0628 – review your stuff hyper-regularly and do a little bit every day

Today was an interesting day in terms of productivity. I woke up later than I’d have liked, and spent a bit of time just lounging around. And then I got around to doing some drilling work in the house – I moved a couple of whiteboards (a large one from the gym to the study, and a small one from my bedroom to the gym). I also doubly-secured the whiteboard in my living room (which was ‘flappy’ because it was hanging off of two screws – I drilled in a couple more screws at the bottom to secure it). And I drilled in a new hand towel holder in the kitchen. All of that was really satisfying, though it took longer than I’d have liked. The drill bits are getting a little worn, and I should replace them. I particularly enjoyed having my Jaybird X3’s with me, because it was possible to listen to music in-ear while drilling. Listening to music over the speakers doesn’t help because the drill overpowers it, and wearing regular earphones is a little dicey because you don’t want any wires dangling off of you while you’re doing drilling work.

Afterwards, my wife and I spent some time in our study. We had just cleaned it out, so we put all of our books on the floor. It was quite an interesting experience, and one I wish we had experimented with earlier. It’s something that Marie Kondo recommends – put all your stuff out on the floor, and then touch it with your hands and see if it sparks joy. I didn’t exactly follow that formula – rather I used different colored post-its to sort them into different categories – books I love, books I WANT to read, books I’d LIKE to want to read, and “#shrug”. I’m eliminating a lot of the #shrug books, as well as many of the “I’d like to want to read this” books. I might give some of them away, and maybe keep the top 20-30% of the “want to want to read” books.

I found myself thinking that there’s definitely utility in going through things over and over again. I used to feel bad about this, and so there would be a considerable length of time between each review. If I wait too long, I’d have forgotten a lot of whatever it is that caught my attention and interest, and so each new session ends up feeling like I”m just re-doing what I had done the last time. And it feels very wasteful, like there’s no progress. I suppose a close analogy would be – it’s like going to the gym once every 3 months and feeling really unfit and weak each time, like you didn’t make any progress and like you shouldn’t have bothered at all. Your feelings and observations are correct, but the conclusion is misplaced. You SHOULD have bothered, you just should’ve bothered in much smaller amounts at a much higher frequency. This is what I want to get better at.

(I’m racing against the clock with this word vomit – I have 3% left on my Macbook battery.)

What is it that I want to remind myself of here? Heh – I want to remind myself to revisit everything – all the basics – at a much higher frequency. Ideally I should be doing it every single day. Every single morning and every single evening. There are only a few basic things in life that I need to care about. Breathing, posture, hydration, diet, sleep, exercise, social relations, work done, todo list, goals, chores, bills and so on… it can sometimes seem like too much to bear, but when I’m writing myself a word vomit every day, it becomes clearer that actually it only seems too much because I haven’t sufficiently broken things down into bite-sized components that I can deal with at my own time, at my own leisure.

Also I just simply have this silly habit of taking way too long to start doing anything. The way around this might be to just circle around the task itself – and have a sort of ritual or routine for the circling. I find myself thinking now about how I instinctively do a bunch of fast, deep breaths before doing heavy squats. There’s something about it that calms me down, that seems to give me the strength I need. I wonder if I could just do it without – like just breathe normally and start squatting. I think it could be done, but a part of me feels like my core might not be braced tightly enough (I’m pulling this stuff out of my ass) and I might get injured or something. I guess I could experiment with lower weights and see how it goes. I don’t know.

Anyway the point of that example is to help me think about how to act on other things. I think the system I use for working out should translate quite well to doing work tasks, for instance. I write down what I’m going to do, on the whiteboard. I block out a period of time – 30 minutes, an hour. I play music. And I don’t do anything else. And afterwards I reward myself in some way. That’s exactly what I should be doing with work. I should have a list and I should use that list to measure my progress, and I should use my progress to reward myself – both directly (as in, get pleasure from seeing a visible chart of progress) and indirectly (“I’ve done X, I’ve earned that Starbucks drink”).

So to recap, today’s reminders are – revisit your shit over and over again so that it remains fresh – that way you can pick up where you left off and actually start exploring new territory. Set aside a short amount of time to do it. You don’t need to spend hours and hours on a thing each time you do it. Just pay attention to how it feels right now, to have published one word vomit per day of 2017. You’re going to hit 10 soon. Each new milestone will feel great. No zero days. A little bit every day. Done is better than perfect. C’mon!


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