A book: The Now Habit by Neil Fiore

clip_image002Now, let’s talk about the last book about procrastination, I’ve read to procrastinate other stuff😉 Why the last? It seems to me, that I’ve seen the major ideas behind the topic. Now it’s the time to just reflect on them and tune my own life so that not to have to procrastinate anything.

What were we talking about… Ah! The book. Ok, Neil Fiore seems to be a big guy in the field, but, to be honest, the book was to me less appealing than the book of Peter Ludwig. I haven’t written about it in the blog, because the English version hasn’t come out yet (it’ll come out soon and you can subscribe to the news about it at the page linked above, though). Anyway, the reading got me some fresh ideas to think about, so it is worth looking into some of it.

The core idea as I got it is that the more discomfort you are anticipating from your job, the more active will be your evading of it and finding your salvation in something more pleasant. The more you feel that endless work deprive you from pleasure and amusements of life, the more active you will be your run from the work.

So, the author just tells you to make room for what is worth living for first, and then fill everything else with the “bad” work. And to put up with the latter, probably even trick yourself into liking it. That’s the spirit. I somehow approve, actually, but believe that working on what you really like may be even better. Why? Because some approaches, the author suggests don’t exactly work for me. Say, rewarding myself with something pleasant after doing something I procrastinate, make the reward even more attractive and the job itself even less so.

 However, there is a revolutionary (for me) thought in the book: procrastination isn’t a problem itself. It’s a manifestation of other problems. Their visible and palpable trace and consequence. One of the most problematic chain from the author’s point of view is something like: wanting an ideal result (THE ideal result!) -> fear of failure -> procrastination -> self-criticism -> anxiety and depression -> loss of confidence -> ever enlarging fear of failure -> PROCRASTINATION! It seems obvious now, in retrospective, but I swear, I somehow didn’t happen to word the thought so exact and clear.

That’s how perfectionism and feeling that everything in our life is important makes us not doing anything in time. And yes, I strongly believe that in everyone’s life not everything is ultimately important. And, the worst thing which happens if you fail fast is not this:


No, this never happens because you’ve failed at something (I hope I’m not being read by any nuclear country’s president). Mostly, if you fail fast you recover fast and learn even faster. But isn’t it hard…

What even more important (for me, at least), is to understand, that not only fear of failure is the problem in some cases, but also fear of success. That kind of fear stopped me at least couple of times in my life. And probably, I postpone some things right now because the success will mean I will become someone else. And I will have to change. And nothing will be the same again. It’s scary as hell, but it’s, at the same time, exciting. And it’s being procrastinated, nevertheless.

The book, sure, offers some instruments, I like, and some approaches I’m not so sure, are worth to employ.

Say, “Unschedule”. The idea I’ve been using for a while, but in an ultimate form. I’ll describe it in more detail in some later blog, here I just say that the instrument will help you to stop thinking that you have 24 hours a day and, if you somehow need it, 48 hours a weekend. Such concepts are ultimate “procrastinagenes”, because no, you don’t have that much time. You’ll be surprised how little, comparing to those figures you really have for your work.

Another instrument – “Reverse calendar” – is to map al your activities from the finish to the beginning, so that you know when you have to start something to have at least some chances to finish in time. It’s also self-obvious, but the idea here is to map the same instrument to the bigger activities, projects, etc.

And sure enough, there wasn’t a chance to miss out Pomodoro techniques and other “power hours” which, after reading at least two or three books on personal productivity and anti-procrastination just become what you expect in a decent book😉

What I’m not sure about are methods which, in general, just make you believe that your job is more pleasant than it is. Well, I’ve mastered the behavior myself, that’s normal when you don’t like what you don’t know how to do at the beginning, but later, when your proficiency at the stuff increases – you start loving it. But, as far as I understand, Neil Fiore suggests some tricks to like what you still don’t. Not sure, it’ll work every time, but probably it could at least mend some situations.

Anyway, if it’s not the 5th book on the topic you’ve read, I would rather recommend it, though my absolute favorite, as I already said, is the book of Peter Ludwig.

Usefulness: slightly above the average. But I had read some books on topic before it.


Is it easy for reading? Sure.


Book: Essentialism by Greg McKeown

clip_image002Not sure – throw it out.

Pascal Dennis.

What should I eat to lose weight?

Usual dietary question

The next book is not about doing stuff. It’s about not doing stuff. Yep. The author tells us that the only way to be really successful is to choose what not to do. You know what? I totally agree.





Like in “quit saying yes”. Because if you take on every challenge you meet, then you face “priorities”. And it is quite new a word: you haven’t seen much of it before, say, XV or even XIX century. Before that it was only one priority in every situation. That’s very close to what I believe my tasks may be divided on:

· Do it right now (only one task).clip_image003

· Do it one day (many other tasks).

· Don’t do it (the more tasks, the better).

So, chose what you want to do, set your priority and don’t touch anything else.

Brilliant idea, isn’t it? Of course there are some tough spots. Say, I decided to sell something I don’t need. And 5 years later the spot shows the Fountain of Youth in it. Wouldn’t it be awful?!

But still, I see application for this. Moreover, some things I do in my job (though, I definitely need to improve the practice). Say, if I’m working on something and someone is requiring my time, but cannot say that his deal is urgent, then I’m just saying “I’ll call you later”. There is, for sure, one important ingredient in this: I will really call them. =) And your “no” shouldn’t translate into “get lost”. It may, if you wish, but it’s usually unnecessary.

So, I definitely approve the approach. I just need to think of what and how to do with it, because the book isn’t a text book. It’ more a manifesto, then a manual.

There are useful things, like zero-based budgeting: you don’t look what you planned yesterday to do today, you just gather as many commitments for today as you possibly can do. First – what is more important. And if all the important stuff doesn’t find the room in your day – you must not plan for it (remember: 24 hours a day minus 8 hours for sleep minus 8 hours for work minus 2 hours for food minus several hours for commute minus… your day is one small amount of time!). You may plan as your next absolutely important goal (only one priority, remember?) increasing your performance, but never try to do twice as much as you really can.

Yep, important stuff is all over the book. But remember how I just told you it’s not a textbook or manual? The structure of the book is weak and it has little instruments to start with. At least, I see it this way: you’ll have motivation from the book, but it’s up to you, how to apply this motivation to your life. There are some advices, but they either don’t have anything to do with essentialism, or are trivial, or plain impossible to do. Example? Easy. Suppose you are a perfectionist. You’re trying to make a report, and, sure enough, the report must be perfect. And you have dozens ideas how to improve it. But right now you have to do at least a draft to start with. But you cannot, because “draft” is opposite to “perfect”. And you’re just stuck! What should you do? Greg suggests that you just change your motto from “perfect or nothing” to “better something than nothing”. Easy like that! Just change your core idea, what you really are to the opposite and it will solve everything. You have two minutes, I believe it will be enough.

And one exceptionally bad in most corporate environments advice: put at least 50% time buffer in everything you do. Ok, the task should last a day. I’m adding a day more, to create the buffer, my boss adds 1 more day for his buffer and his boss adds 2 more days “just in case”. Now we have 5 days for the task which lasts a day. And, considering the student syndrome, it’ll probably last 6 to 7 days, actually. I’m far from saying that buffers are unnecessary, but in complex environments they should be controlled so that no such chain effect occurs.

So, the book is ok if we consider it a motivational manifesto and not trying play it as a textbook. The author even put some Theory of constraints passages into it, and it’s nowadays almost a quality sign😉

Usefulness: slightly above average. I’d prefer more instrumental book. Still it’s the vNext idea for me.

книга полезность выше среднего



Is it easy for reading? Yes. There is a bit more pathos then I’d like, but it’s ok.

книга нормально читается

Book: Lean production simplified by Pascal Dennis

imageLet’s start from the end: I haven’t reached it. Yep, one more book I haven’t read cover-to-cover. I’ve just made a new category for such books in the blog.

I’m interested in the Lean Manufacturing topic, and I heard something about it, but still, I don’t know how to DIY. That’s why I started reading such books. But this one – I failed with it. Why? Well, the book seems awkward to me. It creates questions but doesn’t answer them. Probably, I just don’t know enough, or I know too much, who knows. Anyway, I still see what’s different in my job from what’s described in the book, but don’t see what’s similar.

The book is not a 101 course, because it’s full of details and lacks some “executive overview”. Say, we now know about using sensors in some situations to control production flow, how to place them and what algorithm to use. And in the same book we just use some terms without explaining them. Explaining, what we can do if our situation is a bit different (say, we spent little time producing the product, but do it rarely) – ha! – no way. That is – a lot of details, but little rules of the system.

The book isn’t a reference book either, because it’s not detailed enough. Or details aren’t in the place we’d like them. Say, we’re talking about obligatory 5S learning course:

·         Team members: 2 hours

·         People, accountable for 5S: 1 day

·         Masters and managers: 1 day.

What is the course agenda, what this time should consist of – never mind, you won’t find it. We know only that it’s “5S intro” and “5S implementation”. As a result, the whole piece of information is absolutely useless.

I also find it funny, that we should learn some Japanese words. Like in “Muda is a Japanese word youimage have to learn”. How sweet. Since that’s what I definitely can live without, it’s… How you name it? Ahhh – Muda! =)

Long story short, I had been trying for almost 2/3 of the book, but then I quit and some of my questions still lie unanswered:

·         What’s supplies and overproduction in work of system engineers?

·         What are machines in my case?

·         Probably, machines are my servers and production is just fulfilling users’ requests (http for web, JSON or some other stuff for other services, etc.)? And then my guys are really engineers who just readjust the equipment. Each release is a readjustment. And so is plain reconfiguration?

·         How do we use 5S for servers?

·         What is our product?

·         What is transportation for me?

And many others. Just like I said: too many questions about how are we different. So, what should I read next on the topic? And what books I shouldn’t waste my time on? =)






Usefulness: low. Books should not only question you, but answer some questions, too.




Is it easy for reading: no, I never finished it.

Pikachu on the Iron Throne

clip_image002[4]All of a sudden I found plenty of people in my social networks who brag that they haven’t seen an episode of Game of Thrones series or have never played Pokemon Go. That is, they say they have never done something and are proud of it. There are also multiple conspiracy theories (at least in the Russian segment of the internet), which aren’t a subject for this discussion even though some of them look credible enough for the first look. I’m Interested exectly in the fact that the people are proud of not knowing something.

Well, yes, if you think a little, it’s that: they are bragging that they didn’t embrace some parts of the culture around them. Yep, culture. It’s not only Dostoevsky and Monet, but also memes and someone’s little pony’s.

And no, I haven’t played the game yet and saw barely a couple of episodes of GoT (the book is better, is my usual excuse ;)) But I have watched through all the available to me Doctor Who episodes and play other games, and all that other stuff.

What’s important with that: I’m aware that I missed some part of the world culture. I will never understand some jokes, or analogies. And I don’t see what is here to be proud about not knowing something. You don’t know it. That’s the fact. Probably you don’t need it, like tensors or jacobian, but no point to gloating about it.

And now I’m leaving to find at least one pokemon and watch some of GoT😉

To send or not to send


An email which is timely not sent is worth ten emails sent at wrong time.


Recently, my colleague and I delivered a lecture about personal productivity to other our colleagues. It is based on a course of my friend, and has this slide in it:


It is (in turn) based on Tim Urban theory about procrastination, but in this particular case is describing what our internal monkey may do with our regular work if we don’t formulate it good enough, or if we otherwise give it too much of free action time.

After that we showed that however hard and unpleasant it is, we can wake up our consciousness if:

1) we want to

2) we have enough time.

And the situation, like pictured in the slide, can be resolved quite easy. I saw the recipe so many times all over the internet, so I was blown away discovering that so many people in my audience don’t know about that trick. And almost no one uses it! And almost all of them do such mistakes from time to time.

What is the trick? That’s easy: delay sending your email. I know how to do it in MS Office Outlook. I know that the similar (but more simple) option presents in Gmail, and I know that there is not such option in Outlook.com. So choose wisely =)

What it does for us? It gives our intelligence time to take over steering controls from the monkey. And write “I don’t completely agree” instead of “you’re an idiot”. Or if you are naturally polite (which I am not), you may remember that not every person needs receive the letter just because you’ve hit “reply all”. Anything can happen if you take just several seconds to reflect on your latest action. Anything.

And here is how to configure it in Outlook 2016 and Gmail.

P.S. I was speaking about video with raccoon and cotton candy in the lecture. Here it is.








Books I failed to read

clip_image002Once you start a book, you should finish it

Some columnist I’m not sure I agree with

You already got, I believe, that I read and sometimes write about books I like. Or don’t like for that matter. But there is a whole lot of books my kung fu isn’t strong enough for me to finish reading at all. Remembering a discussion after one of my previous blogs, I’ll be as direct as I can. I don’t mean that they are bad. I mean that they didn’t start my thinking process. Or they just wearied me too much to continue reading for one reason or another. I don’t even think that it’s a good habit: quit reading before “The End”. It’s a new behavior for me because most books I read from start to finish, bored I am or no.

But in some cases I am not ready for the book. Say, a problem the book is about doesn’t appeal to me, or I know too much about it, or too little, or something. Sometimes I cannot bear the style. In some rare cases I just disagree so much that reading on is too hard for me. There is so many books I like or think they are useful for me. Not reading them while I’m struggling with the boring one is like betrayal. It looks like wasting my time.
What are the books I couldn’t read? The list isn’t complete, of course, but I am an absolute sucker when quitting reading. So, meet my “haven’t enough guts for them” list:
Daniel Goleman: Primal leadership. This one happened to get into my hands just too early. Or I’m unable to be emotionally intelligent. I’ll get back to it soon and try it once more. Still, a couple years ago it was too complex and provided no immediate and practical connection to my life and its problems.

Stephen Covey: 7 habits of highly effective people. Nah… I told you already: the book “7 reasons you aren’t the people I’m writing about”. Or some other reason. I just couldn’t interest myself enough in it. I believe it could be still useful and it’s just me. It is possible you should try it, though.
Steve Pavlina: Personal Development for Smart People. Same as above.
Danielle Laporte: The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals With Soul. I like the idea (as I understand it from about 1/3 I read). But the style just freaks me out. Can’t read the text. But again, the idea resonated with me well.
Danny Penman & Mark Williams: Mindfulness. A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Let’s say, I’m not into meditation. I tried two weeks of the eight-week course, suggested in the book. No fool. They haven’t brought me any new knowledge or sensation. Some of the ideas aren’t new to me. Like monitoring how you’re thinking and switching from an idea to a thought. That’s some stuff you learn in Russian army while being a sentry.😉
Aron Ralston: Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Not business or self-help book at any rate but not fiction. Just a man who had been once stupid wrote a book about how stupid he had been. A Saga of Stupidity. Reading it is unbearable to me, so I dropped it.
And what books you haven’t finished? What seemed stupid or was not worth it?

Cannot draw? Doodle: A place to learn how to do it.

clip_image002[5]Do you have hands? Excellent. That’s a good start. Can you hold a pencil? Great. If you have a sketchbook, open it and start by making a line, a mark, wherever. Doodle.

Chris Riddell

Some time ago I decided that it’d be great if I will learn how to draw. Ok, not like “DRAW” draw, more like doodle. Sticky man and all that stuff. Why? Well, first of all, just because. I saw some beautiful stuff around me. Like Simon’s cat. And that’s bringing some envy to my life. Second, it now means I don’t have to look for stock photo for my blog, worry about copyright and all that stuff. Believe me or not, it’s important for me somehow. And there is, as I like to mention, this particularly unpleasant German guy… Whatshisname… Ahhh – Alzheimer.😉 So, some researchers tell us that you may have less chances to meet him, if you’re doing something new. And believe me: drawing for me is NEW!

My next step was to try and doodle something. Nope. Didn’t work for two reasons. First, I didn’t know what to draw to illustrate my thoughts. And second, when I tried it looked… Well… Even worse than it does now. Here is an example:


While you definitely may (I hope) distinguish a rake here, I’m not that sure about a precision axe attached to it. Not that if I draw it today it will be much more understandable, but it will look better.

So: I don’t know what and I don’t know how. That’s the place to start. What should one do in such a situation? Find a training and go through it. And I did exactly what I said: found a training named IQ Doodle by Adam Sicinski. It’s a 40-day course over which Adam walks you through the basics of doodling, shows what and how you can do and challenges you to do more, better and faster. Actually, it took me much more than 40 days to finish it, and guess what? After the 40th day, Adam continues to send some materials. Not sure when he stops, but at the moment almost 200 things are waiting for me to doodle them.

Anyway, while I’m not able to draw even half as well as a child of a friend of mine, I’m even right now have switched in my blog posts from internet borrowed pictures to what I created myself. I’ll be putting some memes here, of course, some books covers, or maybe some other pictures if it feels right. But otherwise it’s already my own “handmade”. And I like it more than before😉

I’m not into explaining and discussing in detail, what the course is. I’ll just show you one of the challenges. Adam suggests that someone is drawing some figure. Anything: just a line, a circle, or any scribble. And you should draw a face around it.

A friend of mine (who happened to start the course with me) and I tried it and here are some of the results:


And the second example:


My favorite is the cat on the first page. The guy doodled it from something like that:


Unbelievable level of imagination if you ask me. But then another wild person appeared and made us both ashamed with this:


Anyway, from now on you’re bound to tolerate my doodling in the blog posts, unless you just unsubscribe.😉 And you may sign up for the course, too: it’s free and it’ll do you good if you’re as bad at doodling as I am.