INTERNAL SCORECARD #7
This is the seventh internal scorecard I've posted. I put these up as a way for you to see what production and productivity actually look like (with the up's and down's, and so on), and as a measure for myself of what's happening and what's to come.
This covers 30 June to 6 July.
DALIO OF THE WEEK
"Goals are the things that you really want to achieve, while desires are things you want that can prevent you from reaching your goals—as I previously explained, desires are typically first-order consequences. For example, a goal might be physical fitness, while a desire is the urge to eat good-tasting, unhealthy food (i.e., a first-order consequence) that could undermine you obtaining your fitness goal. So, in terms of the consequences they produce, goals are good and desires are bad." -- Ray Dalio, Principles, p27
The week began in Chicago, moved to San Francisco, and brought me back to Taipei through Tokyo. Yikes.
It's good to not be traveling any more, and to be establishing routines again.
I had a number of great discussions in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, and I made a number of initiatives for once I arrived and was stable again.
Time to put new routines back in place.
*Wake at 4:30AM
*Computer lights-out at ~4PM
*Begin winding down for sleep at 7:30PM
*One hour of writing per day in the morning
*One hour of followup per day in the morning
*Fitness in the morning
*Schedule calls primarily in a tight window 7AM to 11AM
*Start training for single-digit body fat
*Begin time-tracking again
*Get off caffeine sooner or later
Let's go into greater detail on why I chose all of them, and how strict I'll look to adhere to each of them.
WAKE EARLY, COMPUTER LIGHTS-OUT, SLEEP EARLY
I did some analyses in New York of the best times of my life. Almost universally, they included waking up quite early. Strange, but true.
In the ideal world, I'd set my wakeup time perhaps 5AM, 5:30AM, or even as late as 6:30AM instead of 4:30. But I had two constraints: First, I wanted to be able to run my routines (writing, followup, fitness) immediately at the start of the day. Second, I needed a window of a few hours to connect with people on Eastern Standard Time, and 7AM-11AM Taipei (7PM to 11PM EST) is about the latest I can go.
Computer lights-out is more of a hazy ideal than something I anticipate will happen regularly, but I want to be turning the glowing screen off quite a bit before bedtime.
Wind-down to prep for sleep is a logical extension of the wake-up time.
Now, this is too bad in a way. I like the aesthetics of the nighttime more than the daytime. I like the night. I like when it's dark and cool out. But, with only a few isolated exceptions, I produce much better in those morning times than the nighttimes. With the way my day is set up, I can get a solid 8 hours of production in before 1PM! After that, you're kind of playing with house money and can do as you like.
I don't care at all for the mid-afternoon hours: they don't have the energy of the morning, nor the cool nocturnal aesthetics of the evening and night. In my crazier imaginative moments, I've imagined a wake/sleep cycle of something like 4AM to noon, sleep noon until 5PM, awake 5PM to midnight, sleep until 4AM. But I've tried something like that a couple times, and it never worked.
Maybe I'll try to implement napping. For now, I'm accepting it (and the slightly decreased enjoyment of being up at night) in order to get that morning production.
MORNING HABITS: WRITING AND FOLLOWUP
I really love writing, and I don't make enough space for it in my life. So I've decided to spend the first hour of the day writing. Problem solved. The space gets nicer.
Followup is even more important. I noticed one of my weakest areas was consistent followup. For instance, I met an absolutely fantastic guy in New York through mutual introduction who is the owner/founder of a new exciting award-winning magazine, has an amazing mind for history and strategy and creativity, and is just all around a fantastic dude.
We hit it off a bit after grabbing a quick coffee, and spend 3 hours in the Financial District jamming on some marketing plans together.
This is all well and good, he could be a friendly acquaintance and will probably take my calls forever now. But, I imagine we could connect more -- so when I listed everyone I met in NY, his name was on there and I shot him a followup email to schedule a time to talk.
I've also been listing out, gradually, everyone I know in the world. There's tons of people on there -- people to collaborate on charity projects with, people to work on consulting assignments with, people to knowledge share with, and just enjoyable people to spend more time with.
I'm going to now spend an hour every morning just reaching out to people, saying hello, dashing off an email, updating people, buying the occasional small gift, introducing others and putting them in touch, and so on.
This will be time very, very well spent. I foresee this as one of the biggest positive new habits I put into place.
After a run of very good eating and reasonable health, my diet broke down towards the middle of this week, and has been off-track for 4-5 days now. I'm wondering if there's some homeostatic pressure when you're getting much leaner than your frame is used to carrying weight?
It's unpleasant, to be sure. That said, I reached out to a friend-of-friend's genius trainer to get some guidance on putting together a meal plan to get down into the single digits. Simply preserving the (adequate) state I'm in wouldn't be motivating, but pushing a little bit aggressively for a new higher baseline will be. I'll keep you updated there.
Caffeine? I've nailed down a pretty good way to get off of it through ramping down with 100mg doses of caffeine spread throughout the day, then eliminated. It's not an urgent priority, but I'll kick caffeine sometime in the next month. I think I sleep better off of it. Plus, getting off of it reduces your tolerance to caffeine and decreases your body's adenosine production, so caffeine becomes more potent later if you want to get on it again.
UNDERSTANDING AND CONTROLLING TIME BETTER
A whole lot of things got off-track when I had so many appointments scheduled. I'm going the other direction and putting everything in a tight four hour window, so hopefully I can keep my calls and appointments under 25 hours per week, to give me more time to work on focused creative work, system building, and so on.
I got on my new 4:30AM schedule earlier this week, and I found I still didn't really know where my time is going, so I implemented time-tracking again, at least as a short-term measure. I'm curious to cut the fat from my day and get more time for myself to do important things, and to find dead wood to clear out.
SHOULD YOU DO THIS MANY THINGS AT THE SAME TIME?
In a word:
These are all habits I've run before at different times in my life. An advanced bodybuilder who is de-trained from an injury can come back in and do intense lifting much faster than a novice.
I would absolutely recommend against overhauling your schedule and life with ten significant habit/lifestyle shifts at the same time. But in my case, many of these I've done before and find quite easy.
Training for single-digit bodyfat will be tricky, and one hour of followup per day is brand new (but will pay huge gains)... however, I'm already familiar with the basic mechanics of these. It's just more careful training/tracking, and then putting a focused area into a skill I already have (which isn't great, but I do have the basics of).
I think two or three brand new habits is the most to implement at once, especially if you don't have a great catalyst moment (like moving, or settling back in somewhere). Given that I've successfully done 8 out of 10 of these habits before for extended periods, I'm not worried about making too many changes at once. You can re-implement things a lot easier than the first time implementing, because you know the sneaky challenges and drains on energy/time/etc that come with making the changes.
ASIDE: THE COOLNESS OF HAVING BEEN THERE BEFORE
I came to an interesting point recently: I realized that I actually got a a lot of gains out of the changes I strove to make and failed at.
Having been there before -- on time-tracking, fitness, regular routines, and so on -- it becomes easier to jump back in, knowing the challenges that await.
A lot of times, beginners to a field have a demoralized and guilty feeling, like they should be better than they already are. This is, of course, crazy. Why should you be better than you are? You're just you, of course, and no more and no less.
Having only irregularly lifted weights over the last three months, I know exactly what my progression will be like if I hit the weights again. I know the pitfalls to avoid, and I know the form through muscle memory.
There's no over-thinking, there's no caution, there's no tentativeness... just, I've been here before and I'm back again.
Same with ramping down off caffeine. I've done it before, I know the process, I can do it no problem.
It's a great feeling. It's changed my entire perspective on initiatives that only halfway worked, or didn't stick in the past. All those were building blocks to being able to do things easier in the future.
OTHER: ORGANIZATION, TRAVEL, ETC.
I'm having a hard time conceptualizing the last week. Four days ago feels like eight weeks ago.
It's a hard feeling to describe. It's like, "I was in San Francisco four days ago? What? Huh?"
In the abstract, my individual production was low this week. Three of the seven days were fairly brutal days (June 30th: Wake at 4AM in Chicago to fly to San Francisco at 7AM; July 2nd: depart San Francisco for Taipei through Tokyo at 7:30PM, arrive July 4th around noon after a nighttime layover at Haneda).
Actual number of hours worked at a high level this week were low, but the quality of those worked-hours was extremely high. I was able to put a good 5-10 hours into systematizing and putting management in place at GGW, organizing around a model of Project Teams for routine tasks, and Project Committees for non-routine tasks. John Paton, Jeff Liechti, and Zach Obront did some exceptionally good work in this area.
Putting structure in place isn't sexy, but as the organization grows from a couple people, to a half-dozen, to over a dozen, and onwards, we need more of it. It deserves a longer treatment with more space, but I'm working (along with the aforementioned brilliant guys, and others) to get it right. The quality of those hours was exceedingly high and I'm very happy about how that's going... we've also set some production targets for the near term, and with me turning on focused-in-one-place-work-mode, that should be happening at a very good clip.
TRIGGERS: AKA, DAMN AIRPORT LOUNGES AND FOOD
It's interesting to note where your triggers are. For me, I've found airport lounges tend to kick my ass and get me eating off my diet. It happened at London Heathrow (British Air), it happened at EWR (United), and it just happened at San Francisco (JAL Sakura Lounge).
It doesn't even matter if the food is good. British Airways has amazing food at Terminal Five in London, United has nothing worth eating at all in New Jersey, and JAL San Francisco is somewhere in between.
Something about that environment makes me more likely to get off my diet and eating choices... I'm watching my dietary habits implode in slow motion, I'm very aware of it, and it's all very strange. I have some theories as to why it's happening, but I'm not stressed very much. I think I'll enjoy being off the rails for a few days until I design a new nutrition/meal plan, and then fully commit to that.
I try to share the good with the bad -- this is an area where my habits got off-course, and how I'm thinking over it. Do you have particular trigger points where you get off-course? Think those over…
RANDOM OTHER GOOD NEWS
We got 501(c)3 status from the IRS, which is huge. That opens up a lot of doors. It was expected that it'd happen, but getting it on the first application without needing any supporting documents is pretty cool.
In San Francisco, I was invited to stay at a friend-of-friend's home and dogsit, so I got to stay in a beautiful place and walk the dog twice a day. He was a really nice dog. I can see why people like dogs so much. I've never hung out with and cared for a dog that had such a great personality fit with me, but this dog was just fantastic: reasonably smart, full of energy, but wouldn't jump all over you or break things. Really a wonderful time.
CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: LONG TERM TRAJECTORIES
This week was very 'design-from-the-high-level' oriented, without much actual production, but with a lot of structural changes that pay huge dividends.
Freeing yourself from the day-to-day grind to change your overall life trajectory is incredibly important, and how rarely we do it. In my case, I was almost forced to with a crazy schedule meaning I couldn't take many appointments this week with all the travel.
But it worked perfect. I've got a series of 10 lifestyle/habit changes to put in place, we've made great strides on improving the organization and management of GiveGetWin, and I allocated time to one area I love and don't spend enough time in (writing), and another area I was under-focusing where huge gains are possible (consistent followup).
When is the last time you broke away from the grind to re-work your long-term trajectory?
"This week was very 'design-from-the-high-level' oriented, without much actual production, but with a lot of structural changes that pay huge dividends.
Freeing yourself from the day-to-day grind to change your overall life trajectory is incredibly important, and how rarely we do it."
Definitely agree with this...
I love these posts.
Re your comment on caffeine, did you have a nasty experience on Bulletproof coffee? why the switch now?
Also, check out contactually.com - AMAZING for reminding you to stay in touch.
I gave up caffeine cold turkey at an 8 day honesty/meditation retreat in 2001 and have never started again since. The cold turkey was tough for 4 days (felt like I had a cold) then was fine. I sleep better now and my moods don't go up and down with the coffee yoyo energy either. I was drinking 5-6 cups per day before I gave it up. Giving up helped my meditation practice and my noticing ability improved too I think.
Know what you mean about travel making time intervals seem long - I think it is because more new experience happen when we travel and our mind/bodies measure time by the amount of new experiences they have to lay down into memory... I just traveled 2600 miles by car in the last week from Santa Fe to Rainbow Gathering in Montana and back and it feels like weeks! Plus I experienced "jet lag" during the trip - it is not just for plane travel any more!
Off to London next week to see family and friends, then round Europe for a month on Eurorail pass I think before on to Asia (hubbing from Singapore) for two months. Open to suggestions for places/people to see in Asia. Currently thinking Singapore, Bali, Thailand and China (Shanghai and Hong Kong). Checking out Dubai for a few days on the way back West as it was free stop over and I have never been there. Plus I know a friend who lives there doing VR work and there is the free port thing to check out too...
PS I still get a lot from reading your weekly productive reports - keep them coming if you are up for it!
Found this article that explains why time appears to go slower when we travel/do new stuff and is faster when we do the same old routine. http://blog.bufferapp.com/the-science-of-time-perception-how-to-make-your-days-longer
INTERNAL SCORECARD #8
This is the eighth internal scorecard I've published. By writing these up, you get to see what productivity and production looks like on the inside, and I get to have an extra external accountability mechanism.
This one covers 7 July to 13 July.
RUNNING IN TAR WITH A FEW HUGE SPARKS
That's the best way I can describe this week. It had a very sleepwalking-like quality to it, with not much good work happening and poor compliance with the new habits I set forth the week before.
When you write every day, coming up with topics becomes the hard part of it all. So whenever I go on a trip, I try to wring a post out of it. In some cases, like the Peru trek, the thread is easy to find and get on paper, but today is my last day in Tulum, and I'm not sure what to write about exactly.
I've been here for nine days, and for the first seven days I was ambivalent about being here. That's not to say that I wasn't having an awesome time, only that I also really love just being in San Francisco and working, too. Even though everyone here sort of acts as if it isn't, Tulum is an extremely touristy place. I'm in paying in pesos, but my food costs more than it does in San Francisco. And, having traveled a fair amount, I've developed an allergy to touristy places. On top of all that, although I'm no stranger to being called a hippie, compared to the average resident here, I'm a suit. Phrases like "the Universe has brought you here", "There's no such thing as tomorrow. Only today." and "Do you want an astrology reading?" are commonplace.
All that said, I've come to agree that there's something magical about the place. I first had this thought last night. I was sitting on a loungy sort of couch with my friend Anderson, and one by one the friends I've made over the past week came to join us. At one point I look up and I realize that within my view are the smiles of a dozen or so people who I actually really like and care about on some level. It's a ragtag bunch, too-- a Bulgarian who looks like the Michaelangelo statue, maybe because he's always popping down to do a few reps on the Ab-Roller he carries around; a founding member of an infamous hacker group, who is most likely here avoiding the law (and he's not the only one); a waifish New York yoga teacher who fled a wedding and spends a lot of time on the couch wearing oversized headphones; an Australian girl who may just be the friendliest person I've ever met; and a bunch of others. In the background someone I'm told is "one of the best DJs in LA" is playing music and playing the bongos. Beyond the open living room we're all sitting in, are the sounds of crashing Caribbean waves.
We talk about nothing much. Over the past couple days we've dedicated hours to both deciding what animal everyone most resembles (koala bear seems to be the consensus for me), and to coming up with nautical police phrases ("License and crustacean, please"). The community here is mostly transient. Some, like me, stay for durations measured in days. For others it's weeks, months, or even years.