Saturday, 2 April 2016

RAGE Life Logging, Iteration 2 of many, March 2016

Earlier this year I created a model called RAGE, which stands for Reality, Aspirations, Goals, Expectations - a planning model that can be used in all sorts of manner. I'm using it to track my own personal & professional development. I ended up defining just over 20 areas of my life that I need to give time to, had prioritized these "Personas" and set about some goals to achieve for each one. I try to maintain a high level of focus around the top 10 personas, monitoring the rest in between. I am two months down into my tracking, this post shares insights for March 2016.

My goal was to start measuring my time spent in these various areas - either validating or invalidating my instincts. A friend of mine recently challenged me, quite rightfully so "Mo, why are you doing all of this?? Surely you know, deep down instinctively the areas you spending time in and the ones you're not? What did you learn from this data that you didn't know before?"

That is an interesting question indeed. I wanted to measure and quantify the time I'm actually spending against what I instinctively "know" I should be doing. For me, measurement is important because data often highlights interesting insights that we wouldn't have observed, or taken time to reflect - often because of the mental and emotional biases we all have.

One outcome would be that my measurements reflect one-to-one what I always knew; on the other hand, the numbers may just show weaknesses in my own aspirations. Just as you need to measure your progress with your physical fitness / nutritional planning, why wouldn't you want to measure how, where and what you're spending your life doing? Measurement allows you to take corrective action and steer your ship in the direction you'd like. Often we live our lives, day-in, day-out, accepting the routine as a fact-of-life, robbing ourselves of the opportunity to instigate meaningful changes...for me, being able to quantify my life, is helping define the person I want to be, in the next chapter of my life. Soon I'll be in my forties, we never know what's around the corner (quite literally, two weeks back I lost a nephew in a senseless armed robbery, 32 years old - life is cheap in South Africa)...

Am I Crazy??

In my previous post, I posed the question: Am I crazy for doing this stuff? I still maintain, nope I am not, maybe a little OCD, but I am so vested in this now more than ever. Besides, I recently found a massive Quantified Self community online and across the world that are engrossed in this area of personal measurement. So I'm really not alone in this journey :-)) I am going to start my own QuantifiedSelf meetup in Johannesburg this year, in what I hope will be the first of its kind in South Africa. Just take a look at this guy, from a few years back - this guy actually logged his life over a period of 6 years! What more vindication does one need? :-))

March 2016 Insights 01-Mar to 31 Mar (756.77 hours)

I am still using the Harvest Time Keeping App to log my hours, it works beautifully. So March has 31 days, totalling 744 hours, but I've logged a total of 756.77 hours, overshooting by 2% - but still remaining within an overall tolerance of +-4%, which isn't bad. Hours exceed the 24 hour boundary especially when I'm logging sleep, generally try to be in bed by 9PM to get up at 3.30AM...anyway, it's not an exact science. Harvest doesn't cut-off at 24 hour boundary though.
Harvest Raw Data
This is how the top 10 personas were spread:
So in terms of the major streams, my life is still pretty much focused around three core areas: Physical Sleep / Resting, Labour (Working) & Family time. Spirituality is also prominent and in keeping with my earlier realisation that it is across my entire life, and occupies number one position in my persona list.

This month also saw me focusing more on my extended family members, and I'd made some inroads into focusing on my time for progressing new ideas, like Personametry. Spending close to 24 hours, which is 3 full working days, that I spread out from 4AM-6AM weekdays, and a couple of hours weekends. Focusing on this meant my Cycling & Blogging time took a bit of knock, but in the end, I am very pleased with the progress I'm making with my pursuit of new ideas like Personametry.

I am also pleased, but not fully happy yet, that I've focused some energy on making time for quality one-to-one time with my spouse, to the extent that I would like to take a morning off from the work week, just dedicated to this. There's an improvement, but I still could do better. So I've moved out of the red zone ;-)

Progress Tracking & Reflections

I'm now tracking month-by-month, sort of regression tracking progress against my personas - here's the dashboard:

Overall, I'm seeing an improvement - the point is though that it's going to be next to impossible to do justice to every persona each month, so the next step for me is to build in some thresholds and tolerances: What is the conditions for making something Red, Amber or Green - now, I'm using my judgement, instinct and my overall gut-feel for the general state of affairs, however:

It is becoming clear that three personas in particular, one which sits within the Top 10, another close by, and the other almost at the bottom - needs to be revisited. Remember, RAGE is about assessing my current Reality against my Aspirations, Goals & Expectations. What I'm seeing with these three personas, if I recap:
Software Professional Seeking out People for Learning & Growth
As a software professional, I would like to learn & grow, 
seek out individuals, companies and interactions, to reach heights of 
excellence, so that I can not only enjoy the profession, but take me to new 
opportunities & experiences. I want to surround myself with people that 
 motivate me, journey together to grow to the next level.
Potential [Company] Employee Permanent Employment, exit Consulting
As a potential Employee, I would like to attain a senior management position 
in an area I can add value, so that I build my career & increase my network 
profile (in line with my aspiration of finding awesomeness).
Programmer Programming - Software Development
As someone who used to enjoy coding (and was quite good at it), I need to 
keep my technical skills fresh, so that a) I don't become a dinosaur and 
b) to enjoy the feeling of creativity again, 
c) so I maintain my closeness to technology streams.

The reality is:

  • Getting a permanent job with a company is a nice aspiration, but I am not actively doing anything in this area. I've not updated my CVs, neither am I actively looking for jobs. With my interest into Personametry and focus on family, currently the status quo seems to suit me just fine - although because this is my RAGE experiment, I need to decide if this persona even belongs on the list, or re-prioritize. This doesn't mean I'm not interested in entertaining the idea of a new job, I'm just not actively looking, hence it probably should be like ranked 22.
  • Being a Software Professional, especially with my aspiration of networking with people - has been very difficult and challenging. Mostly because this requires me to dedicate evening and weekend time to attend meetups. I've signed up for meetups, but couldn't attend any (either working late, conflicts with kids school runs, or I'm not in the mood). Time for a reality check, or set some softer targets. I have worked with really bright individuals in the past, with engineers that invented stuff, were on the board of standards committees, that could speak about compilers & memory optimisations, kernel & networking inner core stuff...I miss those interactions, and because my work is around general program management, I'm not close to the mettle like before...Reality is, if this is important to me, then I should get off my lazy arse and attend the meetups, lean coffees, et cetera!
  • Programmer / Coding - Recently, I described being a coder to an engineer who was thinking to leave coding and get into management, as a kind of love-hate affair, you don't fully get over it, the force of attraction is still strong, but due to time, skills and focus in other areas, getting time to code just doesn't happen. I was a very good, competent coder, I wrote great code...but that was more than 8 years ago. I still subscribe to the ACM journal of computing, I read papers, I keep-up-to-date with trends, but realistically, with all my interest into new product ideas, startups, management & strategy - I just haven't had time to code. I've downloaded SDKs, source code for game engines...but nothing. Maybe the open source tools around Personametry might light a spark, but it seems I gotta let this one go. Lets see how I get on by June...

Where to from Here?

As I write this blog, I've spent an hour & 45 minutes of my time dedicated to this blog session (it's saturday morning, eating into my cycle time). Was it a waste of my time?? This is my hobby, quantifying myself is my new passion.

In fact, this week I've started testing out my Personametry ideas on myself. I wear a Heart Rate Monitor, strapped to my chest all day (even slept with it last night but that was too uncomfortable). My goal is to measure my Heart Rate Variability for April. With this I can then draw a picture of the times I was relaxed (like writing this blog), or times of stress (example, when I'm in a project meeting with difficult stakeholders to manage), or driving (driving in Johannesburg is crazy, but I found a way to mentally tune out of the rush and drive the speed limit all the time)...

I am using a Wahoo TickrX HRM and Android App EliteHRV to track my measurements...

Whoever read this far, it means you are interested in this topic as much as I am. I believe this is the future: reaching a state of self-awareness, through tracking your personal data...this is going to be a hot topic by 2020 ;-)

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