Sometimes you need to move backwards in order to move forward

Starting at the beginning

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, but I was waiting for the right time. When I first started as a website developer, I landed my first job, which I expected to be a junior role. It was at a junior salary, but they were looking for someone a mid to senior developer.

This certainly didn’t come across in their job ad, and during my interview, I must have come across as a stronger developer than I was. However, they knew I came out of college and worked as a cashier, and they knew this was my first rodeo as a professional developer. Long story short, I lasted three weeks and struggled the whole time. During the third week, they could see I was working and had to let me go. It was absolutely heartbreaking, but I was able to go back to my old job as a cashier.

I turned up to my old job and explained to my manager that it didn’t work out. I asked if I could come back, and he was more than happy to employ me once again. After around six months, I tried again at another company, where I could then move forward. Since then, I have been working as a developer, and I’ve now been in the game for around eight years.

A more recent example of going backwards

Something similar also happened recently. I left a position for a new one because I felt like I needed a change. My employer at the time was sad to see me go, but they said they would love to have me back in the future. I then began my new position, and after a couple of months, I decided it wasn’t for me. I left and started looking elsewhere. On the off chance, I could go back to my old job. I messaged my previous manager.

After some back and forth and rearranging my rate, they were happy to have me back. I’m now working at my previous position and so glad to be back. The new job just wasn’t for me, and it’s great that the door remained open. For now, I’m happy to stay for a longer time, and who knows what might happen in the future?

Don’t be afraid to move backwards

If you’re in a similar boat where you find your current job isn’t for you. Maybe you can look back at a previous employer and ask if they will have you back. You never know what might happen, and it’s not shameful to go back to a workplace prior, especially if you made a special connection and a few friends.

A daily journal with todos listed.

Making and Breaking Habits

It’s now the start of a new year, and people start to think of new goals. They may start to think about the new habits they want to create to achieve their goals. Thinking of losing weight? It would be best if you built habits which will allow you to lose weight. Want to write that book? You need to try and enforce writing habits which will allow you to complete your writing goal.

However, most people never think about the habits they need to build. Most think about an end goal but never think about how to achieve that goal. Building habits is more important than your end goals because it will help you achieve them.

How do I start making habits?

Start by thinking about the habits you need to build. Do you need to write more? Should you write daily? Etc. These are the thoughts you need to think about to create habits. Write your habits down, they could be between 5 and 10 habits, and you can build on these as time goes on.

Make building these habits as easy as possible. If you need to write, have a pen and paper in the places you want to write. It could be on your bedside cabinet, a desk or even on your sofa. Place it anywhere where you think it can help you. This can be the same if you want or need to write on a computer. Buy an iPad or cheap tablet that will allow you to write, and place it somewhere, within easy reach.

A personal example of mine… I wanted to floss more, and at first, I would have to think about this habit because my floss was always in my bathroom cupboard. I made the habit easier to remember by putting the floss in-between my toothbrush and mouth wash. This way, when I finish brushing my teeth, I am reminded to floss.

Simple actions to help promote your habits will make it easier to do. This is something none of us thinks about, but we should always be thinking about it.

Don’t forget about breaking bad habits

Everyone also has bad habits. If you want to lose weight, then it’s likely your bad habit is overeating. For instance, I’ve built up a habit of having coffee before CrossFit. If I don’t wake up in time for my coffee, then I will go back to bed and skip CrossFit for the day. This is a terrible habit, and it’s taken me a while to realise it’s negative implications.

I want to work out more and stick to a 5 day-a-week schedule. To do this, I shouldn’t be so reliant on coffee. To build my workout habit, I must first break my coffee habit. My routine will now be to wake up, make and drink coffee if I only have time. Otherwise, I will skip making coffee and go straight to CrossFit. My coffee habit can wait until after my workout.

There are two resources you can use to help further educate yourself on the subject. First, there’s the book called Atomic Habits, and second is a YouTube video on building habits.

What habits are you looking to make? What habits are you looking to break?

Let’s hear them in the comments below, and hopefully, we can all make goals together by building on our habits. ⬇️

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Focus Keeper is an extraordinarily brilliant Pomodoro Timer

What I’ve used in the past

In the past, I’ve used a timer called Forest and wrote about it before. Which had been good at the time. However, at the end of my last article, I expressed that they could make things a little better like having a Pomodoro style added to it.

Sometimes, I would use it non-stop for a whole week. Then have this habit of whacking it up to the full amount of time to have a genuinely blossoming tree. This was great for the reward side, but it wasn’t great for when I needed to take a break.

Because of this issue, I stopped using it for a very long time and kept wondering to myself if there was something better suited. I’ve looked into Pomodoro timers in the past which were browser-based solutions, and they all sucked. There was little to no explanation for what the time was for. Should I be working right now, or taking a break? If I move away from my browser and another program is on top, I can no longer see the time, and there was no sound. Browser-based Pomodoro timers were useless and lacking in so many features, so I gave up.

A new hero has entered the room

Until last week when I listened to a fascinating podcast episode talking about Pomodoro apps. This reinstated my interest, and I decided to take a look at the Apple App Store. I entered “Pomodoro timer” in search and up came “Focus Keeper” (available on the Apple Store, and Android Store). Out of intrigue, I decided to download it and give it a go.

Instantly, it gave me a run-through of “Focus”, “Short Break” and “Long Break” timers. I thought I would keep all timings as the default, which is 25 minutes for focus or work time, 5 minutes short break, and 25 minutes long break which has worked out well for me. If it doesn’t suit your needs, then you can change them to suit you.

Some annoyances (at least for me) that you should know about before starting a timer are the sound options. The timers can have a ticking sound which I find very distracting and had to turn them off. However, you can change to ticking sounds and even switch to music. On Apple devices, it can work with Apple Music, but not Spotify, which is a shame. I’m not sure how it works for Android, but maybe you can link it to Spotify on there.

Break little and often

Breaks will also play a lovely beach sound by default which confused me. I was listening to music on the same device. Then during my break, I had this beach sound with my music. At first, I thought it was part of the track, but I couldn’t remember it being on the song before. It wasn’t until it went from one song to another. I could still hear waves playing, and I figured it was the app on not my music. I quickly turned it off after I found out about this.

Of course, you might be completely different and want ticking sounds and waves during your breaks. However, it is entirely up to you, and the app is very customisable. The only thing it doesn’t do is block apps or websites which if you need an app to do that, then Forest might be for you.

It would be great if someone could make a fusion of Forest and Focus Keeper, but until then, I will continue to use Focus Keeper while keeping an eye out on other applications within this space.

If you know of any other apps that are potentially better, then please feel free to share them, and, I will take a look.

Positivity can’t be kept daily

This one may seem like a bit of a downer. Positivity can’t be kept 100% of the time, and today is like this for me. I felt a bit down and I can’t figure out why. It could be because I had to go to work during a snow day. It could also be the fact that there wasn’t much snow here. I absolutely love the snow, and I love playing in it. Call me a big kid, ask me if I’m going to grow up. The truth is, it’s a magical time that I don’t experience enough.

I would probably grow sick and tired of it if I lived in a cold place, but it rarely happens here. I wanted enough that I could cherish the moment, and it didn’t happen today.

I’m now spending some time gaming, this will take my mind of things and hopefully allow me to be positive tomorrow. Gaming gets a lot of bad rep, but it isn’t as bad as people make out. In fact, it can be a very positive experience for a lot of people, especially those that suffer depression/anxiety.

Silencing your anxieties

A few days ago, I wrote a Tweet on the best ways to silence your anxiety/depression. When I was going through terrible anxiety due to work (talking about throwing up). I found gaming was the most helpful thing for me. I could game for hours and because my mind was so focused, nothing else mattered.

As soon as I came away from gaming, and did something that required less attention, my mind would wonder. This had bad consequences as it would start to worry, and it would leave me with terrible anxiety. I would run to the bathroom and throw up. Literally to the point of having an empty stomach, it was not nice.

Some people may think of this as an excuse, but it really isn’t. Gaming is just one avenue, and I eventually transitioned to CrossFit. CrossFit is another channel to help me get through the bad times. Sometimes though, it can also be an enabler, but it has helped me to control my anxiety, and not let it get the better of me.

Any and every activity could help

If you love reading, writing, meditation, yoga or even knitting, then I highly suggest you keep using that as a way to focus. This will in turn help you through your darkest days and give you some sort of achievement. You don’t even have to be amazing at what you do, you just need to find enjoyment.

Find friends or a voice

As well as these activities, you could also try talking to your friends, as it’s always good to share. If your friends know about your issues, then they can also try to help.If you lack friends, then someone on the end of the phone or meeting new people could help. There are so many charities out there trying to help, and you could use one of those.

Plant trees and stay focused

Stay focused, be present

I have recently been trying to find some apps that will help me with my focus. I used an app called impulse blocker which would block any website that you would add to the list. You can enable and disable it whenever you liked, but I often found I would just disable it for a large duration of time and then become easily distracted.

I also found it wouldn’t allow me to track my time in attention at all which I feel is what I needed the most.

Enter Forest App

Forest is a fantastic app that helps me set a timer on a tree, when I plant that tree, it will start to track my time. Once the time has passed, I have now grown a beautiful tree, if you download the app on your phone, you can see your forest and which days you were most productive.

I have the app on my phone and on my work computer as a FireFox add-on. Using the timer in my browser allows me to also block any sites that may distract me. It will cover the website with the logo and let me know how much longer I have until I can view the site. Once my tree is planted, I then receive some coins (the longer the timer, the more coins you can accumulate) and can reward myself with some distraction time.

It would be cool to see it expanded upon, perhaps being able to set work hours, the length of productivity time and the length of break time. Say I set an hour of productivity time and 15 minutes break time, it could just cycling through that from the start of my workday to the end.

What are your thoughts on this app? Is there anything else you would recommend to help keeping your productivity levels up? Let me know in the comments below.