“Thoughts On” journals

Derek Sivers has a blog post from back in January on the benefits of a daily diary and topic journals and this part is something I started trying:

There are certain subjects in your life you think about a lot. People, places, hobbies, health, plans, finances.

For each subject that you might have ongoing thoughts about, start a separate “Thoughts On” journal. Whenever you have some thoughts on this subject, open up that file, write today’s date, then start writing.

I’ve started doing this in my notes app and once I see something that makes me think I open it up and start writing.

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Derek describes his thoughts on like this:

I find it so useful to keep my thoughts on each subject together, because I can see my past thoughts and current thoughts in one place. I can see how my thoughts on this subject have evolved or keep repeating. Sometimes I think I have a new thought on a subject, so I open up the file and write it down, then afterwards I see I had that same thought a year ago and had forgotten about it. If you care about your thoughts, keep them.

For me, each has been more of a rant. I see something on the internet and that enrages me so I write down all my anger. Then I’m done with it and I don’t have to think about it again. Next time you want to argue on the internet write it down and move on with life. I promise you’ll be happier.

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

sleep

For the past month, I’ve started going to bed and waking up at set times, and it’s been amazing. Every night 10 PM is bedtime, lights out, and no talking, then every morning 6:30 AM is wakeup time. I’ve been really consistent and started using a sleep app as a way of tracking it.

sleep-analysis

As you can see, I cheated a little over the weekend, but since starting this habit, I’ve felt the best I have in years. I’m no longer tired every day, and in need of a nap. Instead, I feel great and now that my body has acclimated at around 9:50 PM my body tells me it’s bedtime.

We all know sleep is essential but if you’ve been struggling, try going to bed and waking up the same time every day, even on the weekends. I know you’ll lose a little bit of reading or work time, but it’s worth it.

iOS Do Not Disturb While Driving

Since iOS 11 Apple introduced a featured called “do not disturb while driving” where it tries to detect when you are driving and prevent notifications. On the surface, it sounds like a great feature and I enabled in a few weeks ago thinking it would make driving safer.

What I found in practice is it’s been very annoying for me. I’m not a Siri user and when I stop at red lights I typically unluck my phone and change the music. It’s not been sensitive enough to know that I’m now stopped so every time I have to select the option, “I’m not driving” which turns the whole thing off.

I imagine if I used Siri more often, I could just use that to tell it to play something new, but as I’ve written before I have no confidence in Siri, so I don’t use it. I think “do not disturb” while driving is a useful feature and I’m all for it, but right now it isn’t really polished enough for me and feels like more of an annoyance than anything.

It’s one of those features that is so close to being perfect I want to keep it activated, but at the same time, I think I’d prefer to just turn it off and be done with it.

How about you? Is this a feature you use? Am I the one doing it wrong and it’s really a great feature? Feel free to sound off in the comments below.

Bullet Journaling

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Todo lists are my kryptonite. I’ve used them all and I’m never satisfied. I like the scheduling components of digital and how easy it is to add, move, or arrange different tasks but I also like physically writing them all out.  It’s a vicious cycle. One week I’m using Todoist, then the next I’m back to pen and paper.

One of the advantages to pen and paper that many people forget about is it creates a type of daily log book with every day outlined. I enjoy looking back on a day from a year or two ago and seeing exactly what I was working on, what I was focused on, and what my day was like. I’ve been doing that for a few months now and it works, but some tasks are falling through the cracks when I don’t complete them on the day I write them down.

That is where The Bullet Journal comes in. I have the daily log down, but I was missing the rest of the structure. The index, the monthly log, the future log, and migrations. All of those combined with the daily log create the whole process and makes it a decent system.

The book outlines all these steps (you can find this online for free), plus goes into details about the preparation, the practice, making it your own, and much more. It also makes a great desktop resource that you can quickly reference if you forgot how something is supposed to work.

This week I’ve been doing it every day and I’m feeling more focused. I spend about 20 minutes each night planning out the next day and reflecting on what I did or didn’t do on the current day.  Here is my plan from last night:

bullet-journal-daily-log

Since I love to draw it’s also giving me a reason to pull out the colored pencils and create a daily calendar. There are so many different ways you can bullet journal and I’m finding that I like using their system as a base and then just add on to as needed. For example, if I have something on my mind, I flip to a new page and just start writing to get it out of my head. I’ve honestly been doing that a lot when I come across articles or tweets I disagree with. After writing it out I lose interest in engaging in the futile art of social media banter. Also, when I come across a quote I like I flip the page and write it down.

quotes

All in all, it’s a pretty engaging system and if you are unhappy with how you are keeping up with your tasks give it a try. It might suit you or it might not, and to me, life is all about trying new things to see what sticks.

Vintage Instagram

Stringed Picture Hanger

For a long time, I’ve wanted one of these for my office wall. I’m not exactly sure what to call it, but it’s an excellent way for me to hang up art my kids have created and pictures that I’ve taken that I might want to share with friends and family. Even though I’ve shared most of these before on digital channels, I think there is something more personal about looking at them hanging on a wall in your home, and now I can see them every time I walk in and out of my office. Double win.

Blowing Rock

Yesterday was my 40th birthday so I took the day off work, let the kids skip school, and we headed up to the mountains of NC to visit Grandfather Mountain and walk across the swinging bridge. After our 2+ hour drive, we arrived and at the entrance, the guard said the top of the mountain included the bridge was closed for maintenance. Talk about disappointment.

We pulled out the map and found that Blowing Rock was nearby and it’s a place we’ve never visited so headed in that direction. On the way, we stopped at a few overlooks to stretch our legs and get some photos. Even though the trip didn’t go as planned it was still a lot of fun. Here are some of the photos from the trip.

Closed Captioning

Kottke has a new post outlining why everyone is watching TV with closed captioning turned on and it made me think of my own habits and how I’ve started using it.

I think around six months ago I would be watching a movie and it seemed like I had to have the volume fairly loud to hear the dialog, but then when scenes played music the music was super loud. So then I’d have to turn it down, only to turn it back up again 30 seconds later. I thought it was quite annoying and rude of the movie producers.

Anyway, because of this I turned on closed captioning so I didn’t have to fiddle with the remote or the volume. Since doing it I don’t even like watching TV without it on, and as far as I know I don’t have any hearing problems.

Of course, I’d also rather read a blog post than listen to a podcast. I think maybe I’m just wired to prefer reading over listening.

A Decade Ago

I just had this image from ten years ago pop up in my “on this day” feed and it’s crazy thinking back over the last ten years. My life is a complete 180 from when this was taken.

It seems every day I make a todo list and try my hardest to get it done, and I feel like I accomplished nothing when my head isn’t down pounding out “work” all day. Or if all I come with is one or two big things and little things keep from staying on task.

I have to remind myself that a day, a week, even a month are all just minuscule time frames over the course of our lives. I can’t look back on a single day years ago and say that was a good day, or that was a bad day.

However, if I look back over the past ten years I can see how the smallest decisions have seemed to have changed my life for the better and those are not things I would have ever put on a todo list.

It is easy to get discouraged that you aren’t hustling hard enough, but if you take a step back you’ll see how all the little things compound and make bigger changes than you might imagine.

Winston Churchill on Napping

“You must sleep some time between lunch and dinner, and no half-way measures. Take off your clothes and get into bed. That’s what I always do. Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one-well, at least one and a half, I’m sure.”

I came across this quote today and because of confirmation bias I think we should listen to this man.

Rearranging

I have a problem where I want to rearrange my office every month. I don’t know why but it just starts to feel stale and I feel like it gets to routine. This is only February and I’ve already moved stuff around three times this year. I may need an intervention.

Pictured above is my latest setup. I moved the desk in front of the window so I can look out and see the little patch of woods. Every time I look up I can now see squirrels and birds doing their thing.

The only downside with this move is it’s been raining for what feels like weeks so I’ve yet to sit at the desk when the full force of the sun is out. So that might turn into a huge issue, but until then I’m enjoying seeing the animals and talking them as Bob Ross would. Haha

If you ever get tired of your workspace don’t discount rearranging. With no money invested it makes you think you have an entire new space.

Create a scale model of the room before buying new furniture

When buying furniture it’s sometimes hard to figure how an item is going to fit in a room. How much extra space will be around it, and how cluttered the room will feel.

To answer these questions I’ve started making tiny paper drawings so I can get a birds eye view of the room with different furniture.

If you’d like to do this all you need is a measuring tape, a pencil, some paper, a ruler, and some scissors.

First get the dimensions of the room. Measure each wall and make a quick sketch with the sizes. This is not to scale and just a way to help me remember how each wall measures.

Room Dimensions

Then, take the longest side and divide the number until it’s less than 8, the smallest side of a standard sheet of paper.

For example, the longest wall in my office is 162 inches and when I divide by 25 it gives me 6.48 which will fit neatly on a single piece of paper. Now divide every number by 25 and you’ll have a perfect scale model.

Next, on a new sheet of paper do the same with the dimensions of the furniture and then cut them out. This will allow you to move it around in your model. I was looking at new desks and wanted to get an idea of what size would fit best in my office and here is the diagram with the little desk pieces to move around.

That’s about it. Now you can get a feel for how a piece of furniture will fit and it’s really helpful for sharing your ideas with others, especially if they struggle visualizing it.

An Easy Way To Save

It’s always hard to bring down your standard of living but you need to do that in order to save more money. If that doesn’t sound appealing the next time you get a raise take the extra money and put it all in your retirement account or an emergency fund that you can’t easily access.

Your standard of living will remain the same and you’ll automatically save more.

Make Your New Years Resolutions Concrete and Actionable

At the start of a new year everyone seems to be making lists of resolutions or goals they want to accomplish. This is great, and a nice way of trying to change yourself to be better.

However, what a lot of people do is make their list vague. For example, here might be someone’s list:

  • Read more
  • Meditate more
  • Lose weight
  • Exercise

Of course, these are all admirable goals but they aren’t concrete. What does “more” mean? What is better to simply rework each:

  • Read 20 page as a day
  • Meditate 10 minutes a day
  • Lose 10 pound’s
  • Workout 3 days a week

They are still the same goals, but now you can more easily keep yourself accountable.

Farewell 2018

Daily Log Book

When you are a kid each year feels like a century, when you are an adult each year feels like a month.

The photo is of my daily log book and it’s a great time to start one. You can find this particular one on Amazon but any notebook will do.

My 2018 – A Look Back

The last week of the year is when everyone seems to be writing and publishing their own year in review posts and it seems like a great opportunity for me to spend a few minutes looking back on my year.

Biking

I started out 2018 doing a mountain bike race in January called the Whole Enchilada, which is basically riding all the trails at the USNWC, about 25 miles. My goal was to finish the race but I failed. I didn’t have the legs nor the energy to do the last trail. From this I decided I was going to step up my riding so I could complete it in 2019.

I felt like I was on track but then I crashed last month and broke my hand. I’ll be out of commission for at least another two months so it’s quit unfortunate that I will not even get to enter the one thing I was pushing myself toward.

Outside of the mountain biking I bought a gravel bike and did my first half century and also rode it to the lake a few days and worked from a hammock.

I plan to do more of that once the weather warms back up and my hand heals.

Blogging

At the end of 2017 I decided I wanted to get back into blogging and made an internal goal to maintain a streak of blogging everyday for the month of January.

I continued that streak until March and then really slacked off June through September, then picked up again October.

Publishing Schedule

Publishing everyday was a challenge but the one nice side effect is it forced me to look around at everything for content ideas. Of course, the downside is by posting so often I never had time to really sit down and write in depth pieces, but that is never my style. I like to be a curator which fits perfectly with quick posts.

For 2019 I do want to continue blogging and try to force myself out of just tweeting when I have something to say.

Work

In 2018 I had a busy year making things. First I work full time for UserScape and then run Laravel News on the side. Those two take up many hours a week. Outside of these I helped run Laracon Online, LaraJobs, I created Laravel Events, and of course published the Laravel Newsletter almost every Sunday.

Personal

Outside of biking and breaking my hand I also had Lasik at the end of November and it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself. It’s hard for me to describe going from always wearing glasses to not even thinking about them. It’s really amazing laying in bed and not having the frames dig into your head, or exercising and not having to worry about them slipping off.

I also kept a daily log book for the first time ever and looking back through it is pretty cool. I like being able to flip through the pages and remember the day. That’s not something I’ve been able to duplicate digitally. Yeah

Farewell 2018

That about sums up my year and I’m looking forward to 2019. I have a few big plans that I hope to accomplish and a lot of little things. Hopefully, I’ll keep myself accountable and focused on the positive things.

Best of luck to you in 2019!

My Strava Stats 2018

I always love the end of the year stats that companies send out based on your data. The video above is from Strava condensing all my workouts this year into a sub 2 minute video. Love it.

If you are also into tracking workouts with Strava give me a follow and once I’m over my broken hand I’ll be logging my 2019 rides. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put in even more miles.

Boxer’s Fracture

Every November there is a local mountain bike race that I enjoy competing in called a Ride-n-seek race. The goal is you and a partner have four hours to complete as many checkpoints as possible in the shortest amount of time possible.

Today was the day of the event and I got up super early to head to the race and arrived early enough to get some cool fog photos and a sunrise through the trees.

It’s been raining in my area fir weeks now and I knew it was going to muddy going into the race and indeed it was. On about the mile we hit our first little wooden bridge and I crashed. The mixture of water and leaves made it like black ice. I was on the ground in an instant.

While getting up my wrist and hand was hurting but I didn’t think it was broken until I pulled my glove off and seen a huge bulge. At that point I tried to squeeze my hand. No luck.

Swollen hand

Knowing it was bad my team mate and I pushed back to the truck, loaded up my bike, and I headed to the emergency room.

After x-rays they told me my hand was broken and that I had done something called a boxers fracture.

X-ray of my hand

According to Wikipedia A boxer’s fracture is the break of the 5th metacarpal bones of the hand near the knuckle. Occasionally it is used to refer to fractures of the 4th metacarpal as well.

They said it would require surgery and they couldn’t do it today but they did need to set it. I had no idea on the pain that I was about endure.

First they stuck my fingers in a Japanese handcuffs contraption and used gravity to start the process of pulling the bones straight. Next they set it by hand by pulling and pushing my fingers. It hurt.

Making the best of it.

At this point it was time to head home and get some rest and tomorrow I get to schedule a survey.

All this reminds me that I need to check on disability insurance. I know I’m not in an industry where we are prone to danger but you just never know.

First Night Mountain Bike Ride

Last night, after work I hit the local trails with the goal of riding until dark so I could try out the pair of Lezyne lights I bought. According to this mountain bike light review, the Lezyne seemed to do a good enough job and was the cheaper of the lights tested so I went with it. I was not disappointed.

On my ride, I rode right up until dusk and then turned both lights on (handlebar mounted and helmet mounted) and it instantly made a world of difference. As it continued to get darker the lights really impressed me. The only thing I didn’t expect was the number of bugs flying at your face. I guess I should have thought of this because it’s no different than a car, but it’s much worst when your heart rate is 180 and you are breathing with your mouth open.

I am curious to see if after it’s fully dark if the bugs are less crazy, but I’ll find out soon enough. This is definitely something I want to continue doing through the winter and I’m a little disappointed it has taking me this long to try night riding. I’ve been really missing out.

Xbox Adaptive Controller

In my family, we are not big gamers. We have an old WII and then just iOS games. The main reason for this is because one of my family members has slight cerebral palsy that affects their entire left side. Going through life with this has its challenges and playing has always been pretty much out of the question. The only controller they could use one-handed​ was the original Nintendo and of course the WII.

AdptvCntlr_Top_Alt_RGB.jpgThis week, Xbox announced a new Adaptive Controller that aims to help those with disabilities:

For gamers with limited mobility, finding controller solutions to fit their individual needs has been challenging. The solutions that exist today are often expensive, hard to find, or require significant technical skill to create. A number of individuals and organizations are creating custom solutions, but it has been often difficult for them to scale when most rigs need to be so personalized.

Joining the Xbox family of controllers and devices, the Xbox Adaptive Controller was created to address these challenges and remove barriers to gaming by being adaptable to more gamers’ needs.

You can find out more information about this controller on the Xbox site and sign up to be notified as soon as it’s available.

Photos from DuPont State Forest

A couple of weeks ago I went mountain biking in DuPont and had a blast. After coming home and telling my family about it we decided to rent a VRBO in the area and spend mother’s day weekend hiking and exploring the area. Below is a bunch of photos from the three waterfalls, Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls. All within a 2 mile out and back walk.

Photos from the cabin

Photos from the waterfalls:

Photos from the iconic covered bridge

Finally, here is the Strava segment showing the path we walked. Keep in mind we were walking with two kids that had to look at every tree on the way so it took way longer than it should. haha

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