creativity · entertainment

Missed Fortune 🗻

What does it take to pull you into a new podcast? Or a book? Or really anything?

With so many great podcasts out there and already not enough time for them all, the bar can be pretty high for anything new. But the first few lines of the Missed Fortune podcast pulled me in right away.

Did you ever find yourself in one of those situations where if it goes well, there’s a huge reward? But if it goes bad, you look just unforgivably stupid? Like what were you possibly thinking?

I’m in a car with some guys I don’t know on the way to somewhere we’re not supposed to be. And this is one of those situations.

They go on to explain that this is the story of a real-life treasure hunt in the Rocky Mountains with the only clues being a short poem.

I’m already hooked. 😲 Well played, new podcast.

Books · creativity · Practical

Super Summary: Deep Work

Next up in my super summary series: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.

On this blog, a super summary is basically a “summary of a summary” of a book (with a few additions of my own). It gives you the basic idea of a book to see if you want to read the real thing. Most of the content comes from Lucid visual book summary series.

👉This book gives you official permission to set your chat app to do-not-disturb or enable Focus mode on your iPhone.

Deep vs. shallow work

Shallow work is work that’s done in small pieces, doesn’t require your full attention, and keeps you busy. It is often necessary, but it does not lead to great achievements.

Deep work means complex thinking in a state of distraction-free concentration or flow. Your brain can do amazing things in this state of focus.

Many great thinkers in history went to incredible lengths to isolate themselves from distractions while they worked. Studies show that many of people’s happiest moments come when they are stretched to their mental limits and lose themselves in this state.

This intense focus allows you to master difficult skills and produce at an elite level. It’s a career builder.

Making time for deep work

Switching frequently between tasks leaves “attention residue” and makes it difficult to focus on a new task after switching focus, especially if you leave the previous ask unfinished.

To allow yourself to get the most out of deep work, schedule your time in blocks of deep and shallow work with one of the following strategies.

👉I’ve found that I can only be productive at deep work for about 90 minutes at a time. Then I need a mental break. 🤯

Monastic

On one end, monastic deep workers go to great lengths to make time for deep work. They eliminate social media and use email sparingly to achieve their goals.

👉This seems pretty extreme unless you aim to be Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond or Bon Iver at his cabin in Wisconsin. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Bimodal

Bimodal deep workers plan their day in larger blocks to make time for both the shallow and deep work they need to do.

This strategy can mean bookending a solid day of deep work email and busy work at the beginning and end of the day.

 Rhythmic

Rhythmic deep workers break their time down into smaller chunks to fit their broken-up schedule.

👉This is how I work because, you know, meetings. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Journalistic

For those with even less predictable days, journalistic scheduling capitalizes on spare moments that come up throughout the day, even if it’s just 30 minutes.

These people keep fighting for deep work time as their day evolves. 🏃🏻‍♀️

👉 For some additional ideas, check out Wired article How to Use Block Scheduling to Revamp Your Workflow.

creativity

J.K. Rowling’s storyboard – writing as engineering

Below is a snapshot — literally — of one of J.K. Rowling’s storyboards.

Firs of all, it looks cool!

But more importantly, it illustrates an interesting point. No matter how natural and effortless a Harry Potter book is to read, clearly writing it is a pretty analytical process. Starting with a big vision, drilling down into the details, and finally “shipping” the end result seems similar to making software.

I’m organizing and planning my own book using software engineering tools and processes, all the way down to version control and text formatting. What can I say, as a software engineer, this is my comfort zone. Having a good process gives me the freedom and security to be creative, try ideas without risk, and literally commit when I’m done. 🤷🏻‍♂️

And like a great app, I hope the end result will impact you but appear effortless. Stay tuned to see how that goes. 🤓 #goals

creativity

The Opposite of a Story

We humans are made for stories. We love to hear stories. Stories make ideas more relatable and memorable.

I have been learning about the art of storytelling, both written and verbal. Basically it comes down to this:

  • Cut the BS
  • Build tension
  • Stay focused on your message

Whatever you do, don’t be boring. ✔️

I personally want to tell engaging stories to inspire people.

But the latest Invisibilia episode raises an interesting point: Yes, stories are powerful. But is that always a good thing? What if stories can be weaponized to manipulate you? (For example, I don’t know, maybe “The election was stolen.”)

To that end, Invisibilia decided to look at the opposite of a tight, message-driven story. They decided to focus on super slow, boring non-stories. For example an uninterrupted 9-hour train ride through Norway. It originally aired on Norwegian TV. They also did a ship’s 11-hour journey and more.

I have to say that the result is oddly satisfying. I mean, it’s not The Usual Suspects or even Citizen Kane, but it hits right if you want something relaxing. And it definitely will not manipulate you into thinking anything more than, “Gosh, Norway is pretty.” or perhaps just, “Ahh, trains…”

Hell, I have it on in the background right now just for the sound. They describe this kind of video as having “weak narrativity”. 😆

The video is so slow that you have to make sure it’s not paused after you start it. 🤔

But it picks up (kind of). 🚞

👉 The podcast also suggests that this kind of non-narrative might promote democracy, individualism, and community. Not bad for some train footage.

And don’t forget slow radio.