Like so many other people in the IT field, it’s not the easiest things for me to find time during the day for all the things I want to do. Life gets busy and priorities happen. As a single father with three kids, this means that it’s tough to find time to get to the gym.
As everyone’s aware, we’re also going through an intense period of change in the networking world where network engineers need ( in my opinion ) to start broadening their skills sets to include coding, DevOps tools, etc.. There are a LOT of resources out there, many of which are available in video format.
Whether that’s things like the great all-access pass video library from INE, the video content from Coursera classes, or just Youtube, there is a huge amount of content available to us.
I’ve got two goals major life goals this year; get back in shape, and gain NetOps skills. Makes sense to combine the two. 🙂
One of the biggest problems that I have is that a lot of this material is BORING. It’s dry. There’s not a LOT of content out there yet that directly applies the skills I want to learn to networking. So I end up having to learn how to use python to convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit. (How’s that going to help me in my career? )
It’s tough to stay awake through a lot of this content. Some presenters make the material better than others, but i often find my mind wandering after the first 5 minutes. If I’m not focused, I’m not learning. If I’m not learning, I need to watch the same boring video until I get what I need from it.
Sounds a bit torturous, doesn’t it?
When I was studying for my CCIE, I actually had the same problem. Cisco Docs are not exactly the most riveting prose the english language has produced, but I had to learn the material. My solution was to combine physical activity with the study process. Hard to fall asleep when you’re working out, right?
I ended up buying a treadmill for my apartment. Looking back, I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of miles that I walked that year. I can also tell you that I was probably in some of the best shape of my life. I would walk and read as long as I could. Then I would stop, do some other physical activity pushups, sit-ups, whatever.. and then go back at it again. For months on end, that’s what I did every night. ( Single with no kids in those days ).
Interestingly enough, what I found is that I was able to retain more information when I was studying while working out then when I was just hitting the books at the table. I’m sure there’s lots of studies about how the increased blood flow to the brain during physical activity makes learning more effective, but I will leave that to as an exercise in google-fu for the reader to find them.
Fast forward 10 years, and I don’t have to flip pages anymore. The video revolution means that I can hit at least two of the learning paths, visual and auditory, as well as get a work out in at the same time. Efficient, and productive.
My solution is built around Apple products, but feel free to substitute in what ever technology gets you to the final goal.
In a nutshell, the setup looks like this
- Flat screen TV
- Apple TV connected to TV
- Rowing Machine in Front of TV
So basically, I airplay the video content from whatever device I have handy, jump on the rowing machines, and I stay awake through some REALLY boring material while burning some calories.
For those interested, here are some other tools that make this flow a bit more smoothly
Screenflow – This application allows me to capture video content with the system audio. Great stuff for making sure you have content offline.
iFlicks2 – This application allows me to edit the metadata on the videos I create with Screenflow. Most of the time, I end up taking an entire play list worth of content, organizing it as a TV Season and then add the episode numbers to the videos so that they play in order. Very slick and means I don’t have to manually intervene when watching a play list. Not to mention, I can also then sync the material to my devices and review the content when I’m trapped in a plane with no wi-fi.
Have any productivity/study/health tips that you want to share? Feel free to post in the comments below.