Category Archives: kaizen


I really do need seven or eight hours of sleep. Otherwise I get a
little twitchy. I still managed to be pretty productive today, but I
felt a little sporadic tic in my forehead, and working on my book in
the evening was a struggle. No energy to respond to mail right now.

But work is lots of fun, though. =)

I’m going to block off tomorrow evening for resetting. I need to make
sure that I’m in the right space both at work and outside work,
otherwise it’s not going to be sustainable.

Also, those sunrise clocks are expensive! I wonder if I should save up
for one. Are they worth it?

Random Emacs symbol: c-backward-token-2 – Function: Move backward by tokens.

Best laid plans of mice and men

Okay, my estimate of this week for the raw text of my first chapter
(planning your schedule in Emacs) may have been optimistic. =) I
haven’t been able to do any real writing at all this week. I’ve been
adjusting to work, and I’d rather spend this weekend sorting things
out and making next week easier. I’m not going to stress out about it.
It’s a good thing I scheduled two months for the first chapter. =)

So, new goal. First, I need to smoothen this going-to-the-office
business. Here are few things I can do to make next week easier:

  • Sort out my clothes for next week. I got this mostly figured out last week, but a shoe emergency threw my plans off on Friday. I need to check my shoes the night before. I could also benefit from having a catalog of looks that work so that I don’t panic about not having anything to wear.
  • Prepare breakfast, lunch, and snacks beforehand. I’m going to try pll’s oatmeal trick as soon as we find another source of steel-cut rolled oats, as No Frills has mysteriously been out of stock during the last few times we’ve checked. I’m also going to prepare a whole bunch of carrot sticks and other munchables.
  • Have my keys, wallet, and badge in a consistent place. It’s a little strange carrying a backpack AND a purse AND a lunch bag, though. Maybe I can slip the keys, some money, and my badge into the pocket of my lunch bag. I may need to switch to a slimmer wallet that will just hold a credit card, a debit card, some cash, and a driver’s license.
  • Wake up even earlier. Let’s try waking up at 5:30 tomorrow. Ideally, I’d like to shift far enough so that I can miss the rush hour commute, as I’m much more relaxed when I have a chance to sit down.
  • Stop replying to e-mail on the subway. Sure, I can reply to a lot of e-mail during the commute, but I don’t feel as rested, and my replies aren’t as deep. Ditto blogging.
  • Blog in the evenings, after dinner. Make dinner ahead, if possible.
  • Start winding down by 9.

I want to be able to write at least one Emacs-related blog entry
sometime during the week, so this will require some time-squeezing…

Random Emacs symbol: nnir-current-group-marked – Variable: Internal: stores current list of process-marked groups.

Kaizen: Tweaking my schedule

What’s the best way to spend your day?

Today I experimented with my schedule again. Instead of waking up at 6
and heading to work early, or waking up at 7 and heading to work on
time, I woke up at 5:30, spent some time working on my book, and then
started work. It helped that I worked from home, too. It was just a
matter of switching to my work context at 9, and I hit the ground
running because my brain was warmed up and already in creative mode.

How can I improve this? I’m going to try waking up even earlier. I’ll
move it gradually, so tomorrow I’ll try 5:15. I hope that this will
translate into more creative time.

On Technorati:

Kaizen: relentless improvement. Making life better one day at a time.

Kaizen: meetings

I attended my first client meeting today, and I now have a clear idea
of what I need to do over the next few days. Yay! I’m going to try for
a compressed workweek, working all 40 hours before Friday so that I
can spend time with my mom when she comes in for my convocation.

What can I do better next time? Next time I attend a meeting, I’ll
print out copies of the agenda items for myself.
I was lucky today
because the document people printed out had been updated, so new
copies were made during the meeting. Writing on paper is so much
easier than working on the computer, especially in a meeting. I also
enjoyed participating in the meeting. I thought I might feel
intimidated because I’m new to the project, but I found that I still
had useful things to add. =) Yay.

In other news, I cooked mushroom risotto for the very first time
today. I liked it! =) Happy happy happy.

Random Emacs symbol: inferior-lisp-program – Variable: *Program name for invoking an inferior Lisp in Inferior Lisp mode.

Optimizing my day

My old routineMy new routine

Maybe there’s some truth to the advice, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Thanks to jetlag, I’ve been up uncharacteristically early. I like the new rhythm my day has taken.

Before this jetlag-assisted early start, I used to stumble out of bed, scarf down a quick breakfast, and head to the office. Waking up was a gradual process, and it took me about an hour or so to warm up for more creative work. After I returned from the office, I tried to squeeze in some personal creative time in the evenings. I found it difficult to write when my brain was tired from work. Finding the time to exercise was low on my list, as it took me away from other things I would rather be doing.

Yesterday, I simply couldn’t stay in bed past 3:30 in the morning. That gave me plenty of time to exercise, plan my day and my week, and write a thousand words for my book. I arrived at the office at 8 o’ clock and worked on my most important tasks. Because I had breakfast earlier, I got hungry earlier, too. Fortunately, I had brought brownies from the Philippines, and that helped me last until lunch time. I felt myself winding down in the afternoon, so I worked on some more routine tasks. When I got home, I spent some time tidying up and chatting with other people. This was a good way to relax and get ready to sleep. I was asleep by 8.

Today I’ll find out if I can repeat that rhythm. This morning, I woke up at 4:30. I prepared oatmeal, then exercised while the oatmeal simmered. Exercising first thing in the morning meant that I woke up quickly and with lots of energy. I even found the time to bake peanut butter cookies. The only hiccup was that I had some filesystem problems with my laptop, so I didn’t get around to writing as much as I wanted. I spent some time sketching instead.

Tonight, I’ll see if preparing breakfast and lunch in the evening is a good way to use my downtime to free up some of my personal creative time. Tomorrow, I’ll set my alarm clock for even earlier. I’d also like to move my morning writing session earlier, perhaps even before breakfast. Kaizen: relentless improvement.

TLE 2008: I.B.Millennials: The Net Generation and Those Who Recruit, Hire, Work With, Manage, and Sell to Us

Last Tuesday, April 8, I gave a presentation on “I.B.Millennials: The Net Generation and Those Who Recruit, Hire, Work With, Manage, and Sell to Us” to around 60 people at the IBM Technical Leadership Exchange in Orlando, Florida.

What did I do well?

  • Revision: I stayed up until 4:00 that morning, revising my presentation to improve the flow and include some of the ideas I got from conversations with people from all over IBM.
  • Energy: Because I stayed up so late, I was tired on Tuesday. I didn’t want to do a lackluster performance, so I napped during the session slot immediately before mine, and I had some tea afterwards. I reasoned that I could always listen to the playback of the session I had wanted to attend, but I wouldn’t have another opportunity to redo my session.
  • Presentation structure: After much thinking, I managed to find a good structure that made the presentation flow well. I used the power of three and alliteration throughout the presentation in order to make the presentation more coherent and memorable. I structured the characteristics as “changing childhoods, changing technologies, and changing workplaces”. I listed the challenges as “recruiting and hiring Millennials”, “working with and managing Millennials”, and “selling to Millennials”. Each challenge had three parts: “reach”, “ramp up”, and “retain”. Because of that structure, I hardly needed to glance at my slides to remember where I was, and I didn’t feel the urge to overload my slides with detail.
  • 30-second summary: I put in a 30-second summary at the beginning and end as a courtesy to people who wanted to attend several presentations or review the slides afterwards. This proved to be handy when some people dropped by to say hi and offer encouragement before my session, as I could give them the gist of my talk before they went to a different session. I think it’s a good practice.
  • Presenter remote: I used Jonathan Young’s Kensington presenter remote during my blogging talk at the Best Practices. I liked being able to step away from the podium, and I didn’t need to refer to my speaker’s notes. I also liked how the Kensington presenter fit my hand neatly. I found the same model at the Airport Wireless store in Newark, along with several other presenter remotes. I chose the Logitech presenter remote because it had a built-in timer with vibration alerts at 5 and 2 minutes, which is great in rooms without clocks. I bought it for $75 or so. If you want to buy it now, has it for $37.24 thanks to a mail-in rebate that ends on Monday, April 14. It looks like there are frequent rebate offers, so you should be able to find it on sale somewhere.
  • Stock images: Several people asked me where I got my illustrations. I got some free ones from Stock Exchange, and I got the rest of the images from The images typically cost $1 for a presentation-sized image.
  • Discussion: I knew that I didn’t have the historical perspective or the global perspective to give people the complete picture of Millennials, so I invited people to join the discussion by asking and answering questions. I had chatted with a number of people before the session started, so I knew that people had a lot to contribute. They freely shared their concerns, experiences, and insights. This resulted in a session that was not only more interactive than the jam sessions I attended, but also a lot more educational for all of us–myself included. I think this is a terrific way to do a session, as the speaker gets to learn a lot as well. There, Jim de Piante – I asked for help and I got it! =)

What can I do better?

  • More microphones: It seems my presentation style is highly interactive. Next time, I should request additional microphones so that people can be easily heard and recorded.
  • Better summaries: I need to get better at listening to what people say and quickly summarizing the key points for these recorded presentations.
  • Video recording: I want to save up for a high-definition video camera and a tripod so that I can share the material and improve my presentation skills. Jonathan Young’s setup was pretty good. He aimed the video camera’s LCD forward so that he could make sure he was in frame. Alternatively, I could ask a friend to take care of video recording.
  • Picture: I really should take pictures of my audience so that I can get a better count and so that I can recognize and thank people. Maybe I can ask someone to help me with that next time, so that I’m free to prepare other things I need for my presentation.
  • Audio and screen recording: I have Camtasia on my system, and there’s no reason why I can’t use it to record my non-TLE presentations. Next time!

That was a terrific experience. I’m looking forward to the next presentation!