Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 27, 2017)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 27, 2017)

Update:

Thanks for following the Weekly Learnings Roundup over the past year. I’ve had a great time curating some of the most interesting learnings and articles from the interwebs for you.

Starting September, I’ll be shifting this weekly feature to a monthly feature for two reasons:

  1. To set aside more time to write high quality, long-form articles that I think you’ll enjoy.
  2. To provide you with a synthesis of the interesting articles and learnings in one meaningful hit.

I still plan on sharing interesting articles through Twitter @peternakamura. And if you’re looking for my favourite articles, just keep an eye out for the hastag #mustread.

I appreciate your continued support for my blog and I’m looking forward to producing some more interesting content!

And without further ado, your roundup…


Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

Eating To Break 100: Longevity Diet Tips From The Blue Zones by Eliza Barclay

Want to live to 100? Well, check out what folks in the “Blue Zones” (i.e. regions in the world with the highest concentration of centenarians) are eating. In a way, it’s the best science that we can find around diets that actually work.

Here’s what they do:

  • Eat until you’re 80% full.
  • Make your largest meal of the day either breakfast or lunch.
  • Eat mostly plants and eat meat rarely (i.e. once a week)
  • Drink alcohol moderately (i.e. 1-2 glasses a day)

Props to my friend Janice Sousa for sharing this article!

Podcast episode I’m enjoying —

Running a Family and a Business (Season 5, Episode 4) on the StartUp Podcast

Startup founder, Diana Lovett, opens up about her challenges with balancing the life of a founder and a mother. It’s an honest, emotional conversation between her and executive coach Jerry Colona as they talk through what’s really at the heart of her challenge with the balancing act.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

We often think that insecurity comes from a weak ego, but in my experience it is the result of an inflexible ego that has mistaken itself as the center of the universe, which keeps contradicting it on this key point.

— Shozan Jack Haubner

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Start with fun.

Having fun makes a lot of things easier. I remember as a kid that I hated taking piano lessons because my teacher was a horrible stickler. I think I ended up crying for most of the lessons that I took.

Even as adults, knowing the benefits of activities like exercise, we still have a hard time getting out and going to the gym. What’s the missing ingredient? I think it’s fun.

Fun can come in many shapes and forms. You might enjoy team sports over lifting weights. Or being a part of a community of people who enjoy the same type of exercise.

Whatever it is, start with fun and find ways to look forward to the activity. Do something that gets you excited and don’t make it a chore by thinking you need to go; rather, think that you want to go. This also means not over pacing yourself especially when you’re getting started.

Go out there – find ways to make your exercising, reading, cooking, etc. for the next 30 days. See how that works out for you.

Featured image by Matthew Henry.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (July 23, 2017)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (July 23, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

Top 10 Strategies for Learning New Skills by Farheen Gani via Zapier

Really nice piece outlining key strategies for learning. I love their suggestions around improving the quality of practice, leveraging the “diffused” brain mode for learning, and putting something on the line by testing yourself.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When you don’t know what habor you’re aiming for, no wind is the right wind.

— Seneca

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Ask your doctor for your health data.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to my doctor for my yearly physical and got my blood work done. As part of the process, I also made sure I also got a copy of the test results from Life Labs and put the data points into a Google Sheet for future reference.

More labs are providing test results directly to the patient and this is great news. As patients, we get to take greater control of our own health and monitor them. Especially since many MDs are often short on time, nutritional knowledge, and resources to provide sustainable advice for lifestyle changes.

So being able to track your data, at a minimum, will help inform you on where your health is headed. If you’re looking to take your health to the next level, this data can be extremely handy in improving your health with a naturopath or a nutritionist in the future (which is something I’m doing currently).

Product I’m loving —

Fitbit Aria

Speaking of tracking my health, I just recently purchased the Fitbit Aria smart scale and I’ve been loving it. I’ve been using an analog scale for the last few years and it was useful, but the Aria takes it to another level. It tracks weight, body fat, lean mass, and your BMI. As someone who wants to reduce body fat but maintain lean mass through nutrition and fitness, having a tool like this is extremely valuable.

Aside from the Aria, there are some great options out like the Withings scale that measure more things like bone mass and water. I liked the Aria option as it connects natively with my Fitbit app.

Featured image by Nirzar Pangarkar.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (July 11, 2017)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (July 11, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

10 Life Lessons to Excel In Your 30s by Mark Manson

Mark puts together the Top 10 lessons that he sourced from hundreds of people in their 40s and beyond. As someone who just turned 30 last year, this is a really valuable article.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

This short, practical book examines the rise of fascism and communism in the 20th century and what we can learn from them. With the increasingly ridiculed press to election hacking to fear mongering about the “others”, there is no more important time for regular citizens like ourselves to get involved and preserve our democratic rights. If it can happen in the United States, it can happen anywhere else in the world.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.

— Lao Tzu

Product I’m loving —

Upgraded Coconut Charcoal from Bulletproof

Activated charcoal has been used for thousands of years in ayuverdic medicine. It works by attracting positively charged toxins to help with detoxification of your gut. I take one or two Upgraded Coconut Charcoal from Bulletproof in situations where I know I may be eating some suspect food or when I’m going to be drinking some alcohol. It’s not meant to be taken on a regular basis but when you know you’ll be eating some lower quality food than you’re used to.

As always, please make sure to consult your doctor before you add supplements that you haven’t tried before!

Featured image via Pixabay.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Year 30: Q2 Review

Year 30: Q2 Review

What gets measured gets managed.

— Peter Drucker

Overview

Quarterly reviews are designed for me to take a moment to reflect on the past three months. I review the data that I collected from my sleep, morning routine, daily questions, health, and productivity to identify trends or insights. The awareness that I gain from reviewing the data allows me to make meaningful changes in my life.

So often we spend so much time “doing” that we gloss over a critical part of personal growth – review and reflection. This is my attempt to build in some reflection time so I can make the next quarter even more productive and fulfilling.

Sleep

Tracker: Fitbit

Sleep is the lead domino for my productivity during the day. Without proper sleep, it is difficult to stay focused throughout the work day and have enough energy for friends and loved ones at the end of the day.

I use my Fitbit Charge HR to track my sleep. While I didn’t track my sleep while I was on vacation in March/April, I collected enough data to pull some interesting insights. The two major components I’ll analyze from my sleep is time (quantity) and efficiency (quality).

Sleep Time

Sleep Time (Q2-17)

Q1 average: 7.96 hours

Q2 average: 7.48 hours (-6.03% vs. Q1 average)

As the chart above shows, my sleep time fell across all three months of Q2. The Q1 average sleep time of 7.96, compared to the Q2 average of 7.48, equates to 0.48 hours less sleep which equates to about 29 minutes less sleep on average.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to sleep time but I think there were two major factors from Q2. First, starting in mid-April I began to wake-up between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. to accommodate more time for my morning routine. Second, it’s possible that when daylight savings time shifted here in Toronto in mid-March, the greater amount of sunlight contributed to my body needing less sleep. I generally notice during the summer months that I don’t need to sleep as much.

Sleep Efficiency

Sleep efficiency = (100*Total Sleep Time)/(Total Sleep Time + Time Awake)

Sleep Efficiency (Q2-30)

Q1 baseline: 95.52

February: 95.56 (+4 points vs. Q1 baseline)

March: 96.10 (+58 points vs. Q1 baseline)

April: 96.35 (+83 points vs. Q1 baseline)

Sleep efficiency took a significant leap in March and April. Compared to the baseline from Q1, March and April saw a 58 point and 83 point improvement, respectively.

While there’s a myriad of possible reasons for this improvement, one potential factor is the magnesium supplementation I started in early March. One study that examined the impact between magnesium and sleep quality showed a very high correlation between magnesium supplementation and increased sleep quality. It’s likely that I was somewhat deficient in magnesium and the supplementation of 450mg of magnesium citrate made a big difference in my sleep quality.

Important note: I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on the internet so please make sure to check with your physician to see if magnesium supplementation is right for you.

So far in Q3, I’ve seen this trend continue along with the same supplementation amount which suggests that it’s a sustainable change for my body. However, I’ll be monitoring carefully on how I feel in the morning to see if my body can sustain this level of sleep time and sleep efficiency.

Morning Routine

Tracker: Google Sheets

My Q2 morning routine consisted of meditation, journaling, a quick workout, reading, and researching & writing for my blog. Below are the daily completion rates over Q2.

Morning Routine (Q2-17)

Aside from meditation, it’s pretty clear that my Q2 morning routine took a hit. Across the board, most of my habits decreased significantly in their completion rates. Particularly troubling is the reading habit that was down by 40% as reading is a critical component of my personal and professional growth.

There’s probably a couple of factors here that contributed to the dip in Q2. First, in March, I was pretty busy preparing for the trip to Japan and wrapping up my work in time. That likely contributed to the significant dip in my morning routine being completed. Second, after a really strong start to the year in January, my consistency took a hit in February and really cratered in March. That’s the thing about these types of routines: it’s not how strong you start – it’s how consistent you can be across a long period of time.

It makes me realize the importance of mixing things up in my morning and keeping things fun. I think that’s why April was such a big bounce-back month. I hadn’t been doing my morning routine for almost 3 weeks and it was fun to get back into it. I need to think about incorporating strategic routine breaks in the middle of each quarter so I can come back feeling refreshed to go back to my routine.

Daily Questions

Tracker: Google Sheets

Daily Questions are five questions I ask myself at the end of the day to gauge the effort I put into my key priorities. I came across this idea in the book Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith which I highly recommend reading.

I rate myself on a scale of 1 to 4 on how much of an effort I put into fulfilling each question. The objective of the questions is to measure my effort (i.e. input) rather than the outcomes (i.e. output) because my effort is something I control. When I know I put in the investment and time into fulfilling each question, I can feel like I did what I can do. As such, each question begins with the phrase “Did I do my best to…?”

Here are the questions that I asked myself everyday over the past quarter:

Did I do my best to…

  1. Make progress towards my objectives at Actionable today?
  2. Invest in my friendships today?
  3. Invest in my relationship with Carly today?
  4. Invest in my physical health today?
  5. Invest in my emotional health today?

Month-by-Month

Daily Questions Monthly Average (Q2-30).png

It’s nice to see a steady rise in the month-by-month average of my daily question scores. A big change that I saw in Q2 was the increase in Question #1, “Did I do my best to make progress towards my objectives at Actionable today?”

Ever since I picked up the Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change it’s been a game-changer for me when it comes to my work productivity. The structure and process of the planner make it really easy to set my daily goals and track my progress. They’ve also done a great job of outlining the weekly reviews which make it easy to recalibrate projects for the following week. Honestly, I can’t go without it now and it’s a big reason Question #1 has significantly improved in Q2.

Question-by-Question

Daily Questions (Q2-30)

One area that I’d like to focus more closely in the coming months is Question #2 – “Did I do my best to invest in my friendships today?” I really enjoy company with friends but I also really enjoy my alone time. It’s an area that I could use some help finding the right balance. It could mean more catch ups over the phone instead of going out. It’s worth exploring because friendships are a priority in my life.

Health

Tracker: Fitbit & Google Sheets

The Health section of my Quarterly Review is still a work in progress. At the moment, I’m collecting data on my average resting heart rate (RHR) and the number of capoeira classes I go to every month.

According to the National Institute of Health, the average resting heart rate (RHR) for adults is 60-100 beats per minute. For well-trained athletes, that range falls between 40-60 beats per minute. A lower RHR generally means that your heart is able to pump more blood with each beat with greater efficiency and is a sign of good health.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m using my Fitbit to track my RHR. By taking a look at my RHR on a monthly basis, I might be able to spot any potential issues that might be happening to my body early on.

Resting Heart Rate (bpm)

Resting Heart Rate (Q2-30)

I’m not exactly sure why my heart rate dropped by over 2 beats per minute between February and March. It could be because of an increase in my fitness level or perhaps the better quality of sleep I started having in March. I’ve seen the average resting heart rate continue at the 60 bpm level into Q3 which suggests this is a sustainable change.

Another significant component of my physical health comes from practicing capoeira on a weekly basis. Below shows how many capoeira classes I attended in Q2.

Capoeira Classes

Capoeira Classes (Q2-30)

Q2 wasn’t exactly where I wanted to get my capoeira class attendance level to. My objective is to make it to a minimum of 8 classes per month which is a goal I fell short of each month. That being said, being away for a few weeks in March and April definitely threw my rhythm off a little bit. And momentum matters in something like capoeira where techniques learned in one class need to be practiced in subsequent classes to be learned and perfected.

Productivity

Tracker: RescueTime

I collect my productivity data with RescueTime (RT). RT tracks my daily online and offline activity and categorizes them on a scale of very distracting to neutral to very productive. It also calculates a Productivity Pulse that indicates how productive my day was based on the ratio of productive hours to total hours worked.

Productivity Pulse (Q2-17)
A quick caveat here. Due to a change in the categorization of one of my activities in RT, the April figures look to have shifted significantly. The actual Pulse for April is likely closer to 80.

Q1 baseline: 77.7

February: 79.0 (+1.67%)

March: 78.1 (+0.51%)

April: 87.1 (+12.10%)

As you can see, there were improvements across Q2 with my Productivity Pulse. February and March were both fairly consistent while April saw a significant increase. This was in part due to a change in the categorization of productive activity in RT. As you can see in the Productive Time vs. Total Time Logged below, the Productive Time for April increased by 0.7 hours compared to February and March.

Productive vs. Total (Q2-17)

The difference between Total Time Logged and Productive Time is very interesting. In an ideal world, the entire workday is “productive” but it’s a big challenge to maintain focus throughout the day. So seeing this gap helps me see how productive my day really is and areas that I can potentially improve.

For example, what do I do for the average of 1.3 hours a day that aren’t classified as Productive Time? How can I better understand my habits and unconscious routines so I can reduce that gap? Do I generally “max out” at ~5 hours of “productive time” each day?

Although I may work an average of 6.2 hours per day, my productive time is 4.57 hours per day. That means that there are certain activities or hours that really drive the productivity of my day. So making sure I take advantage of that time is crucial in making sure I get the most out of my day.

In Q2, I’ve been experimenting with a new tool called The Productivity Planner that helps me map out the most important task to get done everyday and use the Pomodoro Method to get it done. It’s already paid big dividends for me and I’m excited to see what the aggregate impact for Q2 will look like.

Learnings from Q2

All in all, here were some of my key learnings from Q2 that I plan to apply in Q3.

General

  • Begin to craft out a strategy for improving and expanding this blog to reach more people.
  • Continue to track consistently in Q3. Leverage the law of large numbers to identify baselines and trends.

Sleep

  • Continue to supplement my diet with 450mg of magnesium citrate to ensure higher sleep quality.
  • Adjust my sleep schedule to fit my chronotype. Based on data collected over the past 6 months, my body naturally goes to sleep around 10:40 – 11 p.m. and wakes up around 6:30 – 7:00 a.m.

Morning Routine

  • Find ways to keep my morning routine fresh. Add a different exercise to my morning workout, try a different type of coffee, switch up the order of the routine, etc.
  • Plan out a strategic break (e.g. a weekend away) from the morning routine in the middle of the next quarter.
  • Experiment with a morning routine that matches my sleep chronotype. Start the day with a quick workout and cool shower.
  • Don’t put so much pressure on my morning routine. Consider cutting it down a little bit and shifting some aspects to other parts of the day.

Daily Questions

  • Experiment with a different time for my research/writing for my blog. Evening writing could work out better.

Health

  • Create a strategy to make it to 8 capoeira classes each month and make that my baseline.
  • Visit my Family Doctor to do my yearly physical.
  • Visit a Naturopathic Doctor to gather more data about my health.
  • Invest in a smart scale to track data such as weight, body mass index, lean mass, and body fat percentage.

Productivity

  • Ensure I still hit at least 7.5 hours of sleep each night. Even with a higher sleep efficiency, 7.5 hours is what my body still seems to need.
  • Continue to use the Productivity Planner to prioritize my most important tasks each day.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (June 25, 2017)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (June 25, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

6 Healthy Relationship Habits Most People Think Are Toxic by Mark Manson

Lots of valuable gems in here for anyone in a relationship (or looking to be in one). The first point “Letting Some Conflicts Go Unresolved” is a counter intuitive one. In his research of thousands of happily married couples, John Gottman (who’s basically the godfather of relationship research) highlights that “the idea that couples must communicate and resolve all their problems is a myth”. There will always be persistent disagreements and annoyances; it’s the couples that can let go of them that do the best in the long term.

Book that I’m enjoying —

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

An incredibly well-told chronicle of the gene. From the original discovery of the gene by an obscure German scientist to the DNA double helix by Watson and Crick to the current possibilities of gene editing, this is a fascinating look at the most important building block of all living things. There are massive implications in this book on the future of humanity. It’s a hefty read but worth the exploration.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Finding your passion isn’t just about careers and money. It’s about finding your authentic self. The one you’ve buried beneath other people’s needs.

— Kristin Hannah

Product I’m loving —

Webber Naturals Magnesium Citrate Powder

In a previous Weekly Learnings post, I highlighted the impact that magnesium supplementation has had on my health and particularly my sleep. (In an upcoming post, I’ll share how my sleep efficiency increased by 83% likely due to adding 450mg of magnesium to my diet). Webber Naturals is the one that’s been working for me but there are a lot of quality options for magnesium citrate that are affordable. Make sure you add it to hot water so it dissolves properly and dulls the strong berry flavour.

Featured image via Pexels.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

My Quarterly Habits Review (Q2, 2016)

My Quarterly Habits Review (Q2, 2016)

This year I’ve started a new tradition to take a look at the habits I’ve been developing on a quarterly basis. They cover four main areas in my life:

  1. Daily Hustle
  2. Daily Questions
  3. Mindset
  4. Health & Fitness

The data is collected on a daily basis through a variety of different tools. You can check out last quarter’s review here.

Daily Hustle

The Daily Hustle is inspired by the Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity method to work on one key habit on a daily basis. The goal is to keep the habit going by not breaking the chain of X’s on a calendar. It’s the ONE Thing that can help make your day a success and push you towards your goal.

My goal this year has been to spend 15-minutes working on my blog everyday. I use a Hustle Calendar to help me keep track of this keystone habit. Check out where my calendar is current at below and the stats from Q2.

IMG_0128

Success rate: 79% (-5% from Q1)

Posts published: 20 (+4 from Q1)

Observations:

Q2 saw my success rate dip 5% which is not a huge concern. Anything hovering around 80% is a respectable number for me. On the flipside, I did publish 20 posts (marked by the squared dates) compared to 16 in Q1. So from an output level I was techincally more productive this past quarter.

Daily Questions

The Daily Questions are inspired by an activity in Marshall Goldsmith’s book Triggers. It’s an activity that allows me to track my progress on key priorities and objectives. It’s a holistic view on how much effort I put into advancing towards my goals.

Here were the questions I asked this past quarter followed by the key stats and highlights:

  1. Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  2. Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
  3. Did I do my best to create meaning for myself or others today?
  4. Did I do my best to be happy today?
  5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?
  7. Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today?
  8. Did I do my best to minimize the number of decisions I made today?
Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 6.45.15 PM.png
My best month (July)

Monthly Averages:

April – 8.59

May – 8.61

June – 8.70

April’s Highest & Lowest Scores:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? @ 9.28

Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today? @ 8.21

May’s Highest & Lowest Scores:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? @ 9.72

Did I do my best to be happy today? @ 8.14

June’s Highest & Lowest Scores:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? @ 9.41

Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today? @8.24

Observations:

There’s no doubt that I’ve hit my stride with the Did I do my best to set clear goals today? question. Using Momentum to help me set my main focus for the day has been a game changer. On the other hand, it’s clear that Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today? has lagged behind appearing two out of three months as the lowest score. I’ve been consistent with my 7-Minute Workout (as you’ll see below) but my consistency with going to capoeira class has hurt this score. It’s also a slightly ambiguous question as it melds in physical and emotional health together. Both are intertwined but perhaps it may be best to distinguish between the two for future months.

Mindset

The mindset habit I’m developing is spending 10-15 minutes every day meditating. I’m currently using an application called Calm to help me with this.

IMG_0167
My best month (July)

Completion Rate: 87% (+12% from Q1)

Best Month: Tied – April and June @ 90% completion

Longest Streak: 42 days (from March to April)

Observations:

Q2 was a fantastic quarter for meditation. My completion rate jumped by 12% between Q1 and Q2 and I developed a very consistent meditation habit. This was despite a fairly travel heavy quarter for me. I’m proud of the way that I stayed disciplined in keeping my morning routine going. I was also much more consistent with my meditation journal which has become a key addition to my post-meditation routine. Putting down my thoughts from the meditation and assessing my focus has added another layer of awareness.

As I improve my ability to focus through my meditation and find a calm mindset faster, the next step for me is to deepen that focus and learn more about myself through this process. I’m excited about the learnings and challenges that’ll come from the next quarter.

Health & Fitness

Last but not least, the health habit I’m developing is completing a 7-Minute Workout everyday through the Seven app. The rule with the 7-Minute Workout is not to miss more than 2 workouts every month. The workouts are 7 minute high intensity interval trainining (HIIT) style so they get pretty intense.

IMG_0168
My best month (July)

Completion Rate: 92% (-1% from Q1)

Best Month: May @ 94% completion

Observations:

In Q2, I focused mainly on the Push-Up Pusher program which focused on a variety of push-up styles. It was (and still is) a challenging workout for me but I did see improvements specifically with my shoulders and my triceps. It’s one that I’m interested in continuing to work on and improve upon especially because my upper body is weaker than my lower body.

Conclusion

Q2 was a great continuation of the habits I began to develop in Q1. I’m really happy with my results overall and the steady development of habits. I’m also finding a lot of value in doing this review as I get a chance to look at areas of improvement and implement those for Q3 and Q4. It’s crazy how quickly time flies so taking a moment to reflect is really important. More to come next quarter!

Weekly Learnings Roundup (May 17, 2016)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (May 17, 2016)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

This week, I really appreciated reading through Charles Duhigg’s post on What daily habits can someone adopt to lead a more productive life? via Quora. He doesn’t provide any specific habits that will make you productive, but he does recommend we all develop a “contemplation routine”. From Duhigg’s perspective, having a routine to regularly connect ourselves with the bigger picture – our priorities – is an important habit to develop.

This activity can take many forms whether it’s meditation, journaling, going for a walk, etc. and the intention is to take a moment to contemplate how the work we do that day, week, or month connects to the bigger picture. I think this is great advice and highly valuable. If you haven’t read Duhigg’s first book, The Power of Habit, it’s well worth the read and may help you with the implementation of this type of routine.

Productivity tip of the week:

Weekly Big Rocks

To complement Duhigg’s recommendation for a contemplation routine, something I do every Sunday is setup my Weekly Big Rocks. You may be familiar with this phrase from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The idea behind it is simple: set your priorities (your big rocks) first. When you spend time planning out the important tasks for the week, you focus on what’s most important rather than just diving into the minutia. Here’s a quick video of what that looks like.

Every week I look at the major roles I play in my life such as being a team leader at my organization, a friend, a boyfriend, a blogger, etc. and setup 1 or 2 big rocks to accomplish in that role for the week. It helps me look ahead at the week and schedule in the time to make sure I accomplish those goals. While not every week will be one where I have a major priority for every role, having the awareness that I’m skipping a major priority for that role that week helps me loop back at it the following week. I hope to write more about this in a longer post.

A quote that’s inspiring me:

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. – Bruce Lee

Product or service I’m loving:

humangear GoToob

When you’re traveling and need a reliable container for your liquids, this is the best container I’ve found yet. The tubes are really easy to fill and the liquids you put in pour out very consistently. I travel with MCT oil when I travel and I put them in these tubes. I’ve never had a spill or leakage thanks to these guys. They’re a bit more expensive than your typical container but well worth it considering they’re BPA free too.

Favourite links from the week:

Employee Engagement

Four Myths Most Bosses Believe About Employee Engagement (Fast Company)

What Enterprise IT Leaders Can Learn From the NBA About Employee Engagement (Samsung)

Health & Well Being

Why The Biggest Loser is Everything Wrong with Weight Loss (Bulletproof)

VIDEO: What really matters at the end of life (TED)

A Bank of England analyst wants people to use mindfulness to be happier with less (Quartz)

What daily habits can someone adopt to lead a more productive life? (Quora)

The Secrets of Gymnastic Strength Training (Tim Ferriss)

Millennials

How millennials earn success with struggle (CNN)

This new ETF demonstrates Wall Street’s unbridled hunger for millennial money (MarketWatch)

What Millennials Want from a New Job (Harvard Business Review)

 

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on my Tweets. See you on next week’s round up!

Peter’s Quarterly Review – Q1 2016

Peter’s Quarterly Review – Q1 2016

Recently, I read a post on Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog about Monthly Reviews. At the beginning of every month, Leo asks himself a set of questions to reflect on the month before. I think it’s a great idea which inspired me to start doing a quarterly review (baby steps, right?)

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past several months quantifying my life. I have a calendar that tracks my daily goals, an app that tracks my meditation, a spreadsheet that tracks my daily behaviour, and so on. Having the data is a great starting point because it’s an objective look at where you stand. As Peter Drucker once famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.” I’m hoping to bring a bit of measurement into my life through this process.

Here’s what I want to review with this first attempt:

Daily Goal

Daily Questions

Mindset

Health & Fitness

So this might be a little messy as it’s my first attempt but let’s try to breakdown how my quarter went. The objective here is to break down my tracking tools and see if I can create a template to use moving forward.

Daily Goal

IMG_0260

Above is my 2016 Hustle Calendar. The days marked as “X” are days that I completed my 2016 goal – spend 15 minutes working on my blog everyday. I’m hoping that a small contribution everyday to my blog will result in big results by the end of 365 days.

My blog is not intended to make money or sell people stuff; it’s simply a platform to share my knowledge and I don’t have any specific monetary goals or anything. The focus is to add value to people’s lives while I learn/research things that matter.

You’ll see most days are marked and some are not. I also put a black box around the days that I published a new post. Days with lines running through them are days that I was traveling. It’s quite helpful to see how I was able to maintain (or not maintain) my habits while on the road.

According to my Hustle Calendar (up to March 31st), I hit 76 out of 91 days of the month meaning a 84% success rate. Pretty good for my first quarter building out this habit. Below are some of the stats.

Total days: 91

Completed days: 76

Incomplete days: 15

Success rate: 84%

Longest streak: 15 days

Days travelled: 15

Success rate while traveling: 47% (7 out of 15)

Posts published: 16

Out of the metrics listed above (and I’m sure I can slice and dice this further) the ones I can benchmark myself on moving forward are Success Rate, Longest Streak, and Posts Published. Basically my goal for next month can be to improve upon my Success Rate, put together a streak longer than 15 days, and publish more than 16 posts.

That said, I’m not too concerned about how many posts I published this quarter. As I build up this habit, I’m more concerned about the success rate and the quality of time that I put in for every 15 minute session. The posts and the quality will rise as I do a better job managing my 15 minutes and refining that process.

I also noticed that traveling put a big dent into my stats. I was only successful 47% of the time while on the road meaning I need to re-evaluate how I complete my morning routine during travels to include the 15 minutes of blogging or try to limit the time I spend on the road.

Daily Questions

I’ve written in the past about the 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Everyday. It’s a powerful tool for habit development and improving self awareness. I’ve been asking myself 7 questions every day over the past 3 months and rating myself on a scale of 1 to 10 for each of the questions. It’s given me some insight into which questions I’m doing well with and which ones I still need to work on. This metric is another great point of reference as I look back on the progress that I’ve made so far.

This quarter’s numbers are a little bit off since I was working on the scoring system a little bit and creating some consistency. But here they are anyways:

January

Monthly average = 8.65/10

Highest average scored question (tied):

Did I do my best to make progress towards my goals today? (8.74/10)

Did I do my best to be fully engaged today? (8.74/10)

Lowest average scored question:

Did I do my best to create meaning for myself or others today? (8.53/10)

February

Monthly average = 7.79/10

Highest average scored question:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? (8.03/10)

Lowest average scored question:

Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today? (7.52/10)

March

Monthly average = 8.31/10

Highest average scored question:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? (9.11/10)

Lowest average scored question:

Did I do my best to create meaning for myself or others today? (8.04/10)

There’s a lot of ways that I can look at this data but the one big thing that stuck out to me that I became a lot better at setting clear goals each day. Both February and March were months where that question scored highest. March was incredible with a 9.11 average!

This is due in large part to the 5 minutes I’ve started spending every morning setting my focus for the day. I use an app called Momentum that gives you space to write down your top focus in a new tab. Every time you open a new tab, the Momentum tab shows you what your main focus is until you complete it and cross it off the main page.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 9.03.51 AM

Sometimes my focus is a little bit abstract like the one above but on other days it’s very specific (e.g. “Spend 15 minutes working on my tax return” or “Go to my capoeira class this evening.”) I also set a separate focus of the day for my job which helps keep things separate. Suffice to say, I’ve really enjoyed this morning goal-setting habit and I plan on keeping it up in Q2.

I also noticed a big dip in the February average but I’m going to chalk that up to a shift in my scoring methodology. In January, I was okay with including decimal points in my score but I changed that to no decimal points so I wouldn’t sit on the fence between an 8 or 9 with an 8.5, for example. That adjustment in scoring is what is partially reflecting the scoring.

Mindset

For me, having a good mindset for the day starts with spending 10 minutes meditating every morning. And I’ve been using an app called Calm to help me with this process. One of the aspects that I love about Calm is how it helps you track and view your meditation over the course of a month.

IMG_0264

As you can see above, it shows you your current streak at the top and the days that you meditated are highlighted by a green circle. It even gives you additional stats below and an option at the bottom to add a meditation session manually in case you didn’t use the app for it.

The data from the entire quarter is a little incomplete as I was meditating without using the Calm app in January but here are the stats:

January

31 days

17 days complete

14 days incomplete

55% success

February

29 days

23 days complete

6 days incomplete

79% success

March

31 days

28 days complete

3 days incomplete

90% success

Going from a 55% success rate in January to a 90% success rate was a huge improvement. I’d be happy to hit a 90% success rate any month so the key will be to maintain my progress so far. I’ve noticed that adding a habit to journal a little bit after my meditation has helped make the experience more fulfilling and exciting to come back to. I have a feeling that contributed to a successful March and continued interest in me to meditate everyday.

Health and fitness

The tool I’m using for this is called the 7 Minute Workout. Hands down, it is the best health app I have used to date. The workouts are great and the motion graphics make it easy to understand the workout technique. It also has a built-in “7 Month Challenge” where you try to do a 7-Minute Workout everyday over 7 months without missing 3 workouts in a month. If you miss 3 workouts, then the streak ends and you have to start over.

IMG_0262

 

I started my 7-Month Challenge back in October and above is a screenshot after Day #171. There were a couple of close calls but I’ve pushed my way through to over 80% completion. Maintaining this streak to 7 months and beyond is an important goal for me. At the moment, I’m working on my upper body with a workout called “Pushup Pusher”. I’ve been pleased with the progress I’ve made with muscle development so far as I’ve been keeping track by taking a weekly snapshot of my upper body.

Conclusion

As you can see above, my quarterly review really consists of how I’m performing with my daily habits. Small changes can make a big difference over time and that’s what I’m counting on here. I’ve been really pleased with my 84% success rate with my daily goal, a 9.11 score for my goal setting habit, 90% meditation success rate in March, and keeping my 7-Month Challenge streak alive.

What I’d like to do for the next quarter is to continue collecting the data and keep my eyes peeled for trends and areas of improvement. This quarter’s review is a good start but I’d like to refine this process further. I’d also like to include another review section for “Progress with Projects” so I can keep track of progress for projects that live outside the scope of my daily habits. Further to that, it would be good to set clear benchmarks for success rates, muscle/weight gain (for my health goals), and new subscribers to my blog so I have specific measurements to strive towards.

Please feel free to add below your thoughts and perhaps your experience with review processes like this. I’d love to continue to improve this and eventually develop a template for you to run through a quarterly review.

Peter’s Links of the Week (Jan. 17-23)

Peter’s Links of the Week (Jan. 17-23)

[Assorted] Links of the week:

Homes built for Millennials – VIDEO (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The Benefits of Wild Salmon (Bulletproof)

Employee Engagement Low at Eastern Health (VOCM)

Help Your Team Manage Stress, Anxiety, and Burnout (Harvard Business Review)

Productivity tip of the week:

If you duplicate tabs on Google Chrome often, you know that there’s no standard keyboard shortcut that allows you to do it quickly. The Duplicate Tab Shortcut Key is a free extension to set a shortcut (I use alt+shift+k) to create duplicate tabs. Shave off a couple of seconds everytime you have to click and select duplicates!

Quote of the week:

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

– Albert Einstein

Product/service I’m loving:

Ever had ideas in the shower that went “down the drain” (hohoho) as soon as you stepped out? No longer will that be an issue for you. Aqua Notes is a waterproof notepad that sticks to your shower walls so you can note down any idea that pops up during a shower. There is also science behind why showers or baths are the perfect storm for great ideas.

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on my Tweets. See you on next week’s round up!