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super_seabass

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Day #1

Today I'm grateful for starting this journey and kicking a bad habit to the curb. I'm happy to head into it with a plan and some tools for managing the rough patches, rather than simply saying "I'm going to stop" and losing my way in a weak moment.

Good Stuff

  • I found this site and this forum!
  • I completed about half of the course and the related activities. I have a much better plan of action for establishing future positive habits.
  • I took key hardware components out of my gaming PC and had my wife hide them. Ultimately I want to sell it or even just scrap it, but this was a quick short-term solution.
  • I deleted all games from my phone.
  • I put gaming-related sites into my web browser's blocker.

Challenges

  • Work feels pretty overwhelming, I have lots of projects that are all "high priority" for different people. I don't like juggling this stuff, I just like writing code! I think I need to carve a small chunk out of my work day for focusing on proactive communications that will help prevent these situations.

Next Steps

  • Set a daily schedule, with variations:
    • Normal workdays (working from home)
      • Include scheduling for the workday itself (when to do deep work, when to do emails), with flex options for when meetings interrupt it
    • Workdays where I go into the office (same as above, be a bit detailed about it)
    • Friday evenings with a social plan
    • Friday evenings without a social plan
    • Saturdays
    • Sundays

Other Thoughts

There are a few existing activities I already do that I will ramp up, and a few new ones I'm going to try:

  • Existing stuff:
    • Learning languages - I'm primarily focused on learning German and secondarily focused on learning Italian. I actually like trying to learn both languages at once, as long as I do them at separate times of the day.
    • Fitness - I want to really ramp up the time I do physically active stuff and cut back on "screen time" in general. 2-3 hours of activity most days is not too much to ask (1 hour in the gym, 1-2 hours walking/cycling while on errands), I have done it in the past and should have more time to do it now!
    • Cooking - I like cooking and see a lot of value in it, I just tended to skip it to game instead. I'll pick it back up but also not be hard on myself about cooking slowly or not being "creative enough" with recipes.
  • New stuff:
    • Taking a class with my wife. She's interested in stuff like blacksmithing, archery, glassblowing, etc. We'll find the next opportunity for a course and start it up.
    • Drawing - I think this will be a good tired/idle time activity for me.

The primary challenges I need to overcome are the following:

  • Setting a more rigorous schedule for myself and making it hard to deviate from that schedule. I work from home, so it's really easy for my schedule to "flex" if I'm not careful. Mostly this will come down to changing my environment at key times of the day so I'm not tempted to "take a break" for too long and throw the whole day off.
  • I'm pretty averse to spending money, so I struggle a bit with the idea of signing up for activities that cost money or making the necessary environment changes (e.g., working in coffee shops) to facilitate a rigorous schedule. I think what I should realize though is that I end up spending MORE money by not doing these things, because when I get sucked into gaming I end up ordering food instead of cooking, paying for home repairs instead of doing it myself, etc.
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Glad to see your journal!

  • I'm pretty averse to spending money, so I struggle a bit with the idea of signing up for activities that cost money or making the necessary environment changes (e.g., working in coffee shops) to facilitate a rigorous schedule. I think what I should realize though is that I end up spending MORE money by not doing these things, because when I get sucked into gaming I end up ordering food instead of cooking, paying for home repairs instead of doing it myself, etc.

"Spending" has a bit of negative ring to it, almost some kind of inevitability/necessary evil. Perhaps you should think about it as "investing in yourself" instead? That could give you a reasonable frame to consider how much money is worth to let go at a certain time for the benefit you're getting, and you could begin to look forward to opportunities to pay for something that will help create a better you. Sometimes prices don't mean the objective "worth" of the good or service you're purchasing, but the commitment you're willing to make. The way you word things in your head influences the feelings you have towards them. If you want to think different about something you can either start by shifting the feelings, or changing the words. It works. Also, exploring for cozy coffee shops where they don't rip you off could be a good excuse for that walking and cycling.

Kudos to your wife, btw, for her support to you and for having such original interests! Make sure to express gratitude towards the loved ones around you that make your life more of an adventure.

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Glad to see your journal!

  • I'm pretty averse to spending money, so I struggle a bit with the idea of signing up for activities that cost money or making the necessary environment changes (e.g., working in coffee shops) to facilitate a rigorous schedule. I think what I should realize though is that I end up spending MORE money by not doing these things, because when I get sucked into gaming I end up ordering food instead of cooking, paying for home repairs instead of doing it myself, etc.

"Spending" has a bit of negative ring to it, almost some kind of inevitability/necessary evil. Perhaps you should think about it as "investing in yourself" instead? That could give you a reasonable frame to consider how much money is worth to let go at a certain time for the benefit you're getting, and you could begin to look forward to opportunities to pay for something that will help create a better you. Sometimes prices don't mean the objective "worth" of the good or service you're purchasing, but the commitment you're willing to make.

The Minimalists talk about purchases bringing you value; and if you see a service or product and think it will bring more value to your life than having that money, then you shouldn't feel bad about buying it. Then that brings the whole mindset of why do you think something is valuable onto centre stage, if the value is letting you escape from reality rather than the value of earning you more money or resulting in spending more time with your wife.

Of course I am not giving the concept justice by trying to explain it but load up a few of their podcasts and you'll understand it very quickly.

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Thanks for the comments, @Hitaru and @giblets! I think those are very good perspectives and help to clarify meaningful "investments" vs more frivolous expenditures.

As for the journal:

Day #2

I'm grateful for a busy day with positive use of my downtime. Today turned into a long workday so I wasn't able to move further in the course, but during some breaks I was able to make progress in DuoLingo with Italian & German.

Good Stuff

  • Dodged some procrastination traps and stayed productive instead. The ban on gaming and related media really helped here--I did take some breaks, but since they were "busywork" tasks with an end state (for example, organizing recent phone photos into albums), once they were done I got back to work. If I had decided to watch some gaming videos or something it could have easily become a 1+ hour rabbit hole or much, much worse.
  • As a result of point #1, I made progress on a couple critical work projects.
  • Kept my daily language learning streak going.
  • Made it to the gym and the grocery store.
  • Made some first steps for setting up an optimal Emacs environment on my work computer--I've been "getting by" with a mix of other tools for a long time, but really want to consolidate a bunch of processes into a single environment. And for anyone about to say something about Vim, I use Evil for Vim keybindings. :)

Challenges

  • No time to move further in the course. I felt it was more important to keep daily routines going. I'll do a couple videos over lunch tomorrow.
  • Still have some pots & pans to clean from cooking yesterday. I don't like leaving them that way because they annoy my wife. Maybe I can do them as one of my "breaks."

Next Steps

  • Still need to define the daily schedule as mentioned in my previous journal entry.
  • Continue watching videos in the course.
  • Reflect a little bit on the idea of expense vs investment (and evaluating things based on value/ROI), as noted in the comments above.
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Day #3

Another busy day, essentially the same as yesterday. Had some time for reflection while I was walking home from the gym, and realized that normally I'd get stressed about being this "busy," because I felt like I NEEDED to have "time for myself" (with "time for myself" being code for "playing video games"). By recognizing that I also like walking, working out and learning languages, I viewed the time spent doing these things as time for myself, because that is in fact what it is: these activities are voluntary and I shouldn't see them as a daily burden/responsibility. If I truly feel that they are burdens then I should drop them or find alternative activities, but I don't feel the need to do that right now.

Good Stuff

  • Again had some procrastination moments but was able to keep them limited. Ideally I can move away from them entirely but for now I am happy with myself for recognizing them and working through them without negatively judging myself.
  • Continued to make progress on work projects, and even accommodated a couple of one-off requests before the project owners needed them. Usually I have to let these slide and the project owners are understanding (because these aren't my primary projects), but obviously they're much happier to get what they need in a timely fashion.
  • Kept my daily language learning streak going.
  • Made it to the gym.
  • Cooked dinner and washed dishes.
  • Got my Emacs environment pretty dialed in for about 50% of the situations I want to use it for. It's definitely an improvement in the places where I'm using it right now.

Challenges

  • I forgot to watch the course videos during lunch. I set a lunchtime reminder for tomorrow so I don't forget to watch them next time.
  • I need to get more realistic about what I can finish in a workday and prioritize accordingly, so I don't end up "wrapping things up" right before bedtime.

Next Steps

  • Define the daily schedules--I'll probably work on that on Friday evening or Saturday.
  • Continue watching videos in the course.
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Hey there, great start in the detox.

Day #3

Another busy day, essentially the same as yesterday. Had some time for reflection while I was walking home from the gym, and realized that normally I'd get stressed about being this "busy," because I felt like I NEEDED to have "time for myself" (with "time for myself" being code for "playing video games"). By recognizing that I also like walking, working out and learning languages, I viewed the time spent doing these things as time for myself, because that is in fact what it is: these activities are voluntary and I shouldn't see them as a daily burden/responsibility. If I truly feel that they are burdens then I should drop them or find alternative activities, but I don't feel the need to do that right now.

As I stopped gaming I suddenly had a lot of free time and felt like a burden was lifted from my shoulder. Now I had the choice to invest the time in things I wanted to do instead of defaulting into gamebinging whenever free time was available.

Be aware of the fact, that you seem to have all ready an active life with work and family. So be realistic about the challenges you set for yourself. It is nice to have lofty goals if they inspire you to become better you while you try at achieving them. But be aware of the downside that if you'll fail it can lead to a big loss of motivation. The same happens to people who break their streak at the detox. They feel like they failed. But instead of learning from the failure and keep fighting they give up. 

So even if you fail some of your goals remember to be grateful for you progress and use the lessons learned to become even better in the future.

PS: Vim is the better editor ;) 

 

 

Just kidding. I did dabble a bit with learning software development but never got to try emacs out of time limits. What sort of coding are you doing?

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Thanks @WorkInProgress, that is a good reminder. I've definitely had that experience of one "miss" turning into a longer negative streak. I think I'm getting better at picking things up but it's almost like I need a reminder app to ping me with this note on the day after I've slipped on a goal. :) Maybe that's one of the benefits of keeping a journal, and of a community like this one.

As for the editor thing, I used Vim for a really long time because the extra overhead of Emacs did not seem worth it. But after using a bunch of different IDEs/applications and trying to use Vim plugins in them, I got frustrated because every Vim plugin has its own quirks and the inconsistencies were driving me nuts. I'm ready for one editor to rule them all, and Emacs is much better at that than Vim. Org-mode is a revelation. That being said, I don't regret starting with Vim and if I had to start from scratch I'd pick Vim in a heartbeat because it's simpler to get up and running with. I also think Vim's modal editing is superior to Emacs' crazy key-chords, not because it's "faster" but simply because it's easier on the hands & forearms.

Coding-wise I do a mixture of Java & Python at work, plus a fair amount of Bash shell scripting. My company owns/maintains a large data set for our clients and integrates it with data from a variety of other sources, so I tend to end up on projects where we're trying to integrate a new data source or mine the combined data set for new insights for our clients. Most of the time I use Python for prototyping and then build the production version in Java. I dabble with other languages in my free time but tend to keep coming back to those two.

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Day #4

A little quieter today. I cancelled an early morning meeting to get some extra sleep and I'm glad I did. I actually had three major steps completed in some projects today--two were being handled by other people but they needed my support to wrap them up. It felt good to close a lot of that stuff out.

Good Stuff

  • Good progress at work, and turned a late afternoon lull into productive time after a quick break. In the past, that lull would have easily turned into postponing my remaining work until the next day, or resuming work really late at night and messing up my personal priorities.
  • Finished another day of the language learning streak.
  • Made it to the gym and had a pretty good leg day.
  • Set up Emacs org-mode for organizing my project notes and to-dos. I really like it, it feels like the note-taking system I've been searching for.
  • I have a plan for Friday evening (which tended to be when I binged on games): I will help my wife get caught up on some German coursework she missed (we have a quiz in our Saturday morning class), then if there's time left we'll play one of our tabletop games.

Challenges

  • Today was pretty good overall. My only disappointment is that I keep procrastinating on some paperwork things at work: the kind of stuff that is never "urgent" but will be a big pain if I continue to put them off. Messing with Emacs org-mode was a bit of a "productive procrastination" trick to avoid doing them. :P I definitely want to submit the paperwork tomorrow!

Next Steps

  • Watch more course videos
  • Define the daily schedules
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  • Today was pretty good overall. My only disappointment is that I keep procrastinating on some paperwork things at work: the kind of stuff that is never "urgent" but will be a big pain if I continue to put them off. Messing with Emacs org-mode was a bit of a "productive procrastination" trick to avoid doing them. :P I definitely want to submit the paperwork tomorrow!

I know that feeling. But procrastination is the evil. If you are able to get in the habit of doing such stuff immediately (or at least give it a fixed calendar date and time range) frees up a lot of mind space. Because this sort of things stay in the back of our head and hinder us in being productive. To set a time and date and get done with it helps a lot. That being said I have to follow my advice there :).

That is a great thing at writing at other peoples journals. It is easier to give someone else good advice then yourself if your attached. And problems are similar.

So it seems like vim was a good starting point for my c++ adventures on linux :)

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@WorkInProgress - yes, Vim is a good starting point for any adventures on Linux. :) But Vim by itself is not as good as a lot of the IDEs for C++. At the very least I think you'd want to use ctags with Vim--but I don't have much experience with C++ in general so there may be better Vim-based solutions out there. You could also consider taking the opposite approach: most IDEs (including Eclipse and IntelliJ) have plugins to support Vim keybindings, so you could install one of those in your IDE of choice to try it out. The plugins usually only support a limited amount of Vim commands, but that is actually pretty nice because it feels like less stuff to learn right away.

As for the journal, I wanted to catch up on the days I missed. I'm still doing well with the detox. Friday night we ended up having dinner with friends and falling asleep early. Then Saturday was my designated "free-form" day. We did the German class and ran some errands. Then my wife really wanted me to watch Stranger Things (starting with Season 1) so we had that on most of the afternoon while I researched and experimented with a few programming languages to pick my "next" one. I've been weighing a lot of different options, including Rust, Nim, Haskell, OCaml, Idris and some JVM-based languages like Groovy, Scala, Kotlin and Clojure. Ultimately I picked Clojure, not because the other languages were bad but because I wanted to stick to something JVM-based so I could potentially use it when building prototypes at work. Clojure seems like the best fit for this purpose.

Sunday included the gym, cooking soups for the week, mowing the lawn and making dinner. There was some other miscellaneous stuff in there too (like laundry), it ended up being a pretty full day. But it felt good: on many Sundays I'd write out a plan for the day and then tell myself I could spare an hour for gaming before I got started. Then I'd end up gaming for way more than an "hour" and getting half the things I wanted done (or even less), and feeling bad about it at the end of the day. So first weekend of detox = success!

Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday has been mostly work, the gym and cooking dinner, with some programming tool research during my breaks. I also got a couple more of the Respawn videos in. My energy levels have been really high, but almost uncomfortably so--like I'm not doing enough to spend it all. Maybe it's a subtle form of anxiety that Cam has alluded to in the videos. Going a little harder in the gym has helped burn it off but I also don't want to overdo things and find myself swinging the other way towards fatigue or depression, so I'm being cautious.

Overall though I'm still feeling great, and I'm still really grateful that I decided to detox and found this program! I see a positive future stretching before me rather than the "get through it" slog it felt like before.

For anyone who's reading, what is your strategy for sticking with journaling? I enjoy it and I've been finding a lot of value in it already, but it only seems to make sense to do at the end of the day and that's the problem. Many times that means choosing between going to bed on-time or staying up to journal. :( Is it just a matter of scheduling a strict time to log on and write? Or maybe journaling in the morning about the previous day works just as well? I also want to participate more with the forum as a whole, so morning journaling could fit with that, otherwise I'll just log in during my lunch breaks when I work from home.

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