Analytical 15: Downtime

16 June, 2017


What is downtime really? And just as importantly how about downspace?

Transcript available
[Music] Everything can be improved, iterated and refined and if you don't think that's true, maybe you haven't analysed it enough. Calculated choices, carefully considered, absolutely analytical. This episode of Analytical is brought to you by ManyTricks, makers of helpful apps for the Mac. visit for more information about their amazingly useful apps. We'll talk more about them during the episode. Analytical is part of the Engineer Network. To support our shows, including this one, head over to our Patreon page. And for other great shows, visit today. Downtime. I was recently asked about how I handled my own downtime. Well, I record podcasts occasionally, I suppose. Does that count? Sort of, kind of, maybe, I don't know, kind of. It made me think really hard, though, about what makes something work and what makes something play. The truth is that a lot of my spare time I spend doing things that can be construed as both of those things, both work and play. But if we assume work is called work because we'd rather be doing something else, then we expect compensation of some kind, but then the problem with compensation is people think that that means money, but it doesn't have to be money. It could be any other kind of compensation where we get something back specifically from that activity. It could be bartering or it could be consequential. So if I don't plant the seeds and take care of the crops that don't grow, I won't have any food to eat. Well, that's a negative consequence then, so obviously I would need to be doing that and then if I didn't my negative consequence is that I would starve. Now if I don't earn any money and I'm not a farmer I can't buy food so it's sort of the same consequence but just via a different path. And I suppose it's always a nice idea that you should do work that you also enjoy but that doesn't make it downtime. It just makes the activity perhaps slightly less of a chore or maybe slightly less frustrating. So if we accept the idea that we as humans all need some kind of downtime, what the heck actually qualifies as an activity to be actual downtime? I suppose maybe to qualify that I'd suggest it has a few certain characteristics. So the outcome of whatever activity you're doing has no consequence. So some examples maybe are playing cards where the stakes are minor or just for fun. Playing with matchsticks I guess or fake money or something. Just all playing a card game where there's no betting or just a just a tally you know they won three hands you won two. Okay. Fixing up a second-hand car and restoring it but that's not your daily driver so it's like just that's a little bit of fun right because it doesn't matter if the car is never fixed or never made roadworthy or brought up to scratch doesn't matter because you got a daily driver to get you to and from work or wherever else you're going and so on. Playing a friendly game of sport maybe that's another good example you know I'm just gonna play a bunch of the got a bunch of soccer with a bunch of them my mates out the back, whatever, you know, hey, it's all good. But there's no actual consequence if you win or lose or anything. I suppose beyond whether or not the outcome has no consequence, we also have to consider the rather obvious dimension, I think, and just state it. You have to find the activity relaxing. Maybe that's obvious. I suppose it is. You'll find that activity to be enjoyable. So there's relaxing and there's enjoyable. I think there's two different dimensions, but you need both as part of the activity or you need an activity that explores both. And another one that I think is really important, too, is that whatever you're doing as an activity, it has to distract you from your primary work or job. It's no good going and doing an activity if nagging away at you in the back of your mind is what I've got to do at work tomorrow. What have I got to do next week? I'm really worried about this really important spreadsheet and whatever, you know what I mean? It has to distract you from your primary job, otherwise there's no point. I think some people do confuse downtime with personal space. And I do think that they're different things, but before we dive into that, I just want to talk quickly about our sponsor for this episode, and that's ManyTricks. They're makers of helpful apps for the Mac, whose apps do, you guessed it, ManyTricks, and their apps include Butler, Kimo, Leech, Desktop, Curtin, TimeSync, Moom, NameMangler, Resolutionator, and Witch. There's so much to talk about for each app, so we're gonna touch on just five of them. Witch is the first, and you should think about Witch as a supercharger for the command tab app switcher. If you've got three or four documents open at once in any one app, then Witch's beautifully simple pop-up quickly lets you pick exactly the one you're looking for. Recently updated, you can now also switch between tabs as well as apps and app windows with horizontal, vertical, or menu bar switching panels, with text search switching, and much, much more. NameMangler, you got a whole bunch of files, you need to rename them quickly, efficiently, and in huge numbers. Well, NameMangler is great for creating staged renaming sequences with powerful pattern matching, showing you the result as you go. And if you mess it up, you can just revert back to where you started and try again. Moom is all about managing windows, and it makes it easy to move any of your windows to whatever screen positions you want. halves, corners, edges, fractions of the screen, you name it, you can put it there and you can save and recall your favorite window arrangements even with a special auto-arrange feature when you connect and disconnect an external display. It's awesome. Time Sync, track your time spent in apps, activities on your Mac, the simple and easy way. You can pull your apps by common activities, create custom trackers for non-Mac activities and it's simple but powerful reporting feature shows you exactly where your time went so you can plan better and stay focused. Resolutionator is so simple, it's a drop down menu from the menu bar and you can change the resolution of whatever display you like that's currently connected to your Mac. The best part though, you can even set your resolution to fit more pixels than are actually there. It's very handy when you're stuck on your laptop and you need more screen real estate. Now that's just 5 of their great apps, and that's only half of them. All of these apps have free trials that you can download from and easily try them out before you buy them. They're all available from that website or through the Mac App Store. However, if you visit that URL, you can take advantage of a special discount off their very helpful apps exclusively for Engineered Network listeners. Simply use Pragmatic17, that's Pragmatic the word and 17 the numbers in the discount code box in the shopping cart to receive 25% off. This offer is only available to Engineered Network listeners for a limited time so take advantage of it while you can. Thank you to ManyTricks for sponsoring the Engineered Network. If I'm driving alone in a car to and from work, yes, I am alone, but no, I don't want to be there. Yes, it's personal space, but it's not relaxing. Well, depending on the traffic conditions and whether you've got autopilot in your flash electric car, then no, I don't have, and I wish I did, but I don't. Anyway, never mind, that's fine. It's not really enjoyable though. and if it's stop and go traffic it's even less enjoyable and if I stop driving I don't get to work and we come back to the negative consequence I don't get paid so I starve and that's a negative consequence Another example, cleaning a house, bringing up children, taking them to sports, school, whatever That's work! Sitting at home when the kids are at school, folding washing let's say, well you could argue that's personal space, but that is not downtime. And think of lots of things I'd rather be doing than folding washing. Some people need personal space and downtime to overlap, and I certainly do, occasionally. Hobbies may or may not be downtime, especially if they become a source of income, or in the case of podcasts, commitments to sponsors and fans and so on. By and large though, now we understand and hopefully we agree, maybe we do, maybe we don't, about the distinction between the two. Maybe then we can balance our own down times and spaces a bit better. Obviously, not wanting to go into the details of what things I find to be relaxing or how I need my personal space, but in my case I guess, I've settled on Sudoku. I love playing Sudoku. Playing? Solving I guess. and playing Zelda games on the Nintendo Wii. They're my best ways to have downtime I think. Make sure though that you find some downtime too, and down space too, while you're at it. If that's a thing. Now, you can relax. It's over. If you're enjoying Analytical and want to support the show you can, like some of our backers, Ivan, Daniel Dudley and Chris Stone. They and many others are patrons of the show via Patreon and you can find it at So if you'd like to contribute something, anything at all, it's all very much appreciated. I'd personally like to thank ManyTricks for sponsoring the Engineered Network. If you're looking for some Mac software that can do ManyTricks, remember, specifically visit this URL, for more information about their amazing and useful apps. Analytical is part of the Engineered Network and you can find it at And you can follow me on Mastodon at or for our shows on Twitter at engineered_net. Except nothing, question everything. It's always a good time to analyse something. I'm John Chiechi. Thanks for listening. [Music]
Duration 11 minutes and 25 seconds Direct Download

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John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.