Weevo and the Manatee

Progressing through Madison Kanna’s Becoming a Software Engineer class when I was introduced to the radically-new concept, at least to me, of deep work. The goal of working deeply is to do so by freeing yourself of the ever-increasing number of distractions we are faced with in our increasingly tech-centric world.

Cal Newport’s Deep Work

One of the tenants behind forming deep work habits is disconnecting, whether temporarily or otherwise, from attention-sink of social media outlets. Average time each day spent browsing and posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to name a few, varies widely by person, so the amount of time saved by nixing these activities is obviously subjective. For someone like myself whom is constantly checking and updating my feeds throughout the day, the time really adds up and can account for a huge chunk of my time. So I decided to take a hybrid approach to this, and instead limit my Facebook time to just one weekend a month, where I can view and update all the happenings of myself and my family and friends over the span of a few days.

It’s been almost a week since I started this experiment, and I can already notice a huge increase in the amount of study time I’ve spent in my pursuit of Python-nirvana [more on this in a second]. I can also honestly say I’ve felt happier as well. I’m not distracting myself trying to think of clever or interesting things to entertain my poor Facebook followers with, and I like to think these longer periods of isolation will also improve the quality of time I’ll spend with these people when seeing them in person.

There is a lot more between the covers of Deep Work. More examples Newport cites, more strategies he provides to help the reader evaluate their professional day-to-day, and get the most of it. It can be a quick, weekend read, and worth every moment. Do yourself and your career a favor, and take time out to give it a look!

As mentioned above, a majority of this newly-discovered excess of time was spent in preparation of the PCAP certification exam, which I believe I briefly spoke on in my last entry. The enlightenment of these new study habits really came at the right time, as they allowed me to wrap up the Python courses offered by the Python Institute, which in turn netted me a nice 50%-off voucher. That in hand, I decided to go ahead and set an exam date for later in the week, forcing myself to commit to finalizing my studies. After doing quite well on the practice exam, I felt quite confident as I gallivanted into USC’s testing center. While I had two days before begun to feel the effects of the seasonal ‘yellow snow’ and was fearful it might negatively impact my performance, just before going in I saw some encouragement from a dear friend, which helped to dispel that dread. An hour later, I walked out of the building, and went on with my day..

I passed! PCAP-certified!

Wanting to maintain the surge of momentum from this achievement, and armed with these new mental-expanding methods, I decided to pick back up with data science. The complexities of Pandas’s dataframes had stymied my progress in the past, but after great success finishing Udacity’s Programming for Data Science degree a few months ago, am thinking to pursue the next tier of the track. The next cohort begins on Wednesday, March 20th, and to better-prepare for this, I’ve been going through the Numpy and Pandas sections of Jose Portilla’s Data Science course on Udemy. I’ve taken a few of his classes before, and Portilla is a really good instructor. I think I’m actually getting the hang of manipulating data with these dataframes now, so I’m feeling a lot more confident about going for this next nanodegree!

The future looking brighter, able to be more focused now-than-ever on becoming a developer, I’m really optimistic about making progress these next few months. So now is of course, the perfect time to get waylaid by this feeling that I might be in love. Maybe this self-imposed semi-isolation will allow me to forget how crazy that idea would be. Or, perhaps like the proverbial manatee living atop Melancholy Hill, I’ll be sitting here, just looking out for the day when you’re close to me, whatever you may be..

Gorillaz’s On Melancholy Hill is, I believe, a song about addiction and the delusions you surround yourself with as you try to cope and reconcile not having what/whom you want. It’s an absolute fave of mine.