Okay, I'll try speed reading.

My wife has a growing interesting in speed reading and related rapid learning techniques. I was really interested in accelerated learning about seven years ago but came to two conclusions. 1) There’s a lot of rubbish out there 2) I was unsure if it led to long term learning. Speed reading was a perfect example. It promised a method to read many times faster and remember everything. I questioned these statements as they usually seemed to focus on short term memory performance and not long-term memory. So I just wrote the whole thing off. But my wife’s interest has re-kindled my own, and I want to do a little experiment. I mean, If I could read three times faster, that would mean more books. So I’m giving it a go, I’m sceptical, but I’ll report back on what I find.

Micro May Challenge Book Recommendation 1: Celebration of Discipline πŸ“–

Celebration of Discipline is Richard Foster’s classic look into the timeliess Christian Disciplines. He covers a the inward, outward and corporate disciplines looking at different traditions, the mindset and goal behind each and with suggested practices to start exploring the traditions. It was a hugely influencial book in my early adulthood and I have been rereading it this last year. Shop your local indie bookstore

Being a Non-Expert in a World of Gurus Rocks!

I am not an expert. I’m not incompetent in many areas either, but I’m definitely not an expert. I have so much to learn in every area of life β€” work, family, faith, creativity, DIY, finance, generosity β€” that far surpasses what I do know. Sometimes this makes me feel really out of place in a world of Gurus. When I look at what a lot of other copywriters say about themselves, it’s all boasting about how fantastic they are. It’s like all those businesses that say they are the best at what they do; someone must be lying. I’m sure there are plenty of brilliant and talented people out there. Still, there are also plenty of “fake it till you make it” wannabes who Shakespeare might say “the guru doth boast too much, methinks.”

Most of the time, I feel somewhat inadequate because I’m not an expert, but today I realized it has some advantages. - As a non-expert, I know I need to keep learning and keep growing. - As a non-expert, I’m not stuck in “best practices” or “the way it’s always been done.” - As a non-expert, I sm open to listen to other people and their experiences.

Of course, it’s not really a strict expert/non-expert divide but a scale. At times my ego is stronger and makes me less teachable and more boastful. Still, increasingly I’m trying to embrace sharing my experiments and results as well as listening to other people’s tests. When I do take that approach, everything seems better, and suddenly, many of the gurus look a lot less intimidating.

Investing in my health

I haven’t had the easiest transition in the work from home, lockdown lifestyle caused by the roller-covid-coaster. Many of the core habits for supporting my physical and mental health have fallen away and environmental factors haven’t helped me form new ones.

Even before the government mandated restrictions, I wasn’t really looking after myself well. Apart from the walk part of my morning commute – which admittedly did fulfill the advised 30 minutes of brisk walking health organization recommend – I did little in the way of exercise. With my bare minimum taken away, I’ve been left with next to nothing.

The quantifiable evidence if my Apple Watch rings which usually get to around half full for the red ring and a dot for the green ring. Although, there have been occasions like our trips to the farm where I make sure to go for a walk down to the forest at the end of field and close my rings.

Despite knowing the importance of exercise for not just physical but mental health, I’ve let it slide and the effects have been noticeable. I haven’t handled stress as well as I used to, I’ve felt tired at times and when I do meet my Apple Watch goals for the day, I feel sore afterwards, like I had gone to the gym for a workout.

The straw that finally broke the camels back was watching CGP Grey’s fantastic video, spaceship you.

I don’t know why this got through to me after I had read several articles on the topic and listened to podcasts discussing the importance of exercise during the lockdown, but it did. And I’m grateful.

The Plan

I like simple plans as they are easier to complete and so more likely to actually get done. This is what I’ve started so far, and what I hope to add soon.

1. Talked to my wife:

I needed to get her onboard as wrangling our child care arrangements has caused issues. My old habits just can’t work when someone has to take care of our daughter at certain points

2. Started a simple health challenge app

I’ve had the health mate app from withings on my watch for a long time thanks to some old devices. They have a work from home challenge where they send you advice and simple exercises to do. It’s not a full workout, but I’ve already done more exercise in the last couple of days than the previous few weeks.

3. Cut the chips, sweets and beer

The other side of health to exercise is what I’m putting in to my body. I know that sugar and unhealthy foods made me feel more sluggish and lethargic. Sometimes I justify it by my high metabolism but right now I’m burning less calories and so I’ve cut down on a few guilty pleasure.

Stuff to come

1. Trying a new workout app

I’ve downloaded the fitbod app that I’ve heard a couple of people recommend and I’m going to start trying those workouts out. They have body weight exercises so I don’t need any equipment, which is good, as I have none. I haven’t started this yet, I’m waiting for the exercise habit to stick.

2. Taking more compliant walks

Restrictions are lifting here in Poland with parks and forests now open so it’s much easier to go for a walk now than it was before. Still, I will make sure I’m complying with regulations and doing whatever else I can to minimize my risk of being exposed and exposing others.

Action

None of this matters if I don’t take action. I’ve done a few things but I need to keep doing it. It has already helped me deal with some of my physical and mental health issues and I’m sure doing more with continue these improvements.

P.s. I wrote this post this morning and did more exercise today and felt even better.

Me: I’m fed up of managing books, I should focus on electronic copies and not paper versions. Also me: OH look at those full bookshelves of that person working from home! I’m so jealous. I want to look through all their books!

*temporary solution: Bookshelf virtual background.

πŸ”— Shipping The First Version of Ghost - Twitter

Dashboard was a technically unviable photoshop mockup that was very easy to kill. We had to choose between shipping on time, and making a fancy dashboard. We chose shipping.

Some people are still upset about it today.

Those people will never ship. - John O’Nolan, founder of ghost sharing some of his anecdotes from 7 years of Ghost on Twitter

I remember backing the ghost Kickstarter and being extremely excited about its potential and possibility but the initial version really did disappointment. I don’t think it was just the dashboard for me, but it felt not as blog focused or friendly as the Kickstarter had made out. I kept track of ghost, intending to use it, but it seemed to shift to be more for businesses and not blogging focused like the original vision (and ironically the exact critique it leveled at WordPress). Despite having a year of ghost pro hosting from my backer level I never redeemed it and now it seems impossible to do so. Funnily enough, just last month I spun up a digital ocean server to give ghost a go after seeing the 3.0 version and being impressed.

I always try to give makers the benefit of the doubt, you never know the real reasons behind what they are doing or the data they have in their hands that we don’t. At the same time, sometimes people just made bad choices.

Regardless of the dashboard and merits of shipping, it’s not a great sign for the head of a company who makes a blogging platform to choose to write a tweet thread rather than a blog post. He could, of course, do both.

A 10-Second and 10-Minute Impression of Using a Mouse with an iPad

I had a quick play with my work mouse (an HP of some sort) on my iPad yesterday. - 10-second impression: “This is cool and feels right! I love these little touches like how the cursor changes.” - 10-minute impression: “Urgh, this is wrong. The scrolling is janky. I can’t slide elements, how on earth do I get to the homepage without using a keyboard. Why can’t I swipe this element! After that, I disconnected my mouse. Part of me expects this to get better as more apps support trackpads and mice plus I suspect a trackpad would be a more intuitive experience.

Still, I wonder what my 10-day impression will be?

A Couple of Revelations Connected with Work

I had a few real moments of revelation over the weekend.

1. Work needs to fit my life, not my life fit my work:

I really like my job, but I have been arranging my life to fit my job. In my case, this was wrong. While some people’s work is extremely valuable and is making a difference in the world, the truth is mine isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I think my company is fine and a net positive, but we’re not curing cancer and even if we were, throwing away all other aspects of my life for a company with no guarentee that they’ll keep me around tomorrow let alone when I’m old and grey is plain stupid. When I addon that I may have ended up in hosptial due in no small part to work related stress, I have to make some changes here.

2. I can use different task systems for work and home

This is connected to the last point. As a teacher, I used to take home work all the time, so having a system that combined both my professional and personal tasks made sense. Now, I don’t take home my work so I don’t have keep track of both at the same time, I can basically apply a filtered view by opening a different app. This will then allow me to use the task management app I want for my personal life (no doubt mac/iOS focused. Not sure what yet) and a horrible windows friendly one for work (probably Todoist).

A mindset shift

As you can see, the second idea was prompted by the first. In someways I feel this has been a slow change that really should have occured when I switched career but then again, perhaps it should have been the case when I was a teacher as well.

Reconsidering things

Things I’m currently reconsidering - my blog hosting platform (I’ve been playing with Ghost but I can see a cool WordPress plugin for book reviews. I’m thinking of keeping MB as a separate blog, but maybe I shouldn’t)
- my task management app (todoist works everywhere but it always feels like too much hard work everywhere!) - My RSS app (Unread is cool, but maybe I should just use inoreader…or prehaps reeder 4. And what about the service underneith?) All this instead of blogging, getting things done and reading enriching articles. At the same time, It’s okay to review what we’re doing sometimes and make sure we’re still doing things the right way and with the right tools. Still, I wish I had a better idea rather than just confusion.

Keeping up with the Internet Joneses

One of the dangers elements of the Internet is that “Keeping up with Joneses” can be multipled manifold. I connect with some folks who are very well off and an average income for their country may have far more than I do.

Sometimes when I hear people talk about their five iPads, Macbook, iMac Pro and more accessories It can skew my sense of what I should be able to afford. But I need to run my own race.

Even if there weren’t other areas where I wanted to spend my money, I couldn’t afford to buy all the latest technology. I need to focus on my own values and priorities so that I don’t spend money badly nor feel jealous of those who can afford certain items that I’d like.

I wish I could say I do this well, but if I did, I wouldn’t be writing this.

My kingdom for a good research tool

Starting some new studies1. Now what tool should I use to save notes and research πŸ€”. Needs to work on iPad and probably Windows? Don’t think I’ll have access to a mac. I still have DevonThink 2 set up (which is pretty great) but maybe I should just use the old reliable Evernote. Notion seems very cool but it doesn’t have the easy web clipping of the other two. Anything I’m missing?


  1. I’m auditing a course on New Testament studies with the view to starting longer studies. I have started a newsletter on it. [return]

Taking a course on what you teach

I used to find it really strange how often I’d see someone taking a course and they’d want help making their own course better (two examples I’ve seen, copywriter needs to improve the landing page of their copywriting course. Handletterer needs to improve thier lettering for their lettering course). Now, I still find it strange but I also think it’s a very smart decision. If you are a coach, you should be constantly improving to make sure you are providing the best advice possible. I do think there is a lower limit there (don’t teach what you are brand new to. And when you do start teaching, perhaps focus on the easiest aspects.) but it’s not completely unreasonable.

30 days of sketchnoting the course is live

To give people (and myself) something to do during self-isolation/social distancing or whatever, I published my premium 30 days of sketchnoting course. πŸ₯³

It’s 30 days of sketchnoting activites to build your sketchnoting skills (it works if you’ve never sketchnoted before, or if you have experience but want to expand your skillset).

It might be a bit rough around the edges so if you use the code MARCH20, you get 75% off (and I’m going to take it down after a week and correct any issues).

If $7 is too much for you, I have a couple of free sketchnote courses (but they don’t have videos).

I’m hoping to use the money from this course to pay for the hosting, add an email drip system and perhaps even get some new gear to make better videos for the next course (and add videos to the free courses).

P.s. If you know someone who is interested in sketchnoting, I’d love it if you shared these courses with them. Thank you.

Answer the question.

I got to take part in some interviews today. I asked what aspect of their work they enjoyed the most and which they liked the least. For the first part, the candidate basically answers everything. I asked about what they liked the least and they answered a different question. I asked my question again and the candidate again avoided answering. I wonder if the candidate thought I was asking a β€œwhat’s your greatest weakness” type question when I really wasn’t. Avoiding my question, especially after I asked again, annoyed me.

No, your "brilliant guest post" isn't right for me

I get a couple of emails a week with content people want me to share on a site I’m connected to. I think there has been two times when the content was actually relevant to the site and didn’t sound terrible. And yet, every time I get sent an approach email, it says differently.

There’s a good chance that if you are sending emails asking to guest post on someone’s site and you get no response, you are making the same mistakes.

Some simple advice

  1. If you want to people to accept your invitations, then suggest relevant content.
  2. look for content submission details. Some sites WANT more content and have an easily discovered page where you can submit content.
  3. On the other hand, some sites DON’T want your content and won’t accept it even if it’s great. (e.g. This site is my own personal site, I will never accept a guest post on it. Start your own.)
  4. Don’t use a stock approach email. They are easy to spot and I will ignore your message. (but you may get inspired)
  5. If you don’t read a site, then be honest! Don’t fake “being a long time reader”. I’m more likely to read the “hey I’m looking for guest positing opportunities on {topic} and I came across your site. I was wondering if…” If you read my site, prove it subtley not just saying you read a post.
  6. Even if you do everything right, I may have just deleted every email in my inbox because I got fed up. You can try emailing me again but there’s a good chance I’m ignoring you or have blocked you as you came across as spammy.

By the way, this was going to be a tweetstorm but I remembered the words of a friend and decided that a blog post would be better.

Treating other people's time as valuable

I try to treat everyone’s time at work as valuable. If there is something I can probably find out without bothering someone, I don’t disturb them. If I want to ask a question, I make sure I keep it short, clear and with any follow up questions I might need so that the other person only needs to respond once. I do this with supriror, people of the same rank, and inferiors. When a supriror asks me to do something that would take them less time, I get it. They probably have less time and its their perogative. But it shocks me the number of times people will send me a request for information that is easy to find (probably easier for them) and that they then have to wait for me to respond to. I don’t know if it’s laziness, lack of gumption, poor work culture, fear of taking the blame for any mistakes, my overeagerness or something else entirely but I’ve just sent five minutes looking up some information on the public company directory to send over to someone who could have done it themselves and didn’t launch something last night because “they were waiting for me”. πŸ™„

p.s. yes, I know that I’ve spent more time writing this than finding the information.

Em dashes on the web: Chicago confusion

I just saw an example of Chicago style em dash format on the web (no spaces between words). Initially, I thought it was a hyphenated word and read it as such. Perhaps this was just the layout on the website as I never have issues with the Chicago approach in books. Regardless, I’m noting this as a point in favour of other style guides.

A Quick Thought on Focal Lengths in Street Photography

Generally, the more populous the area you are shooting in, the wider focal length you want. - Centre of London: 28mm.
- Krakow/outer London: 35mm - rural/ deserted streets: 50mm There are plenty of exceptions (some only use tele lenses. Some only wide. Also are street portraits street?) but I think this is a pretty good starting point.

Dear Aspiring Writer. Keep Going.

I’ve seen some writing from aspiring writers which makes me roll my eyes (and some from professional writers too for that matter). Part of me wishes they wouldn’t bother writing about these topics again (e.g. the iPad sucks/ the iPad is the best thing ever as long as you have these 20 apps), but I’m keenly aware of the dangers of wishing a writer wouldn’t bother.

The creative process isn’t clean or easy. Creating is messy and involves mistakes.

In the words of Jake from Adventure time, sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something.

To get better at writing, we need first to write badly. Then slightly less badly (with a few missteps along the way) and eventually be sort of kinda good at something.

Even once we’ve “made it” we may create the occasional average product. As a follower of a creative, we can expect everything to be their best work, but with online publishing that won’t always be true. Admittedly, the skill of knowing what leads to pursue and when to kill a draft are important to develop. But as the ceramics class in Art & Fear showed that focusing on quantity leads to higher quality, so we too should be forgiving of the occasional misstep.

After all, if there is writing (or podcasts or video) that we do not like, we can always choose to ignore it.

It’s not like anyone is forcing you to follow it.

πŸ”— The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Your Writing)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Your Writing) Go a week without

β€’ very β€’ rather β€’ really β€’ quite β€’ so β€’ of course β€’ in fact

Benjamine Dreyer on Twitter Thought I’d share this as well to go along with that last bit of writing advice. “Of course” is one of those zombie phrases that still rises from my fingers no matter how many times I try to kill it… but that’s what editing is for…of course.

One thing I wish was better with MB-hosted Micro.blogs...but then again

I really like MB-hosted micro.blog for the simplicity of publishing…but it’s not that easy to edit older posts. For example, if I wanted to write a list of authors I’m into right now, It would be tricky to find later. I could of course use a page β€” and that makes a lot of sense for this type of post…sorry, page. There are, however, occasions where I’d like more ways to revist old posts and update them. Then again, I never knew the best way to do this with WordPress: a new post, a note on the old post that it had been changed, just updating? Perhaps this is a bug which is a feature?

Podcast idea: Coffee conversation

No, it’s not a podcast about coffee…well not direclty. Here’s the pitch: I meet up with people I think are interesting and have a coffee with them, we record the conversation because maybe other people would like that.

But then again, it would probable be a bad podcast (noise of cups and sipping) and probably change the type of conversation…maybe I should just try and have a cup of coffee with interesting people.

πŸŽ₯ Why We Still Love Film: Analog Photography in the Digital Age | NBC Left Field

πŸŽ₯ Why We Still Love Film: Analog Photography in the Digital Age | NBC Left Field
As someone who still shoots film (on multiple cameras) I loved this. The production is top-notch and features some of my favourite YouTubers. I also love the contrast with this week’s ATP where they said that downloading images off an SD card is too slow (although I kind of understand that frustration). Now I’d better take my last rolls of film to the local developer and get out a new one.