Monthly Review October 2018

The last monthly review I published on this blog was for February. I had a half-finished draft for March but somehow didn't get to complete it. From then onwards, I thought about whether I should continue this tradition of writing a monthly review at all or whether I should just leave it. If I continued, I asked myself whether I have to catch up with the missing months like last time, also considering to make a summary post over multiple months or shorter reviews. All in all, these thoughts made this whole thing seem much more of a burden; an ever-growing pile of work as months went by and I tried to focus on other things.

Lately, though, I came to the realization that there are so many things on my mind that I need to put in order to make sense of myself again. I feel like I haven't taken much time for mindful self-reflection over the past half-year and that's slowly beginning to become a problem. Therefore I have decided that I need to reboot my journey of self-improvement and one of the first sensible steps would be to get back into the evaluation of my life with regular monthly reviews. I have also made the decision that I will not try in any way to make up for the missing posts on this blog and instead simply publish a review for last month and subsequently try to get back on track with writing each month.

After this lengthy introduction, let's have a look at my October.

Events & Highlights

I've been to a concert of the modern jazz and acoustic electronica band GoGo Penguin in Darmstadt. As I've already posted on Instagram, I really enjoyed the concert, and I was close enough to the stage to observe the musicians in action. Sadly I had to leave before the end of the show because I had a train to catch. I also enjoyed going back to Darmstadt where I went to university and even though I've been there a few times already, this time my arrival in town made me feel especially nostalgic.

We had a six people session with my regular boardgaming group and I got to try a new game called Hyperborea. See a picture and mini-review on my Instagram.

Another highlight happened close to the end of the month when there was a reunion of one of my old schools. It was not the school where I graduated after the 13th year but the school where I had been from 5th to 10th grade and left in 2001. I haven't been in touch with any of these people for 17 years so meeting them again was quite exciting. It's fascinating to see the different, sometimes unexpected paths each of us takes after school and how some people and aspects of people change and how others feel exactly the same as if no time had passed.

Finally, I started a one-week "workation" in Berlin, from which I returned yesterday.

Productivity

Here are the top five categories from RescueTime, based on 245h 45 min time logged:

  • 30% Software Development
  • 20% Social Networking
  • 10% Communication & Scheduling
  • 6% Utilities
  • 6% Business

Looking at focus booster, my total productive time was 131h 16min.

What's quite interesting is my weekday productivity chart, because it looks much more stable, meaning distributed equally, compared to previous ones:

Weekday Productivity

Looking at the still-too-high social networking numbers, I can see that almost half of it goes to Twitter:

Bildschirmfoto 2018-11-04 um 15.39.44.png

I'm wondering why Twitter feels especially addictive, but I'm also guessing that limiting my usage of Twitter is the key to bringing the total hours spent on social networks down and replace them with more meaningful activity.

For Facebook, I installed the minimalist Firefox Add-on Disable Facebook News Feed. It does essentially what the name suggests, it removes the news feed from Facebook. You can still use notifications, private messages or directly look at profiles of friends or pages, it's just that the homepage remains empty and you won't get sucked into it. Because you have to go down into the settings and disable the whole add-on to make your feed visible I have stayed away from it since August. I want the same thing for Twitter. Blocking the page completely or unfollowing everyone is not an option I want to consider at the moment. Maybe I should just fork the extension and port it to Twitter myself?!

Mood

My average mood tracked in Exist was 3.92.

Entertainment and Media

I'm following the new season of Doctor Who and so far I like the 13th Doctor and the new companions. Apart from that, I've started Wisdom of the Crowd. It is a crime-themed show with a focus on technology and Silicon Valley. And while obviously their depictions of tech are simplified I still have the feeling that they're trying to be accurate when it comes to terminology and their characters are stereotypical but they don't overdo it.

Preview

November is packed with more travel. I'm going to two conferences, API the Docs in London and the tcworld conference in Stuttgart. I'm also a speaker at the latter, talking about API design and documentation.

Goals

As I've mentioned in the productivity session, I want to spend less time on Twitter. I already don't use the mobile app but somehow I browse their website too much. As one goal for this month, I want to find a technological solution to curb the addiction, probably based on the add-on I mentioned above, without having to leave Twitter completely.

Final Remarks

Writing this post took me three pomodoro sessions and a few extra minutes. Please note that some of the links to tools I use are referral links so if you sign up through them I get a commission or rebate.

Monthly Review February 2018

After completing all the missing monthly reviews, I am now back on track for February review. Let's do this!

Accomplishments

I published one blog post, How to Generate OpenAPI Definitions From Code. I don't want to go into specifics at this time, but I've seen the first sign that my reckoning that these posts help my personal brand seems to be true!

Highlights

While my clients keep me busy, I also managed to carve out some time to continue work on CloudObjects, but I haven't released anything. Outside of work, the month had the right mix of social evening activities that, as usual, included meeting friends and family, playing board games and a meeting with the EA group. It was also carnival season. I'm not a big carnival person. Therefore only the fact that some friends with kids came over made me watch the local carnival parade.

Productivity

Time for the percentages from RescueTime, based on 202h 40m of logged time:

  • 33% Software Development (up by 6 points from 27% last month, the highest number so far!)
  • 17% Social Networking (unchanged from last month)
  • 10% Utilities
  • 9% Communication & Scheduling
  • 8% Business

I'm happy to see I have spent more time doing Software Development, more than in any month since I've started tracking my time in this way. Still, the Social Networking is too high, I'd love to see this fall back in third place, but continously checking all those sites which are designed to be engaging is a habit that's tough to break. The total productive time, according to focus booster, was 102h 4m.

Mood

The average daily mood in Exist was 3.81, nearly identical to last month.

Daily Routine

The Daily Routine section was absent from the last reviews. I had already left it empty in October with the promise to have it return the next month, which obviously didn't happen ...

I realized that staying away from the Internet and screens at night before sleep is an excellent practice, whenever I do this I feel better, however, it's challenging for me to follow this routine. To try to do that again, I've re-enabled the filter on my router to cut me off from WiFi at 21:15 every night.

Entertainment and Media

I followed Star Trek: Discovery until the last episode. Unlike some others, my general opinion on the show is favorable, and I'll definitely watch the second season, but even I felt that the last episode was too abrupt for an ending of a war. I also hope that the next season will be less about war and more about exploration. My serial watching took a bit of a break from Star Trek, and I caught up with the second season of Sense 8.

On a movie night with my sister, we watched Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, since she just loves owls!

Habits

I track Using social networks in the morning as a negative habit, but I'm considering to change this a little bit. My problem with social media is mostly when I use it when I'm tired, because in that state of mind I find it difficult to filter the information and everything feels "not urgent, but important" so I end up with too many bookmarked posts on my reading list. As an experiment I'm changing this habit and try to stay away from social media in the evening (past 19:00).

Goals

It's not too late to set some goals, but considering that I haven't done this lately and it's already the 13th of the month I'll start small with a single goal. I've already mentioned some things I want to implement regarding my routine and staying away from distractions so I'll add one actionable thing on top of that: I want to treat me to one "offline day". Not a day where I can't go online because I'm travelling or busy outside, but a deliberate and mindful day that I can use for things that do not require access to the Internet.

Final remarks

Review, planning and writing this post took me four pomodoro sessions. Please note that some of the links to tools I use are referral links so if you sign up through them I get a commission or rebate.

Monthly Review January 2018

I caught up with the missing monthly reviews for the previous year last week, so let's get the new week started with catching up to the new year. Time for the January review.

Accomplishments

I have built a tiny project on the Zapier platform, an app for 10Centuries. You can view it on GitHub or try it on Zapier.

Unfortunately, I did not publish any blog posts in January.

Highlights

In the November review, I wrote about a talk on Effective Altruism (EA) and meeting those folks another time. We gathered again, and it seems there's now an active core group of people that tries to meet up roughly every three weeks. Two of those meetups happened in January. I really enjoy these meetups because it's an opportunity for political and philosophical conversations with people from different backgrounds. As a group, we have concluded that it's too early to focus on outreach and activism for the ideas of EA but rather the time to educate ourselves and form our opinions. To that end, we are going through Doing Good Better by William MacAskill together.

Also, I managed to meet two friends I haven't seen in a while, played some board games and attended the first local Webmontag meetup in a new and exciting location.

Productivity

According to RescueTime, I spent 196h 39m in front of a screen and that time can be broken up like this:

  • 27% Software Development (up by 6 points from 21% last month)
  • 17% Social Networking (down by 7 points from 24% last month)
  • 9% Business
  • 9% Design & Composition
  • 8% Utilities

focus booster tells me I had a total productive time of 97h 13m.

Mood

The average daily mood, based on my nightly ratings in Exist, was 3.8, just slightly below last month.

Entertainment and Media

I'm happy that Star Trek: Discovery continued, so I had a Monday night ritual I could look forward to. Regarding other Star Trek shows, I finished watching Star Trek: Enterprise, so there's now another series that I've seen in its entirety. I really enjoyed Enterprise because of the theme of the founding of the federation and the Human-Vulcan relations in this era (but sad that T'Pol/Tucker didn't work out ...).

Final Remarks

I've realized how difficult it is to analyze a month when some time has passed already, so after this and the upcoming February review I'll make it a priority to write the monthly review straight at the beginning of the next month. Writing this article took less than two pomodoro sessions.

Monthly Review December 2017

As I mentioned in the monthly review for November, which just went online yesterday, I am catching up with these reviews now before, hopefully, getting back into the routine from next month onwards.

So let's have a look at the last month of the previous year:

Accomplishments

My cooperation with BlazeMeter continues, and I wrote Designing APIs with Apicurio Studio for them.

I also published a post about API the Docs Amsterdam on the CloudObjects blog. I'll talk a bit about this event I attended in December in the "Highlights" section below.

Highlights

At the beginning of the month, I traveled to Amsterdam, to attend the API the Docs one-day conference on 4th December. I haven't been to any event like this for a long time, and I have never traveled to Amsterdam before, so this was a definite highlight. Regarding the content and atmosphere of the event itself let me refer to my other blog post once again. As it was a full day event and travel by train from my location to Amsterdam wasn't possible on the same day I had to spend two nights in a hotel. Therefore I decided to make the most of it and arrive early on the previous day and leave late on the day after so I have plenty of time to explore the city. While I was prepared to do that kind of exploration alone, I asked on the Meetup page for the event whether anybody wants to join, and I got a reply and made plans to meet with one other participant on the evening before the conference. The funny thing that happened next is that I randomly bumped into that person on the train station in Cologne so we could already spend the incoming trip together. If that wasn't enough coincidence, we also realized we had booked the same hotel. We spend the day together exploring Amsterdam (here's one typical tourist photo he took of me) and also met with one of the speakers in a pub later that night. I also met a few more interesting and friendly people at the conference and the after party, so, all in all, it was an excellent trip.

The rest of the month was a very typical December. I celebrated my birthday and new year's eve with friends and Christmas was the usual family time with nothing extraordinary to report.

Productivity

Here are the numbers from RescueTime, based on 149h 42m of logged screen time:

  • 24% Social Networking (up by 7 points from 17% last month)
  • 21% Software Development (down by 3 points from 24% last month)
  • 11% Business
  • 9% News & Opinion
  • 8% Communication & Scheduling

In focus booster I recorded a total productive time of 59h 50 min. Holiday season and travels have taken their toll on my productivity, but that is not unexpected.

Mood

My average daily mood, as tracked in Exist, was 3.82, higher than last month and close to the all-time high of 3.83 in September. In fact, it's the same value as in July up to the 13th digit behind the comma. I have no theory to explain that.

Entertainment and Media

Sadly Star Trek: Discovery was on its Winter break. I watched a couple of older Star Trek episodes from various shows instead, focusing on Enterprise.

Final Remarks

Similar to the November review, I've skipped a few sections for which I don't have or cannot reconstruct the data or where I feel it doesn't make sense to include them.

Monthly Review November 2017

"Wait, what?", you might say. "It's March 2018, why would you publish a review for November now?" In fact, I started writing a review in December, but I got busy, and then my mind was preoccupied with other things. I even started questioning whether I should continue the monthly review tradition at all. The truth is, writing review's like this is beneficial to check in with one's goals and personal growth, but it can also a painful process if the numbers don't look as favorable as you'd want them to be and you have to stand face to face with your weaknesses. If that wasn't enough, putting these thoughts on a public blog also means that you're sharing an inner monologue with the world, possibly making it discoverable and archived forever. I have observed many other people who are much better at articulating their weaknesses, though admittedly many do it in a somewhat safe space, anonymously or as part of a motivational blog post in which they describe how they've overcome them. In the online world, there's always tension between authenticity, which requires admission of defeat, too, and building a personal brand, which demands to shine the best light on yourself.

The beginning of a new year is always a time of optimism, a chance for a fresh and better start, but I feel I haven't been mindful and self-aware enough to make a difference. That's why I have not only decided to restart these monthly reviews with a February post but also retrospectively cover the months November, December and January. These reviews will be a bit shorter and, for obvious reasons, will not include any goals. I had a lot of thoughts about writing a yearly review together with new year's resolutions, but I'm skipping this one. It's in my plan for next year, though, because then I will have a whole year of data to look back on. Regarding the monthly reviews, I'm planning to write them step-by-step in the upcoming days so that I can publish the February review before the 15th, just in time for inclusion in Belle Cooper's newsletter.

That said, let's get started with a look on November.

Goal Review

Time to check in with the goals I set for myself last month:

Reducing screen time at night

I'm still not up to where I'd like this to be, but I'm faring much better this month.

Getting CloudObjects phpMAE released

Success. I've published phpMAE and its dependencies including documentation on GitHub and I wrote an introductory blog post on the CloudObjects Blog. But this is just the first step, so there's plenty to do here for a next goal.

Finish the book I'm reading right now and start a new one

Success. I'm through with the book my mother recommended me, and now I'm reading a recommendation from my sister. I think it's time to tackle my _own_ book reading list next.

Develop an improved system for tracking my to-do list.

For this goal, I'd say it's ongoing. My idea was to make Habitica the primary tool and let other task management systems feed into it. This plan, however, seems not to be practical. Instead, I've decided to use Habitica for gamification and scoring purposes only, and I developed a Zapier-based integration for Highrise and Habitica. I've documented this with a tutorial on this blog. This is one step, but a big plan or overall organization system is still missing at this point.

Accomplishments

As usual, I'm sharing guest blog posts I've written. In November, BlazeMeter published a tutorial I wrote called Create Your First OpenAPI Definition with Swagger Editor.

On the CloudObjects side of things, a publicly usable version of phpMAE was released. This release was one of my goals, and I already mentioned it above, but I feel this deserves to be said twice :)

I'm also quite delighted by the fact that these monthly reviews are paying off as an inspiration for other people to have a look at their life and using tools quantify their productivity and happiness. Jeremy Cherfas first shared his thoughts about time measurement and time management in direct response to my last review, then published his own November review. Jason Irwin also wrote a monthly review and set goals for December with a direct nod to Jeremy and myself. It's a great feeling to be able to inspire others.

My October review was also included in Belle Cooper's monthly review newsletter.

Highlights

This section is the part of the review where I take out my calendar. So, in November I attended a total of four tech- and entrepreneurship-related meetups and events, including the first of a new series, called Startup Melt. Apart from that, I've also been to a talk about Effective Altruism (EA) and another meetup of a local EA group. EA is the philosophy of "using reason and evidence to do the most good". It's something I've discovered during previous research on the Universal Basic Income (UBI) and read a bit about already, so it's really great to find a few like-minded folks to talk about it in real life. Another highlight of the month was undoubtedly the celebration of my sister's birthday, which took place in her own apartment for the first time.

Productivity

Here are the numbers from RescueTime, based on 200h 14min of logged screen time:

  • 24% Software Development (down by 1 point from 25% last month)
  • 17% Social Networking (up by 3 points from 14% last month)
  • 12% Business
  • 8% Uncategorized
  • 8% Reference and Learning

In focus booster I recorded a total productive time of 108h 56m.

Mood

My average daily mood, as tracked in Exist, was 3.67, slightly lower than last month.

Entertainment and Media

I've continued watching various Star Trek shows, both old and new, on Netflix. I don't have kept exact track of what and when I watched.

Final Remarks

I've skipped a few sections for which I don't have or cannot reconstruct the data or where I feel it doesn't make sense to include them, considering I write this a few months after November.

Gamifying Highrise tasks with Habitica and Zapier

In my last monthly review, one of my stated goals was to "figure out how to best use Habitica". I mentioned that "it is not yet my primary to-do list and I haven't built any integrations to turn it into that". My tasks are spread across different sources and building synchronization between them and Habitica is difficult, as it would encompass syncing task content and completion state in both directions. Also, if I think about it more, this is not actually what I want and need; I don't necessarily need those lists appear in different places, I just want to leverage Habitica's gamification and collect gold and experience for my avatar.

This is why I came up with a different solution: creating a single "Task completed" habit and automatically vote it up - which can happen any number of times for habits in Habitica - when a task in another system is marked completed.

Lately I've used Highrise for managing tasks. Highrise is a CRM but it also includes the ability to create, manage and check off tasks which can be attached to elements such as contacts, cases and even notes. Thus, Highrise is one system that I want to integrate with Habitica automatically. I'm using Zapier for this purpose, with a bit of clever hacking and magic thrown in :)

Here's how it's done:

  1. Habitica's Zapier integration is in beta, which means you won't see a Habitica app when you search for it in Zapier. You can find a Beta invite link on the Habitica wiki.
  2. Once you click on that link Zapier starts a new zap with Habitica as the trigger channel. We need Habitica as the action, not the trigger, so we can change the trigger app. If you select Highrise here you'll notice that there's no "Task completed" trigger, so we can't use that. Choose the "RSS by Zapier" app instead and select the "New Item in Feed" trigger.
  3. Get the Atom feed for your latest activity in Highrise. It's located at /recordings.atom on your Highrise subdomain; for example mine's at https://lukasrosenstock.highrisehq.com/recordings.atom. Enter that into the "Feed URL" field. Don't worry because it's in Atom format and the Zapier app asks for RSS, it seems to understand this feed format just fine.
  4. Find your authentication token on the "Integrations" tab of the "My info" page of your account settings in Highrise. Copy it into the "Username" field. For "Password", enter any value, e.g. X. Continue on Zapier and test the step.
  5. Add a "Filter" step on Zapier. Choose "Only continue if ..." and set it up to check for the "Title" field and whether the text contains the string "Task completed". This is important, because otherwise everything in your activity feed, such as notes and comments, will also score. It may also break at any time if Highrise decides to change the format of their Atom feeds. Continue and test the step. zapier_habitica_filter_setup.png
  6. Add an "Action" step on Zapier and search for the "Habitica" app. The action is "Score Task".
  7. Connect Zapier to Habitica. This is unfortunately not an automated OAuth dance so you will be shown a page where you need to paste your User ID and API token from the API settings page in Habitica.
  8. Create a habit in Habitica. You can use any caption but I recommend something that marks it clearly as something that is automated and not for manual triggering; for example I put the words "Automated by Zapier" in the habit and put the whole caption in parentheses.
  9. Find out the Task ID for your new task. The default web UI of Habitica doesn't show it, but you can use Task Adjustor for this purpose. Again you need your User ID and API token to log in and then click on "toggle developer data".
  10. Copy the Task ID into your zap and choose direction "Up". Continue.
  11. This is an optional step you can skip, however to add some more motivation you can set up another "Action" step with a different Zapier app to send a notification to yourself to let you know the task has been scored. I'm currently using Pushbullet for this purpose.

And that's it! Any completed task in Highrise will be scored in Habitica within 15 minutes. Keep those gold and experience coming! Thank you for your interested and reading up to here.

Setting up this integration and writing this post took me less than 4 pomodoro sessions.

Monthly Review October 2017

It's November 9th and about time for the monthly review for October. Actually I don't really have much time to do this today because my to-do list of client projects is totally full, however the health of my level 6 warrior at Habitica looks quite bad and I quickly need the experience points that writing this post will bring so I can level up and fully restore the health of my avatar ...

october2017-habitica-avatar.png

Goal Review

Last month was the first time I made a goal list as part of the monthly review, so let's check them out:

Reduce screen time at night

I think I failed that one quite often, on some days I had to work late, on others I couldn't resist the temptation of Netflix.

Figure out how to best use Habitica

I'm using Habitica every day to track habits and I have started using it for recurring tasks, such as writing this monthly review, as mentioned in the introduction. It is not yet my primary to-do list and I haven't built any integrations to turn it into that.

Finally release CloudObjects phpMAE

Failed. A lack of time and some unforeseen problems have prevented me from achieving this goal.

Update this blog with a custom domain

Success. I've decided to place this blog on a subdomain and I chose 1up as its name, inspired by the power-ups in some computer games, because the idea of this blog is to guide my journey and aspiration to become a better version of myself, a "+1-version". Jason/matigo of 10Centuries where this is hosted helped me set the custom domain up.

Read a "real" book

I've been able to include a short reading session into my morning routine on most days. At first I didn't know what I should read but then my mother helped me out on that one by handing me a novel she had read and thought I might like. I'm about halfway through with the book.

Accomplishments

My partnership with BlazeMeter is continuing and my second piece of writing for them, "5 Reasons You Should Use OpenAPI / Swagger for your APIs", has been published.

Highlights

Thinking of highlights for the last month, two short trips come to my mind. One of them was a one-day trip to Cologne to meet Jonathan, who's one of my oldest friends from my school days. Unfortunately we rarely see each other so it was really great to see him again. My trip coincidentally was one of the warmest, most beautiful days of the "golden October" so we could spend a lot of time outside walking and talking about all kinds of things. He's a huge StarTrek nerd as well, so later in the afternoon we watched the two latest episodes of StarTrek: Discovery together.

The other trip was to Essen where I visited the SPIEL (literally GAME), which happens to be the world's largest trade fair for boardgames and related merchandise. As I'm a big fan of boardgames I often wanted to go but never actually managed to make the trip. This time I was lucky that one of my friends with whom I regularly have boardgame nights once or twice a month and two of his friends had already planned the trip and I could join them. One of my cousins lately moved to Essen as well and she offered me a place for the night, so I was able to combine the trip to the fair with a family visit as well, which was really nice.

Another highlight of the month was that I finally replaced my old, damaged and non-upgradeable (from Android 4.1!) Samsung Galaxy S4 with a Fairphone 2. If you don't know them, Fairphone is a Dutch startup and B Corp on a mission to make electronics more sustainable by making their phones long-lived and easy to repair and upgrade as well as enforce transparency and better social and environmental standards on the supply chain. I find this a mission worthy of support. Unfortunately they have long delivery wait times as they can't keep up with demand so I bought a refurbished phone from an eBay seller. So far I'm quite satisfied with the device.

Productivity

My RescueTime top five categories:

  • 25% Software Development (up by 9 points from 16% last month)
  • 14% Social Networking (down by 6 points from 22% last month, lowest value this year!)
  • 10% Entertainment
  • 10% Utilities
  • 9% Communication&Scheduling

I'm happy to see I've spent more time doing actual coding last month. Thankfully I have been adamant in adding all time tracked with other tools into Focus Booster, so I can present data from that source again and do some comparision. There were a total of 205 sessions (Pomodoros and other types of sessions that can be both shorter or longer) and a total productive time of 91h 46 min tracked in Focus Booster, which is nearly exactly the amount of Very Productive time in RescueTime (89h 57min) and roughly half of the 198h 39min screen time recorded there. I find it fascinating that even though the tracking methods are quite different (manual vs. automatic) and, for example, I might use Pomodoros for things that RescueTime would consider distracting, these numbers are quite close.

One graph from Focus Booster which I've shared previously is the weekday productivity, and I find it interesting to see that this looks different from the same graph in May and June where I've previously included it:

june2017-weekday-productivity.png

I have no idea why that is. Maybe I suddenly started to love Mondays ...

Exercise

According to Swarm I've been swimming four times. I haven't really spent that much time cycling because either the weather made me feel like skipping it or I had other things to do.

Mood

My average daily mood, as tracked in Exist, was 3.74, slightly lower than last month. This surprises me, based on gut feeling I had expected it to be higher.

Daily Routine

I already know my goals and my struggle and I feel there's not much to gain from further analysis at the moment, so I'm skipping this section for this month. It'll be back next month.

Entertainment and Media

Apart from keeping up with Star Trek: Discovery as already mentioned above I watched a bit of other StarTrek shows on Netflix, mostly The Next Generation (fourth and early fifth season) as well as Enterprise. I haven't watched any movies or non-Trek series this month.

Habits

Positive habits I track:

  • Making the bed in the morning
  • Reading
  • Cycling
  • Working at the standing desk
  • Playing piano
  • Meditation

Negative habits I track:

  • Using social networks in the morning
  • Using phone or computer in bed

Goals

This post started with goals and it ends with goals. For this month my goals were a mixture of failures and successes, most of them a little bit of both, so let's see how I fare next month. Here's what I plan:

  • Reducing screen time at night remains a goal as I've failed too many times.
  • Getting CloudObjects phpMAE released also remains a goal.
  • Finish the book I'm reading right now and start a new one.
  • Develop an improved system for tracking my to-do list.

Final Remarks

Analyzing the month and writing this post took me 5 Pomodoro sessions.

Monthly Review September 2017

It's October 3rd, "reunification day", Germany's national holiday. And here I am with the monthly review for last month, published in time:

Accomplishments

I worked on CloudObjects but couldn't get anything released. Nevertheless ProgrammableWeb published a summary of my August post "Micro API Design Pattern", which felt quite amazing - I never had any larger site publish an article based on my own ideas or writing! Another related accomplishment is that I got a guest post called "What’s New in Swagger / OpenAPI 3?" published on the BlazeMeter blog. It's awesome because it's a paid gig that also helps me establish my personal brand as an API expert.

Highlights

The biggest highlight in September was probably my six day trip to Berlin. I was invited by one of my long time friends to celebrate the first day at school of his son who also happens to be my godson. The celebration was on a Saturday and I went to Berlin from Thursday to Tuesday. Friday I spent some time alone with the 6-year-old and we went to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre. On the weekend, however, after the celebration we all went to a small rural village north of Berlin where my friend's wife's family lives. Spending all this time with their family and in a different surrounding was really nice and a complete change to my usual pace of life. The last time I went to Berlin I used the time to catch up with other friends and tried to get a glimpse of the bustling tech and startup scene as well, but this trip was completely dedicated to its primary purpose.

The only activity I did all by myself while in Berlin was some me-time on Monday night where I had a nice cup of tea, walked around the city, ate overpriced organic "currywurst" and at least caught a backside view of the Reichstag to confirm that I was actually in the German capital.

I also spent some time with my sister this month. As she is moving out of her current apartment and into a new place, I stayed at her old place for two weekends with her and also a fews days on my own in order to put the otherwise empty place to a good use before the lease expired. This way I could get myself another change of scenery.

Productivity

Let's have a look at the RescueTime categories, as usual:

  • 22% Social Networking (up by 4 points from 18% last month)
  • 16% Software Development (down by 5 points from 23% last month)
  • 13% Entertainment
  • 9% Utilities
  • 9% Communication & Scheduling

As you can see, Social Networking moved up as my top activity again, and Software Development is down. Overall I logged 45.7 h less screen time compared to the previous month, which is kind of obvious due to my travels. Related to that, 85% of the screen time comes from the computer and 15% from my phone; in August it was 90% computer time. Still, the conclusion remains: I really need to get away from that Social Networking timesink!

Exercise

I haven't been to a swimming pool all month, but I still rode my bike when the weather allowed. While in Berlin there was also a lot of playing tag and even football (!) with my godson. That certainly counts as exercise, doesn't it?

Mood

My daily rating in the Exist mobile app shows a 3.83 average, that's the highest recorded monthly average since I started tracking, almost as high as in July.

What I realized while doing the nightly ritual of rating my mood is that, on usual weekdays, my mood is closely related to productivity. If I got a lot done I feel better. This month, however, there were a lot of special days due to the travelling and spending time in different places so I based my mood on other factors and that should have done its part in leading to the higher ratings.

Exist has added a few additional capabilities to their mood tracking recently but I haven't found the time to test them.

Daily Routine

Here's my favorite chart:

september2017-daily-productivity.png

I've marked the most productive hours and they're the same as in August.

There's still too much red in there and at almost every hour of the day, even past midnight, I need to reduce that. I've already made some attempts at limiting my screen time in the evening but I haven't kept up with this habit; thinking to make it a goal for next month. The main problem is using my computer in bed because it's much easier to hit Next Episode on Netflix than it is to put the whole thing aside; means that it always gets late ...

Entertainment and Media

In September I watched the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and started with the fourth. I also saw the first released episode of Star Trek: Discovery.

At my sister's place we watched two movies together, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Host.

Habits

In the July review I mentioned that I started using Habitica. This app allow you to track habits and tasks and maps your success or failure in terms of fulfilling those to the health and money of an avatar that represents you. I'm still figuring out the best way to use Habitica for task management but I'm already tracking a few habits. Unfortunately as far as I can see the app only records streaks for habits but doesn't give me any information on how many total days I have actually succeeded with a good habit. I'm thinking that with Exist's new mood tracking somehow I could hook up the APIs and build something nice.

Goals

It's the beginning of a new month, October, and I'm in time to set a few goals which I can check with the next review:

  • Reduce screen time at night: Switch off computer and phone no later than 21:30.
  • Figure out how to best use Habitica, especially in relation to the other productivity apps I'm using.
  • Finally release CloudObjects phpMAE.
  • Update this blog with a custom domain and submit next monthly review to Belle Cooper's newsletter as well as my other social media channels.
  • Read a "real" book.

Final Remarks

Analyzing the month and writing this post took me 4.5 pomodoro sessions.

Monthly Review August 2017

It's the beginning of October, September just ended, and there is no review for August on my blog? Shame on me! This was my one goal I laid out in the previous review and I completely failed it. Well, actually sort of I didn't. I had this post almost completely written on September 5th. Then I left for a short trip to Berlin and got caught up in more urgent work on return. Following that I procrastinated around editing and finishing up this post for the whole month. But here it is now.

Accomplishments

I published one CloudObjects post, "The Micro API Design Pattern". There's nothing to announce about other projects and unfortunately my own microblog is lying dormant at the moment.

Highlights

A new local group for self-employed creative people has been formed in my hometown and, since I knew the organizers, I went for their inaugural meetup, which was a nice way to get to talk again to a few people I met at other meetups and also get inspired hearing the stories of other people. Apart from that there was the usual share of meeting friends and playing board games as well as another visit to an Escape Room.

Productivity

Let's start this section by looking at the RescueTime category numbers:

  • 23% Software Development (up by 1 point from 22% last month)
  • 18% Social Networking (down by 1 point from 19% last month)
  • 14% Entertainment
  • 9% Communication & Scheduling
  • 8% Utilities

Social networking time has decreased once again but it still feels like too much of a time sink. As promised, here's a deeper analysis of it, and that's what I'm about to do now:

60% of the Social Networking time is spent at the computer, with the following top 3 networks

  • Mastodon
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

40% of it is spent on mobile devices, with the following top 3 apps

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook

If I manually summarize the percentages of the equivalent websites and apps, these are the top networks:

  • 26% (13+13) Twitter
  • 23% Mastodon
  • 19% (12+7) Facebook
  • 13% Instagram

Twitter in the top spot surprises me as I haven't felt that I spent a lot of time there, but probably the huge firehose of tweets can easily make you forget the time. Instagram in the last spot is another surprise as I feel that I open the app quite often, however I think it's that I get bored of pretty pictures quite easily and the absence of external links is really a feature and I hope it won't be addressed as a bug. It's interesting that the relatively young and niche network Mastodon has made it to the second spot. I'm following quite a few people from there as well as on GNUSocial via federation and some of them are very active so there's always something new and the web interface is quite pleasant to use.

Exercise

I'm still riding the bicycle regularly though I haven't exacty counted that. I only went swimming once.

Mood

Based on my daily rating in the Exist mobile app, my average mood in August was 3.58, which is lower than 3.82 in July but higher than the 3.47 in June. There was one bad day with 2 and two very good days with 5, so there were almost no huge ups and downs in the month and I paddled along in average territory.

Daily Routine

To continue the observation of my daily routine I'm including the same analytics chart for the distribution of productive time throughout the day:

august2017-daily-productivity.png

Just like last month, I've marked the biggest blobs for "very productive". They have shifted a little but the overall picture doesn't look too different.

Entertainment and Media

A new category has creeped into the top five in RescueTime, Entertainment. The reason is that I re-enabled my Netflix subscription. I've always been a fan of Star Trek and other science fiction shows but, within the Star Trek universe, the only series that I have followed extensively was Voyager. I have only seen a few episodes of the other shows and wanted to catch up. I've started watching The Next Generation in August and I'm through the first two seasons now.

Goals

Any goal section doesn't make sense at this point so I'm skipping it.

Final Remarks

Analyzing the month and writing this post took me 3 pomodoro sessions, two on September 5th and one (plus a few minutes) on October 2nd. Kind of stupid to procrastinate on a 25 minute task, right?!

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