A Week of Near-Balance

If you’ve been here a while, you’ve likely noticed that I’m often pushing myself. Pushing for productivity, pushing to get more interesting things done in the time I’m allotted, pushing to avoid procrastination and so on.

This week, I completed a new experiment doing a few things:

The first was to quit micro-managing every minute. My to-do list still existed, but reminders were only for major things like “Start work at 8:00 AM” or specific appointments. This made it easier to focus and made my reminders more valuable. They really were important things, not planning my life to the nearest half hour.

Every day, Sage and I each listed three things we wanted to accomplish. These were non-negotiable and our individual allowance (the amount of money we allow ourselves to spend on fun things) depended on it.  Miss one of your three things and your next week’s income drops by $2. Miss a full day and you’re out $6!  These I used for absolute-must things like “Go to the grocery store to get ingredients for dinner and staple foods.” or “Do a training ride.” Or “Do one pomodoro after another between 8-11:30 AM”

Maybe that last one needs a bit of explanation for a few folks.  It refers to the “Pomodoro Technique“, a productivity method that is elegantly simple. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Pick an item on your to-do list and work on nothing but that until the timer goes off.  If you get an idea to do something else, write it down and save it for later. If you finish that task, pick another one.  When the timer goes off, set a 5 minute timer – this is time for you to recharge. Grab a snack, check your email, stretch, anything but work.  Repeat over and over with a longer break every 4 25/5 minute cycles.

So how did it work?

Work-wise I was very productive. I couldn’t do pomodoro method stuff on Thursday as I was out with my boss meeting a client. But other days I did a bunch that way.  I managed to get a number of items off my to-do list I’d been avoiding for some time. I’m pretty pleased.

I also managed to bump up my exercise level. I’ve been doing some of the Zwift Academy workouts and rides lately. These are a pretty intense set of workouts designed to help you improve your cycling. I am pretty sure mine are improving.


Monday night I did a group ride focusing on sprints. We’d all ride around as a group with moderate effort and then 4-5 times in the hour we’d go all out for an amount of time dictated by the leader. The first 3 or so were pretty good and I kept up. The last couple were pretty brutal and I got dropped. Still, I was pleased with my efforts.

Tuesday night I was going to do a quick 30 min training ride but as I logged in I saw that a race was due to start in 4 minutes. Looking at the distance I saw it would likely take about 45 minutes.  I thought “What the heck” and though I came in last on my last race I gave it a go anyway despite the fact that I was still a little tired from all the sprinting.

That race went really well. 3-4 of us stuck together for most of the time and I knew it was going to be a sprint at the finish. In the end there were two of us in the original group left and we both tried to break away at the same time. Sadly, my opponent broke away a little faster than I did and I came in second – beaten by two seconds. I was still very pleased. The next person behind me was about 6 minutes behind and the person in my old position, last, was almost 20 minutes behind me. So I’m definitely improving.

Thursday there was another race and I was nervous. Would I do OK? Was my last race a fluke?  I gave it a shot. This one was longer, taking almost 1hr 15 min to finish. But again, I came in second – this time about 90 seconds behind, though.  I’m still very happy.

So in two of the things I judge myself on, fitness and work I’m doing pretty great. As for the third one, Hindi, that’s not going so great. I haven’t seemed to fit practice in so clearly I need to do some work there. I did listen to a few stories from Kommune India. There’s a nice mix of Hindi phrases tossed in the middle of an English story so I can enjoy the story without constantly hitting my dictionary or wishing for subtitles.  In the upcoming weeks, it’s clear I need to devote a pomodoro cycle or two to that. That’ll likely help a bit.

And as for doing things out in the world? Well that’s happening. Currently I’m in a library in a totally different part of town. I’ve just had a delicious lunch at a restaurant whose food is from a country that I’ve never tried food from before. I’m going to finish this soon and head out in to the delightful fall day and then go visit my barber. It’s been a bit too long. Talk about procrastination.

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