Chasing Productivity

There’s a few governing truths that make up life, one of them that I’m beginning to really come to terms with is:

“There isn’t any more time than there already is”

i.e. there is no way [at least currently] to make more time.

Having just become a parent and taking on a new role at my day job, the amount of time I have available for working side projects has become very constrained.

Basically, with an infant in the house, he calls the shots and available “free” time is when he decides he’s ready to take a name. At this stage, while he’s still trying to figure out his circadian rhythms it’s essentially impossible to schedule time.

My list of aspiring projects is beginning to turn into a dust covered insurmountable backlog of stagnating ideas; which perhaps I had naively planned while our baby was asleep as the foundational activities that would set me up for a year of success. The list begins:

  • 90 days of slow carb diet
  • Marathon Training
  • Build-out of an Arduino powered smart sentry gun
  • Build-out of our z-wave home automation system
  • Read Game of thrones (5 books)
  • Read Swift and iOS 8 by Tutorials by the RW team
  • Work on Rugged Green Apps
  • Self publish a book
  • Blog once a week
  • Vacations
  • New Car Shopping
  • New Furniture Shopping
  • …. and the list goes on

Now I’ve been prioritizing time with my child and helping my wife; as most would argue is the best thing to do. But when everyone is asleep or things are under control, I’ve found myself sliding into a place on the couch and simply vegging out, recovering from the chaos with some zero productivity time.

The problem seems to have been that in those moments, I lack the nudge or the timely reminder that I have things I really want to get done other than watch The Food Network. I don’t have a system setup to track my productivity, prioritize my tasks and provide inputs or reminders when I need them most. As a result, I get caught up in the inertia of being a parent and my To Do list sits, unattended.

Enter our next project; My friend, Matt and I are in the same boat; as are many others, there’s no more time, and with so much to do we want to use the little time we have as effectively as possible.

We’re kicking off development of a new suite of productivity tools that will not only benefit us, but others. I’m really amped for this projected and looking forward to sharing more. The personal need we have for these tools should  drive the persistence needed to get this done. Can’t wait to share more.

 

Break-in and Security

Well unfortunately not everyone rings in the New Year the same, “civil” way.
Sometime in the early hours of New Year’s day, someone gained entry to our garage and helped themselves to a couple of my bikes (including my beloved fixie and my soon to be replaced winter commuter mountain bike) and of all things, also took probably 20-30$ worth of recycling include empty cans and beer bottles! Luckily there was no real damage and everything taken can be replaced. But I mean, Come ON!

Honestly, The worst part has been the feeling of violation we’ve been dealt on the first day of the new year. It can be a bit tough dealing with the fact that someone out there feels brazen enough and entitled enough to walk onto your property, into your garage and take whatever they feel comfortable helping themselves too.

In response and to prevent this as best we can from reoccurring we’ve decided to step things up.

The cause of this whole thing is unfortunately, likely my fault. I can to some extent blame my exhausted sleep deprived “new-dad-brain”. Basically, I forgot to lock the door to the garage after we came home from NYE celebrations, focusing instead on helping my wife into the house and carefully carrying a sleeping baby into the house (which, if I may add, I didn’t wake!) .

So after more than a week of calls and research looking into what’s out there for home security (which by the way is a ridiculously huge offering), we’ve decided to go with a pretty substantial upgrade to our home. In addition to the newly installed motion activated night-vision capable HD security cameras I’ve finally taken the leap and purchased a state-of-the-art-home automation system. Disappointingly there is no retinal scan option but it does come complete with auto locks, lighting and appliance controls, and serves as an adaptive brain for our upgraded security system, hopefully successfully telling the difference between our roaming dog and people we don’t want around.

What’s most impressive is the leap in the system’s user interface and capability from the previous security system we had installed (which admittedly didn’t cover the garage). The new touch screen based UI is absolutely staggering and has encrypted tie-backs to our smart phones as remotes. I’m actually pretty excited to see the morning report outs and actually having an idea of what happens around the house at night. I am however bracing for the fact that instead of seeing countless green-tinted video clips of ninjas sneaking around, it’ll likely be… well nothing… maybe squirrels? but probably nothing.

In the interest of keeping costs down, we have decided to forgo some options on the new system… and this is a real option… we’ve decided at this time to forgo the option of having a patrolling drone fly around our house/block periodically with a down-looking camera (also night vision capable) with a real time video feed. The drone apparently can dock in a weather resistant charge station and its flight around a preset waypoint defined patrol can be triggered by a predefined schedule, sounds detection, or proximity motion detection. Awesome right? ya, but worth $10,000? Not really for our mere inner city property… maybe when our son starts dating

F2TK65AGJHV93YO.MEDIUM

But in the event that security upgrades still fall flat, I’ve decided to adjust my end game for my arduino robot programming hobby. Instead of building an autonomously roaming rover first, I’m building a sentry gun; details right here on instructables and hackaday.

If all the other upgrades fail, this baby will be the last line of defence. Just need to nail the friend vs. foe recognition. 😀

A Look Back at 2014 and a Glance Ahead

2014_revue

When 2014 started out, I’d hoped it would be a life changing year, a complete departure from more of the same. In short, I/we succeed in most aspects of that and conquered most of the goals we’d set.

A short summary of the goals for 2014:

  • Run a Marathon PB (faster than 4:01:00)
  • Have a great family vacation
  • Try and start a Family
  • Get Business Income to >$1000/mo

British Virgin Islands

BVI_2014

The spirit for changing everything was of course fueled by our first sailing vacation and our first tropical christmas. We rang in the new year last year with Great Friends (old and new) on the S.V. Liquid Sunshine, cruising around the British Virgin Islands.

It was a great trip and proved the concept to my wife, Jen and I both that we loved not only the idea of sailing, but sailing itself and everything that came with it.

Greece Trip

greece_trip

On the Heels of that Trip, we packed up and headed to Greece, meeting up with my Parents, Brother and Sister on the way. To be as concise as possible, it was a mind blowing trip filled with surreal views, broken landscapes, and more history that I could digest. It was an epic 4 days in Athens, exploring the sites of a city in turmoil wrapped in history, followed by 6 amazing and unbelievably relaxing days in Santorini, hiking, sunbathing, swimming and just taking in the spectacular views of the Caldera. This vacation will be hard to top, but I’m determined to see it happen in 2015.

After a disappointing lack of training discipline forced me to downgrade from the 2013 Calgary Marathon to the half Marathon, I was more determined than ever to train harder than ever. This led to some great accomplishments toward improving my health and fitness, but moreover I crushed my goal of breaking 4hrs, running a 3:39:21 Marathon. I This year I want to top that, set another PB with a stretch target of a 3:25:00 or faster.

Charlie

charlie_revue

The other highlight, and perhaps the most monumental event of the year was the birth of our first Son, Charles Edward Furey on November 30. There are few moments in my life where I can honestly say I’ve been lost in an upwelling of emotion, but seeing my son for the first time is top amongst them. It was an unbelievable experience, and through to this day it’s been amazing ride. The secret has been just rolling with the changes as they’ve been coming. Sure there’s been sleep deprived nights and some challenges in getting the little guy to settle down, but it’s been absolutely amazing.

Looking Ahead to 2015

This post is starting to get a little long so now, I want to spend a few minutes to just give a brief glance ahead with some goals for 2015 and beyond..

Health & Fitness in 2015

I hit my lightest weight just days ahead of the marathon in 2014. It felt absolutely amazing. However, an unexpected side effect of crushing my goal, was that I sat back and bathed in the “glory” of my self accomplishment and let myself deteriorate. Now that I know it’s doable, I’m determined to crush it with a goal of losing 15lb in the first 5months of 2015 and keeping it off. I want to reduce the body fat percentage from where it hovers around 18% to 12% and hopefully in the process get some ab definition.

In 2014 I walked almost 1.8mln steps (since starting tracking on August 4).

fitbit progress running_progress

In 2014 I ran 1,157km over the course of 105hrs burning 106,272kCals.weight_2014

and While I hit my goal weight at race time, I lost that and pretty much ended up right where I am.

I’ve also realized, data is power in tracking accomplishments here, my 2014 progress is shown above but there are holes – So I’m resolving to rigorously track my Calories and my progress with body measurements, weight &PF% (already pretty much doing this), Heart Rate and Blood Pressure – in addition to progress photos which I hope to post here at regular intervals.

I have a plan to achieve this, but for the purpose of a concise post, that will come in a separate future post.

2015 Business Goals

Last year I had a goal to hit $1000/mo in stable income from my side businesses. This was not achieved, in short, 2014 was a year Matt and I brainstormed and tried to reboot our efforts a few times, but each time losing momentum. I’m probably the chief guilty party here with allowing myself to become hopelessly distracted and allowing that to subtract from the momentum of the team.

Overall, 2014 business income average ~$ 96/mo, which I suppose isn’t bad as it paid expenses without having published 0 new apps and 0 updates. Further to that, it appears my AdMob account stopped working in Q3.
No way to sugar coat this, a complete failure in achieving this goal with no serious effort put toward and only my own laziness and lack of motivation to blame.

2015 will be difurrently working a plan to change this, but for 2015 the goal is more ambitious; Annual Average income of $2500/mo and exit rate cash flow of $5000 during the month of December, 2015. Starting at the End of Q1 2015, I’ll issue Quarterly updates on progress against the plan.

Again, details of the plan to achieve this will come in a separate future post to keep the length of this post in check

Projects for 2015.

We may be aiming a little high here, but both Jen and I like to feel busy around the house. Toward that goal, we have a few projects in mind:

  • Finish the Garage interior: I’ve always wanted the garage to be a place of work, not just storage. Right now it’s a mess; I’m looking to add some electrical outlets, insulate, drywall, and upgrade the lighting. If the budget allows I’ll upgrade the storage with some “Gladiator Garage” type modules. This is the first step toward making it a place of potentially working on a car in the future. But first and foremost, I want to make a nice clean storage area for everything that’s building up with baby raising and create a work bench/area for my circuits and arduino hobby projects.
  • Landscaping upgrades: We’ve mulled over this for ages, but we’re just not happy with the backyard and our side pathway. 2015 will be the year we add some retaining walls and bring some new dimensioning to the back garden. Serious Design work is yet to begin, but we have ideas. The plan is to take a stab at this and make it a DIY project.
  • Surely more will be added as the year goes on.

With less than 1/2 a day left, there’s no turning back now. Time to take a leap and reach for higher than ever before.