Friday Notes 089 - February 7 2020

Sigh, this week has been tough. I ended up with about 5 hours put into recording a video for my daughter’s school so that we can apply for a library grant. I found out that their entire budget for books and supplies is $1500. That’s less than I spent on my personal books for me to read, let alone what we spent on the kids above that number.

Unfortunately at our school, many of the parents can’t make up the slack in book purchases that we can. They’re sometimes struggling to deal with rent and food on the table. Books just aren’t on their mind. The book Scarcity talks more about the cost of bandwidth on our lives, and I already have the review prepped to publish on that so watch for it next week.

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I Shipped

Monday I talked about my research trying to find an app to stabilize video on my iPad Pro.

Wednesday I wrote and talked about the problems with Scrivener for iPadOS. Since they have a famously slow update cycle, I’m skeptical this will get better while I’m still alive. Ulitmately, I’m moving my book writing over to Ulysses.

Today, as you read this I also published how I’m using Drafts is my blogging workflow. There is lots to like about Drafts with it’s automation. Even if you aren’t going to go crazy with it, there is much to love about this markdown editor.

1 Female Bullet Journal Data Nerd

For the Bullet Journal Data Nerds this was a great video, specifically for the ladies as she talks about how she tracks her cycle and hormones in her Bullet Journal.

**2 Ryan Holiday on Reading Hard Books **

I'm adjusting a bit of how I read this year. More biographies in the midst of my non-fiction. I'm hoping to start reading "above my level" so that I have to work at things to understand them. Lucky for me Ryan Holiday just published a good guide on how to do just that.

3 Don’t Just Focus on Profit Margin

Justin Jackson wrote a good post centreing around profit margin but I think he missed, or only barely grazed another type of margin that is key to having a good business.

Plan old margin with your time.

Yes some of the time space/margin/slack comes because you have a profitable business with good margin. That means you don't have to work all the time, but most people just take that extra time and turn it into more work, more commitments, more more because if what I have is good, more is better.

This year is focused on time margin for me. My profit is good, though I wouldn't mind bringing in a bit more revenue this year, but I spent the last quarter of 2019 stressed and taking it out on my family.

That's the thing I want to change this year and it's meant I've said no to 95% of the projects that have come my way in the last 4 months. Not later, but no I'm not interested. I'm not interested because the deadlines aren't right or the communication expectations don't work.

I'm not interested because I don't want to have a full schedule. I'm aiming for an 80% schedule, something like today a snow day with the kids.

I don't feel focused so today I'm going to read and look at RSS feeds and hang out with my kids and read more biography stuff. I did a bit of billable work, but only a very little bit.

I'll pick it back up tomorrow, or next week.

4 Using Your Phone Means You’re Not Taking a Break

Interesting story about how using your phone during a break means you're not taking a break.

The participants who took phone breaks experienced the highest levels of mental depletion and were among the least capable of solving the puzzles afterwards. Their post-break efficiency and quickness was comparable to those with no break. Their number of word problems solved after the break was slightly better than those who took no break, but worse than all other participants.

Maybe one of the best productivity gifts I've ever received was the Rubik's cube I got this year for Christmas. It now sits on my desk and in an idle moment I pick it up and mix it up, maybe solve a step only to mix it up again. Yes I have solved it now, twice, but mostly it's there to fidget with instead of heading to a vast well of wasted time that's inside my phone.

I've also been leaving my phone in my office for most of the day.

One thing I've been struggling with is being angry with my kids all the time, especially in the evening. As we're back to school and to a normal routine, I've left my iPad in my office as well. No YouTube or RSS feeds or anything. Just me and a book and the chores.

I've felt more rested and reacted much more like the parent I want to be.

5 My Weekend Isn’t as Free as I Thought It Was

Katrina Onstad writing for The Guardian talking about how weekends are not a thing anymore. In her mind part of it is the patchwork of jobs that is the gig economy and part is your device as you read this, or her article.

The other culprit is the thing in your hand that you may be reading this on. Technology binds us to work, and we move through our weekends as if on call, checking email and asserting our loyalty – and importance – by engaging with work. No one wants to look less than totally available in fragile economic times.

I certainly encounter the second item with clients once in a while. A few years back I was just doing family stuff for the weekend and came back to a client asking to be notified when I was on vacation over a weekend because they wanted to talk to me. I don't remember exactly what I said but it was something along the lines of: "I took a weekend. I don't work weekends. If you want weekend availability it's $20k/month."

Needless to say we didn't talk about it again. I don't remember why I don't work with them anymore, but that's undoubtedly part of it.

We started to reclaim our weekends by not booking a kid into figure skating on Saturday, though we do go skiing on Sunday's right now. My wife doesn't work some weekends and even when she does she's back by around 1030.

Now we both want to run so with skiing that means we both pack it in on Saturday right now.

Maybe our weekend isn't as free as I thought it was.