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Productivity & Work Writing

Side projects

We all love side projects. They get us going creatively.

Side projects are typically things we take on because we’re actually interested in them. We enjoy putting in the playful work.

This blog is a side project

Side projects don’t necessarily change the world, have a deadline, or require perfection. We can even build side projects in a weekend and ship them for others to see.

Side projects can be simple and fun, reinvigorating to us and inspiring to others.

Nevertheless, don’t take on a side project that doesn’t come naturally or that’s dreadful. Forcing passion crimps creativity.

The side project may lead to something else such as the next big idea, but this isn’t the point of taking them on. The side project is an exercise in doing, remixing and recasting stuff that already exists and freshening it up.

We should try to create something for everything we consume.

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Productivity & Work

Consistency is king

Everybody talks about hard work, intelligence, and doing the right thing. But behind all those traits is consistency.

Consistency is the ability to perform at the same level again and again and be at your best when you best is needed.

Consistency makes you the most reliable of the bunch even if you fail over and over again. Past successes make you trustworthy.

In order to achieve consistency, you have to play in your expertise every day. Whether you’re a writer, painter, artist, athlete, YOU CAN’T SKIP A CHANCE TO PRACTICE, EXECUTE, AND SHIP.

Note though that with consistency comes the possibility of burnout. That’s why you must continue to evolve the love you have for what you do.

There will come the day when you slow down and retire, whether it’s because of age, performance, or other priorities. It’s ok to pack up the bags and end on a high note.

If you leave the world with something special, you’ll be enshrined forever.

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Some advice from Jeff Bezos

He said people who were right a lot of the timewere people who often changed their minds. He doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

Most people say that you should make a decision and stick with it.  What they don’t say is how long.  There’s always new factors that come into play.  Maybe you learned something the next day that tweaks your opinion slightly or completely reverses your position.  

Flip flopping is not necessarily a bad thing if you can back it up with your gut and experience.  

The most important thing is to decide and then deduce.  Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t know if you’re wrong until after you take the action.  In some instances, such failure can have consequences, such as Tim Cook’s outing of Scott Forstall who messed up Apple’s maps and Siri launches.  

Forstall mistakenly believed that he could replace a good product (Google Maps) with a shoddy one and grow it quickly as user data came in. It turns out people can quickly assess quality and convenience and complain about it loudly on the Internet.  

If you do change your mind often, make sure you do it on decisions that don’t have a massive impact.  Or simply delay that decision until you’ve done more market research.  Even Steve Jobs was wrong a lot but he gave himself time to reflect until he felt more confident about a decision. 

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Productivity & Work

The Thinking Mindset vs. The Doing Mindset: Pick One (And Only One)

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“If you need to jumpstart your doing motivation, get moving. Stand up. Walk around your workspace. Put your ideas on sheets of paper and physically separate them in your space. Walk over to each idea and evaluate it separately. By getting up and moving, you shift yourself from a mode of deliberation to one of selection.”

Changing environments increases productivity.  Every time we feel stagnant it’s best to work somewhere else, preferably standing up or if you’re like Mark Twain or George Orwell, work while laying in bed.

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Productivity & Work

Find a Different Routine

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Routines just work. Whether it’s exercise or leaving for work at the same time every day, we structure our lives around to-dos that put us on automatic.

Stuff gets done, we’re generally happy for crossing them off the list, and then we move on and do them again.

But routines stifle creativity. Staying open to other possibilities makes room for further improvement and happiness. For example, if you can no longer run you may find that walking and weightlifting can be a powerful substitute. As a result, you may also adopt a healthier diet to stave off weight.

Deviation doesn’t have to be so extreme though. Something as simple as going a different route to work can make you think differently.

When you change behavior, you learn new things and grow. That’s why failure is so impactful; failure tests your ability to adapt to complete newness.

When you change up routines, you also change your perspective which prevents you from getting bored.

If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably because you’re doing the exact same thing every day. One slight tweak can make all the difference.

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Writing

Pen & paper, still useful

We’re much better at reading and editing on paper rather than a computer screen, even if it’s retina.  Words just make more sense on paper.  Here are some other benefits to using paper: #gif #writing
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Paper is about control, allowing for manipulation of the hands, eyes, and pen. If you’ve ever had to send or read an important email, you should print out hard copies first.  

We’re much better at reading and editing on paper rather than a computer screen, even if it’s retina.  Words just make more sense on paper.  Here are some other benefits of using paper:

  • Getting things done
  • Creating mind maps
  • Spilling/Connecting ideas
  • Thinking clearer
  • Editing
  • Scanning email threads
  • Presenting
  • Note-taking

I don’t know what I think until I try to write it down.

Joan Didion

Paper is also better for thinking. Sure, there’s apps for mind mapping and note-taking but pen and blank paper allows you to make a final dump of all your big ideas and then reconnect them to see the big picture.

It’s difficult to think when information is scattered in computer folders, emails, and in different apps. If it’s important enough, it should make it on paper. Below is my own recommendation for balancing digital and print worlds:

Here’s a holistic digital/paper 5-step approach:  

  1. Start with a digital device for idea acquisition.
  2. Snag the best thoughts and write them down on paper.
  3. Connect the thoughts with hand-drawn mind maps and notes.
  4. Return to writing application and begin writing what will be the final product.
  5. Make printouts throughout the writing process and reread/edit so you don’t miss any details.

Children today are already skipping steps 2, 3, and 5 and completing everything from thinking, brainstorming, writing, and editing all on screen. On the whole, businesses still depend on pen and paper to conduct business.

While using less paper means saving trees and reduced clutter, it also makes people susceptible to more grammatical errors and missed connections. Pen and paper will remain useful until digital can mimic or make writing easier.

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work

Maira Kalman on walking

I walk everywhere in the city. Any city. You see everything you need to see for a lifetime. Every emotion. Every condition. Every fashion. Every glory.

Wonderful things happen when your brain is empty.

Maira Kalman
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Productivity & Work Uncategorized

Thoreau: “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”

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“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”

— Henry David Thoreau
Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Make didactic mistakes

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Intentionally try to succeed so you can make mistakes and learn from them. Go so far as trying everything so you can eliminate the stuff you don’t like.

Most people fear mistakes because they can’t come to peace with failure. But the right answer is a result of the mistakes you make. You can only progress in working backward.

Mistakes are learning opportunities in disguise. Willful error is how learned as kids. It may have hurt but we usually kept going.

New endeavors seed the brain with new neurons and connection points — the oldest minds can become young again.