Noisy Deadlines


This is a walkthrough on how I currently have my Nirvana setup.

Nirvana is a to-do app built for the Getting Things Done® methodology. I’ve been using it for years now. I’ve written a lot about switching back and forth to Nirvana, but I don’t think I’ve ever published a full setup post. So here it is!

Nirvana comes with these predefined sections, and they cannot change:

  • TAGS

The “Later” folder inside “ACTIONS” is an optional feature in the app (we can toggle it on or off in the settings). I leave it enabled to park actions that are blocked, actions that I started but had to put on hold or that I want to look at again in a couple of weeks (but that don’t fit in “Someday/Maybe” anymore).


  • 👟 Running 7Km is my new normal now. It’s a huge improvement from last year! 🤗 I can comfortably run this distance. But I only ran once this week, the other days were all walks because we had this constant start-stop rain going on most days.
    • Jun 04, 2024 => 7.17Km – Pace 6:43 min/km
  • 👔 I attended a company general meeting where we go to this conference room to hear the latest news of our area. I've always felt out of place in these meetings because it's a LOT of people and it's noisy and overwhelming. But this time it was not so bad; I was better prepared to socialize and before I got exhausted, I slipped away to take some quick breaks. It also helps that I know more people now: project managers that I deal with regularly over the phone or virtual meetings and it was nice to say “hi” in person.
  • 📖 I took the Saturday to read. Really, I didn't touch my computer, I was away from my phone for hours and I just leisurely read all day. I had tea and snacks and lunch. It's been a while since I haven't paused like that to read. It helped that I was reading a romance novel that I couldn't put down.
  • 🧠 I'm rethinking the way I use the Internet. I realized that if I'm bored or stressed out I will jump on the Internet and search for quick dopamine hits. I wrote about how I feel hacked and it is something more people experience. I believe less is more. Curation is key. I’m still thinking about it.

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

The Internet. What a wonderful thing. Access to all kinds of information at our fingertips. Connecting people all over the world. Social media is here to allow sharing of ideas and information. Great ! The Internet evolved to be so ubiquitous that we are connected 24/7, even though we don't need to.

I lived almost two decades of my life in a world without Internet. And then I saw it coming. It was amazing! The forums, chats, the “surfing”, discovering pages at random, exploring the web without being followed by cookies and ads.

I totally understand Todd Presta in his post: “Lamentations of a Web 1.0 Dinosaur”:

Doom Scrolling meant panning side-to-side in the 3D view of a first-person shooter video game called “Doom,” not filling your head with an infinite scrolling feed of bad news and wrath.” – Todd Presta

Nowadays, searching anything online is frustrating. Pages and pages of sponsored results. Ads everywhere! Click-bait galore!

And social media... what happened there? I felt super cool when I connected to BBS's back in the day. I became an early adopter of “social media” later. I told my friends about it. I remember I was super excited to have gotten an invite to create a Facebook account. I encouraged people to join! I was so innocent!

Today, in my mid-40's, I feel hacked. After 10+ years using the major social media services (Twitter/Facebook/Instagram), I was unknowingly conditioned to scroll through a news feed. I've unconsciously internalized this behavior; it has become a habit. I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts around 3 years ago.

This post from Brandon: I'm a Little Fed Up inspired me to write today. And I sympathize with his frustration:

I'm starting to miss my super quiet blog where I just chatted with folks over email. I just don't think I'm cut out for the modern internet. — Brandon's Journal

I have a Mastodon account and sometimes I wonder if I really want to keep it. Just because of the behavior it triggers in me: spending time scrolling through a feed. I curate my feed very carefully, but still, I see myself wanting to check out what’s new all the time, even though I don’t really need to. It's weird. Something reprogrammed by neuro-circuitry, and I crave for novelty all the time.

If I'm done checking my Mastodon feed, then I search for other sources of quick dopamine boosts. In my case now it's my RSS feed, my email, Discord, online forums. It's the same learned behavior in different environments. That bothers me.

Anyway, I am rethinking whatever I have left in terms of online inputs. The frequency, the volume of information, the usefulness.


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

  • 📖Reading: I started a Book Club read which is a Norse-Mythology-Viking inspired fantasy. The tone is not really appealing me: it is a dark and gritty world with bloody vengeance themes. Maybe I won’t finish it. I’m also reading Scott Pilgrim and a couple of romances.

  • 👟Running is going well. I’m being able to increase my distance without any physical pain or bad side effects. It has been awesome! And I did the 10K Run for Women on Sunday, I broke my record! First time running 10K in a long time !

    • May 29, 2024 => 7.22 km – Pace 6.53 min/km
    • May 31, 2024 => 5.87 km – Pace 6.51 min/km
    • June 2, 2024 => 10 km – Pace 6.42 min/km (Race – Run for Women)
  • 🚩Cool blog post on Why Write? | Brandon's Journal (

I discover so much about myself when writing, so even when I have stopped blogging for months at a time, I was always writing. The moment I stop, the demons creep in.

The main reason is that writing has a cleansing effect on me. When I’m not writing in one way or another, it’s like a clogged drain pipe on the verge of bursting.

Goblincore is an internet aesthetic and subculture inspired by the folklore of goblins, centered on the celebration of natural ecosystems usually considered less beautiful by conventional norms, such as soil, animals, and second-hand objects. — Goblincore – Wikipedia

Some images from the run: it was a nice location by a lake; a beautiful day and I’ve never noticed this sculpture on the right before, so I had to take a picture!


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

  1. A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2) by Becky Chambers, 365p: I love Becky Chamber's writing style. And this one is a delightful read following the coming of age of two characters from the first book. One is a former sentient ship AI that was transferred to a synthetic humanoid body to move around and explore the world. The other is about a little girl that was born to work in a factory, barely escaping it and being taken care of by an AI. It's so beautifully written! It's focused on character development and the world building just flows with it. It touches on identity, friendship, diversity of gender and sexuality, exploitation, and oppression.  But it's all done through the lens of intimate, emotionally charged characters perspectives. Very well crafted!

  2. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Scott Pilgrim #1) by Bryan Lee O'Malley, 168p: After I saw the first season of the 2023 Netflix animation “Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” I wanted to get into the original black and white material. And it's so fun! There is a direct reference to, which is hilarious. Also, I loved the tea scene. Great sense of humour, with Canadian references and funny dialogues. Will continue reading.

  3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Scott Pilgrim #2) by Bryan Lee O'Malley, 200p: Sweet and funny. I love the dialogues and the fight scene at the Toronto Reference Library was awesome! I like that there are so some many references to Canadian life, like celebrating the “first t-shirt day” after winter and walking around Toronto seeing a “Second Cup” café and Casa Loma in the background. I already got volumes 3 and 4 from the library to continue reading.

  4. A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys, 336p: This is not really my flavour of sci-fi, but it gets points for its unique perspective.  It's a first contact story where the conflicts are not carried in a violent, physical way. For a first alien contact situation, things go pretty smoothly. There is a lot going on here: efforts to reverse climate change, representations of different identities, gender spectrum and sexuality, diverse families, exploitative corporations, Watershed Networks, ecology, Jewish culture, parenting. There is a LOT of talking:  most of the conflicts are resolved with dialogues. The story is told from the main character's point of view, and she doesn't hide her flaws and insecurities: we get to feel them all! I thought the future imagined was too close to our time (50 years ahead) for humanity to have changed that much. Interesting read, but it was not so easy to get to the end. This was a Book Club read for me and it certainly raised intriguing discussions.

  5. Exadelic by Jon Evans, 448p: This is a very weird book. It's a mash-up of Ready Player One, with Matrix, Outlander and Assassin's Creed. Seriously there's so much going on here! Dark magic, AI's, time travel, obscure pseudoscience, cults, witches, sex rituals, post-apocalypse worlds (just to name a few). There are a lot of technical programming terms and references which I didn't get most of the time. What kept me reading was wanting to know where the story would end up and yeah, it's bonkers. The short chapters and mini cliff-hangers me helped me stick with it, but it was a wild ride. I wanted to see what the point of the story was, and I don't think I got it at the end.


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

I'm enjoying some slower days at work. There has been only one big procurement project with tight deadlines to deliver a budget. All the other budgets I've been working on are for internal projects, buildings that are already under construction and the deadlines can be easily negotiated. I can allocate enough time to deliver all those budgets comfortably.

This is very unusual! And I'm loving this phase! 🌟

It feels like I'm back in the early 2000's when things overall ran at a slower pace. I remember my first job in a construction company: I didn't have a work mobile phone, the only way to directly contact me at work was via the land line at my desk or in person. I had a computer with internet access, but it was slow and mostly used for checking and sending a few emails. The volume of emails was very manageable, nothing compared to what we have today. I worked on one thing at a time.

Right now, I have plenty of time to plan my day, plan my week, plan my month without feeling I should be tackling my to-do list right away. It’s a refreshing and unique experience: I find my workload to be perfectly manageable.

I like it this way. This situation reminds me of the emerging trend in productivity: slowing down intentionally. I love the ideas described in “Slow Productivity” by Cal Newport and “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, but I recognize that not all work environments allow us to fully implement these ideas. These strategies require a good amount of agency and independence over our workloads.

Despite the obvious challenges of my fast-paced work environment, I'm still convinced I can introduce minor adjustments to my schedule to make it more manageable.

As I said, it's been easy-going these past few weeks, but I know that when things get crazy busy again, I have these tools at my disposal:

  • GTD: The GTD framework helps me a lot to make sense of all the “stuff” that comes my way. I use it all the time and when times get tough, it's even more valuable.
  • Time Blocking: Finding those small pockets of time for reflection and prioritization (Plan the Day in the morning and doing a Shutdown Routine at the end of the day)
  • Short breaks: Using brief moments to breathe, grab a snack or stretch and quick recharge my mental batteries.
  • Pomodoro Technique: For when I need deep focus. The ticking timer becomes my companion, urging me forward.
  • Remember to Write Down Things: Capture, Capture, Capture! Reduces mental clutter (see GTD above).
  • Weekly Review: Another GTD practice that helps turn chaos into order. It’s essential!

As much as I'm enjoying these calm waters at work, I know it won't last forever. The storm will return: the urgent emails, the deadlines, the unexpected crises. But I feel equipped to deal with whatever comes.

Post 09/100 of 100DaysToOffload challenge (Round 2)!

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

  • 😊 This week just flew by! I thought about how well I'm feeling now if compared to the weeks after I got COVID back in March. My energy levels are back to pre-pandemic levels and I'm sure getting my iron infusion has helped a lot.
  • 📝 I am still not sure what got into me that I wanted to change my to-do app to Todoist. I had this plan that I would use it for 90 days to really test it out, but I couldn't stand it more than a couple of days. I think it was the whole overhead of setting it up and wanting it to behave like Nirvana. Lesson learned: it's easier to just use Nirvana than bend something else into being Nirvana-like.
  • 🔔 Still on the productivity tools arena, I realized that I was neglecting the Reminders app in iOS. Sometimes I want to set up a reminder and doing it with the Outlook Calendar is not quick and easy. But using the iOS Reminders app is way simpler!
  • 👟 Next Sunday I'll do a 10Km race “Run for Women”! And talking about running, this is my log this week:

    1. May 20 => 5.15Km

    2. May 23 => 7.15Km

    3. May 26 => 9.15 Km

  • 🎧 I listened to this Cal Newport podcast: EP. 299: OUR LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH PERSONAL PRODUCTIVITY and in the Deep Dive segment he talks about the 20-year personal productivity history and what were the books that captured each “trend” throughout the years. From Stephen Covey's “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” to Jenny Odell's “How To Do Nothing”, among others.

  • 🎮 I'm still playing Stardew Valley very deliberately and I've made a breakthrough! I finally managed to get a furnace, to turn copper ore into copper bars and finally get a copper axe! Now I can cut down trees, expand my chicken coop, and open some areas for more crops, getting ready for my first winter. I also now have mushrooms in my cave.

  • 🧩 Made some progress on our Ancient Map puzzle! All the decorative borders are done!


Post 08/100 of 100DaysToOffload challenge (Round 2)!

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

This week I decided I had some time and headspace available to experiment with Todoist for my GTD (Getting Things Done) system. Why??

Back in 2019-2020, I had used Todoist and enjoyed it. But then there was a big update that altered some features and screwed up my existing setup. As a result, I explored other tools, eventually discovering NirvanaHQ (which is my current tool of choice).

I’ve tried Todoist before throughout the years, and I could never get it quite right. I know Todoist development is continually active, and I thought I could give it a go again because… well, maybe this time they’ve changed things that could work for me now? 🤷‍♀️ Also because I felt I could spend some time tinkering with the tool, which I usually enjoy.

So, I tried setting it up again. I took a look at the GTD Official Guide, sat down with my pen and paper and started to think:

  • Do I want to link projects to next actions? => Yes!
  • Ok, so I will use projects as projects and labels as contexts.
  • I want to have projects separated between Work and Personal. Ok.
  • I will have Someday-Maybe folders separate for Work and Personal. Ok.
  • I will use labels as contexts to organize my next actions. Ok.
  • I want to make sure that I don’t see actions that are in Someday-Maybe showing up in my next action lists. Ok, so I will use filters to be able to exclude items that are inactive in Someday-Maybe.
  • This is something crucial to me, because sometimes I have a project started, with labeled next actions, which then is postponed or put on hold. I want to be able to move the project to Someday-Maybe so that all of it is removed from next actions. I know I could un-label the actions, but I don’t like doing that (then when it’s active again I would have to re-label everything... not my jam).
  • I will have a “Routines” project for all recurring actions (daily. monthly checklists and reviews). Ok.

So, I set up the basic folders. I added initial labels (the typical @computer, @home, @errands, @agendas, @calls). Now it was time to set up the filters. That's when I got frustrated. I know I could set it up the way I wanted it, but the process was not as fun as I've initially imagined 😐.

I had to tweak the filters to exclude incompletable tasks and exclude subtasks from showing by themselves without their parent task (because subtasks can have their own labels in Todoist), to separate work and personal, and on and on.

I had initially thought I would incorporate the priority flags with the context’s filters (something like, P1 is priority, P2 is next, P3 is later, etc...) but THAT was me overcomplicating things! I scratched that idea.

And then I thought about a moment in the future when I wanted to add a new context, and create a filter for it, and all the hassle to have it done. Too complicated! I imagined future me wondering why the hell did I complicate things this much?

Long story short…

…the energy and disposition I thought I had to set up Todoist wasn't there anymore. I'd rather spend that time reading a book.

And when I went back to my normal day, using Nirvana as usual, I just felt this peace and calm, seeing everything organized in its place. I recognized I already have a system that JUST WORKS as it is. Is it perfect? Hell, no! But it works for me! 😊

I was also altering a previous Todoist setup I had in my account, so maybe that was the wrong approach. I should have deleted everything and started 100% from scratch. But now I don’t really want to try Todoist anymore. I am happy with what I currently have.

So that's the story of my failed experiment. I could have pushed through and had all the context filter issues sorted out? Yes, I'm sure I could have. It's not Todoist's fault. It's a great app. But just not for me at this moment in my life.

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

  • 🏝️ I got 2 days off work and had an extra-long weekend with Monday 20th being a holiday here! 🥳 I didn’t have anything planned, I just took the time to relax and slow down. Reading, journaling, playing Stardew Valley, long walks, yoga and running. That’s about sums it up!
  • 📖 I finished reading “A Closed and Common Orbit” by Becky Chambers and I absolutely loved it! I also had lots of fun reading “Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life” by Bryan Lee O'Malley.
  • ✈️ We finally booked our flights to Brazil. We will travel in December, so we wanted to guarantee the best rates because we know prices will only go up from now on. Excited to go but also not too excited to be there in the high of summer (it’s going to be 40C ! ).
  • 🎒 I’ve decided to upgrade some of my daily gear: my old backpack and my wallet. I’ve been using the same for quite some time now. The wallet could easily be 20 years old, the backpack maybe 15+ years? I’m not sure. I got myself a tote bag that turns into a backpack and a wallet that has a pocket for a phone and can also turn into a mini cross-body purse. I was inspired by the upcoming trip, and I wanted to be prepared with versatile gear.
  • 📒 And talking about changes: I’m rethinking my GTD system, more specifically the app I use every day for tasks. I’m feeling less anxiety overall and I feel ready to explore other options. I want to be able to capture things more easily across my devices reducing ALL the friction. Also, I miss reminders and being able to customize a few lists. I feel I’m in a good headspace to spend time tweaking and testing with no rush.
  • 📝 So, I decided I will test out Todoist for 90 days and see how it goes. It will require some time to set it up, test it, tweak it. Nirvana gives me structure and boundaries. Todoist a highly customizable app and I feel I’m ready to dive into something less structured. I’m in an adventurous vibe now!

Post 06/100 of 100DaysToOffload challenge (Round 2)!

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

  • 📒I stopped time blocking hour by hour with Cal Newport's planner, and I'm doing a more “focus of the day” type of planning with the Rocketbook week spread pages. I'm liking it. It gives me a different perspective. Stil testing how it goes.
  • 🚄I finally booked my train ticket to Scintillation 5 in Montreal. It’s a small literary convention where we geek out about sci-fi and fantasy, mostly.
  • 👷‍♀️I went to a job site visit with my estimating team. It’s always nice to see in full scale what we measure on paper.
  • Me and my partner went the Tulip Festival this weekend. It was an hour bike ride to get there, and it was very busy! The tulips were in full bloom, it was a nice day.
  • 🏝️I’m taking 2 days off work this week for the Victoria Day holiday. Yay!


Post 05/100 of 100DaysToOffload challenge (Round 2)!

#100DaysToOffload #100Days #weeknotes

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