April 17, 2006
@ 04:03 PM

Robert Scoble has a blog post entitled Halfway through my blog vacation (change in comment policy)

But, mostly, this past week was about change.

Some things I've changed? 1) No more coffee. 2) No more soda. 3) Xercising. 4) No more unhappy people in my life. 5) Get balance back in my own life.
One of my most memeorable conversations, though, was with Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords and a good friend. He told me to hang around people who are happy. And I realized I had been listening to too many people who were deeply unhappy and not bringing any value into my life. He told me to listen to this recording on NPR about "finding happiness in a Harvard Classroom." He also told me about the four agreements, which are Don Miguel Ruiz's code for life. Good stuff.

Over the past year I've been on a mission to simplify my life piece by piece. Along the line I've made some promises to myself which I've kept and others which have been more difficult to stick with.

Health: I enrolled in the 20/20 Lifestyles program in the health club near Microsoft about six months ago. Since then I've lost just over 60 pounds (27.5 kilos for my metric peeps). This week is my last week with my personal trainer and dietician before I'm on my own. I had hoped to lose more weight but last month was somewhat disruptive to my schedule with my mom being in town for two weeks and travelling for ETech 2006, SPARK and New York to see my dad. I am somewhat proud that I gained less than 2 pounds even though my schedule was complete mess. I've kept two promises to myself about my health; I'll work out 5 days a week and will keep my daily caloric intake to within 2000 calories a day 5 days a week [but never over 3000 calories in one day]. The excercise promise has been easy to keep but the diet promise has been harder than I've liked. Eating out is the hard part. Giving up soda for water was easier than I thought.

Work/Life Balance: I also decided to be better at compartmentalizing my work and home life. I promised myself not to spend more than 10.5 hours a day at work [in by 9AM, out by 7-7.30 PM at the latest] and to stop using the VPN to connect to work when I'm at home. I've also tried to stop checking work email from home on weekday evenings and will check it only once a day on weekends. If I'm in crunch mode for a particular deadline then this may chaneg temporarily. Last week I averaged about 14 hours a day at work because I had a deadline I wanted to hit for Friday. However I didn't want this to mean I got home late since I value spending dinner time with my girlfriend so I left for work much earlier in the day last week. This week I'm back to my regular schedule. 

Professional Work Load: Last year, I worked on lots of things I was interested in simultaneously. I worked on the social networking platform for Windows Live, replacing MSN Member Directory with MSN Spaces Profiles, photo storage for Windows Live services from MSN Spaces to Windows Live Expo, and a bunch of other stuff which hasn't shipped so I can't mention here. This was just the stuff my boss had me working on. There was also stuff I was interested in that I just worked on without being explicitly told to such as organizing efforts around the MSN Windows Live developer platform (see http://msdn.microsoft.com/live AND keeping the spark alive on us getting an RSS platform built for Windows Live. This was a lot of stuff to try to fit into a workday besides all the other crap that fits into your day (meetings, meetings, meetings). At my last review, I got some feedback that some folks on my team felt they weren't getting my full attention because I spent so much time on 'extracurricular' activities. Although I was initially taken aback by this feedback I realized there some truth to it. Since then I've been working on handing off some of the stuff I was working on that wasn't part of my job requirements. Thanks in part to the positive response to my ThinkWeek paper there is now an entire team of people working on the stuff I was driving around the Windows Live developer platform last year. You should keep an eye on the blogs of folks like Ken Levy and Danny Thorpe to learn what we have planned in this arena. The RSS platform for Windows Live spark has now been fanned into a flame and I worked hard to get Niall Kennedy to join us to drive those efforts. Realizing I can't work on everything I am interesed in has been liberating.

Geeking at Home: I've cut down on how much time I spend reading blogs and don't subscribe to any mailing lists. Even on the blogs I read, I try to cut down on reading comment sections that have more negative energy than I can stomach which means skipping the comments section of Mini-Microsoft blog most days of the week. Even at work, I subscribe to only two or three distribution lists that aren't for my team or specific projects I am working on. I don't plan to have concurrent side projects going on at home anymore. I'll keep working on RSS Bandit for the forseeable future. Whenever there is a lull in development such as after a major release, I may work on an article or two. However I won't have two or three article drafts going at the same time while also being in bug fixing mode which used to be the norm for me a year or two ago.

I wish Robert luck in his plan to simplify his life and improve his health.