0159 – morning run with the wife

TLDR: good things: waking early / eating breakfast / running / knowing your desired end-state (doesn’t need to be perfect) / picking achievable goals / 1-1s

Today I did something for the first time. I woke up at 630am (alarm assisted). I laid in bed for for a while. Then I got up and got a glass of water, and brought my macbook to bed. I played some gentle acoustic music to wake my wife up. And then we made our bed and went for a run. We had breakfast at the coffeeshop. Then we came home. I showered, and now I’m on the way to work. I feel pretty good.

There are two things about this. First, I was hoping to do it ever since I got married. And second, I didn’t think I was actually going to do it.

Why? How? I was never able to do this on my own before. I definitely made ambitious plans in the past, maybe even when I was still a student. But there was a recurring pattern: big plans, minimal action, regression to the path of least resistance.

There are two other things I’ve made progress on in similar respects.

  1. It’s been 9 weeks since I quit smoking.
  2. Today was my 7th run in the past 2 weeks or so. (I started running after 7 weeks of nonsmoking.)

Here’s my central challenge in my life right now: How do I recreate this across more habits?

The non-smoking I did together with my wife.

My first 5 runs I did myself, and my wife joined me for the last two. We are committing ourselves to doing morning runs for the next 6 days.

A cool thing that we do in my company- and I’m not sure how common this is elsewhere- is regular 1-1 meetings. The idea is to use this time to share observations and surface things as early as possible before they become problems- any misunderstandings, discomfort, etc. It’s not exactly a performance review, though it could be used for that. It’s essentially a block of time that’s carved out to talk about what might otherwise not got talked about.

It’s such a great idea. Maybe it’s obvious to some people, but it isn’t for me. One of my worst and most ingrained habits is to just “go with the flow, indefinitely.” This is sometimes a good thing, but most of the time it means that I end up getting mired and stuck. I drive off the road and I just keep going without correcting the course. And it’s exhausting and unproductive but I just keep doing it. Clearly, I’d be better off if I learned to correct the course along the way.

Course correction (of course- lol) requires

  1. Having some sort of path or destination in mind. You can’t correct a course if you haven’t set it to begin with.
  2. That you make a decent starting attempt (as opposed to putting it off for “later”). You can’t correct a course if you’re not ON the course.

In the elegant words of my boss- know what you want, then do what you need to do to get to what you want. It’s that simple. Periodically re-evaluate what you want, but don’t get stuck re-evaluating your wants to death- that’s like going to a thousand restaurants without having a single bite to eat. Then you die hungry. But hey, at least you had a great fucking list of places to eat, mirite?

And then you hang out with other people who sit around making lists, and get really good at making really nice lists, and start having arguments with each other about the best sort of list, and what your list says about what kind of person you are, and then you start reading and writing blogposts about those lists, and you basically become a food-lister. When what you really want to be is a food-eater. I mean this is practically self-evident. Why would anybody choose fantasizing about a hypothetical non-existent future than actually living that future in the present?

Reasons:

  1. It’s difficult and painful at the start. Fantasy can be more interesting that the dull difficult bit of daily early life.
  2. Fantasy is easy when you don’t know what you want. You just pick things that are outside the realm of immediate possibility. Like going to Mars. And then you just enjoy your fantasy as an escape from present day.
  3. Inertia? Just getting moving can be tough.
  4. Who cares
  5. I’m done listing reasons for why I’m not awesome

The point is that you have to pick something within the actual realm of possibility. Something that you can actually do within the next hour- like read a chapter of a book, for instance- and actually do it. And then now you have one thing that you have done and that you can be legit proud of.

One of the most amazing things that happened to me was when I started asking people in my life if they believed that I would do something. I asked a smoker buddy if he believed that I’ll still be a non-smoker next month, and if he’d bet $50 on it. He said yes. I asked my wife if she believed that I’d go for a run when I got home from work. She said yes. These are things that mean a lot to me, because I’ve spent a lot of my life not being able to trust myself. I know that I’m full of shit, I know that I avoid tasks that I’m supposed to do, the nature of Visa’s reality is that shit doesn’t get done, shit goes missing, shit goes unfulfilled, and so I just live with that. Enough of that shit, it’s really sad.

What do I want right now? I want to write down all my habits and processes and improve them one at a time. I’m done with cigarettes. I’ve started running. I’ve started doing weekly 1-1s with the wife. I ought to do daily 1-1s with myself. So while it’s a bit silly to spend time writing about it, I committed myself to writing vomits everyday. This is my morning commute vomit. I’m at work. Now I’m going to do work. TTYL.

 

0158 – Why do anything? The Disneyland Analogy

Wrote this a few weeks ago, just finished it up.

I think one of the simplest and deepest dilemmas that everybody needs to resolve is- why bother doing anything? For some people this isn’t even a question that occurs to them. Others may have really nice answers handed to them that they’re willing to swallow. For the rest of us, it’s not all that easy. Here’s sort of where I am at right now:

Life is a trip, nothing more, nothing less.

You are born- which is itself something spectacularly improbable- you live, and then you die. You’re given the most precious of gifts, but there’s no real rhyme or reason behind it. It’s just something that happened. As far as we know, it’s inevitable that life will eventually be extinguished. All the stars will eventually burn out. Everything that exists will come to an end. “You” and “me” are the briefest of illusions, a fun, odd little accident.

What is to be made of it? We’ve got tickets to this awesome show, which will eventually end.

I used to think it’s possible to come to terms with death by thinking about continuity. Life is a cosmic dance that goes on without you, so do what you can to improve the dance- to prolong it, to strengthen it. Create art that transcends you. Build mutually beneficial relationships that write in the cosmos “we were here; we lived and it was beautiful and glorious.” Live on in each other. But even that will eventually crumble to the inexorable forces of entropy. So living for others, living for the future, those things are a little incomplete.

So I think continuity can’t be the only end goal. What matters is that you have a really good time that you are personally proud of. [1] That’s really the only thing that matters.

What is a life well-lived?

Many of the most illustrious of our predecessors have come to a range of conclusions about that, and their perspectives can be helpful and enriching… but never sufficient. You need to identify what you want to do. What makes you happy. I can only speak for myself.

As a writer I write to fill a void. It’s no different from eating, masturbating, meditating or shooting heroin. Everything is done in the pursuit of pleasure, of relief. This is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

One thing I do know- I love writing and having written more than I love not-writing and not-having-written. A day spent writing is, to me, a good day. This compounds, so a week/month/year/life spent writing is superior (for me!) to a life spent not-writing.

Is writing the only thing I want to do? Of course not. Is it the main thing I want to do? For now, yes- but I might change my mind in the future. There may be other things I find more pleasurable, that give me more joy.

The ‘Lofty Ideals’ Identity Performance Trap

What might those things be? How do I find out what they are? I was about to say “so I can suck the marrow out of life”, but I think that’s a little problematic. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of wanting to represent lofty ideals so you can communicate that to others. It’s a kind of projection, a performative construct that can be rather costly to maintain. I think I spent much of my teenage years focused on my performance. That’s where you get things like “I’m a happy-go-lucky guy” or “I’m smart but lazy” or “I didn’t do well because I didn’t study” or “I’m passionate about X.”

These are stories we tell others about ourselves, and also stories we come to believe about ourselves. We then adjust our lives- imperceptibly- to fit these narratives. We get into arguments to maintain the constructs we so meticulously build to represent us. It’s incredibly tiresome. This is why Paul Graham says to keep our identities small, why Buddha taught detachment. It allows us to serve “ourselves” rather than the second-order projected constructed that we don’t actually enjoy.

I realize that it’s very, very easy for me to get caught up in stuff that, in my opinion, doesn’t matter very much. Halfway while writing this I was tempted to check Twitter, and I had to stop because I’ve exceeded my data this month. I very easily get caught up in Facebook discussions, which is why I’ve been experimenting with deactivating my account. I deactivated completely for a few months last year, started again, deactivated again.

For a short period of time after reactivating, it all looked really silly to me- the whole mass panopticon performance. Inevitably though I’d get drawn into participating again. I would feel a little hollow afterwards, the way you might feel after eating a really unhealthy, junky meal. I go to bed with an uneasy feeling- that I had wasted my time, that I was shortchanging myself. It’s like going to a theme park and obsessively playing a little kiddy game until the park closes, and then realising that you missed the awesome ride you had actually intended to go on.

I am tired of that uneasy feeling. I have to stop playing kiddy games because it doesn’t really nourish me.

The analogy can be extended quite a bit. Most of us aren’t aware of the best rides, or we think ourselves somehow incapable or undeserving of them, or we think we wouldn’t be able to stomach it, so we stick to the kiddy rides. To some people, a life of kiddy rides is a simple pleasure, a life well lived. I don’t think that’s the case for me.

Will think more about this later.

Notes:

[1] This can justify some ugly things for people who aren’t neurotypical- what if you get pleasure from harming and exploiting others? That wouldn’t be very nice. I’m not sure how to grapple with that, and honestly I don’t think that’s a problem I’m interested in tackling. I’m unqualified to. If you get pleasure from harming and exploiting others, please seek help. Take time and energy to figure out why you do what you do, and think long and hard about it.

 

0157 – Reboot (April)

This post was written in April but incomplete, unfinished and unpublished.

I haven’t done a proper word vomit in over a month. The last thing I published appears to have been a repeat of something else, and I wrote that I had written it in January. Similarly I have been publishing old material that I had written prior. The actual act of sitting down and writing hasn’t been a part of my life for about a month, perhaps longer. And I can feel the effects on my brain. I can describe them but I know that I’m different when I’m writing and when I’m not.

Why did I stop? Well causality is never straightforward or 1-1. There are a bunch of reasons that all came together.

  1. One was that I started feeling like I didn’t have anything new to report, and that I was merely repeating myself over and over again. I had reached a metaphorical end of the Timeline, where I was just refreshing and refreshing hoping for new notifications. But there are none, and you gotta move on.
  2. Another is that I’ve been busy with work. I’ve been spending more tine on social media, which was interesting- but I’m going to cut back on that again.
  3. I’ve been watching a lot of The West Wing- I’m in the middle of season 4 now, and it’s a great show. [1]

Moving on. I’ve been wanting to meet more smart/thoughtful people for coffee- I’ve always made vague plans with people that materialize maybe 5% of the time, maybe less. After meeting a few people here and there though, I realize that I’m just a happier, lighter person when I’ve been meeting others. They give me a broader context, which helps me look at my own life from a better angle. I make better decisions. I’m reminded that I’m not in this world alone, that I can build relationships with others and what I accomplish can have a positive (or negative) effect on others. It’s like playing an RPG and encountering othef player characters. It just gets a whole lot more interesting across a different dimension from regular single-player gameplay.

Moving on. When I stopped writing I felt like I had exhausted most if not all of my options, like I needed to surface for air, see look up from the canvass. I feel like there’s an optimal tempo- breathe in, breathe out, wax on, wax off. I felt out of breath. Now I feel like I might have hyperventilated a little. Have you ever seen the chart of Flow? I guess the ideal tempo would fit there.

Another thing I’ve realized. Writing is therapeutic for me by itself. I sleep better when I’ve written. Posts I’ve written in the past have often been useful for me much later on. Yet I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking of writing as a sort of chore, an obligation. It absolutely doesn’t have to be. It’s an investment, yes, but it’s also a privilege.

I want to write a million words because I think it’s a cool thing to do. I think it’ll have benefits I can’t even anticipate yet. But I also need to look at it as a sort of meditative process, of rumination and renewal. I feel good when I write, I feel like a better person. I feel like my thoughts are more organized.

So what’s on my mind? What do I have to talk about?

* I want to write about remedial training and how interesting that experience has been.
* I want to tidy up my recommendations Page to make it more useful for visitors.
* I want to aggregate my ADHD posts, so that they might be helpful to people who relate.
* I want to write a post about the futility of writing that isn’t surprising, challenging, interesting, exciting.
* I want to write about what I’ve learnt as a marketer. I think it’ll help me clear up my thoughts about why I do what I do, what I ought to be doing, and how to best do that.
* I want to write a post about all my heroes and my interpretations of their work.
* I want to write about the importance of art that provokes and inspires. The West Wing is the top thing on my mind right now that fits the bill.
* I want to write about what I’ve learnt about married and adult life. Maybe those should be two separate posts.
* I want to write about my favourite TEDtalks. Because why not? Might be useful to people, and might reveal things to me.
* I want to write about my approach to writing and creating content. Why is ecommerce worth caring about? Why is referral marketing worth caring about? Marketing itself? I should have good answers to all of these questions.
* I want to write about social media as a utility, and how my approach to navigating it has changed over the years. Also, different responses from different audiences in different areas.
* Aggregate the best of Reddit, HN, Quora? At least the stuff that’s interesting to me, so it might be useful to others like me.

All of the above are things that I should only bother with when I have some free time. I should carve out some time every day to think about these things and make a little bit of progress each day. That is all. They shouldn’t exist as fantasies, as an escape from the present. They should exist to influence and change my behaviour. Behavioural modification or GTFO.

Notes:

[1] I think it’s good to make time for art that challenges and provokes you, that presents you with perspectives that expand your mind. I feel like WW is doing that for me. Martin Sheen described it as Shakespeare (all we had was the text and each other, something like that) and it certainly feels like it. I want my information diet to be enriching, at least. I spend too much time on Facebook, Tumblr and Reddit still, but I also can’t help but feel that I’m learning certain things. This might be rationalization but I helped a designer and a photographer- two separate, talented individuals get more exposure for their work and that felt really good.

 

0156 – When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit + ADHD

When I was a young boy- I’m not sure if I was in primary school or secondary school, I read a book called When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.

I want to write all my thoughts about it without first looking up the book on the Internet. The book was about a young girl and her family who were I think half-Jewish or less, and they ran away from Germany to run away from the Nazis. I still haven’t read Anne Frank. The girl had to leave her pink rabbit behind, which was the source of the title. Still memorable as heck. I’d love to see the book get republished with an elegantly designed cover of a man in a Nazi uniform with a pink rabbit in his hands.

This book has stuck in my mind for some reason even though I haven’t read it in years. I thought about how it was the story of a life. This little girl who had grown up and made something of herself. She had to relearn everything, learn a new language, cope with stress and difficulty. It wasn’t incredibly hostile if I remember, just sort of strange and tangential to all the serious, horrible tragedy that was happening in Nazi Germany itself. I find myself thinking about Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, and about Tetsuko Kuroyanagi’s Totto-Chan, and how in both cases we see the world through the eyes of a child as an adult remembers it.

We all grow old if we’re lucky, we all die.

We have this limited LifeGame of 80 years (again, if we’re lucky. It might always end tomorrow). And we have to make the most of it. We don’t HAVE to, but it’s pretty clear that we OUGHT to. I can’t sleep properly at night knowing that I’m wasting my days. A well-spent day brings well-deserved sleep, and a well-lived life brings well-deserved death. (Death is but another adventure, something something said Dumbledore.) I don’t want to die as anxious as I’ve sometimes gone to bed. Though of course I suspect that when you ARE about to die, you won’t care anymore. It’ll be like booking into camp. [1]

One of the things about ADHD is that it means being very blind to time. Autistic people have trouble making sense of metaphors and sarcasm, they have trouble seeing people as people. (Something like that, I don’t know the details.) I read something similar about schizophrenic people having difficulty recognising themselves. They get into their bed, and they smell themselves, but they don’t realise that it’s their own smell. So they feel like there’s been a stranger in their bed, and it makes them anxious and paranoid. They can’t get comfortable with themselves. And they’ll probably need some sort of prosthetic/tool to figure that out.

So just like how some people with memory problems don’t recognise somebody they just met 30 minutes ago, I don’t notice the passage of time. I really don’t. I’m sorry. I REALLY DON’T. And I don’t realise that deadlines have consequences. I don’t feel anything. Other people have told me that they feel weird when deadlines approach and things are not done. Alarm bells go off in their heads. For me, it’s more like a really slight buzz in the faraway distance. I don’t notice things that aren’t right in front of my face. I don’t notice things that I’m not paying attention to. It’s very hard to interrupt me when I’m really caught up in something.

I’m terribly short-sighted when it comes to time. I just don’t perceive it the way everybody else does. This is why I can spend countless hours doing things that other people get tired of. And this is why I’m always late for things. It’s not that I’m a selfish person who doesn’t care. I can’t “not-care” about something that doesn’t even enter my radar in the first place. You wouldn’t called an amnesiac selfish for forgetting your name, would you?

Reality doesn’t give a shit

But I understand that I live in a world where people take these things personally. And this means that I’ll sometimes not be able to build relationships with some people, because some people need others to be around them, to keep them in their thoughts, to do nice things for them, etc. I sometimes think that I’d like to do things like that, but I can’t keep things in my thoughts. My thoughts go wherever the hell they like. There’s a part of the brain that most people have that regulates these things, and mine is underdeveloped. ADHD is an inability to internally self-regulate. That’s why I think cigarettes were so awesome for me. They felt like some sort of stable pattern/structure/routine that I could contextualise things around.

In a broader, longer-term sense, it’s helpful for me to read these memoirs. I think I need to read more memoirs to get more context. I need to find more minds like my own. David Ogilvy was one. I need to read Voltaire, I need to read Benjamin Franklin, I need to read Ford. I need to go straight to the source and drink it up. This isn’t about impressing people. This is about survival. This is about strengthening myself so that I can help my Wolves. I used to approach this as a sort of indulgent exercise, or as a sort of… chore. I needed to read all these great things to be impressive. But I don’t even want to be impressive anymore. I just want to cope. I just want to do what is best for my Wolves while I have them. That’s all. The opinions of others, while interesting and amusing, are a lower priority.

I can’t put off my daily writing. I can’t write after some period of time, because what happens is that I just don’t write, and then I get anxious and cranky and it sucks for me, it sucks for my Wolves and it sucks for everybody around me. So I can’t do that. I need strong, daily structures that keep me running. I need to exercise every single day. Like, not for fun or pleasure or because I want to be fit and muscular and sexy or anything like that. I need to exercise so that I can hold on to my Wolves. I need to do it for them.

This is an ADHD mind, motherfuckers. I grew up in a world that told me it wasn’t good enough. I’m going to show you what it can do. I’m going to show you what my Wolves can do. They’re far greater than anything that I’ve seen out there, really. Maybe I’m wrong about that. But I’m going to find out.

Notes:

[1] When I used to be in NS, I used to agonise about how I was wasting my time on the weekends before I had to book into camp. I didn’t do enough, read enough, write enough, play enough, hang out with friends enough. Yet when I booked into camp, once I was on the bus towards the ferry, a strange calm would come over me. I’d done all that I could’ve done, nothing else could be done, I’d just relax and move on. I feel like death will probably be just like that. What an amazing privilege.

 

0155 – write to solve your own problems

A blog is a thinking tool.

Anytime you write your thoughts anywhere, you’re forced to make your thoughts more precise. Technically my physical notebooks and my Evernote app (which I’m writing this post in) fulfill this purpose. The blog is just a publicly accessible, searchable context.

Publishing aids learning by stress-testing your thoughts in the seas of public scrutiny.

It’s about exposing your thoughts to the real world, outside of the bubble of your head and your private spaces. This can seem a little bit scary, because you’ll be subject to criticism and possibly abuse. But ships are not meant to stay safe in the harbour.

You don’t know which of your thoughts are actually valid and useful until you send them out to sea. You don’t know what you’re mistaken about. Thoughts should be tested and verified in the public domain; that’s how you improve as a thinker. (I could be wrong or inaccurate about that, but only by publishing will I be able to solicit corrections and improvements for that. That’s how I learn, by borrowing the minds of others.)

If you publish, the world will tell you what it likes and what it doesn’t.

This isn’t a magical good by itself, but it’s helpful information- especially if you’re interested in making a name for yourself in the world, or you’re interested in developing as an individual among others, etc. [1]

Important thing you should do early that I failed to do: be ruthlessly selective about your target audience.

I had illusions about being a public intellectual that wrote for everybody. So I would pander to public sentiment by writing angry or incendiary posts. It felt immense to get tens of thousands of hits, but it was ultimately a little hollow. I was trying to impress and please people that I didn’t really care about. If I could go back in time- or what I ought to do now- is to sit down and really think about who you want to talk to. And focus entirely on them, at the expense of everybody else. Because why bother pleasing people you don’t actually care about?

Ask yourself what your desired end-state is.

It can be hard to figure out what you should do with respect to where you are at a given point in time. You’ll probably think “I want to do what I’m doing, but better.” It’s far more effective to think “Where do I want to go? Who do I want to be? What are the things I have to do along the way to get there?”

A blog is a conversation starter. Who do you want to have conversations with? [2]

When I started out, I simply took random walks in the spaces that I was interested in. I wrote 2000-3000 word ruminations about why I liked complex systems or why I resented large organizations. While I’m glad for having written them (I’m always glad for having written anything at all), I think a lot of it was non-directed energy just diffusing out. Which is suboptimal.

Now I realize that it makes much more sense to write with intent. To write wanting to make a case, to compel or inspire action of some sort. Or even just to make a quality list of items that helps people think. The point is, whatever you make, make it with purpose. Who do you want reading it? How do you want them to feel about it? What subsequent action do you want them to take having read it? In this regard a blog is a weapon.

Spend time thinking about your most fundamental ideas + principles and express them as succinctly as you can.

Sometimes you do need to take a random walk over the ideascape to see what you actually think. But once you figure out what the point is, what you actually want to say, extricate it from the wreckage and polish it up.

Write to solve your own problems.

I think this is the most Important thing of all. I think this is the central thing that I want to say above all else. If I took my own advice, and when I rewrite this post, this will be the single most important line. Hell, it will be the headline. How to write to solve your own problems. That’s all I’ve ever been trying to do, in an elaborate, roundabout way. I have a very diffused, hyperactive and ill-disciplined mind, traversing ideaspace the way an active child might traverse physical space- spinning round and round until she gets dizzy, knocking into things, laughing and squealing, then suddenly getting exhausted and falling asleep. A blog is a record that allows you to observe your own mind.

I’m quite inspired by this post on Ribbonfarm on How To Fall Off The Wagon. All progress can generally be reduced to progress along one of those three fronts- goals, values and processes. So write down what your goals are. Write down what your values are. And most importantly (for me), write down your behaviors, processes, habits. Once you have all of that in writing, you can ask yourself how you ought to improve them, and what steps you need to take to improve those things.

For me, I know what I care about and I know what sort of person I want to be, and I know what I want to do with my life. To a relatively high degree, I think. What I don’t have are habits, behaviors, routines, structures and processes that help me get there. So that’s what I need to work on. And to improve those things you first need to list them down. And a blog is a good place to do this sort of distributed, outwards thinking.

This was a clunky, ugly vomit but I’m publishing it anyway #yolo

Notes

[1] The only time this doesn’t apply is if you’re completely solipstic- if you’re content with spouting pure gibberish for your own entertainment. Then you don’t need a blog.

[2] One of the coolest things about blogging is that it will set you up to have awesome conversations with people from high places that you didn’t even know existed- but that’s more of a perk than a central motive.

 

0154 – We Need To Talk About A

Improving yourself and your life, getting shit done, becoming a more optimal person, all of those things can be described in very simple terms:

How do you go from A to B.

To move at all, you need fuel or energy of some sort. So How do you use what you have to go from where you are to where you want to be. Let’s say “what you have” is X.

So all of life is getting from A to B, using X.

I can talk for hours about my B. A better world, truth, beauty, elegance, excellence. I can talk quite a bit about my X, too. I have all these skills and perspectives and insights and connections. What I rarely talk about is A: who and where I am at a given instance.

I’m done talking about B and X. Let’s talk about A.

My first bad decision of the day: I typically wake up at about 10am. Sometimes I wake up earlier. I recognise that I would like to consistently wake up early. When I wake up, the first thing I usually do is grab my phone. I fill my starving brain with useless random information. What I really ought to do instead I’d prepare for the day. (The day after writing this I woke up and went straight to the shower. I’m now on the way to work and relatively early and fresh. This feels great.)

I don’t have a breakfast routine: Because I wake up at that time I rarely have breakfast. Lunch is usually the first meal of my day. Knowing my body, I should probably have a meal earlier in the day. I should have more than two meals a day, which is the current dominant configuration. (Didn’t have breakfast, but had a glass of water and a fish oil tablet. Lol).

I don’t read quality stuff regularly anymore (internet snacking has taken its place) I seldom if ever read books anymore. I should make them a part of my morning routine before leaving home. Or maybe I should read in spaces at work.

Writing on the commutes: There was a period of time where I’d write religiously during my commutes to and from work. This hasn’t happened in a while. I spend time on Facebook and/or Twitter instead. I’m not sure why I stopped writing… it got a little harder, I started running out of things to say. I had already spoken at length about B and X. I needed to do something about A.

I need to extricate myself from social media. Social media is a huge time sink for me. According to RescueTime I spend about 4 hours on it. I need to make that time go down. I need to spend more time writing for work, more time reading and writing for pleasure. Those were things that I said I ought to have done when I’m school. I should do those things now. I should maybe deactivate Facebook altogether. For the time being I’m logging out and making sure I’m as logged out as possible.

No system of “first things first”. Start with social media. (Bad.) I don’t have an order or system or process in place for figuring out what’s the next task I ought to be doing at any given time. When things get a bit tough or messy I tend to swap over to Facebook, which is essentially a social video game for me. In the absence of Facebook I tend to go to Twitter, where at least I can have some “work conversations”. But even then that is a copout.

Do work over tidying workspace. I tend to spend a lot of time tidying up work spaces instead of actually doing work. I wrote about this with a positive slant on Quora, and it actually got me featured on TIME- but that’s an overly rosy picture. I don’t just do it when I’m bored. I do it when I’m trying to avoid work.

Monotask not multitask. Basically, work doesn’t get done when I’m distracted or multitasking. And I use that to justify my general inefficiency. I didn’t do well because I didn’t study. I didn’t work well because I was paying attention to too many things all at once.

As few tabs as possible. So I need to make sure that I never have more than a couple of tabs open. I need to monotask as much as possible. Maybe I should start with 1 tomato a day.

I need to change the way I ‘take breaks’. I tend to ‘take breaks’ in the middle of writing to check on something else- Facebook, Twitter. I used to visit Quora quite regularly but it’s gotten a little less interesting these days. I think I’m going to start spending more time on GrowthHackers and Inbound. But that’s besides the point- the point is that I need to train myself to finish things in single sittings. Or I need to get up and walk around and get back into it.

Poor sleep hygiene. I tend to be on my laptop or phone until right before I go to bed. This strikes me as a bad habit and one that’s technically easy to reform as long as I acknowledge it as suboptimal and decide that I want to be better. I should read a bit of any of my hundreds of books. I usually write my best stuff after some idea collision, so I should schedule that throughout the day.

I don’t have a “okay, first things first”. My usual habit is “first let’s check social media”. That’s how I rack up the hours. That’s a quarter of my waking life. I spend a quarter of my waking life on social media. I think that’s definitely too much.

Reintroducing exercise into my life. I used to not exercise at all. Now I’m making it a point to ask myself on the way home from work “should I run?” And if the answer is yes, I put on my socks and shoes and get out of the house for a short jog and quick sprint. Then I drink a can of hundred plus. It’s a short simple routine and it feels really good. It gives me a clearer head. It’s an injection of pleasure and clarity. Deep breaths and oxygen to the brain and endorphins in the blood. A brighter, clearer world.

I typically get an iced tea at lunch and a latte at about 4pm. I need to drink more water.

Actionables, takeaways, starting points?

  1. First step is to start and end my day better. I got out of bed without checking my phone, and I got myself a glass of water. I can surely do that again tomorrow.
  2. I want to do a little bit of reading before I sleep, and start going off the grid. Like exercise I think this is actually non-negotiable.
  3. Weekly date nights with the wife. Also non-negotiable. It’s my responsibility to figure out how to time this so that it doesn’t clash with my work. Relatively trivial to fix, significantly better life.
  4. Work writing practices. I need to get substantial chunks of writing done at work. This requires partitioning my time better. It begins by partitioning my time at all. I guess before I do that I need a “first thing when I get to work” habit. I’m about to get to work. What’s the first thing I should do? NOT check social media, ok. Check email? Check GH, Inbound?

My gut tells me I should start with a burst of writing. So I’m going to do that now. I’m walking towards work. I’ll sit with my notebook, figure out how to pour out a couple of thousand words of writing/thinking and then think about what to do next from there, on the sofa (so I don’t end up on social media or multi tasking).