I’d like to think of myself as someone who writes and someone who writes enough. What does that mean? Am I a writer? Yes, I am. I write. In fact, my day job involves a lot of writing, mostly code, and technical documentation but still, I write. So, am I a writer? I am a person who writes, and it does so a lot. But my writing is not what people see as the product of a writer. A writer is a person who writes novels and poetry and has books or columns published, you know what I mean. But I disagree. You don’t have to get paid as a photographer or a writer to call yourself one of those things.
I also take photographs, a lot of them. I take photos every day, sometimes a few and sometimes dozens, every day. Am I a photographer? I think I am. Do I get paid for my photography? No, I don’t. Not yet. I still have a lot to learn about photography, but I consider myself a photographer.
Our society likes differentiating people who get paid for a creative task vs. those who don’t. This has consequences. Many people are afraid to call themselves a photographer or a writer, for example, for fear of sounding ridiculous or pretentious. But why? If you take photos often, if it’s part of your life, you are a photographer. If you write anything, and you do it often, then you are also a writer. You might not be great at any of these things, or maybe you are superb, but that doesn’t matter. You are still those things.
Why is it important to use titles such as “Photographer” or “Writer”? I think it’s important because it makes you believe in yourself, makes you serious about your craft, and makes others think of you (professionally) as one of those things. If anyone asks, you can always clarify that you are not a “professional” writer or photographer, for example, because you are not getting paid for your work, not yet.
Labels and titles are important because people choose to give them importance, and instead of ignoring or pretending that I don’t care, I’d like to take advantage of the importance people give to these things to help me with my craft and career.
Don’t be afraid of using titles like these if you work hard and put enough time into any of these creative tasks.
Be proud of calling yourself a photographer or a writer, don’t be afraid of it. If you want people to recognize you as a photographer, a writer, or by any other title like that, then use it yourself first, and give them permission to do it too.
A simple idea on how we can log our lives to help us troubleshoot them later
In programming, we use the term debugging to describe the exercise of testing and digging into the code’s details and inner functions to find out the source of an issue. For example, debugging can occur by running the code and reading values in variables as the application runs, review database connections, analyze errors, review requests, and responses to and from an API, etc. Also, you can look at logs with details of application events such as errors to aid the debugging.
How do we use the same idea but instead of debugging software, we debug our lives? I like the idea of it. To try it, I am focusing even more on writing notes about my day, things that come to mind, and ideally whenever there is an event that makes me feel good, sad, angry, peaceful, etc. I want to remember these things, and one way of doing it is by writing them down.
When troubleshooting a software program, you need to reproduce an issue by running through the same steps multiple times to try and catch any information that might help you find the problem. As a software engineer, I can do this because we store information about events such as errors and other information about the application’s state before, during, and after an error occurs. This information is what allows us to debug the software.
In our lives, we cannot replay our day unless we are in the movie Groundhog Day (a great movie, by the way). But if we have information about our day, such as notes, calendar entries, etc. We can use that information to go back and help ourselves remember the events and our feelings on a specific day and time. Having this information might help us remember certain moments better and maybe even find out why we did something or feel a certain way today or in the future. That’s the life debugging part. It will help you replay a day in the past with the help of your notes. These notes might help you remember the why and how of something that happened in the past.
I don’t keep a formal diary or journal, but something that I have been doing for a while is writing notes about things I learn, things I do, and how I feel about them, and I do it in a concise form, just a few words or a sentence. It’s helpful and more effortless than keeping a diary. It’s a logbook. I use a Moleskine daily diary for this. It’s small but includes one page for each day of the year. I find it perfect for logging my day, it’s my logging system, and it works well.
Remembering things is very important, and the older I get, the more I realize that capturing some of the events in your life and how you feel most days is beneficial. Most of us expose ourselves to an incredible amount of distractions, there are many tasks in front of us every day, and unless you try to capture some of them in a permanent form, your mind won’t have the space or capacity to store them. So writing things down helps a lot.
I want to think that at some point, I’ll go back to my logbook and will read it to help me with something in the future. However, this might never happen. But by writing things down in a logbook, I seem to be more in touch with my feelings, and I’m able to recognize the good and bad things that happen many times during a day, every day. It helps me think.
Maybe one day, I’ll be able to upgrade my brain to a version that will include a feature to capture this information reliably without the need to write things down. Maybe it will even have more storage, so it’s easy to save everything in there and without any compression. But in the meantime, writing things down in this logbook is a hack that works for me, and this is how I do my life app work for me. What about you? How do you capture your day and important moments?
My day job as a software engineer requires a great deal of focus and organization. Writing code is one of the last steps you do in software development. Writing code only comes after gathering enough information and understanding what changes or features we need in an application.
Focusing on one task, but more importantly, one project at a time is critical. When working on more than one project at a time, there is a lot of context switching, which is terrible for you and your productivity.
Focusing on one task also allows you to fully immerse into the details of the project, expand your domain knowledge about the work area, and as a result, be thoughtful about the way you approach the project, its problems, and the solutions.
Context switching while doing any work that requires concentration decreases the project’s opportunity to succeed and your productivity as well. The result is a net negative, and I don’t see any reason to do it. The only reason we do it might be due to our inability to focus on one task or the constant interruptions that are common in the workplace.
Focusing today is more challenging than ever. We have many tools around us that trick us and push us to pursue distractions. The handheld devices we all have are the number one reason for this, in my opinion. These devices are the window into a lot of addictive content out there, and trying to stay focus while having these devices next to us requires a lot of discipline.
It’s not all our fault. We are the victims of advanced algorithms that know us well and learn how to get our attention. It takes a lot to turn off notifications and not open our favorite apps to see the latest micro-piece of content. But, it’s a very effective drug that works against us.
Of course, there are simple ways to minimize this. I, for example, have most of my notifications off. The only place where I turn notifications on is on my family chat. Other than that, I never get pulled in by an app since I don’t get notified about anything. So that works, but just a little.
There are other things I do to keep myself focused and stick to one task at a time. For example, I set up specific times (timeboxing) to do the other distracting tasks such as checking email, social media, the news, etc. I timebox these tasks and try hard not to allow myself to break that rule.
Timeboxing helps a lot. In the past, I spent a lot of time checking, reading, and replying to emails. Nowadays, I check email maybe once a day, and I do not respond to emails unless strictly necessary. I do the same for social media apps, and if you use an iPhone, the Screen Time feature can help you a lot with this.
For non-digital distractions, you can also use the concept of timeboxing. For example, at work, I set up “focus time” in my calendar to make sure people know when I will be available to join a meeting and when I am not. Setting focus time in your calendar sets the expectations of other people around you. It will make it easier for them to know when you might be free to talk, have a meeting, or help with some other task.
I break my workday into four areas, the first block of time, 7-9 am is OK for meetings and open tasks, from 9-12, my time is blocked for deep/focused work, lunch from 12-1 pm, and finally from 1-4 pm I have open it up for meetings and time to reply to email and other office messaging apps.
I started doing this more than a year ago, and it works very well. I get very few if any distractions during my “focus time,” which is enough to make me productive and more relaxed. Before doing that, I checked email constantly, responded as soon as possible to any message, and accepted all meetings at any time. Unfortunately, that caused my productivity to drop considerably and, with it, my motivation and energy.
Context switching is tough for tasks that require concentration. You cannot concentrate with the endless amount of notifications coming from our devices, from people around us, and from our lacking ability to concentrate. We have to set clear boundaries with ourselves and be assertive and disciplined to make sure we and others around us respect them.
Setting limits and structures around my life is not something I often do. I prefer to live the moment, be casual with what I do in life, and allow myself to do unexpected things. However, when it comes to working, whether it is personal or professional, setting boundaries and allowing yourself to focus on tasks is a game-changer.
This advice is not only about being more productive. Focusing on tasks is also less stressful and much more enjoyable once you learn how to do it. I hope this is helpful for you, and please, if you have any other suggestions, questions, or any feedback, please let me know here in the comments. Cheers.
La idea detrás de BitClout es interesante, otros usos de criptomonedas y la blockchain vienen pronto, estos tendrán más sentido para personas en general. Lo que sí no me gusta es la idea inicial de BitClout, en donde compras y vendes criptomonedas basadas en la especulación solo en la reputación personal de los usuarios.
Por lo pronto, Bitcoin sigue siendo la criptomoneda más popular y más aceptada por organizaciones e inversionistas/especuladores – solo espero que la minería Bitcoin y Ethereum se vuelvan más eficientes y no desperdicien tanta electricidad.
Y del token nofungible (NFT) ni hablar. Entiendo que el arte en general tiene cierto valor intrínseco, pero los objetos digitales que se están vendiendo como arte NFT no es la meta de la blockchain o de las criptomonedas, de eso estoy seguro. Es un buen ejemplo de como podemos asociar objetos con un registro único y descentralizado, vamos, una nueva y mejor manera de mantener un libro mayor universal en la nube.
Today I experienced something that I haven’t experienced in a while, fear. My wife made a reservation at a local boathouse to go paddleboarding and kayak this morning. I am the one who chooses the paddleboard due to an excellent experience I had in Honolulu a few years ago.
All week, I have been waiting for this, I was excited, and I was ready to get on that paddleboard and own it. My previous experience with it was in a very manicured and very calm laguna next to the ocean in Waikiki. Since the water was tranquil and not too deep, I felt comfortable on the paddleboard from the very moment I got on it. That was my experience, my only one.
This morning we wake up, eat breakfast, drink some coffee and water, and head to the boathouse to get our equipment and onto the water. This boathouse is located in a bay in Bellevue, WA. Its name is Meydenbauer Bay Park, and it’s the home of a beautiful beach, boat docks, a beautiful picnic area, and of course, the boathouse.
After signing up the usual release forms where you promise not to sue anyone if you die there, we walked directly to the beach to get on the paddleboard and kayaks. The first question I got from the staff at the beach is, “have you ever been on a paddleboard?” and of course, my answer is an energetic, yes! and then he recommends to stay on my knees until I can pass a bridge, and then after that, I can stand up and go on my way.
Just a minute or two later, I pass that bridge, but since I feel comfortable on my knees, I decided to stay like that until I get out of the beach area. I don’t want to scare away swimmers with my paddle-boarding skills now, do I?… or perhaps this is when I start to feel nervous, it’s evident to me now that this isn’t going to be like my Hawaii experience.
We are in a bay, not a lagoon. Boats are coming in and out, passing by, swimmers, kayakers, other paddle-boarders, ducks and their ducklings, and even one or two seaplanes nearby. This is different, it’s alive, and everything moves. I decide to stay on my knees on the paddleboard a little longer. My two sons are nearby in the kayak; they are having a good time. My wife is a bit far from me on a “pedal” board, it’s like a paddleboard, but with pedals and handlebars, she looks nervous, but she’s also enjoying it.
After over 30 minutes of using the paddleboard while on my knees, I end up near the moorage surrounded by boats of all sizes; the water is quiet, a lot calmer than around the beach where I started. But, my mind wonders, telling me to stop being a baby and get up and paddle. After all, this is a “stand up” paddleboard; the idea is to use it while standing.
Several minutes go by, and then I try to “park” the paddleboard near a dock. My idea is to hold on to the dock while I try to stand up and then just take it from there. As soon as I try that, the paddleboard moves from under me, and I almost fell. Fear increases, and I am ready to give up. My mind wanders a bit more, and then I imagine trying to get up near the dock but falling and hitting my head in it, then drowning and dying in a very freakish way.
The water is calm around the docks, all the boats here are mooring, it feels like the appropriate place for me to try to stand up on the board. So I move away from the dock. I don’t want to hit myself with it if I fell. I then realize that my wallet and phone are in my pocket. If I fell on the water, I think I’ll be fine since I am wearing a life jacket, but my phone and wallet will probably go to the bottom, and I’ll lose both forever.
I start to convince myself that this is a bad idea. And at the same time, I want to get up and try it, then show my wife and kids how awesome I am. I take my sandals off, thinking that it is more natural to be standing without them as if I will have a better grasp with my toes and get a better balance. I move my left knee up, placing my left foot on the board as if I am proposing to someone, I do the same with the other leg, and just like that, I am up!
After getting up, I feel happy for a second, but both of my legs start to shake vigorously, and while the water is calm, my legs are moving the board with all the shaking. I know it is fear and not a lack of balance. My first thought is to go back on my knees and just continue enjoying my paddleboard adventure that way. But I don’t do that. Instead, I try to use the paddle to see if moving the board forward will help. It does a bit. Then I concentrate on my breathing, trying to calm myself down, and it works.
After what felt like an eternity, probably 2-3 minutes with both of my legs shaking, it suddenly stops, the shaking is gone, and my body feels more attached to the board. I feel stable standing up on this paddleboard. I start paddling towards the beach area again, I see a boat coming my way, about 30 feet from me, and I know that soon, I’ll be feeling the ripples and wakes behind that boat. The first thought is to go back on my knees, but I don’t do that. Instead, I get closer to a moored large boat to my right, thinking that if I stay away enough from the passing boat ripples, I’ll be OK.
The boat passes, and the ripples and wakes get closer and closer. Finally, I am next to a still and huge boat, thinking that the water will be calm there. Once the ripples and wakes start to reach me, they are weak, and I manage to stay up and dry. And then a few seconds later, I feel a vigorous shake, it’s coming from my right side… it’s the ripple and wakes bouncing off the bigger boat, causing new and stronger waves and wakes right next to me. I try to move away faster, I manage to stay up, and all is fine.
A few minutes later, I am near the beach. My sons and my wife take pictures from the water, I get closer to show them how I am standing up, and while they don’t seem to be amused, I feel proud of myself. I know that this simple water outing today was tremendously helpful for me. The experience of fear and then overcoming that fear will have substantial positive ripples and wakes in my future.
So what is fear? I think it’s what happens to you right before you experience something new. It’s a profound learning experience, and hopefully, a positive one.
Have a great weekend and a safe 4th of July. Cheers!