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Organizing Your Day by Creating Daily Themes

Travis

Travis

Front End Engineer

I like to test various methods for organizing my life and getting myself together. I've done numerous options, from scheduling every hour of every day to picking top 3 "must-dos" and carrying over incomplete work to the next day etc. I recently took a trip to New Mexico to visit family and see my brother-in-law graduate. This forced me to step away from tech and the computer and working on projects and such quite more than I have done before, and it was nice. It allowed me to decompress and recenter, come back to who I am at my core.

While I was there I thought "Why not apply to some jobs in Albuquerque." It would move my wife and I out of Mississippi, closer to her parents to help them out for a while. I'd love to help them more. They work extremely hard to provide for them, and still offer what help they can with us. They're amazing people, but they're getting older. It's rough seeing them both work demanding jobs just to provide for them and my brother-in-law. They took me in with open arms and accepted me to the family as one of their own, and I appreciate them for it. I'd love to give back. I'd love to be able to put them in to a comfortable house and limit the amount of work they need to do just to survive. So, that's the goal now. I ended up taking an impromptu interview while there with a company, which seems to have some potential (fingers crossed!) Aside from that, I realized I need to get back to who I am. A few things crossed my mind on this.

I am an artist at heart#

Growing up, while I've enjoyed dabbling in the tech world, playing video games, taking electronics apart to better understand how they work, then putting them back together to see if I could remember how it went and hope it worked aftwerwards, I spent a lot of time doing a few particular things. This included:

  • Drawing/Painting/Crafting - I enjoyed drawing in particular, but also really had fun crafting. As I've grown up I've come to appreciate the process of painting, though I haven't touched a paint brush in years. My entire childhood worked around drawing in particular. During class while zoning out from lectures, to art classes in high school. I want to dive back in to it. I'd love to get in to digital art as well as painting.
  • Music - Growing up, I loved guitar and singing. I was a shy kid, but I enjoyed doing both. I sang loudly (and terribly) in private, but my voice would faulter and I'd quiet down a lot if people were around. Still true to this day. I blame my wife! Kidding, slightly. We love road trips. We always play songs loud and sing along to them. My wife has a habit of singling me out, encouraging me to sing, and I do, but little things she says or does makes it awkward and I find myself shutting down again. So I still sing loudly (and less terribly) in private. I'd love to build on that skill and one day have the courage to sing in front of others. I will commit more time to singing and playing guitar, and some day when I have the space, a piano as well. I absolutely love to play the piano.

With my love for these areas, I know I can focus much better when drawing or painting, playing guitar or singing. I can put so much effort in to it, "get in the zone" and do a lot within a day in these areas. I've never been one for the "business life" or the typical 9-5. I can do the work if necessary, and if all goes well with this particular company, I'll be happy to do it as I thoroughly enjoy the cause they are working on. It's interesting, unique in its own way, and offers a chance at gaining more knowledge. I can suck up 9-5 for those perks! But outside of that, I can't do it, and I hope to one day get to a point that I don't need to.

There are other various outlets in the artists' world I fully enjoy, but these two areas in particular encapsulate a large portion of it.

Organization#

I love to improve on organizing. I'm quite terrible at it for myself, but excel at organizing others and their schedules. I need to improve it for myself. With that, I want to try something I'd recently come across, which is Daily Themes. The idea is to schedule each day around one particular theme, nothing more. I feel like this will help me balance my work load and prevent burnout from coming up as quickly. In my previous article discussing my planned schedule, I committed a lot of hours to various areas and... it didn't work out. My brain just can't grasp working on a schedule that way for myself.

The Daily Theme schedule will be something along the lines of:

  • Sunday - Daily Theme: Planning the week's daily themes.
  • Monday - Daily Theme: Job Applications, Networking, Updates.
  • Tuesday - Daily Theme: Guitar Practice.
  • Wednesday - Daily Theme: Web Dev Project.
  • Thursday - Daily Theme: Freelance Marketing/Client Work.
  • Friday - Daily Theme: Drawing/Painting.
  • Saturday - Daily Theme: Blog Update, Developer Overload work.

Of course, it won't be exactly this. That is the Sunday Theme purpose. To plan out what I want to achieve for the week, with Saturday to recap what I did, where I hit my marks or went above and beyond as well as where I faltered, why and what I can do to improve. It's important to note that while the theme for the day may be "Guitar Practice", it won't be the only thing I do. I will still fit time for exercise, following up with job apps, networking etc. But my primary goal would be to complete that one daily theme. If I happen to spend my entire day doing just that, that's okay too! The goal is a less restrictive schedule while still holding some sort of accountability and plan.

For the next year#

I will be 29 in August. It's wild. It's like I just blinked and time went by. It hit hard when I went to watch my wife's brother graduate. The last time I saw him, I was taking him to elementary school or picking him up, taking him trick-or-treating or to the park to play. My wife and I traveled, years went by and now he's taller than I am, finished with high school and in the same spot his sister and I were in not so long ago, trying to figure out what comes next. Clearly, time isn't pausing for me, no matter how much I ask it to, so I need to make moves. Between now and into my 30th birthday (shudders), I want to have achieved a few things:

  • Attend and perform some standup comedian shows. It seems fun. I love to entertain people and make people laugh. Why not give it a go?
  • Play some local venues. I love music. I want to push myself and perform some shows. Maybe I'll get a band together when we move to Albuquerque. That'd be dope!
  • Commission some artwork. New Mexico is pretty big in the art scene in: Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Growing up in Las Cruces, I absolutely loved going to the farmer's markets and seeing what people were creating and selling. I'd love to do that also, or maybe have the opportunity to commission a mural for the city or someone at their home, or a business.
  • Launch a few startups. I've always been entreprenuerial in spirit and somewhat in practice. There are a few businesses I'd love to launch and see grow. I'm working on a few now with some other like-minded folks. I hope it goes well.
  • Get lean and fit. I've been lazythetic lately. I used to be quite athletic, got very lean and fit and enjoyed the confidence boost, good health and high energy. I need that back. I'm kicking this off with a challenge between myself, my wife and her brother to see who can lose the most weight in the next 3 weeks. It should be fun!

While financial independence/freedom and securing regular work are extremely important, they are somewhat non-negotiables that have to happen some way or another. If I secure this job in Albuquerque, that part will be taken care of. It will restrict my schedule a bit, but I will adapt to and overcome that restriction. With that, they are not part of my trackable goals to achieve by level 30, or before level 31.

Plans for the site#

I will become more regular in my blog posts as I track my metrics, share my failures and my successes. I will have a daily theme day that is focused strictly on building the Learning section of the site as well. I really want to boost my own understanding of each topic area, share my knowledge and help others to learn it as well. By the end of this year this site will:

  • Have all core topics covered - HTML, CSS, JavaScript, React and Node. It's not there yet, but we will also cover some databases and backend architecture.
  • Have a handful of code-along tutorials. The goal is to have code-along and do-it-yourself videos for each section. Mini-challenges, if you will.
  • Guided Projects - Have at least 3 or 4 guided projects. These are the sections where I will give you the requirements, you take whatever path you choose to achieve those requirements, and I review what you have created. Think of it like creating a product for a client. These will be the real show pieces to show off to potential employers.
  • Discord Server - Reconfigure my Discord server with community rules and guidelines, setup moderation and more.

In the near future I will begin marketing the site and getting initial feedback. We'll see what happens!

Final Thoughts#

On the quest for better focus and productivity, I am going to "theme my life" with Daily Themes, track my progress and share the results here, both for my own tracking purposes and for others to follow along and hopefully be able to avoid the mistakes I make on my journey. I will be adding more lessons to the site in the near future as I come closer to marketing it. I am in the interview process with a company in Albuquerque that I am quite hopeful for. In the aspect of not leaning too much on the hope of someone to offer me work, I am committing more time to some start ups and side hustles to generate income because...I got bills to pay. I'm getting older, time isn't slowing down or stopping, and I want to achieve a few goals by level 30. Let's make it happen!