Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Breath of Life

I mean to write a more technical perspective on this on my technical blog, but for now I'd like to note a more personal perspective on what I'm about to describe.

I have recently started a fresh attempt at a much-needed structured life/professional workflow framework. I had tried (and failed at) this several times from years before, but this time around I have taken a step back and worked in a number of mitigation and resiliency mechanisms to help me cope with my weaknesses - a poorer memory, and any depression-related spells. My past attempts had been ambitious, and done without any self-appreciation in mind. In particular, I'd blame myself if I failed. This time I am more prepared to fail, note details on how and why I failed, and try again. This time there will be no conscious self-blame on my part.

Things have started out well. The workflow is structured around regular daily activities supported by checklists, and an alarm system built around the modern and free online tools of our day - Trello ( for Kanban board styled task tracking and management; Google Calendar to schedule events and the workflow structure itself with automated alarms to help drive the workflow; and Google Drive to host documentation files that help me take notes and create slides - pretty much a free online Office for personal use. Under this workflow, blocks of time are allocated, tasks are assigned with time estimates, and I am able to get a good sense and confidence that I am doing the appropriate things at the appropriate blocks of time without constantly feeling like I am missing something at the back of my mind. The latter was unsurprisingly a source of great stress for me and seriously needed to be mitigated, particularly since I have poor memory and high anxiety issues.

The classic analogy to Life is our breathing. This attempt at a regular and well-paced workflow can be seen as bringing rhythm to my breathing and analogously my life. Prior to this I could be metaphorically thought to be hyperventilating. My challenge moving forward is fault or error recovery - it remains to be seen if my workflow as envisioned can help me recover from disruptions, whether it be from the down time of my depression spells, or from the actions of other people. I would say I am prepared to deal with those challenges.

Meanwhile I hope this entry is interesting or has been useful to some of the readers. I do intend to write something more technical on another blog - covering the details of how the workflow is designed, how I expect it to work, what features of tools are used, and how it can be of help to others. Given my own history, that more technical blog post will be targeted at graduate students who struggle as I had managing my time in what is a highly stressful environment with many ad-hoc (and sometimes even arbitrary) events and tasks.

No comments: