Books

    Read: The Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter 📚

    This was an extended magazine article, not a book. Entertaining, but with flimsy arguments.

    My Reading Highlights and Notes

    33 DAYS

    We’re detached from the things that make us feel happy and alive, like connection, being in the natural world, effort, and perseverance.

    800 FACES

    He called this “prevalence-induced concept change.” Essentially “problem creep.” It explains that as we experience fewer problems, we don’t become more satisfied. We just lower our threshold for what we consider a problem. We end up with the same number of troubles. Except our new problems are progressively more hollow.

    Tags: definition

    Call it comfort creep. When a new comfort is introduced, we adapt to it and our old comforts become unacceptable. Today’s comfort is tomorrow’s discomfort. This leads to a new level of what’s considered comfortable.

    Note: But is this just hedonic adaption?

    Tags: definition

    20 YARDS

    50/50

    The state of sumikiri provided by misogi is why ancient students of aikido would immerse themselves in natural bodies of cold water. Waterfalls, streams, or the ocean would wash away their defilements and reconnect them with the universe. More recently, the idea of misogi has been applied to other forms of using epic challenges in nature to cleanse the defilements of the modern world.

    Lapsing into flow requires two conditions: The task must stretch a person’s limits and it must have a clear goal. The flow state, Csikszentmihalyi and the other researchers now believe, is a key driver of happiness and growth.

    Preventing kids from exploring their edges is largely thought to be the cause of the abnormally high and growing rates of anxiety and depression in young people.

    By facing some challenge but not an overwhelming amount, these people developed an internal capacity that left them more robust and resilient.

    50. 70. OR 90.

    along the way I took comfort in the fact that I am not alone. We all suck at new things. But clumsily exiting our comfort zones offers way too many upsides to ignore.

    learning new skills is also one of the best ways to enhance awareness of the present moment,

    Once we’ve done something over and over, our mind zones out of whatever old thing it’s doing.

    In newness we’re forced into presence and focus. This is because we can’t anticipate what to expect and how to respond, breaking the trance that leads to life in fast forward. Newness can even slow down our sense of time. This explains why time seemed slower when we were kids. Everything was new then and we were constantly learning.

    people remember duration as being shorter on a routine activity than on a nonroutine activity.”

    150 PEOPLE

    Kanazawa calls his idea the Savanna Theory of Happiness, and the general rule of thumb is, the higher the population density wherever a person is, the less happy they’ll likely be.

    101 MILES

    Our general discomfort with solitude may be due to how society frames it. Consider how we discipline children: time-out. Or how we punish prisoners: solitary confinement. This tradition, Bowker thinks, may have cued us to believe that normalcy is found through others and that solitude is punishment.

    Research backs solitude’s healthy properties. It’s been shown to improve productivity, creativity, empathy, and happiness, and decrease self-consciousness.

    (less than) 70 MILES AN HOUR

    11 HOURS, 6 MINUTES

    our collective lack of boredom is not only burning us out and leading to some ill mental health effects, but also muting what boredom is trying to tell us about our mind, emotions, ideas, wants, and needs.

    Our brains essentially have two modes, focused and unfocused. Focused mode is a mind at attention. It’s on when we’re processing outside information, completing a task, checking our cellphone, watching TV, listening to a podcast, having a conversation, or anything else that requires us to attend to the outside world. Unfocused mode occurs when we’re not paying attention. It’s inward mind-wandering, a rest state that restores and rebuilds the resources needed to work better and more efficiently in the focused state. Time in unfocused mode is critical to get shit done, tap into creativity, process complicated information, and more.

    Each time we reflexively take out our phone or turn on a computer or TV to kill boredom, it attaches another tiny anchor to our stress tolerance, dragging it lower. Scientists at Oregon State University found that daily stressors like lines and waits can improve our resistance to some brain diseases if we simply suffer through them and shrug them off. More of these everyday stressors are actually better for our brain.

    And so, despite what productivity gurus will have us believe, the key to improving productivity and performance might be to occasionally do nothing at all. Or, at least, not dive into a screen. It prompts us to think distinctly, in a way that delivers more original ideas.

    20 MINUTES, 5 HOURS, 3 DAYS

    They discovered that 20 minutes outside, three times a week, is the dose of nature that most efficiently dropped people’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The catch to that study, of course, was that the participants couldn’t take their phones outside with them.

    In nature your brain enters a mode Hopman called “soft fascination.” It’s similar to unfocused mode—but with one key difference. “Instead of mind-wandering and lightly focusing inwardly, you’re lightly focusing outwardly on the nature around you,”

    Tags: definition

    Brain scans show that soft fascination is a lot like meditation. Hopman described it as a mindfulness-like state that restores and builds the resources we need to think, create, process information, and execute tasks.

    Twenty minutes, three times a week, is great. But it’s at the bottom of what some nature scientists have dubbed “the nature pyramid.”

    Time in this semiwild stuff comprises level two of the nature pyramid. Research, in part thanks to Finland, says we should spend a total of about five hours in it a month.

    The rewilding of our body and brain usually goes something like this: On the first day stress and health markers improve, but we are still adjusting to the discomfort of nature. We’re thinking about how it sucks to be cold, missing our phone, and still focusing on the anxieties we left behind—what’s happening at work and whether we closed the garage door. By day two our mind is settling and awareness is heightening. We’re caring less about what we left behind and are beginning to notice the sights, smells, and sounds around us. Then day three hits. Now our senses are completely dialed in and we can reach a fully meditative mode of feeling connected to nature. The discomfort isn’t so bad. It has, in fact, shifted to a welcome sensation that signals a calmness and feeling of life satisfaction.

    12 PLACES

    Our brains are wired to think loud = danger. We react by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, stress hormones that kick on the fight-or-flight response. Our doses of noise-induced stress hormones used to be infrequent but lifesaving. Today’s jarring background noises spur the same fight-or-flight response. But the difference is that these noises are nearly constant.

    Gordon Hempton traveled the country in search of silence. He now believes that there are only 12 places in the Lower 48 where we can sit for 15 minutes and not hear a single noise created by humans. No droning planes, trains, automobiles. No blaring TVs, cellphones, or radios. Just natural soundscape. Some of these 12 places are spots in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Hawaii’s Haleakala National Park, and Washington’s Hoh River Valley. North America’s other consistently quiet places are way up north, where I am: Alaska, the Arctic, Yukon, Northwest Territories, etc.

    -4,000 CALORIES

    The Japanese call this kuchisabishii, which literally means “lonely mouth” and describes our constant mindless eating.

    Tags: definition

    Just 3 percent of the people who lose weight in a given year manage to keep it off. Their secret isn’t some special food or exercise no one else has. It’s their ability to get comfortable with discomfort.

    Continuously trying to add more stuff on top of what you’re doing and constantly experimenting with shiny new things is almost never the answer. It just adds another layer of stress and complication. I believe people should be doing less and eliminating limiters to progress.

    Each person tracked and reported:

    • How much and what they ate. This involved weighing all the food the person ate to know true serving sizes and, therefore, calories. • Their typical daily routine. • Their sleep schedule. • Their stress and energy levels. • Their daily weight. • Their workouts and step counts.

    “I quickly ‘solved’ hundreds of problems just by virtue of improving a person’s awareness of their own behavior,” he said.

    Once we eat, our brain releases dopamine, rewarding us for the behavior. This creates a circuit in the brain that associates food with dopamine.

    Our brains evolved to release more dopamine when eating calorie-packed foods

    The carb-fat combo doesn’t exist naturally, but it’s one that humans clamor for,

    He recommended that I distract the discomfort of reward hunger with another form of discomfort: light exercise. “Find some ‘calorie negative’ ways of dealing with stress,” he said. “Walking is my number one. It relieves more stress and is health promoting. It leads you to burn calories rather than onboard them. And it removes you from the situation and adds time for reflection, where you can realize that you weren’t really hungry.”

    Humans and other primates are uniquely predisposed to chronic stress. That’s because we’re smart, social creatures who have a lot of downtime to be “miserable to each other and stress each other out,” according to Robert Sapolsky,

    The key quality that made a food filling: how heavy its 240-calorie serving size was.

    12 TO 16 HOURS

    Rarely feeling real hunger is a strong sign that a person is suffering from the ill effects of comfort creep,

    The data shows that we don’t typically gain weight in a linear fashion, like a quarter pound each month for a total of three pounds at the end of the year. Most of us maintain our weight most of the year, then experience periods of gain,

    But it is agreed that these people weren’t eating around the clock. The research suggests they likely ate one or two meals a day.

    Other research shows that programming two “hungry days” per week where we eat around 500 calories delivers benefits.

    Another option is to string together five “hungry days” in a row, once a month, eating just 700 total calories.

    3 GOOD LEGS

    12/31, 11:59:33 P.M.

    some scholars have argued that American attempts to dematerialize are just another form of materialism.

    It consists of “cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time at all to confront the real issues….If we look into our lives, we will see clearly how many unimportant tasks, so-called ‘responsibilities’ accumulate to fill them up….Going on as we do, obsessively trying to improve our conditions, can become an end in itself and a pointless distraction.”

    100+ POUNDS

    ≤50 POUNDS

    80 PERCENT

    81.2 YEARS

    📚 After we got Voodoo Doughnuts and Stumptown coffee, we walked to, then circled Powell’s like vultures, waiting for it to open.

    Cool experience, especially the rare books room. Restricted myself to just 3 books and some free bookmarks/stickers.

    A collection of books, bookmarks, and stickers, featuring titles like The Happiness Hypothesis, Utopia for Realists, and This Is How You Lose the Time War.

    We finished reading Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis 📚

    Wow it had Mormon vibes. I wonder if he ever had exposure or it was just a convergent creation.

    Finally reading the namesake of the band that adorns so many of my t-shirts: Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis 📚🎶

    📚 Some good earth day sales from one of my favorite publishers (Library of America), including Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, John James Audobon, John Muir, Frederick Law Olmstead, Wendell Berry, Edward O. Wilson, and more.

    The PARA Method

    📚 Finished Reading: The PARA Method by Tiago Forte

    Recommended

    00 Inbox

    01 Projects

    02 Areas

    03 Resources

    04 Archives

    I’ve been using this organization and planning method for a few months and have found it both useful and flexible. It has just about the right blend of “friction” and “flow”, meaning that it is not so easy to use that it leads to overcommitment and overwhelm, nor so hard to use that I avoid it or feel overly slowed down.

    The ability to easily restart (without losing anything) is a huge plus for those of us who feel the frequent temptation of starting over or trying new systems. The aforementioned sweet spot also helps prevent system switch.

    The one thing I don’t feel like it satisfactorily addresses is “in which of my places is that Inbox, Project, Area, Resource, or Archive?”. I’m tempted to make one storage location my “main” with some sort of index, but don’t want to overwhelm the system. How have you addressed this?


    My Reading Highlights and Notes

    INTRODUCTION How to Read This Book

    PROMISE #1: You will stop wasting time looking for information: You will know exactly where your most important notes and documents live, and how to find them in seconds.

    PROMISE #2: You will gain greater focus on what matters most: You will have greater clarity about what’s important so you can intentionally move your life into alignment with your interests and goals.

    PROMISE #3: You will make things happen: You will consistently finish what you start, beating procrastination and tapping into your past learning to make progress fast.

    PROMISE #4: Your creativity and productivity will soar: You will have access to a playground of your own ideas to finally do the creative work that’s been locked up inside you.

    PROMISE #5: You will beat information overload and FOMO: The fear of missing out on a key piece of information will disappear and be replaced with the confidence that you have everything you need to get started.

    PART 1 THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PARA

    1 Introducing PARA

    Such a system would need to be incredibly easy to set up, and even easier to maintain. After all, only the simplest, most frictionless habits endure long term. Note: yet there is value in friction re: recall and evaluation. How to manage this tension?

    use it in every one of the many places where you store information. Note: OK, but how do I know which one it lives in? (this does not get answered satisfactorily.)

    Whether you want to save excerpts from a book you’re reading, Note: Seems like overkill if you make a lot of highlights…but then again, maybe they should go in 04 Archive if they are not useful.

    You have projects you’re actively working on—short-term efforts (whether in your work or personal life) that you take on with a certain goal in mind. Tags: definition

    You have areas of responsibility—important parts of your work and life that require ongoing attention more broadly. Tags: definition

    Then you have resources on a range of topics you’re interested in and learning about, Tags: definition

    Finally, you have archives, which include anything from the previous three categories that is no longer active but you might want to save for future reference: Tags: definition

    The system you use to organize information has to be so simple that it frees up your attention, instead of taking more of it. Your system must give you time, not take time.

    2 The Power of Organizing by Project

    there are two critical things you cannot do until you break down your areas of responsibility into specific, concrete projects.

    OBSTACLE #1: You Can’t Truly Know the Extent of Your Commitments

    OBSTACLE #2: You Can’t Connect Your Current Efforts to Your Long-Term Goals

    What does our motivation depend on? Mostly, on making consistent progress. We can endure quite a bit of stress and frustration in the short term if we know it’s leading somewhere.

    without a list of individual projects, you can’t connect your current efforts to your long-term goals.

    When you break down your responsibilities into bite-size projects, you ensure that your project list is constantly turning over. This turnover creates a cadence of regular victories that you get to celebrate every time you successfully complete a project.

    Using PARA is not just about creating a bunch of folders to put things in. It is about identifying the structure of your work and life—what you are committed to, what you want to change, and where you want to go. It is about organizing information in such a way that it supports and calls into being the future life you want to lead.

    3 The Sixty-Second PARA Setup Guide

    Step 1: Archive existing files Step 2: Create project folders Step 3: Create additional folders as needed

    STEP 1: Archive Existing Files

    The problem with keeping everything is that it quickly starts to consume a resource even more scarce than physical space: your attention. Tags: favorite

    select all the existing files, documents, folders, notes, etc. in your Documents folder (which may number in the hundreds or even thousands or more) and move them all at once into a new folder called “Archive [Today’s date].”

    Then, place this new dated archive folder inside another, larger folder titled simply “Archives,” which will be the official home of all your archives going forward.

    STEP 2: Create Project Folders

    For the second step, start by creating a new folder called “Projects.” This will be the official home of all your information related to projects (short-term efforts with a clear end goal) going forward. Inside that new folder, create a subfolder for each one of your active projects and title them with the name of each project.

    STEP 3: Create Additional Folders as Needed

    never create an empty folder (or tag, or directory, or other container) before you have something to put in it.

    follow the same three steps above with your cloud storage drive, notetaking app, and anywhere else you store information, Note: email, paper, photos, screenshots?

    Think carefully about what you want to save in all four categories of PARA. What is truly unique or useful? What do you need in front of you when you sit down to focus on a project or area? Which resources are truly valuable, and which could you easily find again with a Google search? Tags: reflection

    4 Five Key Tips for Making Organizing Easy

    TIP #1: Create an Inbox

    you need a separate time and place to “process” new items. I recommend creating an additional, fifth folder alongside the four we’ve already covered, on each major platform you use (such as your Documents folder, cloud storage drive, and notetaking app) with the title “Inbox.”

    TIP #2: Number the Folders

    I suggest adding the numbers 0–4 at the beginning of the titles for each of the five folders you now have. Using “0” for the inbox reminds you that its contents have not yet been processed. This keeps them in the right order from most to least actionable when they are sorted alphabetically.

    TIP #3: Use a Naming Convention

    It’s helpful if you can see a folder—on any platform, on any device—and instantly know which of the four main PARA categories it is in. I like to use an informal naming convention to make this possible, such as:

    • Emojis at the beginning of titles for project folders
    • Capitalized titles for area folders
    • Uncapitalized titles for resource folders

    TIP #4: Activate Offline Mode

    activate offline mode for just the Projects folder (and its subfolders) on each device you use while traveling, in transit, or when you just want to shut off the Wi-Fi and focus.

    TIP #5: Make Backups

    5 How to Maintain Your PARA System

    do all the upkeep of your PARA system in just five minutes per week. All you need to do is follow these three easy steps:

    • Retitle new items in your inbox
    • Sort new items into PARA folders
    • Update your active projects

    STEP #1: Retitle New Items in Your Inbox

    giving each item the shortest, simplest, easiest-to-understand title I can think of within a few seconds.

    Note that you likely have several inboxes you’ll need to do this for, such as:

    • An inbox you’ve created in your Documents folder (recommended in chapter 4)

    • An inbox for your cloud storage drive

    • An inbox in your digital notetaking app

      Note: email, paper, photos, screenshots?

    STEP #2: Sort New Items into PARA Folders

    I also find that briefly revisiting new information I’ve captured over the last week serves as a helpful reminder of any follow-up actions I need to take.

    STEP #3: Update Your Active Projects

    take a look at your project folders and make changes to reflect what’s happened over the past week. This could include actions such as:

    • Changing the name of a project to reflect a new scope or direction
    • Splitting a large project into smaller ones to make it more achievable
    • Archiving a project that has been completed, put on hold, canceled, or handed over to someone else
    • Unarchiving a dormant project that has since become active again and moving it back to the Projects folder

    Before archiving a project, scan it briefly for any material (such as brainstorms, background research, slides, interview notes, etc.) that might be relevant to other pursuits and move these items to the appropriate place within PARA.

    The Archive should be your starting point any time you launch a new project, do a personal year-end review, or update your résumé for a new job. It contains the supporting evidence you’ll need to successfully advocate for a raise or promotion, pitch a new client, or propose a bold new venture.

    PART 2 THE PARA PLAYBOOK

    6 How to Distinguish between Projects and Areas

    My definition of a project is any endeavor that has:

    • A goal that will enable you to mark it “complete”

    • A deadline or timeframe by which you’d like it done

      Tags: definition

    An area of responsibility has:

    • A standard to be maintained

    • An indefinite end date

      Tags: definition

    You also have areas of responsibility in your personal life, like your health, finances, personal development, and relationships,

    To put it simply: projects end, while areas continue indefinitely. Note: it seems the project goal/date and area standards should be uniformly included somewhere in the system. 0 file? Title?

    Every project typically falls under an area of responsibility.

    I’ve noticed most people tend to favor either projects or areas in the way they lead their lives. … Once you view your life through the lens of projects and areas, it becomes very clear that you need both: sprints to ramp up something new, and marathons to sustain it.

    7 How to Distinguish between Areas and Resources

    there is a big difference between things you are directly responsible for and things you are merely interested in. I use uppercase titles for areas and lowercase titles for resources to constantly remind myself that one is more important than the other.

    Areas are parts of our lives that require ongoing attention to uphold a certain level of quality or performance. It’s helpful to think of them as the “roles you play” or the “hats you wear” at work and in life. Tags: definition

    Resources encompass the vast number of things you might be interested in, curious about, or passionate about at any given time. Tags: definition

    Instead of asking, “Is this interesting?” which always results in overcollecting, I ask myself, “Is this useful?” That’s a much higher bar and forces me to consider what this piece of information will allow me to do that I couldn’t do otherwise, which problem it could help me solve, or which obstacle it might help me overcome. Tags: favorite

    Areas Are Private Whereas Resources Are Shareable

    Therefore, I recommend you think of your resource folders as “shareable by default.” That way you can share individual documents (or even entire folders) with others on the fly, without first having to comb through them for any personal details. Note: these should go in a different place, then, where they cannot be accidentally shared (via backlinks, etc.)

    We’ve all done it—some area of our lives feels too complex, uncertain, or confronting, so we throw ourselves at something else to take our mind off it. It feels great at first, distracting ourselves from pressing problems in favor of an exciting new hobby or research interest.

    8 Extending PARA across Multiple Platforms

    Technology is advancing too quickly on too many fronts for any one app to fulfill every need. Instead of fighting the tide and looking for “one app to rule them all,” use as many apps as you like, while replicating the same structure across every single one. I recommend doing so down to the exact same spelling, punctuation, and capitalization so that you can mentally transition between platforms as seamlessly as possible.

    I use the following rules of thumb to tell me which digital storage medium is best for any given piece of information:

    • If it’s an appointment or meeting happening at a specific time, it goes on my calendar
    • If it’s a task that I can complete anytime, it goes in my to-do list app
    • If it’s text, it goes in my notetaking app (since that offers the best search function by which to find it again)
    • If it’s content that I’ll be collaborating on with others, it goes in my cloud storage drive
    • If it can’t go in any of the above locations (because it’s too large or a specialized file type, for example), then it goes in my computer’s file system (the Documents folder)

    you should create a folder on any platform only when you have something to put in it.

    The landscape of productivity software is always changing, but that doesn’t mean your organizing methods have to be. If a feature you depend on stops working, or the policies or pricing of a platform unexpectedly change, that affects only one platform. With PARA, any risk or vulnerability is limited to just one part of your digital life and doesn’t automatically knock out all the others.

    9 Keep Information Flowing

    One final note: though my preferred method is to move notes and files wholesale from one place to another, you actually have four options for how to associate an existing piece of information with a new category:

    • Moving a single item (if only one item is relevant to a new project, for example)
    • Moving a folder full of items (if a whole group of items is relevant)
    • Linking two items together (if you want to keep the original item where it is)
    • Tagging items with the same tag (if you want to associate many items with each other without moving them)

    The only action I recommend avoiding at all costs is duplication: you never want to have two versions of a file or document, because then you never know which one is the most current.

    10 Using PARA with a Team

    It takes a lot of time and effort to articulate one’s knowledge in a form that can be understood by others. Since most staff aren’t compensated or evaluated for that effort, it always tends to fall by the wayside.

    RECOMMENDATION #1: Get clear on your organization’s flavor of PARA

    I suggest creating a “PARA Playbook” for your team that includes decisions such as:

    • What is our definition of a “project,” “area of responsibility,” “resource,” and “archive”?
    • What needs to happen when we kick off a new project for it to be considered “active”?
    • What needs to happen when a project gets completed, put on hold, or canceled (to be considered “inactive”)?
    • What are the officially supported platforms on which PARA will be used?
    • What are the rules, guidelines, and norms that govern how people will use PARA?
    • Who will be the “PARA Champion” who oversees its implementation and makes sure the guidelines are being followed?

    RECOMMENDATION #2: Train people in how to use PARA

    you will need to teach your people not only how PARA works, but how it works for your team.

    RECOMMENDATION #3: Keep only shared projects on shared platforms

    it takes a tremendous amount of cognitive effort to effectively communicate a piece of knowledge.

    I recommend advising your team to keep all their personal notes, files, and documents in their personal PARA system by default. Only when a project, area, or resource becomes collaborative, with multiple people involved, should it be moved to the shared folders in a company-wide PARA system.

    RECOMMENDATION #4: Encourage a culture of writing

    A high-quality piece of communication meets the following criteria:

    • Is it interesting and attention-grabbing? (Does it make people want to read it?)

    • Is it precise and clear? (Can people easily understand what it’s trying to say?)

    • Is it empathetic? (Is it written to be understood from the reader’s point of view?)

    • Does it help people solve a problem? (Is it clearly useful and effective?)

    • Does it inspire people to take action? (Does it make it easy for others to apply it?)

      Tags: favorite

    Set an example: Senior leadership and managers can set an example by regularly sharing their most important ideas and decisions in writing

    Offer incentives: Staff at all levels can be rewarded and praised when they take the time to express their thinking in writing

    Provide feedback: Direct reports can be offered private feedback on their writing drafts before sharing them more widely

    Set aside time for reading: Meetings can begin with “reading time” to emphasize that the context for discussions is best absorbed in written form

    Standardize: Adopt a standard term for an internal piece of writing (such as a memo, proposal, one-pager, or article) and create a standard template (such as a Google Doc or Notion page) for doing so

    PART 3 DEEP DIVES

    11 Creating a Project List

    Your Project List is a list of the outcomes you are currently committed to achieving, all in one place. It is an inventory of all the things you’re trying to produce, create, accomplish, or resolve. It’s like a to-do list, but on a bigger scale and longer time horizon so you can tell where you’re headed. It’s like a list of goals, but more practical and rooted in the here and now. Tags: definition

    STEP #1: List Your Current Projects

    Set a timer for five minutes (which is enough for a “first pass”) and write down anything that comes to mind when you read the following questions, whether they are work-related or personal:

    What’s currently worrying you? What problem is taking more mental bandwidth than it deserves? What needs to happen that you’re not making consistent progress on? What actions are you already taking that are part of a bigger project you’ve not yet identified? What would you like to learn, develop, build, express, pursue, start, explore, or play with? Which skills would you like to learn and which hobbies would you like to start? What kind of project could advance your career or make your life more fun or interesting? Tags: reflection

    STEP #2: Add a Goal for Each Project

    Take a minute and add a goal for each project on your list in parentheses.

    STEP #3: Add Deadlines or Timeframes

    Next, go through the list one more time and add completion dates. Don’t get hung up on whether this is a strict “deadline” or simply the date by which you prefer to have it done. You can add dates to each item on your list by adding “by…” at the end.

    STEP #4: Prioritize Your List

    The key here is to prioritize only for the upcoming week.

    For just next week, which projects should be taking up most of your mental bandwidth? Put those at the top. Which ones should be taking up little or none of your bandwidth next week? Put those at the bottom. Tags: reflection

    Your only goal in a given week is to make progress on a handful of projects near the top of that list.

    STEP #5: Reevaluate Your Project List

    Now that you have a full inventory of everything you’re committed to this week, you have the chance to ask some difficult but incredibly illuminating questions of yourself:

    Which goals or priorities you say are important to you don’t have any projects associated with them? (These are called “dreams,” since they aren’t likely to happen in the near term.) Which projects you’re spending a lot of time on don’t have any goals associated with them? (These are called “hobbies,” because without a goal in mind, they are likely “just for fun.”) Which projects can you cancel, postpone, reduce in scope, delegate, outsource, or clarify? Tags: reflection

    The five steps I’ve just taken you through can become part of a “weekly review.” You can walk through them once a week, or anytime you feel overwhelmed or stretched too thin, and I guarantee you’ll emerge in minutes with a newfound sense of clarity and purpose.

    12 The Three Core Habits of Organization

    We know our memories are weak, so we outsource remembering to technology as insurance against that fact.

    The only thing that will remain is the habits you adopt or change

    HABIT #1: Organize According to Outcomes

    always begin with the end in mind and work backward to decide only which information you’ll need to get there, and push everything else aside.

    HABIT #2: Organize Just in Time

    organizing by itself doesn’t add value. It has no inherent worth unless it puts you in a state of mind for taking effective action.

    HABIT #3: Keep Things Informal

    PARA requires precision in only one place: the definition of projects. Everything else is not only allowed to remain somewhat messy;

    Allowing some messiness and randomness into the system creates opportunities for very different ideas to be connected and intermixed.

    Organizing ideas according to outcomes ensures you’re actively testing them in the real world. Organizing just in time preserves your time and energy so you can pursue unexpected opportunities. And keeping things informal by default allows novel connections and patterns to form.

    13 Using PARA to Enhance Focus, Creativity, and Perspective

    Collecting information is easy, and we’ve seen that filing it away isn’t that hard either. But if you stop there, all this effort amounts to hoarding. Value doesn’t come from the inputs; it comes from your outputs, bearing your signature and style.

    It’s helpful to think of each main category of PARA as a “horizon.” Your projects exist on a short-term horizon that will play out in the coming hours or days. Your areas of responsibility and resources play out on a medium-term horizon over weeks and months. Your archives are more likely to be useful on a long-term horizon of months or years.

    These are the kinds of questions that are relevant on this short-term horizon: Which projects are most active right now? Which tasks are most time-sensitive? What are the next steps you need to take to move them forward? What information do you need access to in order to do so? Tags: reflection

    At these times of deeper reflection, ask yourself these questions: What is the standard (of quality or performance) I’m committed to in each of my areas of responsibility? Am I currently meeting that standard? If not, are there any new projects, habits, routines, or other practices I can start, stop, or change? Are there any resources that would enable me to do so? Tags: reflection

    When evaluating your resources, ask yourself questions like: Are there any new interests or passions I’d like to pursue more seriously? Are there any curiosities or questions I’d like to start exploring? Are there any hobbies or pursuits I’ve allowed to stagnate that I’d like to reboot? Tags: reflection

    14 When in Doubt, Start Over

    If you ever get stuck or feel overwhelmed, simply archive everything and start over following the instructions I provided in chapter 3.

    the act of declaring “digital bankruptcy” is an escape hatch that you can use anytime your digital world starts to become too chaotic and suffocating. I’ve done it countless times, and every time it fills me with a sense of relief and enthusiasm for what’s next.

    When it comes to your finances, there are serious consequences to declaring bankruptcy. But not in the digital world. There is no downside to archiving everything because it will all remain available in the future.

    15 Organizing as Personal Growth

    By surrounding yourself with information that provokes a feeling of fascination, you’ll begin to harness the incredible enthusiasm for learning and growth you have trapped inside.

    Power comes from systems that don’t depend on your energy levels, attention span, or self-discipline. That’s why PARA asks you to make one decision for each piece of information, and one decision only: When will this be relevant next?

    Don’t create a bunch of aspirational projects and goals that are merely wishful thinking.

    Wisdom Worker.

    📚 added the latest Library of America Ursula K. Le Guin collection to the LoA and Everman’s Library wall.

    Looking forward to these.

    All of the Ursula K. Le Guin LoA books together on a shelf.

    📚 Finished Reading: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    This was so exceptional that it makes me wonder how to even find more writing of this caliber.

    Library of America 347 book cover

    📚 re:

    Really enjoying seeing Strategy info again, making lots of notes for my org.

    Steps/Sections

    accurate diagnosis ➡️ guiding principles ➡️ relevant actions

    Needed Qualities

    • usefulness in decision-making
    • an enforcement mechanism
    • intentional tradeoffs that increase impact
    • yearly (or so) updates

    📚 Excited to receive my copy of The Engineering Executive’s Primer by Will Larson.

    Larson’s An Elegant Puzzle is one of my favorite technical leadership books, and I enjoyed reading many of the blog posts that were Larson’s “writing in public” to prep this book.

    📚🎲 Reading Whitehack again, so that I can hopefully explain:

    • why it’s the most interesting d20 system
    • why it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves

    📚 I’ve been “stinge” reading The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, because it’s so excellent, with each entry being a different angle, a different poetry, a different voice, a different caution.

    📚 Seems like linga plus standard ebooks could be a good way to practice language?

    📚 Finished Reading: The Blacktongue Thief (#1) by Christopher Buehlman

    The narration by the author made this much more special, as did the magic system, the low/intimate perspective for learning about the world, the dark humor, and the unexpected plot structure & choices.

    All those things appreciated, I still can’t really say I liked it.

    📑 Sunday Quote

    from No Time to Spare: Thinking about What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin 📚

    "“It doesn’t have to be the way it is” is a playful statement, made in the context of fiction, with no claim to “being real.” Yet it is a subversive statement. Subversion doesn’t suit people who, feeling their adjustment to life has been successful, want things to go on just as they are, or people who need support from authority assuring them that things are as they have to be. Fantasy not only asks “What if things didn’t go on just as they do?” but demonstrates what they might be like if they went otherwise—thus gnawing at the very foundation of the belief that things have to be the way they are." (Ursula K. Le Guin, Karen Joy Fowler (Introduction), No Time to Spare)

    Duolingo making it useful, again. 📚

    Necesito comprar libros.

    📚 I feel this

    via

    📚 Finished Reading: The First 90 Days, Updated and Expanded by Michael D. Watkins

    I liked this Libro.fm audiobook enough that I bought a hardback version, as well. I’ll post more detailed notes after I go through it a second time.

    📚 Just caught-up with a couple (back-dated) book completion posts. (All recent ones are on my reading page.)

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