Enough Time

Yesterday I read an article by Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief at The Huffington Post Media Group entitled “There’s Enough Time in Your Life for Everything Important”. A quote from the article which I absolutely love is by Brian Andreas: “Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.” Yes our culture is obsessed with time. I planned every minute of every day to try to get the most out of my day. In my mind and I’m sure in the minds of others, being productive was most important. Always designate time towards tasks that support long term goals so that you’re always prepared for that big break. I attended to my schedule weekly, constantly making adjustments to scrape off minutes wherever I could. I constantly craved more hours in the day and sacrificed personal relationships for the sake of getting more done. A lot has changed this year though…thankfully in part to Martin. If I haven’t said it before, I’m saying it now, I’m loving my life even more right now. Work has been given less time in my day and family, love and rest have been given greater priority and I couldn’t be happier. I am thinking alot clearer now and placing less pressure on myself to get things done as if I’ll be scolded for it. I have one deadline for Monday with the University for the submission of grades. After Monday, I’ll be at such a slow pace I hope I don’t feel lost…lol. Arianna said her mother was a towering example of the joys of slowing down. She believed that rushing through life was a sure way to miss the gifts that come only when you give 100 percent of yourself to a task, a conversation, a dinner, a relationship, a moment. I can honestly say that one’s definition of success will determine their attitude towards time and how they prioritize things in their life. As long as success is defined by who works the longest hours, who goes the longest without a vacation, who sleeps the least, who responds to an email at midnight or five in the morning we’re never going to be able to enjoy the benefits of time affluence.

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What Successful People Did

As you browse online content, you’ll find countless articles and info-graphics on activities and habits of successful people. They usually tend to be early risers, exceptionally well organised, keep journals and to-do lists, exude joy, express gratitude, continuously learn, make time for family and friends and so on. While it’s easy to see some of these traits in people we most often view as successful, I often wonder how they were when starting out, when things were tough, finances were low and their goals seemed out of their grasp. While I do have a few of these traits naturally there are some that I try to instill as part of my character. Unfortunately, I sometimes become consumed with adopting these traits that I lose sight of my goals. While it’s great to know all the traits of successful people, I love listening to their stories when they were struggling as I’m better able to relate to that. On that journey to accomplishing our heart’s greatest desires, it’s important that we allow the struggles and disappointments to help us grow. Success is more of a journey rather than accomplishing a fixed set of goals and while I understand the theoretical aspect of this, my life experiences are weaving this understanding into my every being so that I’m constantly reminded of it. People who are now considered successful have gone through their tough times and are where they are now because of many different character traits. Figure out what works for you and what makes you happy and remember to be kind to yourself while pursuing your goals and the Universe will act likewise in return.

Sacrifice and Compromise

Lately, I’m reminded that in relationships there must be some sacrifice and compromise for it to work. How much should one compromise in a relationship, I’m still trying to figure that one out. A close friend of mine told me a few months ago, that I compromise too much of myself to make friendships and relationships work. I think compromise and sacrifice are great once the other person can be thankful for what their partner is willing to give up to make them happy. My last serious relationship ended in 2009 to one of my best friends and I’m really glad we have maintained a great friendship after the break up. Having spent the past six years focusing on myself, compromise can be somewhat of a challenge. I’ve invested so much in my education and career that I believe I need to grab at every opportunity that comes my way, even at the expense of my health and time with loved ones. I recently had the opportunity to work with a start-up here in Trinidad and Tobago and sadly, I turned down the opportunity. I looked at my current schedule and I knew it would be impossible to manage. I’m making great headway with a web based application and my lecturing duties are extremely important to me and I’m also finding it easier to make time to spend with loved ones. To risk losing the things that I have working for me now may not be a sensible compromise. It’s impossible to grab at every opportunity that comes your way and it’s understandable if you feel you need to. I wish that start-up all the success in the world even though I cannot be a part of it. One old saying that I always remember is “One bird in the hand is worth two in the bushes“.

Can’t Have It All

Earlier this year, I read an article by Ivanka Trump talking about women not being able to have it all. Ivanka Trump is the daughter of business mogul Donald Trump. She is also the executive vice president of development and acquisitions for The Trump Organization and the founder of the Ivanka Trump fashion brand. Most importantly, she is a wife and a mother of two beautiful children, daughter Arabella Rose and son Joseph Frederick. Ivanka recently launched the initiative #WomenWhoWork, which aims to “celebrate the many different ways in which women work and to redefine and break stereotypes around, what it looks like to be a working woman today.”. In an interview with Business Insider, Trump explained her perspective on work-life balance. She frankly says, “You can’t have it all.” When people ask her how she balances work and life, her response is always: “I don’t, and I don’t try to.” “People obsess too much about balance,” she said. “A scale is only in balance for a brief second. Inevitably the pendulum swings. It’s impossible to maintain.” Ivanka says, it’s less about balancing a “work life” and a “home life” and more about creating one rich, full life that’s tailored to my specific goals and priorities.

As I’ve decided to give my personal and family life a bit more focus, I too am realising the difficulties with trying to create a balanced life. I began feeling a bit overwhelmed with my additional responsibilities and sometimes I even felt as if I needed to give up something in order to feel a greater sense of accomplishment in at least one area. I grew up watching the women in my family. My grandmother was the first to rise in the morning and the last one in the family to go to bed at night. For a working women who still has the responsibility of taking care of her husband and children, I can only imagine a full night’s rest of 8-10 hours sleep can seem like such a fairy tale. Sometimes I think that it’s a bit unfair for women but then again there are times I see how privileged we are. We are expected to be as educated as men but in some organisations, industries or countries, we will never be professionally equal to men. Even after contributing our day’s work at the office, we switch our hats, become more submissive and nurturing and come home to take care of our families.

It’s inevitable that some of us will have to sacrifice some of our professional goals for a family life. Having been so focused on my career for most of my life, I’m starting to realise that I need to view family life with equal or greater importance than I do my career. The drive and passion I have towards my professional goals and accomplishments need to also be the drive and passion I have towards my personal life. When asked what’s her definition of success, Ivanka says happiness. She doesn’t think you are truly successful unless you are a happy person and are happy with your life. She recalls many people who are professionally successful but miserable. She concluded by saying that she’s happy when she’s achieving her professional goals and when she’s with her husband and children.

Good Luck Guys

Today the students of the Java Design Patterns class are writing the final examination. Yesterday I found a one page summary of all the patterns covered in the class and I emailed it to them. I know it was a bit late to send the summary sheet but I felt it could come in handy. This morning, I sent text messages to the students in both classes wishing them all the best in the exam. After having prepared and delivered this course for the first time, I have found areas where it can be improved. I can only hope the work I did was enough to ensure that the students understood the concepts well enough to pass the exam. Two students from one class dropped the course and it’s my assumption that the course material may have been too programming intensive for them. Some students found 15 design patterns to be quite a lot to cover in one semester and it is something I will take into consideration when delivering the course next year. A mock examination as well as some online multiple choice questions were created to assist the students with exam preparation. Even though 2 students out of both classes completed the online questions, I hope the mock examination was enough to help them prepare. I included 80% of the topics from the final examination in the mock examination, changing question structure where needed. I provided as much assistance as possible to the students with their examination preparation as no past papers were available. As I write this blog post, the students are writing the exam, which should end in about 80 minutes. I’m quite excited to see how they performed in the exam as this would not only reflect how well they grasped the topics but how well I presented the information to them.

Student Opinion

I have mentioned before my desire to help create a course at the University which focuses on iOS Application Development as well as a few other courses. This week I received confirmation that the iOS Application Development course will be taught in the semester from September to December later this year…this makes me very excited. Before I received confirmation, I have been asking students for their opinions about courses and service at the University and unfortunately the responses have been more negative than positive. One of the main complaints with the programming courses is that there isn’t enough actual programming done in the classroom. As a result, every class I lecture focuses mainly on practical work. The theory is touched on as an introduction but I rely on the students to do additional reading after the concept is grasped from the practical work done in class. This is more so with the Design Patterns Course I developed for the Bachelor’s programme this semester. Yesterday I spoke with the second Design Patterns class about the iOS Application Development course and I asked for their opinions. Most of them were not pleased with the way the Android course was delivered so it was important that I find out what exactly disappointed them to ensure they feel contented after completing the iOS Application Development course. This conversation with the students left me with a lot more information than I expected. It reminded me of my time studying and how I saw so many changes that could have been made to the degree programs I did to help improve the service the students received. I will continue to ask for students’ opinion while developing the course over the next few months and also try to find out what other courses they would like to see as part of the Degree Programme. I am now able to create the change I wanted to see many years ago, so it’s important that I do as much as I can to improve the learning experience of the students while I’m lecturing at the University.

An Opportunity to Design

As I mentioned in a blog post a few weeks ago, I have been given the privilege to create a course at the University that teaches Programming Design Patterns using Java. In Software Engineering, a Design Pattern is a general repeatable solution to a commonly occurring problem in software design. It is a description or template for how to solve a problem that can be used in many different situations. One of the first things I did in designing this course, was decide on the appropriate Course Structure. Design Patterns are categorised according to the groups below and the patterns listed are covered in the course.

  • Creations Patterns – These patterns are all about class instantiation.
    • Singleton
    • Factory
    • Abstract Factory
  • Structural Patterns – These patterns are all about Class and Object composition.
    • Model-View-Controller
    • Composite
    • Adapter
    • Bridge
    • Facade
    • Decorator
  • Behavioural Patterns – These patterns are all about objects communication among classes.
    • Observer
    • Strategy
    • Iterator
    • Interpreter
    • Chain of Responsibility
    • Command
    • Template
    • Mediator

Secondly, I acquired soft copies of reference texts for the students to be used throughout the course. So far, I’ve been using Design Patterns Explained Simply by http://sourcemaking.com/ as well as the Design Patterns in Java Tutorial from http://www.tutorialspoint.com/.

Thirdly, I focused on assessment preparation. I’ve completed Creational and Structural Design Patterns with the students at one campus and I should complete those Patterns with the students at another campus by next week. Finally, we would complete the Behavioural Design Patterns and prepare for the final exam. While I do wish I had more time to prepare all the material for the course, things are going great. For each pattern taught, I will give multiple examples in class for the students to grasp the practical side of it with the hope that they’ll read the notes from the books to solidify the concept with the theoretical side of things. This course has three assignments, one for each Design Pattern Category, a Mid-Term Exam as well as a Final Exam.

This morning, I submitted the final draft for the Final Exam and I hope it’s approved. There are some changes to be made to the Mid-Term Exam, which will be given in two weeks and the assignments for the Structural and Behavioural Design Patterns will be issued within this coming week. I hope the University is pleased with the work I’ve done and will be interested in delivering this course again at the Bachelor’s level next year. Since I’ve been back at the University part-time, I’ve seen opportunities to deliver more courses at the the Diploma and Bachelor level and I hope I’ll be given to opportunity to do so in the near future. Currently, the University teaches Android Mobile Application Development, so it would be indeed an honour to develop a course teaching iOS Mobile Application Development at the Bachelor level. Until then, I will make suggestions for the courses I would like to deliver, that I think would be of value to the students, with the hope of it being approved.