After finishing my write-up of tools I use last week, I encountered a problem with using Evernote to save full articles. The issue is that there’s no simple way to highlight and annotate or take notes on what you’ve saved. As a result, I re-activated my Instapaper account and have started using that to fill the same niche. A day or so in and it seems to be a better fit for saving, reading, and making notes on, the various articles I encounter online. I even discovered that I can sync my highlights in Readwise. Bonus!
1. “… enjoy 10-15 minutes of quiet contemplation, and you’ll find that your memory of the facts you have just learnt is far better…”
An effortless way to improve your memory – BBC – (website)
You’re probably already aware that sleeping — critical to so many things — is when the brain essentially sorts and organizes our memories, among other things. Research seems to show that you don’t need to fall asleep for the brain to at least do some of the work. Consume something that you want to remember, and then … stop. “Quiet contemplation”, as the takeaway states, apparently helps the brain remember what you’ve just consumed all that much better. The article (from 2018) goes on to cite numerous studies reinforcing the idea.
With periodic mindfulness meditation, it might be a winning combination.
2. “Point at things, say, ‘whoa,’ and elaborate.”
Pointing at things – Austin Kleon – (Blog)
So much of what’s being written these days seems to be either dry explanation (guilty), or even recrimination (um…. guilty?). This caught my attention because it’s such a good way to look at how we share what excites us, and what gets our attention. I’m no different when it comes to tech — I’ve been known to literally say “whoa” when I discover something. The next step is to capture that. I don’t always follow through. We all should.
What makes you say “whoa”? (In a good way, of course. )
3. “…when wonder is present, you will find beauty everywhere…”
Yeo is another deep thinker I’ve come to appreciate. He writes (and illustrates) long-form thought pieces at his blog More to That. This entry begins with a squirrel falling from a tree, and ventures into not just that we ignore much of the beauty around us, but also why we do so, why we must, and why a form of constructive chaos can open our eyes once again.
4. “The best moments in life are the ones you didn’t plan for.”
A Serendipitous Perfect Day Wrapped Up in Tragedy Will Change How You Think – Tim Denning – (Medium)
This here for two reasons: form and content.
As a writer, the story form used here is worth noting and paying attention to. It’s a story — ostensibly a tragic one — that weaves its way through a series of serendipitous moments to arrive at an unexpected insight.
As a believer in serendipity and luck-but-not-really-luck, the insight is real: the best moments in life are indeed those you haven’t planned for. The real key takeaway is very much related to the prior: constructive chaos — even death — can reveal many wonders.
5. “Knowledge is the new money”
As the world is shaken up, a 60-year “mega-trend” quietly emerges – Michael Simmons – (Medium)
Simmons has built a following around understanding “mental models”. As a result he capable of some really deep dives into an assortment of topics. In this essay he’s looking at the future, taking pandemic-related changes, and noting that while most view the pandemic as an event, a more interesting takeaway is that “the pandemic accelerates the more significant trends toward digitization.”
This is an opportunity that many should be looking for. But even if you’re not looking to build the next blockbuster business, one of the major takeaways is that life-long, continuous learning, is something that the successful among us will embrace.
6. “Editing is the 20% that drives the 80% of results.”
3 Steps to Becoming Great at Anything – Mark Manson – (YouTube)
In context, Manson is talking about the Pareto principle and using editing as an example. Carefully editing your work can have an oversized impact on your results. I immediately shared this with my editor. Here too is an investment that’s paying itself off, at least in my opinion. Not only are my articles better for it (she makes me look like a better writer), my skills improve along the way (I actually become a better writer if I pay attention).
7. “Don’t Follow Your Passion. Develop Valuable Skills.”
Things I Would Do Differently If I Started My Business Today – Srinivas Rao – (Medium)
I’m a sucker for “I wish I knew then” kinds of articles. They’re often great summaries of the takeaways of a lifetime (literally) or career. Rao’s list is an insightful one. There are ten items, this being the fifth. Additional insights that also resonated include:
- “Focus Intensely on The Exceptionally Valuable” – this is more than simple prioritization. First comes truly identifying those things that are exceptionally valuable. In a way, it’s the prior takeaway’s 80/20 rule in action.
- “Don’t Build Your Empire on Rented Land” – This is the argument against building a following relying on someone else’s platform: be it social media sites, article publishing sites, or others. Build your own structures, your own site, your own mailing list, or your own <insert what’s appropriate for you>. Use those other things, but don’t become dependant on them.
- “Build Systems” – Naturally this speaks to the programmer in me. While he’s generally talking about processes and workflows, I extend this to include automation whenever possible.
What I’m Reading
- “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman – (This isn’t living up to my expectations. I’ll finish, but about 60% of the way through. It’s pleasant, mildly humorous at times, but not as outstanding as I was lead to believe.)
- Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative by Chuck Wendig – (This is about fiction, but I’m looking at how ideas can cross over.)
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari – (This is way more fascinating than I expected.)
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity by Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman