That’s not your really challenge.

When someone wants to start a creative project, they usually mispredict what will be their challenges and what they need to focus on.

Several months back I told myself “you think this is your biggest challenge, but it’s actually…” and then my mind filled in the blank (space was actually my challenge.) So I spent time working out how I could have more space and set up equipment faster. Then I started to buy myself some toys. If I’d bought the toys first, I wouldn’t have got far at all.

There's a whole world out there

Sometimes, while I’m on Micro Blog, I get a glimps of a whole world here that I am completely unaware of. Usually it’s from the discovery feed, where I see a post on a topic that I would never normally go searching for, but is interesting regardless. Other times it is from a comment that appears in my feed and I explore the coversation. I’ve heard people discribe different forms of “twitter” (i.e. black twitter, politics twitter, Christian twitter etc) and I wonder how much that applies to Micro Blog? Certainly, the most common trends I’ve noticed are a gravitation towards Apple products and a dislike of mainstream social media (in particular Facebook). But after those two characterists, which aren’t universal, there’s a lot of different here. It’s a great reminder of just how diverse the world is; on Micro blog and everywhere.

Closing the idea - action gap

One of my big challenges at work now is stopping ideas falling through the gaps.

We’ve had a lot of ideas for ways to improve what we do, but sometimes they get forgotten in the day to day running.

So I’m moving to close those gaps. No more “cool idea let’s do it later.” But “okay, what’s next? What does this actually look like? Who is responsible?”

Part of sharing this is to hold myself accountable if we don’t close the gap.

It's good enough for me

I’ve been finishing a little review of my new camera and I had a realisation. As I wrote about the mobile app, which is far greater than my previous camera, I realised that there are other cameras which are supposed to have superior apps. I’m sure they do and I might even like and use those extra function. Still, this camera is an improvement and in the ways I needed. While it may not be the best, it’s good enough for me. I don’t want to dampen my enjoyment by comparing it to the best.

The same is probably true of my mechanical keyboard (an Anne Pro 2 with Kalih white box switches). It’s probably not as good as some of these ridiculously expensive keyboards but it’s also probably good enough for me.

You bar for “Good enough” may be different (especially in different fields) but knowing that mark (and not getting caught up in someone else’s definition) is really important.

My job is to put out fires.

I’ve had this thought for a while that my job is 1. Make a plan and start working on it in the morning. 2. Spend the whole of the morning finding out that the plan has changed and there are ten new things to do. 3. Adapt plan and work on the new most urgent tasks. 4. Wake up the next morning and repeat.

It annoyed me that people would continually start fires and then leave me (and the rest of the team) to put them out, but I realised today that we get paid to put those fires out fast and get a new plan in place soon.

Don't repeat the subheadline

A terrible blogging writing mistake (I hold my hand up and admit that I do it all the time) is to restate a subheadline as the first sentence of that section.

Here’s an example Subheading: What’s good about (topic) First sentence: There are many good aspects of (topic) which we should consider.

It’s pointless and waffle.

Let’s get into the heart of the topic or at least provide some extra information.

Again, I do it all the time but that’s part of the value of editing.

One site or two? And which name?!?

For a while I’ve wondered about combining my two sites Sketchnote Classroom and Learn Create Share into one site.

Reasons

  • I want to focus on one site, not two.
  • There is a lot of overlap between the two. They are both about creativity.
  • I share sketchnotes on different topics on LCS so almost all the content is sketchnote based really.

The reason I started LCS was to encourage myself to share more sketchnotes (and content) that weren’t about sketchnoting but other topics. The only issue I have is that Sketchnote classroom is very clearly about sketchnoting and solves a very clear problem for people (using sketchnotes to learn…and learning how to sketchnote) whereas LCS is a lot less well defined (It’s a process… that is good?).

Why does it matter?

I’m getting ready to launch some new stuff (updated courses and something very special) and so I’m wondering if I should merge the two sites. I have thought about merging them into LCS but part of me thinks it is more sensible to merge them into Sketchnote classroom (I have a clearly message and better SEO).

What do you think?

I’d love your thoughts. Which name is better (in your opinion)? OR do you think I should stick with both!

Two pronoun questions

Question about non-binary people who use the pronouns they/them. How do verbs conjugate? They is or they are? I’ve wondered about that for a while but never got around to asking.
Secondary question for Americans. Companies are generally referred to as individuals (Apple is making…) would you say “They (the company) haven’t paid yet.” surely not “It hasn’t paid yet.”?

🔗 Overthinking? Try this iOS Shortcut.

🔗 Overthinking? Try this iOS Shortcut. > As usual, I found myself overthinking this week about small details and not getting much done on the big stuff. >It’s been happening too often lately, delaying my newsletter and book projects. >But this week, I decided to do something about it. >I built a kind of break-glass-in-case-of-emergency shortcut for whenever I’m stuck in a rut and overthinking.

I really like this idea from CJ Chilvers. I think I might steal/adapt.

Parabloa ideas

A parabola idea is an idea who has gained a second meaning. While the person who coined the term or expression may have had one thing in mind, other people now have a completely different association with it. Here are a few examples

1. Inbox Zero

In it’s original context it was about not feeling like you have to keep checking your email. Instead you bulk checked and processed your email. But now most people use it to refer to the literal state of having no emails in their inbox, even if they have their email app open all the time to do so (and so not applying inbox zero).

2 Virtue signaling

Originally a term to about actions that help show and build allegiance to a group by exhibiting certain moral behaviors Now a pejorative term used to criticize anyone showing “leftist” ideology or caring for other people.

3. Morning pages

Originally an idea from Julie Cameron of writing, by hand, three pages of stream of consciousness that should be discarded. This was to get the creative juices flowing and remove any inhibitors. Now it means doing some form of journaling or writing in the morning. This could be a highly structured one-line long day plan or an article for a website.

4. Thanks, Obama

Originally to sarcastically criticize then President Obama for consequences (real or perceived of his presidency. Now, a way to mock conservatives who blame president Obama for almost anything. If something bad happen, say “Thanks, Obama.”

5. Fake news

Originally, the creation of false and often completely made up news stories by unknown and foreign news sources without journalistic integrity for multiple purposes. 1) foreign agents trying destabilize a country. 2) For political opponents seeking to smear and discredit opponents. 3) for advertising revenue from views. Now it means negative news stories of Donald Trump whether they are accurate or not.

Can you think of any others?

Early Thoughts on "Proper" Bullet Journaling.

About three days in to trying to do “proper” bullet journaling. It’s going okay so far. I’m enjoying the analog side of things (but I know it will become a pain at some point. My idea for a solution is to play with different pens). - I really like the rapid logging system.
- I’m actually using my index pages
- There are moments I want to migrate a task to a specific day (i.e. Monday when X is back at work) but you’re not supposed to prepare days in advanced…so how should you do this? - I want to look at some month log ideas. - You could totally do this with a regular Leuchttrum (or Rhodia web notebook) but the reference and three ribbons are nice touches. - I wonder about making some special bookmarks for specific logs 🤔 - I wonder how this fits into my big picture note taking/task management systems, I wrote some ideas down yesterday but I think it’s still a bit too early to tell.

Minimalism and Physical Books

This topic is something that has been on my mind a lot recently. My wife and I live in a small European flat and our books and analog note taking tools take up the most space after the various paraphernalia our daughter has.

As we’ve been cleaning out recently, I’ve been reevaluating my use of digital and analog tools; one of the frequent debates I return to.

To some people, this will seem like a closed debate > “Books, pens and paper take up more space than a computer, phone or ebook reader. Plus digital notes are backed up in the cloud. Of course analog notes are incompatible with minimalism.
> Live with less, man.”

But I think that is a reductive view of minimalism.

What actually is Minimalism?

One of my favorite quotes on minimalism came from Cal Newport when he was discussing his book “Digital Minimalism”. I can’t find the exact original quote but it went something like.
> “At the heart of every minimalism movement is a focus on intention.”

In this perspective, more isn’t always bad (but neither is it inherently good). If using “more” matches your goals, then you should use “more”. The real issue is defaulting to more when some or little would be better.

This reflects a similar idea that the minimalist, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, share.
> Remove what you don’t get value from, focus on what you do get value from.

Accordingly, the main evaluative question of a minimalist shouldn’t be “How can I show I have less than other people and so ‘win’ the minimalist pissing contest” but rather something akin to “Does this bring me value?” Or perhaps “meaning” instead of value.

Getting practical with paper

While hypotheticals can be useful, they can end up vague due to their need to be all inclusive.

Looking at the practical issue of paper and books again it’s easy to see how more can be bad. Having a lose pile of papers which you never look at again and just get in the way might be annoying for you.

At the same time, more might be good for you. That pile of paper may have a long list of ideas and prompts which you return to when you need inspiration or ideas.

One person’s too much is another person’s enough.

Finding your enough

There are many stages in between and it’s even possible to combine the benefits of analog and digital tools by scanning paper or using styli on a screen.

From that perspective, if you value something, keep it, but don’t keep things that you don’t value but “feel” you should have.

For me, my analog tools and notes fall into my “valuable” list. But for other people, they become clutter and should be removed or digitized (though be careful, books outlast bytes).

Minimalism as an evaluative tool

I really enjoy putting on the “minimalist” hat as a critical perspective on my activities and stuff. As my wife and I have been going through our things and selling items the questions of “Could I get rid of this? How bad would it really be to downsize?” “Do I actually value this?” and “How likely am I to ever use this again.” have been good guides.

In the process, I’ve rediscovered some of my older notebooks and pieces of paper. It’s been a great experience to find an old idea or silly little doodle from a specific moment in time.

But I don’t “live” in minimalism. I don’t constantly look for stuff to remove and focus on owning fewer items.

Although my pens and books take up a significant portion of space in our flat, I don’t view that as Inherently bad. A physical object is a clear reminder of the associated actions or ideas.
- Seeing a book on your bed side table is a reminder to read.
- A pad of paper is a prompt to write.

Most of time, I find these tools match my values. I just wish It was easier to store them.

2020 election polls: Did the pollster learn?

The explanation of the inaccurate polls in 2016 was not accurately predicting turnout from likely and undecided voters who leaned towards Trump as well as over weighting high educated voter turnout. 2018 seamed to correct a lot of these inaccuracies but weren’t completely accurate. So I wonder what might be explaining the difference in the polling and (predicted) results in 2020? I also wonder if we’re still waiting for the “Blue shift” and if that could changes some of the predicted declarations?

Note: I may well be missing information. I am certainly not the most informed about American Politics even though I do keep and eye on some things. Please feel free to point out mistakes.

Thank You, GTD

Reading Getting Things Done as a recent university leaver was highly influential on my life.

One of the ideas that really struck me was “break down large projects into smaller tasks.” It’s so obvious once you know it but for adolescent me, this was groundbreaking.

Instead of chipping away at this glacier of a task, all I had to do was one small thing. Adding in the idea of “if you don’t know the first task, ask someone who might.” Killed most of my procrastination overnight.

Even though it’s obvious, looking at my task list from the last few days and I can see a few large projects that aren’t actionable tasks.

Time to go through my inbox.

The procrastination mistake most of us make when writing

We’ve all face it. When there’s something to write but you stare and stare at the blank page with no words coming. Sometimes, it’s something you don’t really want to write, but have to. Other times it’s a topic that is really important to you, but the words don’t come. The mistake, is starting writing with the blank page. Instead, we should give ourselves a helping hand by starting our writing before in the form of notes, outlines and ideas. Following this approach, we have a framework which we can fill in wiith ideas and writing we’ve already done, rather than a terrifying blank page.

Idea adapted from How to Take Smart Notes

Fun, meaningful, or profitable.

I was looking at my list of recurring debates this morning and added a new time. This list contains questions and problems that I frequently face. I want to track the things that catch my attention and cause me to stay up at night. Most of them aren’t really topic focused but more look at discussions that cross topics. The latest addition is … “Should I focus on the activity that is - most fun - most meaningful - or most likely to make me money?”

It frequently comes up and this weekend was no exception.

For the most part, I tend to focus on the first two for my decisions. Perhaps I would have been able to go freelance/earn a lot more money if I tended towards the third option, but I’m happy with my choices.

Monthly vs Annual Subscriptions

I’ve decided that I generally prefer monthly subscriptions over annual ones.

The benefit of an annual is it’s cheaper over the year, but that can mean you get hit by a single big payment. I am very bad at spreading these payments out and you never know what next year will look like.

The larger monthly payments are easier to track and buget for.

Probably the best solution is to spread my annual payments across the year.

I'd like a pro camera mode from Apple

I’d be really interested in Apple making a sort of “pro” mode for the camera app. Basic mode would have simplified controls (perhap even more simpler than the current ones which are becoming fiddly) and in pro mode you’d get extra controls. You could set it up so one mode was the default and you can change wit a tap. I know the other option is to just get a pro camera app but I’d like to see what apple could do in a pro camera app as well as let them simplify their existing app.

The best Apple product I bought?

Yesterday I had a strange realisation. My 2013 MacBook Pro is probably the best Apple device I have bought. That surprised me as I don’t think it has ever been my favourite Apple device, but the fact that my wife and I still use it and it works fine mean that it has had the longest life out of any Apple product I’ve owned. I love my Airpods when I first bought them, but their battery life has left them near useless now and instead just frustrating. the iPhone SE was a fantastic phone when I first bought it and live photos are so much fun, but it has a limited life (will it get the next software update?) and I upgraded to the iPhone Xs and that was better…and worse. My iPad Pro can out perform the MacBook in may ways and the pencil is great fun, but I doubt it will last half as long as this MacBook pro. Perhaps logenvity shouldn’t be the top criterion for “the best product” but the fact that I’ve not really felt the need to upgrade is as positive sign to me.

Although a MacBook with an A14 type chip and Apple pencil support would be very interesting.

A couple of apple event observations and thoughts

I don’t know if I missed it but did the original HomePod not get an update (or maybe they snuck in a processor bump in a press release somewhere) and what about the Apple silicon Macs? I’m really interested in getting a Mac again but definitely not an intel one. I really don’t like splitting the iPhone 12 camera features further, a larger sensor is a really interesting change, as is LiDar and 10 bit hdr video recording. I’m interested to see the final details but it’s more impressive than I thought. But I think I thought that last year. Marketing eh.

Trying to overcome self-censorship

I’ve struggled with…well, a lot recently. I suspect that the general malaise has been one of the key reasons that I haven’t been able to write or publish anything longer than a tweet-length post for a while. It also doesn’t help that my daughter has been ill for about a month, waking up early, crying frequently, and going to bed later removing the little previous creative writing time. And now it looks likely that I have COVID while work has been steadily ramping up. But the other factor is a feeling that I have nothing worth saying. I know that this is partially a lack of inspiration (as Austin Kleon says, problems of output are usually problems of input) but it’s also caused by a growing self-censorship. I will get to the end of writing a post and then delete the whole thing because it feels stupid, or I am the wrong person to write this, or perhaps there will be negative repercussions to me sharing this post. The only way out is to act bravely and publish anyway, slowly building confidence and a sense of what is good to publish. So this is the first, probably terrible, step.

"What do you mean you don't have access?"

At work we have a tool that allows for collaboration and transparancy, so we can all see what everyone is up to and the changes we log. It’s also part of the ideas and values we preach… and yet I keep finding that different teams set their privacy to full so no other team can access files (and when they grant access, they do it on a case by case basis often leading to multiple requests) plus instead of using the collaborative tool, people will download their own copy, make their edits, and then reshare…often missing edits other people have made.

I really wonder why on earth we use these expensive solutions if no one is going to use them to do what they were designed for.

I hate newbie shaming

I really hate the culture of shaming newbies and amatures who try to copy something they see online but don’t do it as well. - Everyone sucks when they start. - If they enjoy it, what does it matter if it’s “good” - It’s very easy to be the cynic who critiques everyone else (and does nothing) - okay, if they are pretending to be a pro/guru and they have just started…you can roll your eyes a little.

Three things that are making me happy

A quick list of things that are making me happy. Feel free to steal this as a blogging prompt.

1. Walking my daughter to nursery in the morning.

It’s great to take the 30 mins to go past the duck pond, hold hands, and get to know each other better. She’s grown so much in the last two years and it’s amazing seeing her start to speak in English and Polish.

2. My Anne Pro 2 keyboard

I got my fancy keyboard back from the office and took it home. It’s really comfortable and sticking to the same keyboard with the same layout has helped improve my typing accuracy again.

3. Saturday Afternoon teas

We started inviting some friends round for afternoon tea on Saturdays. It’s an excuse to bake a cake, have a cuppa and chat. It’s been a great way to socialize in our post-lockdown situation (although we are keeping track of government guidelines and case numbers).

I hope this makes you half as happy as it made me when I wrote it. I’d love to know what is making you happy at the moment.