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Thinking about my progress

Work-life integration – My life has revolved around my job lately and I feel I haven’t been able to manage my time well these past few years. Ever since I got this job onshore, I have been working harder than ever. Sometimes looking for a new job crosses my mind. It’s just harder to look for a new job because I am still not confident with driving. Hopefully when I get my green card, it will open up more options for me.

Establishing a second income stream – My mother-in-law and I have been working on setting up our very tiny business of handicrafts (hair bows, fridge magnets, coasters, etc). Last December we ventured into making hair bows and we were able to make some really cute ones. I haven’t worked on it again this January because I’ve been very busy with work. Hopefully I can carve out some time and commit 1 weekend to working on our business. I really love the idea of having a second income stream and hopefully it grows slowly but surely until I would have an option to work on it full time when I retire when I’m in my 40s.

Work – I have lots of responsibilities at work. From managing the Offshore team, reviewing their technical document and code, analyzing defects, fixing defects myself, answering questions from other teams, submitting status reports, organizing team activities, etc. I feel that I still haven’t achieved my goals in terms of improving and expanding my current technical skills. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself but I think because most of my time is spent working with people, I have very little time left on learning new stuff. I hope this project will be successful and be on schedule so that I can move on to other projects where I won’t have to manage people Offshore – no more waking up at 5:30 am to review code at 6am or 7am! But this is my job, and it pays the bills, I am still very grateful for having it. Besides, I have learned a lot on managing virtual teams and my communication skills – both verbal and written have greatly improved as well.

Time Management

Taken from
Jeremiah Dillon is head of product marketing at Google Apps for Work. Follow him on Twitter @jeremiahdillon.

Monday: Energy ramps out of the weekend — schedule low-demand tasks like setting goals, organizing, and planning.

Tuesday, Wednesday: Peak of energy — tackle the most difficult problems, write, brainstorm, schedule your Make Time.

Thursday: Energy begins to ebb — schedule meetings, especially when consensus is needed.

Friday: Lowest energy level — do open-ended work, long-term planning, and relationship building.

Always bias your Make Time toward the morning, before you hit a cycle of afternoon decision fatigue. Hold the late afternoon for more mechanical tasks.

My Pick: Thrive by Arianna Huffington

I have started reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington and I am truly pleased with the book.

I got it right when I needed it. I was super stressed and have been feeling burnt out from work and life in general.

It helped a lot that I was given a 6-week course guide for the book. The guide gave me chapters to week for each week and some activities to help me remember the important topics of each lesson. I absolutely recommend this book!

I will be updating this post as I finish each weekly lesson.

Lesson 1: Sleep and Meditation

  • Key takeaways:
    • Take time to meditate to clear up your mind and improve your focus – keep your performance at optimal levels

    • Make an appointment with yourself to get enough sleep – mine is at least 7.5 hours
    • Dreams can help you connect to your innerself
  • Action Items:
    • Meditate for at least 15 minutes everyday – I still find this hard to incorporate in my daily routine but I find it really relaxing and energizing when I do
    • Sleep for at least 7.5 hours a day

Lesson 2: Disconnect and Walk

  • Key takeaways:
    • Take time to relax! Unwind and disconnect from electronics (phone, tablet, laptop) to connect to the people around you and more importantly, to connect with yourself

    • Walking helps
      • Make you more creative
      • De-stress

      • Make you healthy mentally and physically
      • You deal with depression
    • Don’t think while walking, notice everything around you
  • Action Items:
    • Walking as an alternate to my daily exercise
    • Make sure to disconnect and relax at least 30 minutes before going to bed
    • Turn off notifications from apps

International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! 🙂 (Late post. Wrote this last Friday night wasn’t able to publish it.)

We oughtta celebrate Women’s Day everyday but since they’ve chosen this special day as the International Women’s Day, then let’s celebrate!!!

Well, I’d like to celebrate by writing a post about how I have been able to work (successfully) in a man-dominated industry. The Information Technology (IT) industry usually has more men than women. I’m currently in a team with more than 15 men and I’m the only woman. One of my bosses asked me if I feel uncomfortable that I am the only woman in the team. I honestly don’t mind because I’m used to being the only woman or one of the few women in the team or even in the project.

Needless to say, there are pros and cons to being a woman in a man’s world. But I’d like to believe that there are  more pros than cons. And usually I can work out the cons.

These are some of the advantages that I could think of right now:

  • Men are more likely to help a woman out. (Basic man in shining armor kind of thing). I use this to my advantage most of the time. If I have code issues or tech problems, I could easily find someone in the team who is willing to help me out.
  • Men rarely engage in arguments with a woman or they avoid it as much as they can. Well, there are times when this could be a disadvantage. Like when the men would dismiss a woman’s idea prematurely – without hearing her out. But because I don’t like arguments, this is win-win for me. But when I really feel a need to prove my point, I wouldn’t hesitate to give a fair argument and fight to win my case.
  • Men can take care of you or make you feel safe. For example, when overtimes are inevitable, you feel safer if you have men to bring you home safe and sound.
  • (Decent)Men are less prone to gossip or spread nasty rumors around the office.

So far those are the things that I could think of right now. 🙂

I know that in some parts of the world, women still don’t enjoy being treated fairly. I just hope someday they will be given the same treatment, opportunities, and respect as the men in their society.

I end this post with a shoutout to the women who have greatly influenced my life: Mama, Nanay Inday, Mommy, Bianca and Sacha. 🙂 Thank you very much for being awesome women!

Thinking about how to reduce work-related stress

The past couple of weeks have been highly stressful for me – which led me to writing this post. I am really thinking of ways on how I could cut off some work-related stress or at least manage it well.

Whew. I don’t know how or when I could ever get used to this kind of stress. 😦

How do you handle work-related stress? I’d really like to know…especially if you work in the IT (Information Technology) world and if you are Developer/Systems Analyst like me.

I would really love to hear your suggestions… 🙂

Thinking about how to be a better software engineer

Whenever I’m asked what I do for a living, I often say I am a software engineer. But am I really close to being a good one?

I looked around the net for some tips/pieces of advice to becoming a better software engineer and I got the following:

  1. You’re paid to THINK. by Eric Hexter
    If you normally get your requirements verbally, try writing them down.
    Write down your requirements or technical plan in the easiest manner possible. That could be on a whiteboard, you could annotate a screenshot of an existing screen, you could use pencil and draw the changes to a print out of a screen shot.  Just do something in terms of thinking about what needs to be done before you start typing.  If you do write down what you plan to do, you can actually communicate it to other developers. You can have someone else review it and think through the problem.  You can also show it to the person who will decide if you created the correct software, imagine getting some feedback on what you want to build before you mess it up?

    The two most valuable ways I have found to write down what needs to be created are Screen Mockups and Sequence Diagrams. Now, I have been in the web space for a long time, so if you are not creating websites, or web applications, you may find that there are better ways to write down what you need for your particular design problem.  Either way , try to write it down. If you are writing mockups today, then add a sequence diagram for the more complicated problems and see if it helps.  I know it helps me and the developers I work with.

  2. Go, Solve Problems by Derick Bailey

I’m paid to solve problems consistently and reliably, and either implement the solutions through software or recommend a solution that doesn’t involve software. If I solve a problem once, but the solution breaks or is not repeatable after that one time, I have not done my job. If I solve a problem 100 times, add more code to try and solve a second problem and end up breaking the first solution, I have not done my job. My job is done when I can consistently and reliably solve the problem in a manner that either adds value or reduces cost. You are not paid to write software or tests. You are paid to solve problems and you happen to do it through software (and tests).

3. Learn to deal with people by John Sonmez

The basic problem is that humans are not logical creatures, we are emotional ones.  Sure, we like to pride ourselves on our ability to reason, but the reality is that most decisions we make are more influenced by emotion than reason.

What this means for you as a software developer is that unless you can effectively deal with other developers, managers, and even customers, you will constantly face trouble despite how good your ideas are or how valuable your skills are.

Being active and involved in the software development community in general can also help you immensely in your career.  It is not just about networking, but getting your name out there and building good Karma.

4. Understand the business of your customer by Markus Sprunck

How can you design and implement good software without deep understanding of the purpose or use? The answer is easy: “If you don’t know the WHAT, you can’t decide about the HOW.” A deep understanding of your customer’s and/or users’ businesswill lead to better requirements, designs, implementations and tests.Most of the software’s functionality creates no business value. The challenge is to select the functionality which creates business value. The better you know the business the higher is the probability to implement the best system.

5. Don’t Trust Code without Adequate Test by Markus Sprunck

Ten years ago, I trusted my code. Why not? After 8 years C++ with excellent skills and a lot of experiences. I just coded, tested and everything was working well. But over the years I made and saw a lot of errors. Because of these errors, I lost the trust in my own and others code.

Today, I don’t trust code until it passed:

  • unit test,
  • integration & system tests,
  • checks of performance and memory with real world data,
  • static code analysis,
  • measure code coverage of test,
  • load & stress tests and
  • peer review.

PBSP-Assisted Communities: Proudly Pinoy

PBSP (Philippine Business for Social Progress) has a vision of leading the business’ sectors efforts to reduce poverty in the Philippines. It has assisted a number of community-based organizations in starting and stabilizing their livelihood by providing credit as well as trainings, business advisory, and market development support.

I once had an opportunity to work with the organizations and see their products. I was really pleased to see that their products are of high quality – something that we Filipinos could really be proud of.

To learn more about the products and services of these PBSP-Assisted Community-Based Organizations, you can visit the site.You can help these organizations if you patronize their products/services or recommend them to your family and friends. Thanks!

pbsp

Bags made from water lilies

Bags made from water lilies

Globe Tattoo Wifi@Home

Ok, finally it’s here! Tattoo@Home Wifi. Based from the speedtest (Speedtest.net):
globespeedNot bad.. right? I availed of the 999 plan for speeds UP TO 1 Mbps. We have to pay for the Wifi router for 1000 pesos – about 350 per month, for 3 months.. on top of the 999 bill.

Seems good. Right now, I’m satisfied because I will be able to work from home. 🙂

9 Ways to be More Productive at Work

I got this article from Call Center Feast newsletter. By the way, The Feast Call Center is held at The New Horizon Hotel at 7 30 am every Saturday. You are invited to come, join us and be blessed! 🙂 I want to share this article with you so that we can all be more productive at work.

Wondering why you can barely find time to eat your lunch while your co-workers are enjoying their breaks? Or, thinking you’ve got a bigger workload or that you’re a harder worker? Think again. It may be that they have already mastered certain time-saving skills and habits that you haven’t – until now. Read on to discover the nine workplace habits that will boost your productivity and lower your stress levels.

1. Take a break.
Yes, you read it right. Contrary to the usual practive of skippping meals just to finish some tasks, taking a break can actually boost your productivity. Taking breaks is like hitting the reset button. It helps you empty out your brain cache so you have room to refill it, says Christine Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in our 24/7 World. First and foremost, she recommends taking lunch everyday and leaving your desk to do it. “When you have a working lunch, it’s just not very efficient. At some point you;re going to lose attention. It’s really important to take time off because otherwise your brain will reach a saturation point. When this happens, it becomes hard to focus on even the simplest task. At that point, you need to push away from your computer and take a break.

2. Start the day right
Study shows that if an employee is in a bad mood when they arrive at work, whether because of familial problems or a stressful commute, it can decrease their productivity by as much as 10% that day. So unless you come to the office everday in a great mood, start your day with 5 to 10 minutes of time dedicated to decompressing. Create a ritual. Maybe it’s meeting in the coffee break room or going around the office to greet everyone.

3. Exercise
According to MSNBC, researchers at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK found that professionals who spent 30-60 minutes on their lunch break working out experienced an overall performance boost of about 15%. Workers reported better time management skills, an increased abitlity to meet deadlines, and felt more satisfied witht their day.

4. Choose the right food.
You are what you eat, and eating a heavy mid-day meal will often make you feel sleepy for the rest of the afternoon. Try a salad or something a bit lighter so you won’t lag. The key is keeping your sugar levels steady throughout the day according to Kari Kooi, RD, corporate wellness dietician at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, who recommends three light meals and 2 snacks at regular intervals. Heavy meals can make you feel sluggish because they require more energy to digest. A quality lunch will consist of a fiber-rich carbohydrate, like water-rich veggies, and a lean, protein, like chicken or fish. When you hit midday slump, Kooi suggests going for proteins like mixed nuts and fruit instead of the usual energy-zapping pretzels, cookies, or candy, which cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then drop and may even make you hungrier.

5. Get More Sleep
We all know that sleep is important. Getting enough gives us energy, memory and mental clarity. Not getting enough sleep has been linked to weight gain, depression, and even cancer and heart problems.

6. Keep a flexible to-do list
Making a daily list of to-dos is a great way to stay on top of your work. However, there is one pitfall, it can make you inflexible. A lot of people feel their day’s been wrecked if they have to change their plan, but the most effective people understand that that’s part of the job. Start your day with a plan and continually update through the course of the day to note the items that haven’t been done or to add tasks as they crop up.

7. Say NO
It’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed at work. But one of the secrets of highly productive people is that they learn when and how to say no. For starters, say no to whiners, complainers, and distracting people. One way to do that is by wearing headphones. It sends the message that you’re busy and it drowns out the noise as well. When it comes to saying no to the boss, do it with tact, but firmly. Ask him to prioritize what’s most important given what’s on your plate. It’s your responsibility to tell your manager when you’re overloaded. If you continue to accept new tasks, management may assume you have the time to complete them. Don’te be shy about asking your boss to prioritize your workload and help you offload tasks that can be completed more efficiently by someone else.

8. Balance your workload
Different tasks require different level s of concentration, which you can use to your advantage. Prioritization is key. Start by identifying the tasks at hand into 2 categories: weeds and intensive work. Weeds are small, manageable things such as handling email, phone calls, and minor organizational tasks. Intensive work is anything that requires an extended period of concentration, such as management tasks, preparing presentations, writing, or editing. Miscellaneous routine tasks are like weeds in your garden; we all have them, and no matter how often we try to get rid of them, they never go away. Yet they have to be handled, and pulling a few weeds can provide a restorative break from more intensive work.

9. Put Perfectionism in its place
While turning in perfect work has been encouraged since kindergarten, that attitude can be counterproductive if it’s not managed. It’s important to pick your battles. Women by nature, are somewhat perfectionist. So we need to distinguish what requires perfectionism. Of course, you want to put your best foot forward in all situations, but if you’re trapped for time, prioritize. If you’re writing and informal memo to a co-worker, give it a quick look and spell-check it but resist the urge to re-read it 2 times over. If, on the other hand, you’re creating a brochure for your company or preparing an important presentation, then that’s the time to put all of your perfectionist tendencies to good use.

Original article appeared on WomansDay.com
http://shine.yahoo.com/secrets-to-your-success-20120120/8-habits-highly-productive-people-220400970.html