Noisy Deadlines

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”– D. Adams
@Fedi

After several false starts the company I work for is finally migrating to Microsoft 🥳. No more sync issues between Google Calendar and Outlook for me (yay!).

I remember taking a quick look at Microsoft To Do last year and liked its simplicity, but because I only had one account I thought it was cumbersome to deal with personal and work stuff all together in one app. One of the reasons I liked Nirvana was the global area filter, so I could switch from personal to work mode, and keep a minimal number of context tags that were shared between personal/work .

Now I have 2 Microsoft accounts so things can be organized separatedly. I can switch from one to the other using the Microsoft To Do desktop app, both on my personal and work computers. I also have 2 mobile phones, one linked to my personal account and the other linked to my work account.

The 2 setups are similar, I’ll get into more detail about my personal one.

Read more...

It was great to hang out with Write.as folks on the Remark.as chat yesterday. Thanks to tmo for coming up with the idea in the first place and Matt for providing this space and looking to improve it even more!

I felt completely exhausted Saturday evening and that’s probably because of my mid-week work trip. I can think of at least 3 reasons. First: 6 hours train ride each way. Second: change of routine, I slept way less than I’m used to for 3 days and I didn’t do my daily morning yoga. Third: I didn’t walk or run or did any exercise, it screw up my energy levels. So, I guess I was sleep-deprived after the trip.

Also, this weekend was “Doors Open Ottawa”, when buildings open up their doors for visitors. I saw that a big research center near my home was open for visits, so that’s where I decided to go (CanmetENERGY). It’s located in the middle of the Green Belt, so I could get there through the hiking trails around my area. It was a nice day and a nice walk. This research center has cool stuff going on in terms of Sustainable Energy, Solar Power, Bio-energy, Heating/Cooling Efficiency for buildings, etc. And the buildings are federal heritage, built in the 60s in what is called Brutalist architecture, all concrete and steel. That was nice!

After that, I was exhausted and today I slept for 9+ hours, trying to catch up. I felt better, spent the day doing chores around the house, read books, and went for a run in the evening.

#journal

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I’m going on a 2-day work trip today. It seems like it’s been ages since I last travelled somewhere. It will be a 6 hours train ride, which is nice because I love trains. And we are still required to wear masks inside the train and while we are inside the train station, which is good. I was a little nervous about being in a closed space with unmasked people for 6 hours. But that’s not gonna be the case, so I’m okay.

I did a travel checklist to make sure I got everything I need and I still think I might be forgetting something. I used to be good at travelling, knowing exactly what to bring with me. I’m out of practice now. So, I’ll see if my check list is any good!

I’m actually looking forward to the train ride. Train travel is comfortable and spacious. I love sitting back and enjoying the scenery. Also, it will great to get some reading done 😎. I’ve got my ebooks loaded in my Kobo. I’m planning on reading these books next:

  • Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention-and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari (currently reading)
  • Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8) by Jim Butcher
  • Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed by Ben R. Rich
  • Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

#journal #travel

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. A big ship at the edge of the universe (The Salvagers #1) by Alex White, 473p: It is fantasy in a sci-fi setting which I found was unusual and cool. I liked the diverse group of characters in a “found-family” kind of setting. I missed having more information about the villains, they seemed underdeveloped. Some action scenes where magic, space battles, or spacewalking were being described seemed a bit confusing to me, it was hard to understand exactly what was going on. It is a light read, with lots of action scenes and I tried not to overthink the magic to enjoy it. I don't think I will continue reading the series, but the book builds nicely for the sequel without ending in a cliffhanger.

  2. The Air War (Shadows of the Apt #8) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 646p: This book escalated way more than I thought it would. I don't know why I wasn't expecting so much war in a book with “war” in the title. So, it's heartbreaking while both the Wasps and the Beetles are developing new weapon technologies. It focuses on the development of fixed wings airplane fighters and a more efficient way to drop bombs from them. The parallels with the Second World War are inevitable. Taki, the Fly-kinden pilot shines on this one. This series continues to be very entertaining.

  3. Exhalation by Ted Chiang, 352p: I don't usually read short stories but this one was recommended to me. Maybe I had too high expectations? Anyway, I enjoyed the first stories “The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate”, “Exhalation” and the “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” and “Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny”. But I had a hard time engaging with all the other stories. I didn't find the ideas that interesting and for the most part, I didn't care at all about the characters/narrator of the story. Most of the stories were disturbingly weird to me. I was a little bit disappointed overall.

  4. Selfish, shallow, and self-absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids by Meghan Daum and others, 288p: It was nice to read thoughts on the topic from people of various ages and sexual preferences, males and females. I find it’s hard to have an open conversation about this topic nowadays. The essays are very personal and honest bringing diverse perspectives. I'm glad these voices are out there debunking the prejudice that childless people (especially women) are selfish or that there is something wrong with them. Being a woman who decided at an early age to not pursue motherhood, this was a refreshing read for me.

#readinglist #books #reading

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

So I use the GTD (Getting Things Done) method to organize my brain. It has allowed me to manage anxiety and stress over the years. From time to time I look at my system and reflect: is it getting messy? is it too complicated? is it really working for me now?

One of the things I’ve always thought was fundamental to me was having a system in which Projects and Next Actions are explicitly and solidly linked. I tend to spend more time organizing rather than executing projects. The truth is that we don’t execute projects, we execute actions that will eventually attain the project goal. And that idea is the basis of why GTD recommends having the next actions sorted by Contexts.

A context can be a place, a tool, a mindset, or the people required to complete a given task. If I want to make a phone call, I need my phone (@calls). If I want to pick up something at the grocery store, I need to go there (@errands). So the idea is to assign contexts to next actions so that it’s easier to decide what I should be doing at any given time because I have a limiting factor (context). It’s about focusing on execution.

I don’t think I paid too much attention to contexts in my system, I was more worried about setting up projects right. Hence, my preference has always been to use Nirvana to manage my projects and actions. But I want to do an experiment: use a simpler tool in which contexts are more upfront, forcing me to work by contexts.

Experiment with Microsoft To Do

I chose the app MS To Do for my experiment. I’ve tested it before and I think it provides a clean and beautiful interface, syncs on all my devices, and provides an easy setup.

I’m using two different accounts: one for personal and one for work. The company I work for is switching everything from Google to Microsoft so I will take advantage of that. I already have an Office365 subscription for my personal file storage and calendar.

I followed the official GTD guide to set up my system. I have a “Projects” list with hashtags to identify them. So I still have some way to “link” projects to next actions, but I would say it’s a weak link. The hashtags are more like temporary keywords to remind me what that action is related to. I don’t have a proper “project folder” anymore, containing all actions related to a project and that’s a big mind shift for me.

Right now I’m happy with my setup. I like the option to use emojis, it makes my lists more enjoyable. One of the few things I disliked about Nirvana was that it was visually uninteresting to me. I like some colors and visuals to attract my attention.

One thing I’m using consistently on MS To Do is the “My Day” feature. In the morning I open up the “My Day” tab and it really helps me plan my day. It’s a smart list that resets every night, so it forces me to think about what I want to accomplish every day and focus on them. In Nirvana I used to have the “Starred” items to focus but since this list didn’t reset, I used to have stale items in there and I constantly skipped the daily planning.

So I’ll see how this experiment goes. I’m already seeing benefits in having a quicker way to process my next actions: I just move or drag/drop the item to its context. Done. No filters, no clicking and choosing through various drop-down menus. Also, personal and work are 2 separate accounts, but on the desktop app I can easily move between the two. So it creates a nice work-personal boundary in my brain and still allows for some integration. Let’s say I remember something about work that is bothering me: I can easily capture that capture in my work inbox if I’m on my personal computer. Same thing if I’m on my work computer and want to see my personal lists.

#GTD #MSTodo #Productivity

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Since Goodreads was bought by Amazon I’ve been trying to find a replacement for my book tracking. Last year I moved over from Goodreads to The Storygraph.

And then I decided to explore the Fediverse using Mastodon and heard about BookWyrm: a federated social network for book lovers. When I knew that I could import my data using a CVS file, I gave it a try. And I’m loving BookWyrm!

Here are the steps I took to make the move:

Choosing an instance and signing up

There is this neat landing page that can help us see the list of available instances and choose one to join. I chose the flagship (the biggest) instance and joined bookwyrm.social. After my request to join was approved I got a message to confirm my email and logged in.

Read more...

  1. Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson, 656p: This was my first time reading Sanderson and it’s clear he is a great storyteller. It felt a little YA to me, which is not a bad thing, but sometimes it seemed like the book didn't know if it was going to be an adult or a YA story. Nice world-building: the author really takes time to develop the world and bring it to life, without making it boring. The high point of this book was the Magic System based on colors and Breaths. It's intricate and interesting. I like it when magic has rules, restrictions, and costs to the user. There are some good plot twists that caught me totally by surprise.

  2. 100 Things We've Lost to the Internet by Pamela Paul, 288p: I listened to the audiobook and it’s basically a journey through things we used to do before the Internet. It’s funny and light. But I felt it got a little repetitive towards the end.

  3. The Consuming Fire (The Interdependency #2) by John Scalzi, 320p: The second book of the series and very enjoyable, like all Scalzi’s books. We learn lots of secrets about how The Interdependency was created and the Memory Room. There are cool AIs, conspirators, palace intrigues, plot twists, and people getting arrested. It ends in a cliffhanger so I had to jump to the third book right away.

  4. The Last Emperox (The Interdependency #3) John Scalzi, 336p: I thought it was a satisfying end to the trilogy. Discoveries are made, very important people get killed, and more plot twists making the story super engaging. I loved the characters in this series, and also the sci-fi ideas: with star systems risking being disconnected from the rest of the world, how to save everybody? How to save millions of people from a natural disaster? How to avoid the ones in power from being selfish and only saving themselves? I had lots of fun with this series.

  5. The 5th Gender (Tinkered Stars) by G.L. Carriger, 222p: A cozy murder mystery in a spaceship with humans trying to understand aliens and vice-versa. And a romance between a queer detective and a lavender alien with hair tentacles. It plays with the idea of gender and sexual diversity. It’s cute and light-hearted. Warning: It has explicit sexual content.

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I started running again the last couple of weeks. The first week I was running around my neighborhood, mainly a residential area using the sidewalks. But this week I explored a trail that is part of the Trans Canada Trail (aka The Great Trail), which is a cross-Canada system of trails running from the east to the west coast.

In the area near my home, this trail is located where once there was a Railway, so it’s a straight line and connects to cities to the west of Ottawa, which is pretty cool. It should be a nice bike ride (something for later this year).

Trans Canada Trail – I can’t wait to see how the scenery changes from early Spring to Fall

Anyway, I’m still not running 100% of the time, I go for a total distance of 6 km to 7 km (round trip), running for 8 minutes, walking for 2 minutes, and repeating this rhythm till the end. I’ll gradually increase the running time and decrease the rest time as I get more physically fit. I don’t want to hurt myself, and I did the same recipe last year which got me to run non-stop for more than half an hour at a pace of 6:30 min/km after 2-3 months.

#running #journal

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

We have this bookshelf that has never been full. We had it on our previous apartment and when we moved to the townhouse we put it in the living room.

We still don’t have a sofa so our living room looks quite bare right now.

And…you know what? I like it!

I think it’s nice when a room has decor and things hanging on the walls, some of them are really well done. But I don’t see my own space being that busy. First, because I’m frugal, I will never know exactly what to buy and how to coordinate everything. I usually go for practical furniture, that serves a purpose. Second, I don’t like to spend time cleaning stuff. The more items I have the more I need to clean, organize and maintain. I like to live with less. I like to live with the essential. Third, furniture and decor cost money, I don’t like to spend money on things that will not bring value to my life.

I plan on getting a sofa for this room eventually, mostly for the times when we have guests. I still prefer to watch movies or read on the armchair, it’s way better for my back than a sofa.

But for now, the books in this bookshelf are all the physical books I own. They are mostly text-professional related books with no digital alternative or because it was required to have the physical book to write an open-book exam. There are also a couple travel mementos, a thermometer with humidity meter and some reference material from both me and my partner.

This weekend I did some organization on the bookshelf with a few boxes, I filled in two of them, the third one is still empty.

Moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a small townhouse was a huge upgrade for us in terms of having separate spaces. No more having to coordinate time for cooking (which is noisy) when one of us is having a conference call or being distracted by the TV when I wanted to read and my partner was watching a movie. We have our little corners in the house now.

At first I thought that because of the extra space in the townhouse I would turn into a hoarder and start buying all sorts of furniture to fill in spaces to be filled with stuff. But, almost 6 months in, we still have empty corners and empty closets, and that’s okay. I like the minimalist vibe. I hope it stays that way.

#minimalism #house #journal

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

There are things that impact my well-being directly. They are habits that grouped together can become rituals. If I stop doing one of those things, I start to feel off. My anxiety creeps in, I start to feel overwhelmed, I worry too much, my body hurts, I can’t have a good night’s sleep. Some of them are part of my daily habits, others are weekly or monthly habits. I get the best results when I do them regularly.

These are 10 important things I can’t leave without:

  1. Reading books + Book Club: I once wrote about the reasons I’m a reader. I enjoy it because it helps me deal with my busy mind. I’m always having ideas, questions, worries and plans. Reading works like a break: I get away from it all and dive into a different world, so it feels calming to me. It’s also a good concentration exercise. And combining reading with a Book Club makes it even more fun. I get a chance to discuss ideas with other people in a more structured/themed way. I read daily.

  2. Sleeping 7-8 hours a day: I need my sleep. Period. I aim for going to bed at 9:45pm and waking up at 5:15am. It can vary +/– 15 minutes. But I try to keep my sleep routine within this range. I never go to be after 10pm, and if I do I know I’ll be tired and cranky the next day.

  3. Exercise Daily / Yoga: I’ve had a history of debilitating back pain throughout my adult life. It was only after I started exercising regularly, for years, that I became pain free. I’ve learned my lesson: I need to move! So I have a mandatory daily routine: I stretch in the morning. I have a series of stretches I do everyday, no matter what. Then I try to combine it with a yoga session or a series of core strengthening exercises. I usually spend 20 minutes in the morning with this routine everyday. Whenever I can, I add walking, running, cycling, a longer yoga session in the evenings and weekends.

  4. Meditating every morning: I do a minimum of 10 minutes and combine it with my morning exercise, so it has become a ritual. Sometimes if I’m feeling overwhelmed later in the day I will add in another meditation session in the evening/before bed.

  5. Eating healthy and with care due to my gut problems: I have acid reflux and gastritis. It started after I joined the work force, so I think work stress had something to do with it. Anyway, I keep a restricted diet: no coffee, no carbonated drinks of any kind, no alcohol, no acidic foods, no spicy foods, low carbs, restrict lactose and eating in regular intervals. I know that when I indulge in one of those restrictions, my acid reflux flares up, so I home cook my own meals as much as I can and avoid eating out.

  6. Writing: I have a private journal and this blog. Writing gives me time for reflection and gratitude. It helps me clear my thoughts, calm my mind and understand my feelings. I’ve been trying to write daily (either on my private journal or my blog) and this habit seems to be the hardest to keep every day. I love it after I’m done but lately just getting started has been a struggle. I’m working on it.

  7. Having alone time: I’m an introvert so I need alone time once in a while. Reading a book qualifies as alone time to me, but also does listening to music or just sitting down with a cup of tea looking out a window. I need alone time more than ever after a work day with too many meetings, for example. Or even after a Book Club meeting, as much as I enjoy it, I need to recharge for the next couple days. So I try to space out social events.

  8. Listening to music: I remember a time when I would lay down in my bed and listen to a full album, non-stop, and would just look at the ceiling or close my eyes enjoying the music. Sometimes the album told a story, sometimes it made me cry or smile. This was before music streaming and AI generated playlists. I still listen to music, mostly while I’m cooking, exercising, working on something that requires concentration or cleaning the house. It’s usually rock, heavy metal and, lately, folk metal. I have a couple playlists I created myself. It’s rare for me to listen to a full album as I used to. That’s something I’ll start doing more.

  9. Going for walks: I think I underestimated the benefits of a long walk before the COVID-19 pandemic. With the COVID lockdowns, I started to regularly go out for a walk outdoors, since it was the only activity outside I could do safely. My partner joined me, so walking has become our “together-alone” time. It can either be around our neighborhood, in a park, a trail, by the river, doesn’t matter. But walking regularly is a great way to exercise and calm the mind. I prefer not to listen to music or podcasts or anything while walking.

  10. Touch base with family/friends: I’m an immigrant living in a country 10,000 km away from my homeland. It’s easy to feel alone and loose touch with loved ones because of the distance. Since I left Facebook/Instagram, I don’t get any updates or news from people over seas. I keep in touch with friends with messenger groups and I have regular scheduled video calls sessions with my family. Even though the pandemic made it harder to visit them in person, touching base with them regularly makes all the difference, even if it is virtual.

I didn’t know these things were important to me. It took me years and a lot of trial and error to understand the things that keep me a happy human being. Have you ever thought about it?

My favorite place in the morning: where my day starts

#noisymusings #health #habits

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

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