OK, here we are at Week #2 of the “new beginning” I set forth mid October - a journey which did not get a specific name, but it doesn’t matter. I guess some things are better served unnamed, yeah? Anyway, let’s jump into the review. As always, this is free flow writing and I will follow the same format as last week’s review.
What I did during the week
An honest review of this week should start by reviewing the goals I set out at the beginning of the week. These are the goals I decided in my last week’s review:
Solidify the exercise routine - strength and walking - I am happy with the progress of this goal. I did strength training by the Julian.com Build Muscle program on all three days (Mon, Wed and Fri). I also realized that I am most productive and fresh in the mornings, whereas there is a slump in the afternoons, so I decided to start the day with learning and then do exercise in the afternoon. This followed by a bath gives me energy late into the evening. The strength exercises are simple, but hard to do because of the weights, and I really enjoy doing them - takes about 45 min to complete the routing. In terms of walking, I did more than 9K steps on 3 days. Should improve this a lot more. Need to improve the consistency of 9K steps (all 7 days).
Refine The Flow routine - This has improved a lot from last week. I found a good rhythm of 50 min work + 10 min break, using Obsidian to take notes, Visual Code for coding, debugging and checking in code to my git repo. All of this while taking leisure breaks to walk, play the piano or doing small chores. However, there were days when I just couldn’t follow this routine - see details below in the Learnings section.
Other goals/tasks done..
Started the first piano lesson (yay!) on Tuesday. My class has only 5 students - all of them adults who are learning piano to refresh their childhood lessons, or just for fun, or to learn along with their children. It is inspiring to see them starting to learn a new skill in adulthood - just like me. It is never too late to learn something, right?
Talked to my daughter many times during the week. We have made a routine of doing 10 min calls in the morning or evening - on Google Meet - me, my husband and daughter together. I really enjoy those calls and look forward to them, the fact that it is 10 min lowers the bar to call everyday and still keep in touch.
Prepared meals for the week with a couple of simple curries and rice. I used to do this earlier as well, but hadn’t done during the first week. I learned that even if I am staying home, it is important to have the food ready in the fridge so that I will have a healthy lunch on time and not worry about what is for dinner. I want to include more vegetables and greens in the diet.
Tinkered with my blog in a lot of ways and had fun….
- Upgraded my blog to the latest Hugo version to the latest 0.119.0. I wanted to do it for a long time, but kept procrastinating. Fun fact - I searched in Google “upgrade hugo version” and the 13th result was my own blog post Upgrading my blog engine Hugo
- Updated my blog’s theme to make a few changes - mostly subtle changes like font colors, font size, unified the link styles etc - but I love it now. I also want to change my theme to a new one, preferably one that uses Tailwind CSS since that is the CSS framework I am going to learn in two weeks. After some searching and suggestions from Mario, my wonderful teammate (and Hugo enthusiast), I found a few good templates - Hugo theme Blist, Wowchemy (I like the theme Academic Resume) and Hugo Tailwind themes (I like the theme Luna).
- Went down a rabbit hole to learn about my blog’s commenting system. I use Disqus as the commenting system and I hadn’t looked at it for a long time. So I logged into my account, took care of all the pending comments and updated the configuration for the reactions text. I realized that this system is not bad, but I want to have more ownership of the data, so I am considering Giscus as an alternate solution because it uses GitHub discussions. One caveat is that Giscus requires people to have a github account to add comments, which could be a constraint for many, so I need to think through a little bit more before I switch to it.
What I learned this week - the insights
- Not all days are equal in terms of motivation. This week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday were very productive. Tuesday was a total meh! I just couldn’t focus on anything. I got so frustrated that I sent this note to my family that afternoon….
“Family,, I am not able to focus today :( . After coming back from the piano lesson (almost 3 hours back), I have been goofing around - having lunch, watching videos and stuff. I am not able to sit down and study. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”
… and they said it’s ok, you can start now. Exactly - it’s ok. I accepted the fact that some days will go as I want, some days won’t. And it’s ok. That is how life is - think of what you can do next.
Reflect, reflect, reflect - Practicing bullet journal reflections really helped me stay focused for the rest of the week. Ironically, I was able NOT able to do everything I planned for, but I knew what I did and what I didn’t, which means I can do better the next day. And I did not use any fancy pens, Washi tapes or calligraphy - I used just a black pen and a book, that’s it. The key here is that you do reflections of the day and the week, that’s it.
Track exercises for strength training and steps - Track the # of sets, reps in each set, the weights you are lifting in each rep and the difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10. I am tracking this in a plain notebook everyday. This week, I was doing shoulder press with 20 lbs dumbbells and I found it really difficult, especially the last two reps. While doing it, I thought it was not this difficult last week, so I looked at the notebook to last week and saw that it was difficult last week also - with difficulty 9 out of 10, and I could do only 10 reps, whereas this week I could do 12 reps. Numbers don’t lie - if you track it honestly. So I should track everyday.
Two things I learned about my two favorite tools:
- Visual Studio code extensions model is awesome - I wanted to open a toml config file, searched for an extension, installed it and it gave syntax highlighting and validation - all within 2 min. The flexibility that it offers to configure the settings per project - auto-format on save, light vs. dark mode etc. is amazing. All of this I can do through the UI or through a simple change in JSON. Light-weight, blazing fast, keyboard-friendly - what more do you need from an IDE?
- Obsidian allows you to embed content of a page/section as inline inside the current page. It helps you organize main content in one place and refer to them in other pages. This feature is combining Block References and Embedding Files. The markdown syntax for this is pretty simple - add a regular internal link and prefix it with an exclamation mark
!\[\[fileName#section^block\]\]. (do not include the backspaces).
I unlearned something too - deep focused work cannot be done by sitting down for long hours. You should intersperse it with regular breaks because it helps you in three ways 1) pull you out of accidental rabbit holes, 2) force you to step back and revise/reflect what you were doing and 3) make your body be more active. My FitBit has an hourly activity reminder to take 250 steps every hour. If I haven’t moved at all for the hour, it would send you a notification 10 minutes before the hour. This was super useful and forced myself to get up from the chair and walk around the house. Sometimes, when I get the notification, I would think “yeah I will walk right after finishing this small thing”, and forget about it until 3 min to the hour. Then I would jump on the treadmill and ran for 2 min. See it’s ok to cheat as long as it will help you not become a chair potato 🙂.
My husband gave me a great feedback on exercise to do one thing that would push myself on cardio, something that will make me sweat and increase the heart-rate to the 150 range. I think he is right - even on days when I took 10K steps, I was walking on the treadmill while watching something (movie or show), so I cannot go above the speed of 3.2 mph. I can do this on the rest-days of strength training (i.e. Tue, Thu and Sat). So we thought of a few options to sweat:
- row 2000m in 10-11 min (I haven’t used our rowing machine for a while now.)
- walk at 4mph speed for 30 min on the treadmill (this will be 2 miles)
- run for 15 min (grrrrr…. I hate running, but let’s see).
Looking Ahead to Next Week
Primary goals for next week (Week #3)
- Improve the consistency of walking 9K steps every.single.day and do 2000m rowing three days (Tue, Thu, Sat) 💪
- Continue to refine The Flow routine - move around >= 10 min every hour 🚶👟.
- Play the song Perfect by Ed Sheeran on the piano - both hands 🎵🎹
- Read one book 📚
Goals around the corner in November
- Learn React, Tailwind, NextJS
- OpenAI Dev Day is coming up on Nov 6th! They accepeted my request to attend in person. Looking forward to it!
- Read more - strangely enough, my regular reading (fiction) has
- Refresh my classical dance lessons (Bharathanatyam)
Overall, I feel good about week #2. I should remember to set realistic expectations and make things consistent. Meh days are ok, Hey days are right around the corder. And as always, Learn everyday. Progress, not perfection! 🚀💪.comments powered by Disqus