It’s December by the time I’m publishing this. The title is no longer accurate. Word #1 of this page was a lie. How does that feel for a good start?
A lot has changed for me in the past 6 months. I don’t even mean the obvious things like “my kid can walk” and “I switched roles at work”, although both of those things (and many others) are true. The things I’m thinking about are more goal & systems-focused. I’ve made a lot of changes to what things I do, and the way I do them.
There is another implication of this - I fixed the difficulties I was facing in writing posts. So, more frequent, less gargantuan posts are incoming.
Morning Me Time
For the past 3 weeks I’ve been waking up at 5am and walking down to my home gym. That’s all I’m committed to doing. The alarm goes off at 5. I go downstairs. I touch my phone to an NFC tag in the gym. It gives me a little pop-up asking if I’m going to exercise, work on a project, or go back to sleep. Whichever answer I choose will be logged to my Life Tracker and texted to my wife. I’m not anti getting back in bed… in fact most mornings as I”m walking down the stairs I have every intention to press the “going back to sleep” button… but by the time I make the choice, I’m usually awake enough to make the right one.
This routine change has been stellar. I have exercised up to my goal quota for the week. I have made actual progress in my drive to learn computer sciencey-crap. I’ve written more (including this). I drive to work with a sense of clarity that I was desperately missing.
I should thank James Clear and his book Atomic Habits, which I reviewed in my previous Column. To make this wake-up-early routine work, I’m employing roughly 6 or 7 different habit-building techniques all at once.
- Committing to a 2 minute habit I can keep instead of a longer one I’ll fail to maintain
- Tailoring the environment to remove bad cues (get me away from my bed) and surface good ones (go near my squat rack)
- Habit stacking: alarm means go to the gym
- Habit tracking with the Life Tracker integration
- Social reinforcement with the text message
- Automation of the two things above
- Bonus automation for the decision to set the repeating alarm
I’ve spent the past 4 or 5 years exercising by almost exclusively lifting weights and playing the odd sport every now and again. I almost never did yoga. I never did steady state cardio. I never did HIIT outside of basketball season. In September I realized the imbalance in my fitness regiment. I developed (and wrote about) a generalized fitness test. I put a recurring task in my Todoist to do a new workout routine every 8 weeks. The past 8 weeks I’ve been doing P90X3. I am going to continue this new focus on a more well-rounded routine going forward.
Aaron Information Management
The section header here is a throwback to this post I wrote in May, it’s not the common phrase I think about. BUT! Yeah most things I put in that Column were obsoleted by Notion and Todoist. I’m using Todoist for my Getting Things Done system. The best part is, Melissa is using it too. We have a joint task management system & integrated calendars. We both have our own sections, and then we both have access to the family ones. It’s genuinely made us six to ten times more “on top of things”. Notion is a harder product to describe. It’s everything you make of it. It’s a project management/notetaking/record keeping/wiki creation/databasing super product. I’m using it for project management and my Gillespedia drafting.
Both of those links are referral codes, by the way. I assume I’m under some legal obligation to mention that? I don’t know.
It looks different because it is different. I like it better now. It will continue to grow & evolve. I’ve finally got a system set up to update it from both my computers with relative ease. So expect good* things.
The Life Tracker
My long-running project “The Life Tracker” has seen its most meaningful change since 4/22/2018 (the day it turned 5 years old). It now has a “realtime” component. It was an obvious addition, but sometimes obvious things are only obvious after the fact. I still do a “main” tracking routine each night via filling out a Google Form, but now I can make little addendums throughout the day… or have them made for me via automation.
Oh and I’m using my morning “me” time to actively investigate building it into a legitimate webapp that I could potentially use as a secondary source of income. Neat-o gang.
Is a real thing. In May I wrote about the idea. Now I actually have 20+ articles finished on there… with ideas for many more. It is a bit tedious to go to right now. Website hosting on publicly-accessible Notion pages isn’t really what that platform was meant to do. Soon I’ll transition it to something closer to the Column here, or any wiki page you’ve seen.
As of yesterday, my desktop PC went from being a cluttered mess on which I performed only a few tasks, to a cleanly-focused machine on which I regularly do all the things I care to do. I’ve spent the past ~4 months thinking “man I really need to replace this computer and my Chromebook with a Mac or something” because I was unable to write code, write Columns, and publish my work to GitHub (a habit I want to git into).
Other good news
My family and I are healthy and happy living in a good house with financial stability. You know, the little things.
Top 5: “Next Steps”
- Get better at putting pictures in these posts.
- Finish the curriculum of freecodecamp.org/.
- Migrate Gillespedia to something more legitimate.
- Create a webapp, probably using AWS tutorials.
- Pick a bigger and better habit.
Why are you wearing a Hawaiian shirt? Hawaiian shirts are for people who’ve given up on life.
New goals don’t deliver new results. New lifestyles do.
- Also James Clear, in his newsletter