When I was young, I did this thing called Silva Mind Control. It taught me meditation, and various other mental techniques that have come in handy throughout my life. One of the techniques that we learnt was for memorising lists of things – they called it “Memory Pegs” in Silva. It turns out that this technique is generally known as “The Major Mnemonic System” derived from a technique developed in the 1600s. I became more interested in mnemonics after the book “Moonwalking with Einstein” shot to fame, especially combined with all the studying I have been doing over the years which made me desperate for faster ways of remembering things. It made me dust off this technique and start to use it again.
I am currently experimenting with coding using a Vortex Pok3r Mechanical Keyboard. I’m not sure whether it was a good buy or not. My rationale was that has a programmer, my keyboard is my primary tool, and it makes sense to have the best that I can get. I quite like the action of the keyboard, but it is too early yet to tell whether it is making me more productive or not.
I have both an iPad Pro and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet running Linux. Depending on what I am planning on doing on a day-to-day basis affects which device I carry around. Mostly I carry my Surface, as I have Linux installed, and it allows me to easily do development, remotely administer machines, or do general computing tasks. The keyboard on it isn’t great however – it’s kind of flimsy and doesn’t work well if it’s not on a firm surface. I can’t easily use it on a train for example. It was perfect when we were in Australia for a month, and allowed me to both work and do University assignments. I can use it as a tablet for reading, but it isn’t great for that.
I wrote up a post this morning on micro-behaviours, triggers and rewards. Later on I was checking out Hacker News when I stumbled on this post by Alex Coleman, on how to get stuff done. Both posts refer to the same original work by Dr Fogg on micro-behaviours. In my post I emphasize using “triggers” to trigger the new habit, which may be an existing habit or environmental cue. In Alex's post, he puts a lot of emphasis on setting up a routine or schedule. The time itself becomes the trigger.
I watched this TED talk video on changing behaviour a few days ago, which really inspired me to take a more structured approach to developing a new positive habit. The key points of the video are that in order to affect long-term behavior change, you need to have a trigger – some habit that you already have, or an environmental queue that you can chain the new behavior from. You also need to make the new behavior as easy to do as possible. You want to associate a “micro-behavior” with your trigger – something that can easily become a habit, but that you can later expand to fully incorporate the new habit you are trying to achieve. Finally, you need to reward yourself in some way every time you do the micro-behavior.
I had heard a while ago that the ideal holiday was one in which you had a fairly bad start to it, but with a peak experience close to the end of the holiday. The rationale is that we tend to base our judgement of the holiday on the range of our trough-to-peak experiences. The larger the spread between the trough and the peak, with the peak occurring towards the end of the experience, the better we perceive the experience to be.
Sometimes I think the best way to get things done is just to allocate space in the day in order to achieve them. For example; I find it hard to write blog posts. Left to my own devices, my blog would resemble a desolate wasteland. But all I need to do is allocate 10 minutes out of my day in order to write something, and I can get something written that I can upload to my blog.
This is the beauty of time-boxing, of the Pomodoro technique: It forces you to allocate a fixed section of time in which to achieve something. If you just make a space in time it’s amazing what you can do.
Not a terribly productive day today. I alternated between studying for my Open University M343 statistics exam and working on Judga Property – my latest iOS app. I also went to the gym, which is that big break in the middle of the day.
I have created the following bit of Emacs Lisp that generates my daily productivity graph and displays it in it’s very own emacs buffer. You can kill the buffer by pressing the ‘q’ key.
Today I worked out how to use Things as a Kanban system. The trick is to use the “Focus” top-level item on the sidebar properly. A lot of my tasks had built up in the “Next” folder. I moved all those tasks from “Next” into the “Someday” folder. Then I only move into the “Next” folder the stuff I’m planning to work on that day. The task I’m currently working on I move into the “Today” folder.