Mixed Signals: A good ache

I've been to the gym 3 times since November. 😳 All three have been in the last week.

No. 21 – 16th of May, 2021

I've been to the gym 3 times since November. 😳

All three have been in the last week.

I returned, despite the universe conspiring to stop me... cancelled food shopping deliveries, one of the kids back into self isolation, + my car's dashboard lighting up like a skyscraper at dusk.

Over the years, the gym has helped me learn some important lessons:

  • Consistency – keep showing up, even when the results don't show up
  • Technique – doing something right for 10 minutes is way more powerful than doing something wrong for an hour
  • Rest – fight the urge to just keep going, your body will benefit from rest.

Despite easing myself in, I'm aching. It's a good ache. Reminding me I've pushed myself. I've showed up. I've worked on my technique. And now... rest.

On with the links...


01. Productively doing nothing.

+ Is productivity about doing as much as possible, or producing as much value as possible? Not just in work, but in our lives.

Cal Newport suggests that maybe we need slow productivity:

"I don’t know exactly what these new definitions of productivity might look like, but we can certainly do better than our current haphazard approaches, in which work descends into performative busyness on Slack, and our personal lives are digested into air-brushed social media moments."

+ In Cal's post, he mentions Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. This was one of my favourite reads last year. It's a book I keep recommending.

Rest helps us live better, but it also helps us produce better work.

+ Productivity increased as the tech got better. So why has it caused the human body so much pain?

02. Blocking time.

+ Something I've found helpful in the fight against the endless search for 'productivity' is time blocking. It forces me to be honest about the time I have available, + what I can best use it for. And it lets me carve out time for my values (walking, reading, etc.).

My friend Darius Foroux has a great article explaining time blocking. (Cal's also a fan, as you'll see.) And the Zapier blog explains it neatly, along with some other tools I find useful.

+ Oliver Burkeman on why 3 or 4 hours blocked out for work is enough. (Including another reference to Rest.)

+ Shane Parrish ties these concepts neatly together in his article explaining why we should think about the 96 energy blocks we're given each day.

02. The concept career.

+ John David Mann has co-authored 30+ books. On Alex's Reader's Journey podcast, he talks about why nailing a book's concept is important, + why too many concepts can kill a piece of writing.

+ It reminded me of Daniel Gilbert's advice on writing, including the wonderful:

"If you have two big things to say, control yourself."

+ Once you have your concepts, you can just keep writing + talking about them. As Morgan Housel, author of one of my favourite books on finance, explains on the Crazy Good Turns podcast:

"In my 13 years doing this, I’ve probably covered 10 topics, no more than that.

But I’ve said those 10 things very different ways hundreds and hundreds of times."

Morgan shared a lot of wisdom in this 30 minute episode. I tweeted my highlights here.

03. Lockdown reading.

+ I started reading Tim Key's 'He Used Thought as a Wife' just as were able to get away for a break (for the first time in a long time). It's a surreal take on a surreal moment in time. Key's book is an anthology of conversations through lockdown, and bonkers/funny poetry, all beautifully put together.

+ A great-looking tool for hosting a podcast.

+ The world as 100 people (a nice dose of perspective + positivity).

+ Some great book recommendations that will challenge your views on education.

+ How banks signal status, + why they should be doing more of it.


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