Saturday, March 30, 2013

I Discovered Coursera!

A week ago I discovered Coursera, a website that allows people to take classes on any subject they wish, for free. I was thrilled (how did I miss this site?) but reasonably cautious. Like I've mentioned before, I have this knack for jumping feet-first into a project.  Again, I'll be using this blog as a means to publicly commit. I signed up for four different courses over the span of the next few weeks, and I am committing to seeing this through! So basically, if I don't do what I said I'm going to do, I know that anyone reading this will know I can't commit!

So far I've signed up for...

A Beginner's Guide to Irrational Behavior, by the guy who wrote the book Predictably Irrational. I'd been meaning to buy it for the last couple months. Even luckier for me, as a result of this course, the guy put his books on sale! I've read about irrational behavior/cognitive biases, but I've been doing it on my own, in an unstructured way. I figure I can use this to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge, (and figure out what those gaps are, to begin with.) It's 6 weeks long.

Next on my list is Statistics: Making Sense of Data. I'm taking a stat course next semester, and I figure a head start can never hurt. This one hasn't started yet (April 1st) and is 8 weeks long.

Starting on the same day as the Stat course is Gamification. Again, something I've looked into on my own, but have never bothered learning in a formal way. I'm curious. It's 6 weeks long. It doesn't seem nearly as intense as the first two, so I'm not really worried about the additional pressure.

The last course I'm taking is Genes and the Human Condition, and I'm taking it because I'm taking Genetics next semester at college, and I've been hearing people say it's intense, which makes me a little bit nervous. I've never had any problems with biology, but it's better to be safe. ...But that's only half of it: this course combines genetics with the social sciences!  This always fascinates me: the relationship between the environment you're raised in, and your genes. It starts on April 22nd (so far away...) and lasts for 6 weeks.

I'm not really recommending any of these, because I've not taken them yet/have only taken one of them for less than a week. I'm not sure what to expect, either. Hopefully, I'll be less bored in upcoming weeks, thanks to these courses. If there's one thing I dislike, it's being bored.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Update: My 100 day challenge

Yes, that is what I have decided to call my experiment from a month ago. I've kept up with it, and in the first few days I realized there were several major problems with the spreadsheet. First of all, my binary system did not track how much time I put into each topic. I then changed the system, so that less than 15 minutes of time equated to 1 point, greater than 15 minutes but less than 45 minutes equaled 2 points, and finally, greater than 45 minutes was equal to 3 points.
Granted, less than fifteen minutes seems practically pointless, but I wanted to reward myself for the act of remembering to do something, not for doing a substantial amount of something. I did also want to be able to distinguish between the two (doing something for five minutes versus fifty,) so I wasn't tempted to just do something for five minutes, because I'd gotten a point for it. The maximum number of points I can possibly obtain in a day (considering that I need to eat, sleep, go to class, etc) is about 36. So far, the highest I've gotten is a 20.

This system seems to be working for me. I'm remembering to use it every day, and it's helping me remember what I've been doing or not doing pretty accurately. Speaking of which, I exercise much less than I thought I did, and do a lot more work (in general) than I thought I did.

This data will serve as my general set point when I start experimenting with pomodoro and other productivity techniques, to see if I perform better when using them.

Oh, and why call it 100 day challenge? Because I committed on keeping up with this spreadsheet for at least 100 days.