Make Time

Instead of yelling “I don’t have time for this”, perhaps is time for us to make time for it. Being caught in the endless busyness seems like a “thing” for most of us, and sadly busyness has also become a benchmark on how hardworking and important you are in some organization. Juggling a handful of never ending tasks makes you think that you are productive, but doing more doesn’t really matter. What matter is doing “what matters”.

Hence, the book Make Time was born. Written by ex-Googler, asking you to ditch both Gmail and YouTube (haha…) in order to gain back some sanity in your life… well, kind of. The overarching idea is to get yourself out from doing things that don’t matter in your life, away from the “noise”, away from infinity pool of pointless distraction (like YouTube, social media), so that you will have time to work on things that matter to you most, everyday.

The basic concept was simple.

Select a Highlight for your day, something that must be done, something that will make you feel fulfilled when done, something that means a lot to you. It could be work related or something personal. Then put it in your schedule, make time for it and nothing should come into its way throughout the day.

Make sure you are Laser focus when working on your highlight (or anything else). Shutdown all possible distractions, lock yourself in a room if you need to, during your scheduled time there is only one task that you need to worry about and that is to complete your highlight of the day.

As your work on your highlight, your energy level will drop, battery will drain. Hence, it is important to refuel yourself. Power nap, meditation, careful use of caffeine will give you that extra boast to Energize yourself and keep you going.

Last but not least, end your day (or start your day) by Reflecting what works, what went wrong, and what you could do better in the next days or weeks. Tweet your schedule, method or approach accordingly.

A lot of the things mentioned in the book were already in practice by myself, such as avoiding distraction. Although I don’t go as far as to keep only one row of apps on my phone, I have disabled notification for most of the apps and only check on them when I’m free and have nothing better to do. For me, perhaps what I need to start practicing is to set highlight for my day and plan a little harder on my schedule to make time for it. Well, I’m not particularly “short of time” everyday, but often we got caught up to answering people’s request and neglected our task at work. So that’s something I would try out for my work and see if it works well for me.

If you need some help in managing your time, this is a good read for you. Till then.

The motivation myth

“I don’t feel motivated to do this”
“I need some motivation to do this”
“I need to set a few milestone goals along the way to keep myself motivated”

I am also guilty in saying some of the “excuses” above. This is a book authored by Jeff Haden to explore how to keep yourself motivated. Is it to set a reward in the end of the process? Is it to make a few milestone goals and keep reminding yourself everyday? Is it to paste post-it note all over the place with best quotes from the best people?

Hell no, according to Jeff.

“Dream big. Set a huge goal. Commit to your huge goal. Create a process that ensures you can reach your goal. Then forget about your huge goal and work on your process instead.”

Jeff is an advocate of “process”. One needs to create a process, a habit that will put one in the right state of mind or in the flow, and keep working on the process itself without keep looking at the goal. A lot of people believed that they need a spark in order to be motivated, be it some short term reward or some benefits to start the ball rolling. However, all these are temporary and unsustainable, which leads to one dropping out half way citing “I don’t feel motivated anymore”.

The book took an example from world famous guitarist. When asked what keeps him motivated to be the best, what was the secret recipe that made him the best, the answer was surprisingly simple. It goes something like this: “I wanted to be good in playing guitar. So I set the routine of keep playing, keep practicing, trying to be better and better every time. Never once I thought about how far I am from being the best. I just keep playing.”

One key learning that I agree well with this book is the setting up of “process” or habit. If you want to achieve something, it is important to set out the process which will guide you towards your goal. And then of course, stick with your process. Though I think at times it is good to measure how far you are from your goal and calibrate your process along the way as you go. But yeah, focus on the process is really important. That’s how I have been keeping myself writing consistently throughout the years. Noting down on thoughts, ideas, and then spent time in the days to work them through and eventually turning them into posts on my blog.

I do admit there were times when my process broke down, and then I just need to stop for a moment to get it fixed, and continue again. Perhaps I should start doing the same for my photography? I used to have a habit in place, but as life goes on, priorities changed, the habit cycle was broken. Well, if I wanted to do more, I really need to setup a new process for it. The same goes to other goals that I would like to achieve in my life.

“Motivation isn’t something that you have, it is something that you get when you start working on things.”

Hopefully you can extract something useful from this, do read the book to learn more as Jeff also detailed many other aspects about motivation. Till then.

The chicken and egg story

People always argue whether chicken came first or the egg. Its a never ending argument with no right or wrong answer to it. In the world of photography, we do have a lot of such arguments going on daily.

Film vs Digital.
Auto Focus vs Manual Focus.
Straight Out Of Camera or Post Processing.

Just to name a few. Although I do encourage people to discuss their viewpoints about why they prefer one over the other, but often times people will just completely write off opinions from others. Instead, they will just force their theories and pushed it to everyone as if it is the only truth.

For us, we just need to keep our mind open, to understand others, to accept the differences, and finally to form your own view and decision. At least that is what I tried to do all along, try not to comment on things that I do not know, and when information out there is not enough for me, I’ll get my hands dirty and try thing out myself.

That’s the reason why I tried film and rangefinder camera. Now that I know what are they, I’ll know for sure in the future what’s best for me and what I really wanted. Well, that’s not to say I have never caught in the chicken and egg debate before, I did. But as time goes by, you start to learn and realize what really matters, and with that you become a little wiser.

So, what’s the hottest argument you are in lately?

Our memory

Learned an interesting facts recently. Our brain stores our memory. We would normally believed in what we remembered, but in actual fact, our memory is not reliable. As time goes by, our older memories will fade, and when we try to retrieve it, we could possibly end up filling in false memory. In other words, we altered our memory based on what we believed have happened, burn it into our memory, recalling it back and treat it as reality.As I recall some memories, I start to wonder are they altered? Are they real? Are they original? Well, there’s really no way I could verify at the moment.

Let’s bring this into the world of photography. A lot of times you may be asking yourself why are we taking so many pictures of our life, our surroundings. I think it makes sense now that it serves as a reminder, a permanent memory that cannot be altered (well, unless you photoshop it, of course) by us nor our brain. Taking picture is one thing, storing them and sorting them for future reference is another. I think a lot of people just dump their photos into cloud storage or other applications such as Google Photos. As AI evolved, perhaps it will become more intelligent in finding your memories on your behalf. But for now, I’m still using the good old way of indexing photos myself, storing them in folders either by year > month or by special occasion. And once a while, I’ll look back at some of the old photos and cringed… haha.

Are you one of those who stores a lot of old photos? How do you organize them and search for them when needed?

The future is faster than you think

Read this book authored by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler recently. Basically, the book talks about some of the known things of what we can foresee in the coming months or years, such as the rise of electric cars, autonomous driving, reduction in reliance on coal energy and so on. however, at the same time the book also uncovered some of the not-well-known things on emerging technology that are brewing underneath, yet to be publicised, and soon-to-be disruptive enough to change the world. The authors also talked about how individual technologies are going to converge and merge together to bring greater benefits and advancement to all sorts of fields such as computing, energy, advertising and so on.

There are quite a number of key technology advancements that were discussed in the book, one that stood out and mentioned often was related to AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning. Both of these has changed the landscape of computing, which has spill over impact to other field and industries as well. Medicines and vaccines can be developed at a much faster pace, accurate prediction allows for better healthcare, just to name a few examples.

During the COVID-19 lockdown period, I have enrolled myself to an introductory course on AI dubbed as “AI for Industry”. The online course provides a taste of what AI can do, how to use python programming, crunch through data to find meaningful correlation, the basics of machine learning and so on. It took me way past the lockdown period to complete the course as I struggle through especially on programming part. I’m a sucker in programming ever since university. The only programming I have done “successfully” was to use html code to write my own website a good 10+ years ago. Then, which ever programming language that I learn along the way, I just couldn’t really master them.

“Oh boy, am I outdated and left behind by the world?” At times I will ask myself while going through the course. It’s a scary thought, imagine you are no longer relevant to the world around you, how are you going to survive? That is perhaps why life long learning and continuous up-skilling yourself is so important. Anyway, with the help from GitHub and fellow course members… somehow I made it through the course. Am I an expert for AI now? Hell no. I still sucks in AI, python, and everything else. But it did gave me a good context of this field. Hopefully this will give me an idea to explore more on what to learn next. Till then.