From Seneca's Letters --
1. I commend you and rejoice in the fact that you are persistent in your studies, and that, putting all else aside, you make it each day your endeavor to become a better man. I do not merely exhort you to keep at it; I actually beg you to do so. I warn you, however, not to act after the fashion of those who desire to be conspicuous rather than to improve, by doing things which will rouse comment as regards your dress or general way of living. 2. Repellent attire, unkempt hair, slovenly beard, open scorn of silver dishes, a couch on the bare earth, and any other perverted forms of self-display, are to be avoided. The mere name of philosophy, however quietly pursued, is an object of sufficient scorn; and what would happen if we should begin to separate ourselves from the customs of our fellow-men? Inwardly, we ought to be different in all respects, but our exterior should conform to society. 3. Do not wear too fine, nor yet too frowzy, a toga. One needs no silver plate, encrusted and embossed in solid gold; but we should not believe the lack of silver and gold to be proof of the simple life. Let us try to maintain a higher standard of life than that of the multitude, but not a contrary standard; otherwise, we shall frighten away and repel the very persons whom we are trying to improve. We also bring it about that they are unwilling to imitate us in anything, because they are afraid lest they might be compelled to imitate us in everything.
4. The first thing which philosophy undertakes to give is fellow-feeling with all men; in other words, sympathy and sociability. We part company with our promise if we are unlike other men. We must see to it that the means by which we wish to draw admiration be not absurd and odious. Our motto,as you know, is "Live according to Nature"; but it is quite contrary to nature to torture the body, to hate unlaboured elegance, to be dirty on purpose, to eat food that is not only plain, but disgusting and forbidding. 5. Just as it is a sign of luxury to seek out dainties, so it is madness to avoid that which is customary and can be purchased at no great price. Philosophy calls for plain living, but not for penance; and we may perfectly well be plain and neat at the same time. This is the mean of which I approve; our life should observe a happy medium between the ways of a sage and the ways of the world at large; all men should admire it, but they should understand it also.
As wood stove burns,Small enclosure fills with smokeCling to its acrid warmth;dare not venture into the cold
And yet — !The way out is throughWhen has it been otherwise?
Or march into the snowOut of hazy-warmthsDoes the winter pass?Or do you pass the winter?
The way out is throughWhen has it been otherwise?Chill air and bright eyesAs one’s blood gets hot again
I finished "Claudius the God" on audiobook a few days ago.
I felt -- and I almost feel sappy saying this -- almost a palpable sadness, like an old friend was going away that I wasn't going to see again.
I guess good books do that.
But more than that, Emperor Claudius was a real figure... yet, the lack of comprehensive records on his reign let Robert Graves write an account with a relatively free hand. He left you wondering if Claudius was really an idiot, or if he was an idiot who got himself straightened out after he came into power, or if he was really a remarkable genius and cloaked it in foolishness to survive all the purges and assassinations.
Of course, the real Claudius was probably not so noble as Graves's historical-fiction Claudius.
As we discussed yesterday, there's 24 hours per day, and 168 hours per week.
To deploy more of your time into one arena, you must replace -- displace, if you prefer -- where that time was already going. It's not like you weren't spending that time. It was going somewhere, no matter how idle or unworthy it might have felt in retrospect.
Many things can be done much faster or streamlined or delegated, and that's always worthwhile.
But perhaps the easiest way to get a lot of time is just to render some bad usage of time impossible to do. This is the famous advice to throw away your TV, which many people followed to good result.
Perhaps the one that doesn't get talked about enough for how big of a quality-of-life-boost it gets you? Eliminating commuting. Or replacing a driving commute with walking/biking, which lets you stretch your legs and move and generally experience life more actively, or taking some sort of train or ferry which lets you read, work, and think.
The magical quality of time is that there's 24 hours in a day, and 168 hours per week, and -- clever wording aside -- you cannot bank or defer that time. That time will come, and it's up to you to fill it up how you will, doing what you will, as well as you can, do to the things on this planet you want to do.
You thus reach a sort of axiomatic truth -- to deploy more of your time to some activity you think is important, you need to do less of something else.
Oh yes, you can ensure some activity gets done without your direct effort. You can do things more efficiently. Yes, yes, yes -- all of that is true.
And yet -- !
Still, it resolves to the basic equation: 24 per day, 168 per week, and there you are.
From Drucker’s The Effective Executive, Chapter 2, “Know Thy Time” —
“Effective executives, in my observation, do not start with their tasks. They start with their time. And they do not start out with planning. They start by finding out where their time actually goes. Then they attempt to manage their time and to cut back unproductive demands on their time.
Finally they consolidate their “discretionary” time into the largest possible continuing units. This three-step process:
• recording time, • managing time, and• consolidating time
This was the first week on the new Daily Habit Targets I set.
First, to address a good comment by Paul --
If you look closely, only 5 points are strictly "work" -- Write, Declare/Complete (pick a key action and focus nonstop on it until complete), Progress on Biggest Thing, Touch It Once/TIZ (email primarily), FianlVersion cycle (clear off misc. to-do's).
I set Nap as a required daily activity a bit back.
It's been marvelously amazing.
The first few hours after waking, in general, are just so much better for willpower and creativity.
A decent nap -- sometimes even just 20 minutes will do, sometimes longer -- seems to give 90% of the benefits of "just woke up for the first time.
It's really marvelous. Try it. I'm mandating it for myself under normal circumstances, rearranging my schedule to nap, etc. It's that good.
Just got "The Score Takes Care Of Itself" after hearing it highly recommended by a smart friend for a third time.
I'm only one-third into it, and it's brilliant. The writing is clear, simple, useful. Basic concepts like uniformly applying a Standard of Performance and making sure that team members don't take undue credit for team efforts -- this is marvelous stuff. Highly recommended.
It can be interesting and mentally profitable to analyze failure. We already know this; you, of course, already know this.
But many times, upstanding and smart and thorough people avoid analyzing what environmental factors contributed to failure.
This is wise -- it's too easy to veer into excuses. And if you never credit the environment for contributing to failure, you of course never excuse yourself and your responsibility to get results.
Yet -- !
If you do start doing this analysis, you'll realize things. You'll realize you'll often make more mistakes when tired, when in a bad mood, when fatigued, when things are moving faster than you can grasp, and so on, and so forth.