Archive for category lifestyle
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
That’s one of the quotes that inspire me. I read it again today and thought it was worth writing about it. As I started to write, I though, “hey, this feels familiar… I think I’ve already written something similar to that before!”. Yes, I did: Stop Thinking About It and Just Do It!
While I didn’t have Bruce Lee’s quote in mind when I wrote that other blog post, the main idea is the same. A year and a half has passed since that post. As I ponder over it, as well as today’s quote, I realize I’ve been following a “think less, do more” approach.
For example: one of my goals back then was to post more often to this blog. In the last 18 months I’ve posted about 54 times, which averages 3 posts/month. That’s a heck of a lot better than in previous years when I had periods of two years without any post.
Another thing I wanted to do was to start taking my sportbike to the race track, which I have been doing quite often. In order stay focused and motivated, I also started a YouTube channel to document and share my progress: 3-Lap Rider
There are other things that have come out as a resut of this mindset. I think it’s great to look back and see the results of changes I’ve tried, taking the time to see if the change has worked out or not, whether it needs adjustments, whether it stimulates other changes to be tried out, etc.
For the last one year or two I’ve been keeping track of interesting quotes I find that somehow either inspire me or make me think. I have a “Quotes” note in Evernote where I keep them all.
The quotes I collect usually come from the following resources:
Momentum: As part of the rituals I have when I get to work, the first time I open a new tab in the browser I take a couple of seconds to contemplate the great inspirational photo that Momentum shows me, as well as to read the quote of the day and ponder on it;
Tim Ferriss’ 5-Bullet Friday: Tim’s weekly blog post includes a “quote I’ve been pondering on” section;
Intelligent Tuesday: Another weekly blog post that includes a good quote worth pondering (these are the makes of 5-Minute Journal).
I’ll start picking random quotes I’ve been noting down and use them as inspiration for blog posts. Let’s see how that’s gonna go.
A few years ago I found this great YouTube video:
Evernote Tips: How to use Evernote to achieve your goals
I really like the approach presented there and thought I could adapt it to the way I was already organizing things. One part of the approach is to have a note titled “Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, Yearly”. See below what that note looks like:
I have a shortcut to that note, as I’m constantly going back to it, often multiple times every day. Even though I have other calendars I need to use (Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, etc), I consider my note in Evernote as my single source of truth: everything that’s really important for me has to be in that note, as it makes very easy for me to see the immediate stuff as well as things that are expected to happen in the future.
Let’s see how that note is organized.
Things that happen every week
In that section I want to see things that happen every week on a specific day. For instance, I need to fill out timesheet on Friday, and I’d like to post to this blog every Tuesday.
Here I want to see the most important things in the current month. I try not to put to much info in the calendar itself. Instead, I create a separate note for each entry containing all the info I need about it, and then I add a link to that note to the calendar.
Months in the current year
Here I want to see all months in the current year, and things that are expected in those months. Notice that I’ll only put here things for which I know the month, but do not know the actual date (either because it could be any day within that month, or because I don’t really have the actual day yet). When I do have the date, then I move it to another specific place (more on it later).
Things in specific periods
Here’s where I put things I may want to remember in specific periods. For instance, I like doing a monthly review in the first couple of days in the following month. Or, I like remembering that December is a short, unusual month because of the holidays, and I use that information when I’m about to do planning for that month.
Entire current year, day by day
As soon as I know exactly the date for something expected to happen, I put it in this section. It makes very easy for me to see at a glance everything going on the entire year. When I’m planning for a month that’s about to start, I look here to see how the calendar needs to be populated. I also put here birthdays that I absolutely cannot forget.
Five years in the future
This is where I keep things expected for the next five years in the future. If I know the exact date, I’ll add that information, too. It can also be something like “passport expires on Month/Day. Look into getting new one 6 months earlier.”. If I don’t have a date, I’ll at least add a note so I’ll always have a reminder of something important that needs attention.
If there’s something I know should happen beyond five years in the future (for instance, an important document that’ll expire and need renewing), then I list it under a Beyond section at the bottom of that note, including the year and note.
Review it often
As I mentioned earlier, I review this note at least once a day. Since I put everything really important in this note and review it often, I get peace of mind knowing I won’t forget these things.
As I did last year, here goes my 2016 Annual Review!
1. What went well in 2016?
Meditation: I’ve blogged about this last year. In summary, mindful meditation has been working well for me. It has helped me a lot through situations where I’d handle badly in the past.
Professional blog: I wanted to make this blog you’re reading more active (write more posts), and I’ve succeeded on it. In 2015 I had only posted twice, whereas in 2016 I posted 23 times.
Personal project related to my experiences living in the US: This was one of the things that didn’t go well in 2015. It almost slipped through the cracks again in 2016, but I finally got the ball rolling, and the Brazuca nos Uessei channel on YouTube was finally born! The first video came out late last year, but I’ve been posting new videos frequently ever since. I already have many videos recorded and am working on editing them.
Stop thinking about it and just do it: on my last year’s review I said I was working toward “less ideas, more action”. It’s very fulfilling following that approach and seeing a new project going from idea to production within 4 months. Even more so when the clients are still so happy almost a year later.
Back to doing presentations: I had been missing going out to speak at conferences, meeting old buddies, networking. It was great speaking again at Houston Tech Fest 2016. Even though I felt rusty and off-paced, I needed the action to get the ball rolling in this area.
Joining Improving: This was something that was bound to happen, and for me it was one of the highlights of last year.
Best for last… Relocating to the USA!: my yearly review last year mentioned a “Personal/Professional secret project” that didn’t go so well. This was it; my relocation back to the US. As I mentioned back then, I had done everything I could do, but the holdup wasn’t on my end. I’ve even set a Plan B in motion, and shortly after I did that, Plan A actually came through. Long story short, I’m permanently back to the USA.
2. What didn’t go so well?
Project I had to drop: early last year I was working on a side project that I though had potential (I still do). However, a good friend who was working with me on it faced personal problems and couldn’t continue, while I had so much going on with my relocation to the US that I just had to put that one project aside. I’m fine with it, though, because I did learn things while I worked on it, and maybe one day I can go back to it.
3. What am I working toward?
Playing catch up professionaly: in the last 5 years or so I’ve been focused on delivering the projects I was working on, and didn’t spend much time on keeping up with what was going on out there, as far as technologies are concerned. That was great, don’t get me wrong; delivering working software AND seeing the businesses grow on top of it, for me, is WAY more fulfilling then staying up to date with bleeding-edge technologies that may just die within a version or two. That said, I do want to spend more time this year revisiting some things I should know more, while learning new things that have been proven solid options.
Serious Hobbies: I have a couple of hobbies that I take seriously, and I’m making sure I put time and effort into them this year.
Continous Improvement: I am making an effort to improve both both as a person as well as a professional on a daily basis. Some days are harder than the others, but I’m surrounding myself with an environment that keeps me on track.
The year of 2016 was great. Obviously, there were ups and downs. However, for years I’ve been keeping a lot of things I’m grateful for, and my 2016 list looks great and inspires me to an even better year.
I’ve been playing Lumosity’s brain games daily for several months now. I’ve read about people swearing by it, so I decided to try it myself.
For many months, my morning routine included meditation, and then the brain games. I thought that’d be when my brain would perform at its best: early in the morning, before reading emails or anything like that, and right after meditating. Well, I was wrong.
There was one week where I had time to meditate in the morning, but didn’t have time for the brain games, so I was doing them later in the day, around 9pm or so. I thought my scores that week would drop noticibly, given I was very busy working all day and would be tired in the evening. That’s not what happened: all my scores went up that week, despite the fact that I was feeling very tired!
I then decided to change my brain games time to my evenings, and my scores have been consistently better than when I was doing it early in the morning.
I’ve been experimenting with finding the best time of the day for me to perform certain tasks. I’ve always had this feeling that my brain works much better from mid afternoon into the evening, so it seems these brain games are confirming that.
I feel like meditation is finally paying off for me!
I remember I was a kid (maybe 10 years old or so) when I first tried any sort of meditation. No idea what motivated me to do so at the time. Maybe it’s because I was into watching martial arts movies and saw the characters meditating?
I used to close the doors and windows to keep my bedroom dark, put on Vangelis’ Alpha song (my brother had a small LP that had that song), sat on the floor, and went like “ommmmmmmm” for a while. Go figure.
A little over year ago I heard of Headspace’s app for guided meditation and decided to give it a go. I tried their free 10-day program, enjoyed it, and ended up getting the yearly subscription.
As of today, I have had 243 medication sessions, totalling 44 hours, averaging 11 minutes per session. I first started doing 10-minute daily sessions, and only about two months ago I’ve increased it to 15-minute sessions.
It’s definitely not easy sitting through those sessions trying not to get distracted by everything going on in my head. For a long time I kept asking myself whether that thing was actually working, since I couldn’t tell difference. But I decided to insist on it.
Now I think it’s finally paying off!
I’ve been noticing how smoothly I’m handling some stressful situations, such as cases where in the past I’d lose my temper and end up regretting how I handled it.
I’ve also been noticing that I’m detecting my distractions a lot quicker and more frequently and bringing my mind back to whatever it is that I need to be focused on.
Many times those distractions come in the shape of thoughts that bring me down, and most of the times those are things either sitting in the past (which I cannot change) or future (which I may or may not be able to change). I’m noticing I’m doing a lot better at recognizing those thoughts and letting them go as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Overall, I’m feeling happier and more focused, which are things I had been really in need of, and I believe meditation is one of the things helping me with that.
Due to my consistency following my daily sessions, Headspace has been giving me vouchers that I can give out to people who would like to try their app for one month for free. Let me know if you’d like to get one voucher.
Working out is boring as hell for me!! I don’t want to run a marathon. I just want to not be sedentary. That’s all. But boy, working out is just too boring!
I know it’s good for me, so I need to do it
I’ve been trying to get into a workout flow for many years now. Several years ago I was going to a YMCA where I’d swim for a bit and then do a little bit of arms, legs, abs, etc. That lasted a couple of months. Had to stop it for stupid reasons.
Then I started inline skating for about 40 minutes/day. I really enjoyed that, but in the last few years I just couldn’t find the right logistics to make it happen. Hopefully I’ll get back to that in a couple of months.
Find the rhythm
Since last year I’ve actually fallen into a good rhythm, though. How? Fooling myself into not paying attention to what I’m doing. Seriously, I get on the treadmill, look up, and there are TV’s showing things I don’t care about. When they do have something that may be interesting, there’s no way for me to listen to it, and they don’t put on the closed caption, so it’s pretty much useless. I also don’t get inspired by the crappy music (for my standards) that they play over there. So if there’s nothing that keeps my mind busy, I’m there on the treadmill thinking “why am I doing this boring thing?”.
So I had to find something that works for me.
Keeping my mind busy with useful/interesting stuff
If I’m on things such as the treadmill or the elliptical, I watch videos. First, I’ve saved tons of TED videos to my iPad. Many of them were inspiring and got my mind working through several ideas. Quite a few of them really didn’t do much for me, but it was good seeing some things that have nothing to do with my main areas of interest, as it gave me insight on people solving problems in areas I’m not familiar with.
Once I was through with all the TED videos I had queued up, I’ve downloaded the Rails Tutorial videos. I have watched videos for this tutorial 5 years ago, but decided to watch the latest version so I could freshen up my Rails mojo on version 4, since I haven’t done much with it.
Another thing I sometimes do is to use the Text-to-Speech feature of Pocket to go through some articles I’ve saved. I may also switch over to podcasts if I’m tired of looking at the iPad screen.
Jot down ideas and thoughts
As I go through videos, articles, etc. sometimes my mind start to wander off, so I jot quick notes down on Evernote, and review those notes later in the day. If I don’t do write down notes, those thoughts may either come back at another moment, or I may forget it, but stay with that feeling there was something I thought I should have written down, and that bugs me.
I need music for certain activities
When I go to work on other things, like arms, abs, etc., then I switch over to music. Doing those things, I can’t quite pay attention to audiobooks or podcasts, so I just put on fast paced, intense music. That way, again, I don’t pay much attention to the boring thing I’m doing, but instead, get into the flow of the music.
But what’s my goal, really?
One goal I had was to lose some weight, just to stay within the ideal weight for my age, height, etc. I managed to lose 6.2kg / 13.7lbs, and have been keeping it there, so I’m comfortable with that. I credit this weight loss to getting into this routine of at least 3 workouts/week, but also, to very small changes on my diet (I may talk about this in another post). Keeping a steady workout routine has also helped me with another goal: spend more time learning.
Is it working?
I’ve been keeping track of every workout, just to keep myself accountable and not drop the ball. If I skip a workout, I write down the reason, and figure out a way for it not too happen again. If my weight goes up or down, I think about what I’ve been eating, to understand how my body works (I’m not quitting on pizza, lasagna, pasta, and all the other stuff I enjoy eating if I don’t have to!).
I’m feeling good about it. I’m feeling both physically and mentally better.
There are days I’m not in the mood for working out, but then I remember I was looking forward to finishing whatever video I was watching, and that motivates me to go to the gym.