Friday Notes 094 - March 13 2020

While my kids were sick for a few weeks with a fever, it's now our regular caregiver's turn. What that has meant for me is about 5 less hours of work a week for the last month. In some ways these constraints are great because they force me to focus only on the few things that earn money or are important to my business.

In other ways, my time has been squeezed so small already, it can't go much lower without some adverse consequences in the income department.

Unlike for-profit companies, for instance, librarians can help patrons sort credible from less credible information. In a world in which anyone can be a pamphleteer and publisher, providing this service is central to librarian' comparative advantage. 1.

The same sentiment was echoed in my podcast listening this week as Neil Pasricha talked with Michael Bungay-Stainer where Neil said something along the lines of "when content is everywhere the value of curation is king". For Neil, that's what he's working to accomplish with his long quest to find the 1000 most formative books 3 books at a time.

We also see the same idea in The Death of Expertise2 in this quote.

These are dangerous times. Never have so many people had so much access to knowledge and yet have been so resistant to learning anything.

To say that I've been thinking about the role that ubiquitous content and curation plays in my own learning would be an understatement. You'll note that a few months back I dropped the links to other sources in my posts because I found myself in a race to find 5 things that were sharable. Maybe not even worthwhile, but something that I could put in an email to you my dear readers.

I was no longer convinced that I was getting much value out of things, but I figured someone would so I'd frantically search to make sure I had a stock of things to share.

Since I'm sure some of you have wondered as well how to get more serious about the content you ingest, here are a few steps I've taken.

1. More Books Less RSS

The first step has been to cut out my feed reading time so that it's maybe an hour a week. To get to that I had to trim some feeds (I'll talk about that in a minute) and be willing to say no to things right away. As I'm sure many of you have, I'd regularly leave something unread for days or weeks because the title looked interesting.

Future you has the same amount of time as current you. If you don't have time for it now, then when. If you can't answer that with a time in the next few days, you won't have time for it so just say no and absolve yourself of any guilt.

Much like I talked about this week with increasing friction to get more done that list of feeds is all about guilt for things that sound good. I'm sure many of them are good, but you're still not going to read them all. Instead of letting some badge build up, just mark it as read and don't sweat it.

2. Trim the Feeds I Follow

To go with changing my feed reading habit, I unsubscribed lots. Now I follow some friends that blog, and one or two people that aggregate content I may want to be aware of. Then I have 3 or 4 online comic strips I have enjoyed for a few years.

While I'm sure there are iPad related sites out there I'd plan on reading, I'm not subscribing to them. My few people curate content for me and I don't have to wade through the crap in search of a few gems.

I've also implemented a rule to not add another feed unless one comes off. When faced with that decision and looking at the value of some new source of information most times I decide that I'm happy with my current items. The problem is because feeds/digital crap doesn't take up physical space we never have to deal with the crowding of our minds and attention.

Start making yourself take something away to add anything.

3. Read on Whim and Widely

For a few years I was part of a book club, I even ran a book club myself for a bit. The thought was that I'd read new stuff I wouldn't regularly pick and I'd find gems.

After 2 years I found a bunch of turds and reread books I had already read that were good the second time. So I quit both book groups and now read whatever strikes my fancy. In 2019 I found many of the books far more influential on my thinking than I had found anything that came up in book groups so I'm sticking with this in 2020.

I also don't sweat purchasing a book and then not reading it for a while. I read what feels interesting to me in the moment. Sure I have a self for the books I want to read, but I'm just as likely to look at my bookshelf and take something else off the shelf and read that instead[^I actually have an entire year of reading in books I own but haven't read yet].

In years past I've also mostly read non-fiction in the self-help or psychology genre, but this year I'm branching out much more widely. More memoir and biography. More fiction. More random books recommended by friends that know I read and who read widely as well. More stuff about Indigenous issues in Canada, and more that helps me educate myself out of the middle-aged white dude mindset I have...because I'm a middle-aged white dude.

Really, some curation is what I hope to bring to you. I'll write about freelance, parenting, marriage, business, writing...whatever I find interesting.

My question to you is, what are you going to do to educate yourself about what's out there? Unsubscribe from this email to find something else worthwhile...great. Go find the stuff you're interested in that will help you accomplish your goals.

I Shipped

Monday I talked about the books that have formed my business. These are the ones that changed how I do business, and in the case of Profit First, was instrumental in saving my business because it enforced better budgeting on me.

Wednesday I talked about the ways I add friction to my work so that I can get more done. Well, more may be the wrong word. The friction in my productivity practices helps me choose the right things to do, the things that matter. Instead of mindlessly checking off boxes I focus on what's important.

Today as you're reading this, I also talked about the books I read in February and a bit about what I'm planning to read in March.

You can also find an article from me on Liquid Web, all about developing for the web with an iPad. Yes, this is still my main mode of working.


  1. BiblioTECH Page 142 ↩︎

  2. I reviewed this already too ↩︎