Category Archives: review

Weekly review: Week ending November 7, 2014

This week was about getting back into the swing of several projects: Emacs, Japanese, Quantified Awesome and one of the personal projects I’m working on. Also, we picked up the LEGO Movie videogame, which is turning out to be lots of fun. =) I’m taking it pretty easy at the moment because there’s lots of stuff on the go.

… Oh. Now that I look at all the things I’ve crossed off, it deosn’t seem like I’ve been taking it easy. Funny how that works. Thank goodness for TODO lists!

Blog posts

Sketches

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (38.5h – 22%)
    • Earn (15.3h – 39% of Business)
      • E1: Brainstorm prototypes I want to propose
      • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Build (20.5h – 53% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.9h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (2.8h)
        • Apply updates from bookkeeper
        • Send trial balance and general ledger to accountant
        • Sort out invoice/deposit thing
      • Plan business and delegation for this phase
      • Set up Guard again
      • Set up Skewer
    • Connect (2.8h – 7% of Business)
      • Plan for office hours
      • Process Quantified Self videos
  • Relationships (3.9h – 2%)
    • File insurance paperwork
    • Coach Lucas on programming
  • Discretionary – Productive (23.4h – 13%)
    • Emacs (5.6h – 3% of all)
      • Figure out how Michael’s smartparens is showing rainbow colours for the blocks
      • Get the hang of smartparens
      • Log editing inefficiencies, keep track of annoyances. Then you can go through them when you have time.
      • Organize Emacs Hangout
      • Pick a different keychord instead of hs for seeking to seconds, or maybe turn it on only when transcribing
      • Quick clocking in on a task, or jumping and clocking task
      • Quick way to capture little thing to experiment with in Emacs
      • Rebind other-window
      • Set up and get the hang of Skewer
      • Set up and get the hang of autocompletion
      • expand-region
    • Japanese
      • Added counters to my Anki decks
      • Find a good resources for learning about Japanese counters
      • Minna no Nihongo Chapter 10
      • Minna no Nihongo Chapter 11: Counters
      • Minna no Nihongo Chapter 12
      • Minna no Nihongo Chapter 13
    • Quantified Awesome
      • Fix login form
      • Fix pagination
      • Fix sparklines
      • I can give someone access to my grocery list
      • Make list entry closer to my design
      • Update to Rails 4.1
      • Upgrade localhost to next version of Ubuntu
      • Wireframe design for groceries
      • Work on Angular interface for grocery list
    • Other
      • Organize a journal section in my notes
      • Trim my organizer.org file
      • Split up book notes into individual files
    • Apply for passport
    • Ask two guarantors for passport
    • Get passport pictures
    • Move my dentist appointment
    • Pick up cultural access pass from Front and Parliament
    • Writing (6.8h)
  • Discretionary – Play (9.7h – 5%)
  • Personal routines (24.1h – 14%)
  • Unpaid work (15.7h – 9%)
  • Sleep (53.9h – 32% – average of 7.7 per day)

Monthly review: October 2014

I wrote last month that in October, I was 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!

Big milestone successfully passed, hooray! There are still a few minor hiccups that the team’s working through, but that’s normal. In other news, I signed a new contract, and we have a new team member too. That means I don’t actually have to disappear abruptly, and I can gradually document and transfer what I know.

I’ve been having a lot of fun cooking at the new Hacklab. We invested a lot in kitting out the new kitchen, and that’s really paid off. It’s more comfortable cooking with all those tools and all that counter space. Whee! You can check out our notes in the public wiki.

I’m waiting to hear back from the bookkeeper I hired through oDesk before submitting my corporate tax return and my HST return this year, but even if I have to do it on my own, I feel reasonably confident about my numbers.

In November, I plan to:

Sketches:

  1. 2014.10.06 Sometimes – often – I don’t feel like making conversation
  2. 2014.10.11 Considering winter coats
  3. 2014.10.21 Exploring my current motives
  4. 2014.10.21 Reflecting on my primary motives
  5. 2014.10.22 On Hell Yeah and other approaches
  6. 2014.10.22 People who follow similar motivations well
  7. 2014.10.22 What kinds of activities do I want to fully enjoy
  8. 2014.10.22 What would I like to be able to do with sustained motivation
  9. 2014.10.31 How do I want to become a better developer
  10. 2014.10.31 What do I want from this phase of my experiment
  11. 2014.10.31 What do I want the rhythm to feel like

Weekly review: Week ending October 31, 2014

I signed a new consulting contract, so there’s going to be web development and social business consulting (analytics, etc.) in my near future. I’m planning to work fewer hours, though, so that should free up more time for writing, cooking, and other forms of improvement. =)

Along those lines, I’ve been investing time into improving my development tools and workflow. Yay Emacs! I think I’m getting the hang of working with skewer-mode now. expand-region is probably next on my list of things to get used to.

Next week, I’m looking forward to tweaking my workflow further, and sketching out some plans for the kind of functionality that might be good to build over the next year. We have a developer ramping up, so if I spend more time on the design phase for both prototypes and reporting, that should help her get going faster. I’m also looking forward to experimenting with Emacs hangouts and spending some time working on Quantified Awesome.

In other news, it snowed today in Toronto. Very light snow and still bike-able, but officially snow. And I also finished my first pass reading The Art of Slow Writing – plenty of notes to take from this book, I think. Onwards!

Blog posts

Sketches

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (57.0h – 33%)
    • Earn (33.8h – 59% of Business)
      • E1: Update analytics
      • E1: Wrap up neatly
      • E1: Brainstorm prototypes I want to propose
      • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Build (19.3h – 33% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
        • Plan business and delegation for this phase
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
        • Hire accountant and assemble information
        • Send trial balance and general ledger to accountant
        • Sort out invoice/deposit thing
    • Connect (3.8h – 6% of Business)
      • Attend QS meetup
      • Prepare for Hacklab open house
      • Coach Lucas on programming
      • Organize Emacs Hangout
      • Process Quantified Self videos
  • Relationships (2.4h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (10.5h – 6%)
    • Emacs (7.4h – 4% of all)
      • Emacs: Evaluating Javascript and CSS in Chrome using Skewer Mode
      • Emacs: Limiting Magit status to a directory
      • How we keep (financial) score
      • Publishing WordPress thumbnail images using Emacs and Org2Blog
    • Quantified Awesome
      • Fix forms and bootstrap 3
      • Fix token authentication
      • I can add an item
      • I can organize items by aisle/category
      • Items have a price history
      • Start working on kitchen organizer
      • Update to Bootstrap 3
      • Upgrade Rails 3 to Rails 4
      • We can cross items off
      • Update to Rails 4.1
    • Bike to work
    • Get passport pictures
    • Draw a cat
    • Pick up exercise ladder again for three straight days
    • Writing (2.7h)
      • Organize a journal section in my notes
  • Discretionary – Play (6.6h – 3%)
  • Personal routines (21.7h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (12.4h – 7%)
  • Sleep (57.4h – 34% – average of 8.2 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending October 24, 2014

Wow! Surprising lot of things done this week. Went to Jade’s party, helped W- go shopping for a coat, baked lots of cupcakes for Hacklab’s relaunch, and dusted off the code for Quantified Awesome. =)

Next week, I’ll be wrapping up my main consulting gig, working on more code, and voting in Canada for the first time. Yay!

Blog posts

Sketches

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (46.6h – 27%)
    • Earn (12.2h – 26% of Business)
      • E1: Attend celebrations
      • E1: Pick up pass
      • E1: Update analytics
      • E1: Wrap up neatly
    • Build (20.7h – 44% of Business)
      • Drawing (2.9h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
        • Interview potential accountant/bookkeeper
        • Hire accountant and assemble information
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (13.8h – 29% of Business)
      • Prepare for Hacklab open house
      • Attend QS meetup
  • Relationships (22.4h – 13%)
    • 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 (1.9h – 1%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Buy winter coat
    • Complete Swirl assignment for getting and cleaning data
    • Work on Coursera R Programming assignment 2 and 3
    • Have massage
    • Quantified Awesome
      • I can organize items by aisle/category
      • Re-set-up dev environment for Quantified Awesome
      • Start working on kitchen organizer
      • Update to Bootstrap 3
      • Upgrade Rails 3 to Rails 4
      • We can cross items off
      • Fix forms and bootstrap 3
      • Fix token authentication
      • Update to Rails 4.1
    • Bike to work
    • Get passport pictures
    • Vote!
    • Writing (1.8h)
  • Discretionary – Play (7.3h – 4%)
  • Personal routines (15.7h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (13.6h – 8%)
  • Sleep (60.5h – 36% – average of 8.6 per day)

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)