I publish a daily newsletter called Not All News Is Bad. Several years ago I found myself in need of a reminder that there’s more going on in the world than the shitshow most news sources seem to focus on.
I forced myself to find at least one good news story every day. I started sharing that publicly, and eventually it became the daily newsletter. At this writing, it goes out to about 1,500 subscribers every morning.
It doesn’t happen often, but one thing that makes me shake my head is when a recipient of a good news story goes digging for negativity.
Social media gets a lot of negative press. It’s blamed for the increasing political divide, for increased rates of depression, particularly among teenaged girls, for being some kind of spying tool used by corporations and foreign governments, and more.
And, to be completely honest, much of that is probably accurate.
But it also overshadows the fact that there are some very positive things happening on social media as well.
I “retired” in 2001 at 44, after an 18-year career at Microsoft.
There was a spreadsheet (in Excel, of course) that calculated I was done. The meteoric rise of the Microsoft stock price and the serendipitous timing of my joining came together to give me options (including literally stock options), for which I am forever grateful.
I was recently reading some articles discussing the traditional transition from the work-a-day world — aka a “job” — to a world of leisure and choice — aka “retirement”.
I was getting increasingly uncomfortable with the assumptions and preconceptions of what it means to retire.
As you might expect, my “day job“, and a lot of my not-so-day-job, involves answering questions. It varies, of course. Some questions are simple yes/no, some are translating consumer terminology into more accurate terms and returning a “search result” from one of my websites to help, and so on.
Mostly it’s pretty simple Q&A.
Sometimes it’s less simple.
Sometimes it’s iterative. And sometimes that’s very, very frustrating.
We often hear people complaining they’re being discriminated against, losing friends and acquaintances, and even being so-called “cancelled” because of the opinions they hold. Somehow they seem to feel that they should be able to hold, and express, their opinions, often loudly, to anyone, without consequence.
Because, of course, they believe their opinion is correct, and that should be honored and respected.
(Long one, today. I didn’t plan on it, but here we are. )
I’ve been asked a couple of time how I manage to do so much. If I look at what I produce each week, it adds up:
Ask Leo! Articles, Videos, direct answers, and Newsletter
Not All news is Bad
My personal blog and 65 Thoughts
My volunteer work
An assortment of other things
Even considering all that I don’t accomplish every week even if I’m supposed to (my wife has that list), it’s still quite a lot.
The answer to the question turned out to be longer than I expected. I have a combination of frameworks, routines, habits, tools, and mindset that are probably pretty unique to me. While I pay attention to a lot of “productivity porn”, as it’s sometimes called, I think I’ve ended up with a blend of approaches that work fairly well for me.
I don’t expect they’ll work for everyone. But let’s look at how I do what I do hoping you might find a nugget or two that resonates and can help you get s**t done.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but one of the most important skills I got from my education was the ability to find answers.
I wish education in general was more focused on that skill. Rather than accumulating (and, gak, testing for) knowledge, teach the skill set required to acquire knowledge as needed; a kind of “just in time” skill. When you need to know something, you know how to find it.
As you might imagine I read, skim, and scan (let’s just call that all “consume”, shall we?) a lot of content as I pull together 7 Takeaways each week. I do the same for Not All News is Bad, for that matter. (I do it for Ask Leo! as well, but that’s different for the purposes of this discussion.)
Some items call to me, and I’ve never been quite sure why. If you’d asked me my criteria I would have said I have no idea, but, like porn, I just know it when I see it.
As I was meditating this morning one of the reasons made itself known.
(Once again, sorry for the delays between postings. Life. If interested and if you’re not already there I have been sending out 7 Takeaways every week. Generally not my writing, but I do share some thoughts on each takeaway I collect.)
A friend is dealing with one of life’s issues, to put it vaguely. It’s led me to notice our friends and acquaintances often fall into two categories. It’s important to acknowledge them.
No, I’m not saying you’re a dick for not wearing a mask. Maybe you are, maybe you’re not, but that’s not what I’m saying.
In fact it’s very possible I’m saying exactly the opposite.
People are so freakin’ quick to judge, it’s frustrating. We’ve become so incredibly judgmental, and most often without even a shred of evidence. And yes, if that makes me sound judgmental, so be it. I also can’t tolerate intolerance.
There’s a line of thought among some of the COVID-19 conspiracy or anti-mask crowds running like this: do nothing and let people get sick. It’s how evolution works; the strong will survive, and humanity will be better for it. Besides, things aren’t as bad as [the government / the media / the liberals / the fraidy-cats] makes it out to be, anyway.
There’s a lot wrong with that thinking I won’t get into.
My point is more fundamental: it doesn’t have to be that way. Evolution can do better, and is, in fact, doing so right now. You can watch if you want to see it, and know where to look.