In my previous post I mentioned creating an afterwork plan for each day. I want to elaborate a little bit on this concept, because think that it is one of the most important things that I have done to reclaim my time outside of work now that I am living on my own. Unfortunately, the reality of working for a traditional company is that the greater portion of my waking hours on weekdays are occupied by work-related tasks. I am fortunate to live close to where I work, but I still spend:
15-30 minutes to get to work by bike/foot
8 hours working
30 minutes for unpaid lunch
15-30 minutes to get home from work
This all adds up to a total of 9-9.5 hours. For the first couple of months after moving out, I had a terrible habit of getting home and going on the computer for an hour or more putting off getting something for dinner. This was not because I can't easily prepare some food, but because I didn't have a good sense of what I was actually going to make. The habit was also being reinforced by the fact that I was used to doing this from when I lived with my parents, because I would be waiting for dinner when I got home. Unfortunately with the reduced amount of time and flexibility in my schedule, I would often use up all of the prime hours of the night doing nothing in particular, and then only have an hour or so to do something interesting before I was too tired.
I thought about this issue, and came up with a simple solution - create a plan for the night before I get home from work. I usually do this over lunch hour or near the end of the day using google keep, adn I write down two simple details:
What I will Eat
What Action I will do After Eating
I prepare the food as soon as I am changed after getting home, and then I can do the dishes and start on the identified action afterwards. This is a powerful change, since the chaining of habits allows me to eliminate the undefined time that I would be dissapointed to have wasted after the fact. The chain looks like this:
Get Home-->Change-->Heat/Cook Dinner-->Eat-->Dishes-->Activity
I am a fan of unstructured time but I know that activity scheduling is a powerful way to improve mood over time, so I will always schedule something, even if it is "watch some show" or "tidy room." This way, I avoid procrastination caused by undefined time, which makes me feel good about my nights and less frustrated by the lack of time caused by work.
Perhaps due to my new commitment to not oversleeping, the past 2-3 days have really been great. I had a couple light sleeps in my chair (<1 hour), but the overall quality of both my naps and my awake time continues to increase.
Today, for example, I haven't been tired for the past 24 hours. My minor oversleep of 30 minutes was because I was bored and just spacing out at my computer.
Each nap I've had in the past 24 hours was accompanied by an awesome dream, and naturally ended before my alarm clock. Usually when that happens I get another quick nap in before the alarm goes off, but when I woke up early on my most recent nap, I just got out of bed. The funny thing is that I was SURE that I overslept - I felt great and it seemed like I was in bed for hours.
The week has gone by and I have not met my goals. I spent only about 4 hours last week studying and working on exercises. Well short of my goal. Part of my problem is that my goal of building the app that I want seems further away now than when I started. This has led to a perfect excuse to stop studying. While I wish that I could report that I have been successful and that I have scaled all hurdles and met my goal, I didnt.
Everyone knows the cliche by now -- you control your own life. Every decision in the moment is your choice. Some decisions we make are conscious, others are on auto-drive. Many of my daily decisions fall into the latter category. This is one of my greatest weaknesses - most days I move through like a zombie. I follow a pattern that is destructive to my personal and professional goals:
Every day I have about 5 hours of free time after I arrive from work. It should be relatively simple to use that time to study and focus on my goals. While the schedule above doesn't reflect it, I do use that time sometime for other things as well, including, exercise and calling my family. Still, these activities rarely take up more than an hour, and definitely do not occur on a daily basis.
In some sense it is sad that this is only my fourth posting on this blog and two of them have been more negative than positive. Still this blog is not really about me learning to code. It is about my personal effort to overcome my natural tendency towards procrastination and my lack of self-discipline. This is a problem that I have been dealing with for a very long time in my life and while I have achieved some level of success, clearly if I procrastinated less, I would likely be more successful professionally, personally and financially.