The secular faith of Workism

The economists of the early 20th century did not foresee that work might evolve from a means of material production to a means of identity production. They failed to anticipate that, for the poor and middle class, work would remain a necessity; but for the college-educated elite, it would morph into a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence, and community. Call it workism.”

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable (The Atlantic)

One side frets over the anxiety and blurred lines separating work life and personal life, while the other side gets knocked around in an unpredictable “gig economy” designed to make things more convenient for those who can afford it.

A good enough life

“Buddhism offers a criticism of the caste system and the idea that some people have to live lives of servitude in order to ensure the greatness of others. It posits instead the idea of the “middle path,” a life that is neither excessively materialistic nor too ascetic. […] In this radical vision of the good enough life, our task is not to make the perfect human society, but rather a good enough world in which each of us has sufficient (but never too many) resources to handle our encounters with the inevitable sufferings of a world full of chance and complexity.

The Good-Enough Life (New York Times)

A good enough life is a life worth living.

Adventures by bike

“Adventure means different things to different people at different times in life. You can pack for a touring journey, but still ride light and fast. You can ride for fun, take your time, take photographs, or you can go fast for some Type 2 Fun. You might push yourself hard, or you might push your bike when the ride gets hard. You can sleep under the stars or treat yourself to a hotel on the credit card.

Everyone is invited—and that’s part of the magic of cycling. The crucial thing is that adventure feels worthwhile and meaningful, that you do it with enthusiasm, and that it feels important to you, not to other people.”

Why You Should Take on a Bike Challenge (Adventure Journal)

I haven’t done any long rides aside from Conquer Cancer.

Wouldn’t mind tackling a few this year.

Tailor your working hours

“Learn the time of day you’re most energized, creative, and inspired, then tailor your working hours to be during that time.”

How To Increase Productivity, Do Better Work, And Get More Done (Jennifer Bourn)

My mornings are, by far, the most productive part of the day. That’s when I do most of my writing and creative work. It’s a solid few hours of uninterrupted focus/flow time. Then I tackle meetings and admin tasks in the afternoon. It’s worked well so far.

America’s urban transformation

“Many communities grew more racially and ethnically diverse this decade, mirroring the rising diversity of the country as a whole. Such demographic shifts generally aren’t apparent from a satellite’s view. But we found some telltale signs.”

A Decade of Urban Transformation, Seen From Above (New York Times)

An interactive visual essay from Upshot (New York Times) documenting the dramatic transformation of American communities over the past decade.

The Good Place is a show about everything

“The Good Place” is a show about everything — including, and especially, growing and learning. By all rights, it should probably be awful — preachy, awkward, tedious, wooden, labored and out of touch. Instead, it is excellent: a work of popular art that hits on many levels at once.

The Ultimate Sitcom (New York Times Magazine)

When the show first premiered I didn’t know what to make of it — a bizarre sci-fi fantasy sitcom hybrid anchored in ethics and philosophy. But it grew on us. And it feels like such a perfectly-timed series given what’s happening in the world right now.

Goals for 2020

It’s been a year since I laid out my New Year goals for 2019.

I’m ashamed to say they were mostly a miss.

  1. Complete coding courses & share the results: I didn’t finish any coding courses.
  2. Do more creative work and share it: I doodled a bit in my sketchbook towards the end of the year, but I didn’t share anything.
  3. Publish one new page per week to my site: I only published a couple — my Newsletters and Bookmarks.
  4. Read at least one book per month, share the takeaways: I read a few books but never wrote takeaways.
  5. Record and publish one podcast episode per week: I didn’t record any podcast episodes.
  6. Learn audio production, share my notes: Nada.
  7. Learn video production, share my notes: Nada.
  8. Get back into gaming & streaming: Nada.
  9. Send a monthly newsletter: Nada.
  10. Spend more time with family: I’ve been able to visit my family a bit more, now that we’re east of Toronto, but not nearly to the extent that I wanted.
  11. Keep the road trips going. Share the experience: We roadtripped through Italy for our honeymoon, but I didn’t do any sharing.
  12. Return to a healthy lifestyle: Last couple of months are better, but my weight is still where it was from years ago.

2019 wasn’t a total flop; it was full of life-changing milestones.

We were engaged and married in the spring; vacationed in northern Italy for our honeymoon; bought our first new car in August; and bought a house in September.

On the professional front I moved back into a community-focused role at GoDaddy; presented at a handful of WordCamps; and co-led a workshop at WordCamp US in St. Louis.

I also learned quite a bit about how I work.

Goals are great, but it’s the day-to-day tasks that makes progress. I learned that I need to make the time to work against my goals, and defend that time, otherwise they won’t happen.

Mornings are the most productive time of the day for me, so I need to defend that time and keep it free from meetings.

That time is finite, though — so as I look ahead to 2020, I’m thinking about how to plan my goals around what time I have available.

That means not trying to do too much, limiting my goals, and figuring out how my weekly routines will make progress against those goals.

Underlying all of that is a philosophy that my life is a latticework of projects and relationships, professional and personal.

It’s a duality of my identity. Neither side defines me wholly — but both sides are important.

So, with all of that said, what am I thinking of for 2020?

Keep reading…Goals for 2020

Roden Explorers Club

“When I began that Nakasendō walk, I set a number of arbitrary rules. One was that I had to take someone’s portrait by 10 a.m. each morning. Or else what? Or else I was a dope, a hack, and I would be forced to self-flagellate my way through the rest of the day. This turned out to be a great forcing function.”

Process: Words and Pictures and Walking (Roden)

I love Roden Explorers Club. It’s a newsletter from Craig Mod, a brilliant writer-walker-thinker-photographer type.

Building schedules through timeboxing

There are two types of schedule, which I’ll call the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour. […]

When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule (Paul Graham)

I’m riding the fence between a manager’s schedule and a maker’s schedule through aggressive timeboxing. I block off my mornings for focused time (typically from 9am – 12pm) knowing that my afternoons will be chopped up by interruptions and meetings.

Whenever possible, I try to stack my meetings — often on a Tuesday or Thursday — so I can drop another block of “Get Stuff Done” time on my calendar for Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.

Colleagues who don’t understand timeboxing get confused — “why is your calendar fully booked?” — but it’s for a reason: to make sure there’s protected time to do the deep work.

My timeboxing estimates aren’t perfect. If a task takes longer to accomplish I’ll extend the time or add more time elsewhere in the week. But the exercise itself, of carving the hours out of my daily schedule, is incredibly useful.