I have three habits I’m focused on right now – reading, meditating, and stretching.
I’ve been knocking it out of the park on the first two (roughly 85% or higher completion rate). The stretching? Well, I’ve done that once in 24 days for an abysmal 4% completion rate.
The actual habit isn’t that difficult. Every night I want to spend five minutes total stretching my hip flexors and upper back. I can do it while watching TV and even drink wine in between (or during!). Still, I fail every single night. If you were to ask me about it, I would probably create some excuse centered around not having enough time and being so busy with chores, which would be a lie.
“I don’t have time” is never the real reason.
If I think a bit deeper, I’m normally saying one of the following.
One of my goals in 2016 was to work less while, somewhat paradoxically, accomplishing more. I knew I could squeak more out of my day if I just put some better systems in place. As part of that process, I recently finished reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. Cal is a fantastic writer (I’m a huge fan of his blog Study Hacks), and he thinks deeply about the benefits and how-to’s behind working deeply, which he defines as follows:
Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push you cognitive capacities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.
Applying the principles that Cal lays out in the book is a perfect first step towards my goal.
I’ve been applying those principles for three weeks now (admittedly a short timeframe), and it’s been working really well. I finish my day by 4:30pm every night. I enjoy an hour of reading time every day. I haven’t touched my computer on the weekends. Success.
Here’s exactly what I’m doing and what those principles look like in practice.
Quick note: I started sharing a quick email every two weeks with interesting articles, videos, and books I stumble across. It’s quickly becoming my favorite thing to write. You can check it out here!
Who invented the light bulb?
I would say Thomas Edison. You probably would to.
In history books, Edison often gets the attribution when the dust settles, but a bit of digging reveals that he was far from the sole inventor. Edison’s main contribution was the use of a bamboo filament that lasted longer and cost less than competitors.
History includes thousands of these types of inventors – solopreneurs that took an idea from start to market without help from anyone else. When you take a closer look, you find that, like Edison, that’s only part of the story.
At the start of each year, I set aside time to look back at the previous year including what went right and what went wrong with the goal of identifying areas for improvement moving forward. This year, I’m taking a page out of Nate Green’s book and doing what he calls a “Personal Retrospective”, which provides a solid structure for looking back on 2015.
I publish a monthly review of habits, work, etc. You’ll be able to find them all here.
December was a really amazing month. I wrapped up a freelance project that I was working on for quite awhile. I was able to spend some time offline with my wife and friends. We went skiing for the first time this year. And, of course, we celebrated Christmas (although not really on Christmas Day). It was an amazing finish to an unbelievable year. I’ll be posting a reflection on that in a few days, but for right now, here is my December review.