July 2018: It’s Too Friggin Hot Edition
Tetchi’s thoughts and ramblings for July, 2018. Heat wave, Dave Chappelle, focus, eating frogs, and more.
Stuff that happened
I started July in my old hometown of Ottawa where I celebrated Canada Day with friends and family. And by celebrate, I mean hanging out in my friend’s air-conditioned condo avoiding the heat. A brutal heat wave had hit Ontario and Quebec right before Canada Day and lasted for a solid week. I don’t have air conditioning in my apartment so there were many nights in July where I got almost no sleep, making for a rough month.
Despite the shitty heat there was some good that came out of July. First, the Leafs signed John friggin’ Tavares, one of the best centres in the NHL! I absolutely cannot wait to see him in blue and white come October. The centre depth of this team is going to be unreal.
I also had a chance to meet up with Mark Dunkley, an old friend and former coworker of mine. He was swinging by Montreal so we met up for some tasty ramen.
Mark and I go way back. We both started at Shopify around the same time back in early 2009. I have fond memories of us at the old office, pumping out designs and crushing shawarmas. Mark would always have cool Photoshop tricks up his sleeves that I would learn and later abuse. I also admired how he wasn’t shy to criticize designs and provide constructive feedback. As a fresh web designer it was inspiring to work with him.
To cap month off the month I went to a couple of comedy shows, including Dave Chappelle and John Mayer’s Controlled Danger.
It was an interesting show to say the least. I enjoyed Dave’s standup bits but a good chunk of the show was banter between Dave and John. It had its moments but to be honest I would have preferred listening to more of just Dave. I was in stitches when I saw Dave perform on his own back in 2015, so I was a bit bummed out at how Controlled Danger turned out to be a much more mellow show. It was more like listening to a podcast than a comedy show. With that said I do think it’s cool that he is doing something different, and had I been more of a John Mayer fan I would have appreciated it more.
What’s on my mind
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about focus and how I can get better at it. I find it extremely hard to focus on a single task in this day and age mainly due to social media and chat apps.
Personally I have a huge addiction to the social media site Reddit and chat apps such as Whatsapp and Telegram. I’ve developed a ‘twitch’ to open a new browser tab and check if there’s been any updates or messages from friends, even with notifications disabled.
Thus I embarked on a quest to nip this habit in the bud. I wanted to deliberately make it harder for distractions to take over my focus. The first thing I did was to start using an app called Focus, which blocks distracting websites and apps. You make a blacklist of websites and apps to block, and once you enable “focus mode” it completely blocks them allowing you to focus on the task at hand.
There’s even a “hardcore mode” that prevents you from disabling focus mode for a set amount of time. I’ve been using this feature and it’s worked wonders. It’s helped me catch my twitches on numerous occasions.
Second, I started purposely putting my phone further away from me both at work and at home so that I don’t check it so damn often. I have always been good at not using my phone when I’m interacting with another person. When I’m on my own though, I still tend to check Reddit and chats unnecessarily often. In attempt to remedy this, I started putting my phone somewhere out of reach; at work I keep my phone in my backpack and at home I’ll leave it on the kitchen counter. I also stopped taking my phone into the bedroom at night so that I don’t fiddle with it before sleeping.
What I’m starting to notice is that nothing is really important enough that it deserves my immediate attention. I’ve always had this urge to get back to people right away (maybe due to my customer support past), but people are generally okay with waiting. Of course there’s always the chance of an emergency, so I still allow myself to check my phone and messages every hour or so. I’m going to keep trying this until I eliminate my habit of checking Reddit and chat apps subconciously.
What I read
This month I read Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.
Eat that Frog! goes over techniques on how to overcome procrastination and strengthen self-discipline. The “frog” in the title is a metaphor for the most important task you need to do, and the author goes over the importance of completing that task first over any other low-value tasks.
I enjoyed this book because it went hand-in-hand with my thoughts on focus that I wrote about earlier in this post. I walked away from the book with some techniques that I could start using right away, including:
- Find the ‘frog’; in other words, prioritize my tasks better
- Plan every day in advance
- Think harder about the consequences of not completing an important task
- Break down harder tasks into smaller, more digestible tasks and delegate if necessary (when facing a ‘big frog’ I tend to get intimidated and become more susceptible to distractions)
- Don’t let technology prevent me from completing tasks, but instead use it to boost productivity (ex. using Focus to block distractions).
A lot of the content boils down to “stop frigging around and do what you’re supposed to do”, which may turn off some readers who may think it’s just another book that rehashes common sense. Personally I liked that it contained actionable techniques that I’ve never tried. I would recommend this book if you need a bit of a push in the self-discipline department.
That’s it for July. Stay cool! ⛄️