Templating your days

Yesterday we have been invited to a 30th birthday party in Ingolstadt, which got from 1 PM to 9 PM. This required me to travel 220 kilometers which took about 3 hours, which resulted in about 6 to 7 hours in the car without being any means of productive, because I had 4 people in the car, so I wouldn’t say, “Hey shut up, I want to listen to my audio book”. Also the 8 hours there, I couldn’t just sit into my car and work. I also don’t want to at this kind of days. To not fell like I suck and didn’t get anything, these days need special treatment. And that’s what this post is about. What a long intro.

There are more kind of these days, where you can’t find lots of time, to getting stuff done. So I thought about a way to create templates for different types of days. This post isn’t about the templates for each type of day, just about the idea, how to identify them and get the most out of it.

Yesterday I have written down a few template names, that came to my mind and I am sure, some of them are also relevant to you. They are either work or personal related:

  • Meeting Day
  • Driving Day
  • (Parents) Visit Day
  • Gym Day
  • Weekend
  • 4 hour day
  • Sick Day
  • Lazy Day
  • Writing Day

If you are relating to one of these days, you probably know, how many time you are going to have on that day. For example, let’s take the meeting day, my least favorite one.

If you are in a higher position, or working for yourself, I bet you know them. A full day, where your agenda is packed with meetings. Meetings can be useful, but they usually soak the energy out of you and interrupt you from important work. You could create a template, to make sure 2 hours before your first meetings starts, you are ready and sitting at your desk, to work on your most important task for that day, before getting your brain fried by meetings.

Even if you now spend 6 hours in a conference room talking about more or less useful stuff, you have gotten the important work out of the day. End this day with something like going to the gym, to balance out your all day sitting and you will feel better about that day, then before.

Another good example would be the visits day. Anytime I visit my parents I need about three hours to get there. Since I am always going by car, I cannot open my notebook or tablet and work on some tasks. Usually I am going to listen to my podcast list or an audio book. So at least I learn something new on the road. If I am spending more than a day at my parents, I can put in some work in the evening hours, which mostly results in some research for projects that I am working on. So I can end it easily and still have my work saved in Ulysses or Evernote.

Conclusion

Everyday is different, but most of them can be broken down to a template. By using daily templates it’s easier to stick to a plan and know in advance how you will handle the situation. If you need help scheduling your day or need ideas on what to do in a certain situation, drop me a comment, see you tomorrow!

Don’t blame the tools – blame yourself

How often you have heard or even said; I couldn’t finish the project because my <tool> hasn’t let me, or something similar. Let me tell you, that’s bullshit.

The tools are only as good as you are

Let’s create a example for this blog post: A todo list or GTD app. This also works for project management tools like Jira.

Your project management won’t go from 0 to Hero only because you buy a great app that helps you managing your todos. It’s still you that has to work on the tasks on your list. There is no magic application, that processes your list and automatically get’s it done.

If you don’t work on it, another application won’t help you out here. Another ton of notifications also won’t help you out. The tool is only a helper, to remind you and help you organize your day.

Master a tool, don’t replace it

How often I have heard something like; Oh, Todoist doesn’t work for me, I have tried it for a week and I haven’t gotten done anything. Well, also BS. When you subscribe to an advanced tool like Todoist, that can do wonders in terms of organizing and scheduling, than you also need to put in the effort to master the tool. All in all, there is not much difference in task lists, like Todoist, Things or Wunderlist. The difference is what you make out of them.

Let’s look at another example for this point; IDEs. IDEs are Integrated Development Environments. They are used by developers for writing code and getting their stuff done. If you just use and IDE like a text editor and not use the powers they have builtin, you may throw a ton of money out of the window. And here it is even more important to familiarize yourself with the application. But only if you use an IDE, you won’t be super productive from hour one. You need to learn the tools and the functions to master it.

All in all it won’t do you any good, to switch from application X to Z to Y. In my opinion it can take a year or more, to really master an app. So before you haven’t dived into it, don’t even think about switching

It’s you

Unless you don’t decide to develop an application you have to use what’s there, it may not everything fit 100 percent to your style of working, but still can adjust. There are tons of solutions, with plugins or external services to connect and combine any tool with. There is always a way, so stop bitching around and get shit done 🤷‍♀️

Silence your fucking phone

At the time of writing this, I am still on Crete. Still relaxing at the pool and enjoying doing less. Enjoying the nothing and the silence. B it there is one thing, that can still drive me nuts here. PHONE NOTIFICATIONS.

BEEPBOP, RING, DONG, DING, BLUBB. It’s this default ring tones, you know them, from Samsung, Apple, and a ton of other phones. The most time I wear headphones and listen to some audio book or calming music, you start getting into the zone. Either you are short before drifting away or really getting into your audio book. CLONG, somebody gets notified by his phone about some useless bullshit near you. They don’t even realize that they annoy everybody around them. They are used to the tone, damn zombies. They don’t recognize it, because they don’t care about life.

They won’t calm down anyway, starring on their phone, just for the next DING-DONG. No matter if it’s a game notification or some relatives that send funny pictures everybody has seen already.

I don’t blame you for this, I have times too, when I wait for messages or where I was addicted to my phone. BUT I blame you for not silencing your phone in public. Especially

In situations that are annoying enough, like commuting, waiting in lines. I bet there are more people like me, that just want to get away from this situations and listen to audio books or read in such situations. DING CLONG, CLICK, RING are the most alarming sounds and it’s just freaking impolite.

SO PLEASE, SILENCE YOUR FUCKING PHONE!

Enjoying the “NOTHNG”

The past year wasn’t easy. I left my former girlfriend, worked a thousand of hours, run Hauck.io and a lot of other so called side projects. In January 2018, I decided to quit all the side projects and try to find back to myself. This may sound stupid, but it worked out. Now in May, I have quit my job, found something else, where I can start new and also have worked out a new side project, that’s going to be freaking awesome.

At the moment I am on Crete in Greece with my girlfriend. It’s our first vacation together. And its also the first time I planned exactly nothing. The third day is over and all we did is laying at the pool, take some drinks and eat. We haven’t had any trips or activities. We just did nothing. And that was totally enlightening for me. By doing nothing and just letting my brain wander, I soaked up so much energy. The second amazing thing was, that while relaxing so many valuable ideas flooded my brain. I have work for months right now, but it doesn’t stress me out, I have time to do all this things.

A good portion of this also has happened, because I don’t have a broadband internet connection here. I am not able to google a ton of things. I have to focus on the thing that is available right now; my brain and my experiences.

Ok, that’s already it for today. I have written a few other things, which are about vacation and some events that happened here. I will publish these things, when I am back in Germany. See you maybe tomorrow!

2 Weeks blogging from the phone

I have a little challenge for myself, a want to prove it to myself that I can maintain my blog totally from the phone, except for some administration stuff.

 

The next 12 days I will be in Crete, Greece. This delivers the perfect opportunity to try this out. I also have my notebook with me, but only for some coding sessions. Right now I am sitting in the plane and writing this initial blog post on my phone, which is connected to the Logitech Keys-to-go keyboard, which makes this experiment way more enjoyable.

At first I thought the screen size might become annoying, but it’s quite ok. The cool thing about the small screen is, that not everybody can take a quick glimpse as it is on the iPad or MacBook. I had a few starting problems here on the plain, since I didn’t know where to lean my phone against. It’s now on the top of a can of beer in front of me. It works 😉 It’s not too comfortable, since I have to look down all the time, maybe I need to figure out a hanging solution, that I could put on the seat in front of me. But this idiot would manage to drop it down anyways. And as I am writing it, I got an even better solution. I hung up my SnapBack on the seat and put the phone inside it. But still not high enough.

The 10 minutes are over, but since I got nothing else to do, because stupid-me has forgotten to download any magazines or movies. So I have to entertain myself. I haven’t mentioned the dickhead in front of me yet, I think. Bouncing around on his seat all the time. Or the girl behind me, that is afraid she could die if she stops speaking for a minute.

I hope the transfer from the hotel won’t last to long, since I am done for today 😉

That’s it, see you tomorrow, with some great footage of Crete.

Vacation Anxiety or something like that

On Thursday we will start our trip to Greece. I am totally excited but also I am stressing myself out about the things that I could forget to get with me, or the things that I need to do before going to the airport.

This time I got a huge fuckup right before the vacation. On Friday night, after we have been at the cinema for Avengers: Infinity War, which is awesome by the way, I got a letter from the finance department, which pointed out that some papers where missing and if don’t send them by the first of June, I had to pay a penalty of 200 Euros. Actually I never received a letter from the German bureaucracy that meant something good… Thankfully my accountant could resolve the issue quickly today. But anyway, this scared the shit out of me, if this gets resolved until the start of our trip. Nobody wants to fuck with German bureaucracy 😉

But back to normal. Since my last trips have been to Sweden and Norway, I don’t have everything here for a trip to Greece and I need to get swimming shorts and all this things together that I usually don’t use that much. And that’s when the vacation anxiety drops in. Can I get everything until Thursday? Shorts, shoes, sun screen (I am so white, I freeze mayonnaise for ice cream; I don’t know where this joke is from..)? Most problems are totally solved by Amazon, with Prime delivery ;).

For all the other things I usually set up a project in my todo manager called “Before Vacation” and jot down everything I need to get done before it.

Yep, that’s it for today. How do you deal with travel anxiety? Or don’t you have this kind of problem, be honest 😎

The fresh smell of progress

23:46:56 – Ouh, late again. We have been on a 30th birthday tonight. It was a nice party 👍

I made a lot of progress today on one of the apps I am building for Codalong. As you might have guessed, I won’t put out the platform without having anything to show there. Would be stupid 🤷‍♀️, I guess.

Earlier this year I started working with Meteor, but also websockets plain, so without any framework. I am still a little bit hyped about real time stuff. So I am working on 2 video series about it. One with Meteor, and one with express and websockets.

Today I mostly finished the application for part one, which is a time tracking app like Toggl or Hubspot (I think it’s named like that). The backend is entirely Meteor and the frontend is React. I think the whole application will be finished this weekend. And maybe some polishing next week.

Today I only added about 20 lines of code, but removed a lot of unnecessary stuff that could add confusion to the video series. I also cleaned up the markup and the CSS, which often causes headache in courses.

This is what it looks like:

Not that beautiful, but it does it’s job.

For part one of the series that’s it. But I plan to make the videos some kind of endless. So I start building an application and built on the former video or so, that’s why it’s called Codalong( —> Code along).

For example, to this app I could also build a mobile app with React Native. Or show you how to setup continous integration and deploy it to AWS. I want to give you the whole experience how it works, and not only snapshots.

That’s it! Be awesome and have a great day! 👋

The note

22:45:29 – Good evening ladies and gentleman. Today I want to talk with you about a very important concept of mine.

A while ago I have written about neglecting choice. Neglecting choice can help you focusing on the things you really want to accomplish. Today I want to give you an easy recipe, on how you can implement it in a very basic step.

The only thing is a pen and a piece of paper or paper cards or something like this. Right below my monitor I have a staple of paper cards and each day when I have a few calm minutes I write down the most important thing for the next day on which I want to work on.

When I leave my desk I put it in front of my monitor. And now the magic happens; When I come back to my desk the next day, the first thing I see is this single note, even before the notebook or tablet is turned out. Before everything else starts I know exactly what I have to do.

So I am totally neglecting any choice. This is first thing I have to do. Before checking email, before checking my task manager, before doing anything else.

This method removes any clutter from me in the morning and it is simple as hell.

That’s it! See you tomorrow! 👋

How paper can save your sanity in a digital world

23:09 – It got late today, but I made some significant progress on Codalong. Anyways, I want to talk about something different today.

In the past one or two years, I got nearly 100 percent paperless. I took notes on the iPad, tracked everything with various apps. Have written my reviews in Day One or Grid Diary and so on. Always fully connected. Even the apps I use are highly connected and trigger each other on certain points.

Since the beginning of 2018 I felt kind of overwhelmed, always on fire. But not in the positive way as I am usual. I felt pressure to make Todoist happy and keep up the daily streak, to tick my 5 todos each day. To write daily into Day One and record my habits in Habitica. I like to track myself and optimize myself. But I also need to take care about myself.

And that’s why I went back on paper for some reasons. Let me tell you why on a few examples.

Weekly Review

Usually I would open up my todo manager and take a look what I have done in the past week. And just looked at the number of things I have crushed and feel happy about it.

Now; I open a new site in my notebook (a softcover xlarge dotted moleskine, if you are curious), write the last calendar week on top of the page followed by Weekly Review. Followed by that I have two headlines; WINS and FUCKUPS. And than I put out, what was great this week and what annoyed me, or what I didn’t get done for some reason.

Planning the week

Usually I would open up my todo manager and schedule the tasks for each day. I still do this, but everything afterwards. For a reason. When I don’t look at my apps at this time, I have to think about, what really matters and what’s really important.

There is a column for each day, where I make checkboxes for my habits and write down important events for that day.

On the bottom of the page I write some things I need to take care of this week, which sucked last week. For example if I didn’t work enough on my design skills, I need to find more time in that week and make an appointment for this.

That’s just two

Ok, the 10 minutes are over now, so this will get a second part, or a full blog post on how paper can keep you sane.

The most important thing, I want to point out here is, when working with paper and looking at all the todo items, you clearly think about what’s important and not only urgent. See you tomorrow!

My Workspace – May 2018

As I enjoy to see other peoples workspaces, I thought to also share mine.

Here you can see the desk in my homeoffice. It’s build with a kitchen table top from the hardware store on top of an IKEA Alex drawer and two normal legs.

1. MacBook Pro 13.3 Inch

This is my main work station, my daily driver. It is maxed out, except for the hard drive (which I regret now). I use it to write, to code, to edit video. Just everything.

2. Acer EB321HQU (32 Inch)

A beast of a monitor. It has only WQHD, which means 2560 x 1440 pixels, but at this size it has the perfect amount of pixels.

3. Batman

This is a little figure, which I got as a present from my girlfriend to Sysadmin Day last July.

4. A little wooden shelf

Nothing special. I built this by myself. It’s the same wood as the table top.

5. Shitty tiny Thinkpad

A little Thinkpad from Lenovo I use for testing some stuff.

6. My Airpods

The most incredible headphones I’ve had so far and not because of their sound quality. The accessibility is just amazing. Put them out of the case and they connect magically to the Apple device you are using at the moment.

7. Das Keyboard 4C Ultimate – painted white

I really enjoy mechanical keyboards. I love the clicky sounds and the feeling when you write for a long long time. Last year I painted the cover white to match the look of my custom painted MX Master. When it comes to keyboards I am a huge nerd. I own about 12 of them. But this one, is still my favorite.

8. Logitech MX Master – painted white

I am not a huge mouse person. But when I nearly damaged my finger from using a Trackpoint all the time, I needed to switch back to a mouse. Since then I only use the Logitech MX Master. I own like 3 of them 🤷‍♂️

9. Rode Podcaster

Simply one of the best affordable USB Microphones I have tried. Cool thing here is, you have a direct monitoring output on top of the microphone where you could connect any headphones.

10. Bose Companion XYZ

I don’t know the exact model number. They were around 100 bucks and still sound amazing.

11. THE NOTE

For a week or so I am using the note everyday. I will explain to you what it is, tomorrow 😜I will link it in this post.

12. Softboxes

I mounted to softboxes above my desk to have a descent light while working and filming.

That’s it!

If you have any question or recommendations on my workspace, let me know in the comments. Otherwise, see you tomorrow! 👋