While everyone has been preparing this year’s resolutions, I wanted to share the ones I had for last year. I was getting the feeling that I did not do very well with them, but after writing them down, it turns out I accomplished a lot and it makes me want to achieve more next year.
One of the things I am often asked by people is: “how do I manage to get to do so many things on my free time?” When I hear this question, my first thought is: “well, you obviously haven’t visited my blog often…”
To me if I can help one single person throughout the contents of my blog or inspire someone with my talks, I would achieve my goal: I would have made the world a bit better. For this reason, I tend to wait for inspiration to write; I might be doing a research for the next post, or working on learning a skill.
Therefore, once you are aware of your end goal, I think the first step to get more things done is to find inspiration. You can get this from reading books, articles, attending to talks, having active friends, joining courses or projects… But, be careful, sometimes this could be counterproductive. Maybe seeing how everyone around you manage their time so well, discourages you for not being able to do as good. Don’t let this bring you down, everyone has their own tempo and you can start at any point in your life.
A trick I use sometimes when watching or listening to some content, it what I call the ‘2x factor’: set it up 2 times the normal speed. I don’t recommend you do this with everything, for me it generally depends on the speaker’s speaking pace. When the speaker is talking slow or about something I already know or don’t find very interesting, I increase the speed of the video. I find generally 1.50x is a good speed for me for most things, 2x might be too fast and whilst I can understand everything, it makes me nervous.
If getting inspiration is the first step, the second one, to me, is to get to action. Sounds easy? Get started on anything, even for 5 minutes a day, and you will be achieving more than you are right now. I particularly enjoy the ‘pomodoro technique’ (with rewards), in which you try to work 25 minutes straight followed by a 5 minutes break (in which I grab some drink or snack). I find it very hard to finish the 25 minutes the first two or three times but then I start hating the alarm for taking breaks because it interrupts my flow.
One of my new year resolutions was to track my readings. I’ve noticed I’ve been reading here and there, never really stopping to think about my progress.
First thing I did to firstly, check my progress and secondly inspire myself to read more is to join the goodreads reading challenge. Since I was not sure how much I was currently reading, I set it to be 24 books.
I was shocked to realise that I read 6 books the first month. Ok, let’s be fair, half of those were audiobooks, I love walking around and having them help me get to more information. Because of traveling or other commitments, I didn’t get to 6 books every month, but I also didn’t track them all.
I discovered that sometimes Goodreads didn’t have the book I was reading and sometimes it just removes books from your shelves without noting. I contacted their support (as suggested on that link) and all I was told was to re-add them and make up the dates I read them… This proved to me that it is not a good place to track books so I’ll be happy to hear of other options if you have any.
At the end of the year, taking all of this into account, I achieved almost 60 books in 2019, so I set this as my 2020 goal. However, I want to keep my focus on quality over quantity and I believe this number may also depend on the length and difficulty of the chosen books.
In order to motivate myself, I like having some commitments to push myself to do them, for example, participating in meetings and conferences such as the automation guild (it’s an online conference, you might be still on time to join this year’s). The videos for it took me longer than expected, but I learnt a lot because of that. I presented in a total of 5 conferences around the world and spoke in a couple of meetups. If you want to know more of my past and future appearances, you can do so here.
Another way I have of motivating myself is by joining courses. Last year I wanted to finish the VR course I’ve been pushing aside for a while. I’ve been doing some research in VR and that has taken priority over the course, but paying a course monthly and not having time to work on it is really painful. On the other hand, not paying for a course makes me less committed to it. This year, I want to work more on my AI knowledge.
Another thing you can do to get inspired is to write a list of life achievements or values you want. If you have it nearby and read it often, it could help you focus on what’s more important for you. Also, try activities that get you excited, find other passions.
Some months I was focused on improving Chinese, practising piano and meditating. Besides, on summer I went back to Spain from China, so was recovering from jet-lag for a couple of weeks and then decided to enjoy some time off too.
Another new year resolution was to practice yoga at least 3 times a week and going to the gym at least 3 times too. I’ve been quite regular with this, even when travelling, except the times I’ve been sick.
Next year, I would like to plan better the activities and periods of break, the same as I plan for work or conferences. Otherwise, commitments can get in the way and push everything out and compensation later on does not seem to be the best solution.
One of my 2019’s resolutions was to travel more, and I think I surpassed my expectations: I travel through China (Beijing, Xian, Zhangjiajie, Tongren, Guilin..), US (San Francisco), Japan (Tokyo), Spain (Valencia), UK (London), The Netherlands (Amsterdam), Germany (Berlin, Dusseldorf..), Switzerland (Zurich) and Russia (Moscow).
I moved to a new city but, because I was meeting many new people throughout the trips and did a lot of sight seeing of the visited places, I did not feel like engaging in many activities there. I did go to a Muse concert (which was, as usually, quite amazing) and walked around a lot. I like doing this when I go to a new city as I feel getting lost is actually the best way of getting to know a place.
Something else that works for me is to list the things I’ve done in the day at the end of it. Same for the year, as you’ve read. This is a way of being appreciative, which makes me want to achieve more.
Being grateful is also really important. Another daily writing or morning meditation, if you wish. I struggled with this because some days I might not interact with anybody as to be grateful to them. However, you can be grateful to yourself and your achievements and for the opportunities and the good that’s on its way and the good that happens to others.
I’ve counted 12 post that I have half written, so keep checking because there is a lot to come. A couple of them are on VR (I might merge them into one), thoughts to share, AI, API testing… If you are especially interested in one of those, let me know so I give it priority.
I like most of my last year’s resolutions, I want to keep them, and I haven’t added up much to this year: do things to make the world better, block times of rest, have more patience, look at the brighter side of everything, get an AI specialisation, write more on my blog, find a new app for my reading… Would I manage to add all of that? That’s…well…another story.