Morning routines

This piece from Scott Young (via Pocket) covers six morning routines worth considering. I’ve experimented with a few of them — exercise first thing, prioritize deep focus projects before other work — and I think they’re pretty effective.

“Do you want your workday to begin quiet and contemplative? With vigorous exercise? Silent meditation? Creative and productive? Your morning habit can push you along a current which will carry throughout the morning and allow you to maximize whatever aspect of your personality you want to be most important.”

The Six Morning Routines that Will Make You Happier, Healthier and More Productive

The upside of small side projects

Great advice for side projects from Justin Duke, creator of Buttondown:

“If you are going to find a project, I encourage you to find something particularly small and particularly durable (which is to say, does not require constant or near-constant attention), so that you give yourself the ability to take a break from the project for weeks or months while it accumulates interest.”

The luxury of atypical success

I have a bunch of side projects on the go, mostly tiny sites and creative work. I’m trying to keep them both self-contained and self-sustaining.

My hope is to launch them later this year as evergreen resources, and continuously tend to them over time without fussing much about a timely publishing schedule.

Why I switched from Apple Music back to Spotify

A year or two ago we dropped our Spotify subscription in favour of Apple Music.

We had just bought our first pair of Apple Watches, and the Spotify app wouldn’t work over cellular. I’m guessing it was Apple’s way of locking out the competition.

The Apple Music app was alright but it wasn’t great. I could find most of what I wanted, but there were a bunch of nagging quality-of-life features that I missed from Spotify.

I missed three things in particular: shared playlists, artist discovery, and personalized recommendations.

People share Spotify playlists all the time. I see them in newsletters and on social. I never saw that with Apple Music playlists. There were playlists I wanted to listen to, but I couldn’t, not without searching for all the tracks on Apple Music.

I like the ability to follow artists, read their bios, and easily dig into their back catalogue. But you can’t follow artists on Apple Music like you can on Spotify. My workaround was adding an album from each artist to my Apple Music library.

I also find that the personalized recommendations are much better on Spotify. I’ve stumbled across a bunch of smaller artists that I never would’ve listened to otherwise. I liked Grooveshark back in the day for the same reason.

There’s a social layer to Spotify that Apple Music lacks.

Remember iTunes Ping? The social features I mentioned above were all baked into iTunes a decade ago, letting users follow artists and share what they were listening to. But it never took off.

It’s a shame Apple didn’t resurrect parts of iTunes Ping for Apple Music, because that social layer is where Spotify really shines.

When I jump onto Spotify I can see what my friends are listening to and what’s trending around the world. I can find playlists created by other users and quickly add my favourite tracks to my own playlists.

Apple Music felt more top-down than that, and much more finite. It was as if only Apple and their approved brand partners were allowed to put playlists in front of you.

I know that’s not true, because I could search for playlists, but browsing always put Apple’s choices front-and-center.

Anyway… I like the social aspect of Spotify, and I missed it in Apple Music. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I got back on Spotify last week.

Also: The Apple Music desktop apps are weak. Especially on Windows.

Progress and poverty

I went down a rabbit hole this morning of Henry George and his classic work Progress and Poverty. It’s in the public domain, so you can read an online version for free, or you can download a beautifully narrated audibook version over at LibriVox.

Take now… some hard-headed business man, who has no theories, but knows how to make money. Say to him: “Here is a little village; in ten years it will be a great city—in ten years the railroad will have taken the place of the stage coach, the electric light of the candle; it will abound with all the machinery and improvements that so enormously multiply the effective power of labor. Will in ten years, interest be any higher?” He will tell you, “No!” “Will the wages of the common labor be any higher…?” He will tell you, “No the wages of common labor will not be any higher…” “What, then, will be higher?” “Rent, the value of land. Go, get yourself a piece of ground, and hold possession.” And if, under such circumstances, you take his advice, you need do nothing more. You may sit down and smoke your pipe; you may lie around like the lazzaroni of Naples or the leperos of Mexico; you may go up in a balloon or down a hole in the ground; and without doing one stroke of work, without adding one iota of wealth to the community, in ten years you will be rich! In the new city you may have a luxurious mansion, but among its public buildings will be an almshouse.

Progress and Poverty (Wikipedia)

Racism exists in Canada

Racism isn’t a political view, and it isn’t a sickness. Having hate in your heart because of the colour of someone’s skin does not deserve compassion, forgiveness, understanding or empathy in any way.

Yasin Osman via Toronto Star

“We’re not American” is a cornerstone of the Canadian identity. With chaos unfolding south of the border, it’s easy to find shelter in the idea that what happens in the US doesn’t happen here, or wouldn’t happen here.

Yes, aspects of what’s happening right now are distinctly American, and we’ve seen it before, too many times, but we can’t let that blind us from the offenses here at home.

Another choice quote from Yasin Osman, via yesterday’s Toronto Star article:

“Pretending that racism doesn’t exist by creating and engaging with hashtags like #MeanwhileInCanada does not help the cause. Canadians need to do better because If you ignore the problem you are part of the problem.”

This blog post, and a short post I dropped on Facebook two nights ago, are the extent of my writing on this subject. Instead I’m reading, sharing, retweeting, amplifying the voices of others. My voice doesn’t need to be heard right now.

My grandfather was a builder

My grandfather was a builder. His garage was his workshop. Workbenches on all sides with meticulously organized storage for all his tools. I remember his Folgers containers, neatly labeled, a different one for each size of screw or nail.

We bought our first house in the fall. I’m slowly embracing the change. I grew up in apartments. Home ownership was a pipe dream for as long as I can remember. Despite our family being in the home building business, it never felt like it was in my future.

Yet here we are.

Keep reading…My grandfather was a builder

This is how I work

Happy Monday Tuesday! I started writing this post yesterday but ran out of time. It’s a fairly comprehensive look at how I work:

  • Systems and processes
  • Running retros with plus/delta
  • Everything starts with writing
  • Getting things done with Todoist
  • My daily routine

Why did I write this? Because I like seeing how the sausage gets made. I find this sort of behind-the-scenes sharing to be really interesting in general. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

I was inspired by the exercise of writing a personal user manual. It’s a document that helps colleagues understand how you work.

I thought it’d be worth documenting this now and coming back in a few months or years to see how things have changed.

I sometimes wish I had started doing this years ago so I could go back and compare notes with my past self.

If you have written a post like this — or decide to write one — please get in touch and let me know. I’d love to read it and share it.

BTW: As with last week, I drafted this whole thing in markdown using VS Code before flipping it over to WordPress. Unlike last week, I pulled the intro out of the markdown block so I could drop a “Read More” after it.

Writing in markdown using VS Code

Keep reading…This is how I work

Midges, my writing process, and getting in the trenches as a community manager

Happy Monday! In last week’s post I mentioned that midges were swarming our yard and keeping me from fixing our fence. Well, it’s gotten worse since then, and our entire neighbourhood is now under siege.

Thankfully the masks we’re wearing for Covid-19 physical distancing work just as well for protecting us from these gnatty waterfront sex swarms.

Seriously. I looked it up.

From what I’ve read, these midge clouds should subside in a couple weeks as the warm weather picks up and things dry out. Here’s hoping.

Keep reading…Midges, my writing process, and getting in the trenches as a community manager