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12 February 2021​

Thanks for joining me on my pursuit to an optimal and meaningful life. I’m eager to share what I’m discovering along the way. Let’s be the best at getting better, together.

I contemplated for many months, a few years even, on when I should begin sharing my work publicly. I thought if I read even more than the 100+ books per year I was already reading, find another topic to devour, listen to more podcasts, become a better writer, hoard articles into my Evernote—anything to be constantly consuming content to add to my knowledge arsenal, I would eventually be ‘ready’.

I was mistaking learning for progress. The question I had to ask myself: Do I really need to think more, or is it simply a matter of doing the work? Most often it’s the latter. 

Similar to how I transitioned my nursing career into design and marketing management, I had to first say ‘yes’ and then figure out how to do it.

Move fast; it’ll all work out how it’s supposed to.

Wellness

How I work towards living a productive life:

  • Wake up early, well before the day needs me

  • Limit interruptions; turn off all phone notifications

  • Say no, very often

    • A frequent email I send out:

      "Thank you for thinking of me. To protect my time, I respectfully decline interest in this opportunity and ask that you remove me from further consideration. No reply needed."

  • Learn from my mistakes and get back up when I fail

  • Don’t waste time on envy

  • A life well-lived is a life well-edited

Write

Once or twice per year I ask myself these questions to learn which interests and thoughts of mine change and what stays fairly consistent:

  1. Where do I live?

  2. What do I do for fun?

  3. What am I surrounded by and who?

  4. How do I receive income and how much do I make?

  5. What does my home look like?

  6. What does my personal style look like?

  7. What routines and habits do I have?

  8. What do I do for my health and well-being?

  9. What does my ideal day look like?

  10. How do I give back to the world?

My answers have changed quite a bit over the past 6 years since I started this exercise. I’ve found it’s a nice checkpoint to learn what habits and routines dropped off that I want to include back in.

Read

One of my favorite pieces of writing on taste and design—Paul Graham’s essay Taste for Makers (2/2002)

Is the concept of taste really subjective? When we are asked why we like the look and design of something, many times our answer is “I don’t know, it just looks good to me.” Paul expands upon this question saying taste isn’t really a personal preference, but rather a cop-out to prevent a dispute. When one becomes a maker and designer, they eventually start to agree with this too.

He goes on to explain that although there’s many types of designers in various fields, these same principles are used:

  1. Good design is simple

  2. Good design is timeless

  3. Good design solves the right problem

  4. Good design is suggestive

  5. Good design is often slightly funny

  6. Good design is hard

  7. Good design looks easy

  8. Good design uses symmetry

  9. Good design resembles nature

  10. Good design is redesign

  11. Good design can copy

  12. Good design is often strange

  13. Good design happens in chunks

  14. Good design is often daring

If you are in a position to design something and you believe taste is truly subjective, there is no way to get better at your job. If taste is truly a personal preference, then it’s already perfect: you like whatever you like and that's all there is to it.

As in any job, as one continues to design things, they’ll get better at it. Their tastes will change, and they will know they’re getting better. If so, their old tastes were not merely different, but worse. Poof goes the axiom that taste can't be wrong.

“You have to understand a field well before you develop a good nose for what needs fixing. You have to do your homework. But as you become expert in a field, you'll start to hear little voices saying — ‘What a hack! There must be a better way.’ Don't ignore those voices. Cultivate them. The recipe for great work is: very exacting taste, plus the ability to gratify it.”

Links Worth Clicking

A few articles I enjoyed:

  • LearnStash — a personal growth database that recommends what to read, learn, listen and buy broken down by these topics:

    1. Build healthy habits

    2. Get motivated

    3. Expand your business skills

    4. Be a better leader

    5. Be more productive

    6. Improve your mindset

  • Scientific findings in five seconds or less. 

    • These are my favorite so far:

      1. The mere presence of a cell phone, whether or not it was used, decreased people's performance on tasks that involved attention and cognitive processing.

      2. The optimal noise level for carrying out abstract thinking and creative tasks is 70 dB, which is the average noise level of a coffee shop.

      3. Workers involved in creative activities outside of work reported being more relaxed and were rated by others as more productive during working hours.

Pantry

Visual

Bush plane parking at Lake Hood, Alaska

Ponder

Motivation in life — Time to be creative, time to read, cool experiences, freedom to make my own schedule, the ability to live where I want, to not be told what to do.

As always, thank you for your attention.