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# present-company
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Mike Austin

10/19/2023, 8:11 PM
A question about full-time work + family + personal projects, and reading whitepapers, etc. (not related to work). Recently, I've been squeezing any amount of time left over during the day into my personal projects. Work, family, chores, etc. take the rest. I'm curious how other manage their time reading books, reading whitepapers (which can be quite lengthy), working on their hobbies, etc.? I'm at the point where I haven't even played my guitar for months. I used to walk and listen to audio books also, which I haven't done lately. One caveat is that I've pulled all my personal projects into one master project, so there's always something to work on now. 🙂
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Lu Wilson

10/19/2023, 9:12 PM
all my reading, listening, watching, writing, is done on my commute on the tube. I work a four day week, so my fifth day is for my own projects! i also spend one evening a week on them. my partner spends one evening a week with her family so its worked out like that. i usually make some music for a bit when i get home from work. only like 5 minutes though. the rest of my time is for family and friends. i don't have enough time though. everything is taking too long!
I'd also add that I'm very strict about my job's working hours. I picked that up from when i was a teacher. I'm in bang on start time and i leave bang on end time. also perhaps the biggest thing is that i don't have kids 🤷‍♀️
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Grant Forrest

10/20/2023, 12:51 AM
I have an 8 month old and a new job, and I've barely touched my core projects. But I found that if I don't overthink it... I'm kind of okay with it. Hopefully I will have time to get around to them again. And if I do get time but have lost interest, cool, I will at that point already be a person who is not interested in them and I can make that ok. On the other hand I've found a few pockets of hours of free time here and there, and I tend to just do whatever seems right at that moment. If it means rest, then rest. But one time I did 4 hours of painting on a whim even though I've only painted like 2 things in my adult life, and it rocked and I'm proud of it despite painting not being near my 'life goals.' Maybe paradoxically my advice is don't invest too much expectation into the time you do get. Try to stay spontaneous wherever you can. Try to bias toward doing the thing you actually want to do at the moment, not always working toward some future achievements. The time may come when all that work will seem worthless but a random painting will bring you joy every day. Too fluffy? Honestly this was me processing some things of my own in real time!
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Ivan Reese

10/20/2023, 1:23 AM
My wife and I have created a very detailed schedule. I have exactly N hours a week to do whatever I want (and my wife also has N hours). But I've found I'm happiest when I spend those hours on "nonproductive" things: playing with my daughter, cleaning, daydreaming, making a special snack, etc. If I spend too much of my free time on things that feel like work (read: anything intellectual), then I end up living in a daze. Buuuut, once every few months, I get the house to myself for an afternoon, or a weekend, and then I cover myself in war paint, unplug every electric device, and play xylophone until my fingers bleed. YMMV.
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alltom

10/20/2023, 1:33 AM
Solidarity, @Mike Austin! I have a job and kids, so I almost never have the time and energy for this. Cheerleading and scattering heart emojis in Slack are the most reliable of my FoC practices.
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Arcade Wise

10/20/2023, 4:22 AM
I personally have horrible time management, but what I do is generally use lunch breaks at school for projects (sadly, literally none of my friends share the same lunch break), and I read in bed for about an hour before I sleep. On my drives to and from school I listen to a shitload of podcasts (in the last year I’ve listened to about 30 days worth lol), so a lot of my “intellectual reading” comes from that
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Eli Mellen

10/20/2023, 8:03 PM
I do not have an answer or trick here. My natural inclination is to have a wildly detailed schedule that details everything…my partner, work, and children don’t agree with this Something I’ve tried to get better about is being able to do a thing in the time allotted, which is often orders of magnitude shorter than I’d ideally have, so, a lot of that effort is to redefine how big a thing is, or how a thing can be chunked.
also, while I pretend to be a computer person, work leaves me so burnt on computers mostly that my real hobbies are crying into books and cooking
cooking is nice because it comes with timers
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Mike Austin

10/20/2023, 8:10 PM
I find precise estimation (by intuition) and/or finishing small tasks are key. I remember being younger and trying to work on many pieces at once. Now, I can spend a few hours on a very specific piece of code and be done with it. I hardly ever leave a coding session open when I go to bed, so I don't need to re-create my mindset on the problem.
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Eli Mellen

10/20/2023, 8:16 PM
oh! I lied! I do have 1 trick: practice thinking about things! This sounds sort of lame, but I do believe it is a skill that can be practiced. I go for a run or a bike most every day. While doing that I think about 1 or 2 things I’m working on, either for hobby stuff or at work so that when it comes time to “do them” I mostly just need to do the like mechanical bit of the task, or have a few experiments to try, or something of that sort. I find this works pretty well for me, and I only trip, fall into holes, or run into trees a few times a month (this may be unrelated to my thinking).
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Grant Forrest

10/20/2023, 8:19 PM
Agreed, you can get a surprising amount of work done purely by thinking carefully when you're able to.
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Mike Austin

10/20/2023, 8:31 PM
I completely agree, and code in my head all the time! It also allows your subconscious to soak in the problem, so you've got your complete mind on it.
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Eli Mellen

10/20/2023, 8:32 PM
what I haven't learned to do yet is to differentiate carefully between "thinking" and "spiraling"
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Chris Maughan

10/20/2023, 9:18 PM
When my kids were young, I got a lot of side projects done on evenings after they were in bed, etc. Now they are grown up and I theoretically have a lot more time, I don't get half as much done; simply because I'm older now, and don't have the energy to work late into the evening! One thing I've always done; practiced the Seinfeld strategy: I do something on my project every single day, without fail. Even if I don't have any time, I'll go in, correct a comment, fix a spelling mistake. But without fail I do something.
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Mike Austin

10/20/2023, 10:45 PM
I like it. I try to apply that to my guitar - even if I only pick it up for a few minutes. Lately I have failed though 😿
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Grant Forrest

10/21/2023, 12:10 AM
"no zero days" is definitely a fantastic way to get a project done even if you have plenty of free time!
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Lu Wilson

10/21/2023, 2:49 AM
reflecting on the other answers in this thread, I realise I do have quite a lot of personal "rules" I follow. like, posting something visual everyday, posting updates every week. it keeps me chugging along. i use a very strict method to form and break habits, but I've never needed it for coding stuff because it feels motivating enough already. one thing that got me going in the first place is: I accepted that I might not be the best or smartest coder in X field. but i might be able to be the most patient. so if i just keep going, for longer than other people, however long that might take, then I'll eventually make something good. it's helped me to see the value in small but consistent doses of work. this isn't advice! but maybe it's interesting to see how other people's cogs work
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Alex McLean

10/21/2023, 10:01 AM
Nice thread! After more or less failing my undergrad degree and 10 years of work as a software engineer (which I did mostly really enjoy) I managed to transition into research where my personal projects around live coding became my job. I got on a part time masters in arts computing (industrial experience standing in for my poor undergrad degree) and then a full time studentship to do a research degree. I became a father at the same time as starting the research degree, the flexible working and on site nursery worked out well. Being a student was amazing but postdoc university life a bit less great in terms of having time to do research. Now I'm still doing full time fundamental research but outside of university, as part of a non profit research studio. Despite the freedom lately I've felt a bit lost and unproductive. I guess it's not just about finding the time but also the energy and direction when you're doing self directed work. I've just started a bullet journal which I hope will introduce more intentionality to my work. I'd be happy to hear of others' experiences with that sort of thing! More generally I think a four day week is a good idea for all involved.
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Maikel

10/21/2023, 12:28 PM
I also have a 4-day work week and spend a large part of the friday and the early weekend mornings on my side-project when possible (I dont have kids but I do have a girlfriend). Furthermore I think about needed solutions/ideas a lot when offline (in the shower, during car drives, just before I go to sleep). I also keep a journal, make a lot of notes and I keep track of a backlog in which I mix actionable items and ideas I want to work on and specify further (I use google keep on my phone). Podcasts I listen to in my car, even on short trips for just a few minutes sometimes. I also wish I had more time to spend on my personal project and a lot of things take a lot of time and accepting that is sometimes hard. I also would like to make more videos about the project. But I currently prioritize working on the project over talking and making videos about it. Not taking it all to seriously helps me sometimes and focus more on having fun.
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Elliot

11/04/2023, 2:09 AM
Writing has really helped me! Whenever I feel like I'm unproductive or lost or like I don't have enough time, I now take that as a cue that I need to write for myself. After writing all my thoughts down and letting my emotions process alongside that, things become a lot clearer. Despite that i spend time writing now, I actually spend more time doing stuff because I don't get lost. Developing a way of talking to yourself is cool. Diagramming languages, making little pieces of art expressing how I'm feeling or the vibe of a technical problem, times of day to write, frequency of writing, etc. whatever it is, I've found that developing my way of talking to myself has helped a lot.
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