Thoughts & Tips For July 2020

Wood-july2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

On the health front -- all continues to be AOK with regards to COVD-19 for us and our immediate families.  We continue to be vigilant and focused:

  • #wear_a_mask,
  • #wash_your_hands,
  • #social_distance, and
  • #stay_home_if_sick.

La_Mesa_Walls_Project_Masks_Destruction_With_Art

Related to #blacklivesmatter, and increasing social justice & ending racism, I do like this new YouTube show Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

Screenshot 2020-07-12 at 13.20.25

I am learning a lot, and working on a bunch mental changes as I become aware of them.

CAMPING

We recently did some camping in the local mountains near Julian in a San Diego County park called William Heise County Park.

2020-06-15 17.24.07-COLLAGEIt was a lot of fun and relaxing.  We had some good food also:

20200615_200844-COLLAGE

Wynola Pizza & Bristo
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Julian Beer Company

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

  • I am trying out these bone-conducting water proof headphones for swimming -- AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz -- so far I like them a great deal.  More updates as I get more use out of them.
  • I recently listed to three Audible books that were "free" for being an Audible Subscriber.  If you aren't an Audible Subscriber, the price on these are pretty reasonable:
    1. "How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps" by Andrew Rowe.  This is a fun book about taking on (from a D&D perspective) a very important quest, but doing it in a not so traditional way. 
    2. "Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World" by Michael Pollan.  A great detailed account of how caffeine came into the modern world and the impact caffeine has had via coffee, tea, and now a ton of other drinks.  I learned a lot, but it didn't change my caffeine consumption much.  I have over the years reduced my caffeine use later in the day.  I use to drink a soda late in the day on the way home from work.  That stopped several years ago.  Then I stopped consuming caffeine by 3 pm. And after this book I moved that back to 2 pm without much trouble, and much better sleep.  Maybe 1 pm should be the next experiment?!?
    3. "I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships" by Michael S. Sorensen. This is an excellent book, especially right now with #blacklivesmatter, and the conversations happening around racism, justice, inequality, and opportunity.  The listening skills outlined in this book are simple and easy to learn.  If you want to listen better, then I highly recommend this book.
  • If you are running Windows 10 then I strongly encourage you to buy a 16-GB USB Flash Drive, and follow these recommendations to make a recovery drive.

OTHER TOPICS

  • My in-person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) classes for July and August are moving to August and September respectively. We are still at maximum telework at work and being onsite is limited to mission essential tasking. I did finally get access to the digital GTD online course content per some licenses we bought for work. My next step is review that material, and then determine when and with what collaboration tool-suite to run a pilot.
  • I am still playing a good amount Dungeons & Dragons with some friends online.  The main 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.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

We all have choices to be made ... attributes that matter ...

Chose Discipline over Weakness
Chose Fortitude over Rashness
Chose Courage over Cowardice
Chose Clearheadedness over Disorganization
Chose Selflessness over Selfishness
Chose Sacrifice over Cowardice

Source: "The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom" for June 13, 2020.


Thoughts & Tips for June 2020

Wood-steps-beachPhoto by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

Basically all is well with regards to COVID-19 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.

The ongoing justice crisis with #blacklivesmatter has left me sad, angry, frustrated, and motivated.  The horrible murder of George Floyd, and the peaceful protests turning violent with illegal rioting and looting have then been exasperated by some in law enforcement using unconscionable illegal force and tactics. And then we have some elected politicians and civil servants make things worse not better. Change must happen: 

  • Love your neighbor as yourself -- treat and value others with the dignity, respect, and grace you would like others to show to you.
  • Work towards a society based on justice, equality, liberty, and opportunities.
  • Condemn and reject at-all-times covert and overt hatred, racism, bigotry, and discrimination.
  • Realize and acknowledge that your place in life probably has more positives and privilege, than others who have suffered greatly, and do not have the hope that you have, or feel that their voices have been heard in the past or currently being valued or heard.

Freedom is hard work and not to be taken for granted -- FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!

EXERCISE UPDATE

I continue to 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 or podcasts.  On Sunday mornings I am completing a route around Fletcher Hills that is about 10 miles.  I have noticed that my time to complete the route keeps getting shorter so overall my biking has improved during COVID-19.

So the pool at our house has been open since last month's post.  I am doing mini-laps and training with a DIY bungie-harness setup.  Very nice to be back in the water.  More info here.

I also did pick up a recovery tool that I've been meaning to get -- Theragun recently came out with the mini.  I've only had it for a short time but it has really given me some relief on parts of my left leg that is still giving me some issues since my bulged disc two years ago.

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 am prepping for a 9 person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work in June but it isn't confirmed yet.  The wheels of purchasing stuff at work have been going slow, and I still don't have digital licenses, but I am told that could change any day now.
  • I am still playing at least one day of the week Dungeons & Dragons with some friends online.  The main 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, BeyondD&D, and Roll20.  I am trying out some mapping tools.  More about that next month.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one." - Bruce Lee

 


Tom Peters - Recession46: Forty-six 'Secrets' and 'Clever Strategies' For Dealing with the Recession of 2008

I recent got an email from Tom Peters:

Tom Peter's Email Header

The email listed his 46 secrets & strategies he recommend during the 2008 financial crisis.  I found a link to the blog article, but when you go there the PDF down link isn't working (hopefully it will get fixed soon).

So meanwhile here they are:

Forty-Six Strategies for Dealing with Gut-wrenching Downturns from Tom Peters:

  1. You come to work earlier.
  2. You leave work later.
  3. You work harder.
  4. You may well work for less; and, if so, you adapt to the untoward circumstances with a smile—even if it kills you inside.
  5. You volunteer to do more.
  6. You dig deep, deeper, deepest—and always bring a good attitude to work.
  7. You fake it if your good attitude flags.
  8. You literally practice your "stage face" in the mirror each morning, and in the loo mid-morning.
  9. You give new meaning to the idea and intensive practice of "visible management."
  10. You take better than usual care of yourself and encourage others to do the same— physical well-being significantly impacts mental well-being and response to stress.
  11. You shrug off shit that flows downhill in your direction—buy a shovel or a "pre- worn" raincoat on eBay.
  12. You try to forget about the "good old days"—nostalgia is self-destructive. (And boring.)
  13. You buck yourself up with the thought that "this too shall pass," but then remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon; and so you rededicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now—character is determined, virtually in full, by one's reaction to adverse circumstances.
  14. You work the phones and then work the phones some more—and stay in touch with, and on the mind of, positively everyone.
  15. You frequently invent breaks from routine, including "weird" ones—"change-ups" prevent wallowing in despair and bring a fresh perspective.
  16. You eschew all forms of personal excess.
  17. You simplify.
  18. You sweat the details as never before.
  19. You sweat the details as never before.
  20. You sweat the details as never before.
  21. You raise to the sky and maintain—at all costs—the Standards of Excellence by which you unfailingly and unflinchingly evaluate your own performance.
  22. You are maniacal when it comes to responding to even the slightest screw-up.
  23. You find ways to be around young people and to keep young people around—they are less likely to be members of the "sky is falling" school. (Naïveté can be a blessing.)
  24. You learn new tricks of your trade.
  25. You pass old tricks of the trade on to others—mentoring matters now more than ever.
  26. You invest heavily in your Internet-Twitter-Facebook-"cloud"-computing skills.
  27. You remind yourself, daily, that this is not just something to be "gotten through"—it is the Final Exam of Competence, of Character, and, even if you're not a boss, of Leadership. (People often make great leaps in a short period during difficult times.)
  28. You network like a demon.
  29. You network like a demon inside the company—get to know more of the folks who "do the real work," and who can be your most dependable allies when it comes to getting things done seamlessly and fast.
  30. You network like a demon outside the company—get to know more of the folks "down the line," who "do the real work" in vendor customer outfits. (They can become, and will become, your most avid allies and champions.)
  31. You offer thanks to others by the truckload if good things happen—and take the heat if bad things happen.
  32. You behave kindly, but you don't sugarcoat or hide the truth—humans are startlingly resilient, and rumors are the real spirit-killers.
  33. You treat small successes as if they were World Cup victories—and celebrate and commend people accordingly.
  34. You shrug off the losses (ignoring what's going on in your tummy), and get back on the horse and immediately try again.
  35. You avoid negative people to the extent you can—pollution kills.
  36. You read the riot act to the gloom-sprayers, once avoiding them becomes impossible. (Gloom is the ultimate "weapon of mass destruction" in tough times.
  37. You give new meaning to the word "thoughtful."
  38. You don't put limits on the budget for flowers—"bright and colorful" works marvels.
  39. You redouble and re-triple your efforts to "walk in your customer's shoes." (Especially if the shoes smell.)
  40. You mind your manners—and accept others' lack of manners in the face of their strains.
  41. You are kind to all mankind.
  42. You keep your shoes shined.
  43. You leave the blame game at the office door.
  44. You call out, in no uncertain terms, those who continue to play the "office politics" game.
  45. You become a paragon of personal accountability.
  46. And then you pray.

Thoughts & Tips For March 2020

WHAT'S BEEN GOING ON?

I did do a Sprint Triathlon hosted by the UCSD Triton Triathlon Team on Feb. 16, 2020.   It was tough but good fun:

Sprint Tri PhotosFeb. 16 was also my son Conrad's 21st birthday.  We had a good time celebrating:

Conrad B-Day

I've also enjoyed a few great IPA-ish beers this month. Here are some recommendations:

Some Awesome Bitter Beers

Thanks to one more day in February (aka the 29th), I was able to get our 2019 taxes done, and see one of our favorite 80s cover band -- Resurrection Radio at the awesome Helix Brewing Co. in La Mesa, CA. This is a setlist from a previous show.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

One of my favorite authors -- Mark Greaney -- was in town on Feb. 18th promoting his new book "One Minute Out" (this is book #9 of the Gray Man series) at Warwick's in La Jolla.  It is highly recommended this new book and the overall series in general. Here is a picture from that evening:

Mark G Speaking About His New Book

Last month I mentioned that my new HP PC only has USB 3.0 ports on the front of the computer.  I ended up getting this 4-port HUB so I could move more of the high-speed connections back behind the computer.  So far it is working out pretty well.

Some great tips here on how to correctly wash your hands! [REDDIT]

FUTURE STUFF THAT I AM EXCITED ABOUT

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“Each moment is a place you’ve never been.” — Mark Strand


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


Recommended Refreshers On Getting Things Done (GTD)

Let's say you just read David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) book and you wanted a good summary of the overall methodology.

Or maybe you read the book a while back and you want a refresher.

Here is my recommendation -- listen to the following podcasts (in English) from GTD Nordic in the following order:

(1) What is GTD and how will you benefit from it? (23m49s)

(2) Step 1 in GTD: Capture (23m00s)

(3) Step 2 in GTD: Clarify (27m43s)

(4) Step 3 in GTD: Organize (25m11s)

(5) Step 4 in GTD: Reflect (29m11s)

(6) Step 5 in GTD: Engage (24m32s)

For more information about these podcast click on this link!

You can also ping me via email if you want to discuss anything related to GTD, productivity, etc.


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.


Notes From Manager Tools M Conference 2019

M-Conference-GraphicHere are my PDF notes from the Manager Tools M Conference held in Dallas, TX from October 9-10, 2019.

I think the notes speak for themselves.  This was an amazingly effective use of my time.

I will be getting a return on investment throughout the rest of my professional career, and then probably even more once I retire.

If you are interested in attending in 2020 then Manager Tools wants to hear from you!

I didn't take enough photos, but here are what I got via Google Photos.


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...


Inbox Zero - It Is Doable - Example #1

Inbox-zero.email
I recently attended for work the Manager Tools M Conference from October 9-10, 2019 in Dallas, TX.

I made a deliberate decision to not check my work email from just before the beginning of the conference on Wednesday, Oct. 9 until I got to the airport on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 10. 

My main motivation for this decision was because I wanted to stay as focused as possible on the conference content, and the people at the conference. 

I should also point out that before walking into the conference on Wednesday morning my work email Inbox was empty.

In addition, I would also like to say my only motivation for writing this blog post is to validate that getting your Email Inbox to Zero can happen. 

If you read through the whole post, I didn't get every email with a Next Action or Project done.  All I did in David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) terms is (1) Capture, (2) Clarify, and (3) Organize.

Once at the airport: I VPN'd into work; downloaded all my email on the server to my "Clarify" folder in Outlook; and went into airplane/off-line mode.

During the first two hours on the plane on my way back to San Diego I cleared my Inbox. 

I had 213 emails to process: ten were calendar invites; 24 were quick email replies (less than 2 minutes), 51 turned into Next Actions (three of which started new Projects), 23 were Reference, and the rest were Trash.

After I sync'd up email the next day (Friday morning) I had 28 new messages.  Four of them were calendar invites, and four of them I had to Read (less than 2 minutes) and then Trash as they weren't worth keeping for Reference.  The rest I just Trashed after reading the email title and first line of the message. No new Next Actions or Projects.

So, it is doable.  It takes practice and making it a habit.  Here is a link for more information on GTD coaching and teaching.