Removing digital clutter
Digital clutter is a real thing. Unlimited storage makes you forget about clutter. Google is great at finding things for you and newer hardware is working harder to get you the thing you're looking for even quicker.
What is it
Digital clutter can be things like old documents, duplicate photos, unwanted photos, bad photos (many types of photos I guess), unused apps and downloads, subscriptions that hit the inbox and then you hit "Archive" or swipe them away.
Removing digital clutter
A few months ago, I re-read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to remove clutter from my physical life. Clothes, books, and some other things that crowded the house and my mind are now gone.
I remember, when I had a bunch of unwanted clothes, it would take forever to find something "wear-able" and over time that pile of unwearables got bigger and bigger so when I went through the cleaning process, it felt like I was removing a lot of fogginess from my head.
To remove digital clutter, I don't think it's as much work on the physical side but on the mental side, there still is a lot of work needed. I still need to convince myself that some things that I haven't touched in 5+ years are not needed anymore! Especially a song I downloaded and I already have it on Spotify, I don't need a copy of it on Dropbox.
Today, I went through and removed a lot of code repositories that were not active anymore and I was not interested in working on anymore.
I have this problem, whenever I try to eat food, I don't feel very hungry. The problem is pretty bad in the morning, I almost never feel hungry in the morning. On top of that, I also don't eat much when I do feel hungry.
A few days ago, I started eating cereal (corn flakes) for breakfast and drinking a cup of tea. This is the first time in almost 10 years that I've ate breakfast that's not part of brunch on a weekend.
For the past 5+ years, I've been going to work without eating any breakfast. Recently, I was thinking about when I get most of my productive work done and it's actually a little after lunch which is when I first eat food and feel full.
There are many benefits to breakfast, health related and productivity related. Both of these areas can be improved if I started eating breakfast on a daily basis so that's my goal from now on.
Eating is an interesting feedback loop, after awhile of eating, you have a negative feedback loop that tells your brain you're not hungry anymore. But there's a bigger loop, the daily schedule of eating food which triggers hunger signals everyday around the same time, and this one is more important because if I don't eat breakfast for years, my body doesn't have a signal in the morning to eat any breakfast, and so the cycle continues.
Ghost Town deployments
This is a weird one for me to write. It's hard to write about real problems. I think, part of it is to figure out what is the truth and what is really happening along with a good sense of writing it. So without much intro, I want to start.
If you've ever read this blog before this post, you'll notice that there are no dates on any of my blog posts. This is not by choice actually. It's one of those "small features" that I didn't bother to implement when I was working on my blog. It's not that I don't want to work on it or work on many other things related to this blog.
It took me awhile to figure out what this blog would be and even today, I can't really say this blog is about anything except my personal thoughts and musings. The thing that I do want to talk about is why there are so few changes on the blog over time.
When I first started working on it, I was excited, I was learning laravel for work and wanted something to try it with. A blog seemed like a small and self-contained project to do this with. It still is a small and manageable project. Over time, I would spend a couple of hours here and there to add something or fix a bad bug.
I remember adding markdown support was one of the big one that helped me write more. Then when I added pagination, the blog started loading faster.
There's a list of things I want to implement no the blog like RSS, better styles for each post, adding published date info, sharing links, a new font. But you might be wondering, why I haven't done these or what's the hold up?
That's what this blog post is about.
There's a huge list of projects in a Notion doc I have that are sitting in some state of staleness. My blog is just one example of this.
This morning, I've been thinking of writing this blog post because it requires me to really admit what is wrong and what the bottlenecks are there.
Since my work is a predictable 9-5 or 10-6 schedule, I don't really have to guess what times I'll be at work or not. So excluding work, the commute to work, and sleep, I have about 6 hours of spare time. About 2-3 are used to eat so now I have 3-4 hours left to do other things. Is this enough time to do anything productive? For most people, I would say "maybe". For me, it seems like there isn't a good split of time where I can do this. In the mornings, I'm getting ready, spending some time with my pets and eating breakfast. In the evenings, I'm spending 2-3 hours on leisure activities like winding down from work, watching TV, spending time with Samson (my dog), gaming, or just having a long dinner.
Where is the time to write code, learn new things, read, take photos, tend to my plants, clean the house, write on my blog, or do anything that I wish I had more time to do?
I think it's time to carve out some time. But, I don't know where yet.
Time sucking apps . Social media is a waste of time wrapped in a beautiful interface. The web is the perfect platform to connect on but it's also the easiest way to waste time. Time is very expensive if you only have a limited amount and it's being spent on apps that don't reward you with anything past a smirk every minute. That's really expensive.
Trying too many things at once
The past couple of months, I've noticed that I get fixated on one thing for a few days or even a few hours and then I move on to the next one. This is a real problem for me, I don't like it and it happens to me a lot more than I would like to admit. There's also so many cool things to do and try. Whether this is writing about a topic, coding in a specific language or framework, taking photos with different lenses, trying to tend to my plants, anything I try, there's always many options in that category.
This problem, leads to the lack of focus and continuing progress on any front! This is something that will need to be addressed.
Hardware and software
Putting a personal lens on hardware and software, I have been thinking of what things are leading to bottlenecks.
Laptop . My personal laptop is a mess. It's a 2012 Macbook Pro (retina) and it has amazing specs but it has a really bad battery life. Many times, I'll be working on something and it just turns off (if it's unplugged from the charge), and then I'll get distracted and go work on something else.
Software . The primary problem I have right now is I'm using too many unorganized ways of doing things. Notion has been one of the few things that has been a positive player in this area for me. Most of the apps and technologies I use are not there or get me distracted. When writing code, I don't have a good code editor setup right now, which leads to slower progress on something that should be pretty straight forward.
What are the deployment bottlenecks?
After all of this, I want to come to talk about another thing, something I haven't really mentioned above. One of the hardest things to do right now is deploying code effeciently. A lot of times, I'll have a bunch of chagnes sitting in a git repo but they won't be deployed to my blog, data server, or any other thing I'm working on. This is because, deploying is not straightforward. So this is something I want to improve on. If deploying was easier, like a continous deployment setup, I would be less reluctant to work on things.
Another one is, lack of confidence in the deploy. I haven't been writing any tests for either data or my blog and when I push code, I just manually go and test things.
If you look at my git commit history, commits have been steadily going down on average. In 2015, my public commit activity was 508 commits, but the number isn't as important as days active. Months like January, April, and May in 2015 were very active, and things started to slow down around the end of 2015. Once 2016 came around, commits have diminished to the low 200s. In 2017, I have made an effort to do things more often and so commit numbers are high but the effect hasn't been noticeable. I've been mostly doing practice things but I haven't done anything of substance in the past few months.
So all this rambling and what am I doing about it? I want to start addressing things at a high level.
Time management: I am starting to do more writing and learning in the mornings. This is still very early, I don't feel like I'm there yet. This is something I think that will be beneficial in the long run.
Focus: there's been a huge lack of focus. In the past, I've gone around and deleted stuff, removed some cruft, and didn't really learn anything from it while thinking I was just tidying up to focus. But, it was all temporary. Nothing came from it. Now, I'm not going to go around delete stuff, I'm going to leave the existing stuff as it is there. This will go hand in hand with the time management aspect, resolving to doing less things with more time on them. If I don't like it after awhile, I'll ditch it instead of thinking it'll go on forever.
Deployments : I've started researching more about how to do deployments with ease so that this blog and other projects I have can be updated easily. DigitalOcean actually has many resources on this which I'll be looking into.
Laptop: my laptop is aging but I love it so I'm not going to replace it, just going to fix its battery. One thing I have been thinking about is reinstalling OSX (macOS) on it since it's some weird public beta that I can't get out of now.
Why did I call this post "ghost town deployments"? I couldn't really think of a good name at first and I realized, my blog and other online entities look like ghost towns, nobody visits them and I don't even pay attention to them. Now, I want to go about it differently, I want to turn these "ghost towns" into living and active places. Let's hope it works out!
What will happen to data? I have some ideas about what I can be doing with data, since it's been offline for a few weeks. I'm going to bring it back. I don't like having my net worth as a main data point but I will continue updating it here and there and I'll keep it around though.