Thoughts & Tips For October 2020

Wood-oct-2020This photo is part of my Wood Collection.  Also check out  my Nature Collection!

CURRENT EVENTS

We are AOK on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.  

My candidate for President of the United States in 2020 continues to be Jo Jorgensen. I think she would have been great in the 1st debate (#letherspeak, #letherdebate), but that didn't happen.  I think the Presidential Debates need to move back to a non-partisan group like League of Women Voters as the Presidential Debate Commission is just run by the Republican & Democratic parties with no interest in real republican democracy and a free marketplace of ideas.

Theoaks1Christy and I had a wonderful opportunity to do a self-guided retreat with COVID-19 protections at The Oaks the last weekend in September. It was an amazing weekend -- where we were able to relax, connect, and grow. Here are some photos of the amazing facilities and grounds.  And here are some pictures of nature from around the area.  Highly recommended!  If you have any questions, then please let me know.

Theoaks2

I also managed to record the event bell on the last day.  There are two versions.  One with little changes from the original recording:

And another where I tried to clean up the audio a little bit:

OTHER THINGS THAT ARE GOING WELL

  • The PodCraft Beer Show continues to put out weekly shows.  It is a lot of fun.
  • Still playing D&D. It is also a lot of fun.
  • I taught a socially distanced -- with additional COVID-19 protections -- Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work in September.  It went pretty well.  Next up is a virtual GTD class in early October.  That is going to be a learning experience!

EXPERIMENTING WITH MEDITATION

I'm still enjoying my emerging meditation practice. I got a couple of emails about my meditation post from last month, and the benefits others have had with meditation. The Oak app that I have been using to help me build out my practice has three main functions  (HOME, COURSES, GROWTH):

Oak1

Under the HOME you will see (I use the Meditate > Unguided):

Oak3

And under COURSES you will see (at the time of this post) just one available course (but more are planned):

Oak2

If you press on GROWTH you will see your personal tracker on how you are doing by day.  I can see my current streak and my longest streak for Meditate > Unguided since this the only one I am using at this time.  It is pretty simple and well designed.  I recommend it if you are looking for something to experiment with.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

My favorite audio editing program is still the open-source application Audacity.  It works on Macs, Windows, and Linux.

The two days a week I am riding my bike with a stationary-trainer on our backyard porch, I am nearly always watching videos from this You Tube channel Indoor Cycling Videos. They are excellent!

For the last month or so, I have been trying to look at my Getting Things Done (GTD) Next Action lists and my Projects list as something doable in the next 7 days.  So far, I've seen more throughput in completing more projects and tasks.  Items that are outside of 7 days are moved to the Later list in Nirvana for my personal system, and a similar Next Actions (Later) list in Microsoft Outlook Tasks for my work system.  These Later lists are then reviewed using  a lens of -- "is this doable in a month" -- and if the answer is "No", then the item moves to Someday/Maybe.  This has definitely increased the number of "Someday/Maybe" items, but that has been manageable since I am reviewing them once a week during my Weekly Review.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“Having resentment against someone is like drinking poison and thinking it will kill your enemy.” ― Nelson Mandela


Thoughts & Tips For September 2020

Paris-woodPhoto by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

No big change for us on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.  The good news is that Christy's school as been able to go back to teaching kids in person with a host of safe guards which is a blessing and an answer to prayer.

Tour de France 2020. Who doesn't want to watch 4 to 5 hours nearly every day during September seeing some of the best athletes in the world do what most people would consider completely impossible? I am all in. I am watching via NBC Sports via YouTube TV.

Screenshot 2020-09-07 at 19.33.32

My candidate for President of the United States in 2020 is Jo Jorgensen (#letherspeak, #letherdebate). While I don't agree with everything she is advocating, she is in my humble opinion the best option for a President Of The United States who believes in and will fight for:

  • right to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness
  • right to keep & bear arms
  • right to live where you choose & how you chose
  • right to privacy
  • right to worship how, when, & where you choose
  • right to be treated equally under the law

OTHER THINGS THAT ARE GOING WELL

  • The PodCraft Beer Show just had episode 7 and next week is episode 8. I have had some super spectacular craft beers that have blown my palette away.  As a craft beer fan I have actually realized how much I've missed by not paying attention to the special releases that many breweries do and I had no clue how amazing they are.
  • I am still playing D&D every week or so with friends from high school.  It is frankly one of the best unattended consequences of COVID-19 for me.
  • I am still loving my water-proof MP3 player -- AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz.
  • We were able to camp at San Elijo State Beach in August which was awesome ...

Beach-2020

EXPERIMENTING WITH MEDITATION

The book "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works"
By: Dan Harris (#meditation) got me to do a little experiment over the last month since finishing the book. I've been doing five minutes of unguided meditation using the Apple iOS app Oak from Kevin Rose before I stretch in the morning.  Nothing bad has happened (Ha Ha!) I actually now think a little "mind exercise" is a good thing. My monkey mind is strong! More updates as time goes on.

Screenshot 2020-09-07 at 20.33.57

If you are interested in guided meditations, then the only examples I've had experience with are Mike Foster's Guided Meditations. The Oak app has them but I haven't used them before.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

I have just started using this new Google Chrome browser feature for organizing tabs.  So far it is an awesome new feature.

This what I've been listening to on Audible (you can try Audible for free for 30-days and get two free books if you want). Over the last month:

I am currently doing all my Audible listening on my cell phone Samsung Galaxy S10+.

I also managed to finish a few Kindle books (I am currently using a Kindle Paperwhite for nearly all my reading):

One of my "newer" (I've heard in the past that this isn't a word, but I still use it all the time) favorite bands is Lo Moon.  They opened last year for several shows that the CHVRCHES did, and I'm super impressed with them.  I recently bought their album Lo Moon on Amazon so I could load the MP3s on my AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz  as I really wanted to listen to them while swimming.  Other specific albums I listen to frequently while swimming are: CHVRCHES (Bones of What You Believe, Every Open Eye, Love Is Dead) and Maggie Rogers (Heard It In A Past Life).  I will also drag a lot of 80s New Wave to a folder for 'random' mode listening.

Def Con (the yearly hacker conference I've been going to since #18) was completely virtual this year.  A ton of solid cybersecurity content is readily available if you are interested.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"We are what we repeatedly do, therefore, excellence is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle


Thoughts & Tips for August 2020

Wood-Aug-2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

We are still health on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.

ReopeningHELPING LAUNCH A NEW PODCAST

Square Graphic 300 x 300 px - Edited
Two friends Chris & Charlie have started a new podcast about craft beer with my help. You may think I know a lot about beer, but they know a ton more than I do. I learn something new everytime we record a show. The PodCraft Beer Show is currently at episode two, and the third episode should be out on August 3, 2020. I am primarily focused on audio recording, production, editing, and digital distribution.  In addition, I am also helping in setting up some of the services for website development, social media, and other backend stuff. Lots of fun!

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

With over a month of almost daily hands-on testing, I am now a big fan of the AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz. The bone conducting technology does take a little bit of time to get use to, but once I did, I like not having the headphone part in my ear even with the great headphones I had before. The Xtrainerz is a pretty straight forward MP3 player, basically you load files into folders and you can play the folder in order or shuffle them.  At the top level you can also shuffle or play the folders in order.  All in all I recommend them if you are swimming a lot, and want to listen to music while you swim.

Xtrainerz Black Diamond

When I am not swimming, I have been listening to more Audible lately than podcasts.  My main focus is plowing through books that I bought in the past, but have never listened to. You can try Audible for free for 30-days and get two free books if you want. Over the last month:

D&D

Corkin-3D-model-graphic
My Halfling Fighter In 3D!

Dungeons & Dragons continues to be a great new hobby (my personal blessing from CV-19), and it is awesome to be playing with friends from high school on a regular basis. The main physical books that I bought were the: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.  The tools we are using to play online include: Zoom/Discord (for video collaboration), Beyond D&D, (for character sheets & DM resources), and Roll20 (for sharing maps, combat, etc).  Two of my favorite mapping tools are: Inkarnate (for world, geographic, city, and town mapping) and Dungeon Scrawl (for dungeons, buildings, combat level maps, etc).  If you want a demo, then let me know.

OTHER TOPICS

  • My in-person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) classes at work for August and September are still technically on the calendar, but I'm not confident I'll be able teach them with us still being on maximum telework. I am starting to scope out a Virtual GTD Training Class using Adobe Connect. (Editorial Opinion: I hope Adobe got the memo that Flash (.swf) is dead.  Just get with the program please.)
  • Related to GTD and the above mention of re-reading of "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg, I recently took for work the Power Of Habit class from Vital Smarts.  I am still unpacking the training and will report more in the future.
  • My music listening has been all over the board recently.  One band that continues to impress me is Lo Moon. I was introduced to them as the opening band for Chvrches in San Diego last fall.  I call them the Talk Talk of today. They are on heavy rotation. Music for the soul.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"The more control you have over your attention, the more control you have over your future." - James Clear


Thoughts & Tips For May 2020

DSC01811Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

COVID-19

Basically all is well with us since the last update. Everyone is healthy. Maximum telework. Virtual school. Social distancing. Major home bodies with home projects in full swing. And a good amount of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) as an escape vice binge watching shows.

WORKING OUT

I am enjoying my two mornings a week (Tue & Thu) riding this bike trainer while watching YouTube cycling videos using this iPad stand, and listening to audio books. I am almost done re-listening to all the Mark Greaney's Gray Man Series books.

One thing I really miss is swimming at the YMCA.  I have been tempted to put on my tri-wetsuit to swim mini-laps in our pool, but I haven't pulled the trigger. They just opened up the beaches and ocean in San Diego this weekend so maybe a swim in the ocean is going to happen sooner than later.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

SOME MUSIC RECOMMENDATIONS

I have been listening to a lot more music recently.  Here are some suggestions from YouTube:

OTHER TOPICS

  • I have had to postponed by May David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work until July.  The next class is scheduled for the middle of June, however if we still have strict social distancing rules in place at work then I am probably going to have to postpone that one also.  I am still working on getting permission to teach virtually but that has been slow going.
  • Playing Dungeons & Dragons has been super fun and one of the best things that I hopes continues after COVID-19.  The main books that I bought were the: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"There's more than one way to look at a problem, and they may all be right." - Norman Schwarzkopf


Thoughts & Tips For January 2020

Wood-utah-beachUtah Beach (Normandy) - Steve Holden

CHRISTMAS

  • I hope your Christmas was wonderful.  We had a good time with friends and family.  All of our time was spent in San Diego, so we didn't have any travel woes.
  • I love putting up Christmas lights.  I have decided that the three pronged power cord is the enemy of good electrical distribution.  I am moving to 6 or more outlets on every power cord in 2020.
  • I had a good number of Christmas beers (both brewed for the Holidays or gifts) this year.  Here are three of the more recent ones:

20191226_185147-01-COLLAGEHEALTH

I need to do this more, but alternating COLD with HEAT on sore muscles has proven to me over and over again that I need to make the time to do this.  SO HARD TO DO! But worth the time.

I have been experimenting since the beginning of November with intermittent fasting. Basically I only eat between 12 noon and 8 p.m.  It has really worked well for me from a couple of standpoints: (1) no negative impacts; (2) I feel better overall; and (3) I think the long-term benefits are promising. The one interesting thing that I can't really explain is that even though I'm eating less I did before intermittent fasting that I have not lost any weight.  My weight has stayed steady.  More info about the topic:

All is basically good with my Bulged Disc.  My solution - daily Pilates-based stretching, using a roller (legs, back, & shoulders), heat then cold, and alternating workouts (run, swim, bike, repeat).

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

If you are new to Getting Things Done (GTD) or someone who would benefit from a refresher, then here is my recommendation.

My Zoom audio recorder was having a screen issue (the LCD was getting blurry and hard to read).  I contacted their tech support and they replaced the unit for $165 since it was out of warranty. I thought that was a fair transaction.

I love using the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). Fascinating history.

FUTURE STUFF THAT I AM EXCITED ABOUT

  • Happy New Year 2020! Don't forget that 2019 was the "future" year of Blade Runner.
  • Christy and I are heading to Yuma at the end of January to see one of my favorite 80's cover bands - Checker'd Past.
  • Family vacation planning for 2020.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures" - F.M. Alexander


Thoughts & Tips For November & December

Joel-jasmin-forestbird-xzPMUMDDsfk-unsplashPhoto by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash

REFLECTIONS

  • The 2019 Baseball Playoffs in October were awesome. Congrats to Washington Nationals for winning the World Series.
  • October 31 was a very sad day for me and my family.  It was one year ago that my Mom passed away. I really miss her a lot.
  • Christy had a teacher's conference in Palm Spring the weekend before Thanksgiving and I was able to tag along. It was very relaxing and we had some great food.
  • Thanksgiving this year was excellent.  It rained a lot so we did not play our annual Thanksgiving Two-Hand Touch game.  Hopefully we will get to play on Christmas.

CHVRCHES

20191102_183729-COLLAGEMy favorite band was in town in early November.  It was a great concert.  Some thoughts on the show at CHVRCHES FAN PODCAST.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

Two big conferences I have attended in 2019 -- GTD Summit & M Conference -- have stressed the need for quite and solitude in our daily lives.  Doing so increases effectiveness and productivity.  This article on "Solitude and Leadership" is definitely worth reading or listening to the audio version.

Some tips on how to make your iPhone more productive.

Looking for some a secure phone option that isn't mainstream?

Some other tips:

FUTURE STUFF THAT I AM EXCITED ABOUT

  • Christmas!

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"No man steps in the same river twice" - Heraclitus

I also found all these great quotes from the start of each Star Wars: The Clone War Series.


My Travel Folders

Back in the day the David Allen Company would sell physical products like planners, file folder systems, inboxes, etc.  One of the last things I bought from them before they stopped selling physical products was their ORANGE mesh travel folder system.

Mobile File System GTD Nov2019It consists of the following folders:

  • IN - Your mobile inbox just like in your office at home and work.
  • TO OFFICE - Items that need to get back to your office.
  • TO HOME - Items that need to get back to your home.
  • ACTION SUPPORT - Anything that you currently physically need to complete PROJECTS or NEXT ACTIONS.
  • WAITING FOR SUPPORT - Physical items or reminder notes of items you are waiting for someone else to complete.
  • READ/REVIEW - Items you want to read or review while being mobile.

Based on my needs, I have added two additional folders:

  • REFERENCES - Key references I want to have with me while mobile. For instance physical copies of the GTD Mastering Workflow Series Methodology Guides.
  • CALENDARS/CONTRACTS - Print out of key yearly work and family/school calendars.  And then a select list of phone numbers and emails I might need to reference if I don't have my phone.

These could be duplicated today with a good label printer and quality plastic file folders.

You can still get a good amount of GTD material in electronic format like planner templates, methodology guides, workflow map, etc...


Thoughts & Tips For October

Wood-doorHealth Update (Bulged Disk & Bike Injury)

Things are going pretty darn good. Not back to 100% but I'm not sure that is totally possible.  Just did a Sprint Triathlon on Sunday, Sept. 29 (500m swim, 17K bike, & 5K run).  I was slower than I wanted, but I finished, didn't get hurt, and didn't finish last in my age group!

20190929_104027-01Getting Things Done (GTD)

Several things going on related to #gtd:

Technology & Tips

I have had a "free" version of Plex Server running on the home network to serve up digital movies, photos, and music for several years. The free version is a solid product. But recently I upgraded to a version that enables access to our family's collection of media remotely while not on our home network.  Wow! Very nice! Especially when you are on travel.  No more copying down files before going on a trip.  Just get what you want, when you need it, while on travel.

If you get to New Orleans, then I highly recommend you visit the World War II / D-Day Museum:

DSC01417-COLLAGEFuture

I am definitely ready for the 2019 Baseball Playoffs.  It should be a great October.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” - Winston Churchill


A Guided David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) Weekly Review

GTD-Weekly-Review-Graphic

One of the things that I've been "promising" to my GTD students at work is doing a guided David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) Weekly review (PDF).

It finally made it off my SOMEDAY/MAYBE list to an active project, and I just recently posted it on my work's Intranet.

As I was recording I decided to make a version that is Internet releasable.  It is available below.

One of the reasons I did this was because I have personally found a great deal of benefit from many of the recorded weekly reviews that have been shared via GTD Connect membership

I have also learned a lot from David Allen's Weekly Review audio program.

I also like this summary of a Weekly Review posted to Doist.com.

2019-10-25 Update: This weekly review checklist is another good perspective to consider.

 Listen! (Size: 72.6-MB, Time: 1h19m24s)

Feedback is appreciated: sholden@pobox.com.

 


Thoughts & Tips for June 2019

Health Update (Bulged Disk & Bike Injury)

Things have been improving since my last month's update (May).  I think I've returned to my overall health level from February . I am tentatively planning my next Sprint Triathlon for the end of July. 

Strongest Conference

IMG_20190518_085337_134

I attended Mike Foster's Strongest workshop on May 16 & 17, 2019. It was an amazing learning experience and the people at the conference were super inspiring. Mike Foster has plans for another one so follow Mike on social media or listen to his Fun Therapy podcast for updates.

Strongest-CollageGetting Things Done (GTD)

At the end of May 2019 I taught my 9th Getting Things Done (GTD) course at work (over 90+ people trained since first class), and my GTD story was published recently on GTD Times.

Technology & Tips

Last month I mentioned I was experimenting in the morning with a Panda paper planning system.  After about a month thought I've made some adjustments because the written monthly, weekly, and daily planning part for my calendar and other item date specific items was not helping me that much.  However what was helping me during my morning devotionals was tracking on a daily basis:

  • what I was thankful for,
  • what I was looking forward to,
  • what God was telling me in my devotional,
  • what I could work on as person (these are coming from the Stoic daily reads from the book The Daily Stoic), and
  • how I am exercising.

This summer I am embarking on a big project with the help of my son Spencer to digitize 99% of all of our physical photos using this scanner -- Epson FastFoto FF-680W Scanner.

Future

This upcoming next month is going to be completely consumed by:

  • Spencer is graduating high school!
  • Carson, Conrad, and I are going to Europe from June 8 through June 23 (Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands).

Quote I'm Thinking About

“You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago.” — Alan Watts