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Weekly review: Week ending July 25, 2014

I’ve been going to more of these small get-togethers. I finally got around to hosting one here, too! I’m curious about this process of getting to know people better. I think I’m now more comfortable with conversation than I used to be, particularly if I preempt the “What do you do?” question by asking “What are you interested in?” This often leads to conversations about cooking, gardening, philosophy, and so on.

I used to feel slightly odd about small talk as something that didn’t really move forward–slight variations on a theme, again and again. Something is changing. Maybe I’m becoming more patient? Better at appreciating the little things? Worth reflecting on.

In other news, I made Japanese curry from scratch today, following this recipe. Mm! I’ve been making progress in terms of runinng and exercise too.

My consulting client needs some extra help over the next month or two, so I might nudge the balance a little more towards work. I want to keep writing, exercising, cooking, reading, and spending time with people, so I’ll probably try ~21 hours, but not ~40. Last week was about 25.5 hours and I felt like my brain was a bit fuzzy. Reading and writing feel like they expand my time; biking, too. Less time reading blogs, then. Time to tweak things…

Blog posts

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (34.0h – 20%)
    • Earn (25.6h – 75% of Business)
      • E1: Train TR
      • E1: Finish transition video draft
      • E1: Work on second video draft
      • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Build (2.0h – 5% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (1.5h)
    • Connect (6.3h – 18% of Business)
  • Relationships (8.8h – 5%)
    • Attend Paul’s party
    • Attend potluck
    • Discuss F2
    • Have coffee with Andrew
    • Host party
    • Attend Nadia’s party
    • Make ratatouille at Hacklab?
  • Discretionary – Productive (11.4h – 6%)
    • Emacs (1.4h – 0% of all)
      • Record chat with Harry Schwartz
    • Fix website
    • Follow up on Canadian citizenship
    • Call CIC to find out what’s going on with my citizenship application
    • Writing (1.5h)
      • What’s in your handbook?
  • Discretionary – Play (14.3h – 8%)
  • Personal routines (23.1h – 13%)
  • Unpaid work (14.6h – 8%)
  • Sleep (61.8h – 36% – average of 8.8 per day)

Don’t worry about your tools in the beginning: Avoiding premature optimization

“What tools should I buy?” “What platform do I start with?” “What’s the best option out there?” Geeks have a special case of analysis paralysis at the beginning of things. We try to optimize that first step, and instead end up never getting started.

Here’s what I’m learning: In the beginning, you’re unlikely to be able to appreciate the sophisticated differences between tools. Don’t bother spending hours or days or weeks picking the perfect tool for you. Sure, you can do a little bit of research, but then pick one and learn with that first. If you run into the limits, that’s when you can think about upgrading.

Start with something simple and inexpensive (or even free). If you wear it out or if you run into things you just can’t do with it and that are worth the additional expense, then decide if you want to get something better. I do this with:

  • Food: We start with inexpensive ingredients and work our way up as necessary.
  • Shoes: Upgraded from cheap to medium.
  • Bicycles: Still on the first bicycle I bought in Canada, since it was enough for me.
  • Ukeleles: Glad I just bought the basic one, since it turns out it’s not quite my thing.
  • Knives: Okay, we splurged on this one and started with good knives, since I piggybacked off W-’s experience and recommendations.
  • Drawing: I tried the Nintendo DS before upgrading to a tablet and then to a tablet PC. For paper, I tried ordinary sketchbooks that cost $4.99 on sale, and have been happy with them so far – although I might downgrade to just having a binder of loose sheets.

Don’t worry about what the “best” is until you figure out what your actual needs are.

There are situations in which the cheapest or the simplest might not be the best place to start. You can easily get frustrated if something is not well-designed, and some inferior tools like dull kitchen knives are dangerous. That’s a sign that you’ve run into your choice’s limits and can therefore upgrade without worry. Yes, it might waste a little money and time, but you’ll probably waste even more time if you procrastinate choosing (more research! more!) and waste more money if you always buy things that have more capacity than you ultimately need. You can tweak how you make that initial decision–maybe always consider the second-from-the-bottom or something like that–but the important part is getting out there and learning.

Weekly review: Week ending July 18, 2014

Lots and lots and lots of reading last week. Yay! Also, more talking to people. This week: meetings, another Emacs Chat episode, and more.

Blog posts

Link round-up

  • HeartMath Considered Incoherent: Fascinating analysis.
  • Using Themed Work Weeks instead of Themed Work Days: Sprints tend to work well for me too, although I generally don’t decide the theme far in advance.
  • Is it Ok to Be Happily Retired?: Sometimes I feel self-conscious about this experiment while other people around me work hard or struggle to find work. I’m getting better at giving myself permission to learn stuff, though, and I enjoy using some of my time to help out.
  • The Problem with Asking for Advice: I like the test of thinking about whether you’re going to change your behaviour based on the input. This also reminds me of why I push back on a lot of poll/survey questions with the meta-question: “What are we going to do about the answers?”

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (23.8h – 14%)
    • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Earn (17.4h – 73% of Business)
    • Build (0.5h – 2% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.5h)
    • Connect (5.8h – 24% of Business)
  • Relationships (5.0h – 2%)
    • Have coffee with Nadia
    • Host party
    • Discuss F
    • Have coffee with Andrew
  • Discretionary – Productive (24.8h – 14%)
    • Fix website
    • Emacs (1.2h – 0% of all)
      • Record chat with Harry Schwartz
    • Writing (4.5h)
      • What are people looking for when they talk about challenges?
      • Quiet days
      • Don’t worry about your tools in the beginning: Avoiding premature optimization
      • Books about applying advice to your life
  • Discretionary – Play (7.7h – 4%)
  • Personal routines (31.1h – 18%)
  • Unpaid work (9.3h – 5%)
  • Sleep (66.4h – 39% – average of 9.5 per day)

Monthly review: June 2014

I wrote that in June, I’d like to:

  • Deliver a chunk of functionality for project E1
  • Polish and publish the Emacs Lisp beginner course, possibly on a self-serve platform
  • Take it easy because of project F2

E1: Yeah, big milestone! Now working on related changes. And testing things, of course; there’s always more to test.

Emacs Lisp beginner course: I haven’t created a full course, but I’ll probably convert the beginner course into a downloadable PDF, EPUB, and MOBI this month.

As planned, I took it easier this month. Here’s a subset of my time changes:

Activity Percent of time vs previous month
Family 5.10% +4.8h / week
Sleep 37.6% +4.4h / week
Learning 1.7% +2.7h / week
Reading fiction 1% +1.5h / week
Quantified Awesome 1.2% -1.8h / week
Business 17.1% -3.2h / week
Emacs 2.1% -6.7h / week

In July, I’d like to:

  • E1: Update the documentation and help out in other ways
  • Turn the beginner course into a convenient download
  • Plan for project F3
  • Solidify my exercise habit

I’ve been rereading a lot about philosophy: Epictetus and Aristotle, mostly. This month, I’d like to dig into Emerson and Thoreau. Next week, probably what Bertrand Russell says about happiness and people. Hmm…

Blog posts

Weekly review: Week ending July 11, 2014

Blog posts

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (22.2h – 13%)
    • Do my first laser cut
    • Help with Helpouts
    • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Earn (12.0h – 54% of Business)
    • Build (0.0h – 0% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (10.2h – 45% of Business)
  • Relationships (4.2h – 2%)
    • Check out Festival of House Culture
    • Have coffee with Andrew
    • Have coffee with Nadia
  • Discretionary – Productive (29.4h – 17%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Go for yoga in High Park
    • Learning from frugal lives of years past
    • Planning my next little business
    • Writing (16.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (14.5h – 8%)
  • Personal routines (22.1h – 13%)
  • Unpaid work (10.5h – 6%)
  • Sleep (65.1h – 38% – average of 9.3 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending July 4, 2014

A week of learning about philosophy and spending time with people! =) Next week: Probably more events, hanging out, thinking.

Blog posts

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (8.8h – 5%)
    • Earn (6.8h – 77% of Business)
      • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Build (1.6h – 18% of Business)
      • Do my first laser cut
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.5h)
        • File payroll return
    • Connect (0.3h – 3% of Business)
      • Help with Helpouts
  • Relationships (12.0h – 7%)
    • Check out Festival of House Culture
    • Send claim correction along with note to insurance company
  • Discretionary – Productive (28.1h – 16%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Go for yoga in High Park
    • Harvest more greens; clear out a square
    • Writing (18.7h)
  • Discretionary – Play (8.9h – 5%)
  • Personal routines (29.4h – 17%)
  • Unpaid work (16.2h – 9%)
  • Sleep (64.6h – 38% – average of 9.2 per day)