Jun 20 2016

Notes from Books: Sleep, Exercise, Meditation, Saving time and Deliberate Practice

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Here some notes from my last reading alongside my reflection and experience.

Sleeping is important. As much as I would like to sleep less and do more, sleeping is a must. In order to have energy to work well, be a present father and husband and do my daily deliberate practice to improve myself I need to sleep consistently at least 8 hours every day. Period. I like the idea of setting the alarm for going to bed to remind yourself of this important self-care habit 🙂 These days I try to do it around 11pm so that I can sleep until 7am that is the time when my son wakes up. Sleep sleep sleep! I know how much happier and productive I am when I sleep well.

The second point is exercising. I am really bad at this. I don’t like moving. I like learning, studying and I don’t move my body much. The interesting discovery is that exercising can have the same effect of taking an antidepressants. See the research here http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-and-depression-report-excerpt. I recently joined Slimming World and I lost almost 16 kilos simply adjusting my diet and I am very proud of that. As I am now struggling to loose more and I am at risk of getting everything back, now is the time to start moving! I hate gyms. I hate running. It’s boring. My idea is to joining the Cambridge volleyball club this week and give it a go. I always like volleyball and I used to play it a lot when I was younger. I need some competitive aspect in order to motivate myself. I know by experience that spending money is not a good motivator for me (I wasted so much money in gym memberships!).

Meditation is an another interesting practice that I’d like to cultivate at some point. I tried once few weeks ago at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre and it was an interesting experience. One of the demonstrated positive effect of meditation is that help to increase the ability to focus, that help in your ability to avoid distracting yourself and procrastinate. This is fascinating.

I read a book about saving time. Taking care of a family with kids takes a great chunk of your time so it’s important to find ways to save wasting time in mundane things so that you can focus on what matters to you. I recently bought a combined washer + dryer that is simply incredible (my wife loves it). Same for dishwasher, hiring a professional house cleaner, setting up direct debits for bills and so on. The time saved is time I can spend on my wife, with my son and on my pet projects. The latest addition on my list of saving time techniques is to use the Amazon Subscribe & Save service. This service allows you to schedule periodic orders on Amazon so that you don’t need to do it every time. You know that you need certain things periodically so there is no reason to manually do it every time. I use it for nappies, baby wipes, toilet paper and so on. It also helps to save some money as Amazon provides nice discounts. The ultimate time saver is to rely on a virtual assistance. There are quite a few websites that offer virtual assistance on-demand that can help on any sort of things. I never used it but I like the idea even if it can easily get quite expensive.

Finally, deliberate practice. I realized that in the past months I didn’t do enough deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is the only way to truly develop yourself and goes behold your limits. I need to constantly remind myself to do more deliberate practice. For me, that means setting a software task I am not able to do and just do it. It can be just playing with a particular technology, building a prototype, implementing a complex algorithm. I think it must be doing and not reading an article/book or watching a Pluralsight video. Deliberate practice is doing. Only after I tried to do something I want to allow myself to learn by conventional means and just fill the gaps. This is why I subscribed to Safari Online. I don’t want to buy a book and feel the need to read it cover to cover. I am trying to use the pomodoro technique to make sure I do at least 1 pomodoro of deliberate “deliberate practice” every day. I also want to turn this blog into my learning journal. At the end of the day, you should ask yourself: “Am I getting better?“. The answer need to be a YES, every day! I know myself well enough that if I don’t answer this question with a YES I don’t feel happy. Knowing that I improve myself, even just a little bit every day, makes me happy. A good way to remind myself if I am doing deliberate practice or not is the that You should always practice at the edge of your ability. If you are having fun, you are probably not doing deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is hard and requires a lot of concentration.

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