%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Deposit cheque
    • Look into tablet improvements
    • Transfer some more into TFSA
    • Writing (3.9h)
  • Discretionary – Play (13.9h – 8%)
  • Personal routines (19.1h – 11%)
  • Unpaid work (26.2h – 15%)
  • Sleep (54.0h – 32% – average of 7.7 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending September 26, 2014

The big project I was focusing on worked out really well. Long days definitely paid off! =) I had fun using AngularJS and AutoHotkey to make something cool and useful.

Also, Hacklab has now moved to its new location, hooray! Looking forward to learning and exploring more, especially once my consulting gig winds down. We made minestrone for the last open house at Hacklab, and I helped pack things and assemble furniture. All this moving is prompting us to also redecorate a little at home. I swapped out my bedside bookcase for a lower table, and we moved the standing desk downstairs. Now we’re varnishing my bedside table and assorted shelves.

The minestrone was yummy, so I made it again at home. Mmm. Plans for this week: beef curry, basa fillets, pesto. Yay cooking! Happy to be eating (and making!) home-cooke meals. Our routines are slowly going back to normal! =)

Timesink: W- introduced me to this space-based adventure game called Out There. I finished one ending, but the other ones are hard! At least W- and I can compare notes about our misadventures…

Blog posts

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (68.2h – 40%)
    • Earn (50.8h – 74% of Business)
      • E1: Deliver big project, yay!
      • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
      • Now back to normal
    • Build (3.9h – 5% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (1.2h)
        • Consider paying myself dividends
        • Inquire about conversion of business assets to personal use
    • Connect (13.5h – 19% of Business)
  • Relationships (4.8h – 2%)
    • Get rid of more stuff, clean up spaces
    • Varnish bedside table
  • Discretionary – Productive (1.1h – 0%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Deposit cheque
    • Pay Mastercard
    • Reflash tablet
    • Transfer some more into TFSA
    • Apply for passport
    • Ask two guarantors for passport
    • Get passport pictures
    • Pick up cultural access pass from Front and Parliament
    • Writing (1.1h)
  • Discretionary – Play (3.9h – 2%)
  • Personal routines (18.2h – 10%)
  • Unpaid work (11.0h – 6%)
  • Sleep (60.7h – 36% – average of 8.7 per day)