I have a checklist that I use throughout the day, every single day. It slowly evolves as I delete items that are automatic or aren't helpful, I add and change things I want to become new habits.
GENERAL - One or two things to remember through the day, for building new habits START OF DAY - My morning routine, to ideally be done every morning, or at least tracked MOST KEY ITEM - My biggest one or two things for the day. I evaluate whether a day is successful or not by whether I do one most key item PEOPLE - More and more, I realize most important and meaningful things need to be done with people. GENERAL - Funny that I named two sections General, hadn't realized until now. This is thinking about my life goals, cash has been added recently for tracking. END OF DAY - A review of the day and some thoughts on the next day. Also, I add what time I went to sleep.
Here it is:
------------------------------------------- GENERAL: *Be decisive. Look at it once, make a decision, done. *Live in the borderlands, awareness of the end in my heart ------------------------------------------- START OF DAY: Time awake: Total sleep: Vitamin C and Fish oil: Stretching?: Walk/run?: Situps?: Listen to audio?: Food?: Breathe: Borderlands: ------------------------------------------- MOST KEY ITEM: Next milestones: Objectives for today: Time started: Result: ------------------------------------------- PEOPLE: Blog post?: New People (FB, Twitter, emails): Current people: Help someone: Consorting: Emails in box, start: Emails in box, finish (and - why they there?): ------------------------------------------- GENERAL: *What are my key life goals? Spent 5 minutes on this. *Expenses for the day (estimate)? *Cash gotten or worked towards today ------------------------------------------- END OF DAY: What did I do right to move me towards my goals? What would I do differently if I had the day to live over? Plan tomorrow
It just dawned on me - there's the "you can do anything, be anything, have anything" crowd - and obviously, that's not literally true. Could anyone play professional golf and win the Masters and perform as first chair violin at a prestigious symphony? Nah, probably not.
But I always think to myself, "I can do anything except the things I can't do yet, and I could learn those and do them if I want to." Most successful people I know think the same way.
Trying to reconcile that, I start thinking: You might need natural talent to win at a zero-sum game, or if you're competing for limited pieces of pie.
But you don't need natural talent for positive sum games. Positive sum games make multiple winners and expand the pie more than what the person eats.
NBA? On the court, it's a zero sum game. Every "W" in the win column comes at the expense of putting an "L" in another team's loss column. There's 5 starters, and if you want to start, you've got to take someone else's spot when they retire or get sent to the bench. Then there's a few more rotation spots, and a few more non-rotation bench spots. And that's pretty much it.
I was seething. I was furious. And I was even more furious that I was furious. Agh, this is so bloody irrational of me, I can't believe I'm getting bent out of shape over this.
I'm transitioning into meta-furious. This is both bad and ridiculous.
I had been waiting for a shuttle bus and met two Chinese girls from Guangzho. Pretty girls, very so-so English, seemed like nice people. And as we were striking up a nice conversation, a very awkward guy jumped in to CHAT!!! Let's CHATTT!!!! HEY WHERE YOU FROM WHERE YOU GOING HOW LONG ARE YOU HERE?!?
Now, I can deal with someone jumping in to a conversation. Okay, maybe it's not always great. But you can roll with it. Usually. But not this time.
This time it was the proverbial Bull in the China Shop.
I started listening to Sun Tzu's "Art of War" on audiobook recently. I'd tried to get through it before, but the translations I picked up were a little too dry, or I wasn't in the right state of mind for it.
Listening to the narrator speak out Sun Tzu's strategy made me realize something - the fundamental judgment errors people make are independent of any particular field. Going on tilt in poker or attacking immediately with exhausted troops after it's taken three months to build siege engines - are these not the same thing? Overpursuit past objectives in war, and deviating from core investment strategies after a short term win or loss - certainly, this is a similar judgment flaw.
This particular audio version includes commentary written by other Chinese military strategists, and one story is how one commander and his officers were at a neighboring kingdom trying to convince them to make an alliance against the barbarians they were fighting. After a week of great treatment, the neighboring king grew more cold and distant to the commander.
Being perceptive, the commander guessed that the barbarians might have also sent envoys, and now the king was choosing which side to support. The commander captured and interrogated one of the palace attendants, who said yes, the barbarians did send envoys.
The commander's party was less than 30 men, it was him and some of his officers. The barbarian envoy had over 100 men. But, in the cover of night they snuck to the barbarian camp, lit it on fire, played war drums to make their forces look larger than they were, and shot down barbarians with bow and arrow and crossbows, and completely destroyed the enemy forces.
Vitamins were the sort of thing I always casually knew I should do, but I did it haphazardly in the past. Starting about three months ago, I would track whether I took a vitamin every day, and at the end of the week list how many days I remembered to take a vitamin. It's been 7 out of 7 pretty much every week since then.
The first vitamins I picked up in Seoul were chewable vitamin C tablets. I was pretty tired and run down at that point and wasn't sure why, so I changed my diet a little, started doing more walking, and started taking vitamins and my energy picked up quite a bit. I don't know how much of that was the vitamin C, but since then a couple times I've felt a little under the weather I took two of them that day, and my energy has been pretty high.
I was just about out of vitamins, so I bought some more here in Hong Kong. I got vitamin C again, and I was also looking for something for joints since I had a knee injury in the past. I was looking for some L-Glutamine which I heard was good, did a little casual research on, and it seems good:
It is also known that glutamine has various effects in reducing healing time after operations. Hospital-stay times after abdominal surgery can be reduced by providing parenteral nutrition regimes containing high amounts of glutamine to patients. Clinical trials have revealed that patients on supplementation regimes containing glutamine have improved nitrogen balances, generation of cysteinyl-leukotrienes from polymorphonuclear neutrophil granulocytes, and improved lymphocyte recovery and intestinal permeability (in postoperative patients), in comparison to those that had no glutamine within their dietary regime, all without any side-effects. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutamine#Aiding_recovery_after_surgery
Forgive me if this seems incredibly obvious to you, but it's pretty hard to eat well while traveling if you don't buy groceries. Some places like Seoul and Taipei have incredibly good convenience stores with a mix of hard boiled eggs, rice balls, sandwiches, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and other hot and cold food in them. But most countries don't - so you're going to eat a lot better if you buy groceries.
I always buy the following: *Oatmeal: Very easy to cook and nutritious. If you don't have a stove or pot where you're at, just stir boiling water into it. Less water is better. If you add too much water and it's soupy, stir in more dry oats. Microwaving works too. *Canned tuna: Very nutritious and filling for a small space and weight. Healthy. Protein. *Fruit: Usually bananas if there's decent bananas around. Other fruit is okay. *Something to put tuna on: I prefer rice, second choice is good pasta, then cheap pasta or bread. *Something vegetable-ish: Soup is good, or just vegetables straightup. I like baby carrots to snack on. *If I'm lifting weights, a bunch of protein. More tuna and nuts if I don't have time or space to cook.
I'm back on Mount Davis in HK, I dig the nature up here so much. After 10 days down in Mongkok and Yau Ma Tei it's good to be out in the wide open space. Thinking of going to the middle of nowhere in the New Territories, but I do like meeting people in the city. Decisions, decisions...
I like looking at things and really thinking them through. If you do this carefully once, you can just automatically do the correct thing forever after that.
So, basic things - when taking the lid off the coffee, where do you put it?
Me? Depends if there's coffee on the bottom of the lid. If so, topdown, bottom up:
No coffee? Then bottom down on the table, keeping the top of the lid cleaner.
A lot of time I work in cafes. I don't see it as expensive coffee - I see it as cheap office space.
Sometimes I'm not thinking very well where I'm living or staying, so I change the scenery to do better work. I've gotten pretty good about not compulsively checking email, Hacker News, etc., but some days the 'net keeps calling me, and I head out to a cafe without internet. Sometimes I'm staying at a place without internet, and I had to a cafe to clear out my emails and do my business online.
Here in Hong Kong, I'm staying in a little hotel in Kowloon with internet, but I don't really dig the vibe of my room. It's too... clean, actually. Now, don't get me wrong, I like a clean room, but there's a faint air of soap and antiseptic and I see a cleaning woman mopping at least twice per day. Add that to my room being in the middle of the building with no window and I decide to head out to a Starbucks for some ambient noise, more light, and the smell of coffee.
At the cafe, there was a young girl playing. I'm not so good at telling age, but maybe 9 or 10 years old? She was of South Asian descent, maybe Indian, Pakistani, or Sri Lankan. Hard to tell an accent at that age, but sounded vaguely American. Maybe her English teacher or the international school she attends is run by an American? Or she's with her family on holiday from the States?
She was running and jumping around, dancing, while her parents were talking intently a little ways away. She kept talking to me, saying "Hello!" and looking at my computer and saying, "To - shi - ba!" She got a bunch of either straws or coffee-stirrers and was bending them into shapes, climbing onto chairs, and otherwise jumping around and having fun.
He was an American guy, fresh out of university, doing some mix of public relations and something like espionage for the Chinese government in Shanghai. Interesting guy - I'd been shooting pool by myself and he asked if I'd be up for a game. Sure.
So we chatted - he was in Shanghai to go through the Expo and talk to everyone foreign about their experiences. Being a young, white, American guy with a light East Coast accent, he blended in and was basically invisible. He was able to get an impression of what journalists really thought and people at the Expo really thought. He was getting paid decently for this and having a really fun time.
He added that he wasn't just there to make sure the publicity for the Expo was good: When he reported in that a number of people felt that workmanship setting up their display areas was shoddy and the local contractors had cheated them, Shanghai officials reached out to them, made it right, and took the contractors to task.
He seemed like a solid guy, athletic, hard working, smart, well read - kind of guy that's going to do a lot in life. I used to live in Boston, so I asked him if he followed the Red Sox or Celtics.
I still remember his answer. "No, I don't like spectator sports. Playing sports, sure. Spectator sports, no."
I've been thinking lately about how to become more prolific.
The equal-odds rule says that the average publication of any particular scientist does not have any statistically different chance of having more of an impact than any other scientist's average publication. In other words, those scientists who create publications with the most impact, also create publications with the least impact, and when great publications that make a huge impact are created, it is just a result of "trying" enough times. This is an indication that chance plays a larger role in scientific creativity than previously theorized.
I look at the sheer volume of work produced by someone like Einstein in science, or Robert Heinlein in fiction, and y'know what? Much of their stuff isn't good. Much of Einstein's observations outside of physics are pretty bad and off-base, he recommends courses of political action that were tried later and led to totalitarianism. If he were alive today, he'd no doubt say "mea culpa" - "I was wrong", especially in his opinions on the Soviet Union.
But it doesn't matter, because his good work is incredible. Even trying to understand special relativity makes it clear how amazing his work is (best guide to relativity for laymen I've found). It doesn't matter if you get some things wrong if you get one or two important things right.