Notability storyboards

I was doing morning pages in Notability last week. Now I’ll try to review some and see how I can use them. I wrote a breakdown of 18 Minutes chapters.

It starts with a story to introduce a problem. The middle has details explaining how to fix things with some loose research to back it up. It ends with a callback to the story. Then it really ends with a small boxed summary that’s pretty close to what Derek Sivers calls a directive. No metaphor, just direct speak for what you should do.

There once was a guy who rambled and he got hit by a truck because he was rambling and he never got to the point.

Steven Pressfield tells interesting stories with lessons about creativity. 18 Minutes has somewhat less interesting stories with possibly more useful lessons. Either way, it’s a good format. It’s essentially a blog best-of in book form.

I am the rambler. The truck is a metaphor. It’s the ID4 dump truck and it’s driving my readers to better websites. 

Directive: use directives to drive my writing.

I’m thinking I shouldn’t just re-type what I wrote in Notability.

De-cluttering and deep work

Last year I made a doc with all my highlights from Cal Newport’s Deep Work. I copied and pasted them all from my Kindle Highlights page. Then I set a one minute interval timer to go through each of them and write thoughts for a minute each.

After doing that exercise, I thought it’d be good to do that more often for every book I read. 

A year later, I wish I followed through on that because the highlights are good to read through.

I wrote about de-cluttering and also shared some tips that stuck with me through reading a few tidying books. One of them was to learn to be okay getting rid of sentimental things.

I finally tossed a bunch of work notebooks. Some were from last year around the time I originally read Deep Work. I flipped through them and almost kept a couple because there were some good examples of scheduling blocks of time for deep work. Out with the old, though. 

Still, I can’t toss one journal of mine. I wrote in it from probably 2004-2008. I didn’t fill it. It captured some of my thinking from college. I also had enough awareness at the time to comment on how dumb some of it would seem in the future. 

It’s still easy to get caught up in, though, no matter how aware you are. Though that’s probably the first step. 

Some of the things that stuck with me from Deep Work: practicing being bored, making the internet less of a source of entertainment, and working on single problems for longer blocks of time.

My problem now is picking the right thing to work on. Cal has mentioned The One Thing and Essentialism as good books for narrowing this down.

25% thoughts on Tokyo Vice

I thought it’d be good to capture some of my early thoughts on Jake Adelstein’s Tokyo Vice. It’s about an American reporter working for one of Japan’s national newspapers. I read a sample chapter sometime last year and enjoyed it but didn’t buy the full version until now.

I read 18 Minutes last week. I got away from my books spreadsheet and that was a little bit of a guilty pleasure. Productivity books are probably the lamest possible guilty pleasure. The story-per-chapter format works well for Steven Pressfield’s trilogy on creativity. It also works well for Peter Bregman’s 18 Minutes.

I enjoyed it but it reminded me of why I wanted to get away from reading these kinds of nonfiction books. It had a chapter on the marshmallow study. A mention of the study where you’re more likely to follow through if you set a date and time. Growth mindset? Check. 10,000 hours? Check.

In the middle of reading 18 Minutes I realized that nearly everything made me think of work. Which isn’t exactly the best thing for casual reading outside of work. 

I’ve been a little focused on the takeaways from a book. What will I remember a year from now? I need to reconsider that reading for leisure means enjoying the book during leisure time. I don’t go to dinner with friends thinking about what takeaways will stick a year from now. I go because it’s enjoyable in the present and probably the best possible use of my time that can take place with any regularity.

Reading can be a getaway. That’s why I’m really happy so far with Tokyo Vice. It’s so far removed from the productivity and creativity books that I filled last year with. Not only is it a different country, it’s a different time. The culture is so different and Adelstein captures his perspective so well. You get a sense of what being an outsider in Japan is like. 

I’m going to try continuing with my rule: if there’s no narrative, I’ll listen to the audiobook.

My early directive for Tokyo Vice: learn as much as you can about the culture you’re trying to be a part of while understanding that you’re still an outsider. There are also some advantages to being an outsider so figure out how to use those.

This micro blog will pretty much be a blog about what I’m currently reading.

Journal Issue 13: The Blog of Five Things

My progress on this blog reminds me of Seth Godin’s concept of The Dip. The total effort is accumulating but the results aren’t increasing. A dip can come before a breakthrough. If there’s no breakthrough coming, it’s not a dip it’s just a dead end. The trouble is that they look similar. Is this a dip or is it a dead end?

If I read the book maybe I could take a look at my situation and answer that in a few minutes. But I haven’t, so I’ll just assume the breakthrough is coming.

A template for five things

I’ll continue a rough format of five sections. Earlier posts that were more fun, both to write and read. They involved drawing. I haven’t drawn at all in over a week and haven’t been drawing regularly in a month.

I want to get back in the drawing habit. One of the best things I did regularly a couple months ago was was use storyboard templates for brainstorming.

In my effort to get back to that, I made a storyboard template that moves everything into one column to follow the blog post format better.

Each page has five of the blocks with a place for a doodle and a few lines below it. Here’s a look at a rough explanation of Warren Buffet’s goal-setting technique.

Eventually I would write a post about focusing and one technique for happiness is not focusing on becoming a billionaire like Warren Buffet.

Writing through the book backlog

I’ve still been reading. Writing book notes increases the value of the book for me quite a bit. It’s a no-brainer to continue them. I can read a book faster than I write the posts, though, so a backlog continues growing.

Here are books I’ve finished in the past couple months that I want to write notes for:

  • Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler
  • Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow
  • We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider
  • Momo by Michael Ende
  • The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

When the year started, I increased the frequency of listening to an audiobook. There’s a backlog for them also:

  • Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
  • Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan
  • Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan
  • Live Right and Find Happiness (although beer is much faster) by Dave Barry
  • The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford
  • The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

I can’t write 3 posts for all of these books. I don’t want to be overwhelmed by the backlog. I need to work on a solution somewhere int he middle.

The first thought is to stop reading as much and write more. Except I can’t exactly. Reading time isn’t equivalent to writing time. Reading can be done in smaller chunks of time. It’s not ideal but it works better than trying to write full posts in smaller chunks of time.

I know you were waiting for a bad food analogy—don’t worry I’ve got one.

Reading in chunks adds up. It’s like making a crepe cake. Which I’ve never done. But you add a layer a time. 10 pages here, 10 pages there. Soon you’ve got the full cake and read the entire book.

Writing in small chunks is more like adding chunks of butter to a stew. What kind of stew it is that you add butter to, I don’t know. The small pieces disappear.

I have a few better options:

  • I can write single posts with collections of shorter thoughts. That at least helps give me the mental checkmark of completely finishing a book. I can move on and write about the next book. If I write 3 posts for a book, take it as a sign that I really enjoyed it.
  • I can skip writing a book notes post altogether. I’ll probably just give some brief thoughts in one of these journal posts.

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

I’ve been listening to more audiobooks. When the year started, I did a photo walk and really enjoyed it. Almost the entire time, I was listening to Steve Martin’s memoir Born Standing Up.

I never knew how big Steve Martin was until reading Judd Apatow’s Sick in the Head. Here’s how Apatow describes Steve Martin:

When I was young, I loved him without even understanding the premise of his act. I didn’t realize that he was poking fun at the self-importance of showbiz personalities, or the clichés of comedy. There was this whole meta thing going on that was completely over my head.

In Born Standing Up, Martin describes different points in his career and you see the development of the meta aspect of his act. He goes from being a magician doing someone else’s act to doing his own magic act to removing the magic and then realizing people are laughing at some parts that aren’t exactly part of the act to honing in and focusing on that.

Audiobooks and podcasts

Back to Sick in the Head. Key and Peele talk to Judd Apatow about improv and how it compares to stand-up. Peele talked about working with Key:

“The best moments I’ve ever seen in improv are funnier than the best stand-up bits that I’ve ever seen. There’s something that can only happen between two people collaborating, and I just think that two people with the same vision is better than one.”

The best moments from podcasts are funnier than the best audiobook moments. If you asked me a few months ago, I would’ve said audiobooks are a better use of time. I’ve changed my mind on that. Especially when listening for leisure. I’m more likely to laugh at a conversation between two people when they’re laughing.

Look out for my future post “17 ways podcasts are better than audiobooks except buy these audiobooks with the affiliate tag“.


A lot of my earliest memories involve watching my brother play videogames with his friends. They all seem to just have the blurred faces of memories or at least a tendency to never look at my memory camera. I remember them playing Street Fighter II over and over trying to it beat it with every character. It took them hours to beat it with Dhalsim. That’s my very first memory of yoga.

I’ve been telling friends “I started doing yoga”. I don’t know if taking an intro class counts as starting. “Starting” implies that I’ll be continuing.

A couple years ago I realized I couldn’t touch my toes anymore. This was never an issue until I went probably a decade without every trying it. Then it was an enormous struggle. I knew mobility was a part of CrossFit so I went with my normal pattern of joining a CrossFit gym and attending until I injure myself.

I’m going to try the combination of yoga and whatever meathead strength plan sounds good for the month at the local Globo gym. I’m 3 classes in and day to day I’m feeling pretty good.