Mini book review – Better Than Before

Last month I read Gretchen Rubin‘s book on habits titled Better than Before. Thanks to Tony at Coach.me for sending a free copy of this book. I received it in March and I finally got to read it in June.

This book is based on the premise that everyone is different. So there is no universal solution that works for everyone. The key is to find your habit tendency and frame your habits forming strategies around that personality.

Here is The Four Tendencies Quiz to determine your habit tendency. I am an Upholder. I am not surprised by it.

Each chapter introduces a strategy and details how it applies to each of the four tendencies. She shared a lot of her personal stories as well, which is great. There are little nuggets of wisdom all over the book title Secrets of Adulthood, which I liked but I did not highlight them until it was too late.

Everyone needs Four Foundation Habits: Food, Sleep, Exercise, Declutter. Wherever you are and whatever you do, you better be good at them, she advises.

Although I like to declutter as much as possible in my life, I am not convinced that it is a foundational habit. I heard most creatives and high performers are messy. But I don’t dispute the first three.

The chapter I liked the most is about Habit Loopholes. I blogged about it earlier. They help you realize when you are kidding yourself.

This book provided some unique ideas like tendencies  and loopholes which I never came across earlier. For these ideas alone, it is a worthy read.

Quitting Coffee Struggles

As much as I would love to think that I am not a coffee addict, it looks like I am on the verge of giving up on my attempt to quit coffee.

Since deciding to quit coffee in the last week of April, I drank one cup in May, two in June and two so far in July. In a way I did very well. I cut not only the number of cups and but also their size.

However it is proving difficult to sustain this habit, especially under stress. The few cups that I had are in the clueless moments when I just needed to turn my mind away from the problem I am working on.

I know that progress, not perfection, matters. And what I do everyday matters more than what I do once in a while. In that sense I am already winning. But I must admit that it isn’t easy. I am fine without coffee most of the days but I am also struggling a lot when I am under pressure. So I wonder if it is really worth the struggle. What if I start drinking a tiny sized cup or a black coffee a few days a week. May be drinking coffee is alright if it helps relieve my stress? Why am I even making a big deal out of this? Why can’t I just drink a cup a day and spare myself of this suffering?

Now that I dumped my brain, I feel better and clear: I am not giving up. At least as yet. Why should I make my temporary failures permanent.

I reiterate to myself: I can still drink coffee but mindfully and occasionally, not compulsively.

If you had used any strategies to deal with a similar situation, I will be grateful if you could share it in the comment.

Adieu Toastmasters

I quit Toastmasters today.

I belonged to my club for three years, two of those years as a Sergeant at Arms in the executive.

Toastmasters is one of the finest volunteer organizations. I experienced it first hand. I made friends, learned few skills, practiced public speaking, saw people grow as speakers, organized logistics and decided how to spend our limited budget for lunch after every meeting. So it isn’t an easy decision to not do it anymore.

I am by no means a great public speaker but while I was here, I got a tad better.

However David Allen once said: you can do anything, but not everything. So I decided to take a break from this lovely journey for awhile to give undivided attention to few of my biggest priorities.

Not surprisingly, I feel a bit sentimental.

New year resolutions

I did not have resolutions for 2014. Instead, I decided to plant and grow few habits that are worth pursuing for years.

To help me get going, I made the following three rules for myself:

  1. Base goals on Identity. Not on Performance or Appearance.
  2. Rely on Habits and Processes. Not on Willpower.
  3. Believe in Evolution. Not in Revolution.

To remind me of these rules, I forked some markup from Codecademy at the end of 2013 and added a timer to it: time.chaitanyamsv.com. This page served me well but as I decided to close my domain, this page will go down as well.

One and a half years later, I no longer need the timer as I systematized my habits in Coach.me and Wunderlist apps. So the habits happen nevertheless. However these rules needed a new home, and this post is it.

Quitting coffee

I did pretty well last month learning to stop drinking coffee.

I had only one small coffee in all of May. This is a significant slash given I was having one coffee every workday.

It wasn’t too difficult to give up coffee, partly because I am not a coffee addict. But I had few urges. Once I even walked halfway to the coffee machine but recalled my claim and returned.

I also found a great post -guess Universe conspired to help me- on my twitter feed titled Everything You Need To Know About How and Why To Quit Caffeine which helped a bit.

I will still drink coffee but mindfully and occasionally, not compulsively.

While all this is good, I am having challenges sticking to the larger goal of which this is only a part. That’s for another post.

Google Photos

I wished only three things in a photos app:

  1. Auto upload camera roll including videos
  2. Unlimited storage
  3. Free

Today this wish became true. Google released Photos app that ticks all three boxes.

Like everyone’s, my camera roll has precious memories on it which I keep pushing to cloud regularly. But I only have a limited storage space across all the cloud services. My current go to photos app is Flickr. It allows 1 TB of free space. It is good except that it doesn’t upload videos.

It looks like Google Photos is everything I wanted in a photo storage service. I know that Google is not doing any charity. But I am happy to let them use my photos and data in return for securing my lifetime memories. I am not fanatical about privacy. I believe there is no harm if Google send some ads my way. That is perfectly okay for me.

The joy of reliving years worth of photos should only be experienced. It shows how you and people close to you have evolved. This is what gets me excited about this app.

How do you manage your photos?

Goodbye chaitanyamsv.com

I just shut down my self hosted WordPress, chaitanyamsv.com.

It is not too long ago that I moved to .org. I learned a bit about how things work in the self-hosted world. But its value to my current mission is little. So I imported my content and deleted it. This action plants some broken links on this blog. I will fix them when I find time.

For the record, this is how many times I moved my blog over the years:

Blogger to WordPress.com to WordPress.org to WordPress.com and WordPress.org to finally WordPress.com.

Sigh! One less baggage.

What is permanent in this world, anyway?