Posts From Category: productivity

SaaSE - Social as a Side Effect

Last year I attempted to build in public - doing this alongside my full-time work and family commitments was tiring and in the end I couldn’t be arsed. It was annoying. Everything I was doing was being framed as “how can I package this up as content” or “how can I get people to engage with this”. It didn’t sit well with me and it was exhausting.

So I’ve been thinking if I could come up with a system to still be active on social, share things that may be useful to others but with the minimum of effort (I’m a big fan of minimal effort). With that I’m starting my own little SaaSE experiment - Social as a Side Effect - I’m going to be creating a system that automates and shares content that I would be creating for myself anyway and sharing it if it is even the tiniest bit interesting.

  • I already document and save links I find interesting to Pinboard - what if I automatically tweet the ones that I think others will find useful?
  • I already document some of the automations I use so I don’t forget - what if they can be useful to others? Could I share this documentation with a small amount of tweaking? Could the ideas I write down or journal about be shared?
  • I already summarise the books I read and take notes - what if these could be helpful to others?

So I’ve started that from today. In fact I wrote this in Obsidian and my system has shared to you without me doing a thing. Like I’m some kind of freakishly cool robot from the future.

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Codename Sloth

Working on a side project sometimes feels like walking through treacle. Especially when you have commitments that take priority time wise - for me it’s my full time job & family. I am definitely the tortoise rather than the hare when it comes to side projects - and that’s ok.

I’ve learnt changing my perspective is magic. I can change the reason I am working on a side project in an instant. The reason for me nowadays isn’t having it make shed loads of money (that’d be nice) or to have millions of users. It’s for me to learn, be creative and build something I love (and hopefully others will too).

Instead of having a goal of launching my side project I have a system. The system is simple - work on it a little bit every day. This way I am constantly winning. In one of Scott Adam’s books he wrote that when we use goals to measure success the best you can hope for is to be in a state of presuccess failure. I want to be joyful every day when I work on something in my spare time - else what’s the point? Working like this has led to me being excited to work on it and this in turn enables me to work consistently day after day over a long period of time (in the little spare time I do have).

When using a system we need to have faith that it will work. It’s often the case that we don’t know it’s working until we’ve been doing it for a decent amount of time. The Valley of Disappointment is what James Clear calls the period when the outcomes of your system are not meeting your expectations - but things will often change if we just hang tight and keep on doing what we’re doing. I have to remind my self this daily. I’m kind of impatient.

With systems we can define what success means for us - for me it’s learning, being creative and the joy you get from making things. Paul Jarvis says a similar thing in Company of One when defining growth for your business: “start small, define growth, and keep learning”.

By consistently applying your system every single day the journey becomes more fun than the goals. Goals become a byproduct of your system.

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Removing the fear of shipping with automation.

I don’t like shipping personal work. Even writing this is hard. I think it’s a heady mix of fear of failure, change and being called out for the imposter that I am. Or it might just be my flare for the dramatic. Who knows? All I know is I can ship for other people all day long (this is good as that’s my job) but when it comes to doing projects for myself it’s always harder. It’s strange as I love making things. It’s the best.

I find adding a layer of automation between myself and the actual shipping helps. It’s took a long while for me to figure this out. For example: I now use a build process for this blog that removes me from actually hitting the publish button. It means I can just push this markdown file to a git repo and then some time during the night it will get published by a fearless build process. Magic. Then at some point next week WHEN I LEAST EXPECT IT I will tweet about it (without me doing anything and once I’ve forgotten about it). You may even have arrived here via that tweet.

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I run today so that I can run tomorrow

Changing the way I look at things has been one of the most powerful and insightful things that I have done. I used to run a lot. Then I got fat and didn’t run a lot. When I ran a lot it was always for a goal - a half marathon or to hit a certain weight. This wasn’t sustainable for me over time and I didn’t find it fun (which is massively important for me).

Over the past year or so I have been running for a different reason. I now run today so that I can run tomorrow. I’ve been thinking a lot about Infinite Games and Systems over Goals and this fits into that way of thinking.

There was a point a got so unfit that running was becoming harder than hard. It hurt. But applying this system of running (or exercising) today with the only goal to be able to run (or exercise) tomorrow it has become fun and easy. I love it. I don’t give myself a hard time and I’ve kept it up for over a year and lost over 30kg with it. I’m never going to win any races but I’m definitely a happier tortoise than I was a hare.

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If you are stuck in a rut and don’t think you are making progress focus on your habits and your current trajectory rather than how close you are to your goals (as this can be disheartening and might prevent you from even trying).

Try and remember that it’s not where we are, it’s where we’re going. If we can change our habits and systems to change our trajectory that is often better than being closer to our goals and plateauing.

Don’t worry about the past - it’s done, it’s one thing we cannot change. But we can change the future. Give yourself an edge by honestly evaluating your situation, looking at the choices you get to make every day and choosing the best one for that situation. If we make the right choices time after time we can find ourselves in a very different situation in a years time.

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The three yous - past-you, present-you and future-you.

I saw this on reddit and thought it was too good not to write down as a gift to my future-self.

You should think about yourself as three different people - the past-you, the present-you and the future-you.

Be grateful and forgiving to the past-you. You should thank the past-you for doing things that have put you in the position you are in today. You should also be forgiving of the mistakes the past-you made, as you would forgive a good friend.

The present-you is where the magic lies. You can’t alter the past-you, but you get to shape the future-you. Do things as the present you that the future-you will be grateful for. Choosing between the couch and the TV? What will the future-you thank you for? Do that. Want to sit down and do some work on that side project you’ve been threatening to do for years or sit and veg? What will future-you thank present-you for? Do that. It’s easier doing a good turn for someone else.

When you become future-you remember to be grateful for past-you for all the good things past-you did. Past-you is pretty sweet. I like to picture past-you on a penny farthing.

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Stopping the sleep screams

I have this sleep thing which is one part hilarious one part terrifying. When I’m in the first stages of sleep I have a startle reflex that makes me jump up in bed and start screaming at the slightest noise (even if I make the noise myself). Vicky my partner is often woke by me yelling “HELP, VIC” and it leaves me totally confused and thinking I’m dying. Every. Night. For 12 years.

Recently I’ve found a way of pretty much stopping it altogether. I’ve put together a cheat sheet below of how I stopped the old SLEEP SCREAMS. It’s a combination of information from Shawn Stevenson’s Sleep Smarter, Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning, web research and personal anecdotal evidence.

Sleep Cheat Sheet 1.0

  1. Get up nice and early (I tend to get up between 5:30am - 6:00am)
    • Meditate.
    • Get outside. Natural light exposure triggers the production of more serotonin. The best time to get natural light is early in the morning - 6:00am - 8:30am for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Exercise
    • Lift heavy if you can bro. If not go for a walk or run - try to do this around 7am.
      • Use topical magnesium on anywhere that is sore before going to bed.
  3. Eat well
    • Alcohol - cut down or pack it up.
    • Cut carbs and sugar.
    • No caffeine after 2pm.
    • Use magnesium supplements.
  4. Winding down
    • Take a hot shower or a bath 90 mins - 2 hours before going to bed. After that wind down with a cup of camomile.
    • Go to bed at the same time each night. The best time to be asleep is between 10pm - 2am.
    • No screens an hour before bed. Or get some of them blue lensed glasses if you want to watch telly.
  5. Bedroom environment
    • Get a fan on or open the window.
    • Get yourself a weighted blanket. I love mine.
    • Get it dark - preferably so you can’t see your hand in front of your face.
    • Use red light if needed - it doesn’t affect your circadian rhythm as much as other lights.
    • Keep your room cool.
    • Put on some white noise - I use a river on my Echo - running water actually slows your heartbeat.

And one that I think is the most important. If you can’t fall asleep, don’t stress about it. It is what it is.

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