Noisy Deadlines

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

So, when I started Rethinking My To Do list this week, I was feeling disconnected. I was craving for something different. I’m not sure why, but I was bored. And I didn’t want to look at my to-do list. So, avoiding it only intensified my disconnection. I thought I needed a new to-do list.

I wanted to get a better app and test other things. And I did test a few! Only to realize that the tool itself wasn’t the problem. I was just feeding the distraction dragon, searching for novelty.

But I wanted to see it for myself, stubborn that I am.

So, I looked at TickTick. It is an amazing to-do list! It has lots of features, calendar, pomodoro timer, timeline views, routine tracker, cross-platform, etc. It’s highly customizable: I saw I could set it up however I wanted to fit my needs. And then came the realization that I would have to spend several hours tweaking it. Creating lists, and folders and custom filters. And moving everything I have in Nirvana to TickTick. Moreover, I was not able to install the desktop app on my work computer, so that was a clear hint that my employer doesn’t approve of this software. Another detail I didn’t like: I couldn’t find a way to set up a shortcut key to add tasks to the Inbox. The “add task” shortcut will add the task to whatever folder/list is open in the app.

Then I looked back at Todoist. I’ve used it for a couple of years. Very flexible, cross-platform, super easy and fast at collecting and organizing things. But the new interface now has “hashtags” symbols to represent folders/projects instead of the old circles, which I think makes it more visually polluted. And then I remembered the entire process of creating the folder’s structure and the custom filters to use it with GTD the way I like it. I didn’t want to go into that rabbit hole again.

Lastly, I revisited Microsoft To Do. It’s a cute app, fast and simple and integrates well with my work system. But… there is something that always gets me out of it: projects management. I like linking projects to next actions, and things get very messy in MS To Do if I want to do that with hashtags, while using lists as my GTD contexts. I told myself I would use it for 90 days to see how it goes. But I changed my mind. Last time I used it for 60 days and abandoned it to get back to Nirvana. I remembered things that I don’t like about it: the Inbox situation (which is a list called “Tasks”), there is no direct “email to inbox” feature (I must send an email to Outlook, and then flag it: too many steps for capturing), I prefer Nirvana’s way of dealing with recurring tasks and organizing projects.

So basically, everything I wrote in January when I was Testing Microsoft To Do and saying goodbye still holds true. I will let it go this time. For real, let it go!

In the end the effectiveness of my GTD system depends on my commitment to maintaining and working my lists in an app that I’m familiar with. I still can use Nirvana at work (I can even install the desktop app on my work laptop) It synchronises on all my devices, it’s fast and reliable.

The issue wasn’t the tool itself but rather my quest for novelty. I can see clearly now.

I’ve decided to stick with Nirvana, which strikes the right balance between meeting my needs and minimizing frustrations.

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

There’s something going on with how I’m engaging with my To Do list (currently using Nirvana). I’ve been craving for something more interesting. I’ve had this feeling before, and when that happened, I tried out Microsoft To Do but it never stuck with me.

I’ve decided to do some exploration. I don’t want to be in a place where I’m compulsively looking out for new apps, but I want to use my curiosity to experiment with some options.

I will take a look at TickTick. I’ve never really used it and I’m curious to know how it works. I will also go back to good old Todoist, which has been my to do app for a couple of years and I remember I liked it because of all the colors, reminders, and super quick capturing and processing features.

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

  • ⚒️It was a busy week at work. I went to 2 different construction sites for meetings and a site visit. I didn’t have much time to write this week. I focused on getting exercise and rest after work.
  • 📚I skipped my local Bookclub meeting this week because I haven’t finished the book and, again, I was super tired so I decided to just go for a walk and go to bed early.
  • 🎧I listened to the newest Fall of Civilizations podcast about ancient Egypt. So good! But be ready, it’s 4 hours long! A lot of that time I was doing our puzzle.
  • 📖I finished reading this cozy fantasy “Bookshops and Bonedust”. I really enjoyed it. It helped me get out of a mini book slump this week.
  • 🧩Lots of progress on our ancient world map puzzle this week. It’s my favorite type of puzzle! All borders are done, the 2 spheres borders are done, latitude lines done!

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

  • 🏃‍♀️It got cold, and we had some snow in the middle of this week. But it cleared up over the weekend and I went for a 7km run outside. It was 15C, nice and sunny day.

  • 🤑We finally filed our taxes today! Project completed :)

  • ❤️The post COVID headaches are still happening every other day. Sometimes I feel tiredness as well, it's a fatigue that seems to come out of nowhere. Anyway, I've prioritizing rest and sleep.

  • 📅I finally planned and added to my Calendar all my vacation days for this year. I will use most of the days on our trip to Brazil at the end of the year, and the rest of the days are all spread out around holidays so that I can have longer weekends.

  • 🎬I watched 2 out of 3 episodes of the miniseries “Rebuilding Notre Dame” on Curiosity Stream. High quality images (with the help of drones) and the details about the restoration.

📌Interesting Online Reads This Week

  • Goodbye Lenna: the story behind a scanned image that is being used to test the quality of image processing algorithms since the 70's. I never knew about this image, and this post got me into the Wikipedia entry. Interesting! I feel bad about the female model who didn't get any royalties of people using her image for decades.
  • Ness Labs: Brain Benefits of Reading 📚 : Cool stuff about the reading paradox and all the good benefits of reading.

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

At the end of each quarter, I like to take stock of myself and list the projects/goals I have concluded and achieved.

Since Q1 2024 is over, I will list here the projects I completed during this period:

  • Complete the 30-Day Yoga Journey 2024 – Yoga with Adrienne (Jan, 2024)
  • Get new pair of ice skates (switch from hockey skates to figure skates) (Feb, 2024)
  • Complete Course: ADHD, Managing Time and Overcoming Distractions by David Greenwood (Feb, 2024)
  • Dentist check-up/cleaning done (Feb, 2024)
  • Get car maintenance review/oil change done (Mar, 2024)
  • Update and change my blog theme to allow for dark mode (Mar, 2024)
  • Change blog theme to include monospace fonts (Mar, 2024)
  • Schedule and get iron IV Infusion done (Mar, 2024)
  • Finish the King of the Dragons puzzle (Mar, 2024)
  • Complete Ice Skating Classes – Intermediate Level (Mar, 2024)
  • Consolidate Journaling practice (Jan-Mar, 2024)

Work In Progress that I started and wish to complete in Q2:

  • Fix my ALL time reading log spreadsheet with stats for each year
  • Complete the course : How to Process Your Emotions [Therapy in a Nutshell]
  • Complete the #100DaystoOffload Challenge (Noisy Deadlines) => almost there!!

Habits tracked:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Reading
  • Journaling

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

  • ⚕️ The post-COVID headaches are getting less and less frequent, so that's satisfactory progress!
  • 🎮 I'm still having fun with Stardew Valley. I can play one or two in-game days at a time, no rush, no stress. It's been great as a rote activity that refreshes my brain a little bit.
  • 📚 I got into a reading funk this week. Some books that I thought I was excited about were not grabbing me enough, so I finally decided to let them go. I wrote about one of them here. I started reading Bookshops and Bonedust by Travis Baldree because I loved the first book and because it is the definition of cozy fantasy.
  • 👟 On the Good Friday holiday me and partner went out for a walk by the river, and we crossed a pedestrian walkway that was once an abandoned railroad bridge. It was recently rehabilitated as a muti-use walkway. It was sunny but very windy (windchill of -5C)! I was glad I got out with my puffer jacket, beannie and gloves.
  • 🧩 We started a new Puzzle! This one is an antique world map with 2,000 pieces. Map puzzles are my favorite! The top border is done.
  • ✅ I had a day this week when I wanted to try out Microsoft To Do again, just to realize I still love Nirvana (again!).

📌Interesting Online Reads This Week

  • The power of 15 minutes (and other ideas) – The Imperfectionist Newsletter by Oliver Burkeman: The idea of doing something for 15 minutes and then slowly increasing that time to work longer. It's useful in so many areas of life: reading, running, writing, cleaning the house, etc. He also mentions a book called “Deep Freewriting” by Stephen Lloyd Webber, which is a practice of free writing with a timer, similar to what Natalie Goldberg describes in her book “Writing Down the Bones”. Timers are so useful! I love using them. That's what works for me to journal every morning.
  • Librarian in the Wild shared their reflections on abandoning books and reading for pleasure in this post “In Addition To...”. I'm glad for the mutual inspiration and reflection. Thanks! ❤️
  • Why I write: another great post on reasons why to write online. It ends up being a self-discovery experience. I totally relate to his reflections here, great post!

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

I was sick in the beginning of the month, and I experienced fatigue and headaches for most of it. But I managed to do a quick refresh on Morning pages, powered through a romantasy, explored some Buddhist philosophy, and finished with an interesting read about attention span and technology. Overall, not bad at all.

  1. The Miracle of Morning Pages: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Most Important Artist's Way Tool by Julia Cameron, 52p: This is truly short and it's like a Q&A with the author giving more details about the Morning Pages. It was okay. I just wanted something short to read and this was on my TBR.

  2. The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness by Pema Chödrön, 145p: This book brings concepts from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and focus on Bodhichitta and how to become a bodhisattva or warrior, in the sense of nonaggression and being open. I don't have a deep knowledge of Buddhist and some ideas were very abstract. It emphasizes the importance of having a meditation practice. The message is finding ways to nurture compassion for us and how to deal with fear. I might have to go back to this book to grasp the concepts more deeply.

  3. A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout, 626p: I didn't enjoy this one very much. I could have stopped reading it, but I really wanted to see where it would go, because it's a prequal to a series I've already read (Blood and Ash). I thought it was quite repetitive and it didn't make me want to continue reading the series. Note to self: I'm tired of dark vampire-like stories for now.

  4. Attention Span by Gloria Mark, 770 pages: This was a very interesting read presenting various research results on how we use our attention with our digital devices and how much our attention span has been diminishing as a society. I enjoyed the chapter about the Framework for Attentional States, in which she identifies how we have several types of attention depending on how challenging or boring an activity is. There are lots of insights in how we need to vary our attention states throughout the day. We can't be focused all the time, and we need downtime to replenish our cognitive resources. She debunks these myths that we could be “in flow” for extended periods of time, or that mindless activities like playing Solitaire are bad. It's recognizing that we need breaks, especially if we are being constantly bombarded with information nowadays.

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

I've abandoned the book “Apollo Murders” by Chris Hadfield. I wanted to like it, but it's not growing on me, really. I stopped at 20% which is a fair amount to realize a book isn't resonating with me.

Every time I stop reading a book, I feel guilty. I can't stop but wonder “But what if things get more interesting at 30%?”, “What if I'm missing out on this fantastic plot twist?”. It’s as if I am leaving behind a potential adventure, a secret world that might have unfolded if only I’d persevered a little longer. It is a type of FOMO.

Deciding to abandon a book is always a reflection prompt for me. Maybe my reading taste is changing, it's not the right moment for that genre or I'm craving for a different experience.

Anyway, my reading taste is shifting to lighter reads and more character focused. I've been noticing that I really enjoy a first-person point of view. And I want to be able to understand what that character is feeling, what is her thought process, how is she dealing with her inner struggles.

So right now, I'm not into Cold War thrillers.

Recognizing that a book isn’t resonating with me is an act of self-awareness and self-care. I'm acknowledging that my reading preferences are evolving, and that’s perfectly okay.

I'll keep on focusing on more cozy and light-hearted reads. I'm craving for comfort reads at the moment. After all, reading should always be a delightful journey, not a chore. 📚✨

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

These are some of the things that happened in my life lately:

  • 🐢I feel like I’ve slowed down this week, which is good. After the week with COVID-19 when I was forced to slow down to rest and recover, I want to bring that slowness to my life going forward. That means really disconnecting from work when I’m not working, enjoying simple things, prioritizing sleep, doing less. I’m with that vibe now.
  • ⚕️My post-COVID headaches are still with me, some days were worse than others. But I’m seeing some improvement these past couple of days. They are not as bad as they were last week and over the counter Ibuprofen and sinus medication works. Taking breaks from screens also works. I went to see a doctor and they don’t really know why these headaches occur, there is no real treatment, and it seems to be a post-COVID thing. I will monitor for one more week. Hopefully, it gets better with more time.
  • 🩺I finally got my iron IV infusion done. It’s a treatment for anemia that I do every 2-3 years to raise my ferritin levels because food or oral supplementation never works with me. All went well, there was no side effects or reactions after the application (which takes 2 hours), so that’s great! This time my doctor prescribed a new formulation of iron, and it was okay.
  • 👟It got cold this week again with negative temperatures, so I didn’t run outside. I did go to the gym twice this week. My most regular exercise has been my yoga sessions in the morning these days.
  • 🎮I started my little farm in Stardew Valley with the 1.6 game update that was released this week! I chose the new farm type Meadowlands: it has a chewy blue grass that animals love. Between yesterday and today I played 1 hour and a half, so I'm still in the very beginning. I can't play for too long because of the post-Covid headaches. But it's such a cozy, calming and beautiful game! It has this awesome passionate developer and it's impressive how the community around it is still alive after, what, 8 years? Amazing💜.

📌Interesting Online Reads This Week

  • Blog What You Like ❤️: On how blogging can be relaxing and an authentic experience. It's a call to write what we want to write, whatever we like and be real.
  • More Context for Links and Giving context to a blogroll: I like the idea of giving context to the links I have on my blogroll. I haven't done it yet, but it's on my projects list.
  • A Society That Lost Focus: an essay with reflections about how technology is impacting our focus as a society. But also, attention economy, privacy, and the need to slow down for deeper reflections.
  • Did I Read That? : Some thoughts about reading and finishing books. It's all about the experience of being in another person's mind. But we don't need to finish books we are not enjoying (unless we want to!).
  • Being a Bilingual Is Like Having a Double Identity: I saw myself in this post talking about how we create different mini personas when we are bilingual. In my case it's Portuguese and English. It's not like we have separate set of values in each language, but we do small adaptations to ourselves depending on the language we are speaking.
  • Black Sabbath finally re-releases the Tony Martin era Albums: Nice reminder of the old Black Sabbath era with Tony Martin. I don't think I ever listened to these albums in full, I knew one or two songs, so I'm now catching up! 🤘

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

Journaling is a habit I started in 2013. I talk more about my initial experience here.

For some time, I was doing shorter entries, like “The 5 Minute Journal” style, where I would have a template to write daily on Evernote. That was 2017.

It was also the year I moved to Canada and lots of things changed in my life. I stopped using Evernote and moved to other tools. And when I moved away from that initial template, I wanted to write more freely. So, I started writing longer entries, “Morning Pages” style.

Since then, journaling is a part of my daily routine. During the worst of the COVID pandemic I struggled to keep it regular, but I did my best. I tried some journaling services like Journey and 750 Words. I tried using a private blog in Write.as to journal. Now I journal using Standard Notes, which I love!

I never liked the idea of using a public blog to journal private thoughts, but that's just me. My inner critic is still strong, and I must constantly tell him (yeah, I don't know why, my inner critic is a guy) to go away and just let it be. When I'm journaling, I want to be as free as possible, that's why I journal privately. I really like how the website 750 Words describes journaling:

I don't need to title my entries, or tag them, or enable comments, or any of that other stuff. This is writing, and it's online, but it's not blogging, or Twittering, or Facebook status updating. This is between you and you. — 750 Words

It's been a couple of years since I've been focusing on consolidating journaling as a daily activity for me.

I'm off to a good start in 2024 🤘:

My process:

  • I protect time in the morning, before I leave to work (it could be anytime, but that's what works for me). I plan my morning routine so that I will have 10 to 30 minutes to write. Sometimes less, sometimes more. All that matters is having this pocket of time protected.
  • I do it always at the same place: on my laptop at my home office, using the app Standard Notes. I use the Standard Notes “Daily Notebook” feature with a customized note title format. It's easy to open my notebook and go right to the note of the day.
  • I set up a timer to start writing and stop when it's over. Simple as that.

Since I started writing daily, I feel lighter. I feel like I'm living more intentionally. Days are not passing by so quickly.

Because writing is an exercise in being grateful. In remembering the good things. In learning with my errors. In forgiving myself. Daily journaling has helped me go through grief and process my emotions. It's a good mini therapy session!

Sometimes I will journal when I'm feeling overwhelmed and stressed at work. Sometimes I just need to do a quick mind sweep in the middle of the day to regroup and move on. So, I open the note I started in the morning and just write some more (I can access Standard Notes via web at work).

And the space I have for journaling is all private. It's a space where I can write whatever, it's not to be censored or edited. It's an exercise to clear my mind, a true brain dump. I usually get ideas to write on my blog from these journaling sessions. Sometimes I start a draft in my journal, which will then be transformed into a blog entry.

My plan is to journal every day, a little or a lot, it doesn't matter. I don't force myself for it to be 750 words or 3 pages long or whatever. I just write how much I feel like that day. Sometimes it's a note saying how I'm feeling now. And that's enough.

I think journaling has now become more than a habit, it's a daily practice to nurture my mental health and creativity.

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

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