We Did It!

On Sunday, we finally submitted Chapter 5, and I feel so good about it, I can’t even describe it! In the past ten days, I was so focused on that chapter that I could hardly think about something else.
I mean, I did many other things; I saw two movies, and I was at the Art Institute, and I went to the shelter, and yes, I worked. You can say that I did a variety of things, but to be honest, I felt guilty doing “anything else.”

I could not understand why this chapter takes so much time and effort until Saturday when I looked at the page count and realized that this chapter was almost as long as the previous four! No wonder!
I felt better right away :).

I have to admit that I didn’t challenge our delivery schedule because we do not have that much wiggling room until the end of the year anyway. I thought that a day here and a day there does not make a difference. And I hardly looked at the estimated chapters sizes.

The most time-consuming part was that I had to rework all of the examples, and several times through this process, I would find problems with our generated data. Then, I had to stop building examples and ask Boris to generate new data, and then I had to reload several tables and start over. And Anna had to do all her edits after we are done, and we were not done until the last moment. I am so thankful to Boris and Anna for their heroic efforts in the past several days!

We did it! And we did it well!

And we have eleven more chapters to go :).

It Does Not Feel Like a Weekend

I made a usual mistake of the long weekend – it felt like I can do everything when I have an additional day off. The most pressing thing was the next chapter of the book. The chapter which is due next is huge and very technical. You might think that “technical” is good because it is fewer words to write and more code to explain. But the problem is that with this book, I can’t use any of my previous examples! Everything has to be rewritten in our new training database. 

That means that each paragraph requires stopping, creating a new index, running an example, saving the code of the index, code of the example, execution plan, formatting everything nicely, and writing a new explanation because the tables are different. Each and the single paragraph.

I sort of forbade myself to write anything except of this chapter for the past three days. I was thinking about taking Friday off (it was the last summer Friday, so I could take just one vacation day and have the whole Friday off). But I thought that then chances are, I will have to do work over the weekend, and then what’s the point of taking a day off? 

Indeed, this half-Friday was very intense, I didn’t have a moment to waste, but now I can’t imagine how I will finish everything tomorrow. 

I have a couple of things I have to do tomorrow except of writing, so it won’t be like writing for 16 hours, and I think I will be able to finish. But I was hoping that there will be at least something else during this long weekend.

Well, nobody asked me to get involved. Or maybe somebody asked, but nobody forced me to agree!

Every Evening…

The only thing I can write today is, “I have no time to write anything, except for what’s related to the book.” I was expecting things to be like this, but it is still quite an uncomfortable feeling of “all the time I have should be spent on writing.” The first two chapters are especially hard because there is almost no code, just words. Also, it took us a ginormous time to build the test data, and we are not done. In the past two days, I’ve changed my mind about how the tables should look at least six times. And each time it means changing the DDL, recreating the schema on m local, regenerating the ERD in Navicat, exporting to PNG, and re-inserting the picture. Only to realize that I forgot to change one more thing :).

Yes, I wanted it, 🙂 But I can’t imagine it will be like that for five more months! I hope I will have some life!

A Perfect Memorial Day Weekend (III)

When I was planning my long weekend, I planned for a long bike ride on Monday morning. Then, the forecast showed rain at 6 AM. I thought I will wait, but then I thought – what if it won’t rain at six, and instead will rain at eight? What a fool I would be then! I left at 5-40, and yes, the rain started at 6-05 :), so I had to come back. But after breakfast, it was beautiful outside, and I went for the longest bike ride of this season. Actually, I do not think I ever took such a long ride all by myself. I was not even sure how the paths are going where I was planning to go :). And I had a great time!

Continue reading “A Perfect Memorial Day Weekend (III)”

Spending Time: a Book Review

I am two months behind on blogging about the books I read, life takes precedence, and there is no time for anything else. However, keeping a promise to myself and others, I am still trying to catch up on my past reading. Below is a short review of the book Spending Time – The Most Valuable Resource, which I read back in February. 

As it often happens, the title and the annotation promised more than the book delivered; however, I do not regret I read it. As my friends now, I take pride in using my time wisely because I always want to do more things than time permits. As a result, I deeply regret that I do not have Hermione’s Time Turner, and continuously search for a substitute of it :).

Each time somebody promises me that they have a secret of getting more done within the same time slot, I am ready to jump in. 

This book does not provide any magic solutions. However, I was very curious about the time dairies which people participating in the research were filling in. I want to know where does my time goes! Once, when my co-worker told us about the Clokiefy app, which she uses to track her time spent on the projects, I decided to try to use it to trace my time in general. 

It didn’t work, and after a little bit over a week, I gave up. It took too much time to record every ten minutes spent on something. The classification of time usage had quickly become very complicated, and I was having a hard time recording activities that I was doing in parallel with others. But it looks like the time dairies mentioned in that book worked perfectly. I would love to be called to participate in such research! 

One particular observation caught my attention. The author was saying that the more money a person makes, the more activities are becoming available (yes, that was “before the war”). At the same time, a person does not have time to participate in these activities because… well, because they spend all their time working! 

At that time, I thought that there is a lot of wisdom in that statement, but now I am not sure. The quarantine cut all my massive volunteering work, on all cultural events, which were either canceled or moved online. And still, I feel like I need twice more time to do all the things I want to do. So it looks like it is something else :).

I know that I do not have time to email, or call, or to FaceTime many of my friends, and I often find myself talking to them in my mind, while I am doing something else. I do not have enough time to document what’s going on in the world these days. And I do not have enough time to do all the professional – non-work things. I will keep trying 🙂

Sleep and Time Management

Back in Cyprus, during my conversation with the local organizer, I told him I had one complaint about the hotel – the fitness center opens at 8 AM. He looked at me with amazement and asked: and when do you go to workout? I shrugged: at 5 AM. He looks at me inquiringly: when do you sleep? And since I hesitated for a moment, he continued: or are one of those people who do not want to waste time on sleep because there are better things to do?… I nodded: precisely! He continued: oh, I know! I once had a girlfriend like this; I couldn’t stay long with her, I need my sleep! We broke up!

Mind you, that conversation was happening next to Boris and before this gentleman said that my husband is lucky:)

Nevertheless, one resolution I made when in Cyprus was to get my sleep back. First, for a very long time, I was sleeping 4 – 4.5 hours a day, and that was way too little even for me. Second, while monitoring my sleep when I did not need to be ready by a specific time, I figured out that my natural sleep need had shifted a little bit. Instead of the previous 5 – 5.5 hours, I now need 5.5-6 hours. And trust me, this is not a fictional difference. 

Since I still want to be up at 4-30, because it fits my schedule better, I resent my evening alarm to 10 PM, which means I am up from my computer at 10 PM, no matter what. The maximum delay is to finish a paragraph. Since I still may need to get my tomorrow’s lunch and/or breakfast ready and to get prepared to sleep in general, that means I am in bed between 10-30 and 11, not close to midnight or past midnight, as it used to be in November – mid-January. So far, ten days after I returned from Cyprus, it really works. 

That’s to the fact, that a New Year resolution does not have to be attached to January 1 

Life is Still Crazy

This week was even worse than previous. Although I work through most of the weekend, I didn’t have enough time to prepare for all of the training I wanted to run this week in the office. Thereby I constrained myself to not doing anything, except necessities, and spend each and a single minute I had “extra” on the training development. 

I didn’t help much (maybe partially because, in reality, I was doing something extra, like going to the performance of Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra on Tuesday). So now, at 11:15 PM, I have a little bit more than half of tomorrow’s training ready. I’ve already booked 2.5 hours tomorrow morning to complete it, but I am ashamed of myself. 

Still, today after work as was at the Open Door Shelter. Last week, a group of youth from the Open Door Shelter had a field trip to the Christkindle Market, and I asked to message me when they will be close – my work is just a block away. We had a really great time at the market. One of the girls mentioned how much she loves German potato pancakes, and I told her we can make them next time. 

Today was the next time:), and we peeled and grated 10 lb of potatoes, and made beautiful potato pancakes. And I had truly amazing conversations with some of the youth. And when I was walking out of the shelter, thinking about these conversations and smiling, I felt that this is something I can never let to disappear from my life… 

I feel Proud of Myself Today:)

Recently most of my days are very intense, and I continuously feel that I am completing only about half of the tasks I need to complete. But today, it was even worse. 

I worked from home (which I do not like that much these days) because I had myl physical in the afternoon. I’ve started my workday earlier, at 7-30, hoping to be mostly done by 2-15, when I had to leave for the doctor. I had a long work to-do list, not mentioning my still-in-progress training. 

And I ended up doing zero in course of these seven hours. Absolutely nothing productive. OK, I’ve reviewed two commits. I’ve dialed in three meetings, but just about 20 minutes total of them were somewhat productive. 

Several people were reaching out with the questions, which took harder to get resolved from home. And when you have twenty minutes in between things, it’s nothing you can do. 

I was mad. And I thought that nothing could make me feel better. And guess what I did then. “Then” – after I went to the doctor, went to my Mom, and finally got home. 

There was one thing which was on my to-do list for several weeks, and I was keeping postponing it and avoiding it. There were several forms which I needed to download from the Russian consulate website and help Anna and Vlad to fill them in. I was saying for weeks that I didn’t have time, but in reality, I was pushing this activity back. 

So when I came home, under the motto that I am late with everything anyway – I did it! And I felt soooo good about doing it, that suddenly the whole day didn’t feel like wasted!

Six Hours Short

Last weekend, I measured exactly how much time I needed to complete all the tasks on my list. I was six hours short. And it’s not anything “nice to have,” which could be postponed for the next weekend. All those were the tasks with deadlines; there were reasons why they should have been completed before today. Unfortunately, I am also 100% booked during the workday today, and I am entertaining important guests of the Postres community after work. Thereby, I do not even have my usual extra two to three “grace” hours on Monday to complete unfinished weekend tasks.


That’s what you get for taking too much on you:). And if I even had any slack time past weekend, it would be no more than an hour. And I do not include in these six hours a couple of my family history post I planned to write.

Just too much of life is going on 🙂

How I Reorganized My Life

It has been a week since I’ve returned from my trip to Helsinki, and I made some positive improvements in my life this week. I can’t tell for sure why these changes would be connected to my trip to Helsinki, but I think they are. Most likely, the reason is that as it usually happens, such trips allow me to look at my life from a distance, to judge better, what’s a real source of stress, and how I can deal with it.

One positive change I made was getting back to my 5 – 5.5 hours of sleep per night. That had been my norm for many years, and I know that even half and how less affects my productivity. However, for about three weeks before ai left for my trip, I would sleep only four hours or less a night, including the weekends. I was telling myself that I do not have an option since I have so much work every day. But the reality was that I could not be productive. So for the whole this week, I’ve followed a simple rule: when my “time to go to bed” rings, I would stop whatever I am doing (maybe finish a sentence or a paragraph first) and proceed with all my before bed to-do list. That helped a big deal because I would wake up at my normal 4-30, not tired, and was way more productive during the day.

The second thing might be questionable for many people but works perfectly for me. I m always saying that my work-life balance is such that my work is my life :). However, for several weeks before my trip, I felt like I can’t do anything besides work if there is still some work to do, and this would last forever. I didn’t like it because it would take away other vital parts of my life, but I didn’t know how to break the cycle.
So what I finally decided was that I switched to one “master” to-do list. I think I am enough big girl to judge how important are different things in my life relative to each other, and I know how to prioritize. And if I feel OK doing some work stuff at 10 PM, because it is important, I should also feel OK to do some non-work stuff at 1 PM, if this is the right time, and the task is high enough in my priority list.

That was a life-changing decision. This week felt like no other. As I like to say, nobody gives me more than 24 hours a day, but I felt like I’ve accomplished a lot this week, and didn’t leave any essential tasks behind.