Hello world and welcome back!
My inbox has been flooded with 2020 reflection posts and Year In Reviews, so will skip the reflection and instead note the specific areas of personal focus this year (I did find a nice reflection app here
, which I am slowly making my way through):
1. Document, document, document
I have written about the value of proper documentation in the past, but mainly in regards to larger scoped projects and technical work. This year has taught me the importance of documenting life as a whole - the grand, the new, and everything in between. I believe that there are tremendous returns to simply managing and noting personal ‘state,’ whether it be for wellbeing and tracking or sharing to others. This newsletter has begun to fill that want, but ways to go.
2. Explore and Exploit
I ran across this post
by Sachin Rekhi a few months ago, and it has stuck with me, beyond the focus on career. The explore and exploit algorithm is a common framework for decision making and prioritizing, with applications across business, software, and life. Constraints are defined by lack of information and outcomes, which creates a natural tradeoff between digging deeper and exploring new territory. I find exploration especially crucial at this age, but do want to ensure I can properly assess where I stand.
3. Cook (a lot)
I had lofty cooking ambitions following graduation, but that promptly fell to the wayside when I realized the truly multi-step, multi-day nature of planning and preparing meals. I found a meal prep routine that was comfortable and worked and relied on roasted cauliflower and baked chicken for 8-10 meals a week. Remote work has been an absolute gift in this sense, allowing time to take breaks in the kitchen rather than a cubicle and experiment with variations in technique and cuisine.
I made butter chicken on Tuesday, but I can’t post images in this section, so check it out below.
4. Systems > Goals
One of the higher priorities for this year - I read quite a bit about the importance of system-oriented thinking, but usually reverted to a goal with no clear process. Approaching life and eventual goals through systems has proven to be a healthier and more sustainable method for success, yet is often overlooked due to ints necessary upfront cost of planning and consistency. Much like everything else, the compounding returns are what create the ultimate outcome. A few great articles that capture this process:
5. Focus intentionally
My friends can attest to the fact that I’m rarely seen without my laptop, whether it be during casual conversations or just hanging out. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had less than 10 tabs open in my running browser, which act as a visual ‘todo’ of things to read/watch. They become my passive reading during breaks, and ultimately my distraction from others around me. It hasn’t been until recently that I realized the severity of this habit and its impact on my focus. I don’t give the article the focus I usually intend to while simultaneously remove myself from the environment. With that, I plan to intentionally allocate time and attention. This was a theme across The Observer Effect articles
, and I see it as a crucial skill.
6. Minimize and Eliminate
Closely tied to #4. Many of the habits that I regard as ‘productive’ are often just extra layers of procrastination. I’ll often spend weeks thinking about a topic without just taking the jump and starting the work - focusing so much on the abstract theory of some technique or framework without ever diving in. I’ve cut out most of the daily news from my life, as well as most social apps, but continue to see myself distracted by insignificant tasks and articles. I’ve read more articles this year and subscribed to more newsletters than I would have hoped, and while I do filter them to areas of interest, simply end up with a terrifying bunch of tabs vying for attention. Attention is limited, and the digital ocean of information is constantly growing.
Most of the points above could be consolidated, but I think they capture most of what I hope to apply to most everything this coming year. I don’t stick to hard and fast rules with anything but hope that my processes can converge on the methods I’ve laid out for myself.