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Here's one way to cure procrastination

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Writing is something I enjoy doing, , but to be very candid, it is hard for me to sit down and start writing. It’s the same feeling I have about working out, for example, love the feeling while exercising and then after when I’m done, but it isn’t easy to start an exercise routine; starting is what’s difficult for me. Does that happen to you? Well, it happens to me, and one word for it is procrastination.

Procrastination is something that happens to everyone, we know we need to do certain things, but we push them to the back-burner until that decision comes to burn us one day. Why do we do this? Why do we procrastinate?

As procrastination builds, it can start to affect us severely. For example, I’ve missed several flights, hotel reservations, tax returns, and a lot of money due to this by procrastinating. Since wasting money is not enjoyable, I had to change my ways so one day I sat down and decided to do something about it – hey, at least I didn’t procrastinate on that!

The Plan

The first step of my plan involved finding and installing popular to-do apps like Todoist, Microsoft To Do, Wunderlist, etc. and while some of these apps are well designed and helpful (I still use Microsoft To Do for simple items), I continued to procrastinate. Then I tried writing these tasks using pen and paper, it didn’t work either, but at least I now own a neat journal and beautiful and inexpensive pens from Muji which I use for other things. I’ll share more about that on another post.

After these two failures, and thinking about it retrospectively, a moment of clarification appeared and a new idea was born. That process alone helped me figure out an important truth, I wasn’t giving these tasks the priority that they deserved. You see, I had it all wrong, I was attempting to create a to-do list but what I really needed was a dislike-but-still-need-to-do-it list. What’s the difference you might ask? Keep on reading dear friend, you’ll soon find out.

With this information in mind, I decided to experiment. What if I treated my other tasks with a higher priority and added them to a dislike-but-still-need-to-do-it list? The initial idea was to create this list in a spreadsheet and include a column listing the specific consequences of not getting these things done. It’s very innovative, I know.

The dislike-but-still-need-to-do-it list included items like the following:

  • Apply for the Nexus program for my kids
  • Replace car’s headlamps with new ones I already bought
  • Other personal items I do not care to list because they are for me and not for you dear reader.

These are a few items that I have been dragging for months, and I know they are important, but can’t get myself to remember them enough to do them. These items were the first ones that I added to my dislike-but-still-need-to-do-it list along with the consequences, and it looked like this:

To-doConsequences
Apply for the Nexus program for my kidsBecause if I don’t, the next time we travel to Canada we could end up waiting in line at the border for a long time as we did last time.
Replace car’s headlamps with new ones I already boughtBecause if I don’t, the driving visibility at night will not improve and then I might have to deal with more serious consequences.

Great, now I have a list of things I don’t want to do with a fearful description of what could happen if I don’t do it. Perfect? Not quite.

A better plan

While this was a bit more motivating than just have a simple to-do list, it still wasn’t enough. To keep these items top of mind, I decided to list a few benefits gained if I did these things; I am not driven by fear, so listing the consequences wasn’t enough for me.

To-doConsequencesBenefit
Apply for the Nexus program for my kidsBecause if I don’t, the next time we travel to Canada we could end up waiting in line at the border for a long time as we did last time.Reducing time by using Nexus or Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States. Saves a lot of time.
Replace car’s headlamps with new ones I already boughtBecause if I don’t, the driving visibility at night will not improve and then I might have to deal with more serious consequences.Increased night visibility.
The car looks better.
Increase car’s re-sell value.

Ta-da! At first look I was excited, I really thought I had it, in fact, just writing the benefits and negative consequences motivated me to the point I wanted to take care of these things as I was adding them to this dislike-but-still-need-to-do-it list. But after looking at it for a few minutes, I noticed something wrong, something very wrong in fact that I almost ditched the whole idea right away.

In my attempt to prioritize and motivate myself to do these things, I spent a great deal of time writing a lot of words to convince myself that this was a good idea, but it wasn’t. Some of the items in this list could have taken me only 5 minutes to complete, and instead of getting them done, I spent a great deal of time thinking and writing about the consequences and the benefits of getting them done. Fail. Big fail. Huge fail. So what now?

I really liked the list and how it made me feel, but I couldn’t possibly maintain such a to-do list with so much detail describing consequences and benefits because that wasn’t going to scale. If you want to stop procrastinating, you have to lower or remove all barriers between you and what you want to get done.

What can be changed? I asked myself, what if I removed the consequences column, shortened the contents of the benefits column, and added a due date, after all, what’s a to-do list without a due date right? After those changes, the dislike-but-still-need-to-do-it list looked like this:

To-doBenefitDue date
Apply for the Nexus program for my kidsSaves a lot of time when entering the country.2/1/2020
Replace car’s headlamps with new ones I already boughtIncreased night visibility and car’s re-sell value.2/1/2020

Finally, a to-do list that is informative and manageable. It requires enough effort that keeps items top of mind by reminding me about the benefits of getting them done. Does it work? Only time will tell. So far I have been using this version of the list for almost a month, and since then many items have been completed, it seems to be working.

Conclusion

When going through the process of creating the dislike-but-still-need-to-do-it list list I learned something about myself I didn’t know. I’m driven and motivated by the potential benefits than by fear, knowing about a positive outcome moves me more than knowing the negative consequences of not doing something. I didn’t know this about myself. The process of writing the benefits along with my to-do items takes a little more time, but this extra time is well spent as it helps me understand better the reason I need to do it.

That’s it folks, hope that my experience with my dislike-but-still-need-to-do-it list helps some of you as it helped me to cure the procrastination and get more things done. Cheers.

My favorite writing apps

I recently spent some time trying to find the right writing app, I ran across many of them, and while a few were very good, it wasn’t until I ran across the Bear app that I decided to stop looking.

This app makes writing enjoyable to write, and how is that you ask? Well, it has a clean interface, a not-distraction mode, markdown syntax support, and many other features such as multiple options to share, export, etc.

I have tried other writing apps before, for example, before discovering Bear I was using iA Writer, another excellent writing app. While I still use iWriter when I’m on my iMac, I started using the Bear app because it has free versions for both macOS and iOS. iA Writer supports not only Apple operating systems, but also Windows and Android, and while they offer free trials, iA Writer doesn’t have free versions. I’d gladly pay for the software I use, that’s why I paid for iA Writer for my iMac.

Other Writing Apps and Tools

Another writing tool I use every day is Grammarly, their web interface is pretty good; it is fast and clean. I started using Grammarly out of necessity since English is my second language, a tool to help me fix grammar errors, and the like is something necessary. Grammarly also offers a keyboard for iOS and a browser plugin, but in my opinion, none of those work as well as the web version. Grammarly web is an excellent tool to check your writing, but as of now, it isn’t as good as the Bear app or iA Writer for writing.

WordPress is another place where a lot of my writing takes place, and until recently, their blog post editor was my primary writing editor. I use WordPress for blogging, and their editor has improved quite a bit. It’s a good text editor, it also supports markdown, which I appreciate, but it lacks some of the features the other two writing apps have. For example, the WordPress text editor is great for writing content for your blog, but it is not mean to be used for writing and then exporting your text.

What about MS Word and Google Docs? Well, I use those too, and while they are great for general note-taking or long-form writing, their interface feels dated, and unless you take time to remove some options, the editor will be very busy, it’s not a great writing experience. Other tools I use to take notes and to write ideas are OneNote, DayOne, both awesome apps but not for general writing.  

The ideal writing app

It’s not a surprise that the perfect writing app would be, at least for me, an app that combines the best of the apps I enjoy using for writing. The ideal writing app for me would be one that incorporates the following:

 • The clean design and the distraction-free environment of iA Writer

 • The export features, smart data recognition, rich keyboard shortcuts of the Bear app

 • The AI-powered writing assistance of Grammarly,

Now, if we can combine all of those things into one application, it would be a very valuable application to me and many other writers. B

What’s your ideal writing app? Are there any other apps you use and enjoy? 

A simple change to my morning routine

Photo of ocean

There are many ideas and tips out there to help you become more productive and content about the work you do every day. I’ve read many books on the subject, many articles, blog posts, listened to podcasts, etc.

As you can imagine, many things in life can alter your productivity and the way you feel about yourself. With this post, I am not trying to list them all here or give you the ultimate advice about this. Instead, I want to share a simple change in my morning routine that so far, it’s working for me.

Wake up early and train your body to do it without an alarm.

This is an obvious thing to do if you want your day to last you longer. And it isn’t Just about waking up early, but In addition, to change the activities that we do after we wake up. I’ve heard about the idea of waking up at 4 in the morning, I applaud those who can do it, but that’s not me. My ideal wake up time is between 6 and 7 am.

Lately, I’ve been training myself to wake up around 6am but without the help of an alarm. I am doing this because waking up to the terrible and loud sound of a wake up alarm is not fun, and it causes me to feel anxiety just by listening to the terrible sound of my phone’s alarm.

This is what I’ve been doing, I set my alarm with a very soft sound that starts at a low volume level, and the sound increases consistently until it wakes me up. This alarm sound is very soft, even when louder, so it doesn’t make me jump out of bed as my previous alarm sound did.

In the past two weeks, my body has been adjusting to the softer sound, and slowly but surely, I’ve been waking up around 6 am, most days before the alarm goes off.

Drink water and then read for 15 to 30 minutes.

For many years, I’ve spent the first 20-30 minutes of every morning, reading social media posts and email with my phone. Another important bad habit I recently eliminated was to drink two cups of coffee or more, before drinking any water. It was bad.

Today I wake up without looking at my phone, then proceed to have at least one cup of water, and then I open my kindle and read for several minutes. After that, I shower, and then I have my first cup of coffee, a delicious, hot cup of java. In this new morning routine, my phone no longer plays an essential part of my morning, it is empowering.

Reading and drinking water before I look at my phone or computer makes me feel not only happier, but also more present and with more energy to start the day. It makes sense, the water hydrates me, and the reading stimulates my mind. Subsequently, avoiding looking at email and social media eliminates any negative feelings or anxiety.

This is not the first time I try to improve my morning routine, a few years ago I tried journaling every morning, it was the first thing I’ll do but the problem was, I used my computer to do it so opening a social media website was very easy and so I did it often.

Because of that I found journaling challenging, and so it wasn’t enjoyable. The easy access to social media sites in my computer while journaling caused me to fall into my bad habits again, undermining my efforts to avoid looking at my phone first thing every morning.

This time is different, I feel it, reading every morning is delightful to me and like I said above, having that cup of water after in the morning and before any coffee gives me the energy and concentration my body requires to do some reading every morning. It also puts me in a good state of mind to start my day.

Reading a book gives me clarity of mind and a blank palette to start my day. This is important because when I was waking up and reading social media posts, or email, it affected my state of mind, it made me feel stressed, or sad, or anxious about things that didn’t have any relation to my day.

A simple change to my morning routine with these small changes has resulted in a significant positive return. Since my morning routine change took place, my professional work output has increased, I fell less rushed every morning, and just feel more content with myself and the world around me.

Cheers.

Cómo consumir libros mientras caminas, manejas o lavas los platos. Una pista: audiolibros.

Books wrapped by headphones

La cuestión es que, por mucho que se disfrute leyendo libros de papel y también libros en el Kindle, es casi imposible y muy irresponsable hacerlo mientras caminas, lavas los platos o conduces tu automóvil, realmente no es seguro ni conveniente. Ahora, he sabido sobre audiolibros por un tiempo, pero por alguna razón, no había probado estos hasta hace poco. Sin embargo, escuchar podcasts mientras conduzco, camino, o lavo los platos, es algo que he estado haciendo durante mucho tiempo. Escuchar audio mientras realizas otras actividades físicas o muy repetitivas no solo es posible, sino que también es agradable, y sí, realmente lavo los platos a mano en casa para poder escuchar podcasts y audiolibros.

Los audiolibros cruzaron mi vida durante un viaje por carretera a Florida el año pasado, cuando experimenté escuchar un audiolibro de principio a fin mientras conducía durante varias horas desde Texas a Florida.

El audiolibro fue “Becoming” por Michelle Obama, mi esposa me había pedido que lo comprara, así que terminamos escuchándolo durante este viaje por carretera. El libro fue largo pero muy entretenido y emocionante, en general fue genial. Aprendimos mucho sobre Michelle Obama, y ​​también sobre su esposo, el presidente Obama. Pero lo que más me sorprendió fue que el formato de audio era realmente fácil de seguir, realmente lo disfrutamos. Y esto es todo lo que necesite para engancharme con los audiolibros.

Lo siguiente que hice después de eso fue comprar otro libro, Sapiens. De animales a dioses: Una breve historia de la humanidad por Yuval Noah Harari, este es un libro que quería leer desde hace ya un tiempo y desde que supe que iba a conducir desde Austin, TX a Seattle, WA, pensé que sería una excelente manera de pasar las horas manejando, escuchando este libro. Lo fue, y ahora es uno de mis libros favoritos que he escuchado o leído en este año, hasta la fecha.

Lo que pasa con los audiolibros es que, aunque no están tan pulidos como los podcasts, son una muy buena manera de consumir libros, especialmente si no puedes encontrar el tiempo para sentarte y leer. Ahora, para mí, los audiolibros no son un reemplazo de los libros en papel o Kindle, pero definitivamente son una opción cuando quieres consumir un libro mientras haces una actividad donde la lectura no es una opción.

Al final, lo que recomiendo es que consumas más libros, en forma de audio, o leyéndolos, no importa, simplemente hazlo. Elimina todas las barreras que te impiden aprender y descubrir cosas nuevas comúnmente ocultas en libros y/o audiolibros.

Recientemente escribí sobre cómo la lectura te ayuda a encontrar el éxito, la publicación está en español, pero puedes traducirla fácilmente o esperar hasta que publique una versión en inglés. Ve a leer y a escuchar más.

Anuncio: Pruebe Audible y obtenga dos audiolibros gratis

How to consume books while hiking, driving, or washing dishes. Hint: Audiobooks.

Books wrapped by headphones

The thing is, as much as I enjoy reading paper books and also books in my kindle, it’s nearly impossible and highly irresponsible to do it while walking, washing dishes, or driving, it really isn’t safe. Now, I’ve known about Audible for a while, but for some reason, just never tried it until recently. However, listening to podcasts while driving, running, hiking, washing dishes, etc. it’s something I’ve been doing for a while now. Listening to audio while doing other physical or very repetitive activities is not only possible but enjoyable, and yes, I really do wash dishes just so I can listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

Audiobooks crossed my life recently, it was during a road trip to Florida last year when I experienced listening to an audiobook from beginning to end while driving for several hours from Texas to Florida.

The audiobook was Becoming by Michelle Obama, my wife had asked me to buy it, and so we ended up listening to it during this road trip. The book was long but very entertaining and exciting, it was great overall. We learned a lot about Michelle Obama, and also her husband, President Obama. But what it surprised me the most, it was the audio format was actually easy to follow, We truly enjoyed it. And this is all it took to be hooked to audiobooks.

The next thing I did after that was to buy another book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, which I’ve wanted to read for a while and since I knew I was about to drive from Austin, TX to Seattle, WA, I thought it would be a great way to consume this book. It was, and it is now one of my favorite books I’ve listened to or read this year so far.

The thing with audiobooks is that, while they aren’t as polished as podcasts, they are a pretty good way to consume books, especially if you can’t find the time to sit and read. Now, for me, audiobooks aren’t a replacement of paper or kindle books, but they are definitely an option when you want to consume a book while doing an activity where reading isn’t an option.

Ad: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

In the end, whichever way you find more sustainable and entertaining for you to consume books, just do it. Eliminate all the barriers that are preventing you from learning and discovering new things usually hidden in books/audiobooks. I recently wrote about how reading help you find success, the post is in Spanish, but you can easily translate it or wait until I post an English version of it. Go read/listen more. Cheers.

¿Quieres tener más éxito? Lee más.

library

¿Saben una cosa? En toda mi vida nunca he conocido a una persona con éxito financiero que no lee en abundancia. Leer te ayuda a tener un conocimiento amplio de la vida, de los negocios, de la ciencia, y cualquier otro tópico que leas. En mí opinión, si quieres tener éxito, tienes que aprender a leer en abundancia y con gusto.

Una forma fácil de hacer esto es leer cualquier cosa que sea de tu interés, si lees sobre algo que te guste, le encontraras el gusto a la lectura y con tiempo leerás sobre una variedad amplia de tópicos, y con gusto.

La lectura también amplia tu vocabulario, y te ayuda a entender y a obtener puntos de vista distintos y variados. Las personas que leen normalmente tienen una mente más abierta y no pierden tiempo en discusiones innecesarias. El conocimiento adquirido por la lectura te ayuda a entender otros puntos de vista, y te da la habilidad de discutirlos con inteligencia, sin enojarte.

Además, leer puede ser muy placentero y excitante, una vez que adquieras el gusto por la lectura, te sorprenderás de ese mundo tan interesante y misterioso que puedes encontrar en muchos libros.

Ad:

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¿Quieres aumentar tu sueldo más de 50%? Busca trabajo en otra empresa.

En todos los años que tengo trabajando como programador o desarrollador de software, los mejores aumentos los he recibido cuando he cambiado de trabajo. Así es, y no me refiero a un cambio de posición en la misma empresa, me refiero a cambiar de empresa a una posición similar o mejor.

El problema con esperar un aumento de sueldo substancial en la misma empresa es que no es algo común. ¿Es posible? Claro que lo es, pero significaría un cambio drástico en tu posición para entrar a una categoría de sueldo diferente en la empresa.

En los últimos 20 años, cada cambio de trabajo con una empresa diferente ha significado un aumento de sueldo muy bueno. Por ejemplo, cuando obtuve mi segundo trabajo de programador, mi sueldo era aproximadamente $50K al año. Después de cambiar de empresa, en una posición similar mi sueldo aumento a aproximadamente $65K. Un par de meses después, y cansado de manejar por más de una hora de ida al trabajo y una hora de regreso, busque otro trabajo más cerca de casa y lo encontré. En este nuevo trabajo pude negociar un sueldo de $80K al año.

En el verano del 2005, pude lograr un aumento de sueldo de $30K, un aumento de sueldo de 60%, en solo 2 meses. Anterior a esto, mi aumento más grande había sido siempre de un 2-3% al año.

Durante 3 años, mi sueldo no cambio mucho, pero como me gustaba mucho mi trabajo, nunca me importo. Además, ganando $80K era todavía como un sueño para mí en esos años. Alrededor del 2008 perdí mi trabajo debido a varias cosas, pero principalmente, fue debido a la recesión que sufrimos en el 2008.

Para fines del 2009, y después de buscar un nuevo trabajo por fin encontré uno, un poco lejos de casa pero el sueldo era de $85K y sin pensarlo más, acepte la oferta. Después de unos meses, me ofrecieron otro trabajo que estaba más cerca de casa, tome la entrevista y acepte el trabajo con un sueldo de $90K.

Cuando estábamos a punto de entrar al año 2011, me contacto una empresa por medio de LinkedIn, era para trabajar en una empresa con oficinas en el centro de Austin, TX, una área en la que siempre había querido trabajar, y además me ofrecían acciones de la empresa ya que la empresa tenia planes de hacerse publica en los próximos meses.

En ese entonces, sabia que eran las acciones pero no tenia idea de cómo me beneficiarían, acepte el trabajo con un sueldo de $105K y las acciones. En ese entonces, recuerdo lo feliz que estaba de haber alcanzado un sueldo de seis figuras¡ Imaginate, solo 5 años atrás, ganaba solo la mitad por año. Lo que no sabia, es que una vez que la empresa se hiciera publica y las acciones obtuvieran un valor real, mi compensación por año seria mucho más de los $105K que me ofrecían de sueldo.

Pasaron unos años más, cuatro para ser exactos, y aun cuando este trabajo fue algo que disfrutaba mucho, ya necesitaba un cambio. Pase un par de meses pensando en cuál seria mi próximo trabajo, aplique para varias empresas, incluyendo unas muy grandes y reconocidas como Amazon y Microsoft. Obtuve entrevistas, vuelos y otros gastos pagados para ir a entrevistarme con Microsoft, pero no fue hasta después de un par de meses que me contactaron de una empresa localizada en Chicago. Esta empresa me ofrecía un trabajo remoto, un trabajo en donde yo estaría trabajando desde casa todo el tiempo. Acepte.

Hasta la fecha de hoy sigo trabajando en esta empresa, ya tengo un par de años aquí y he estado trabajando desde casa desde entonces. Esto me ha dado mucha flexibilidad a mi familia y a mí para viajar por el mundo. No les voy a compartir los detalles de mi sueldo pero como les digo, los mejores aumentos siempre han sido cuando cambio de trabajo.

He aprendido que trabajar en el mismo lugar tiene sus beneficios, pero también puede limitar tu habilidad de aumentar no solo tu sueldo, pero tu compensación en general. También, trabajar en un mismo lugar por mucho tiempo limita tu oportunidad de aprender, a menos que trabajes para una empresa en donde puedes cambiar de posición constantemente y avanzar en tu profesión.

En lo personal, trabajar de 3 a 5 años para una misma empresa es un buen tiempo para maximizar tu sueldo y aprender cosas nuevas. Después de este periodo, no es mala idea buscar por nuevas oportunidades. Claro, siempre existen excepciones y razones validas para quedarse en un trabajo. Pero si maximizar la cantidad de sueldo y aprendizaje es algo que te interesa, no te quedes en un mismo trabajo, pon ojo a las oportunidades que existen y trata de conseguir tu nuevo trabajo sin dejar el que tienes.

El dinero no lo es todo en la vida, creo que la mayoría de nosotros entendemos y aceptamos eso. Pero si eres joven y estas tratando de ascender en tu profesión, no tengas miedo al cambio, busca las mejores oportunidades para ti, y aprende a buscar trabajos que no solo te ofrecen buenos sueldos pero también otras cosas que a veces pueden tener más valor monetario, como las acciones, programas de retiro, entre otras cosas.

Feliz fin de semana.

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