Midway points always cause me to reflect. Today is the longest day of the year – am I wasting it, or am I squandering it?
Summers are an interesting time for a professor – I’ve got a huge block of unstructured time; do I relax or do I achieve new things? I know the answer is “Do both” – but what’s the proper ratio? I set a goal for myself to do 3 hours of useful work towards those “achievements” I desire. But as I sit and reflect, that feels like the bare minimum.
So what are my goals for this Summer? I haven’t listed them out, and I probably should.
- Lose 15 Pounds
- Submit 2 Grant Proposals
- Finish my Nerd Room
- Reevaluate and Fix my Robot Operating Systems Curriculum
- Create a Cross Country Ski Trail on my Property
- Make a Video Game
- Create a new Microcontrollers Experimental Device
Let’s categorize these goals a bit:
|Need?||Make me Happy?||Make me Better?||Hours||Goal|
|✔||100||Lose 15 Pounds|
|✔||✔||200||Submit 2 Grant Proposals|
|✔||40||Finish my Nerd Room|
|✔||✔||100||Reevaluate ROS Curriculum|
|✔||100||Create an XC Ski Trail|
|✔||✔||?||Make a Video Game|
|✔||20||Create uC Device|
So what can I do with this information? Well the more checks something has, the more important it likely is. The hours are truly guesstimates, but they at least give me a rough number to compare the ratio time I should devote to the goals.
So back to my original question, am I wasting too much time? The answer is probably, I’ve only put work towards 3ish of these goals. Let’s do 3 things – establish the goal priority, reflect on where I am, and plan where I should go next.
Submit 2 Grant Proposals: All I have are general ideas and bullet points. I need to create 1-page summaries, then flesh them out. I also need to reach out to potential collaborators.
Reevaluate ROS Curriculum: I’ve decided to stick with ROS Melodic. All of our lab robots depend on it, and it would be a ridiculous amount of work to move them upwards. However I need to determine a better way to run ROS (something different than a VM). I have began experimenting with Docker to see if there is an improvement. In addition I need to add more Python into the curriculum.
Make a Video Game: I have wanted to do a project in Godot ever since I heard of the engine. I have all of the rough skills it takes and a (in my opinion) really good setting / premise / game mechanic idea. This would take a lot of learning but also serve as a great creative outlet. It’s a bucket list item for sure.
Lose 15 Pounds: I’d like to have a more trim appearance. I’ve put quite a bit of work towards this goal already. It’s not really a “sit down and work on it” type of thing, but more of a lifestyle change. This is something I’d like to create a separate post for.
Create uC Device: I have a really fun idea for a black-box device that can be used in microcontrollers. All I have is an idea. But I know exactly how to implement it – it just needs done. I could probably pound this out in a day if I work efficiently.
Finish my Nerd Room: My nerd room in the basement is 70% done. It has a floor, it has painted, stained and top coated walls. I’ve even moved in some furniture. All I need to do is make a lot of shelves, a table, and put in the drop ceiling. (plus a ton of little things)
Create XC Ski Trail: This goal partially links to my “Lose 15 Pounds” goal. I’ve been doing a ton of bike riding, and it’s almost a habit. But what do I do when the snow falls? I’m thinking Skiing is the next best thing. I’ve got a rough trail already laid out, but I’d like to have it be wide enough for my big tractor go go through. That way I can level some bumps, pull out stumps, move away logs, etc.
Let’s relegate the Nerd Room to weekend work, because that’s how it’s been in the past. Losing 15 pounds is already sort of distributed. So how about a day focusing on each thing? Then when something gets wrapped up, I take it off the list and everything gets worked on more frequently. I like it. Let’s see how it goes.
I should add, that there are several other work, consulting, research tasks that I have to prioritize over these things.
It feels like I haven’t done much yet, and feel a little bit down because of it. But I know that’s not true. I’ve been pretty busy this Summer, I think that my effort is being spread too much across things that aren’t my goals. In fact I’ve got somewhat decent evidence to show that to myself. I have a loosely quantitative indicator of how effective I’ve been (detailed here). I can see some pretty substantial spiking happening over the summer:
I just need to make sure I’m carving out time for those important goals.