Posts for Tag: Productivity

Flow State

When I am in my Flow-state I am at my best, in whatever task I am trying to accomplish. Unfortunately I don't know how to get into this state voluntarily, it happens, sometimes, when the right circumstances meet. 

To me, being 'In flow' is more than being present in the moment, its about achieving a certain level of focus where there is just the right amount of challenge to keep me interested and operating at my best, but not enough to make me take a step back; where there is just the right level of skills required to make the task technical but not so much that makes me have to stop to think.

In this state, its possible that a Human Being is able to be between System 1 and System 2 thinking, not completely intuitive but not deep thinking either. See reference to the book 'Thinking, fast and slow' by Daniel Kahneman

I feel that in this state I am able to be simultaneously in deliberate and fast thinking without going too far off to the extreme of either. 

I need to look more into the science of 'flow-state' and on techniques on how to potentially pro-actively trigger it. 

Source of Graphic: https://justincone.com/keeping-users-interested-is-a-matter-of-flow/

The below video is a segment from one of my favourite shows, the Joe Rogan's Podcast. Its a fabulous description of flow state from the perspective of a great MMA coach applied to the training and athletes, even if you do not like MMA, its worth while listening. 

Waking up at 4:30 experiment - Part 1

Once I got back from Europe, I decided instead of suffering to overcome the Jet Lag I would leverage it to do something I have always wanted to try: Waking up at 4:30am. I have read many accounts of how successful people woke up very early

Unfortunately I have always thought of myself as a Night Owl, basically only woke up early but I was very far from being fully functional in the early stages of the day. 

It was at night time when I felt my productivity and creative were both at their highest level, when I ran my own company most of the actual work was done dark into the night; The first part of the day consisted in getting through the clutter, email, meetings, phones calls.

Switching to a schedule that goes against what my natural circadian rhythm has been for years is going to be a challenge, but the benefits could really justify the the effort.

After a week of trial, here is some ming boggling math that substantiates the benefits of this change so far:

Time savings 

  • Traffic congestion inbound to work - 10 avg mins waiting for a car, - 12 avg mins of traffic 
  • Traffic congestion outbound from work - 12 avg mins waiting for a car, - 14 avg mins of traffic ,
  • Waiting time to elevator: - 4 avg mins morning, - 2 avg mins lunch time, 4 mins avg return lunch time, 3 mins avg leaving 
  • Elevator trip: - 1.10 secs avg morning, - 0.50 mins afternoon

Total: Just the savings in time alone, we are looking at approximately one hour a day, so 5 hours a week over 20 hours a month, this is 2 and a half additional working days added to my life!

Preliminary findings

The biggest effort and variation comes in the form energy and general well being. I decided to separate both because I have had days where I am full of energy but my overall well being is not the best. 

They appear to be two separate things, one is the fuel to do things, the other is related to satisfaction, joy and general happiness. I also did not add the weekends as they would introduce too much noise into the data as stress levels are reduced and the sleep schedule was slightly altered. (not entirely)

Below is the initial data set:

Analysis 

  • Overall energy levels steadily increasing,
  • Initial dip was due to getting a minor cold during this time,
  • Significant gap between morning and afternoon energy, 
  • Energy levels trend is in sync trend wise between afternoon and morning despite the gap between both. 

Next Steps 

Continue tracking, consider adding "night-time" as an additional data point. The impact of this change in the quality of my life has been massive at this point, I will do a follow up on this post once I hit week 6. 


Time Management by Professor Randy Pausch

I can’t begin to say how much Professor Randy Pausch has influenced my career, for those of you who do not know, Prof. Randy Pausch was an amazing teacher at Carnegie Mellon University, he was brought to the public eye after his famous “Last Lecture” after having been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

Listening to a lecture about time management by someone who does not has a lot of time left is very disconcerting, but insightful to say the least. Despite the circumstances, I do not think the lecture would have been any different if Prof. Randy Paush was in perfect health.

Time is your only commodity, money you can always make over and over again, but while this might seem extremely logical, it is not practiced.

Organizations tend to be very good at making cost assessments, but very few establish an actual connection between cost-benefit and time. This is even more evident at a personal level, where employees fail to understand where to better invest time for their own benefit as well as the organization they work in.

Increasing productivity with a dual monitor system and a second complementary slave machine

So last year I finally decided to get myself a second monitor to see how it would affect my productivity. Although it did take a little bit of time to get used too, once my work system got in sync with the new system, my productivity boosted. And I am not talking about a small improvement; it improved dramatically the way I worked. By nature I am quite multi tasking, but what a second monitor does, is literally discipline the way a multi tasking person works. With one monitor you are forced to focus your attention on a central area of content. With two monitors you can literally split that attention, making one side complementary to the other. I am not going to get too technical here, so I suggest you read the NEC productivity “A Comparison of Single and Dual Traditional Aspect Displays with a Widescreen Display over Productivity

One taskbar per monitor

The first negative thing that I noticed when I started using a second monitor was that I couldn’t minimize applications in the second monitor. This was really irritating since I was using one screen for active work and another for communication. (Mail and AIM). Every time I wanted to focus on the multiple Skye or messenger windows I had open at any given moment they would get minimized on the main screen, not on the screen where the windows were open. So by default, every window gets minimized in the main monitor and to maximize it you have to go back to that monitor and click on the minimized application in the taskbar. 

 A simple Google search led me to a lot of applications that supposedly solved this problem and one in particular seemed to have great user references. Ultramon did exactly what I wanted, it created a task bar in the second monitor allowing me to minimize programs on each screen. So in reality it almost gives you a separate system, where you can run certain applications “independently” from each other. This really improved every aspect of my dual monitor experience and in all honesty I wouldn’t be able to use my dual system without Ultramon installed anymore. On the beginning of this year, I had a brand New dual core PC from the old office that was pilling dust and not being used at all, so plugged it in, partitioned the disk and installed a copy of Debian and played a bit with it.

Why a second *slave* machine?

Soon I had three screens lined up in front of me and before I knew it I started using the second machine to perform routine macros on the first machine. (backups, automated tasks, etc…) The advantages of having two machines working simultaneously, sharing resources between one another began to be evident. 

Not only was I using the second system as a “slave” machine but most importantly it was not wasting recourses from my main machine that is always running at least 3 heavy duty applications like Photoshop, illustrator, Dreamweaver, and so on. Now, having two keyboards on the desk was utterly annoying. It was taking so much usable le desk space and let’s not forget the awkward “Dammit, why isn’t this keyboard working”. (Maybe it would work if I used the right keyboard for the machine I was working on.) It was during this time that I came across an amazing open source application called Synergy

What this little tool does is it allows you to share a keyboard and a mouse on a Network, meaning that it allows you to control multiple computers thorough a single keyboard and mouse. You can actually place the second system’s monitor on the side of your dual monitors and it will work as an extension, so in reality its almost like a third monitor added but with an independent machine powering it. I will leave the potential of a setup like to your imagination!