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A couple of more challenging days this week, which has developed into a trend that I would like to stamp out. I think I am mentally in a funk which is having an impact on everything I am trying to do or how I am feeling. It is difficult to put a finger on why I am exactly feeling like this, but through reflecting/meditating to try and find the answer it is a combination of things - being overwhelmed with the study requirements this semester (this topic is intense... but so was the last one), really not enjoying my job this year and my running has slid somewhat which is daunting knowing the 100km looms closer and closer.

I am going to try and snap out of it today - I am up early again (a few extra hours sleep would be amazing) and making some journal entries. I have installed the five minute journal app on my phone again after nuking it so will re-establish that habit today as well. From here, I am off to do a large chunk of study. I have been utilising the Pomodori method which has been quite effective - it forces me to sit with it and not be derailed by any distractions, forcing me down the hyper focused route. Then I will get a short run in (probably only 90 minutes), and while it is not the 4hrs+ run I really need to stay conditioned, it will be enough to clear my head and get into the flow for the remainder of the way, which will be a social event to enjoy non-work related conversation without any pressure. All of this will set me up for a great week.

I still have been pushing through the podcasts as much as I can. Today's recommendation is:

Jocko Podcast Ep1: Jocko & Echo (Discipline, Ownership)

Jocko is quite intense. Like, almost unbearably intense. But he did recently go on another podcast I was listening to and his message resonated with me a little so I decided to give his podcast a shot. It tends to get a bit repetitive towards the end but still gave me enough useful takeaways to make it onto my favourites list.

Key takeaways:

  • Leadership. The job of a great leader is being able to interact and deal with people that you don't want to work with, whether it be your boss or your subordinates. Your ability to be able to get them to see your point of view without being abrasive and resulting to undermining defines you as a leader. This is definitely a message I needed this week.
  • Discipline. Every journey or path that is slightly harder than the easiest route requires discipline. Our natural tendency is to want to follow the path of least resistance but that is not the path that is going to give the greatest returns or result in achieving your goals. There needs to be discipline to do what it takes, whether that is just getting up early (5am) when you want to sleep in or not eating that donut (he refers to donuts a lot in his podcast, they must be his mortal enemy!). Discipline also extends to making yourself relax or rest when your body needs it rather than pushing too hard.
  • Ownership. You may have not caused a problem but you can own a problem. Leaders need to take ownership of problems rather than passing the responsibility (passing the buck) to someone else. This is an opportunity for development and to prove your skills as a leader by taking onboard challenges.
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Smashed out 3.5 hours of study this morning with the pomodoro technique. I found this quote in the journal articles I was reading which I thought valuable -

But while an actor’s behaviour certainly does not ‘cause’ a mountain range to rise, it does affect how the mountain range is interpreted, or put another way, what meaning is attached to it.

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The Pomodoro Technique is really working for me right now - I have accumulated about 6 hours of study with it now, after a week and a half of not doing any study at all, so I am very happy with it. It also resulted in me going to bed early for once (only 15 minutes until I want to go to bed, do I have time for another block? No, ok I should go to bed now then to fit one in the morning). It combines @Cam Adair's "sit with it", Jocko's discipline, and the Productivity Show's no distractions/digital declutter. The one thing that has stood out to me though is how there isn't an app that controls the technique for you all by itself, eg set a topic to work towards, 25 minute & 5 minute timer, a counter for sessions 1-4, etc. So I thought maybe thats something I can do after this semester or during the break, is write an app to do it. I have wanted to write an app for some time but thought it was a bit too daunting with the amount of effort it would require, but I think this should be straight forward and simple. When I did programming at uni in group projects I always handed the interface to someone else while I worked on the networking  or other code behind the scenes, and I think that is where the majority of the work for this would be. The only thought I have is what the copyright of it all would be, I will need to do some reading on that later.

 

Podcast of the Day

Productivity Show 182: 3 Simple Steps to Delegating Work the Right Way

Takeaways:

  • By not delegating something because "I can do it faster" or "I know how it should be" is a short-sighted thought that is robbing the opportunity for one of my team to learn and in the long run know how to do it faster or how it should be.
  • Unexpected costs. By not delegating certain tasks I am sometimes accepting a side effect, such as a project being late or not getting the attention it needs, and therefore the weak link in the process was me.
  • Definition of done. This is one area I have tripped up a lot in the past, by not giving a clear definition of what complete looks like for a task, I assume the person already knows or will know. Articulate it as part of the delegation, this is what I want it to look like or be able to achieve. Use a whiteboard or a 'mud map' to get my intention across.
Edited by giblets

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So I missed this on Friday because I thought it was on Sunday and I was out camping without data, but better late than me -

giphy.gif.6e905e4af7fb6c493e8c230a023094a1.gif

 

Happy Birthday to me! It has been 1 year since I reached the realisation I was wasting my life and googled (or specifically, DuckDuckGo'd) "how to quit video games" and found all of @Cam Adair's videos. After binge watching them all, I jumped on the forums and the rest they say is history. There is no way I could have forecast the amount of personal development - or running - I have experienced on this journey. Yet it is still only the beginning! I have seen many people come and go on the forums but it has been a great community of sharing ideas about productivity and development. I am still amazed by how committed Cam has and is to the community - I look forward to celebrating with him in his hipster home away from home of Bondi next month :4_joy:

Had a great time camping on the weekend and I ran out of data on the Friday, I thought I would have at least one more day before that would happen, but it has turned out to be a blessing as I really enjoyed not carrying around my phone, and I have continued that this week by not really touching my phone. The main use I have even been having for it has been podcasts as well so I have really cut back its use. Very happy with this - and I think the Digital Declutter podcast has really given me a kick start in this area that I needed.

Speaking of podcasts - I have made a spreadsheet of all my favourite podcasts and their key takeaways. I find myself recommending them so much to other people so I don't want to lose track of some podcasts that I find powerful and useful. Looking at the data after a few weeks, School of Greatness with Lewis Howes seems to be the main one I keep reaching for inspiration, which is interesting. I have just passed 700 hours for this year so far, so if I keep up ~200 hours a month I am on track for 2400 hours for the year. I think it will slow down significantly for the second half of the year but that doesn't matter, as long as I keep learning. I am a little excited about a podcast too - the Productivity Show just released one called "Pomodoro Technique 2.0" - this could be interesting!

Great quote for today from the audiobook I am listening to while running - "You can't control another man's mind by being an antagonist." It's a little bit dated but the message is sound and again something I needed to hear. I think it could be updated to "You can't shape another person's mind by being an antagonist."

Today's podcast -

Tim Ferris Show: How To Prioritize Your Life and Make Time for What Matters

Key Takeaways:

  • Busy. I have thought for some time that the word "busy" is an excuse that people use as an easy out why they are not progressing or doing what they want to. This podcast really breaks that down, so I see myself recommending this a lot to people! "Busy is a decision". Busy is unauthentic and lazy. It is shorthand for you would rather be doing something else so it is not a priority. It has become "cool" to say we are busy.
  • Courage is more importance and Confidence. When operating out of courage instead of confidence, you're saying you are taking a step into the unknown or the unexpected and you are willing to take what comes from it. This is where great opportunities for learning will come from. The more you use courage and attack new tasks or goals, the more confidence will build in those areas over time.
  • Luck. What might look like luck to you is a lot of hard work done by someone else that you cannot see! This underlines a theory I subscribe to - "luck is a fool's hope".
Edited by giblets
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Just popping in to say Happy Birthday!! 

Thank you for all the podcast highlights - I definitely want to go through and make a note of the ones you have suggested as well as reading up on your one year journey (wow!!).

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So I'm stressing out quite a lot right now, and hoping that writing a snappy journal entry will calm me down and get me grounded. Breaking down what is stressing me out - I am anxious about an assignment I have due now in 6 days and nervous about the upcoming Ultra trail. I do not believe I am properly prepared for either event. I think I will be somewhat more relaxed towards either event once I get some more preparation in. The horse has bolted on why I don't believe I am properly prepared, so I just need to focus on what I can do from here.

For the Ultra trail, I have two marathons coming up this month, including one 50km. While that is not the 12 hour training session I need or have failed to accomplish so far, it will help by putting more mileage into my legs. Pending how I go with my assignment this week I may try to get a 12 hour session in this Sunday.

For my studies, I need to get some decent progress on it. Once I have pen to paper (or letters on screen?) I should feel more relaxed and therefore the progress will flow. So here I am up at 0430 to try and get on with it. The silver lining is that it is only 1500 words.

Podcast -

Jocko Podcast 117: What to Do When You Have Bad Luck

I have recommended this podcast on more than one occasion so it is timely to include it in my journal. Even though the title is Bad Luck, Jocko talks a lot about dealing with having your plan questioned by the team, and how to question a plan presented by poor leadership. It really struck home about poor leadership as I am finding it difficult dealing with that at work right now, but re-listening to it about how to deal with having your plan questioned will help me with my anxiety.

Key takeaways -

  • Involve the team in the planning process. This will increase their investment and belief in the plan and will be more enthusiastic to execute. It gives you different angles to a problem which will make a more robust plan in general.
  • Welcome questioning of your plan. A lot of leaders will become defensive and close minded when questioned, but if you're open minded and welcome robust discussion. Ensure the questioning comes with solutions though and people are not just focused on poking holes in your plan.
  • Dealing with a poor leader. Rather than openly defying your leader, be more tactful with broad terms or statements. Remain as neutral as possible. If you move to get rid of one bad leader, he could be replaced by another bad leader. By rather than undermining your boss, by openly taking the path of "our leader is not doing so well, we need to step up and help" will earn the respect of your team rather than knowing that you are willing to throw people under the bus. If our boss wins, everyone wins.
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So trying to kick start my journal! I have been going really well but I do miss having a journal so generally I shape plans to overcome my situation through them. I initially wound back my entries because I thought it was such a big time sink, but as of yet I have been unable to find a voice journalling solution. Until then, I have a nice moleskin notebook that fits in my pocket, and I am going to carry it around with me and jot things down during the day, and then choose 1-2 (see how the first few days go) to talk about briefly in my journal. That should re-establish my habit.

I have also decided to go on a caffeine detox! I gave up coffee a few years ago when I realised my dependency on it, and I really did not like being a slave to something (hello gaming). I switched it out for tea, but I think all I have done is substituted one vice for another! So today is day 1 of no caffeine.

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So I definitely chose the wrong time to kick start my journal again, after a whirlwind few days of travelling and seeing friends and family, so it didn't exactly go to plan as I wanted. The silver lining though is I did finally reply to @Moe Smith - that e-mail has been sitting in my inbox for over a month. Sorry buddy.

I still have a big takeaway from this weekend though. I listened to a great podcast - sadly though I can't find the link so I will keep searching and drop it in later when I have a bit more time. Anyway it was one of my financial podcasts, and they were talking a lot about opportunity cost - aka if you invest a dollar or spend a dollar in this area, what are you missing out on by not investing or spending a dollar in another area. Very simple concept, but as soon as I heard it I started thinking about opportunity cost of time. For every minute I spend not studying or on personal development, what is the cost of not focusing on these areas? Ultimately I think I lose 2 minutes for every minute I don't spend in those areas, because not only did I lose that minute surfing the web etc, but I also need to find another minute to spend studying. This line has really resonated with me on the weekend and it is kick starting me to look at what activities in my life I am doing that are not contributing or adding to where I want to be in life. For example, the biggest one I came away from that reflecting is I need to have better quality meditation sessions - if I think they are time sinks, then make them not a time sink by getting more out of them for less time.

@WorkInProgress & @Cam Adair - I have to reset my no caffeine count! I didn't realise the gels I was taking before my running sessions have caffeine in them... I'll do some research on some substitutes in the coming days, but until then, back to day zero!

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Stocked up on my new tea of chice - Camomile - in order to avoid caffeine this week. I have a bit more time to find an alternate gel to run with as well, as I have a stress injury in my foot from running so much so the physio has banned me from running or long walks for a week - the pool only. It's too cold for the pool! Not really sure how I am going to find my exercise outlet for the moment, or I just need to suck it up and get in the pool. As Jocko would say - just get on with it. Use some discipline.

Today I am kicking it in the local library to try and kick start my studying away from distractions. I thought this place would be like a ghost town - boy am I wrong. So many people here that I couldn't get a desk in the quiet area so I am at like a coffee type spot instead (well, what I vision would be a good spot for a coffee and a novel in the sun). See how I go after this.

Made my first entry in my 'pocket' journal on Friday after a very interesting interaction with my boss. I initially got really angry and gave up discussing/debating with him rather than allowing my emotions to dictate how I reacted (and not responded). He then came and saw me a few minutes later and we had a really long talk and got a lot of things out in the open. He saw me stopping conversations and not debating with him that I was avoiding confrontations and lack self confidence. I laid it all out on the table and said that I stop conversations with him not because I avoid it but that I don't see the point and all it does is get me reacting poorly because I get annoyed or frustrated. It will be interesting to see what comes of that conversation now that we know how each one operates a little better - but one thing is certain I felt very accomplished; I don't think I could have had a conversation like that before my path of self development which was spurred by this website. Cam making an impression yet again.

Onto readings! Journal articles here I come.

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Today is all about trying new ideas to study. Didn't get the mark that I would like on my last assessment (results were given on the weekend) so my pomodoro-TTS strategy must not be working as good as I have hoped. I am trying to read and listen at the same time now and alt-tab to write notes. Lets see if this is more effective.

Today is going to be a good day, I can feel it. Several people are returning off holidays/vacation today so some new/old faces in the office and I am feeling motivated with trying out new study techniques. Maybe I need to change them regularly (every 2-3 weeks) to keep myself interested? I wonder if there is any data on the effectiveness of this.

The library yesterday was advertising Studiosity.com - has anyone tried this?

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On 4/30/2018 at 9:18 AM, Cam Adair said:

Have you checked out any of Thomas Franks’ videos on YouTube? He’s like the Game Quitters of studying. 

I find him very click-bait-y (how many times does he say starbucks and audible?), but I have downloaded a few of his podcast episodes so will see if they are any different.

So I again have come to the realisation that I need to take 'me time'. This happens every so often as I am not very good at recognising when I need a break. This week I have been so tired and I can't shake it, no matter how much I sleep or rest (and I am not running right now either due to my foot). Well last night I was watching a comedy video (one of those down the rabbit hole moments) and had a laugh and afterwards I felt a lot better. That's when I had the 'ah ha' moment. While I enjoy pushing the boundaries and stepping out of my comfort zone, I need to remember (or recognise) when I need to pause and have a break to recharge. My self awareness of knowing what it is better, but if I can recognise what the triggers are earlier then I won't spend two or three days in a daze like I have this week. Need to do some research on symptoms of being worn out and hang them next to my screen or something similar.

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I identify with your feeling, since both of us are striving through the tough study time. This is my first time reading your journal and I want to follow your progress. I just want to let you know that I am here rooting for you.

I know how it feel when you keep studying for a long time non-stop. It is really exhausted and could drive a man crazy. Currently, my method to restore my mood for study is to change the environment. For example, I study in a library for an hour. Then I will move to a cafe to continue my study. The changed environment can give me a sense of novelty and prevent burnout quickly. But of course, I think giving yourself an 'ah ha' moment works well too. 

 

Great to see you thriving , man. Keep going you are awesome, and i am sure you can be even more awesome!

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When are you done with exams ?

I also managed to be very productive with the Pomodoro technique, however at some point, you can't just work on and on without any kind of pause. It's important to relax. Ideally, having a balanced life (social life, hobbies, sport, etc) is what can help you through studies.

There's several things that can help with stress, work... things like doing some sports (running is a good one), meeting people... AFAIK a lot of people stop doing things like those when they are stressed to work more. But it's counterproductive, as it doesn't help you deal with stress and you end up not being as productive or efficient. Instead, doing more of what relax you should be a goal.

Hang in there. I finished my exams a few days ago, and oh boy, is it good to have more free time to get things I love get done.

Edited by Tux
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Thanks @16030669g and @Tux! Its not an exam, but an assignment due in three weeks that is worth 50% of my grade. I tend to get really stressed out when these deadlines are looming, which causes me to be so stressed I take no action at all. In the past it would have been to play games instead to escape, but now I will just find excuses to do nothing at all.

@16030669g I have been trying the library but every time I have gone there (when I say everytime... twice) there has been no room to study. I like getting away from my desk and getting out of the house and changing my environment as it reduces the distractions and makes me think "well, you have gone to this effort to go somewhere new, better make the most of it".

The best thing that came out of the weekend is this realisation that a) I need new stress coping strategies with my studies to stop letting it get to me, and b) I cannot just push through and do 8-12 hours of study a day. I like to think I used to be able to do it, but maybe that is looking in my past with faded memories and there were significant breaks in there.

I had a really good chat to my wife about it, which is another big step. I'm not one for talking about my weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but after listening a lot to Jocko Willink, I am starting to think it is a trait we need to have, as it is identifying where we need help and allowing those around us to step in and contribute. While I still don't have a way ahead for my stress coping strategy, I do have a new plan for my study. I know that I can only do 2-4 hours a day of study on the weekend before I start to go mad, so that forces me to look at the rest of the week to make up those hours rather than thinking "oh I'll just work more on the weekend". This will push me to be more productive during the week, bringing to the forefront that my time is finite and I need to make every second count (which most likely is why the majority of us are here on the website to begin with). With the pomodoro technique and some cognitive therapy music I am confident I can get this routine working for me, rather than coming home from work and feeling like I am too tired.

The other side of this as well is that by only doing 2-4 hours of study a day on the weekend, I can have it all finished by 10-11, letting me spend the afternoons with friends and family. I have been neglecting them quite a lot the last few months and it makes me feel quite bad, so I think this will solve this. I have talked to my wife about it as well, and she seems enthusiastic about the fact I will have dedicated afternoons with them, so will do what she can to help me in the mornings.

All great outcomes I think.

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It's good to know that you can have some time catching up with your friends and family. I think one of the benefits brought by game abstinence is that u will become more patient with your friends and family and u will also enjoy more spending time with them!! Hang in there man! and good luck to your school work!

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Stress levels haven't gone down which is starting to impact a few different aspects of my life. On Friday I was so stressed out it felt like I was physically in pain, but I am sure it was all in my head. A contributing factor is how poorly I have been sleeping as a result, as soon as I don't get enough sleep my resilience or ability to be able to cope is severely reduced. I tried chamomile tea, one or two alcoholic drinks, meditation, cognitive therapy, it all doesn't seem to be working. I keep waking up with nightmares either about my studies, work or the upcoming run. I have begun trialling a herbal sleeping tablet, and at least for last night it worked. I don't care if it s a placebo or not, at least for today I felt relaxed and much more refreshed and able to focus. I am sure my family appreciated me being not so irritable as well, which seems to be a regular occurrence the last few weeks. The downside is I have not achieved as much today as I would have liked to, only an hour of reading, but I am definitely recharged and ready to take on the week.

 

I ensure I capped how many pomodoro's I spent studying yesterday, stopping at 6. Seemed like a good number, and I got them all done before 1pm so I still felt like I had the day to do other things rather than being chained at my desk again and getting cabin fever. Now to try and get 2-3 per day to keep that time free on the weekends.

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So I survived the ultra trail! It took me far longer than I would of liked, I was aiming for 18 hours and took 23 for several reasons, but what it boils down to is I underestimated how difficult it was going to be. I am not sure if I could have estimated it correctly - it was a mental and physical battle. While I was training a lot over the past year, what I did not do was train more on hills and steps and rocks, which is where I came undone. My endurance was fine, I did not feel exhausted until afterwards, but my body was not prepared for the challenging terrain (avoiding saying it held me back as I am not a victim, I am in control).

Now that it is over I feel so much more relaxed, the huge ball of anxiety is starting to go down. Now what remains is my assignment due for this semester by next weekend. I am still quite anxious about that, so much so that it is hard to motivate myself to even look at it because it is so daunting, but thanks to Jocko's meditation clips I am at least working away at it slowly. Chipping away at it, one step or word at a time. Now its a balance of trying to do as much as possible every day and not overdoing it and being frustrated about being a couch potato. I am looking forward to next week where all the sources of anxiety will have gone. I need to work on how to handle them better still, as I think right now I am just dealing with the symptoms rather than the cause, so there is some research to be done.

Back into it!

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This weekend is great reminder on how effective changing your environment is, no matter how small.

I have swapped the configuration of my desk and cleared all the clutter from it, so now it doesn't feel like such a chore to sit here and do work. I have also started to listen to some different music to help me study - I usually listen to chill out or classical instrumentals in between cognitive therapy tracks. This weekend though I have tried electronic music (something like this) and I think my productivity has doubled.

Spent a large amount of time tinkering with electronics and spending time with family yesterday as well so I think I achieved a nice balance. Hoping to repeat it today. I'm at around 3,000 words out of 5,000 after this week, so some more work that needs to be done before next weekend. It's going to be a long week, but bring it on!

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So I have been going boots and all into my study this week. The more I did research the more I felt overwhelmed, which triggered my 'fight/flight/freeze' response. Lately, over the last month or so, I have preferred the flight reaction which means that I have not progressed my study or personal development, which is why I am in this predicament.

I have traditionally been using the 'just sit with it' concept that I got from Cam, but it hasn't been working. Part of me wanted to get depressed that I might have regressed from the efforts of the last year, but another part said there was nothing to be depressed about. I am far more self confident and very rarely get anxious this year, so I have not gone backwards. I think it is more of a case of cycling through what works, trying something new, in case I plateau with one method or mindset. This was solidified with a surprise conversation/session with my work-provided leadership coach, which forced me to reflect on how I am feeling and how I want to move forward. It re-energised me which I have been using to push myself to study.

I had kept several Preston Smiles videos on my phone to keep me going, so I started looking around and what other clips or quotes I could use. I discovered Motivation2Study, which I have now started watching/listening to regularly, every 2-3 hours or when I feel my motivation or productivity beginning to falter. I am finding it very effective to get me going in the morning (which was a challenge post-ultra trail) and to keep me going in the longer sessions. One thing that really hit home was "if you are willing to sacrifice sleep, you will find success". That has spurred me to set a deadline for myself, that today, no matter how long or what it takes, I will complete a draft of my assignment. I will not allow me to leave it to the last minute like I did when I was mindlessly gaming. I want to get it done early so I can get it critiqued.

While it will cost me sleep in the short term, in the long term I will have more fulfilling and restful sleeps, as right now I am so stressed that I keep tossing and turning.

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So the assignment is done! The anxiety/stress of trying to complete something worth 50% of my grade when I felt I was behind the eight ball due to procrastination and work has subsided, and been replaced with anxiety about what the mark/result will be. The difference is though I can't influence this one so I need to let it go and move on. I have a few other bits of study to do to round out the semester but that is essentially done for a few months now. I am excited and hesitant at the same time; excited because I get to attack some of the jobs/chores I have wanted to deal with for a few months but kept putting it off so I could prioritise my study, but hesitant as the breaks between semesters generally result in frustration of not achieving anything. I will overcome that with some clear goals and targets to work towards, I think I am going to do it via pen and paper now as well rather than on my phone or computer, which I either tend to lose or not track as closely as I should. I seem to be far more productive when I was writing down my to do list every day.

I was surprised/reminded yesterday with how much people waste time. A few of my mates were wasting time just staring at random YouTube videos about non-productive topics. It is no wonder they can't achieve what they want to, and I am using it as a great reminder to refocus on my prioritisation. These 3 and 5 minutes here and there throughout the day can be all lumped together and to achieve another task at the end of the day or even get some more sleep. I keep this in mind when I want to have a gaming session - there are so many more things that need to be done that should not be a lower priority, whether it is something small like paying a bill or sweeping the floor, or something bigger like running or reports for work.

Hope everyone is doing well! I haven't been on here very much lately so I will ramp this back up over the next few weeks.

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On 6/5/2018 at 10:43 PM, giblets said:

I was surprised/reminded yesterday with how much people waste time. A few of my mates were wasting time just staring at random YouTube videos about non-productive topics. It is no wonder they can't achieve what they want to, and I am using it as a great reminder to refocus on my prioritisation. These 3 and 5 minutes here and there throughout the day can be all lumped together and to achieve another task at the end of the day or even get some more sleep. I keep this in mind when I want to have a gaming session - there are so many more things that need to be done that should not be a lower priority, whether it is something small like paying a bill or sweeping the floor, or something bigger like running or reports for work.

Tough, but true words. Thanks for the inspiration!

This is an old-timer journal so I'll just ask - have you finished the detox in the past? You seem to be doing great, nice to see.

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