Readers’ High

Last year, I read 20 books. This year, I have only read a few so far, but I have still been reading a significant amount of words, they just are not in books. I have been utilizing Feedly and Pocket to read a lot more in the technical realm, and longer articles.

Aside: I wish my Kindle, Feedly, and Pocket each provided some more statistics on how many articles I’ve read, and how long each one took me to read. Their plugins could then tell me how many words per minute I read, and how long a potential book/article would take me to read.

I have a few books I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and elected to start one last week: A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II

The book was fantastic, but I begin to hate myself when I get into a good book: I turn into an addict. I get a readers’ high.

I routinely went to bed well beyond midnight, which is against my initiative to maximize my productive time. I become very single-threaded in my reading efforts, and essentially bailed on all other research topics to see how this book ended as quickly as possible. I’m not sure if this is credit to the author, or a knock on myself. Either way, I was not nearly as productive on my personal areas of interest.

Now that I am done with the book, I hope to wrap up a few interesting technical ideas I’ve been wanting to research and post on. Or I’ll just start another book.

Maximizing my “Motivated Productive Time” in the day

The busier my life gets (church, kids, budgeting, work, etc.), the less likely I am to set aside time for me to learn more about technology.  I have noticed this trend, and that after work, I am still happy to read technology/programming articles and blogs, but it is very unlikely that I will dig deep into a new programming language (e.g. Ruby on Rails), IT tool (e.g. AppDynamics), or this blog (which no one reads).

For a long time, I have known that I am most productive in the time before lunch.  As the afternoon drags on, I am still able to focus and get things done, but it requires more motivation than the morning.  In order to maximize the amount of time that I dedicate to the new things I want to learn, I know that I will have to make more time in the a.m.

I have found that the easiest way for me to have a smooth morning is to get everything ready in the evening that I will need in the morning.  My work clothes are pressed and hung in my closet.  My breakfast/lunch/snacks are made or at least ready to be made.  I have my kids get their school clothes out.  If I plan for a morning workout, the clothes are organized in the order that I put them on.

The goal is to make getting ready in the morning as easy as possible; waiting for 7:00 a.m. to find that I have no clean work socks is not conducive to a productive morning.

I recently came across Steve Pavlina’s blog posts on How to become an Early Riser p1, p2, and How to get up Right Away  When your Alarm goes off.  These articles have some good suggestions on how to become more of a morning person.  I consider myself to be more of a morning person than not, so I was able to gain some pointers on how to make my mornings more productive.

The piece of advice that I have immediately implemented is to not hit snooze on the alarm clock.  I have always given myself at least one hit of the snooze button, but no more.  I will be snooze free.

It is quite easy for an additional 10 minutes to become an additional 30 minutes, which means I have lost 3.5 hours worth of Motivated Productive Time during the week.  If I snooze for 30 minutes throughout the year, that is 182.5 hours that I am missing out on in a given year.  That is a lot of lost knowledge (and potentially cash) to miss out on.


Workouts from November to March

I’ve done a pretty good job of tracking all of my workouts on a simple piece of poster board in my bathroom, near the the scale. Some weeks were better than others, but overall, out of 140 days (i.e. squares), I missed 62 days, which means I worked out on about 65% of the days from November 9th to March 28th.

I’ve tried to track my workouts in apps, but they are too complicated. It’s not that I do not understand how to use them, it’s that they want to do too much. I just want a simple thumbs-up/thumbs-down of did I workout or not? I will typically add a few lines of meta-data on what I did that day, and possibly my weight, but those are not that important. I just want to know if I did or did not that day.