The Logbook – part 3.

I wrote a brief post about starting a logbook in January 2021 and then an update on April 2021. This is the latest update about my use of the logbook, the tools I use for it, and how I plan to use it this year.

The logbook is a mini daily planner that I use to log daily activities and anything you want or need. There aren’t any rules or templates. Write down what you want each day, and log your day as detailed or briefly as you wish.

My use of the logbook has been very casual. I don’t write on it daily, but I want to change that. However, it’s been helpful, especially when looking back and learning more about my almost daily life. The logbook helps me think and capture data about my everyday life.

This year, I have specific questions I want to answer daily using my logbook. For example:

  • How much money did I spend today?
  • How much water do I consume every day?
  • How many cups of coffee do I consume every day?
  • Ideas and random thoughts

I’ve been doing this for about two years, but casually. I plan on writing casually in my logbook, but questions like the above need to be answered daily, which is my goal.

Why is this important? Writing down this information forces you to think about this and avoid living your life on autopilot. Writing it down on paper is the easiest thing for me. The daily planner I use is small and flexible, and I can carry it with me every day and everywhere. In addition, writing down anything on paper helps you memorize it more than typing it on a keyboard.

Tools I use to capture data about my everyday life:

Good luck and happy logging!

“Just start”

Surely you’ve heard something like “just do it” or “just start,” but in many cases, starting is one of the most challenging tasks in life. In this post, I will share my own experience and struggles when starting and finishing projects.

It used to be easy for me to start and work on multiple projects. I remember staying up late often to work on these projects. Starting these projects was easy then; completing them while challenging was possible in most instances. For example, I developed a website where startups and small businesses could sign up, add their location, and then be shown on a map. Before that, I created a meetup group where I helped people find co-founders for their startups, and both were quite successful.

Those are just two examples, but over the years, I also started a successful blog back in the mid-2000s to talk about anything related to startups and technology in Austin, TX. The blog became a Meetup group that grew to over 3,000 people, and more than a hundred met monthly.

However, over time, I stopped working on these projects for different reasons. And while I thought of new projects and ideas all the time, I ended up with zero projects at some point. And I remember thinking. It’s okay. It is time to focus on my job and dedicate 100% of my time. Well, I got too complacent over the years. Working on a project besides your day job is healthy, and your day job could benefit from this.

Starting new projects is difficult, and there’s always an excuse, such as I need more time, my idea needs to be better, or I need to know where or how to start. The reality is, at least in my experience, that fear plays a significant role here—fear of not feeling capable enough, not competent enough, or not experienced enough. But guess what? Starting doesn’t require any of those things.

Start anything, work on it for some time, and then start something else. Ideally, you’ll finish what you start, but you’ll learn much from that experience even if you don’t. For example, writing my thoughts about an idea is a good start that works for me. The next thing I could do, depending on the project, is to manually create something to help the project, a social media account, a web page, and a list of items to complete. And if you need customers for your new project, start talking to potential customers, one at a time.

If you feel stuck and unable to start or move forward with a project, it may be time to think about why you feel that way. I fear wasting time on something that might not work, but deep down, I know there is value in starting and working on new projects. At the minimum, it is a learning experience, but it takes work to convince yourself of that.

Fear is the reason many dreams never come true. Of course, fear is not necessarily bad, but if you let fear drive your decisions, you’ll end up with many regrets and missed opportunities.

I started a new project a few months ago, the first one outside my regular job in many years. I am taking it slowly and am excited about the journey without overthinking the end result.

Not fearing the outcome of a project or an idea is my goal, and I am not comfortable feeling comfortable anymore. Maybe it’s my age, or my project ideas aren’t as exciting as before. Nevertheless, I will continue to do what I can to keep things interesting with these new projects.

I posted a tweet days ago mentioning that my goal this year is slowing down when traveling, eating, talking, etc.

This does not mean I want to be lazy. On the contrary, I want to focus on each task and give it all my time and dedication as I am doing it. This, of course, will include my new project. Cheers.

person holding many books

One book every week

It’s not about reading fast. It is about reading more often.

How many hours do we spend looking down at our phones or watching a show weekly? Ironically, the same technology that keeps us distracted can give us this valuable information. Unless you actively track how much time you spend on your phone, you’ll likely not realize how much it is. It is always more than you think, trust me.

To most people, reading one book every week sounds unattainable. And it can be unless you decide to cut off time from other activities, for example, looking down at your phone or streaming the latest show. I am reading one book a week not because I want to break a record but to get the habit and replace bad habits with it. If I can spend more than one hour looking at my phone every day, then I can spend that same hour every day reading a book.

The average reader snails through prose at a rate of about 250-300 words per minute, roughly equating to about one page per minute.

The Guardian

That means that if I read one hour every day, five days a week, I can easily read a book of about 300 pages, every week!

When wondering how many pages a book should be, it is notable that the average book length is between 200-400 pages. 

https://gatekeeperpress.com/how-many-pages-should-a-book-be-to-publish/te

It’s been almost five weeks since I started this, and I am about to finish reading the fifth book. Reading has always been something I enjoy, but I am not going to lie. Unfortunately, my book queue has been increasing in the past several years due to not having enough time to read. Imagine that!

I’ve come to understand that time is not something we lack. Most of us have it, and we can claim a lot of it back if we prioritize what we do with it. This reading project is a way for me to claim time away from other activities and spend more of it reading.

Reading one book a week is working for me now, and I want to apply the formula to other aspects of my life. Time I have, all I have to do is find a way to spend it wisely.

Meetings are still difficult

This year the number of meetings at work exploded, and I am not exaggerating. I have worked for the same team for over 7 years, until earlier this year when I was transferred to a newly formed team. My responsibilities haven’t changed much, but the number of meetings increased substantially, mostly due to the re-org.

An increase in meetings is expected during this type of transition, there is a newly formed team, new projects, and new ideas, and since everyone works remotely, an increase in the number of meetings makes sense. We all need to be “on the same page.”

I have shared my feelings about meetings in the past, and my opinion is that meetings are essential, but they can be a total waste of time if we are not careful about how to spend our time in these meetings. Having a good meeting is not easy.

The new team at work is great, but it will take time to adjust to the new way of working, thinking, etc. It’s fine. Change is almost always good.

Meetings are needed, but they can be easily abused, and if this happens, everyone’s productivity is affected. Having all meetings online hasn’t helped the issue. If anything, it has made things much worse. People get distracted by other participants’ videos, sound issues, screen-sharing issues, and just now knowing the video tool enough to be proficient with it. All that, in addition to the issues of meetings in general.

I am trying different things, staying quiet until my input is needed, not sharing my video, sharing it, acting as a moderator, and avoiding meetings when I believe my presence isn’t needed. Every time I am in a meeting, I try to stay focused and aware of the goal of the meeting – but this isn’t always easy!

Hackathon in San Francisco

Work-Life Balance

My 14-year-old son asked me today about work-life balance. He wanted to know how to achieve it and get better at it. I think he believes I got this figured out, but the truth is that for me, this is an ongoing process. If you don’t balance your job or school priorities and your personal priorities, one of them will be negatively affected, resulting in frustration and possibly burnout.

I told my son that the goal is to learn to prioritize his personal and school tasks. Prioritization and focus are key. Here are a couple of things that have worked for me:

  • Focus on doing the challenging tasks first, even if you don’t want to or enjoy them. Completing the challenging tasks first will give you a sense of accomplishment and will reduce stress.
  • Split larger tasks into smaller, digestible tasks.
  • Focus on one task as much as possible. Avoid multitasking.
  • Allocate a fixed amount of time to an activity (Timeboxing), and don’t cheat. You can use the Pomodoro technique or similar to help you accomplish this.
  • Separate your work and personal environment. You can do this by working in a different place in your home, going to a coffee shop for work, etc.
  • Assess how you spent your day, week, month. This will help you determine how much time you spent doing tasks unrelated to work, school, or personal life. For example, most people spend a lot of time streaming tv shows, movies, social media, etc. And then question why they don’t have enough time to accomplish their goals, large and small.

Work-life balance is not easy. This is why there are so many books and techniques to help you accomplish this. It’s all about time management and self-awareness. It’s easy to spend time on things that are not our priorities, but we do it because it’s easy or entertaining.

Make sure to always leave enough time in your day to talk to friends, family, practice music, read, exercise, or whatever else fulfills you and helps you grow – no matter how busy you think you are.

Remember this: work and school are important, but we do both of those things to have a better life. Prioritize your personal life, always.