CNPodcast #58: Mindshare – Managing Time and Attention

In this week’s episode, I explore the topic of mindshare, the things that get our time and attention. I share the ways that I’ve tried to help manage what gets my mindshare to balance my happiness and productivity.

Show Notes:

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#time #attention #mindfulness #selfcare #mentalhealth

CN #50: Brainstorming

I often meet people who struggle with ideas when trying to create passion or side projects. As someone who has the opposite problem, I’ll share some of the techniques I use to come up with ideas in the latest episode.

Show Notes:

You can listen to the Cocoa Nomad Podcast on the following services:

I’d love to hear from you. Reach out with comments, feedback or show ideas on Twitter or Instagram

CN Podcast #49: Practice vs Game Time

My uncle coached youth baseball for a number of years and he left a huge impact on the way I handled myself and players when I started coaching. In this episode, I talk about how that influence has impacted my work as well.

Episode Link

Give yourself the time and space to learn. There are enough stress/distractions on the playing field (i.e. at work). Kids are hearing their teammates, their parents and the opposing team. Likewise, you’ve got the voices of all of your responsibilities vying for your attention. All of these voices create a significant amount of noise and it’s very hard for signal to get through. 

Proper practice makes you prepared. The more preparation done in practice, the less there is to think about on the field. This preparation includes not only focus on technique but contingency plans and working under duress. The reason teams practice hurry-up offense and audibles is because the conditions won’t always be ideal.

Leave the judgement on the practice field. Mechanical thinking during game time is counterproductive. My biggest flaw in golf was that I was overly focused on position during play. Instead of simply trusting the process that I’d established in practice, I was judging myself as I was doing it. 

Have fun at practice. The time you spend honing your craft doesn’t have to be dour or onerous. I grew up with coaches yelling at us with colorful language but we also had fun even as we were working hard. Make sure that you make room for that in your practice. Balance is key.

You can listen to the Cocoa Nomad Podcast on the following services:

I’d love to hear from you. Reach out with comments, feedback or show ideas on Twitter or Instagram

CNPodcast – Retrospective #22

In the latest retrospective, I share my excitement about the launch of my YouTube channel, how fun it’s been to build a SwiftUI app for Menus Del Día and my progress with doing training in Spanish.

Episode Link

Show Notes:

You can listen to the Cocoa Nomad Podcast on the following services:

I’d love to hear from you. Reach out with comments, feedback or show ideas on Twitter or Instagram

CN Podcast #47: Creating Small Things

In this week’s episode, I talk about the value in creating small things and how you can use it to increase your likelihood of success. I’ll share some of the advantages of starting small and using those wins as building blocks

Episode Link

Show Notes:

You can listen to the Cocoa Nomad Podcast on the following services:

I’d love to hear from you! Reach out with comments, feedback or show ideas on Twitter or Instagram

CNPodcast #45: Streaks, Consistency & Habits

Streaks can serve as both a motivation and a deterrent if you’re not careful. Sometimes it pays to take that sick day. In this episode, I talk about the struggle to leverage streaks in the pursuit of consistency.

Show Notes:

You can listen to the Cocoa Nomad Podcast on the following services:

I’d love to hear from you. Reach out with comments, feedback or show ideas on Twitter or Instagram

The Difficulty in Changing What Works

We are typically incentivized to change when we aren’t getting the results we want. We are more often to criticism and alternate methods. But what about when we receive criticism and things are going incredibly well? In this week’s episode, I talk about Tyler Perry movies and the difficulty of changing what works.

#change #success #process #collaboration #adversity

Episode Link

Passion isn’t Enough

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

Passion is often talked about in computing as the secret key ingredient in the work that we do. The true power that separates you from the “pretenders”, the newbies that are in it for the money. It has grown louder of late as the field has grown increasingly larger and more diverse. The newbies are often decried as not being “passionate” about programming because they don’t think about it day/night. They’re not spending every spare moment polishing their code late into the night. Heaven forbid they have other interests or priorities.

That’s not what’s most important in the work that we do. I find it often used as a tool for gatekeeping, seeing those who see tech careers as a path to upward mobility as somehow undeserving. As someone who spent most of my youth doing manual labor in agriculture and the service industry, not once was my “passion” ever questioned. Other than at a pep rally for my job at Arby’s, passion was never even mentioned (people get worked up over Beef N’ Cheddars).

But you know what was questioned? My competence and commitment.

Passion is hailed as the thing that will keep you going when thing go sour or as a defense against of burnout.

It’s simply not true.

I started programming when I was 12 but I was burned out on programming a few years ago and needed a break, precisely because my passion allowed my life to get out of balance.

Passion doesn’t imply greater ability either. I went to high school with many passionate basketball players who just weren’t good enough to make the team.

And even after accounting for competence, we often assume passionate people willingly provided what’s needed by the team. There are plenty of talented and passionate running backs that are not committed to picking up the blitz. Similarly, I know many passionate developers uninterested in mentorship, even when the organization sorely needs it. You have to understand what people are specifically passionate about. They may be passionate about “their” code. Passionate developers can often be an impediment to team success, if the passion is self serving.

I live in Mexico and one of my favorite activities is taking early morning walks. I like to see people get ready for the day, watching a city literally wake up before my eyes. All the shop owners, vendors and employees, often getting ready before sunrise, so that people like me can get a coffee or tacos de canasta as we start our day. They have bills to pay and mouths to feed. I have no way to quantify their passion but I’m certain of their competence and commitment because they show up each day without fail. And I’ll take that over passion any day of the week.

The 4 E’s of Meaningful Work

Time and attention are extremely valuable assets and I try to avoid wasting them when selecting projects. By looking at what I like to call The 4 E’s of Meaningful Work, I can maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome. 

I’ve been recently learning  a new approach to mobile app development: using declarative UI instead of the imperative approach that I’ve known and used for years. If you’re not a technical person, don’t worry. Knowing the details of the differences in these two approaches is far less important than how the areas or meaningful work

In talking about the each area, I’ll discuss the benefits, the impact of missing it and how I try to make up the difference. Hopefully, you can use this approach in evaluating the work that you do and improve your decisions about what is worthy your time and attention


This is the most important area for me so it’s where I tend to start. I am far more likely to do something that provides an educational benefit, even if it’s lacking in the other three areas. In learning Declarative UI, I saw the educational benefits  coming in four ways:

Increase of Competence and Confidence

Learning by doing is a great way to improve efficiency and efficacy.  The process may been slow at the beginning but with each new coding challenge and sample project, I get faster and I find my confidence growing as I integrate the new concept into my current body of knowledge.  

Expands Area of Expertise

Having a different approach to develop mobile apps  provides the added benefit of having more perspective on something that in which I already specialize. Of someone has a need, I can now draw from a larger pool of expertise to find the optimal solution. Having more arrows in my quiver means that like Arrow or Hawkeye, I’m more likely to have to right one for any occasion.

Allows You to Stay Current

Because the declarative approach is the “new hotness”, learning how to do it keeps me current and able to engage in what the cool kids are doing. I don’t give this aspect much weight normally, as there will always be another new shiny thing and I can’t afford to invest time and attention in all of them. In this case, I felt it was a good time as I saw a convergence on both major mobile development platforms. Google was further ahead with its Flutter framework by about 2 years but the strong commitment by Apple with SwiftUI means that I can learn simultaneously two solution to the same problem.

Can be really fun

Learning new things not only increase confidence and competence, it can also be fun. Remember the joy of a young child, constantly asking questions and acquiring new information. I’ve been using resources such as Paul Hudson’s 100 Days of Swift. His approach makes the process fun and I’m digesting it in reasonable bytes. Likewise, the The Boring Flutter Show has an great forum that provides a good mix of education and entertainment

Not Reaping the Benefit of Education?

Not every project will be challenging or allow you to acquire new knowledge of skills or use them in a different way. Too much of this can lead to stagnation and burnout. To combat this, push yourself to go beyond the requirements (if time allows). For example, perhaps the project doesn’t require continuous integration or testing but use the project as a testbed (pardon the pun). Because the project isn’t itself isn’t challenging, you’re free to use you mental capital in learning the new thing.


While I’d love to imagine that I’m above it, in a world of financial realities, it’s hard to ignore to ignore the economic impact of the work that we do. Deciding to take on this endeavor is no different. There’s an opportunity cost in engaging, you could be reaping financial benefits by doing something else. I’m still doing this because I believe there will be a future economic benefits via client work such as:

Keeps the Lights On

Two of my favorite activities are sleeping indoors and eating. I enjoy them so much, I try to do them daily. Receiving payment for my development efforts allow me to continue doing more work, even if it’s not in luxury. Tacos are cheap but they aren’t free

Creates Runway

Having a financial buffer also creates runway, time in which I can survive financially if my income and expenses remain constant. The more runway I have, the more I’m able to invest in future projects and improvements on existing ones.  As Walt Disney once said, “’We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.’

Support Meaningful Endeavors

In addition to keeping my own business and life going, I like to support others who are doing meaningful work. As my economic benefits increase, so does my ability to support them. Some personal examples for me include Black Girls Code and The Human Utility.

Provides a quantifiable measure of value. 

Even though I’m not working on any paid projects using declarative UI frameworks, I can use the current projects to gauge levels of effort when estimating future project costs. In addition, I am able to create reusable components and gain experience which allow me to provide  a better level of service to my clients.

Not Reaping Economic Benefits?

This can be a pro-bono or open source project that you’re working on. It could be a project in which the client didn’t pay or simply an app that you love but hasn’t generated any sales. Take the learning from this project and try to monetize it in other ways.


This factor is a hot button amongst creatives. We are often approached to do unpaid work as a way of gaining exposure. I would caution anyone who has heard this to consider a few things. Firstly, reread the previous section. Secondly, paid opportunities also provide exposure  in addition  to the money (Imagine that!). Whether paid or not though, exposure provides benefits:

Offers Social Proof

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Of course it does, that’s how sound works but who will know? Gaining exposure allows that noise to be heard and validate that it indeed happened.

Builds trust

Publishing work allows you to establish trust with others. By sampling your work, others can gain confidence that you know not only what you’re talking about but what you’re doing as well.

Increases Marketability

Taking on new challenges can make you more marketable. As previously mentioned, staying current with new technologies has educational value but applying those new skills to help those who need it has a multiplying effort. It’s here that we can see the junction of the Education, Economic and Exposure aspects.  There’s one more coming but first:

Not Getting Exposure?

 We live in an age where the democratization of information and access to it provide you  a greater degree of control over how much exposure you can receive. Toot Your Own Horn! Post what you’ve done on your website, blog, podcast and/or video channel. Even if client work is of a sensitive nature (under NDA or classified), there may still be lessons drawn from it that you can migrate into something that can be shared. Talk about the concepts, challenges and solutions in abstract terms.


Human beings are emotional creatures so decisions are not typically made based on tangible factors alone. Self actualization and  esteem are at the top of Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In addition to the other benefits mentioned, how we feel about ourselves and the work we do is important. It provides benefits such as :

Higher Quality of Work

When we are passionate and enthusiastic about our work, it shows. It’s so much easier to go the extra mile when you are fully invested in what you’re doing. I do caution that passion should not be a substitute for a strong work ethic. Keep your word and do what you say you’ll do.

It Feels Good

Work that we enjoy is less arduous even if it’s hard. As the saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun”. 

Not Getting Esteem?

Soul sucking projects are harmful in the long term. Taking on projects that compromise your values can take a toll and doing them is a difficult decision. However, more often than not, it’s not that the work is compromising, it’s just boring. To combat this, it can be helpful to tweak your outlook on these projects.  Find an interesting angle that you do find interesting. It could mean taking a broader view of the project find connection points between it and things that you are passionate about.


Choosing where to allocate your time and attention is as important as the work you do. I hope you find this guided approach useful in your own decision making. I talk in more detail about my process on The Cocoa Nomad Podcast. Feel free to tune in and get more insight and examples.

How do you decide on which projects are worth your time and attention?