Hi, I'm Frederic.

Web Developer & Entrepreneur
blogging about life and programming in Node.js, Go and React.

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Your tools for progress & success in life: Goal Setting & Focus (Part 1)

This is part one of a two part series:
Part 1: Introduction & Goal Setting
Part 2: Focus & Conclusion

Constant goal setting and laser focus is something that, now I reflect on it, seems like an evident answer to how much I have advanced skills and career wise in the past two years, but, was mostly done naturally/by intuition up till now.

I read, about six months ago, a really good book called “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller and it talked almost entirely about those two items.

So, let’s try and define those terms, plus, give you advice and example on how to implement them in you daily life and work.

Goal Setting

Goal setting, here, takes on a wide definition and is not about have one and only goal but more to go through the process of constantly having goals.

Goal Setting: Timeframe

You should be setting goal not for in X years but for this day, this week, the next 90 days, the next year and the next 5 years. There are different sizes of goals and some can only fit in years from now, while others, are really need to be accomplished today so that you can move on with a project.

The goal you set for yourself to attain in 5 year will naturally involve smaller steps that will become your 1 year goals. In turn, your 1 year goal will involve 90 days goal and so on.

Goal Setting: Frequence

The thing with goal, especially the short term ones, is that they are in constant movement. Depending on what you accomplished yesterday you might have new thing planned for today, or, you are catching up as you got distracted and didn’t get to finish what you set out to do yet.

You will constantly be updating your goals. I personally try to take 10 minutes every morning to hash out what I need to accomplish and take 1 hour or so every week to update my goals for next week plus all the longer term ones if needed.

Goal Setting: Context

Now you might be thinking of a there is a conflict here, we want to be setting only one goal per time-frame but what if we want multiple thing. Well, here’s the solution/middleground you should keep having only one 5 year goal say, for your career, but, it’s evident that you will have a different set of goals for your family, other ones for your love life and other ones for your personal improvement. Have as much “set of goals” as areas of your life you consciously work on daily.

This was part one of a two part series, in the next post we will define further the focus part and explore how, coupled with goal setting, you guarantee yourself tremendous personal, career and relationship improvments.
Part 1: Introduction & Goal Setting
Part 2: Focus & Conclusion

Your tools for progress & success in life: Goal Setting & Focus (Part 2)

This is part two of a two part series:
Part 1: Introduction & Goal Setting
Part 2: Focus & Conclusion

Focus

Focus is your secret weapon for removing a lot of the decisions and emotions from the process of you progressing towards your goals. Focusing on only one thing at the time not only makes your workload appear less intimidating but allows you to give 100% of your attention/concentration to the problem/activity at hand, in terms, leading to a high quality outcome than if you tried juggling with few things at the same tame, or, had that other thing on your mind bothering your.

Focus: On What

When we speak of focus here, we mean it in the sense of focusing on one activity, one work item. Your goal setting time and planning/meetings should do the job of thinking out what is the logical next steps, in what order you need to accomplish tasks. But, when you are sitting at your desk, alone, ready to work, you should focus on the smallest next step to achieving the next item on your to-do list, that’s it.

Focus: As a habit

Many people don’t expect things like success, happiness, health, relationships to be things you have a lot of control on, but, most people that are doing really good in those areas of their life got their voluntarily, got there by working on having good habits so that cultivating all those becomes second nature. So many great books and resources talk about habits and how powerful of an impact they can have on your life if make a concious decision to weed out the bas ones and work on the good ones.

Conclusion

(TL;DR) Set your goal (note the lack of plurial) for the day, week, 90 next days, 5 next years, adjust them continusly as you progress, don’t forget it’s normal to have a set of goal for your work than for your personnal life than for… It’s essential that when you sit down to work you have already planned and prepared what is next too be done so you can simply focus on the next small task at hand, it’s a real productivity enabler. Focus can be built as a habbit, as many other healthy habits, it will definitively make a better you if you stick with it long enough

This was part two of a two part series, in the first post I introduce the subject and define what exacly we mean by goal setting:
Part 1: Introduction & Goal Setting
Part 2: Focus & Conclusion

On the importance on you physical health to your virtual world work

Health and more generally less technical subjects are not talked about that much among programmer (and more generally people working in front of a computer daily). Don’t you think this is a bit weird, the people who would get the most benefit out of good ergonomics and healthy habits are the least exposed to it. Although, this is changing slowly.

As you may have came to realize, taking care of your body and health is central to your daily mental performance, focus and tiredness, in terms, impacting your happiness doing your work.

This blog post is a try at putting together a short list of simple habits / things to look out for daily to instantly improve your health.

For most of the items that follow, the very best way to approach implementing one of them in your daily life is to track whether or not you followed them using a spreadsheet.

habits spreadsheet

(I just started doing so not so long ago and it really helps)


Read up on the Bulletproof Diet it’s not so far from the Paleo Diet, only, with a little bigger list of food to avoid and tons more good fats (especially butter). To explain it quickly, it’s a diet that promotes mainly eating raw foods, so, a lot of vegetables and meat in enough quantities so that you aren’t hungry anymore, plus, it add a special concoction called bullet proof coffee and promotes fasting from 8pm to 12-13 the next day, only having that special coffee for breakfast. Benefits range from: easy to stick with as everything is yummy, makes you loose fat with almost no workout and feeds your body all the best. The best part is that it’s built on years of scientific research and bio-hacking not on common sense, grandma’s saying of companies marketing efforts.


Stand up and stretch, move around a little, do jumping jacks, push ups each 30 minutes. Your body will thanks you 100 times in the long run, plus, your focus will be instantly improved.


Next up is a really general “no non-sense”, “the less the merrier”, list of things to avoid as much as possible (here tracking with a spreadsheet really helps staying accountable).

  • No smoking
  • No Alcohol
  • No Sugar
  • No dairy, soda, carbohydrates (mostly), fruits (in too big quantities or the morning),
  • No porn, masturbation, orgasm (more on that in the next point)

No PMO; In other words stop watching porn, masturbating and orgasming as often as you do at the moment. Again, a lot of research has gone into this and you wont believe the consequences of doing it / benefits of abstaining. You may have heard of the nofap movement on reddit, well it’s not so far from that but applied to anybody. A good source of information on this subject is a website/book called Your Brain On Porn.


Meditate daily, meta-cognition really helps you improve. Here, HeadSpace helps.


Writing or journaling as this meta-cognition moment when you are writing makes you internalize the lessons you had during the day, the new things you learned and realize what progress you did.


Reading, more generally learning constantly.

Prosty.io: Progress Report #1

Ho boy, what a week!

You know what? I did it, I launched it: Prosty.io is live!

Ok, it’s not as grand as I wanted it to be when I started this project 7 days ago, this is only a quickly put together landing page plus email list sign up. But, I said I would launch what I had on Friday and that’s me honoring what I said.

I have a bunch more designed and coded up but it’s still missing a lot of work to be a fully functional application.

The thing is:

1. I had a something pretty serious that approached “chronic fatigue syndrome” symptoms. I wasn’t able to be productive at anything all, I wanted to do was go take a nap or eat, always.

Seeing how serious it was decided to put an end to it and slept for a day and a half straight, waking up only to eat. That got me back on my feet. I begin to think I was simply really exhausted with all this travel, weather change, stress…

2. I also have client work to do and have been catching up after not doing much since I landed in Cracow 1 week ago.

I really believed this 7 day startup launch was possible if I focused on the minimum needed and stayed in a super-productive state, but, that didn’t happen.

So, let’s adjust the schedule and, following Amy Hoy’s ship by September challenge, Prosty.io will launch it’s fully-functional MVP no later than the 31st of August at midnight (EDT).

Where’s the progress report?

Yes, yes, it’s coming, as this title suggests I will start making these progress reports until I launch as I think it’s a really good motivator not to slow down or stop, studies proved it. Shall we start?

What has been accomplished

  • Write a thorough README for the codebase that includes a project description, technology choices, an outline of all endpoints & more
  • Write an initial first part of the text for the marketing (/landing/home) page
  • Design on paper the 50% of the planed for MVP pages
  • Setup up the project’s codebase
  • Setup Heroku (hosting), this was needed for publishing that current version
  • Setup DNS properly in Cloudflare
  • Define the Companies, Users and ComapnyUsers tables
  • Finish the sign in & sign up page design in html & css
  • Finish the backend code for the sign up page
  • Finish the initial marketing/landing/home page design in html & css
  • Start reading up Stripe’s documentation for OAuth integrations and thinking of how Prosty will use it’s api.

What is next

I am concentrating head down on making the initial client’s path work so:

Landing page -> Sign up -> Dashboard (/w on-boarding) -> Connect Stripe -> Dashboard (/w next on-boarding step) -> Create client -> Client page -> Create payment -> …

Like this the project makes progress in a structured way that is motivating as you know how far a potential user can already use your application. Plus, you are not working left and right on different parts not seeing any progress.

Parting notes

Sorry if you read my blog and didn’t find this post deeply interesting, I know fully that this article was mostly for me, don’t worry, I will write other posts that will be more educative/interesting that progress reports.

Launching Quickly: Applying Lessons

I have now been reading startup related books for quite a while, even smaller books about ideation, launching quickly, launching now, this blog post is about applying those lessons, this weekend! Enough putting off, enough being part of the 98% that says tomorrow or not now or not for me.

Book I read related to this:

Even to some extent:

So here I am, jamming on Daft Punk, in a café, just started the Bulletproof Diet, just landed in Krakow, Poland, just came back from vacation, had an idea before bed yesterday and am building it now! Don’t ask me why it took so long, the important thing is I am taking action now.

Idea

I wanted a simple thing to build, and ideally solving some problem I had. That’s when I thought about my recent experience trying out at least 4-5 SaaS application aimed at helping freelancers manage projects, invoice their clients and track their time. My main gripe with most of them was that they all did really well at least one of there things but almost always had poor support for receiving payments from clients (Xero was really good but a bit to big for me at this point). But because they almost all adopt the do-it-all strategy they often have less that well done features in areas that are still important to running your business.

So, I am building an application with two business goals in mind: First, gather payments from clients really well whichever gateway you use. Second, to integrate with you other software that you might be using for invoicing to sync clients and paid/unpaid status.

Goals

My Goal #1 is to solve my own problem of taking payments with something else than PayPal in Freckle.

My Goal #2 is to monetize (read market and get users) this product to a 1000$ MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) to help attenuate the consulting ups and downs.

Steps

Step 1: Defining launch date

Too many times I read about people afraid of launching, worrying they don’t have enough, they need X and Y feature more. Also:

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

- Reid Hoffman

So, I will launch, whatever I have at that time, on Friday the 14th of August giving me 7 days.

Step 2: Defining core a core feature set

The core feature set should aim to solve one use case, mine, like DHH often stated, he built Ruby on Rails for his use case but is happy to put it on the open for people to adapt it to their needs. Focusing on this not only makes sure one group of clients is satisfied but also make you launch way sooner, obviously.

So, I want the product to have:

  • Support for linking your stripe account using OAuth2
  • Support for manually creating a client
  • Support for manually creating a payment the client owes
  • Support for sending an email to a client containing a payment link
  • Page where the client can see his outstanding total and payments
  • Page with all clients
  • Page with client details and all it’s payments
  • Payment processing sending money to client’s Stripe and taking a 0.5% cut
  • A landing page linking to the sign up page
  • A signup page
  • A login page

Step 3: Building

… goes to work … (continued in following posts)