I recently decided to create a new playlist on my YouTube channel - Java with Ali - as I have worked with a number of students over the years and some things seem to appear time and time again. Some of which are so obvious to me since the Masters that I could have done with them in the past myself! It would have alleviated the stress and pressure and I think I would have enjoyed myself more. In fact, I know I would have enjoyed myself more as I discovered these during the PhD and I loved doing the PhD because I had these tools. Bob Proctor says that 'discipline is the ability giving yourself a command and following it' and he's right. It takes discipline and it's something that brings happiness once you figure it out. I mean, you can do what you like and follow your own plans, however, I thought I'd share mine as they have worked so brilliantly for me in the past and are still working now. So part of the series I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks including the growth mindset and others and in this blog post I will talk specifically about plans. I uploaded a video regarding study plans and they are similar to fitness plans. You can see my first 28 day challenge in the previous blog post where I talk about doing it and now that it has completed I thought I'd share some results and what I have learned. It all went well, no hiccups. I completed it. I am happy about that and then I decided to do a second 28 day challenge with the things that I have learnt from the first one. I decided to incorporate a green smoothie daily.
As you can see the green smoothie was a breakfast replacement and included a handful of spinach, protein powder, a full romain lettuce, an apple, a banana and a pear with some water. So this was the part of the plan that didn't go too well and as I said in the YouTube video, there is a dip in most plans where motivation wanes. I experienced serious stomach pains and thought it was because I drank it too quickly. I introduced more water and decided to drink it throughout the day instead of just over a 5 minute period in the morning. I adjusted and still woke up every night in pain for a few weeks. I decided to stop drinking the smoothies and see if it got better. I had to stop, it was the only thing that I had changed along with increasing my fitness plan from 30 second reps to 60 second reps. My breakfast then became oat bars as oats are known to be really good for your gastrointestinal tract. I found out in my reading that 90% of serotonin comes from your stomach - I have no reference for this but after this experience I believe it. I had low energy from pains experienced every evening. I was waking up nightly. It was a really challenging few weeks with bad stomach pains to stay myself. So now I have bought pro and pre-biotics and have already noticed a difference including drinking a lot of water every morning first thing in the morning. I had to take a break from them for a little bit.
My point is, we may need to adjust the plans to get what we want and have faith that this is a long term goal and we'll get there eventually even with hiccups along the way. Now I have two more plans which also include improving my German grammar and German language overall. As I am working from home there is less practice speaking German and I want to maintain and attain a better level too. I also mention in the YouTube videos the growth mindset as well as using the Pomodoro method. That deserves a different blog post and for now I will talk about using the Pomodoro methods in my plan.
I am using the Pomodoros to calculate my amount of time spent on learning German and have introduced 1 of these daily over the next 21 days. It may not seem like much, however, concentrated effort over a 20 minute timeframe when introducing a new plan into your life allows for an accomplishable goal to be achieved. It is not unrealistic and this is also about motivation which I speak about in the YouTube series regarding 'I'll do something for 5 minutes... and guess what, 2 hours have past and you're still on task'. It's part of the initiation method that gets you started so while I note down 1 * Pomodoro, I will use that as the minimum and see where it takes me as I know I can afford 20 minutes per day on task.
I have set a fairly nice plan over the next 21 days. I have learnt that 21 days is better in case anything pops up like the stomach issues again and I know that I can address that in a shorter time and increase my level in the next stage. So for now I have a conservative 21 day plan for both fitness and German to keep both my motivation and level of energy up as I adjust the plan to keep moving forward. I know that it's okay if I waiver a little off track while I fix other things. It's like if you tilt a plane's nose ever so slightly en route from Ireland to New York, you'll end up in Canada and it takes a tiny readjustment to get back on track so now I can safely say I am back on track and ready to keep going. No pressure, no stress, only focus and relaxed in knowing that I am strengthening both my body and my mind in the next 21 days.
As I mentioned in the YouTube, with fitness as well as study, you usually start with amount of time on task before you figure out how many reps you can do within that timeframe. During this next 21 days I will start counting how many I can complete. I won't be rushing them, they are focused tasks with concentrated effort. Effort * persistence = moving towards your goal and motivation comes from the latin word 'to move' so action allows us to accomplish our goals. I am also using the initiation method and leave these 21 day plans somewhere I can see them. I have a morning routine with a glass of water beside my bed and my clothes and equipment ready - for both German and fitness. Part of this is also allowing myself to be kind to myself I don't achieve a day for whatever reason and that is where the growth mindset also kicks in. I am confident that I will get to my goal and if I have a bad day regarding stomach or anything else that's okay. I know I am putting in my best effort.
During the PhD I had written a blank piece of paper stating 'Motivation is the latin for 'to move'' to remind myself to keep moving and it worked. It acted as a way for me to keep focused on my goal and consistent in my effort. Notice how I align the days of running with the B task for German and I also allow adventures on Sundays - this is to keep being inspired, enjoying life, no sacrificing mindset as that's not what it's about, it's about accomplishing your goal while enjoying the process and the same goes for study. As I say in the video - I know that my abilities can grow through hard work and effort. It is part of the process to allow yourself to have the adventures and experience loving life. I love making plans like these and following through. It's not only about the accomplishment for me, it's about enjoying the process. I love the process regardless of the results that it brings. The results are the side effects of the motivation - the movement or action I am taking to achieve the result and enjoying that action.
What an incredible week this has been. I met (virtually) so many inspiring, encouraging, supportive and positive women in technology. I went to workshops on Eclipse, Pair programming, Java, Python and of course, presented my own talk "Java Development: It's easy when you know how" on Thursday. I connected with women all over the world with all different backgrounds and stories to tell. I also connected with women in the Rhein-Main region which is where I live in Germany. We have already said that we'll meet in person too. It's been a really great week and luckily enough I also had a day off in Germany the day that I presented so I managed to get to do the talk without any time management concerns raising with work. I will definitely go again. I found the talks regarding representation really interesting as we start encroaching again upon technology - remember the first programmer was a female, the first person to discover a computer bug was also a female. Being represented offer different perspectives and a balance is needed.
Different perspectives can come from a simple thing like a cycling rack. For example, I went cycling recently and parked my bike outside the apartment on the bike racks - this is again, an example of the detachment of design from someone that cycles. The bikes are squashed together, the spacing between racks might even be industry standard, however, that does not make them any more practical and should be rethought by actual cyclists. Pulling my bike out from the handle bars of another bike is not something anyone wants.
The same goes for all products - you can do as much market research bringing in your audience into a room to test a product (I have done that and it's not very well researched - coming from a researcher that is saying something!) and colleagues tend to become excited by the fact that consumers like the product and miss the entire area that is lacking in the product. This goes the same with all products when a group are underrepresented.
A major example I spoke about is gaming when you play a game and there are no female characters to choose from or the ones that are available are either 'the princess to be rescued' like in Mario or a sex object with unrealistic beauty standards. We cannot help but be influenced by the photos, images, videos and external inputs from society and the unrealistic demands imposed upon us. When a 10 year old boy is playing a computer game with men all represented as giants with large muscles - this is also an unrealistic beauty standard and that's another topic.
The other trend I spotted throughout some talks was that women are more cooperative in conversation while men seek status and/or competition. Being too cooperative can be seen as weak in some work places and the competitive nature can be seen throughout the industry if you are working in a toxic workplace. If you are working with mature, evolved humans, it will be balanced. Men won't seek status as they are comfortable with who they are and women won't be people-pleasing as they will also balance into their own strengths and not shy away from them. This also doesn't have to be gender specific - this is also unbalanced or unconfident humans too.
Overall I have a lot to consider and it was a really positive experience sharing some of the confrontations that are faced in technology due to gender differences and some of the other elements that make it an absolute need for women to be represented more in this industry. Some issues faced like in gaming where women may not even be represented at all or the men represented are also unrealistically buff too. That's another story regarding the unrealistic standards set upon by our society. Regardless of representation some of the technology and products available lack the perspectives of females to make products complete. They are missing a component. They are, effectively, incomplete.
I would even go as far as saying, they are missing huge opportunities to get others into a product like gaming and the ones that want to get into it may feel excluded or even intimidated and shy away from games like that. So tech industry, the time is now, innovate, include women more, include underrepresented groups more - this is, after all, the summer of gaming.
My own talk is available on Prezi with a video following soon. It spoke about Java Development and some tricks on how to learn/concentrate and get the best out of your time is available here: