Allnomading (57)product (58)productivity (51)tech (23)thoughts (74)writing (71)

    Effective Researching

    Robert Greene reads between 300 and 400 books to write one. You can feel the depth of his research process in the end result. The author of Mastery uses flashcards and a category system to manage all the accumulated ideas.

    One idea per flashcard with a short quote or description, and post-it labels to aggregate similar topics. He then stores all the cards in shoe boxes, and a few months later he starts drafting.

    I think it’s an interesting research methodology. I’d like to adapt it to my own process.

    When I come up with a book summary for Sipreads, I take notes by simply synthesizing the core idea behind each paragraph. Then I use the section titles to give structure. I read twice. The first time to get into the book. The second time to analyze it.

    I have a more effective method though, the one I came up with during my year at Stockholm University. It was all about memorizing big chunks of lectures, dividing each material into easy-to-digest bites was key.

    I merged three methods - SQ5R, mind-mapping, and flashcards - to get an in-depth perspective of any document. I already wrote about it in a previous post, but I want to focus on how the three fit together.

    The result of the SQ5R technique is a list of questions and answers. Writing is asking questions, and each meaningful part of a book answers one. Finding those questions is understanding what problem the book is solving.

    Each pair can easily be written in flashcards. The problem is you usually end up with tons of them and it’s not easy to go through the full stack. That’s where mind-maps become useful to give you an overview. Each leaf of such mind-map is a flashcard, and each internal node is a label. This way, we obtain a digitized version of Greene’s research methodology.

    I’m currently adopting this method in my future book notes, so don’t forget to subscribe to Sipreads to see the end-result on November 15.

    Minimalist Work Environment

    What’s preventing us from doing our best work? It’s not so much about what we don’t have, and more about what we do with what we have.

    Buying more stuff is not the way to go about it. A developer doesn’t need more monitors for example: we can only do one thing at a time, and we can learn to better navigate through the interface by memorizing keyboard shortcuts.

    Using a single monitor is a constraint we can use as an opportunity to increase our focus and our knowledge. Do more with what you have, until you can’t grow any further.

    Simplifying our work environment is much more powerful. Clutter is distracting. Our best work reflects what’s essential about it.

    Before you sit down to work, ask yourself: what is not needed in my current work environment to perform my task? Remove those distractions.

    It might be a website - temporarily block it. Or a pile of documents on your desk - sort it, then store it. It could be a hundred tabs in your browser or cognitive tasks running in the background of your head - prune them away.

    We are used to doing things a certain way and we rarely take time to reflect on how we work. We don’t need to change our entire methodology to get better, but we have to get back to its core. Otherwise, we get in our own way.

    30 Days of Digital Silence

    I am astonished by the number of hours I spend browsing Youtube or Netflix. It has become common to make fun of people mindlessly watching TV, but consuming streaming content is not much different. We try to convince ourselves it’s okay to watch educative content as long as we’re learning. Or that we need music to get work done. “I need a break, this Netflix movie will kill time”.

    Truth is, all this content is not gonna help us. We mostly watch it out of boredom, it’s just another form of procrastination. I decided to put a stop to this habit: I’m going on a 30-day digital silence retreat where I’m not allowed to consume video or audio content. How does it work concretely?

    I downloaded a browser extension called BlockSite that prevents me from entering Youtube, Netflix, Spotify, or Soundcloud. The website and all the links leading to them are disabled.

    I added a Days of Digital Silence section in my personal website to remain publicly accountable.

    I replace this browsing habit by reading, writing, making, and walking more. I am still allowed to go to bars and clubs to listen to music, which might create an incentive to leave my cave, but I’m not allowed to download songs or podcasts.

    I wish to demonstrate a few things by abiding to this contract: 1) the virtues of silence, and 2) how small daily distractions have a huge impact on your productivity.

    Got any tips and tricks? I’d love to hear them.

    Mindful Pomodoro

    Time flies. You make New Year’s resolutions, and the next moment it’s November. I’m not particularly mindful during the day. I didn’t reach peak productivity either.

    I thought a lot about how to become more mindful of my time over the last five years. I tried RescueTime for a month and it opened my eyes. I waste a lot of time browsing Youtube and social media websites - up to 2 hours a day, sometimes more.

    Then I tried using a Pomodoro technique but I was not very consistent with it.

    Last year I stumbled upon the concept of bell of mindfulness, used in the famous Plum Village near my hometown for the monks and pilgrims to practice mindfulness. The idea is to ring a bell every 15 minutes to remind us to breathe and to bring back our attention to the present moment.

    I want to build a product that would combine Pomodoro and bell of mindfulness, while adding more productivity features similar to the ones we can find in RescueTime. I will call it Mindful Pomodoro (mindfulpomodoro.com), and it will be my ultimate time management tool.

    I’m gonna release a MVP next week. At first, it’ll only be a simple countdown playing a bell sound every 15 minutes, available as a browser extension. It’ll be enough to get into the habit. Then, I’ll add a server to display some analytics: number of cycles, total hours spent, etc.

    Hopefully, this little app will help me reduce the time I spend procrastinating.

    Weekly Review

    I want to focus more on the public accountability aspect of my journey as a maker, which is why I recently had the idea to create a newsletter where I would review my tasks, goals, and objectives on a weekly basis.

    I am still thinking about the content and how I could make it interesting for my readers.

    One section should describe my progress toward my business goals with key metrics like the MRR or the number of new customers. Something similar to the Open page of this website but from my perspective.

    Another section should review what’s been done: number of tasks completed on Makerlog, habits, what’s been written, what’s been read… an overview of my work throughout the week.

    More importantly, I should write a list of what went wrong or what I can improve, and how I plan to do that. I think people who would subscribe to this newsletter are more interested in the analytical aspect of the weekly review, the operational part being already publicly available. The thought process, rather than the actual actions.

    I decided to not call it Road to Ramen, because I’m thinking of something more long-term: an email list that would indirectly force me to be productive and do my best to reach my goals, while providing inspiration and practical advice to the members. I’m in for the long run, and I might as well try out new things.

    For now, I’m going to make some research on how others perform their weekly review and what tools and tone I could use to improve the reading experience.

    Low Pressure

    Growing up, I developed a tendency to stress myself more than necessary. I’m born anxious, and I became more ambitious over the years.

    You can’t get work done without a healthy amount of stress. That’s how our lizard brain works. Stress derives from fear, and fear is a defense mechanism processed in our amygdala.

    But sometimes, the pressure grows too big and it produces the opposite effect: procrastination. How can we achieve the right balance between stress and productivity?

    Steven Pressfield’s concept of Resistance comes to mind. The stronger the pressure we apply in our work, the stronger the opposite force. Working too hard or expecting too much feed this creative resistance. Mixing anxiety, passion, and hustle is an explosive cocktail leading to burnout without proper management.

    A day at work is like a wall. You need to go past the wall to advance your career. You can go through it like a wrecking ball, but you’ll hurt yourself. Or, as Bruce Lee would say, you can be like water. Be the gentle drop that penetrates the wall, or the sharp-witted wave that goes around it.

    The best way to overcome any mental barrier is not through direct confrontation. You shouldn’t try to force yourself into doing anything, and you shouldn’t feel bad about things not acting the way you expect them to act. Reduce the pressure.

    You don’t make intellectual diamonds by adding pressure. You keep the stress low and focus on increasing your intensity.

    Why Reading and How

    Sipreads has been featured on Product Hunt yesterday. We managed to become #2 Product of the Day and get our first 200 newsletter subscribers. We also had our first affiliate sale. How can we go further?

    For smart consumption, text will always prevail over video or audio. Text has an alchemical potential no other format has. It’s also much harder to be proactive when you listen to a podcast or watch a video. Reading is still the most efficient way to acquire knowledge.

    More than 2,000,000 books are published each year, but our lifetime is not expanding proportionally. It’s primordial to be radically selective when it comes to choose the books we read. It’s also important to get the most value out of what we read by adopting a proactive approach. Those are the two reasons why I started taking and sharing notes, and why I joined Ali to launch Sipreads.

    Reading sustainably is not easy. I already wrote about how I study and how I read, but let me rewrite those in two paragraphs.

    Notes have two objectives: 1) make what we read actionable and 2) ease the memorization process. Actionability is where the added value lies. Our memory is where our creative process stems from, where concepts mingle and new associations are born.

    Reading is not linear. There are multiple dimensions to it. Read a book twice a year apart and your key takeaways will differ. Analyze a book while keeping its structure in mind and you’ll see it differently. Notes have to reflect this multi-dimensionality.

    I use the SQ5R method to get a deeper understanding of the book. I then format my Q&A by using a Cornell Notes Taking System. Cornell notes help increase memorization and serendipity by proposing a clear structure. Cornell notes can be transformed into flash cards (Robert Greene’s favorite method to perform his research) and mind-maps to boost their effects.

    Becoming a better reader is also becoming a better writer. Reading develops our empathy. It teaches us how to deliver more value while maintaining an enjoyable reading experience.

    For all these reasons, I believe Sipreads has a bright future ahead. Now, what prevents you from reading more?

    Over-Ritualizing

    I have a problem. I tend to sacralize my work. I overthink my goals, tasks, habits, and objectives, to generate some sort of meaning from it all. I lock myself in imaginary contracts with my users, and sometimes myself.

    At first, I thought it would make me more motivated, and thus more productive: ”if you are driven by a holy mission and stick to it, nothing can stop you”, I used to tell myself.

    But the contrary happened. The objective feels unreachable. It becomes overwhelming, which in turn feeds procrastinative habits: fear of failure, fear of trying new things, fear of pursuing new interests, fear of taking time for myself, fear of what people might think of me…

    Truth is, no one is expecting anything grandiose from me. My work is not more important than someone else’s. It’s liberating. I’m free to let my creativity run wild. I’m free to live my life the way I desire.

    Rituals are not inherently bad. You need rituals to get in the flow and create a sense of purpose. There is no good work without a pinch of spirituality. There is no deep work without habits.

    Over-ritualizing is a decease though. It prevents us from sitting down and actually putting in the work. Not everything need a reason. There is no right moment to start working on a new task. We are not too tired to deliver, we are just bored and momentarily lazy.

    It’s time to win the inner fight.

    Going Offline

    Varying my environment and the way I do things helps a lot with my productivity. Going offline is an opportunity to look at things from a different angle: different support, different perspective.

    The simplest solution is often the best, and many key activities don’t require an Internet connection. Carrying a laptop or a smartphone or a tablet is a constraint: I need an electric plug to load the battery, a place with shadows to look at my screen without hurting my eyes, and a flat surface to correctly ventilate the hardware.

    Spending more time offline is also great for my mental health. Leaving my computer at home is a great way to experience more of what my life as a digital nomad has to offer: enjoying a book on my e-reader while sitting on a park bench, writing a few words in a bar sipping beers, or brainstorming new product ideas and designs at the library.

    Going offline is particularly suitable for mental sketching - ideation, free-writing, planning, software requirement elicitation, high-level design, etc. - but also to increase mindfulness through reading, daydreaming, journaling, or traditional meditation. The possibilities are many when you think about it.

    There is no limit to the digital world, and some might say the physical world is only getting smaller. Sometimes, staring at a screen feels too much like work. Most of my professional tasks necessitate a computer, but balance is needed. A pen, a piece of paper, a book, and a conversation with a stranger, a friend, or a lover, can be more powerful than any website:

    “He had collected over the years thousands of bits of stories, characters, lessons on life, laws of psychology, that he slowly pieced together in the novel, like tiles of a mosaic. He could not foresee the end.”

    • Robert Greene on Marcel Proust, in the book Mastery

    Dusk or Dawn

    The earlier I get up, the more energized I feel. I perfectly know I’m a morning person because that’s the way I’ve always been, but I’m still not acting upon this fact. I go out late at night, sometimes until the crack of dawn, and consequently, I wake up late. Then I feel sluggish and I wonder why.

    There is something that attracts me about the dark, the city lights, and the people sharing the ambient warmth. It’s an ephemeral yet joyful world. If I gave in to my desires, I would just stay up all night and sleep from 10 AM to 6 PM. That’s not what my body requires, however.

    I always find those paradoxes to be fascinating. It’s traditionally assumed it’s best to follow the sun because we are diurnal animals and it’s been proven that people working a night shift are more likely to develop health issues, but what about outliers? When I lived in Stockholm, I couldn’t help but becoming a night owl during the long and dark winters. You can’t just live on six hours of daylight time.

    The call of the heart, or the call of reason. Dusk, or dawn. How can I reconcile both? I wish I didn’t need to sleep. In the meantime, I’ll have to make a choice.

    Cultivating Serendipity

    We all probably experienced this moment when a solution to a problem comes to us right before falling asleep. This phenomenon is part of a bigger concept called serendipity: the faculty of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.

    I am not a huge fan of this word, but it can teach us a thing or two about the ideation process.

    Serendipity is often used to describe inventions and discoveries, and how luck plays an important part in the creative process. Serendipity is not the result of luck or fate though: it’s the result of a proactive mindset, not something that comes to you by itself. As Robert Greene puts it, you have to make room for serendipity to occur.

    The question is, how do we cultivate serendipity?

    Evidences show that ideation and creativity are not entirely conscious processes. You have to work hard and immerse yourself in problems as frequently as possible, but you also need to let your mind rest to solve complex associations. That’s how non-trivial solutions are born. Even if we’re not consciously looking for a solution, we can count on our brains to process loads of information that do not make sense at first, at an unconscious level.

    Serendipity is a muscle to train. The same principle can be applied to writing. It’s usually when we’re not on the look-out for new ideas that our muses will send some. This is why it’s of primary importance to always have a notebook or a smartphone by our side to scribble down our fragmented thoughts. You never know what kind of association might emerge from them later on. However, it’s of primary importance to understand ideas do not come to us right away. We still have to sit down. We still have to write every day. We still have to expand our senses beyond what’s visible. And we still have to be curious.

    The Holy Heptad

    Once you understand you have to be responsible for your own happiness, you start becoming an adept of self-development. There is no growth without self-love: you need me time to perform this introspective work. If you don’t have time to listen to yourself, you won’t be able to open yourself up to the possibilities the world has to offer.

    The problem is that the road to the top is a psychological war: consistency is both the goal and the reward, which is why habits should always prevail over plans.

    After writing about my new daily routine, I quickly realized I wouldn’t follow it per see. I can’t stick to a schedule, it’s just not in my nature. What happened, however, is that I naturally developed a series of micro-habits over time. I call them my Holy Heptad, seven micro-habits I perform on a daily basis: workout, mass gain diet, meditation, reading, writing, coding, and stretching.

    Completing the heptad is my most important goal of the day. The particularity here is that instead of telling myself I have to follow a particular program, I just listen to my body. I have a tiny quantitative goal for each habit, but I don’t count until it starts hurting. One series of push-ups, one series of squats, and one series of resistance band bicep curls. Three meals a day (I tend to skip meals, so just having more meals per day will naturally increase my weight). 10 minutes of meditation. Reading till I complete a 200-word note or till I’m bored. Writing 200 words a day. Pushing at least one commit to the code base. One full-body stretching session.

    Once I’m done with the heptad, I can focus my attention on what’s urgent, the daily grind. That’s where I put in the extra work, not the other way around.

    I can also give myself permission to go out and unwind without feeling bad about it. On the opposite side, failing to complete the heptad is a visual mark telling me I didn’t seize the day. I have a piece of paper glued to the wall in front of my desk where each habit is represented by a column and each row is a given day. The resulting cells are left blank if I failed to deliver, or crossed if I showed up.

    Over the last two weeks, my different streaks are visually denser. Writing and coding are the two chains I’m clearly consistent with, but I still have room for improvement in the other areas. Curious to see what the data will look like in a few months.

    Music and Productivity

    Should I listen to music while I’m working? My Youtube tab accompanies me every day. It makes everything enjoyable, from my daily work to my late-night parties.

    The problem is I tend to spend more time choosing the right soundtrack to my life than doing actual work. Sometimes, I end up wasting several hours of my day watching a recommended playlist. Procrastination at its finest. It has to stop.

    It hasn’t always been this way. Back in high school, when most of my lecture materials were on paper, I didn’t need a computer to work, and I had nothing to browse except the knowledge that was given to me. I just listened to the same playlist over and over on my MP3, or I used to let the silence run its course.

    My ability to concentrate has been deteriorating ever since, or perhaps it’s my memory playing a trick. Everybody is listening to music while studying or working, why shouldn’t I?

    When you research the impact of a few musical notes on productivity, you find paradoxical information leaving you in a deeper state of doubts.

    Music releases dopamine, but the wrong song can be counter-productive depending on the nature of your work and your personality. For example, listening to an upbeat track will make you more productive at performing repetitive tasks or a workout, but the resulting emotional investment will negatively impact more complex work.

    The relationship between music and productivity is a complex equation from which I’ll spare you the details. However, it appears clear to me listening to music while doing deep work is a bad habit.

    All the studies I read regarding cognitive musicology agree on the kind of music we can benefit from while performing challenging work: classical music, jazz, ambient noise, funk, and soundtracks - without lyrics or hard beats. Familiar music that’s just engaging enough to provide a background noise. Music to keep your brain awake. If it goes further than that, you lose yourself to the music. If it’s boring, you don’t trigger the sweet dopamine rush. In any case, studies show it’ll still interfere with your learning process.

    I find it a tad absurd. Maybe the problem is not the way we perceive music, but the way we perceive silence. People hate silence. Silence reminds us we are alone, and we hate hearing our thoughts, to the point of drowning them with whatever we find: a TV, a radio, a Youtube vlog, a podcast…

    Music is a hell of a drug when you think about it. A wine you have to consume in moderation, otherwise it will hurt your ability to pay attention (and your eardrums). Just like we don’t need alcohol to have fun, we have to re-learn to be comfortable with silence during deep work. In this context, music is more about escapism than actually getting things done.

    1. Why music affects your productivity, Quartz at Work, Mayo Oshin, https://qz.com/work/1573440/why-music-affects-your-productivity
    2. How Music Affects Productivity, Business News Daily, Skye Schooley, https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/11294-music-effect-on-productivity.html
    3. The Science of Music and Productivity, Zapier, Sam Kemmis, https://zapier.com/blog/music-and-productivity/
    4. How music affects your productivity, Sparring Mind, https://www.sparringmind.com/music-productivity/
    5. How silence can help your productivity, Chris Edgar, Productive! Magazine, http://productivemag.com/8/how-silence-can-help-your-productivity
    6. The Power of Silence, Belle B. Cooper, Zapier, https://zapier.com/blog/silence-health-productivity/

    Toward Alcohol Abstinence

    My student days are gone. Boozing isn’t as fun as it used to be. I’m barely drinking alcohol anymore.

    The exhilarating thing about alcohol is the social experience, how it changes your perception of reality. You are still you, but your brain acts differently. This dissociation scares most people because they don’t like this apparent loss of control, or as Tom Waits puts it, reality is just a crutch for people who can’t handle drugs. I’m a hacker at heart, it fascinates me.

    People who drink have a tendency for self-deprecating humor, which I adore because it’s a sign of strength, self-confidence, and easy-going nature. I don’t think I could trust someone who never tried drinking once, except if it’s because of religious beliefs.

    I come from France. Drinking is part of our culture. Not drinking can appear as odd. I was less than 10 when I tasted wine for the first time. I like it from time to time, but overall, I’m not a regular consumer, which begs the question of quitting alcohol altogether.

    The first problem I have with alcohol is the industry, which is among the worst industries on Earth along with the tobacco industry. I don’t want to give money to these people. I don’t mind buying some wine or some beer from a local establishment, but I absolutely hate buying from generic brands in bars and supermarkets.

    My second concern is about the costs of consuming alcohol. People spend an incredible amount of money in booze, which is not only bad for your health and your purse, but also for your ability to think and grow. Some alcohols have health benefits in small quantities, but we drink way too much, which ends up being counter-productive.

    Alcohol probably has some virtues. It used to be a way to communicate with gods, to celebrate spiritual events, to bright up social gatherings and get people closer together. Nowadays, it’s mostly about escapism. I can’t tell people what to do, but I can act.

    Maybe I’m just getting old and boring, but I look forward to the day where I’ll bring my tea bags to parties.

    Bucharest Retreat - Micro-habits program

    Writing down a daily program never worked for me. I always fall off the wagon after a week or two, because I can be lazy. That being said, I want to try again. I’m better prepared this time: my reason is important, I have people I am accountable to, and I need this discipline to grow.

    6:00 - Wake up and start coding something with some music on

    6:30 - Bodyweight training + stretching + diaphragmatic breathing + shower

    7:30 - Breakfast + podcast/video (if tired, just practice mindfulness without multitasking)

    8:00 - Free writing

    9:00 - Ship at least one commit to the code base

    12:00 - Lunch + podcast/video (if tired, just practice mindfulness without multitasking)

    12:30 - Get groceries while listening to a podcast + break/nap

    13:30 - Eye training + typing training + hand-eye coordination training + Duolinguo lesson

    14:30 - Growth work (marketing and/or by-products creation)

    18:00 - Guided Meditation

    18:20 - Start preparing the chankonabe

    19:00 - Dinner + podcast/video (if tired, just practice mindfulness without multitasking)

    20:30 - Reading on an e-reader

    22:00 - Sleep

    This schedule is obviously non-exhaustive. It’s going to change depending on my inspiration, but it describes a workday.

    I’ll probably need a routine break one or two days per week, which I’ll use to go out and socialize.

    Mornings are for focused practice (body, writing, programming): no cell phone, no social media, no messaging, no emails. Afternoons are dedicated to marketing activities and by-products development. Evenings are spent eating (see mass gain program) regular food or food for thought.

    Eight hours of sleep, cut on reading time and have a nap in the afternoon if needed.

    I hesitated a long time between joining a gym and just doing body weight/resistance band exercises, and just decided to allocate more time to other activities by going for the latter (no time spent commuting, changing clothes, and waiting in line for an equipment).

    From 12:00 to 14:30 I’ll try to spend as much time as I can outside to get some sun and fresh air. There is a nice park near my apartment, might as well use it.

    In theory it’s a 9h30 workday minimum, but I’ll iterate over this schedule depending on the optimizations I can identify.

    Adapted sumo dieting for weight gain

    I’m getting back to weightlifting today as soon as I reach my hometown, and I’ve already identified potential gyms to join in Bucharest. Naturally, having a workout routine comes in pair with an appropriate diet.

    I never had trouble losing weight, quite the contrary: I have tremendous difficulties to gain mass. I hate the idea of wasting hours of my time eating like a pig to gain muscles.

    There is no shortcut though: if you want to grow bigger, you have to feed yourself accordingly. I need high quality food, quick and easy to cook in bulk, at a cheap price. Chicken rice with broccoli is the traditional bodybuilder staple, but I just don’t want to eat this boring depressing meal every day. That’s how I started researching the topic of dieting for mass gain.

    My first question was pretty straightforward: who are the athletes I can emulate to gain weight? The answer was quite obvious to me: sumo wrestlers.

    Sumo originates from the 16th century. All of their wisdom regarding diet is the result of centuries of practice: there has to be something to learn from it.

    A sumo practitioner eats about 20k calories per day. The sumo diet is a form of intermittent fasting: no breakfast, two meals a day, morning training. The meal associated with the sport is chankonabe, a Japanese stew (hot pot). Sumotori eat chankonabe in vast quantities, accompanied with beer. It’s full of proteins and vegetables. Rice and noodles are incorporated to increase the caloric intake. There is no unique recipe, the ingredients depending on the sumo stable, the wrestler’s preferences, and the seasons.

    Without going as far as eating 10 times the commonly suggested caloric intake, we can adapt this hot pot diet to mass gain in weightlifting.

    The first issue with this diet is the use of empty calories, directly stored as fat: beer. Unlike a sumo wrestler, a weightlifter aims for lean mass so we can’t afford to consume beer.

    The second issue is how the massive food intake can impact productivity during the day. If I eat too much during lunch, I feel sleepy. Sumotori use to nap/sleep after each meal. I’m lucky my schedule allows it, but this is not something everyone can do. Intermittent fasting also naturally decreases your metabolism so you tend to overeat and store fat more easily.

    The last issue is the lack of ingredients. If you don’t live in Japan, you must adapt the recipe to your local ingredients. Fortunately, hot pots are not specific to Japan and you can make your own with a tad of imagination.

    Owing to the previous points, I came up with the following program:

    • 3 meals a day: one big breakfast two hours after waking up and after working out, one light power packing lunch, one hot pot dinner.
    • Breakfast: eggs, a slice of bread, banana, oatmeal with yogurt
    • Go to the supermarket right after breakfast to avoid cravings
    • Lunch: nuts, dried fruits, tuna, peanut butter with bread, regular fruits, salad
    • Dinner: all-you-can-eat hotpot with whatever you find at the supermarket, with lots of proteins, vegetables, and noodles/rice

    The advantages:

    1. All those meals take literally no time to cook, it’s just ready to eat or ready to add in the hotpot.
    2. It’s cheap. Not very time-consuming (time is money) and the ingredients are easy to acquire. If your budget is tight, you can replace meat/fish with more plant-based ingredients (beans, tofu, coral lentils, peas, etc.) or eggs. Just add them in the hotpot and it’s ready. Most of the staples can be bought in bulk and stored for later consumption.
    3. It’s flexible. You can adapt the meals to the seasons and what’s available near you.
    4. It does the job to increase your weight. Working out right before breakfast triggers hunger and takes advantage of post-workout nutrition mechanisms.
    5. It won’t slow you down. As a professional, productivity is of utmost importance, but weight gain is time-consuming. The aforementioned program is adapted to my energy levels throughout the day to prevent my diet from working against me.

    I’ll start the program on September the 5th once I reach Bucharest. Excited to log my progress.

    Training Routine for Programmer - Part 2

    In part 1 I’m discussing why I need to develop a training routine to become a better programmer. Part 2 is a draft containing notes describing solutions to the identified problems. Part 3 will be about defining micro-habits to perform on a daily basis.

    I. General Hygiene

    1. Equipment

    An Ergonomic Workstation helps prevent health issues:

    A) Increase your exposure to natural light, decrease night time work to avoid relying on artificial light sources.
    B) Sit on a comfortable chair with lumbar support and made of an airy fabric (no leather or hard surface, which tends to heat you up).
    C) Ergonomic keyboard and mouse reachable without stretching, no more than 20 degrees between your forearms and your tools.
    D) Ventilate your room.
    E) Screen positioned 50 cm from your eyes. Center of the monitor 20 degrees below eye level.

    2. Breaks

    A) Stand up and stretch every half-hour.
    B) Walk outside every three hours.
    C) Have lunch outside.
    D) Use a mindfulness bell.
    E) The 20/20/20 rule: after 20 minutes of computer work, look at an object about 20 feet away for about 20 seconds

    3. Evening routine

    A) Remove screens two hours before bed.
    B) Use an e-reader to read and take notes using a pen and a notebook.

    4. Proper diet

    A) Remove caffeine intake
    B) Fruits and nuts over junk snacks
    C) Plant-based diet

    5. Proper sleep hygiene

    A) Early afternoon nap if needed
    B) Go to bed when your body says so

    6. Social routine

    A) Go out to meet new people
    B) Call loved ones

    II. Conditioning

    1. Free weight exercise

    A) One hour after waking up.
    B) Program: StrongLifts 5x5
    C) Stretching
    D) Diaphragmatic breathing

    2. Typing exercises

    A) Practice typing on keybr.com

    3. Eye exercises

    A) Focus change, near and far focus, figure eight [4]
    B) Palming, blinking, zooming, shifting [5]
    C) The long swing, looking into the distance, exploring the periphery, sunning and skying [6]
    D) Peripheral vision training (sticks and straw exercise) [7]

    4. Hand-Eye Coordination

    A) Switching focus, play catch, juggle [8]

    5. Memory

    A) Learn the keyboard shortcuts of the Atom editor by heart, review every day
    B) Learn the keyboard shortcuts of the Kubuntu desktop by heart, review every day
    C) Read, take notes, convert them to mind-maps and memorize them
    D) Practice a foreign language every day and memorize 5 words/expressions per day
    E) Unplug the mouse, use only your keyboard (you only need a mouse when doing graphic design)

    6. Focus

    A) 10 minutes of seated meditation per day

    Bibliography

    1. The sacrifices we make to our health as programmers, Yoni Weisbrod, Hackernoon
    2. 10 Major Health Concerns For IT Professionals, Crisp360 Editors, Business Insider
    3. How to be a Healthy Programmer, Blazej Kosmowski, Selleo
    4. Eyes Exercises, Corinne O’Keefe Osborn, healthline
    5. Eye Exercises to Improve Eyesight, HDFCHealth
    6. 4 Powerful Eye Exercises for Rapidly Improving your Vision, Meir Schneider, Conscious Lifestyle Magazine
    7. Exercise Your Eyes to Increase Peripheral Vision for Athletics, Dr. Larry Lampert, Stack
    8. 3 Great Exercises To Improve Hand-Eye Coordination, Chiraine Rosina, We are Basket

    Training Routine for Programmers

    Heavily influenced by the way pianists exercise, I’m doing some research on how to become a better programmer by developing a training regimen.

    Exercising is a crucial part of a good work/life balance. Programming time is mainly spent hammering a keyboard: it’s a sedentary life with little physical movements.

    Bad physical health is synonym with heart disease, thrombosis, and cancer. More specifically, programming is associated with carpal tunnel syndrome (bad wrist posture), vitamin D deficiency (lack of sun exposure), bacterial infections (unkempt keyboards), stress (software development is stressful: crisis management, deadline pressure, computer usage), insomnia (blue light exposure), lower back pain (bad posture), and neck/eye strain (badly adjusted chair and monitor)

    Up until now, I never really thought about my health as a software engineer. I work out from time to time because I like the hormonal rush. What if I could align my workout routine with my aspirations as a maker? I’m pretty sure this would finally be a great reason for me to stay consistent with my visits to the gym.

    I’m going to write some notes on how I plan to help prevent the aforementioned health issues and improve my programming skills. From there I’ll establish a series of micro-habits I’ll follow over the next few months. If you’d like to tag along, maybe we can try to experiment with this regimen together.

    Hackers and Pianists

    Back in high school, I had a crush on this incredibly smart girl whose parents emigrated from Maghreb. We were the two top students in our classroom, but her grades were slightly ahead of me. Up until 9th grade, I used to be the major of my promotion. Finding someone who could be me at this game was intriguing, I wanted to know more about her. Naïvely, I tried to engage with her by asking for book recommendations, and a few months later I confessed my admiration for her. I received a big fat No and moved on with my life, but I got to read two great books: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and Body and Soul by Frank Conroy. Body and Soul is an apprenticeship novel featuring Claude Rawlings, a piano prodigy. We follow the character throughout childhood, his harsh training to become a pianist under the wings of several maestros, up until adulthood.

    One detail that particularly struck me is how he trains his body to increase his technical proficiency. Professional pianists follow an ”off-bench” workout routine to develop their upper-body, balance, and hand-eye coordination. It’s part of the art.

    I was dating a Saigonese girl I met on Tinder the other day, and she asked me if I played the piano. My fingers are long and thin, so she assumed I might be playing the piano. I just answered I’m a laptopianist. A few moments later, a thought started emerging: can I become a better programmer if I were to train like a pianist?

    Playing the piano is a lot like programming. You need hand-eye coordination, muscle memory, swift hands trained to withstand long hours of work, and good typing skills. If you do not take care of your body, you cannot perform at full capacity.

    I wonder if I can come up with a training regimen to increase my productivity, targeting specifically the aforementioned skills. It’s quite usual for professionals to increase their typing speed (WPM/CPM-based typing tests), but what about the other areas? Let’s see.

    Accelerating

    Summer is coming to an end. Experimenting time is over and I’m wrapping up three new projects. It’s time to leave Vietnam, come back to France, and say goodbye to my family to seclude myself in a new land.

    This Autumn will be harsh. I’ll run out of savings in a years time, I have to focus on growth. One thing you learn by playing sports: growth results from a healthy amount of stress balanced with rest. My plan for the following months is to settle down in a city in Eastern Europe to live, work, and meditate by myself.

    I want to operate a breakthrough before the start of the Christmas holidays, which is about a hundred and twenty days from now on. This breakthrough is called Product/Market fit, and it’s going to take a lot of work. It’s time to accelerate. Time to ship more, to write more, to talk more, to be more.

    I’ve been a full-time digital nomad for more than a year now. I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m currently looking for a quiet Airbnb studio with Wi-Fi, a kitchen, a washing machine, and a gym nearby. A $500 rent top, no shared facilities. I’ll just take the simplest apartment I can find, with the best Internet speed. I wanted to go to Istanbul, but Romania appears as a better option: already been there, among the very best telecom infrastructure in Europe, and cheap living costs.

    The idea I want to follow is simple: I can force my luck by increasing my iteration speed. To do that, I need an environment where I can spend long hours focusing on my work. I also need a place where I can unwind and rest as easily without any unnecessary distraction - draining people, mindless consumption, hot temperatures.

    I’ll explain my framework and the operational steps I’m taking in a future post. Will you become my accountability partner?

    One little thing

    We all need side-projects, it’s how we build skills, and thus, how we grow. By definition, a project is time-bound: the quicker you make progress, the higher the probability you’ll deliver.

    Launching a project’s deliverable is hard. Easier than ensuring the actual success of the outcome, but still full of obstacles.

    It took me six months to deliver my first project - a server monitoring product. The second one, a conversational chatbot, took six months as well. My third product, three months. My fourth, one month. Then came 200 Words a Day, released as a minimum viable product in two days. Testimonials Wall took a week.

    My time-to-delivery considerably decreased over the months, and the most successful product I ever made took the least amount of time to launch. The quicker you launch, the better.

    There is no hidden secret: if you want to finish something of a significant size, work on it a bit every day. Launch deliverables as early as possible to get real-life feedback.

    Even when you’re not motivated or you don’t feel like you have time, find a little something to do. There is always a 5-minute task to get done. Even if it ain’t much, you showed up. You earned the right to call it a day.

    It’s not about how much you do, it’s about consistency. These days, I’m working on four projects at the same time. Doing one little thing every day is definitely how I’m gonna pull it off.

    The 4 Hour Rule

    I noticed the first four hours I spend at work hold 80% of the value I deliver daily. According to Cal Newport’s Deep Work, four hours is how long we can get into deep work in one productive day, which ties in my previous statement.

    If I want to have an optimal day at work, I have to complete my most important tasks during the first four hours. No Youtube, no music, no mindless browsing, no one to disturb me, only focused work. I call it my 4 Hour Rule.

    I now have five micro-habits I need to get done to consider it a day: writing 200 words, reading enough to deliver 200 words in notes, push one commit to my code base, answer all support requests, and send a personal email to five users about how to improve 200 Words a Day.

    I wake up, I sit down at the computer with a cup of coffee and I start getting those five things done as quickly as possible. It’s a race against time, there is none to lose during those four hours.

    I can take it slower once the time is up. In a sense, my work day is four hour long. That’s how I’m able to not take days off in my delivery schedule without burning out.

    The number 4 is considered bad luck in China, maybe I should make it 3 instead?

    Unit of Life

    Let’s break down a day, shall we?

    You have 24 hours. Eight hours to sleep. Eight hours to work. You are probably spending three hours a day to cook and eat, and another two to commute. One hour top to shower and put on some clothes. You are left with two hours of free time.

    One third of your life is spent sleeping, another third is spent working.

    Time flies. There is no time to loose doing a job you don’t like. It’s common advice, but I don’t think we correctly weigh the impact staying in a terrible professional situation has on us: ”Just another month, just another year, then I’ll leave!“.

    You don’t know what self-love is until you learn to respect your own time.

    Now, let’s imagine I’m a productivity freak and I wonder how many hours I can work per day if I have the right environment without losing my sanity.

    I can remove half an hour of sleep by becoming a biphasic sleeper: one core sleep of five to seven hours and a nap of half an hour. If I move to South-East Asia, I remove the need to cook - healthy street food being available everywhere. I just need to spend an hour to grab it and eat. I can listen to a podcast or watch a lecture at the same time. Since I work remotely, I don’t need to commute. I add an hour to work out or do some cardio. I don’t need to spend time choosing an outfit (minimalist garderobe) and I can have a cold shower in ten minutes.

    Consequently, I can find a way to be somehow productive for 16 hours a day. 2 hours spent multi-tasking, but 14 hours that can be dedicated to deep work. If you have a full-time job, that’s still 6 hours left to hustle.

    Of course, this kind of work day is not sustainable seven days a week. You still need to have room for socializing and spending time with your family. You need time to daydream, relax, and celebrate. All I’m saying is you can always find time to do the things you really want to do. Not having time is merely an excuse.

    On Momentum

    Cal Newport proposes in Deep Work the following formula:

    work accomplished = time spent X intensity

    I think it’s a spot-on analysis: you can’t do your best work while multi-tasking or constantly switching between cognitive contexts.

    The formula also mirrors the definition of momentum, which is equal to the mass of an object times its velocity. The more momentum an object has, the harder it is to stop.

    In terms of work, however, momentum has an upper limit, it’s more of a Gaussian function: momentum is hard to accumulate in the beginning, and gradually fades away after reaching peak productivity (flow). Reaching peak velocity causes you to lose mass.

    Working on your productivity is basically training to quickly gain cognitive momentum while keeping your state of flow constant and stopping willingly right before will power starts dropping (taking a break). In other words, your inner Gaussian function slowly takes the shape of a plateau.

    I can’t teach you how to do it since everyone is different, but once again, it’s just a matter of habits.

    I get into momentum by starting my day with small urgent tasks, before moving on to more important ones. I don’t count my hours but I do listen to what my body tells me. If I feel sluggish I just take a break. I always reward myself when I accomplish something, by logging my tasks for everyone to see for example, or by having a snack.

    What I do outside of work is equally important. I remove distractions, and I don’t hesitate to spend time day-dreaming.

    Just do or don’t do, there is no in-between.

    On Focus

    Action movies are one of my guilty pleasures. The John Wick film series is a notable example. I like Keanu Reeves, and I like the fight choregraphy. The plot is not deep, but it’s entertaining. Who doesn’t like a stylized vendetta?

    The character of John Wick gave me food for thought in one aspect: he is the best at what he does - killing people. The reason why he is so good is simply stated by the main antagonist of the first movie: ”John is a man of focus, commitment, sheer will… something you know very little about.

    Focus is a superpower that will make you the best at what you do. It’s an interesting statement.

    Focus has always been my secret sauce. I am not particularly talented, but I can focus on something for as long as I want. It’s an important meta-skill to develop memorization or consistency for example.

    My parents always told me throughout my childhood I had the ability to “enter my own bubble” while doing my homework. I just used to get in the flow more easily than my comrades.

    I kinda lost this ability after entering college - too much friends and partying - but after reading Deep Work by Cal Newport I started working on my attention. Focus is a skill, so it can be trained.

    Being obsessed is a quality most successful entrepreneurs share. It’s good, as long as it doesn’t create a lack of peripheral vision.

    Being focused must be balanced by time for reflection, time to see the global picture. Part of developing your inner focus lens is an ability to zoom in and out.

    Do Not Eat the Snake

    You know the expression “Eat the frog”? Well, it’s a bad figure of speech. Frogs are actually delicious. It’s a delicacy you can find in France for example. I don’t like eating frogs though, the cooking process is too cruel. Frog legs are torn apart from the living creature to keep the taste intact. It’s kinda similar to how we boil lobsters alive.

    Anyways, I ate some snake yesterday evening. “Eat the snake” would be a more suitable metaphor. It tastes a bit like liver, but the flavor is not as strong. It has a ferrous taste which I’m not particularly fond of.

    Eating the frog is a time management metaphor meaning you should be doing the hardest thing first. The important one you want to avoid, usually. I don’t follow this principle because I don’t like being rushed. I need to warm up. I need a quick win before climbing the mountain.

    Call me a spoiled brat, I don’t care. Isn’t it better to begin the day with some positivity, to start it off on the right foot? I won’t eat the snake first thing in the morning. My mood is incredibly bad right after waking up. Never try to talk to me while I’m still sleepy. Why would I make it worse by eating weird animals then?

    From Sleep to Growth

    I was expelled from engineering school at 18. It was a traumatic event, my grades were bad. I needed to develop a method to learn more and better. I started reading about sleep.

    My thought process was quite simplistic at the time: I needed more time during the day, so I wanted to figure out a way to do more of what matters and less of what doesn’t.

    Sleep accounts for one-third of our lives. You can’t do anything when you’re sleeping. It doesn’t mean sleep is useless, but I wanted to find a way to cut down on sleep.

    Retrospectively, it was quite a terrible idea. Sleep is one of the three pillars of health. However, terrible ideas usually prove themselves to be great experiences - if you manage to follow through without getting yourself killed.

    I started with polyphasic sleep, more specifically, an Uberman Sleep Schedule: you sleep for two hours by taking 20-minute naps spaced equidistantly throughout the day. I never managed to get used to it and gave up after a few days. Monophasic sleep is part of our culture, it was just not socially sustainable to take a nap every four hours. The adaptation period was also too much of a productivity drop for me.

    Then I tried biphasic sleep (Siesta sleep schedule). It was an on-and-off relationship, but I was quite happy with the results. You sleep between 5 and 6 hours at nighttime and you have a 20-minute nap when the afternoon starts. Power naps are incredibly useful for creative workers: increased memory, increased alertness, relaxing effect… the benefits are many. Eventually, I had to revert back to my previous monophasic sleep pattern.

    I used the following years to learn more about how to make the most of my waking hours, instead of simply wanting to have more hours. Quality, over quality. I learned a lot, and now it’s time for me to try again this biphasic sleep thing.

    That’s how my curiosity about sleep led me to read about personal growth.

    No Coffee

    It’s part of the programmer cliché to love coffee. I do too, I crave for its stimulating effects. I drink between one and three cups of Americano every day - a double espresso with a lot of water and some brown sugar.

    But today is not one of these days, I’m progressively reducing my caffeine intake to zero. The reason is quite simple: I want to get back in a biphasic sleep pattern.

    It might appear paradoxical to cut down on caffeine because tea and coffee boost your metabolism to reduce fatigue. However, they’re also disrupting your circadian cycle, by definition. Since my new sleep pattern relies on a nap during the afternoon, I can’t afford to consume any form of caffeine.

    I don’t need to rely on caffeine to increase my energy levels, I can get the same effect through more natural means: exercise, meditation, diet, and quality sleep.

    Removing my coffee intake is also removing most of my refined sugar intake, which is obviously a good thing for my health.

    For now, I’m switching from coffee to green tea to reduce the withdrawal symptoms, and in two weeks I will completely stop my daily caffeine consumption.

    It didn’t start well yesterday. I woke up, made myself some tea, and drank it directly without having eaten beforehand. The tea was so strong I almost threw up, way to go! I’m looking forward to the headaches.

    Biphasic Sleep

    In less than a month I’m going to Vietnam for a period of three months. It’s the hottest period of the year, which is why it’s not uncommon for locals to adopt a biphasic sleep schedule - to sleep a few hours during the freshest moments of the night and to have a nap after lunch.

    I want to get back to a biphasic sleep pattern myself. I will be forced to anyway once I arrive in Vietnam, for productivity purposes.

    I need a lot of sleep at night, which I confirmed throughout years of experimenting with my sleep schedule. Just going to sleep without putting an alarm on and noting down how many hours you slept tells you about the amount of time your body needs in order to heal. I need either seven or nine hours to feel rested myself, which makes sense since the duration of a sleep cycle is about 90 minutes.

    It’s not uncommon for me to wake up in the middle of the night or to feel like having a nap after lunch. I have the strong intuition my body is naturally inclined toward a biphasic sleep pattern, but it’s hard to develop a new sleep pattern when you have a schedule to refer yourself to. I mean, who does a nap at his office, right? It’s badly perceived by society.

    Fortunately, I’m no longer bound to a specific schedule, therefore I am free to do whatever it takes to settle in this new habit.

    Tomorrow I will write about how I’m planning to adapt, wish me luck.

    What to Read?

    There isn’t enough time in one life to read every book, even more so to read everything on the Internet. The amount of information is infinite when you compare it to our time on Earth: Google needs 2TB to store every book ever published, but we produce this amount of data more than a million times every single day.

    It’s a fact we can’t read everything and time is precious, we have to choose our readings with care.

    We can’t solely rely on others to tell us what to read: reading must remain liberating, not dogmatic. It’s important to develop your own judgment.

    Instead, we should do our own research, meaning, we should pursue our own questions, our own needs. We are all looking for something in our lives: some people read to be entertained, others want to improve their lives, to receive a vision of beauty, or just out of boredom. We do everything for a reason, consciously or not. Learning about our needs is the first step toward a great learning experience.

    We can’t be purely problem-driven, it’s important to leave room for curiosity, for the unexpected reading materials we always end up stumbling upon here and there. Rabbit holes can be enlightening experiences.

    Sometimes, picking a book reveals itself to be a mistake, the interest quickly fades away. Just close the damn book and jump on the next one, you were not ready.

    Workout Routine

    I tried several workout programs over the last six years.

    My favorite program is based on weight-lifting exercises. I like free weights because sessions are short, efficient, and straight-forward. Short sessions easily fit in a day, the endorphin high is extremely valuable to my work. A combination of squats, dead-lifts, barbell rows, overhead presses, and bench presses cover every muscle of your body.

    Living as a digital nomad, I am also forced to adapt to my surroundings: I can’t always get access to a gym, and I can’t always do the same exercises depending on the pieces of furniture available in the places I rent. Body-weight programs are longer yet minimalist. Pull-ups, squats, and push-ups are incredibly versatile. The learning curve is also lower than barbell-based exercises.

    In both cases, sticking to a workout routine is not trivial. To avoid this problem I just set a simple rule for myself: DO IT EVERY DAY. I’m not saying you should hit the gym at 100% intensity every day, but it’s easier to stick when you remove all means of escape: split routine for the win!

    Stretching is another thing you might want to do every day. It’s good for your health, and good for your mood. It also forces you to have a quick warm-up right before: more exercise can’t be bad.

    Not Enough Time

    My grandma died when I was 11. Being confronted by your own mortality changes you, it makes you aware of how finite time is, of how invaluable it is. Being careful about it is only self-respect.

    That’s probably when I started obsessing over my own time. I try to stick to the mantra “impatient with impactful actions, yet patient with results”, to roughly quote Naval Ravikant, but no matter of much work I put in, I never feel productive enough. This is a common occurrence among entrepreneurs I suppose. The feeling creeps on you in the middle of the day when you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work, or during the evening when you are trying to relax. No day in the world ever returns, and we all want to make the best of it.

    How do we fight this lingering emotion? We can accept it, or we can rebel.

    Rebelling against this reality is probably counter-productive: we only end up beating ourselves up.

    At 18, I tried to sleep for four hours a day (see Uberman sleep pattern). There were so many things I wanted to do, yet never enough time: changing my sleep pattern appeared as an obvious solution. I never managed to balance it with my life as a student because it implied to not drink coffee and to stick to a fixed sleep schedule.

    Then I tried sleeping for six hours per night while enjoying a 20-minute nap at lunch (Siesta sleeping schedule). It worked much better, but life went on and I eventually reverted back to a regular eight-hour night.

    During the daytime, I would micro-manage my schedule by dividing it into half-hours. I integrated Pomodoro techniques to get the most of my working hours. I would practice bulk-cooking to save more time. I applied Pareto’s principle and prioritization frameworks whenever I could.

    Now I tend to believe I am pretty good at time management. But ultimately I also discovered that time is relative: no matter how much time you save, if you don’t use it wisely, all the time-saving strategies in the world are useless.

    What really matter is how focused you are on the task at hand. In Buddhist terms, if you are living in the moment. The deeper you go, the more you can compress time and make the most value out of it. We can only learn to accept the past to better navigate now, and the day after. As Seneca puts it: “it is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it”. This is the mistake I got to learn over the past year: it doesn’t matter how much time you spend in total, what matters is how you use it.

    Nowadays I am working on freeing myself from schedules to learn more about my own circadian cycle. I establish micro-routines to enter a creative flow that will help me reach the ultimate goal of my life: the mastery of my craft because a life well spent is a life lived with duty and purpose.

    On the other hand, I have to learn to be generous with my time. Many people practice busyness, the contrary of productivity. Busyness is filling out time. Productivity is working toward something meaningful. Spending time with my family and friends is productive. Partying or having a cold one with the boys is productive in a sense. A few minutes spent sipping tea is an opportunity to empty the mind.

    This is why regular introspective work is so important, why writing matters: an individual living in fear has no room for growth. Fear has to be channeled. We have to trust the process, we have to believe the future will be fine if we show up every day. Not doing enough on a given day does not matter, what does is how we increase our momentum one spin at a time. It is this momentum that will ultimately lead to ever higher heights. All it takes is a little push - as frequently as possible.

    That is how my grand-mother taught me how to not waste time, but I still have so much to learn. I regularly come back to Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life to remind myself of this fact.

    Not enough time

    No matter of much work I put in, I never feel productive enough. This is a common occurrence among entrepreneurs I suppose. The feeling creeps on you in the middle of the day when you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work, or during the evening when you are trying to relax. After all, no day in the world ever returns, and we all want to make the best of our time.

    How do we fight this lingering emotion? We can accept it, or we can rebel.

    Rebelling against this reality is probably counter-productive, because it is beating ourselves up. We can only accept the past to better navigate now, and the day after.

    This is why regular introspective work is so important, why writing matters: an individual living in fear has no room for growth. Fear has to be channeled. We have to trust the process, we have to believe the future will be fine if we show up every day. Not doing enough on a given day does not matter, what does is how we increase our momentum one spin at a time. It is this momentum that will ultimately lead to ever higher heights. All it takes is a little push - as frequently as possible.

    On Procrastination

    There are days where you feel like doing nothing, where the desire for nothingness is so strong your brain jumps on any distraction it can find.

    Today is one of these days for me.

    I feel like running away. Fortunately, I know overcoming procrastination is pretty straight forward. You can either go through the day and try to be productive amidst the busyness, or temporarily retreat. I choose the latter.

    You can’t always force yourself to sit still and put in the work, but you must at least try. When I know for sure my state of mind isn’t right, I retreat, I do something else to reignite the flame.

    Going offline helps me a lot. Cleaning my room and exercising rarely fail to rejuvenate me. Interestingly, both are a form of meditation. Fighting procrastination really is about regaining your focus, regaining mindfulness.

    Guilt is not needed, fear has no reason to last. Resistance is at its strongest when your mind is clouded with emotions. It’s not uncommon to see creators taking refuge in drugs, sex, or similar self-destructive behaviors when the emotions are too loud to be ignored. A sustainable creative process involves detachment: detachment from ideas, emotions, schedules, dehumanizing routines…

    You can’t lit a nice fireplace without proper sweeping.

    Minimalist Project Management

    My workflow is pretty simple: I write everything down. Sometimes in blog posts or in tweets, mostly in logging applications and lists. I know everything I’ve delivered over the past 160 days up to the minute.

    At the operational level, my to-do lists are centralized in different Trello boards. One per project, including 200WaD. Most boards are organized in a Kanban fashion (to do/on-going/done).

    Project management is an effort at improving organizational communication flows. Communication is both cause and consequence.

    All the feedback I receive from my stakeholders through email, Telegram, Slack, or Twitter is logged in to-do lists along with a username so that I can follow-up on them once I deliver.

    Every task you accomplish in your day-to-day work is an opportunity to share. This is why I log everything across different applications: Makerlog for real-time logging, Twitter for daily reports, Trello for public accountability, and Github for collaborative work.

    Transparency and consistency are the pillars of efficient communication because they generate trust: project management resources must stay easily accessible, dead simple, and regularly updated. I have no sophisticated quality process, only an artisan’s mindset.

    There is no strategic level either, at least for now. Only a quest for better products.

    Building my own gym

    Two days ago I received the opportunity to acquire some unused weightlifting equipment from an uncle for free: a weight bench, a curl bar, and some free weights. I just had to buy an Olympic barbell to get started.

    I always found gyms to be overly expensive and inconvenient. Most people join one to improve their health, so it’s important to remove the barriers to entry. You don’t need complex machines or long cardio workouts to get this done: a barbell and some free weights in your garage do wonders.

    As long as you do not lift too heavy, you can buy cheap equipment for less than $100 bucks. Those are perfect for a casual physical maintenance routine.

    Security is the only thing you must be extra careful with. The first step toward a safe workout environment is to learn proper form and proper breathing, so get a mirror or record yourself to adjust the position of your body: squats, deadlifts, overhead press, barbell row, and bench press are the only exercises you need to get started with an efficient workout program.

    When your muscles get sore there is a non-negligible probability you will drop the weight, so you need a safety net to prevent any harm. A squat rack is a great investment. I use two adjustable trestles in parallel to the same effect.

    I started learning weightlifting two years ago back in Stockholm. Most residential apartments have a shared gym (including a sauna) so I took the opportunity to learn. The results were much more impactful than my traditional bodyweight exercise. I stopped at about 132lb (60kg) in squat weight, which was 10 times what I was capable of when I began.

    Having your own gym is a great investment in your health: $50 monthly subscription vs $500 bucks top to gather the initial pieces of equipment (bench + trestles + free weights + Olympic barbell). It is also the surest way you do not miss a single session since there is literally no excuse to skip your visit to the gym: no waiting time, no queue, no crowd of flexing gym rats, no Instagrammers, no commuting… just you and the iron meditation, so make your own gym!

    Disconnected

    I graduated as a Telecom engineer, and yet I am barely connected. A data plan is a huge distraction, I have no need for it.

    I installed four apps on my phone. All are muted. Three of them are social - Whatsapp, Telegram, and Instagram - I downloaded them because it was the only way to use the desktop version. The fourth one is Calm, to help with my meditation routine.

    Whenever I travel and I need a map, I use a screenshot or I just draw the directions on a piece of paper. Sometimes I get lost and I need to ask locals for directions. It’s quite an adventure, an attempt at re-enchanting the world. And a great way to develop your sense of direction.

    I only use my phone on four occasions: to wake myself up (alarm clock), to take notes, to show important papers (tickets, ID cards, etc.), and to actually phone/text people. And sometimes to take selfies with friends. The rest can wait.

    Listening to a podcast? I download everything in a dedicated MP3 player. Reading? Ebook reader. Photography? Hybrid camera. My phone is in plane mode for about 23 hours a day.

    If you believe you have to stay connected 24/7 “for work”, well, you have to educate your customers on the wonders of asynchronous communication. Efficient phone calls are like efficient meetings: short, planned, and straight to the point. Prefer video calls for ice breakers.

    Switching off your phone is respecting your time, and thus yourself. People can wait. If you work, just work. If you meet someone, focus on the conversation. I am extremely annoyed when I meet a friend or go on a date only to see someone stuck on a phone screen. There is a time for everything, and multi-tasking is the surest way to accomplish nothing.

    Attention span, deep work, living in the present… going phoneless for the majority of the day is probably the most impactful habit you can implement right now.

    I only spend about five bucks a month in connectivity costs with a cheap unlocked Samsung.

    New Personal Growth Framework

    Today I finished mapping my new personal growth framework, a mind-map summarizing the links between my professional aspirations and my daily habits. I use it as a reminder: why and how I work. Here is a brief description of the structure:

    - Vision (what I should strive for): Mastery

    - Pillars of growth and resulting habits:

    I. Indie Entrepreneurship

    1. Deep Work
    2. Experimental Mindset: be a prolific creator and attach yourself to problems, not ideas or products
    3. Always Be Sharing: write at least 200 words a day
    4. Constant Learner: read offline, try out new technologies, slow travel
    5. Kaizen: one commit a day

    II. Health is a prerequisite

    1. Diet: flexitarian diet
    2. Cultivate Compassion: meet new cultures through travels, get involved in local or glocal communities, nurture meaningful interactions by consuming less social media to leave room for one-on-ones
    3. Sleep: wake up with the sun and sleep for at least 8 hours a day
    4. Exercise: strength and stretching routine
    5. Practice Mindfulness: walking, biking, or meditation routine

    III. Ramen Profitability

    1. Reduce expenses: by simple living and traveling
    2. Increase income: money is a byproduct of mastery, all I can do is to diversify my sources of income

    One vision, three pillars, no goals, micro-habits only. Let’s see how far I can go over the next 12 months.

    On Work/Life Balance

    The key to personal fulfillment is not work/life balance. Work/life balance implies that work and life are two separate things, which is incorrect. When you go to a job for eight hours a day, your work is a huge part of your life.

    Distinguishing the two leads to escapism. Living for the weekend is undervaluing your very existence.

    We should instead strive for alignment between work and life. Life inspires work and work sustains life.

    I believe the happiest people formulated their own meaning. A vision allowing them to navigate through life. Reaching a vision implies work, a life’s work.

    Is it healthy to dedicate your life to your work? A workaholic has no sense of personal hygiene. A smart worker understands doing your best implies eliminating busyness and taking care of your health while benefiting others, which often results in working less.

    If you want to work 14 hours a day, go for it. You won’t sustain it for long, but at least you will experiment the impact for yourself and thus make some progress toward what matters most.

    Similarly, try working two hours a day. You wish you could do more for others, or at least for yourself.

    A pro shows up to work not because he/she has to, but because not showing up would result in madness.

    Can we live in a world where no one has to work for the sole purpose of paying the bills? That’s a better question.

    Circadian Rythm

    There were times over the last year I would sleep during the day and live during the night. Traveling and having no fixed work schedule messed up my internal clock quite badly and I am now working on getting back to a more regular cycle, meaning a cycle closer to my natural circadian rythm, a sleep/wake cycle of roughly 24 hours coinciding with the daytime/nighttime cycle.

    Our energy levels throughout the day are linked to the sun. We can cheat on them using substances such as caffeine or external stimuli such as artificial lights, but it isn’t how our bodies are programmed by design. Whether you are a night owl or a morning person, we are animals following a circadian rythm.

    Waking up earlier is not just a productivity tip you can read everywhere, it is also more environmental-friendly. Electricity is the second biggest source of CO2 pollution after transportation, and light pollution disrupts both nocturnal and diurnal creatures. Decreasing your dependence on artificial lights makes a lot of sense. Similarly, reducing your exposure to blue lights helps increasing sleep quality, and thus your overall quality of life.

    I am fortunate to have no fixed schedule, therefore I am free to rise and fall with the sun. Every late afternoon I check the dawn time and set my alarm clock to wake up half an hour before it (6:28 AM tomorrow). I go to bed whenever I feel tired at night up to eight hours before my wake up time. This way I ensure I get enough sleep.

    On Digital Minimalism

    Being a starting solopreneur is trading cofounders and employees for time, but also personal growth. Every day, willpower and working hours quickly run out. It appears urgent to do more of what matters, doing less of what doesn’t.

    In this aspect, minimalism is three-dimensional: both physical and intellectual, but also digital. There is a need to undigitize, to automate, or to simply eliminate some aspects of our numerical counterpart.

    I believe deep work to be the root of productivity. I can go deeper into my work by practicing digital minimalism wherever it is relevant.

    Back in Telecom engineering school, I was taught the Internet is simply a network of networks. In a similar fashion, we can consider the Internet is a community of communities. You can try belonging everywhere, but in the end, it’s the surest way to not belong anywhere. Moving out of online communities which do not bring you any form of fulfillment is healthy to you, and thus others. Owing to this point I left Product Hunt Makers to focus on Makerlog and Indie Hackers, and I envision leaving Facebook in favor of Twitter, Instagram, and other communities I’d like to try, such as Venture Cost.

    Facebook easily takes me one hour a day, I’d rather spend it on something else: having a meaningful video call with a friend, reading a book, or creating something new. One hour a day compounds to 3650 hours over ten years - enough to cross some items in your bucket list.

    Social networks benefit to creators first and foremost. This thought inspired me a habit of “Log in to Create”, meaning to visit a given social network with the intention to contribute before beginning to browse and consume a feed.

    Another habit I started taking is offline writing. I wake up, have breakfast, and sit down to my desk to write down my thoughts or document experiences from the day before. I then log in 200WaD for the editing work. I almost forgot how good it feels to hold a pen and materialize thoughts in the world, on a piece of paper. There is no Grammarly to stop the flow of ideas, no tab to distract me. Only the sound of the wind in the trees, the cars crushing the road, and me bleeding ink.

    Personal Growth Framework

    I tweeted yesterday a picture of the mind-map I use as a desktop background describing my personal growth framework: what drives me in my personal growth efforts, and the resulting habits. It’s a small visualization to remind myself of what matters in my professional life. Of course, it’s a simplified representation of reality, but it has the advantage of being quick to browse.

    I’ve been using this mind-map for 2 years now. I drew it in Stockholm after reading Ferris’ 4-Hour Workweek for the second time while attending a lecture on goal-oriented requirement engineering. I decided to mix Ferris’ Definition framework with the GORE methodology used to define software requirements. This month I’m re-evaluating my objectives and habits to formalize them in a new mind-map. This post is a personal reminder about what the mind-map means.

    My purpose is to “become a great software craftsman”, meaning to be really good at building tech products. Robert Greene calls it Mastery. The three main branches of the diagram were my key takeaways from his Mastery book: mastery is about seeking knowledge over money (“it’s not about the money”), technical mastery (“mastery”), and creating your own masterpieces (“innovate”, while keeping the technical excellence aspect).

    If money must be taken out of the equation, you need to reach Financial Independence (“FI”), which is reached by developing a habit of reducing your expenses (to me, by living frugally and traveling to reduce my burn rate) while raising your income (a byproduct of being skillful).

    Technical “mastery” is about being a constant learner and a serial maker, as it’s well known that practice makes perfect. On the other hand, Newport’s Deep Work book taught me that you only do great work when you are doing deep work: productivity, rather than busyness. Shallow work must be automated or delegated.

    Innovation is solving unsolved problems with existing technologies. I came to understand that it’s easier to prioritize problems you understand well, which I summarized by the “my own problems” branch. “Being free”, as in, without mental chains, is a prerequisite to innovation. I tried to describe it in practical terms by identifying 6 “points of freedom”: body (if you are sick you are trapped by your own body), mind (only routine can bring the stability to release my full potential), soul (refuse dogmas, develop independent thinking), time (I need to master my time to make the best of it), space (location-independence as a survival advantage) and money (related to financial independence: mastering money instead of being its slave).

    One thing I want to add for the next update of my personal growth framework is the community/social aspect of my professional life: I cannot do anything by myself. Humans need tribes, thus, I should develop a habit of sharing and paying things forward to bring forth collaboration, resulting in wealth for everyone.

    Classical Music

    I love working while listening to classical music.

    I’m far from being a music critic, to be honest. My father has a small collection of CDs from Baroque and Classical composers. That’s how I got hooked. Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart. Mozart’s Turkish March was the first song I ever listened on repeat on an MP3. I discovered Stanley Kubrick a few years later and my curiosity for the genre got reborn. His use of classical music to highlight events and emotions is astounding. The spectrum of emotions covered by classical composers is massive. Richer than most music produced nowadays. Or maybe, just different?

    When I need a bit of motivation, I just put on Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights.

    Shostakovich’s Waltz n°2 is nostalgia in a song.

    Haendel’s Sarabande is the song of a dying Europe.

    Chopin’s Nocturnes are still my favorite pieces to listen to whenever I want to chill out during night time. During summer, Warsaw organizes free public representations of Chopin in the Łazienki Park. Renowned pianists just come in the park and play the piano. The park gets quiet. Chopin’s statue dominates the scene. The wind in the trees is protesting, but no one cares.

    The music is too splendid.

    100 Days of Shipping on Makerlog: Fighting the Founder Fatigue

    Shipping is fighting Resistance to deliver Value. It’s highly important for makers to develop a shipping habit.

    Habits tap into the unconscious part of the brain so that you don’t have to rely on external motivation. It’s a fundamental mechanism to understand to get things done.

    One common occurrence in entrepreneurship is Founder’s Fatigue. Building a company is not easy. It’s an emotional roller coaster. Some days you feel great, some days it feels like chewing glass and staring at the abyss. You won’t always be at the top of your productivity game. Time will tame your excitement. However, it is your role as a professional to deliver value consistently. That’s where habits come in.

    3 months ago I joined Makerlog, a community centered around a dead-simple task log that helps you stay productive and ship faster. It was made by one awesome dude called Sergio. I started building 200WaD shortly after joining Makerlog. In fact, Makerlog is half of the inspiration for this website, the other one being Medium. I’ve been logging my tasks continuously for 100 days so far, so you can trace the whole development of 200WaD back to its origin.

    I learned valuable lessons along the way, which Makerlog helped me to highlight.

    When I got started as an indie maker, I was an adept of the Ship Sheep Mindset, a variant of hustle porn consisting in ticking off a huge amount of tasks for an extended period of time. I would hustle hard, build one product after the other, and end up tired. My Founder’s Fatigue would take over, my productivity would fluctuate. If you don’t treat your Founder’s Fatigue, you burn out, and burning out is committing startup suicide.

    I do things differently now.

    I apply Kaizen every day. Building a tech product is a marathon. How do you train for a marathon? You don’t do marathons to train for marathons. Instead, you practice your sprint or do interval training: a high-intensity exercise for a short period of time, as regularly as possible. You get better eventually, but you have to do it frequently. Similarly, I do at least one thing for my business every day. It can be writing a short post on 200WaD, marketing, or shipping something, be it a 5min feature or a bug fix. At least one session of deep work every day. At least one sensible thing to log in Makerlog.

    Sometimes it feels like the business is not evolving. You feel stuck. A simple google search will tell you that it’s the same for every entrepreneur at some point. My solution is to adopt a chaos routine: keeping your momentum and excitement going by taking on new challenges as side-projects. These days, for example, I’m working on the website of Alter-Nomad, my upcoming book on modern nomadism. It can be reading a book, try on a new course etc. It doesn’t have to be productive per se. I always have the most fantastic ideas when I’m doing unproductive things. Of course, it’s important to keep on working on your main project. Side-projects should have short deadlines (a week at most). I see many makers jumping from one project to another: it’s not good, it shows a lack of consistency. Inconsistent people can’t sell anything because no one can trust they will maintain the project and do their best to iterate.

    Learning how to ship in a sustainable fashion is hard. How can I evolve over the next hundred days? Let’s see how it goes.

    In the meantime, I want to thank Sergio for the awesome community he gathered and for the work he put in. Makerlog is more than a website, it’s a platform for every doer to be inspired and inspire. I decided to give back to Makerlog by writing this little piece and becoming a patron, but I am still contemplating new ways to contribute to the future of the platform.

    #TogetherWeMake

    Personal Flow State Principles

    This post is an attempt at identifying personal patterns to enter a Flow State. The Flow State is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity (source: Wikipedia).

    Before work:

    1. A strong morning routine
    2. Waking up without an alarm clock
    3. Shower, with a gradual shift from hot to cold water
    4. Ginger Tea + Oregano eggs with slices of bread (my favorite breakfast)
    5. Don’t drink coffee out of habit (anxiety). Drink it because you enjoy it.
    6. No Internet in the first 2 hours of the day.
    7. Dress well. Never go to war without an armor.
    8. Daily objectives
    9. Pick your daily objectives the day before
    10. Identify atomic tasks to validate each objective
    11. Prioritize the objectives (most important first, then the most urgent)
    12. Clean desk
    13. Meditation
    14. Remember the profound reasons why you are about to work
    15. Answer emails, messages, inquiries etc. once (don’t be trapped in an infinite loop of replying/waiting for a reply)

    During work:

    1. Chill music
    2. Plenty of light
    3. Snacks and tea, coffee if needed
    4. Don’t rethink the tasks, just make
    5. Cross the tasks on Trello as they are done (reward, feeling of accomplishment)
    6. Share what is done as soon as possible (reward + accountability, gets you momentum)
    7. Remove distractions (unneeded tabs, desk, empty cups, notifications, chatter)
    8. Don’t multi-task. Pick a task and don’t switch your attention until it’s done.

    After work:

    1. Wander mindlessly, both online and IRL. Don’t strive for productivity.
    2. Consume content (read a book, watch a movie, attend a course etc.)
    3. Chit-chat with your loved ones
    4. Work out
    5. Party hard
    6. Go to sleep whenever you feel tired. Sleep well.

    Kaizen

    Kaizen is the main concept behind 200WaD.

    It’s a Japanese philosophy of self-improvement that can be summed up in one sentence: destinations are reached one step at a time.

    A goal is a journey.

    Let’s pretend you want to climb the Everest. You can do it in one go, or you can stop at every basecamp along the road.

    If you do the former, chances are, you won’t make it to the top.

    If you take the latter path, you might stumble and fall, but you will have the opportunity to adjust and figure out what works best for you. You will also enjoy the road, rather than focusing too much on the destination.

    Those little steps will eventually compound, and culminate into you reaching the top of the world.

    Kaizen acknowledges the fact that no one can tell you how to reach a destination when the only road leading to it is unknown. Similarly, our lives are all different.

    When you break down a goal into manageable chunks, it gets easier to track the progress, see what works and what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly.

    On the contrary, the surest path to failure is to take on too much at once, not being able to process the workload, and thereby commit philosophical suicide.

    It doesn’t mean you should perform at 10% of your capabilities every day as not to wear yourself out.

    It means you should dedicate your full attention to each task to accumulate momentum.

    Do not despair. Results will come, but how can you hope to climb the mountain if you are not capable to stick to a single step every day?

    Back to Exercising

    Finally arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday and got myself a new place to live. It was time to shuffle my routine a bit.

    The main goal over the next two weeks is to release many features and bug fixes for 200WaD while keeping on growing the community.

    Needless to say, it’s going to be an intense period. I need the right habits to support my work, and exercising is one of them. It’s the first time I’m working out over the last 2 months.

    I love sports. France is a football nation. We grow up playing football. I am not good at it and I don’t like watching it on TV or in a stadium, but I’ve always found it fun to play. Playing football during my childhood must be one of the main reasons I like exercising now. The dopamine rush is addictive.

    My years in middle school kind of helped as well. I’ve always had a slim figure and slanting eyes. I used to have long hair. I was the typical nerd who topped his classes. I started studying work out programs quite early out of frustration. I wanted validation and a girlfriend, not verbal abuse and bullying.

    I started with home workout programs (Lafay Method). I kept practicing on and off until college. Mostly off. In college, I joined a gym and did some weightlifting. My year spent in Sweden was the most productive one. I used to wake up at 5AM three times a week and get a good workout (Stronglift 5x5 program) when everyone was still asleep. I hate crowded gyms.

    The thing is, I never managed to persist for more than a month. Every two to four weeks I spend another three doing nothing. It’s a habit I just can’t figure out, yet.

    When you are traveling all the time it doesn’t get easier.

    You have to find a gym which is accessible, not overly expensive and offering one-month memberships. And not crowded as you can’t afford to lose too much time.

    Asian megacity condos typically have a gym and a swimming pool accessible to all its inhabitants, which is nice.

    You can always find a way to work out from your apartment if you rent one, but it’s always hard to replace pull-up bars with an equivalent exercise. Lifting buckets of water, doing broomstick pull-ups between two chairs, lifting pieces of furniture… it’s nice but it’s not super efficient.

    In KL I planned to use the condo’s gym (for pull-ups) and the swimming pool. I’ve already started doing bodyweight exercises: some pistol squats and different sorts of push-ups to get back in shape.

    I made peace with the fact I will never grow big. I don’t like stuffing myself to put on some weight. It’s just not my personality. Growing up I learned to accept my body the way it is, and to use the advantages a slim figure offers me over other body shapes.

    My only motive now is to stay healthy, in both body and mind. The process, rather than the pursuit of a body goal.

    Let’s see how I can apply the 200WaD philosophy to exercising over the next two weeks.

    Vanquishing Resistance

    I’m still in the middle of Steven Pressfield’s Art of War, and I must say I love his use of the term Resistance to describe procrastination.

    I agree with his message as well: to stop procrastinating, all you have to do is to sit down and do the work on a daily basis. Rely on habits instead of external motivations.

    This is nothing new. You have to cultivate a work ethic. It doesn’t mean you should leave rest aside. It means you have to put in some amount of work at least. Your little steps will compound eventually.

    However, I don’t think you can go all out unless you find your very own Muse.

    A Muse is something or someone who inspires you. An authentic Why. The deep reason that pushes you no matter how hard it gets. I believe everyone has one, but not everyone decides to listen to it. When you are acting without meaning it’s easy to get lost and give up.

    It’s always easy to find reasons not to do things. How about reasons to actually make your aspirations a reality? The best solutions always are the simplest when you take the time to think about it.

    Find your reasons. Think of the right habits. Show up every day.

    Resistance is the enemy of happiness. Don’t let it win.

    My Study Methodology

    It took me a good 5 years to develop my personal study framework.

    I graduated from one of the best engineering school in France, but I have never been a great student.

    I got expelled during my first year of study, then came back to engineering after a year at another university. I quickly became obsessed with finding ways to improve my productivity.

    I hit many walls before managing to hack the educational system. Many failures where I had to repass exams or provide complementary work. My ability to study new materials fast peaked during my last year of study at Stockholm University as an exchange student, where I crammed 2 months of lectures in two weeks while being a top student, enjoying a social life, and starting my first side projects.

    The study methodology I developed is not only useful for students, but also for workers who need to get used to hard topics lightning fast. Here is the process:

    1) Gather lots of diverse materials

    Get your hands on as many materials as you can: books, videos, textbooks, course notes, slides, subject experts (teachers, professors, mentors etc.) etc.

    2) Survey

    Read the summary, the chapters and the headlines to figure out the exact structure of the material

    3) Question

    Formulate questions from what you read in the survey phase. For example, if you read a chapter titled “Spanning Tree”, the first question you have to ask yourself is “What is a Spanning Tree?“. When a new concept appears you have to go through the 5W (who, what, why, when, where + how) and consider whether or not you can formulate a relevant question. Log all your questions in a text editor.

    4) Read and Respond

    Answer your questions by reading the materials.

    5) Record

    Write down the answers corresponding to each question. Rephrase the answers with your own words. Each question should be refined to be atomic, meaning where a question is a very specific aspect of a concept to understand. If a question covers too many concepts at once you have to break it down to ease the memorization process.

    6) Iterate until you have a nice list of Q&A covering all your materials

    Example: my machine learning notes from college (a 2 month course)

    7) Flashcards

    Make flashcards out of your Q&A

    8) Mind-mapping

    The broader the lecture, the more flashcards you will have. To avoid skimming through the flashcards (micro-structure), it’s important to draw a mind map as a macro-structure linking all the concepts together. Don’t ask me the details, the brain loves overviews. You need one mind map per chapter and another linking all the mind maps together.

    9) Review

    Read through your flashcards and mind maps as regularly as possible. Rest in between each study session. Re-write everything on paper. Writing by hand helps with the memory.

    10) Apply the Pareto Principle

    80% of the results will come from 20% of your content. If acing tests is not your priority, skim through the details. If you are studying for an exam, create a separate version of your mind maps/flashcards which strictly covers the scope of the exam (example: notes in green in this doc are the most important concepts to learn). Cut the fat. The less you have to learn, the better your retention and learning curve.

    11) Iterate (again)

    Rephrase, find new materials, and update your flashcards accordingly.

    12) Practice

    Theory pondered by practice makes everything more interesting and will allow you to get a deeper understanding of the subject. You have to do both to develop expertise.

    13) Teach

    Teaching is the best way to make sure you grasped a subject well enough to explain in simple terms to someone else. Gather friends or create a blog, and share it all!

    Now, the powerful thing about this framework is that it can be used for both speed studies (cram a lot of materials in a few days) and in-depth studies alike.

    I hope it can help you :)

    2019 Bucket List

    1) Hard Launch 200 Words a Day

    The product and the community are growing every day. The main bugs are fixed, new features are coming along, and the first monthly-recurring revenues have been registered. It’s time to scale and reach new product heights.

    2) Achieve Ramen Profitability by January 2020

    If I want to keep working on my products I need to reach ramen profitability: earn enough money from making products to cover my basic living expenses. My target is 1000$ in monthly-recurring revenues or 12000$ in gross revenues. The two streams of income I want to focus on are 1) my public book and 2) 200 Words a Day.

    3) Work remotely from a Buddhist monastery for a month

    I had this idea two months ago from a traveler I met in Penang. She and her sister joined a meditation retreat for one week. This experience kinda fascinates me so I wonder if I could find a way to receive the teachings and apply them in parallel on my business. For short, I want to push the Mindful Maker idea to the extreme. Maybe I could find a way to use my skills in IT in exchange for time off that I could dedicate on my personal work.

    4) Release my book written in public by March 15

    I want 200 Words a Day to be an awesome platform for writers from all backgrounds. The first step is to build a community product to get into a writing habit. The next step will be to make something out of those writings that could be monetizable for every member. If I don’t walk this path first I cannot tell others to follow me in this journey, so I decided to write every day to publish this book made in public while building the publishing platform in parallel. Empowering people into becoming authors through a dead-simple product is my dream. Not just writing for the sake of writing, but writing to help yourself and others.

    5) World Tour: meet makers and entrepreneurs all over the world

    I’m gonna have to travel some more. Meeting like-minded people to learn from them is becoming increasingly dear to me. Thus, instead of choosing destinations at random, it might be cool to visit makers directly.

    6) Create a maker band

    What if we took the concept of music bands and applied it to entrepreneurship? Not a co-founder relationship per see, but a new form of collaborative company with friends making random things for fun. My friend Justin who is from Malaysia reminded me a few days ago of this idea we had together 3 years ago. Maybe it’s time to make it a reality.

    7) Bike tour

    Take my bike, a bag, and a tent. Code and write from the roadside. Test my limits on how nomad I can go.

    (?) to be updated

    Ideation, inspiration

    Ideation is the creative process leading to new ideas. Inspiration is a myth.

    You are not born inspired. You become inspired. Inspiration is indeed an unconscious phenomenon, but it also is a long process taking years of your time. What is not apparent now might be later: inspiration comes from facing multiple experiences repeatedly.

    I want to share with you my ideation methodology.

    It starts with introspection and retrospection. Looking inwards and looking back. Doing both is a habit everyone must take on. Letting your inner voice speak out, you mind starts getting clearer. Only then it can wander.

    Learning to generate ideas by cheer brute-force is the second step. It is a habit to take as well. For that, I advise the 10 idea a day methodology proposed by James Altucher: pick a topic, and write down 10 ideas for it, along with a few execution steps. You don’t have to do it everyday, but you have to do it as regularly as possible. Once a month is the bare minimum.

    Like every routine, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

    As I wrote before, what is not apparent now might be later: it is mandatory to store your ideas and review them once in a while. Facing new experiences every day, thoughts evolve.

    And this is what we call inspiration.