Activation Energy – Building Habits

“I just need to write one sentence today.”

Last night, I went to my first meetup. I’d put 2 other meetups on my calendar in the weeks prior, but always felt too drained after work to venture into the unknown. Even though the topics interested me greatly (one was R, the other was Python) I was intimidated at the thought of having to explain my place in the data science and web development landscapes. The only reason I made myself go last night was social accountability; I’d invited a friend to join me.

The main reasons I invited my friend were 1) to get some social time with him while still being productive, 2) to hold myself accountable for going to this Meetup, and 3) because he is new to coding/programming. I was exhausted after work as usual, but the evening ended up being a really valuable experience for me. The focus of Alex Standiford‘s talk was productivity, motivation, dedication, time management, and various resources related to balancing independent learning with full-time employment. My friend and I talked direction in tech and I got to weigh in on the value of the various languages he could pursue. He got to ask questions about PHP and get some reassurance that the front-end coursework he is taking on Udemy is still relevant to job opportunities that would interest him.

I emailed him the following notes/links this morning:

The two things I wanted to remember to Google:

This is the web development teacher I like:
Jeffrey Way is the php guy that Alex Standiford was recommending last night. I think Laracasts is the main platform he uses for teaching now.
He has some stuff on TutsPlus but it looks like there are only a few free resources there.
This one from him looks like a bunch of free tutorials with a clear structure & homework:
Other resources that seemed free/useful:
The concept of starting with small goals like “I will do one pushup” to trick your brain into building healthy habits was not new to me. I’ve been using the Fabulous app to give my morning, afternoon, and evening routines some structure and clarity; the “one pushup” mentality is promoted explicitly in that app. Coopting that strategy for professional development pursuits was an “aha” moment for me. I had no trouble making time for online learning in the beginning, but as the school year slowly demands more of my time – anyone with classroom teaching experience can relate to the amount of work done off-the-clock – I was finding myself prioritizing low-entry-point tasks rather than committing to a 20-minute Python tutorial on various Machine Learning models. But I can commit to 5 minutes of a 20-minute tutorial, one sentence of a blog post, or a one-paragraph comment on a discussion post in my graduate coursework.
The beauty of committing to one sentence is that you never know when that activation energy will open the door to full-blown productivity.

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