Week in Review - Week #1

Reimagine Week #1 - 14 Oct 2023 -20 Oct 2023

It has been a week since I started my leave of absence to pivot my career to be more hands on in tech. Here is how my Week 1 went. This is mostly a stream of consciousness instead of a well-formatted post, because it was important that I publish it at the end of the week - progress not perfection!

What I did during the week

  • started learning two JavaScript courses in parallel - Modern JavaScript by Execute Program and Learn JavaScript by Jad Joubran. Each of these courses have different strengths - one is a typical structured course with a set of chapters each explaining a concept, a lot of examples and exercises, whereas the other one is a set of best practices of writing modern JavaScript. I think it is important to understand both. Also, the Execute Program course follows the spaced repetition format and hence limits the amount of material you can cover everyday.

  • did strength training routine of Julian.com Build Muscle program Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and walked more than 8K steps most of the days. This is the first time I am able to follow the routine for a whole week.

  • connected with a few colleagues and friends who wanted to understand more about my journey and my learning plan.

  • signed up for piano lessons - yay! Back in 2019, I had taken a beginner lesson, but couldn’t continue it along with work. This time I found a new teacher nearby. She teaches multi-level class where each student will be at a different skill level, but they all learn and play together as an ensemble. Fascinating concept I want to try.

  • walked around the neighbhorhood for all errands including farmer’s market, grocery shopping and piano lessons. It was amazing to walk around rather than drive. Adds to the steps as well!

  • cleared a huge pile of papers on the desk in my home office - that pile had been accumulating for the last 6 months, so it took a while to sort them out and file away. Glad that it is done!

  • created a GitHub repo to consolidate all my learnings - sample code, exercise challenges etc. https://github.com/annjose/learn-javascript. Also took detailed notes in Obsidian, linking it to the github repo. Hope this will help in refreshing my lessons later.

  • today my husband and I went for a bike ride along the Los Gatos Creek trail - we hadn’t used the bike for years, but it was in good condition. It was a beatuiful day and the ride was lovely.

  • made an attempt to restore the frontyard lawn which had become patchy and dry - bought seeds and top soil from Gilroy, and spread them around. This is yet another first-time activity, but so far it is ok - there are small green shoots coming up!

What I learned this week - the insights

  • Time flowed at a controlled pace, allowing me to be fully present in whatever I am doing - be it studying, coding, cooking or even doing chores. Never had I felt like that earlier.

  • Last week’s LinkedIn post gathered a lot of momentum and engagement. I am grateful for the support and encouragement from everyone - from my college friends, all the way to members of my team. It was also surprising to know that a lot of people are in the same boat as me - want to be more hands on and closer to tech.

  • I had long conversations on the phone with my dad which turned out to be really good. I shared my learning plan with him and he gave feedback. It was really nice to talk to him without the sense of hurry.

  • I realized that I really enjoy doing exercise when there is no pressure to do other things after the exercise. The strength training routine I am following now is enjoyable too - it focuses on self discovery rather than a Peloton trainer giving isntructions. I also enjoyed walking on the treadmill watching a movie or video. Everyday I woke up wanting to do exercise.

  • at the beginning of my week, my breaks between focus sessions were becoming longer than I intended to. I would finish 3 lessons in a row and take a break, but that break would led to checking email, LinkedIn, some news and in no time, 60 mins is gone. I should be intentional about how long the break is and what I will do during the break.

  • A lot of coding courses these days are following the spaced repetition learning pattern, wherein they teach a concept, ask questions on the topic, give coding challenges, then repeat the same questions the next day and a few days after that. This helps you retrieve what you learned and remember it for the longer term.

  • Some of the pedestrian crosswalks in my neighborhood have a “Wave” button in addition to “Press” button to activate the pedestrian light. So, instead of pressing the black arrow button, you can just wave your hands in front of it and the light will turn on at the right time. That was pretty cool.

  • Finally, I think found a good rhythm of learning which helped me focus well and capture my learnings. After a few days of trial and error, this is the Flow Routine that is working well for me:

    • watch the video course - one chapter at a time
    • write notes in Obsidian as I listen to each chaper/concept
    • do the code exercises as per the course
    • write the code in VS Code to solidify the concept
    • copy the code to VS Code with syntax highlighting
    • refine the notes in Obsidian with any new learnings from the code
    • Commit and push the code to my GitHub repo.
    • Rinse repeat
    • Study/code for 50 min and rest for 10 min.

When I follow this routine, I am very calm, productive and enjoy it a lot. I am in the Flow! Yassss! I wanted this so much! 🎉 💪.

Looking Ahead to Next Week

In the coming week, I want to:

  • be more consistent with the start-time for the day
  • continue refining the breaks - time-boxed and varied
  • do additional time for piano practice
  • plan meals in advance for greater preparedness
  • do more reading, maybe 30 min everyday
  • incorporate biking into my routine, particularly for piano class

Primary goals for the upcoming week

  1. complete the courses - Learn JavaScript and Modern JavaScript
  2. solidify the exercise routine - strength and walking
  3. refine The Flow routine

I’m also itching to dive into several small projects: updating my blog engine to the latest Hugo version, revamping my blog’s theme, implementing search functionality in my personal knowledge-base through embeddings, and even crafting my own HackerNews client. But, those exciting endeavors will have to wait for another week. Stay tuned! 🛠️

Right now, as I conclude this week, I’m filled with enthusiasm for what lies ahead and ready to embrace the week with open arms.

Learn everyday. Progress, not perfection! 🚀💪.

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