Pause to go forward


We all hit the wall. Stuck in inanition, we get frustrated with a lack of progress.

But all blocks are temporary. Our neurons continue searching for one another to talk to without forcing them to connect.

When the well runs dry, quitting to do something else should always be an option. The activity doesn’t always have to be active nor stimulating. It could be laying down on the couch doing nothing at all, letting the unconscious mind go to work.

Think of rest as deliberate postponement

Sitting upright in a chair all day is draining.

Standing on our feet all day is also exhausting.

Admiring our own words without proper interrogation is damaging.

Persistence, sticktuitiveness, building up confidence — everything that comes from deliberate practice matters.

But the answers seem to come when we put the task aside and rest on automatic, letting go as the best possible course. As Aldous Huxley wrote in Island:

It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.

Humans are too flawed to push it 100% of the time. Our best works happens in stops and starts.

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“Intentional Living” with The Bullet Journal ⚡ Method

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Bullet Journal inventor Ryder Carroll

There are a lot of Bullet Journal iterations out there today but Ryder Carroll is the originator of the practice. According to the video he introduced in 2013, he calls it “an analog system I devised that will help track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.”

I’ve dabbled in his Bullet Journal a bit but haven’t nailed it just yet. Thankfully, Carroll is coming out with a new book (pre-order here) to further explain the process and how it helped him become consistently focused and productive. I’m looking forwarding to reading it so I can get better at prioritizing what’s important despite all the stuff that comes into our brain each day.

The design of the classroom from 1750 to today






The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids by Alexandra Lange 

The design of the classroom is a technology, and you can interpret that in a lot of different ways. Architects can make that look more, and less, typical. But the point is the instruction, the interaction in the classroom, not that it looks more like a circle or more like a square or whatever else.

(via NPR)

Getting to zero time

Time is constant. And it keeps on moving with more and more rapidity, driven by technology.

Said painter Fredericka Foster in her interview with composer Philip Glass:

Time is speeding up in a real way. Younger people’s sense of time is completely different than mine; they have been working on screen time since they were tiny. Perhaps the reason why summer went by so fast for your son is that he has never experienced the slowdown in time, or boredom.

We have food, we enjoy our electronic screens, yet boredom seems to harder to find. It is scarce.

We’ve learned to pursue distraction as a replacement for letting our minds wander. Entertainment fills the void: it introduces new and shiny objects in the form of YouTube videos and shiny Instagrams.

But we can still freeze time, at least in our heads when we look at something like a painting. Says Phillip Glass:

When I look at a painting, time always seems to be in the present. In music, things happen in measured time. When a painter looks at a canvas, time is irrelevant. I was visiting Jasper Johns once, looking at one of his number paintings from 10 years before. He said, “I am still working on that painting.” When I look at your paintings, for you a day of work may go by fast or slow, but the painting is the painting, and looking, I can jump in and get to zero time easily.

When in the midst of creativity, time also seems to slow down. We dance, play an instrument, write, or paint to the rhythm of each tick-tock.

Once I get the composition down, I can begin to pay attention to the rhythm of the painting. I put on music (for example, your Satyagraha) and enter into a dance with the painting, changing the composition to exaggerate the rhythm. Time disappears. I become a verb, seeing, painting. That time cannot be measured. With this kind of focused attention, time has no boundaries. That’s the kind of time you find in love, in creativity, in the life of the spirit, the kind of time I live for.

Time is elapsing now, yet there are still ways to grasp it.

The magic of disengagement

We practice and then we walk away. We get out of our heads and go for a walk, a swim, make a cup of coffee — whatever disengagement there is.

Taking a break isn’t quitting. It’s letting neurons go to work without forcing them to.

Competence comes without comprehension. Nature cuts though the intellectual. We’re born to chase the to-do list but also do nothing.

Unhindered, we move like water over rocks. And the coffee pours itself, like magic.

Pamela Druckerman shares her tips on time management

Below is a couple time management tips excerpted from New York Times Opinion writer Pamela Druckerman in her new book There Are No Grown-ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story.

Follow your verve

When you’re trying to decide between several options, pay attention to which one energizes you and which one makes you feel tired just thinking about it. (I learned this from a life coach, Janet Orth.) This isn’t always feasible; practical factors can intrude and there are things you must do. But it’s worth weighing the “energy” factor, too. Even as a grown-up, it’s okay to choose the option that seems like more fun.

Don’t let the internet eat your life

Rules help. A children’s book author tells me that he only returns emails on Thursdays. Another writer tells me he never goes online between nine a.m. and five p.m. (“If I look something up, it’s an hour.”)

Focusing on the long term helps, too. The British writer Zadie Smith got a flip phone and installed internet-blocking software on her computer once she realized that she didn’t want to be 86 “and think that a large part of the life had been spent on Mr. Jobs, in his universe, on his phone, with his apps. I didn’t want that for my life.”

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The paradox of holding high standards

gif by @montagutchuen

The irony of holding high standards is that often times they prevent us from taking action.

Perfectionism can be a thought stopper rather than a thought starter.

Sometimes we can only solve a problem if we’re willing to let it go.

It helps to do things with a bit of insouciance.

We should feel free to rebel against our own seriousness time and again.

The only way to work is not to work, to resist the mindset of overtrying and overthinking.

Indecision never gave people more time.

To single-space or double-space after a period? Here’s what the science says…

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The rules of spacing have been wildly inconsistent going back to the invention of the printing press. The original printing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence used extra long spaces between sentences. John Baskerville’s 1763 Bible used a single space. WhoevenknowswhateffectPietroBembowasgoingforhere.Single spaces. Double spaces. Em spaces. Trends went back and forth between continents and eras for hundreds of years, Felici wrote.It’s not a good look.

We learned in typing class growing up to put two spaces after a period. No questions asked. Some professors even deducted points for anything more or less than two spaces.

Even work in the 20th century trained us to adopt a two-spaced etiquette on word processors. The double taps on the spacebar mimicked the typewriter which needed the extra spaces after a period to be more pleasing on the eyes.

But then Twitter and mobile phones came along. Tweets required no more than 140 characters. We texted and emailed rapid exchanges to friends, family, and coworkers. One space felt plenty, especially since the font appeared clutter-free. Using two-spaces in text message looked like you were trying to too hard!


What does modern science say about the two-space rule?

The Washington Post reports that three psychology researchers from Skidmore college tested 60 students to test out their spacing inclinations. The majority of the students typed one space after the period. But, when the same students examined text, they read better with two-spaces after the text.

Reading speed only improved marginally, the paper found, and only for the 21 “two-spacers,” who naturally typed with two spaces between sentences. The majority of one-spacers, on the other hand, read at pretty much the same speed either way. And reading comprehension was unaffected for everyone, regardless of how many spaces followed a period.

The major reason to use two spaces, the researchers wrote, was to make the reading process smoother, not faster. Everyone tended to spend fewer milliseconds staring at periods when a little extra blank space followed it.

The science that supports the double space is thus conclusive but not 100% convincing. In practice, we should feel free to to be one spacers or two, but never both. And we should avoid two spaces after a comma at all costs: “Putting two spaces after a comma, if you’re wondering, slowed down reading speed, so don’t do that.”

Slow and simple notebooks with BIG TYPEFACES

JSTORY: Slow and simple notebooks with BIG TYPEFACES

I saw this in my Pinterest feed (yeah, I’m on Pinterest) and immediately snatched one up.

In our ever increasingly fast-paced world, it’s nice to slow down every once in a while and plan something out. And these pages look huge! I also just dig the simplicity of the notebook names and huge typefaces: LARGE, MEDIUM, BIG, AND SMALL. If you’re looking for a great pen to accompany your summer planning, try the Pentel Tradio Pulaman, the classic Bullet Space Pen or a pack of Pilot Roller Ball stick pens if you need more than one.

JSTORY: Slow and simple notebooks with BIG TYPEFACES

Jstory is a South Korean brand. If you go to the official website and Google translate the text, you’ll see that the company was launched by an architecture and design student back in 2006.

They also make some awesome creator notebooks that feature Architect, Engineer, Painter, Musician, and Writer in big fonts. You’ll have to order those directly from the site since I can’t seem to find them on Amazon.

JSTORY: Slow and simple notebooks with BIG TYPEFACES

PS. If you’ve seen any other neat notebooks lately, comment below so I can check them out. Thanks!

Yet more evidence that standing at work is better for you than sitting

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recent study done by researchers at Tel Aviv University validates standing desks.

Not only is standing better for your health, it also strengthens your focus. This is because the stress of holding your posture improves selective attention.

The Stroop effect

The researchers had university students alternate between standing and sitting while testing their reaction time to a task of naming a color. The words printed behind the color either matched or conflicted the one in text (e.g., the word “blue” printed in red ink instead of blue ink).

Participants seemed to process congruent data — when the word and print color matched — at the same speed, or slightly slower, when they were sitting compared to when they were standing. But they processed incongruent data – when the word and print color did not match — more quickly when they were on their feet.

The study demonstrates that not all multitasking crimps productivity. In fact, overcompensating for the added stress on your feet sharpens your focus. As someone who just bought a standing desk myself (I highly recommend the Spark desk by Ergodriven for anyone starting out), I believe the studies to be true.

By engaging with my body, standing improves the selectivity of attention. I also use an anti-fatigue mat (check out the Topo by Ergodriven) to mix up my stances to avoid getting achy or tired.

Nevertheless, this latest study suggests that researchers consider other postures than sitting as part of their cognitive testing.

Millennials are turning their apartments into “house jungles”

Millennials are turning their apartments into “house jungles”

Hilton Carter keeps 180 plants in his house. Apparently, he’s part of a millennial trend that’s obsessed with houseplants.

From The Washington Post:

Others prefer the term “urban rain forest” or the cutesy “jungalow.” In this aspirational landscape, outlandishly and photographically lush is ideal, and filling your home with plants is “urban wilding.” In less enlightened times, we probably would have just called it “decorating.”

The obsession helps generation thumbs bring a little outside, inside.

Writes Tovah Martin, the writer behind houseplant books The Indestructible Houseplant and The Unexpected Houseplant: “One of the first waves of houseplants was after the Industrial Revolution.” The move to cities compelled folks for more greenery, and albeit, oxygen.

“I think the current cycle has a lot to do with people hunkering down. A houseplant is therapeutic. It gives you something to nurture.”

PS. If you want to take care of your own houseplant, Amazon has a whole bunch on sale.

Paper just works

bullet journal, bullet journal layout, bullet journal ideas, bullet journals how to start,

Touching is believing. That’s why bullet journals are all the rage. People want to slow down and get everything from their worries, random thoughts, weekend plans, shopping lists, gift ideas, blog topics, exercise schedules etc., all down and out on paper.

Writes Mike Vardy in his piece Why Paper Works:

Paper works because it is only limited by what you’re willing to put on (and into) it. Paper provides an escape from your devices and does so without compromising your ability to get things done. Paper is safe and secure in that it can be both lifesaving and disposable depending on the circumstances. Paper is versatile, compatible and portable. Paper — simply put — just works.


Boring is the new interesting. We can’t think with clarity with candy-colored apps flashing at us tempting the latest scroll.

A simple pen and paper ask for our attention. And we give it.

Longform doesn’t squander our best thoughts the latest social media refresh. The handwritten word complements the learning process.

Digital is where we source the ideas and paper is where we write them down and connect the dots.

When we use analog and digital tools with intent, they tend to complement each other.