Endeavor: Projector

I have been half completing most of my personal projects because of school and work duties. I have recently completed one project though, and that would be a projector screen.

To start off: I bought a projector. And to clarify, I bought two. And to be technical, my friend and I both chipped in for those two projectors.

Our school, like many other schools, organizations, and businesses had a surplus auction (I think it is a continuously ongoing auction) and they sell things on there ranging from medical equipment to desk chairs, and pretty much everything in between.

I was looking through it and although I don’t have a need for furniture or medical equipment I found the electronic stuff of interest. This included the computers that they had and some projectors.

The good computers were getting auctioned up to their reasonably standard price, and the bad computers were being sold by the tens. What in the world would I have done with 20 desktop computers that would struggle to run Excel? So I passed on the computers.

But the projectors caught my eye. Good projectors cost hundreds of dollars, to have a reasonable throw range, a reasonable brightness, clarity, and quietness (believe it or not some cheap projectors hum like motors). At this auction though, they were selling classroom grade projectors for ~$50 each. So my friend and I chipped in and got two for ~$100. And it was one of the best purchases of my life.

This bad boy can project a 110 inch screen across our living room with crystal clarity. Sure, I’ll admit it doesn’t have an HDMI port, but it has a DVI port and a great resolution (nothing an HDMI to DVI adapter can’t fix). Aside from that though, this has all sorts of inputs and adjustments, and is capable of even adjusting the screen if we projected at our wall from an angle.

We projected it onto our wall for a couple of weeks, and that turned out alright, but we knew we could do better. I started thinking about how to build a projector screen. Now, I live in university owned housing so I’m not allowed to put any holes in the wall, which means I had to build a stand to our screen as well.

So I went to Home Depot (not a sponsor), bought 8 8 foot boards, construction screws, and then stopped by Walmart and bought a single bed sheet.

The construction was simple. It was to be 8 feet high, 8 feet (plus) wide, and an about 5 foot high screen. I have a power drill, I have a staple gun, and I have a living room floor which can contain this monstrosity.

Getting to work was rather easy, mainly due to the fact that I decided to use construction screws for this project (and hopefully for all future projects). If you don’t know the difference, construction screws have a hex head, are super durable, get a ton of torque, and are almost incapable of stripping. I didn’t have to drill a single guide hole for this thing, truly just plug and play.

The first night I worked on it I built the projector screen (8×5 feet) which left 2 posts dangled downwards supporting the whole thing. It sat as the interim projector screen design until I could think up a good foot design for the stand, and had enough time to construct it… This took a couple of weeks (at least 3 or 4).

Finally school ended and I had time and energy and creativity to complete it. I went back out to Home Depot bought one more 8 foot board, and had them chop it into 1 foot boards, and then went home and assembled the rest.

Here is the final result.

While assembling the feet, I also extended the screen down another foot or so, since we knew we could fit a little more of the up/down projection on an 8 foot screen. It turned out pretty well.

The total cost for this sweet home theater setup (if you exclude the price of the tools):

  • 8 foot boards * 9 ~ $27
  • Box of construction screws ~ $5
  • Projector – $50
  • Bed Sheet – $10

Total Price: ~ $92

For a 105 inch screen and the ability to fulfill 8th grade me’s dream of playing Guitar Hero on a big projector screen, this was a pretty worthwhile and fun project to complete.

To-Do Lists and Task Management

Before I start talking about task management, I want to preface that I am by no means a productivity expert, I don’t have any training on what is truly productive in most scenarios. I’m just here to say my journey in personal productivity, and what I have learned along the way.

When I first started trying to be productive in my every day life I had a simple system. I just had a to-do list with everything on it. No organization, just a list of tasks.

Then I tried breaking up these tasks according to my classes, and that worked decently well. But overall it wasn’t the best for long term goals or anything else.

So I drew up a long term goal to do list, one that would be the goals for the entirety of a semester. With these two different sets of tasks I was able to manage long term goals as well as short term goals. But it didn’t end there. Now I wanted to start forming habits.

To do that I started with an excel spreadsheet and for a whole summer that listed every day as a box, and I marked when I completed a task every day. This was great and rewarding. So I kept adding more things to do every day. And then I got bogged down.

Then I cut down on what has to get done every day and converted some of those tasks to weeklies. Tasks that might need to get done a few times a week, but don’t have to be done every day.

By this time I had a whiteboard, and I found it pretty simple to convert my dailies from excel to a whiteboard checklist. From there I kept my weeklies as a checklist and I update my progress every day.

As far as tasks that aren’t repetitive I started using a kanban which is a fancy word that pretty much means structured to-do list. I’ve separated out all of my classes, my miscellaneous activities, and even some longer term goals on one of these kanban boards.

I’m by no means a productivity guru, but I can say everything that I have learned. First of all, it is really easy to have too may dailies. I only record things as daily tasks if and only if I can do them every day, no exceptions. If I can’t do them every day but I want to do it consistently a couple of times a week, then I make them a weekly.

Everything else can be considered a long term goal or a non-repetitive task. Out of these you have to determine what should be considered urgent and important, urgent and unimportant, not urgent and important, and unimportant and not urgent. This will determine which tasks need to be done now, and what tasks can be done later. As a rule of thumb, urgent and important should be significantly higher ranked than not urgent and not important.

For the tools I use:

  • Simple whiteboard checklist for daily activities.
  • Printed excel checklist for weekly activities.
  • Personal Trello board for non-repetitive tasks.

And that’s really I all I have to say. Good luck being productive, it is a tough goal, but a worthy one, that will definitely make life work out much smoother.