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 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.

Digital Minimalism

I’m certainly not the best to talk about this topic, but I’ll just share what I did for the past months in trying to de-clutter my digital life.

First off, deleting apps from my phone. Rarely used, unused apps were all deleted. I used to keep apps that perform unit conversion or currency conversion, but since I can do that easily from web browser anyway, so I have deleted those.

For productivity apps, I try to keep those apps that can make me do more than just one task, effectively making them a 3-in-1 app. For example, I have deleted Excel, Power Point and Word and replace them with the new Office app, which is a lite version of all those 3 apps combined in one.

Reducing social media usage has always been part of my goal too. I have pulled my Instagram account to be private, and no longer spending time scrolling through the ads flooded feed. That left me with only Facebook, which I tried my very best to reduce my time on it as well.

In terms of other life matters, I have decluttered my iMac and external hard disk, a task that took me years to finally get it done. Now everything seems to be more organized. Couple with my continuing effort of reducing subscription services and unwanted apps from my iMac, things just get simpler and less chaotic now.

That leaves me with one last thing to deal with… and that’s my work laptop from my office! Okay, we’ll deal with it some other days. Till then.

I’m not afraid of dying

Yes, seriously, I’m not. Why? Well, what’s the point of feeling afraid and anxious on something that you can’t even control?

“But I want to live longer… I’m still too young to die…” as some said. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I wanted to die young, if possible. I don’t need to live my life up to 70s, 80s or 90s. Some may argue that they are working hard everyday and their life has just begun after their retirement in 50s. Some said they want to see their kids grow up, graduate, get married and have their own family.

For me, I want to live and enjoy my life now, like… now. I don’t want to save all the enjoyment until my retirement, I don’t want to pinch my happiness on unknown circumstances in the future. Like what I had always said, live your current moment to the fullest, live as if today will be your last day of life, live without regrets for tomorrow.

Therefore, it is important to balance my work and personal life, it is important to work a job that I enjoy, it is important to live my life to the best I could. If I die tomorrow, I will not feel a sense of “life is too short”, I will be able to close my eyes and smile.

Of course, the reality is, I have no control over when I will die (that is until the time euthanasia is legalized and become a norm). So it doesn’t mean I will spend all my money just to fulfil my lust for materials and experiences. I am still saving for retirement and for emergency, in case I live that long. If not, the money can always be donated to those in need.

So… here I am today, trying my best to live my life to the fullest, and I hope you are too. All the best, till then.

Talk about habit

Go My Own Way

Habit, something we are used to, and something that we do unconsciously. Some have the habit of drinking coffee every morning, some have the habit of wetting their fingers with your tongue before counting cash. We all have some sort of habit, maybe you may not even realize it.

For me, I was so used to wearing watches that even when I’m not wearing one, I’ll still be constantly raising my wrist to check out the time, and I will feel rather “insecure” for the rest of the day for some reason.

Recently I had picked up a new “habit”… I have been wearing glasses for over 20 years, and last year I had lasik for both of my eyes, so there’s no longer a need to wear glasses. However, my old glasses wearing habit still persist. There were times I tried to “take off my glasses” before washing my face, there were times when I still shield “my glasses” from water spray or rain droplets. The worse was sometimes I felt that I can see things clearer when I’m wearing glasses, despite the glasses is actually just cosmetic without any prescription.

The same goes to photography. Say you are easily drawn to something and you unconsciously groomed the habit of photographing the same thing, even worse if it is at almost similar angle or composition. Some have the habit to shoot things dead centre, some have the habit to over-saturate their photo during post processing.

I believe it is hard to avoid having any habits. The key point instead will probably be whether or not you are aware of your habit, recognize it and stop it when necessary. Maybe you can make that your “new habit” instead? Till then.