Be more intentional with my time.

When reading On the Shortness of Life by Seneca, I came across the following passage:

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.

This passage really resonated with me and forced me to consider how I was allocating my time. I feel like I generally do a good job at choosing how to spend my time - I've focused on school, developing myself (whether in character or acquiring new skills), and supporting those around me. And yet, it's still often incredibly difficult to decide in the moment, "with all of the things I could be doing right now, which would be the best use of my time?"

From my reflections of 2016, I've realized that I want to enter 2017 with a more disciplined focus. I have a variety of interests which lead to sometimes spreading my time over too many things and not getting the maximum return from any of my individual endeavors. While I still wish to engage all of my interests, I would like to do so in a manner that allows me to be more focused and intentional with my time.

End of year review: B
On a macro scale, I've been able to prioritize my time well with a strong focus of studying the field of machine learning. On a micro scale, I can still do better about elimating pesky time wasters.

Get better sleep.

I hate feeling tired in the morning; mornings are my most productive hours. I want to stick to a better, consistent sleep schedule and open my early morning hours for productive work.

End of year review: C+
For a while, I was doing really well to make sure my sleep was a priority, but as the year progressed I found myself continuing to work late into the evenings (past the hour of meaningful productivity) and toward the end of the year I fell out of my nightly reading routine.

Stay active.

I enjoy being active, but I'm not the best about making time for it. I'd like to do a better job in 2017 of making sure that I stay active on a regular basis. To accomplish this, I've created two forcing functions:

  1. I got a Fitbit for Christmas to track my activity. I especially wanted one because they have social challenges I can do with friends to see who can get the most steps over the duration of the challenge. This social aspect should help incentivize me to make time for exercise because I don't like finishing in last place!
  2. I went ahead and laid out a fitness plan for the Spring semester. Shoutout to Paul for being crazy enough to go to 6am yoga and TRX classes with me!

A healthy body yields a healthy (and thus productive) mind.

End of year review: A
On balance, I've been able to stay active through the year. Even when things were busy, I still forced myself to pull away and find time to keep my body in shape.

Post more on here.

This has been a great place for me to write about what I'm learning and store my thoughts. I'd like to develop habits of posting more frequently on here in 2017.

End of year review: A-
As I have been studying machine learning, I've generally pushed myself to write about most topics that I learn. I've found that by writing about a topic, I'm able to more effectively evaluate how well I understand the topic and by writing as I learn I can deepen my understanding.

Do a weekly review.

I'd like to establish the habit of reviewing and reflecting on my previous week every Sunday morning. I believe this regimented structure will help keep my accountable and make sure I am making progress towards my goals for the new year.

End of year review: F
To be honest, I forgot about this goal and never established the habit.

Don't Google everything, at least not right away.

It's a habit that develops gradually; I have a thought and think, "hmm, I wonder what other people have written about ______" and I Google it. However, instantly searching to see what other people say about a given idea inherently guides the future progression of an idea. I'd like to take more time internally to develop an idea before I search Google to see what other people have to say about the topic.

End of year review: A
I've been much better about taking the time to think things through more completely before seeing what others have to say on a subject, which has added a new (and more critical) perspective when I do read external ideas/solutions.