Showing posts from July, 2009

GTD: “Personal Kanban” – Getting Started

As you can probably tell from my recent post history, I am really on a “Getting Things Done” push. Current Task Process I think my general task processing is now pretty slick (or at least it is for me). In short: I use Remember the Milk . I have “Personal” list got general, repeating tasks. I have a “Work” list to track work items. I have my “ Tech ToDo ” to track technical skills I want to improve. I have a couple of smart lists to filter out specifics tags (such as articles/videos I have tagged for later review). I maintain a list of “Annual Goals”, which contains failures and successes of the last year, and tasks for this year. Other little system “enhancements” like My Dictaphone and Feeding Google Reader Items to RTM . “Life Tasks” (Our “Stories”) Now, on the whole, this system does work really well. However, I do find that it generally breaks down with big fluffy “life” tasks – tasks that you want to do, but are really, really broad and no

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 10

Physical State/Tiredness Still a little sore after my exercise yesterday, so I thought I would have a rest day and hit the iron hard tomorrow. In terms of tiredness, same old – zero. Now I am keeping my early-evening nap in check, all is well! Mental State Still very, very positive. Hailing this as the greatest thing I have done in a long time. I cannot stop myself from getting excited about it! Diet Started cutting the crappy foods, more white meat and steamed vegetables. Raw energy levels are grateful :) Productivity Tomatoes Completed Total number of Pomodori/Iterations from The Pomodoro Technique completed. 10 at work, 4 at home. I decided to cut the working eve short and have a couple of beers with a friend! ToDo List Zero Are all items that were on the “ToDo” list at the start of the day/added and urgent completed? I carried a couple of items over to tomorrow since I decided to take the evening off. No biggie though, there’s nothing e

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 9

Physical State/Tiredness So, today was the day I was hell-bent on getting some exercise in (since I was meant to start yesterday but never got around to it ). But, I ran in to a problem – but not with what you might think.. I awoke as normal, feeling fresh and alert after my 3 hour sleep. I go to work, do my full day (taking a small 30-minute nap at desk) and then return home with only one thing on my mind – grabbing them kettlebells and having my way with them! Having returned home, I grab a drink, take 20 mins out (having a great chat with @peterlanoie about CI) and then get cracking. After about 30 minutes huffing and puffing I am pretty tired. I remember now why I thought kettlebells were hard – they are hard! This is the first time I have exerted myself in years! I felt pumped,so pumped in fact I happily made some chicken and vegetables for dinner, then got to working on the ToDo list. I was so happy I didn’t notice that I had been working non-stop 2100 - a whole two hou

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 8

Physical State/Tiredness I really feel I am now totally adjusted to the biphasic sleep pattern. I find myself yawning before my afternoon nap (although I don’t feel excessively tired ) – but my body knows the nap is coming. I also feel a lot more “awake” during the midnight hours. Mental State One thing I have yet to shake is the annoying: I am coding/geeking out and look at the clock and think “holy crap it’s late! I had better get to bed! … and then realise I am supposed to be awake, I have done it twice already today :P Other than that, I am really, really happy! Diet After my lame-ass diet over the weekend, and keeping in mind training is on the horizon I pumped myself full of vitamins today. Also grabbed several helpings of fruit and nuts etc. Productivity Tomatoes Completed Total number of Pomodori/Iterations from The Pomodoro Technique completed. Once I have completed these blog posts, I will be finishing the day on 18 tomatoes. Outside of

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 7

Physical State/Tiredness Bit tired today because I went out and got wasted last night (probably got home and into bed at about 0230). To try and reduce overtiredness today I did turn off the alarm and have an extra few hours sleep (woke up at 0900). By the end of the night, I was indeed a physical state :D ;) Mental State Still riding the “feel good” wave. Amazing how much happier I felt last night going out knowing I had done everything I wanted to get done. This is exactly what I believe “getting things done” is about. Not working more (per se), but enabling you to play more . Diet Diet was kind of messed up today, I had some massive kebab on the way home last night and it seems to have messed with my stomach a bit and I’ve kind of lost my appetite. Will get plenty of good food down my neck tomorrow to compensate :) Productivity Tomatoes Completed Total number of Pomodori/Iterations from The Pomodoro Technique completed. 11 – A nice easy-paced day f

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 6

Physical State/Tiredness Same as yesterday really. No problems at all with feeling tired and getting to sleep a hell of a lot faster. I moved my afternoon nap forward by 30 minutes since I am heading out tonight and have a friend coming over.. This made me nervous since I know the afternoon nap is totally critical. Thankfully, this had no ill side effects (although I want this to be an exception). I awoke after the afternoon nap, got showered and dressed and then went out and had a rocking night getting wasted! Mental State Really positive and excited. Today was the first day in a long time where I actually genuinely looked forward to hitting my ToDo list! Admin/boring items only accounted for two tomatoes and the rest were all things I want/like to do! Diet I broke my caffeine ban to have one iced latte at a coffee shop this morning. Obviously being so far from my any of my nap periods, this had no noticeable side effects. You know the routine for meals now, small

RSS - “Really Sh*t Substance”

Apologies for the language in the subject – I was struggling to come up with the right word beginning with “S” to express how I felt! To clear up any worries, no – I am not turning into a hip-and-trendy Rails developer (More swearing)… Cleaning the RSS House So, thanks to my biphasic sleep experiment I have finally managed to get down to “RSS Zero” – no unread or starred items. When I started this I had 2000+ unread items and over 8 months backlog of starred items “for later reading” – yeah, the “later” was very late! This has been a really interesting task on several levels: I was reading a lot of content alongside other content (as opposed to the odd post here and there). I could benchmark where I am at without the “help” of the RSS content. By this I mean, “ all those items I never read, did they make a difference? ” I allowed me to go over and over the reading process – and got me thinking about making it slicker. Content vs. Content This was an interes

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 5

Physical State/Tiredness Totally. Freaking. Rocking. Really feel like I am getting in to the swing of it now. Making sure I am learning fast from previous mistakes (e.g. keeping meals small and light, ensuring I keep the afternoon nap on schedule etc) is really paying off. I no longer feel tired or groggy at all. I have also found I am learning to sleep quicker . I took a few pointers from one of Pavlov’s Dogs and/or The Clockwork Orange ( ? ) and started listening to the same binaural mp3 each and every time I sleep or nap. I have found now that I rapidly fall asleep when listening to it, which really helps in the shorter nap periods where I quickly go from “doing something” to “needing to sleep” (this is not so bad when I get my long sleep, since I wind it down from 0200 and read a book to make me feel sleepy). I found it also helps to take deep, slow breaths. Breathe in a nice lungful of air, slowly . Once full, slowly exhale.. Keep doing this a few times and you will st

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 4

Physical State/Tiredness Same as yesterday really, awoke feeling really fresh and alert first thing in the morning. I again took a nap at work at 1230-1300. There has been a fair bit of interest about the napping at work so I thought I would take a minute to talk about it here (see below). Other than that, I did awake from my afternoon nap rather tired and groggy (took me 15-20 mins to get head together) but I actually think this is related to food since I ate a rather large pizza before sleeping.. :\ I have also found that even though it is great having the brain running longer, it can equally be hard to shut off. I have started going to bed with a book at 0200 so I can start to wind down to sleep mode for 0300. Staying up to 0300 is NOT a good idea, you really need to be going to sleep “ FOR 0300 ” not “ AT 0300 ”. Napping at Work Here’s what I do: At about 1200, I do a quick scoot around the team to see if there is anything they need from me, I then tie off any loose end

GTD: Piping Google Reader Items to Remember The Milk

Right, so one thing I had on the ToDo list is to clear out my 8 month backlog of articles in Google Reader that I had starred for “later reading”. This “later reading” never came, and so the problem began. The Problem I use Remember The Milk (RTM) for my task management solution. Put simply, I am glued to it. If tasks go on there, they will get done. However, the problem with the RSS is that I had to actively open it and then go to the starred items. This is a whole out-of-band process that put simply, I will never do consistently. I think another part of the problem is the classic “geeks and ADHD ” – we are forever attracted to the sparkly glow of a little bit of knowledge or “oooooooo that looks interesting”. It’s very easy to then tag/star lots of articles based on 2 key words of interest. The sad truth is this, a lot of people really do write crap (of course, I am no exception). Thinking of a Solution So, I got to thinking about the two main causes of the problem:

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 3

… and here we go again! Physical State/Tiredness The day started brilliantly – I really felt like I was “starting to find my stride”. I awoke fresh, alert and not tired at all. I took the usual power nap at 1230-1300 to freshen up (looks like this will be here to stay) and all was well and rocking. Sadly, it kind of broke down when I decided to meet some friends for lunch and then stay out. I ended up pushing my afternoon nap back by a couple of hours. Once I awoke from the nap, I did feel overly tired. However, a cuppa and a sandwich appears to have righted that. Mental State Even better than yesterday, I can honestly say I cannot remember the last time I woke up feeling as good as I did this morning. The positive effect of the increased alertness and brain being “in gear” is just amplified by the fact that I am really getting stuff done (will cover in a bit). The reduced guilt of not crossing tasks off the list added to the feel good factor of not being a zombie really do

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 2

So, I am just wrapping up my second day of the biphasic sleep experiment. It’s currently 02:18 here in the UK and yes, technically I am in the third day of the experiment. Physical State/Tiredness Starting to come down a bit now. Felt a lot better today than I did yesterday after my nap that’s for sure! Starting to feel tired now (but that makes sense since the “day” is drawing to a close). Mental State Still feeling great about the experiment. Brain working great still, everything seems much clearer and I am still able to keep focused (even though I am still tired/adjusting). Diet I definitely prefer eating lighter in the evening for my main meal and then having a smaller snack at around midnight (normal eating habits in the working day remain unaffected). Not sure if I mentioned this before, but I have also put myself on a coffee ban since I want my awake periods to be natural rather than synthetic “feel goods” caused by 100 cups of coffee. This is taking it’s toll on m

Windows Mobile: Must-Have App – CleanRAM

I decided to upgrade my previous phone to a PocketPC/Smartphone/SomeOtherNamePhone. I ended up with the O2 -branded HTC Touch “Diamond” . Overall I have been happy with the phone, but let’s be under no illusions, Windows Mobile Really Does Suck . I have noticed that the UI will get sluggish, programs take too long to load and generally the system just falls apart. This is often a sign of poor garbage collection and memory just being zapped due to things not being tidied up properly. This is pretty much proven by a soft (switching off-and-on) reset fixing the issue. So, I began the hunt for a free utility to help free up some RAM. And boy did I find one! It gives me pleasure to introduce CleanRAM (the site is in Hebrew so the link points to Google Translate). What Does CleanRAM Do? CleanRAM basically goes through and cleans out the crap on our poor memory-starved device. It has three levels of cleaning (1 being the quickest but least efficient, 3 being the slowest and most eff

Book Review: The Art of Unit Testing (Roy Osherove)

I have just finished reading “ The Art of Unit Testing with Examples in .NET ” by Roy Osherove . I thought I would take some time out to give you a brief précis of the books content and share my thoughts on the book as a whole. What Is the Book About? The book covers using automated (code-based) testing to improve the quality of your code. The idea being that we write additional code that pokes and prods the classes in our production code to ensure it operates as expected. While examples are given in .NET, the principles and practices are transferable to other modern programming languages such as Java . What is the Book NOT About? While some concepts are covered in the book – such as TDD (Test Driven Development) the book is NOT focused on these. The title of the book is very fitting since Roy has done a great job at staying focused on one topic – writing good testable code with good unit tests . Do not get this book if you are looking for in-depth discussion on: T

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 1

This is the first of a series of posts that I will create covering my experiences with my GTD experiment on Biphasic Sleeping . Me being an idiot, as always I decided to throw myself in at the deep end. I have actually started this experiment on a Sunday to see the effect it has on my “Monday morning blues”. However, to raise the bar some more, I also went out last night and got really trashed , so I decided that I will go to bed a little earlier for my long sleep (13:30 as opposed to 1500) . (Update: I never actually did this) Sunday Evening/Night I got my head down for 1.5 hour afternoon nap at 19:30. I dozed off pretty quick because I was tired due to the late night last night. When the alarm woke me, I didn’t feel like it was screaming at me to get up. I woke up feeling a lot more refreshed which was actually quite surprising (I was worried that since I was so tired, I would quickly fall in to deep sleep and actually wake up feeling groggy). At 00:16 I started writing th

GTD Experiment: Biphasic Sleeping

Anyone who knows me (or follows me in Twitter   @robcthegeek ) knows that I am a really interesting in keeping my productivity up. This has involved research into many topics: Different GTD methodologies e.g. David Allen’s GTD , The Pomodoro Technique Complete shakedown of my tools used to organise and synchronise my life. e.g. Remember The Milk , OggSync , My Dictaphone Cutting Down Unnecessary Repetition and Maintaining the Necessary e.g. Code Snippets in VS, Creating Auto-Repeating Tasks All of the above are under constant review. I have now reached a point where I feel like I want to take another “big step”. I am at a point in my life where I have a ton of stuff I want to do, and relatively little commitment to honour. Sleep? Seems Kinda Lazy.. OK, so sleep isn’t “lazy” per se, but I often awake wondering if we really do “need out 8 hours”. I have previously heard of great success with alternate sleeping patterns. Sure, I have heard of complete

GTD: Speak Your Mind, Your Tasks Will Follow

Since I eluded to it in my post “ GTD Experiment: Biphasic Sleeping ”, I thought it would be good to do a post on the latest weapon in my GTD arsenal. My dictaphone . Clearing Your Mind Pretty early on in my GTD adventures, I realised once of the most powerful habits to develop was to clear your mind . Now, this is easier said then done right? The reason we are looking into GTD methodologies is because we have so much freaking stuff to do and it is stressing us out. But the process is this: Have a system. Put tasks into the system. Forget about the task because you trust the system to take care of it. The last point is the kicker, if you cannot let go of the task, you will worry about it. Worry clouds your mind, your judgement and your focus. Pretty much everything we don’t want. So, what is my “ system” ? 30 Days BD (Before Dictaphone) Now, me being  a geek I am pretty much chained to a computer. I use Remember The Milk (RTM) for my ToDo list and task manage

Certification vs. Burnination? Recruitment, Employers, Developers – Let’s Talk (Long)

This has been something that has been playing on my mind for quite some time, so I thought I should get my thoughts out onto the Interwebs and see what people thing. But first a little background.. A Little Précis on Rob I have been working with C# in the “pro” environment for about 2 years. Before that I had about 1.5 years “bedroom programming” experience. I am a relative newbie to the development world. In the past year, I really wanted to shake that feeling off. I spend nearly ALL of my time studying and [hopefully] improving my craft – ask my friends, they think I am a loser. Would I consider my “.NET Skills” my selling point? Probably not – the one thing I have always prided myself on is my attitude : I do not miss deadlines (unless things really hit the fan). I am not afraid of looking stupid, I am afraid of being stupid. I am 110% honest. No matter how bad I look. Always, always, customer first. I KISS – Keep people happy. Spare me red tape, s