21 June 2010

The toughest nears its end

Howdy! Here I am on a bright Monday morning, enjoying my pomodoro technique counter and good music. It's been a crazy last few days and the madness continues in more exciting as I am announcing Legend Fighting Championship 2 this Thursday! Boy I am nervous and excited. Nervous because this is getting to be a bigger and bigger deal! Excited because, dude, announcer, mixed martial arts, need I say more?!
So check this out, you know how I love productivity and I'm going to refine, refine, refine my systems/process till it's perfect (ie. never) and guess what, in some ways I'm getting there. Right now, when I get a simple thought of something, I've made it dead easy for me to add it to my to do list inbox. Now that sounds great right? Wait till 9pm when I have to clear my inbox. Now one may think oh some of your ideas may not seem so interesting by then. To avoid myself from easily discarding ideas that may be a diamond in the rough, when processing my inbox, I tell myself I do not need to do any of these, even if it's a less-than-2-minutes task so I can at least process my inbox first. Now, after processing, I'm down with more new to do's in my list of things to achieve each day. The biggest issue is that this process has become so efficient that I out produce myself very often. Because many of my sudden ideas (eg. buy bananas) are good ideas that can be achieved, I end up never ever having an empty to do list! Not to mention my daily recurring tasks (eg. updating rootein.com) :P Sometimes, oddly, I look forward to 9pm just so I can do my daily routine work and get it out of the way heh.
So I've been having a tough time finding good background music to work with, I'm sick of Buddha Bar and have been trying all sorts of other stuff, from white noise, to rain water, to percussion music. They're good but none last as long as Buddha Bar did because after a couple of hours, the songs start to repeat and I notice and that's when I get bored of it :P Yes, I'm fussy.
So I went to go watch Chicago last week. Good stuff! Reminded me of my broadway experience while I was in New York. But I have to say Phantom of the Opera still wins for me. Hmm, actually, that'd be a good choice of songs to listen to while working *changes tracks*. Ahhh good stuff, love this sound track.
So the last 10 days has seen me go from having to wake up at 6:30am for an MC gig to stressing the crap out of myself for a recent one because it was to be a very formal gig. I realize the more and more I do it, the better I get at certain phrases one would say. Also, the gap between my English and Chinese MC is quite big really. I guess with English because I know how to be very formal, it comes easy, but with Chinese, some of the formal terms are so new to me, I literally just memorize the sound of the words and say it.... heh. Guess improve formal cantonese has to go on my to do list? :P
Alright, hitting the last 5 minutes of my focus session and I just want to say hey everyone we're hitting 50% of 2010! It's a good time to stop and go hmmmmmm? I know I did and it sure as hell helped a lot, at least I wake up every morning knowing what I need to do with myself and charge through my day immediately, I don't like sitting there while I'm refreshed going hmm? I've come to realize the best time to assign (and only assign) tasks is when your day is pretty much over and you're just assigning tasks for the next day. The reason is because I know I'm not going to do it now and I'm going to bed soon so I'll get some rest, so I'm happily to honestly assign a set of things to get done the next day. When I wake up, boom do do do do done! You should try that too, before we hit July, it's a good time to write out all the things you wanted to get done this year and tell yourself "I only need to start in July" and what may happen is that you want to give yourself a headstart and so you may start working at them at the end of June! Technically you're already late since we're in June! Not January! But this psychological trick does work, you feel ahead of the game. That ahead of the game feeling makes a biiiiiiiiiiig difference to your chance of achieving. I read an article about waking up early and how that ahead of the game feeling forces you to keep achieving because you want to stay ahead rather than just catch up. Sure I used to wake up at 6am and really feel that, but now my ahead of the game comes from simply being on task with my own schedule and workload :)
In 10 days, it'll be 1 July 2010! Let's rock it out!


11 June 2010

The Italian Tomato

I'm baaacckk!!! Woah, and on time for a day 10 entry!
So this week has been the usual, busy, hectic, high-pressure, high-stress and the always positive productive.
Yep, productive because I think I've finally found something that is working very well for my personal style. It's called the Pomodoro Technique. For those of you who are not familiar with this, it's basically the concept of focusing, really focusing for short burts of time rather than try to do everything, all the time. The idea is that for 25 minutes, you have a timer on and within those 25 mins you do only one task. The best thing is that the idea of 25 minutes doesn't sound a lot even though it's really almost half an hour! Usually when I do stuff, I look at the clock and go "here goes the hours" and the next time I look it's 2 hours only... but now with this 25 minutes idea, I know that time won't fly and there's a little rest/reward waiting for me very soon. Not to mention, the idea of "I'll deal with that stuff in 25 minutes" is really re-assuring since you no longer feel the pressure of things just piling up constantly while you're trying to accomplish one task.
On the other hand, to avoid even more distractions, I'm currently enjoying email notifications using Scott's Gmail Alert Notifier for Windows. I've set it to check emails every 20 minutes (used to be 15 minutes) and things are going smoothly. Combine that with the extremely awesome ActiveInbox and I've got me a great set up.
Back to the pomodoro technique. The best thing about this is that you're supposed to hear the ticking sound of the timer as it ticks away every second. Sometimes this can get annoying because it requires that I turn off all my music in the background, but sometimes, it's like a hypnotizing sound that keeps me extremely focused!
Now speaking of the reward, after 25 minutes, you're supposed to take a short 5 minutes break, then get back to the task on hand. To be honest, 5 minutes isn't enough for me so I usually push it to 10 minutes. But the idea that 25+5 = 30 minutes means you can have 2 really focused blocks of time within just 1 hour! And you're less burnt out than working 1 hour straight and requiring 20 - 30 minutes to recover!
So far so good, although I'm really only on day 3 of this technique, it's helped me get a lot of stuff done.
I've also realized that I need to work on my out of sight, out of mind thinking. When I don't see stuff on my to do list, I really shouldn't be thinking about it. There's a reason it doesn't show up there because it's not something I should/need to deal with right now and I can relax for a while. I'm getting better at this because I'm growing more and more confident in my organization skills that I trust the me who decided something could be tended to later had a reason to make that decision back then.
On the other hand, my comedy writing is back on track but I feel I've gotten rusty with my creative writing skills. The bright side is that I've worked out a better organization system for my notes and ideas.
The key is to make sure gathering random ideas should be extremely easy to do. I should not feel like I'm putting much effort into noting down funny ideas. Of course, this will mean a lot of rubbish ideas get added to my system too. But that's where the filtering day comes in. During the filter process, I usually look at my random ideas after a few days and harshly judge if I think there's something there or it just is not funny to me anymore. Delete the bad ideas? Never. Anyone who knows me realizes that my need to log everything down extends to my ideas, I couldn't live with myself throwing away an idea, be it good or bad! So I just mark it as a bad idea and keep it elsewhere in the system out of my sight. Who knows it may be funny again one day!
My fitness routine has taken an upgrade because I've worked out some better nutritional habits that have helped me better recover from workouts. I still have to figure out a way to minimize the fatigue I feel near the last 10 minutes of my workouts. May I also say I have become a real addict to Promax Double Fudge Brownie bars. Partly also because I've been on the run this whole last 10 days so I've consumed, literally 1 a day while running from here to there. At least it gives me a smile when I stop and eat one of these :) mmm
And finally, we're reaching the 2:30 mark of my 25 minutes session, so I'm going to wrap things up. I've been re-thinking about a lot of my personal systems that I've been using and have found areas where I really could use an improvement, chances are I'm not alone or someone has found a similar solution. But what I've found what Abraham Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” to be extremely true. I mean I always believed it, but boy does it pay to better prepare and plan. Now that I plan the next day before I go to bed religiously, I feel like after a good night's rest, all I have to do is...well... focus on doing! The same with my systems, with proper systems in place, I no longer need to worry about the administration side of things, all I need to do is, do things! Be productive, not organized!
Separately organization with productivity has been a blessing in disguise! :)
Time's up! Have a fun 10 days!


01 June 2010

The shakiness begins again

Woah, it's been a while since I've felt this overwhelmed with...stuff. I mean seriously, I haven't seen my to do list empty in the last 10 days no matter how hard I try! I was supposed to re-think my daily 24 hour schedule so I could better slot in my Chinese comedy writing, but I have literally written 0% comedy in the last 10 days.... damnit.

Well, on a brighter note, today is the first day in a while since I didn't need to have a packed day of meetings, so I'm at least able to focus on my own things today (well by own I mean actually sit and clear my 58353853028042 to do's!). So far no good. Ahaha, my inbox has been growing all morning so for every 1 thing I get done, suddenly 2 creep up :\.

And here we are in June, the 6th month of the year. In 30 days we'll have reached the 50% mark of 2010. Woah. That's really quite intimidating. Heck, today's already the 152nd day of the year! 152 days already! Woah!

So after a year and a half use of my lovely iRiver E100 mp3, I've finally caved and decided it needs to be replaced. The slot where I insert my headphone jack was loose and I could barely listen to 10seconds of a song without crackling and other noise. Yes I want clarity in my heavy metal music. Ironic but true. So I was looking around at mp3's yesterday and came across the Samsung YP-CP3 and it was this close to going into my pocket (and adding itself to my lovely monthly expenses) before I realized, a HK$600 investment here may not be worth it. Especially since I so badly want to change my extremely shitty Windows Mobile phone. But the only awesome Android based phone I am totally in love with is the Motorola Milestone which is going to set me back almost HK$4000! I've been eyeing this device for a while already but I can't justify the spending of that amount of money just to put a smile on my face. I mean, my current phone as shitty as it is, still is functional and I get what I need to do done on it. Even things that don't work well, I've found ways to hack around and make it do what I need it to do for me. So why the upgrade right? I mean, seeing as the Milestone can also be an mp3 player is an extremely attractive thing and instead of buying a separate mp3 player for HK$600 I could use this, but then what about the other HK$3400 I'd have to add to it? Ok so if I sell my current phone as second hand I can get HK$500 for it. OK, so we need to justify HK$2900. Ahaha and that just ended all my fantasies.

On a better note, at least I've promised myself that this coming christmas I'm getting rid of my current phone, it'll be 2 years old and I'll finally be able to accept it as insufficient and done what it could do for me in the last 2 years.

So here I am back at square one. No new phone, no new mp3 player, no progress in comedy writing, busy as hell and basically where I was 10 days ago. Sure a lot happened during this time but from a personal level, I don't feel like I've progressed at all....damnit. So I really don't have much to share here other than keeping my fingers crossed and well hoping for the best in the next 10 days. I can feel a major blog entry (every 6 months) right round the corner so I sure as hell want to make sure I have stuff to celebrate by then :)

Enjoy the 10 days of (hopefully) peace and good times :)