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For a couple of months, I’ve been working on and off on a series of free email courses to help people improve elements of their sketchnoting.

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  • Creating your very first sketchnote

Now they’re all ready for people to try. You can sign up here.

The best way I've found to overcome my parenting rage

My kids know my dark secret.

I have an alternative, evil personality.

His name is “Grumpy daddy.”

I don’t turn green and suddenly rip my clothes when he emerges, but the personality shift isn’t that different. Instead of the peaceful and fun-loving father they expect, they have a grouch who just wants to be left a long.

I don’t like grumpy daddy, no one likes grumpy daddy, and yet he is a fixture of our house.

Just like Bruce Banner, I haven’t found a cure for my alternative personality, but I have found a trick that works well when I remember it.

Play grumpy

If I can put on a silly voice and give my reasons for being annoyed, I don’t transform into grumpy daddy.

It’s amazing how it works but I can instantly switch into a more appropriate mode. When the kids have done something wrong and we need to talk about it, I can talk about it sensibly AND THEY LISTEN! (I know!). And when it doesn’t really matter β€” most of the time β€” I can reveal how silly my grumpiness really is.

The only challenge…

Remember to make the jump isn’t easy.

When the red mist descends, the lizard brain wants me to react instantly. It wants me to escalate the tension, to give in and lose control. The adrenal makes it harder to have a cohesive thought let alone remember to be playful.

But I’ve had some success. And I’m writing this to remind me to do it more.

Thinking about this idea especially before a grumpy daddy situation arises can help, at least that’s what I’ve seen so far.

I hope this helps you and I’d love to know what already does help you.

I’m working in a cafe for the first time in ages as I wait for my train to pickup my family. It’s a great change.

I’m trying to set up a focus mode/shortcut etc that would block certain applications while I’m in that mode (i.e. safari). I think the closest thing I can do is set downtime but I’d have to adjust its settings each day to make it apply. Are there any other options? (I’m not running the Apple betas)

Actually, tools do matter (sort of)

There’s this common idea that “it’s the action/skill not the tools that matters.” As with all good pithy statements, it applies in most situations, it has a great deal of truth in it, but it is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And so help me God I’ll prove it to you.

A few weeks back I put a new curtain rail up. To do so, I had to drill a couple of holes into our walls. The first was easy, but the second set was impossible. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t do it. In the end we borrowed a drill from a friend who does smart home installation.

It finished the job in seconds.

My skill didn’t matter, I needed the right tool.

Admittedly, if I didn’t know how to drill straight or what size drill bit I’d need then the right tool would make no difference (here’s that kernel of truth again). At the same time, even if one can achieve an outcome with any tool (such as making sweet sounding music on a “bad” guitar), it can be easier and far more enjoyable with a high-quality and correctly setup tool.

And when it is more enjoyable, you often want to do it more.

So investing in a good tool can lead to you improving your skills more than a bad tool.

Professional vs good tools

Professional tools don’t always meet this criteria.

They can be enjoyable to use and help beginners, but often a professional tool requires more skill than a beginners tool. If a beginner tries to pick up a pro level camera and just snap a picture, they may be confused by the controls and options causing them to accidentally set their auto focus point to a different subject.

In contrast a beginner tool might abstract the process too much and leave them to enjoy the process too little.

So while “cheap” usually means bad, expensive doesn’t always mean good and certainly not good for you.

The best tool, is the tool you’ll use

I believe this is what Chase Jarvis was getting at when he said “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

There might be a “superior” tool out there, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have it with you or choose to use it. I still regret selling my fuji x100t, not because it was the best camera, but it was the camera I took the most photos with.

Yes, part of that was due to the quality and style of images it produced, but it was also the experience of shooting with it and its size and portability.

And while many people have this same experience with smartphones, I preferred a dedicated device that I didn’t have to worry about draining my battery with.

There are plenty of good reason not to buy new gear, but you shouldn’t not buy gear just because someone on the internet shamed you into thinking that the pros all could make. something better with rubbish gear.

It’s probably true. There was a great series on YouTube called ProTog Cheap camera which featured just that.

But those pros didn’t stick with their terrible cameras. They went back to the cameras they enjoyed using.

Find the tools you like and you use and enjoy them!

On practicing patience

Yesterday I was stuck driving home behind a car who had the audacity to stick to the speed limit (I know. The nerve of it!).

At first I tried to spy moments to overtake and thought ahead to the prime spots on the road for overtaking. Then something changed. My perspective.

I realised I was in no rush. We were returning home after a bbq to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and practically the whole family was fed and having a nap. We had no pressing deadline to make.

Suddenly I realised this could be an invitation from God to practice patience and to slow down.

So I sat back in the driving seat, stopped straining my eyes ahead, and appreciated the time I had.

There are many moments like this every day which I pass over in my rush to Getting Things Doneℒ️. And while I could still take action to alleviate my impatience and boredom, I wonder if it’s better to see them as a gift. As if each moment were an invitation to slow down, appreciate what is around us and maybe even accept the boredom that comes with it.

Now excuse me while I get back to being frustrated at a website taking more than a second to load! (outrageous I know!)

You know what’s worse than only writing about writing (and other ouroboric activity)? Only writing about how bad writing about writing is.

I can be guilty of this (and in fact this post is an example of it!) so I’m committing to changing.

My company is looking to update their social media icons from Twitter to X-twitter. But the logo we can download isn’t the same as the one on the site.

A friendly reminder inspired by an email in my inbox.

When you turn your hobby into a hustle, you’ll probably lose what made it a great hobby in the first place. Not always, but probably.

Scheduled a new sketchy ideas newsletter for this afternoon (with a new section highlighting things from around the web).

The dad-mobile has arrived. A used Citreon C4 Grand Picasso. Tomorrow she gets her first real test with a trip to the in-laws.

Keeping things special in an age of abundance

It was my daughter’s 5 birthday yesterday.

We did all her favourite thing:

  • opened presents
  • went to the local softplay
  • had curry for lunch
  • went to the playground
  • had ice cream in the park
  • made a plastercast unicorn she got from her uncle.
  • watch a couple of episodes of Paw patrol
  • had pizza for dinner

It was a real feast day.

Funnily enough, there’s a lot that we do often, but the combination of it all together really makes it stand apart. One of the challenges I wonder about, as a parent, is helping to keep things special.

There are things my kids can have every week (or even every day) that I only had a couple of times a year. On the one hand it’s great they live in this abundance, on the other hand I wonder if they don’t appreciate things in the same way.

It make me wonder about abstinence: not indulging often so we can appreciate things more when we do have them.

It requires patience (refusing cartoons can start a family civil war) and planning (having other activities and alternatives ready to go is a must) that make it far more work for us parents. But it helps to keep things more special.

And often the alternatives are better anyway.

This isn’t just true for parenting of course.

I got an Amazon voucher from work for my birthday and spent it all on books. Can you see the common trend?

One of the greatest ironies in life: by trying to make a message less passive aggressive, you can end up making it more so.

Goal: seek to be better, not right.

I see the opposite in a colleague and it annoys me. That means there’s a good chance I’m just as guilty of this issue if not more.

I forgot how tiring baby’s are. But now I have a baby and two bigger kids who demand energy even when the baby is asleep. Thankfully, all three are having a siesta and I’ve never been more grateful.

There’s this strange thing I’ve noticed with a few individuals in the work place: they try to claim your ideas.

If you share a unique insight or idea they say “yes,” and then rephrase exactly what you said offering nothing extra. I really wonder why they bother, especially when they either show their ignorance in what they say.

Personally, I’d praise the person making the suggestion, perhaps agree that I had heard that (without restating the information) or discuss how to implement. I really don’t get the need to repeat the same thing.

My 2 year old son is waking up early again and asking for various cartoons/youtube videos. My current solutions are a sticker books (work quite well) and today: Wreck This Journal. We had great fun messing it up.

My school had a computer lab full of the original iMacs. I hated them! It was such a pain to move files between them and my PC at home. Plus the one mouse button really confused me. It put me off Apple for years.

But oh boy did they look and feel nice.

Finished reading: The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel πŸ“š