When I keep myself busy with things that matter to me, happiness is my default state.
When the scary news headlines get you down, it helps to remember that by almost every measure, this is the greatest time in history to be alive as a human being. There are peaks and valleys on every upward trend. ?
The hardest part of being fit is not the training or the nutrition. It’s the endless mountain of laundry.
I’ve recently discovered a book genre that I love: collections of advice from a large number of mentors, experts, or people otherwise considered to be the best at what they do.
My first exposure to this format was Getting There: A Book of Mentors by Gillian Zoe Segal, which features essays from Warren Buffett, Anderson Cooper, Jillian Michaels, Michael Bloomberg, and dozens of other luminaries, each sharing their challenges, obstacles, and lessons learned along the way.
After that, I had to check out Tim Ferriss’s famed bestseller Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World, which, so far, does not disappoint. Ferriss takes a question-based approach to the concept, and it’s interesting to see so many varying perspectives on the same set of thoughtfully chosen questions.
Not all advice is good advice for all people—but the right advice at the right time for the right person can be life-altering.
Loved this Twitter thread by Brianne Kimmel.
TL;DR: You don’t have to cure cancer to make the world a better place. As she writes, “There is so much more to life than curing cancer. Anything that makes someone smile & feel better about their current situation is worth building.”
I will be mostly absent from the web for the next ten days or so as I focus singularly on meeting some incredibly ambitious deadlines for a product launch at the end of April. Enter Monk Mode.
Chances are good that I’ll soon be relocating to the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts.
St. Kitts is one of two islands that comprise the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, which is best known to the rest of the world as a popular vacation destination, particularly as a stop for cruise ships.
Many of the logistics are as-of-yet unsettled, and this next chapter won’t be without its challenges, but it looks like it will be an exciting experience.
Photo by Prayitno
The current version of my About page on this site starts like this:
I’m an entrepreneur, writer, athlete, educator, burrito enthusiast, and human.
These are all labels. I ended with “human” to make light of the concept—because while each of these labels describes me, none of them tell the whole story. I often find myself defying my own labels.
I’m a total tech geek, but I’m also an athlete—like a high school kid walking the line between nerd and jock. I train at the gym every day, but I also enjoy reading and learning about the cosmos. I’m not a “meathead.” Hell, as much as I love burritos, I’ve been eating burrito bowls and salads lately.
Labels are useful for grouping people with common characteristics, but rarely can a single word or phrase capture the full essence of a human being.
People are multidimensional, man.
One of the downsides of instant, frictionless communication is that everyone and everything is constantly in your face, which leads to reduced productivity and a sense of general sluggishness.
For example, if I’ve got a set of tasks I need to accomplish today, I’d like to focus on those. But it’s really easy for emails, messages, tweets, and other random notifications to get in the way.
Every time you pull out your phone to respond to a message or read a reply or DM on Twitter, you’re allowing other people to manipulate your schedule at will. You’re also robbing yourself of the coveted mental state of flow.
I’ve recently made some changes to deal with this, and as a result I’ve seen a significant increase in my productivity and a greater command of my time.
Social Media Notifications: Off
Social media is the biggest uninvited time-suck in the world. They lure you in with a push notification, hook you with the algorithmically sorted timeline, and before you know it you’ve spent an hour in this damn app you didn’t even plan to open.
The solution? Turn ’em off.
I’ve completely disabled push notifications for the three major social networks—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—and the result is pure serenity.
I used to get bombarded with notifications all day every day, mostly from these three apps. So-and-so liked your post! So-and-so mentioned you! And Twitter’s amazing new feature that everyone totally wanted: So-and-so and So-and-so are tweeting about #SomeStupidFuckingThing.
These notifications are not useful to me. They’re disruptive.
Now, when I want to know what’s happening on Facebook, I’ll open Facebook. When I want to know who’s been liking my tweets or sliding into my DMs, I’ll open Twitter.
Spark (for iOS and Mac) may be the best email app I’ve used this decade. It’s reminiscent of the now-defunct Mailbox in that it allows you to “snooze” messages and deal with them later. Great feature, but not the main attraction.
You see, Spark is smart. It automatically sorts your emails into different visual chunks in its Smart Inbox view. You’ve got newsletters, notifications, personal emails, etc.—and they show up in groups of three, which you can easily dismiss in bulk to plow through your inbox like a pro.
Even better, Spark knows what matters, and it only sends you notifications about important email. Never again will a stupid newsletter buzz my Apple Watch while I’m eating dinner.
Speaking of which…
I used to be on hundreds of email lists, some of which I’d opted into, others I was added to by inconsiderate PR people. But I digress…
I decided that after years of struggling with my nightmare of an inbox, it was time to take control. So instead of deleting unwanted newsletters, I made it a habit to open each of them, as they came in, and click the unsubscribe link. Every. Single. One.
I spent about two weeks doing this, and while I still see occasional list emails, I’ve trimmed things down to the point where I can kind of breathe again.
Take Back Your Life
There are three things I know for sure:
- Technology should be a tool to make my life happier and more productive.
- Notifications should serve up useful, timely information that matters to me.
- The time I spend with digital media should always be conscious and intentional.
When these expectations aren’t met, it’s time to simplify.