Weeknote for 5/23/2021



How to Manage Complex Programs by Tom Kendrick has returned me to my project of treating my life as a business. A program in this context is a set of interrelated projects. Kendrick is writing about corporate programs, but the term pretty much describes my life. And everyone’s life, but especially the way I think about mine. Kendrick’s book makes me feel it’s possible to lay out the whole program of my life and manage it in a coordinated and adaptable way. The idea dovetails nicely with Douglas McCormick’s Family Inc. I’d like to try it and see where it takes me.



I hit a record high in Elastic Habits. When I came back to time blocking, I figured it would lower my habit points because I was fitting all my tasks into a more balanced schedule. I’d have fewer double-Elite days on my projects. But I ended up with 300 points in Thinkulum May, 11 points higher than my previous record in April. It’s another sign to me that my new system is working. Also I’ve been time blocking for four weeks now, and it still feels sustainable.

A recent assignment at work has motivated me to develop my hacky programming skills. I tend to be idealistic about the way I work. I don’t have the most sophisticated coding technique, but it’s what I strive for, and I’ve developed some habits along those lines. Sometimes working that way takes too much time for projects like the one at work that need a short turnaround. But since I’ve already reformed my coding habits to be more idealistic, I have to relearn how to work more simply. My experiment using this assignment was promising.

I’m thinking I’ll incorporate this method into my programming in general as a way to get a rough draft written quickly that I can revise into a more maintainable form afterward, which is pretty much the programming maxim “Make it work, make it right, make it fast.” The techniques will probably end up somewhere in my software development notes.

Work Clean by Dan Charnas gives me a focal point for my productivity experiments. It’s about applying the culinary philosophy of mise-en-place to other settings, especially knowledge work. It’s the approach kitchens take to reach high performance under challenging conditions. Nat Eliason has a summary. I relistened to this book because it fits my current way of life, and I wanted to see what ideas it had that I’m ready to explore.

A few that stood out to me this time were arranging your space for efficient action, finishing what you start (if you’re almost done), immersive vs process tasks (tasks you do yourself vs those you start and let work in the background), and the importance of calm (as opposed to stress and panic). I also appreciated that a cook’s mise-en-place takes decades to develop. The approach embraces incremental learning and innovation rather than imagining perfection can be achieved all at once (or even at all).

Charnas lays out a system similar to GTD, but it includes the scheduling element that to me is a gaping hole in Allen’s method. He also goes in much more depth on the daily review (or Daily Meeze, as Charnas calls it). I’m going to study his system in detail and see what I can do with it.



I’m wrestling with long-term care insurance. Long-term care is expensive, and so is the insurance. Is it worth the premiums? The decision feels complicated and a little distressing. But I’m using it as an exercise in using my problem solving techniques to stay calm and gain a sense of control. I have 10 or 25 years before I’d feel the need to commit anyway. Right now my objective is to determine how much it would cost so I can set a potential savings goal. This week I’ll study opinions from the Bogleheads. But I won’t spend too much time on it, because I want to get to my research on grad school costs.



The storage boxes in my closet are more organized now. I was even able to consolidate some boxes. It’s nice to have my bedroom floor back. An organized closet should make my boxes easier to purge by category when I get to that point. This week, though, I’ll fix my matted microfiber duster and work on listing my old TV for sale.

My cleaning routine is taking shape. Since I have more time on the weekends, I’m cleaning the bathroom on Saturdays and mopping the tile floors on Sundays. I basically clean half the kitchen every day, so I might dedicate a day to it only as needed. This week I’ll try cleaning both the bedroom and living room on the same day. My goal is to give myself extra days for tidying, since that will take way more time than cleaning, and it’s more fun.

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