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...


Allen Madsen said...

I think this is a good idea. In general it is always good to practice something you want to get good at.
One suggestion I would make is creating a visual record of your progress. One that comes to mind is Jerry Seinfields productivity strategy. There have been studies that show that people who record their progress in an easily accessible format that they can view later are more likely to continue the new habits.
Another suggestion would be to set a specific time each day that you will perform these activities. If they become a normal part of your schedule then you will naturally start to do them at those specific times without any external cues.
Typically it takes about 30 days for a recurring behavior to become a habit. So you should also follow up this post with the 30 day mark and see how you have progressed.

private said...

I'll look into that strategy. I know it helped me when I was on a regular and serious weight lifting routine as I has created some pretty elaborate spreadsheets with colors and whatnot tracking the amount of weight and reps I was able to do in a certain session.

As for the scheduled time, I think this might defeat me. I really like a loosely structured day, but while having a list of things I want to accomplish. So it's a loose structure for a structured set of things. I think I'm less likely to get burned out on things if I can do them when I want.

I'll definitely keep this updated after a month. Luckily, I have a great number of years experience in all of the areas, so my habits are already formed, I just really need to take my skills to the next level in all of the areas instead of spinning my tires. It's sort of like the whole "I'm living the same 3 days every day" which is to say you are basically on auto-pilot and your life only varies by about 3 different days which you repeat over and over. Not a good thing, at all.

HappyCodeMonkey said...

I can imagine you've stumbled upon this before, but:

Good luck, I'll be watching your updates, maybe it will motivate me to start working on my own weak areas.