Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Update: Daily Exercises

So, yesterday was the end of my first full week trying out my new routine of math, programming, and guitar each day. I felt it was a good introductory week to help me get used to the effort and time required to do such a thing, and I learned a lot about what changes I'll need to make in order to be successful with this process.

I stuck to my plan about 4 days out of the 7. It was a bit of a bad week to start this, as it fell over a holiday weekend, and 2 of the days in the 7 I had softball games (one of which I was injured in). Nonetheless, it was simply an introduction into what it would be like, and successful in that regard.

My guitar playing has improved dramatically. Not to say that I was bad, but I'm able to play some things now after only 7 days than I really ever imagined I'd be able to. As for programming, I found myself solving some complex problems of which recently I found rather stubborn. The Math was probably the hardest thing to sit down and do, and I failed in this department more than any other. However, when I did sit down and work some problems, each day they became easier.

I guess the main things I learned are:
  • It's hard work to do a routine like this with 3 different things. Usually people have a focus on one thing, and that's easy.
  • Tracking progress is essential. I didn't do any sort of that this past week and I don't feel like I can measure what I've accomplished in much of a concrete way. With guitar it's easier because I can set a goal to learn a song or a part of a song, and then do it. The other areas will require some structure.
  • It works.
I'll update this again at some point, at the longest I'll wait until a full month, but I may update it before then. I encourage you to try this out, whether it's with 1 thing, 3 things, or as many as you think you can handle, although I wouldn't push it much past 3 or the point of diminishing returns will surely kick in unless you don't have any other daily responsibilities. I work 2 jobs, so it's a time management exercise as well to fit all this stuff in!

Good luck.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Something has to change

This encompasses more than just programming, but it's the best place for it to go and I didn't feel like creating a new blog section...

I have been pretty busy lately, or that is to say "I've always got a lot to do, but usually don't accomplish what I should due to lack of structure and being worn out."

So, in that light, I came up with a plan to improve my skills in the areas of which I require them: Programming, Math, and Music.

Every day I will do the following:
  • Write code - I tend to do this anyways, but it's easy to do a lot of work for a 3 days and then take a day off. Nope, not anymore.
  • Do Math - I'm not great at Math, but my shortcoming in it is only due to lack of general effort toward the subject. Each day I will work some Math problems, as I need to be ready for a placement test anyways, I also need to sharpen my skills and keep them sharp for my future career.
  • Practice guitar - Practicing guitar is one of the most horrible things ever. Note I said "practice" and not "play". It's hard to force yourself to do exercises, but unless you do, you get into a rut and you never progress.
After one week of doing this, I'll post an update and let you know how it's worked out. All 3 of these areas are very closely related in terms of brain function, so while only doing one of them each day would greatly improve that area, doing all 3 should have a greater effect. The idea behind this is that you can't simply work on these things for 8 hours in one day, and then not do anything for the next 3. It's about the constant repetition of the activity day after day that will bring results. It improves memory, coordination, muscle memory, etc... I'll also make it a point to sit down and read something (other than e-mail...) each day. I don't particularly need help in this area, but reading often improves coordination (line skipping and such), concentration, vocabulary, and all sorts of other things worthy of improving.

I think not only will this routine improve the areas of which I'm targeting, but that it will also improve my overall productivity in life as I'll be on a more driven and focused path throughout my day, and I'll be more inclined to get something done rather than just chill out.

Until next time...