Spending my mornings learning

I fell into a trap a few years ago that I have been slowly digging myself out of, bit by bit. Being all consumed by my working life, I left little room for reading and learning. I don’t claim to have resolved this issue, but I do feel I made substantial progress this week with one tweak to my morning routine.

The root cause of the problem: I wasn’t prioritizing reading and learning in the morning. For years I tried to do this at night. But with the fast paced, high stress, and definitely mind consuming work that comes with being a part of two very successful startups (Dyn & Fastly) in the past seven years, I was simply fried at the end of my work day. My mind would endlessly drift any time I tried to read a book or focus on a learning project in the evening.

I had tried shifting my reading to the morning before, but I could never make that schedule stick either. Maybe it was because I don’t drink coffee. Maybe sometimes I take a little bit longer to get out of bed to make my way to the couch where my iPad normally sits…if I made out that far before I had to rush to get ready for work.

This past week I have tried something different: placing my iPad next to my bed and reaching for that device in the morning when I wake up, not my iPhone.

Something about this workflow change has made me priorities. When I wake up in the morning now, I prop up my pillows and reach for my iPad. I immediately open iBooks and start reading, even in my semi-awake state. With this, I have already finished two books this week I had been reading for over a month with little progress previously.

Because my mind is activating quicker from reading in bed during the morning, when I make my way to the kitchen to begin breakfast, my brain is begging to learn more. So I now turn on a podcast in the morning when I make/eat breakfast, usually one that focuses on teaching its listeners something. In my case, for the past week I have been catching up on the awesome Seeking Wisdom podcast. My notes file this past week has filled with little tidbits and thoughts from these morning podcast sessions.

In the end, this seems to be going well because of a simple workflow change: placing my reading device (an iPad) next to my bed, which somehow triggered my brain to want to read. Let’s see if this continues!

This Week in Tech going away?

Leo Laporte (of TechTV fame) has stated that there isn’t a This Week in Tech episode (one of the most popular podcasts out there) this week because no one showed up to do the show. He is taking a 2 week break and then will decide afterwards if TWiT continues:

It’s about 80 degrees out – in all likelyhood the last nice day of summer in Northern California – so all the TWiTs decided to play hookey. At the same time. Unfortunately that means there will be no show tonight.

It’s my turn to play hookey next week. I’m off on a Geek Cruise next Friday, and will be gone through November 4, so there will be no TWiT next week either.

I’ll decide what happens to TWiT, the show, when I come back, but at this point it looks like it’s on life support and the heart monitor is flatlining.

A few thoughts on how to keep TWiT going strong:

  • Shorten the show: The last one was nearly a hour and a half long. Make it 45 minutes instead. Listeners will like it because it will seemed more focused and won’t take as long to listen to. Makes it easier to edit too.
  • Rotate the guests: Rotate the guests more often, so everyone doesn’t get burnt out so quickly.
  • Get some help: Get some help from outside sources to do the editing of the show afterwards.
  • Grow slowly: There are now about a dozen TWiT network shows now, just about all of them launched in the past year. There is only so many hours in a week to record and edit them. Cut the under performing shows, or at least make them bi-weekly or monthly to distribute the time demands.