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.

The Inescapable Nature of US News

“As a European, I’m getting increasingly tired of American influence, from media, politics, work & lifestyle etc. It is overwhelming how much input is coming from US when it doesn’t relate to my expe…”

A thread from @jelenajansson

I saw this thread a few days ago and empathized. America has influenced my life and culture in many ways through my whole life but it feels increasingly ever present. News is perhaps the most effective example where I can tell you all sorts about the ins and outs of American politics now (and yet I deliberately avoided studying American politics when at university and chose different modules on other political systems). Perhaps this is purely due to America’s profound influence on the rest of the world, and yet surely that is self-fulfilling: the more America is reported on, the greater its influence. Looking at the rising influence of Qanon conspiracies in UK and Germany with anti-mask and anti-vaccination movements, its absurd that inventions to defend the explain away the US President’s incompetence have become global.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing about culture and influence and there is a lot I like about the states, but the 24/7 US News and Culture is becoming too much.

Future You Is Dumb (sorry!)

Back when I was a teacher, we had to fill in a register and record of work. This helped other teachers know what we had done in the last class and so they could prepare material for the following class. Some teachers saw this as unnecessary as they never shared classes, and so when they were off sick they would be contacted several times to find out what on earth they had been up to for the last few months. Most teachers included a few rough notes and some references to materials that could be helpful up to a point. I made it my aim to help my future self…who is an idiot.

I have a bad natural memory; I forget almost everything. It’s one of the reasons I love pen, paper, and task management apps — they have helped me avoid many problems. However, putting a note down doesn’t always help my future self.

A note can be useful, or it can be confusing.

When writing a note we are prone to the “curse of knowledge” where we assume that our future self will have the same information at hand that we do. That is rarely true. Instead, we will have a whole different set of memories and data clouding our perspective.

Assuming that our future self is a dumb idiot who won’t remember a thing is a great way to write a note that will be useful in the future.

And it was also a great way to write notes in records of work that helped teachers who had to cover classes.

Blessed are the Seekers of Justice and Peacemakers.

³Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. ⁴Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. ⁵Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth. ⁶Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. ⁷Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. ⁸Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. ⁹Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. ¹⁰Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. ¹¹Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. ¹²Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

A Thought on Cancel Culture — There's a Lot We Don't See

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot and don’t have clear ideas. I both think that there is good and bad within this movement (and that it’s both new and old). One recent idea I had is that we focus on those who have been cancelled. We don’t notice the times when people aren’t “cancelled” because there was no outcome. That’s why don’t mention however many events a controversial speaker went to, only the ones that were cancelleed. On the other side, we don’t know about all the terrible acts that people carry out and face no reprecussions for.

How to Be a Genius [It's Not What You Think]

In Greek mythology, a genius wasn’t a person, it was a spirit who came and inspired the creator. But over time, we started to call people of intelligence and creativity geniuses. Elizabeth Gilbert would like us to return to this Greek idea and take the pressure off creative people to perform.

I think we could take a different route.

We could choose to inspire others. We could choose to take on the role of those spirits and offer encouragement and prompts.

We don’t need to do anything spectacular, but just offer a little spark to help.

We can all be geneses.

My Simple Trick to Tackle Writers Block

It never cease to amaze me how often I’m stuck, unable to start an article, section, or sentence and I tell myself > “Just write what the point is that you want to make, just clarify the thought.”

and sometimes I write exactly what should go there. Most of the time, however, it sucks.

But now I know what to write.

🔗 The Big Three - The Accidental Creative

The Big Three - The Accidental Creative > Keeping a shortlist of open creative loops in front of you consistently will help you stay focused on what matters, and prompt your mind to be looking for potentially useful creative stimuli in your environment.

I’m reading (well, listening on Audiobook) The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry and he shared this simple idea above.

I love it.

Creativity insight so often comes by looking at problems from a different perspective or noticing a connection with something else. Keeping a list in front of you with three problems where you need some insight helps invite these connections and perspective shifts.

I’m trying it, and I’ll report back.

Epic vs Apple thoughts: Whoever wins, we lose.

Apple is in the wrong: the App Store needs to change.

Epic’s solution does nothing for me as a consumer and sounds terrible. Epic is acting “holier than thou” although they are clearly working for their own bottom line (which as a business they should work towards!).

I actually feel that Spotify has greater reason to be upset with Apple due to Apple’s direct competition and default service. I suspect letting different apps be the default (including music etc) and more out of store payment options would solve the main issues. I also think that my solutions wouldn’t address Epic games at all. The ability to purchase in app coins is an activity I’d like to see discouraged and Apple taking a 30% cut might encourage more off page purchases and slow down impulse coin buying.

Epic’s marketing campaign makes me like them even less. Taking action to encourage being banned and then raise other issues is all about trying to appear the victim in the court of public opinion. It’s false weakness though when they have justified complaints.

So basically, I don’t really like Epic, their campaign nor their solution, but I’m hoping that there will be a good outcome for consumers and smaller developers that keeps the advantages of the App store.

🔗The end of secularism is nigh - UnHerd

The end of secularism is nigh - UnHerd

All of which should serve as a wake-up call to the West that it is not only its financial, economic and military muscle that is currently atrophying. So too is its ability to market its culturally conditioned assumptions as universal. The concept of the secular is not, as many in West like to think, a neutral one. Quite the opposite. As the very word betrays, it derives from the distinctive theology and history of Latin Christendom: for ‘saeculum’, the word given by the Romans to the endless flux of things, was counterpointed by St Augustine and his heirs to the religio, the ‘bond’, that, so Augustine had taught, joined the pilgrim Church on its journey through the centuries to the radiant eternity of the City of God.

I thought of the XKCD standards comic, where people try to unify things by a standard but just add another competitor in the process. I wonder if that’s how the future will see secularism. Admittedly many different religious systems have already passed away (which is different from the standards comic), and I’m sure there are other issues I haven’t thought of.

Malcolm Gladwell on His Dad Asking Dumb Questions

The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Malcolm Gladwell (#168) > My dad is a great question asker. And my father has this, and I’ve spoken about it many times, of his many gifts, one in particular, as a kid, always had the biggest impact on me, which is my father has zero intellectual insecurities. So this is the only thing he has in common with Obama. He and Obama are the same way. It has never crossed his mind to be concerned that the world thinks he’s an idiot. He’s not in that game. So if he doesn’t understand something, he just asks you. He doesn’t care if he sounds foolish. He will ask the most obvious question. And it was without any sort of concern about it.

And maybe it’s because my dad is a mathematician. So he has this thing that he knows he’s really good at. And so he’s home free. If you have a PhD in math, you’re home free. … Yeah. And it’s like if you look like an idiot because you don’t know anything about basketball, who cares? So he asks lots and lots and lots of dumb, in the best sense of that word, dumb questions. He’ll say to someone I don’t understand. Explain that to me. And he’ll just keep asking questions until he gets it right. And I grew up listening to him do this in every conceivable setting. My father, here is this guy with his PhD in math. He made friends with all of these farmers who were our neighbors who were all drop outs.

I can’t remember where I heard about this quote (not from Tim’s podcast) but I’ve been trying to apply it. Ask questions “Do you mean… Sorry I don’t understand.” I’ll report back on the results.