Dan Petrow’s Blog

The Pomodoro Technique Review

The Pomodoro Technique Review

The pomodoro technique review is my second book review. Continue on for a detailed insight of what you can get out of reading the pomodoro technique.

My dedication to quantitative improvement really began at the beginning of 2019 when I set a goal for myself to deadlift, squat and bench press a combined weight of one thousand pounds by the end of the year. In the pomodoro technique you will learn how to quantify how much work you put into tasks and what your output is.

I have a vague memory of seeing a tomatoe shaped timer a few years ago at a barnes and noble. The tomatoe shaped timer lies at the center of Francesco Cirillo’s method for improving focus and productivity. I have to say I am really happy that I picked up this book.

What is a pomodoro?

A pomodoro is a unit of time, typically twenty-five minutes. During a pomodoro time is spent focusing on single task. After a pomodoro is complete there is typically a short break of three to five minutes (more time can be taken if necessary particularly in case of extreme fatigue). Next, records are made of completed pomodoros. Analysis of the records allow for improvement in work quality. Every four pomodoros a longer break is taken.

Quantitative improvement is central to the pomodoro technique. The basic idea is tracking your activities by focusing on one task in twenty five minute segments. After a segment also known as a pomodoro there is a short break. Then it’s back to dedicated focus.

After you have a record of how long a certain task takes you can work to complete similar tasks quicker in the future.

Since the beginning of 2019 I have been analyzing and tracking different aspects of my performance. I have tracked not only my time in the gym but also the number of books I have read. The tracking that I have done this year aligns so well with the book the pomodoro technique that I knew immediately I had to implement the technique.

In the pomodoro technique the author lays out a framework for tracking the amount of time you spend completely focused on a particular task. This framework has not only enabled me to track the times I have spent focused but what I have focused on and how I have been able to make personal improvements. The personal improvements that I make help me better achieve.

Why should you read?

Would you like to dedicate yourself to quantitative improvement? Then this book is for you. The pomodoro technique improves motivation. The pomodoro method is a great way to evaluate and improve inputs and outputs.

Key takeaways.

Track your pomodoro. Anything that requires consistent pomodoros should be subject to automation unless critical.

The next pomodoro will be better.

Don’t overwork yourself. Set a timetable of hours to work and stick to it.

The Pomodoro Technique Review | How to get started.

An Activity Bank.

A To Do Today List.

A Records Sheet.

1000 Pound Club | How to join the club

1000 Pound Club | How to join the club

The 1000 pound club is an achievement in weightlifting where in three events (bench, deadlift and squat) the total weight lifted is greater than a thousand pounds.

In 2019 I set a goal to join the 1000 pound club. I want to share what has worked for me on the path to achieving this goal. Here are more fitness posts so you can follow my goal progression.

1000 Pound Club | Nutrition

The first thing that I sorted out was my nutrition. In order for me to gain muscle I need to eat 1.2 to 1.8 grams of protein per pound. The same goes for you. This means that I need to eat at least 216 grams of protein at my current body weight. If you want to join the club this is seriously your first priority. Calculate your protein number and make sure you intake enough protein everyday.

I did a body scan recently and found out I burn 2005 calories a day at rest. The number 2005 is also known as my basal metabolic rate (BMR). You can get a rough estimate of your BMR with a BMR calculator. You will want to consume about as many calories as your BMR plus whatever you have burned for the day. If you eat less than your BMR plus burned calories you will burn body fat. If you eat more than your BMR plus burned calories you will gain fat. My goal is to burn fat while gaining muscle. In order to follow my goal I should eat no more than 2005 plus whatever I expend through the day.

Danny's Body Scan Results

I try to stay away from carbs because I find that protein and fats are more satiating. If you want to eat carbs go for it, but I personally suggest experimenting with a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting.

1000 Pound Club | Workouts

Which exercises?

I believe in training for your goals. Most of the exercises that I do are squat, deadlift, and bench. I supplement those main lifts with a variety of accessory workouts. My accessory exercises target my different muscle groups. For example, accessory exercises include; dumbbell curl, dumbbell bench, military press, seated leg press, and triceps extensions. I also do pull ups and tricep dips between sets when possible.

How much of each exercise?

Start with light weight. Work your way up in weight until you feel like it is too strenuous to do more than five reps without a rest. Most of my sets will work around this weight. Improving the weight where you can do five reps is a good indication that you are improving your maximum. Experiment by doing more reps with less weight or you can increase weight and try to perform between one and three reps. I prefer to work around the range of weight that I can perform between three and fifteen when lifting.

When I did my first week of work outs my lift total was 646. Just based on what I know about myself this is actually really conservative. In other words I know that I could have pushed myself harder and lifted more.

My three lift total as of 5/7/19 is 826. I am fairly certain that I will be able to increase this number by twenty pounds tomorrow.

Looking back, I haven’t done as many reps as I could have. I have been focused on doing sets of between three and eight reps. Sets of three to eight reps are quite tiring and so I find that I take long breaks in between. Going forward I will be adding sets with less weight and more reps.

1000 Pound Club | Supplements

If you want to join the 1000 Pound Club you might feel the need to take supplements. Personally, I can say that at this point I was able to improve greatly without the need to supplement. However, to push myself and add the last 180 pounds I have just now added creatine to my regiment.

The summary of the study Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations reveals some benefits to taking creatine. Creatine has been show to have a significant impact on maximal strength. Improving my maximal strength is the primary reason I began taking Creatine. A secondary goal of mine is to increase lean muscle mass which also can be aided by creatine. As far as I know the benefits of taking creatine outweigh any risks so I have decided it is right for me.

I am considering right now whether or not to add a BCAA supplement to my routine. Studies cited in this post by Blender Bottles on BCAA supplementation have shown BCAA aids in muscle growth and recovery. I will most likely add BCAA in the future but I haven’t yet.

Time frame to make the lifts.

How long will it take me to reach my goal? I started focusing on this goal as a new year resolution and have been in the gym typically three days a week since January 2019. There have been probably six weeks where I was travelling and unable to work out at all. In five months I have increased my lift total by 180 pounds. That’s an average of 36 pounds a month. If I can keep up a 36 pound rate of growth I should be able to hit 1000 pounds just under 5 months from now. For a beginner/intermediate lifter starting around the same point as me you should be able to join the 1000 pound club in about 9 months. Good luck!

Lost and Founder Review

Lost and Founder Review

This is my Lost and Founder review, the first weekly book review. I have said before that I originally made this website to explore SEO and web development. Exactly when I became aware of SEO is hard to pinpoint but since then I have been aware of Moz.com. It is my opinion that Moz offers a pretty great product and so when I saw the book Lost and Founder by Moz’s founder Rand Fishkin, I was excited to pick it up.

Reviewing Lost and Founder is something I want to do because it was a goal of mine this year to read a book every week. I would like to continue doing book reviews going forward as a way to keep myself accountable. Here is the table of contents for the book, if any of these chapters grab your attention I highly suggest you pick up the book.

Here is the table of contents to Lost and Founder. Each chapter is really an individual piece of Rand’s philosophy of business.

First of all, I will say that I did thoroughly enjoy the book. Lost and Founder is broken down into independent chapters. Each chapter covers a unique concept of Rand’s philosophy on life and business. I loved this format particularly as it made for a very concise read.

I could write about my thoughts on every chapter but that would take too long so I want to just talk about a few of my favorite chapters and the key principles that I took from each. First,

Lost and Founder Review |Chapter Breakdown

Scaleable marketing flywheels > Growth Hacks.

Considering Rand has objectively more insight into the topic of marketing than 99% of the population I would be remiss to skip this chapter. I would say the main idea to take from this chapter is that offering a discount was an example of a growth hack that isn’t sustainable. Offering discounts is not sustainable because writing a killer email sequence or increasing click through of a web page is improving your scaleable marketing flywheel.

Great products are rarely minimally viable.

A fumbled product launch can destroy a company’s reputation. Release a good product or suffer from the MVP hangover.

If management is the only way up the we are all F@#$ed.

I think this chapter will hit home for everyone who has ever had a bad manager. At Moz many of the best individual contributors wanted to be managers. Some of these individual contributors had the personality for management and others did not. When individual contributors and managers each have their own clear paths to career progression and see that their input is valued in the decision making process they can often make a team more effective than only offering one path to upward progression.

Focus

Moz lost track of their competitive advantage and looked to build products for social media, content writers, and lost focus on SEO. Building out so many products was the wrong move. MOZ lost their place as top SEO product when they divided their attention. They had to cut staff in part because they lost focus.

Living the lives of customers.

Rand traded places with a CEO friend of his who owned an marketing agency. This swap gave him insights on what it really is like to do the work and live the life of his customers. Talking to customers and really having empathy and understanding of their day to day is crucial.

Don’t raise money.

Rand goes into detail about how venture capital is often times misaligned with what is best for the companies and people they invest in. Venture capitalists fail to make profitable investments most of the time. VC’s are really looking for companies with explosive growth and billion dollar valuations. If a company doesn’t fit that ideal profile they might find that taking investors actually holds them back.

For example, a founder that might want to sell their company in the low eight figure range. That founder might find that their investors veto the sale with the assumption that holding out could get the company to that billion dollar mark. All in all, there are plenty of scenarios where venture capital or a particular venture capitalist might not be the right route for a particular company. If you take venture capital, beware the pitfalls.

Lost and Founder Review | Who should read?

You should read Lost and Founder if you think you might want to start a business someday. Also, if you already are running your own business you should read the book.

Lost and Founder Review|Is Lost and Founder a good book?

Lost and Founder is a great book if you are interested in starting and running businesses. If you are interested in the early commercial internet especially I think you would be missing out to skip this book.

Python And Google Sheets

Python And Google Sheets

I was nearly banging my head against the wall earlier last week trying to get Python and Google Sheets to work together. I wanted to be able to interact with Google Sheets using Python for some data manipulation and visualization. This post will hopefully be a concise explanation of what did and didn’t work for me.

First of all, the only code that worked for me I found courtesy of Erik Rood. The link is a pretty complete walk through of how I set up Python to work with Google Sheets. I’ll summarize it here and try to cater more to a beginner audience.

(1) Google Drive API, credentials

In order to follow along, you’re going to need a spreadsheet. Head over to Google Sheets create one. Put a few dummy columns in there so you can programatically access it later.

Next, you’ll need to create a service account and OAuth2 credentials from theĀ Google API Console. Follow the steps below to enable the API and grab your credentials.

  1. Head over to theĀ Google API Console.
  2. Create a new project by selecting My Project -> + button
  3. Search for ‘Google Drive API’, enable it.
  4. Head over to ‘Credentials’ (sidebar), click ‘Create Credentials’ -> ‘Service Account Key’create_credentials_screen
  5. Select Compute Engine service default, JSON, hit create.
  6. Open up the JSON file, share your spreadsheet with the “XXX-compute@developer.gserviceaccount.com” email listed.
  7. Save the JSON file wherever you’re hosting your project, you’ll need to load it in through Python later.

(2) Connecting Python to Google Sheets, writing a dataframe

First, you’ll need to install pygsheets, which allows us to actually read/write to the sheet through Python. Once that’s installed, you’re all set. Here’s an example of importing the credentials and writing some dummy data to the sheet using a Pandas dataframe:

import pygsheets
import pandas as pd

#service_file="blank" change blank to match the path to the json file you downloaded from Google APIs

gc=pygsheets.authorize(service_file='C:\Code\GooglePy\creds.json')

#at this point you are set up to work with the api. Everything after this is #a mix of Pandas and pretty vanilla python.

#creates an empty dataframe
df=pd.DataFrame()

#populates your dataframe with a column.
df['name']=['John','Steve','Sarah']

#sh=gc.open('blank') replace blank with the name of the sheet that you want #to work with.

sh=gc.open('Python')

#selects the first workbook in your google sheet named Python
wks=sh[0]

#populates google sheets with the dataframe, starting at cell b2
wks.set_dataframe(df,(1,1))

#wks.get_value(a1,FORMATTED_VALUE)

#reading data with python is pretty simple too. there are a variety of calls #that you can make some include get_values, and get_row. What you need to #know about reading data is Google has a weird way of referring to cells in #a sheet. If you search A1 notation 

print(wks.get_values('A1','B2'))
print(wks.get_row(1))

(3) Done – Check your sheet for the data we pushed in the above step

Some of the code utilizes the Pandas library,. If you aren’t familiar with Pandas I found Kaggle to be a great educational resource on the topic. Alternatively, you can check out the documentation. Additionally, you might find this link to information about A1 notation useful for reading data.

Now, so far the code that you have seen really isn’t doing much but it should set you up to start writing a useful program. Thanks for reading and hopefully you are ready to roll with Python and Google Sheets. For more information on how to build an application with Google Sheets check out their API documentation.

Starting Over

Starting Over

Starting over the blog, this time with purpose.

When I made this website I wanted to own the Google search results for my name. I am happy to say that I accomplished my goal of owning my search results.

Recently, I have considered why I have this blog other than to own my search results. I think my main reason for keeping this blog is to put myself out there online.

Why would I want to put myself out there online? When my name gets searched, I want returned an insightful piece about me. I hope the result reveals what I do, what I’m up to.

If people searching me know what I do and what I’m up to they could possibly help. I could possibly make a connection I wouldn’t have otherwise. I might even be able to use my experience to help them.

The reason for this post is really clarifying for myself why I am writing this. Now that I have asked myself why five times I feel pretty strong that I should be sharing updates of what I am currently doing and what obstacles I’m facing. These updates will definitely be a form of goal setting and used for accountability.

I think that I should also be sharing pictures, videos and text about who I am and generally what I am doing that is interesting in my life. This all sounds very obvious but I think it is helpful.

Now that I have clarified my goals for posting I can pretty easily template my future post. Generally, my posts should fall into one of the following categories; First, what am I about? Second, what am I doing today? Third, what am I doing this week.

What am I about?

Here is an introduction to my life for those not familiar, I am a married guy who has been travelling with my wife Jen for Air Force Pilot training. I have been keeping busy as a stay at home husband for the last year because of our travelling but I’m not cut out for that lifestyle.

Impatiently, I’m waiting to end our scheduled travels and put some roots down in Manchester, Connecticut. I will begin work at Turtle Ledge Farms, Hampton, Connecticut within the next week or two and I will also begin looking for a second job to bring in extra money for the house Jen and I are in the process of buying.

What am I up to today?

Today, I haven’t got a lot accomplished. Jen woke up late to work and rushed out with the car so didn’t make it to the laundromat. However, the laundry will be dropped off when I get back to the bus. Then I will hit the gym where I will run for an hour. I will enjoy riding the motorcycle home.

What am I up to this week?

I am going to say goodbye to Arkansas. I’ve had a pretty good time in Arkansas over the last seven months but I’m ready to go. I’ll be stopping back in Illinois for my little brother’s birthday. Then I’m buying a new vehicle. After that I’ll be shoving off for Hampton, Connecticut. Once I get there I will be setting up camp. Finally, I’ll start work at the farm and look for a second job near Manchester.

To you reading this, if know someone hiring near Manchester, let me know how to apply!