Four Years of Sabbatical, and Counting…

A Random Note

It’s been more than four years (I reckon), way more than what I had planned as a vacation from blogging, and now it’s so very difficult to start again. So here goes, I decided to write again, and thought of making public what I’d be writing on, so at least the pressure starts to build up. Last four years have been very interesting for me, I tried new things, built a lot of new ideas, read a ton, travelled a lot. So by that account, I have now a critical mass of authentic and spontaneous stories to tell.

This post is just to get me started on the computer key-board for long-form writing, back from pen and paper, and also to list down what all topics I’d be writing on during this year…

  • Advaita Vedanta
  • Linguistics
  • Semiotics
  • Start-up Adventures
  • Technology
  • Literature & Arts
  • Sustainable Living & Environment
  • Philosophy
  • Travel
  • Science (Mathematics and Physics)

I intend to keep my word with myself and make quality time regularly to tell some really interesting and compelling stories, I don’t have any excuse here either, because four years, as a leave of absence, is really something… Something indeed!

To Life!

Work-Life Week 2 & 3 Log

And here it goes again, it’s Deepawali day (India’s biggest festival, also called festival of lights), and I finally managed to carve out time to log the last stage of my experiment.

I’d be brief about the observation part as the sound pollution is getting on my nerves rather fast. The last two weeks were hectic, from every front, and the results were almost-wonderful, I worked like crazy, had fun crazier, and my family life wasn’t better… like ever.

I managed to take 3 days easy, for my personal use, out of 11 – which is not bad. Managed to finish off major code piece, and was able to travel too (official though ;-)) without letting the day-job’s responsibilities suffer.

The distribution was as follows:

Hit:
– Productivity up by 4% W/W
– Productivity up by 3% overall
– Physical activity up by 8% by dint of taking the walk route to the office
– Spent 20% time with family (unfair, as a lot of it was due to festivals during last 2 weeks)
– I was able to skip more un-useful meetings, and it didn’t hurt

Miss:
– (massive) had to drop out of the coursera courses
– missed hackerrank 101 totally, as I was traveling (couldn’t do much)
– Productivity, though increased, didn’t translate in quality code as much as I’d have liked it to
– Didn’t write enough (this blog is just another proof)
– Daily walk to the office, was used sometimes as an excuse to skip a round or two of work-out

Same-old:
– Yoga practice resumed, however, urge to discontinue is cropping up again 😦 I hope I’d be able to overcome it
– LoC produced remained roughly the same over the weeks, it also means that priorities were a bit off
– Jogging, still on the shelf due to fear of stray dogs in the morning hours of Indian streets (esp. during Monsoons ;-))

General inference would be that when I was busy like a dog, I used to manage time better, however, it did take a toll on my body-clock. This’ll mean that what I gained in a particular week, lost on some other front during the next. It’s a precarious balance to keep… This same thing can be extended to life, weeks turn into months or years, or even decades, the choice is ours to make – what we wish to gain, and are ready to trade in i.e.

What I loved the most during these four weeks? Well, when I solved a tricky problem, when I read something that I really wanted to, when I was with the one I love etc. the list has one commonality – you can call it work, life or whatever, it ultimately ends up with you. Work becomes life when you aren’t careful, vice versa for life. Less said, the better, but what we need to know is that experiences need to be transformed into life lessons almost instantaneously in this digital age, otherwise, everything flies.

To life! Happy Deepawali!

PS:

Shameful attack on Canadian parliament condemned in the strongest possible words.

Sarita Devi’s ban from IBA condemned, it’s unfortunate, ill-timed, and awfully highhanded to say the least.

Congress party, left/left-of-centre media’s critiques and other anti-BJP parties’ routinely puerile attacks on anything that the Indian PM does, are losing their headline value, they need to reinvent on the ground to be of any relevance, words aren’t making them look any better than the election results have shown during last 6 months.

Work-Life Week 1 Log

Things are getting increasingly difficult, especially the part where I have to jot down time spent on each of the categories and then feed it into the erratic database schema, which by the way looks like having a lot of scope for redesign. There were many pluses and minuses, and same-old kind of stuff during last 7-8 days. Let’s take a glimpse on hits and misses:

Hit:

  • Productivity up by 17% day over day
  • Physical activity up 6%
  • 172 LoC up for 5-day WoW comparison
  • Finished one book, 200+ pages, non fiction
  • Spent 9% of time purely with family, up 1% from week 0
  • Less time spent on ideation, down to 12% of total workbench time, doesn’t include meetings

Miss:

  • Couldn’t submit coursera homework in time despite wanting to do so
  • Preparation for hackerrank 101 hack September ’14 is almost nil, indicating that there’s still much scope on planning the hits
  • Sleep time reduced to 5 h 18 m, down 42 minutes from week 0 (again indicating that much can be improved)
  • Looking at the above, there can be clear rift between productivity and efficiency, what I think is gained in productivity, can be stealing time from other activities, let’s look ahead towards week 2

Same old:

  • Necessary waste like office meetings were not less than week 0, in fact they increased both in numbers, odd hours of occurrence, and duration
  • 13 No.s, 1 full day event, 5 late night tele/video conferences of 1+ hour duration, here the hits look more glorious, and misses less glaring 🙂
  • Sluggish pace of paper trail, as ever, may be due to programmer’s block (just 3 papers this week, down 1 from week 0)
  • Couldn’t restart Yoga practice that was halted due to an injury [red flag]

U2’s latest album was distributed free of charge via iTunes, many didn’t like it, I definitely did, those who are calling it a marketing disaster, are wrong, don’t ask me why.

India’s MangalYaan (Mars-Craft) successfully entered Martian orbit, making India the first country to have achieved this feat in first attempt, as much as it’s a proud moment for every Indian, it’s the moment of introspection for the skeptics and critics of India’s space ambitions alike. The world would do better to treat Indian science’s prowess with that bit more of respect. If they think the time is not yet arrived, well, just you wait!

Work-Life Week 0 Log

Parameters & methods defined, expectations set and experiment started.

We’re going to record activities under categories namely ‘core’ work (I program, but to keep it generic, we’ll call it ‘core’), ‘ancillary’ work (anything that can be clubbed as necessary part of job that helps in keeping things tidy), ‘life’ (family related activities, quality time), ‘fitness’ (should be a part of life itself, however, in our world, it’s a big achievement to carve out time for physical well being, so we’ll treat it special), waste-n (‘n’ for necessary), waste-v (‘v’ for voluntary).

Methodology to log time is a mix of old world with high tech. – simple pocket diary with the help of apps like time-keeper on machine (mac/pc) or stop-watch on cellular phone at the end of each hour. At the end of each day, all the time logged under respective heads is simply populated to the database for trending in the long run.

Later we’ll try to have some form of aggregation built up from hour to day to week, and possibly to the month for a particle period of day for comparative analysis.

First few days have been eye openers to say the least, in a way, they’ve broken lot of notions regarding our time utilisation patterns. At times I’ve been pleasantly surprised too regarding my focus towards core, sometimes I found what and how bad a programmer’s block can be (numbers would take some time to come, as I don’t know yet which category the effort towards it would go to 😉 ) – worst part is that last 4 days haven’t crossed 90 minutes of fitness in total, ouch! – now the question is, would it not be recalibration of activities if I try to rectify the normal schedule by this feedback mechanism.

Interesting thing building up I’d say.

To life!

Work-Life

After struggling with this question (rather an alien one to me personally) of work vs. life, I’ve decided to fathom how long typical “work” life lasts every day, thinking about “life” would make that much sense afterwards. So far there’s not been many quantifiable metrics published that fits my case – so I thought this’ll be one interesting thing to measure.

I’ll be measuring the total time I spend each day on core “work”, “life”, chores, necessary waste, survival, junk and many more such categories for the next 30 days.

The major challenge would be to not get swayed by the public nature of this study as well as not let the temptation to tinker the data just to make it look more palatable/politically correct (if you will) get better of me 🙂

But that’s where my training as a researcher would hold me good I reckon!

More on this in the coming days.