Over the last few weeks, I returned to several topics and dusted off a few old project ideas. I have been able to build on a few cryptographic project ideas that might be on the verge of public launch or at the very least worthy of a private beta to do some testing. I’ll be excited to talk about them or announce them when the time comes but until now I am just going to continue to tease them a bit.
One thing I will mention for the few people it might apply to: reach out to me via email if you have ever been a victim of censorship from Spamhaus or similar entities in the past. I’m experimenting with a new idea and I’m looking for input explicitly from people/businesses that have had bad experiences with anti-spam entities.
Lately, I’ve tried to hold myself to a higher standard of productivity but it is just incredibly hard to actually pull off at the level I need. There are a lot of sticky tasks that I just dread that hurt my productivity. It is particularly difficult to muster up the energy to work on UI/UX design.
Being a graphic designer is something that I never really assumed I would have to learn to do but here I am learning it in order to avoid hiring designers. It is just really annoying to have to design things if you have no real sense of artistic design. It kills my productivity every time it comes up and feels really unavoidable at the budget level I’m working with currently.
One thing that got me reconsidering my working habits was a post that Alexey Guzey recently highlighted on his personal forum that deals with extreme levels of productivity. Looking at other things by the same author (Nick Winter) he has written quite a bit on this topic in a way that I found promising.
One of the main things that he discusses across various posts and in his book is something that I’ll call “extreme productivity”. He writes continuously about doing and accomplishing vast amounts of work in very short time periods while still maintaining a work-life balance.
These kinds of posts are hugely inspiring to me, and while I wouldn’t recommend or endorse that book after having read it, is so nice to see people posting more of these kinds of stories. I would recommend books like Deep Work by Cal Newport or his blog which has a ton of resources in this genre of inspirational workaholic advice.
Squeezing out enough work within a small amount of time to make headway on a lot of diverse projects and goals is so difficult that hearing people do it successfully for prolonged periods is neat.
I wish more people would write raw reports of success or failure while operating in this kind of style that shows what people experience while doing it rather than “advice” on how.
The problem with most posts that get labeled “productivity porn” is that they endlessly reiterate common sense techniques rather than human narratives of how exciting it is to work on interesting and complex problems. The techniques cannot be detached from the meaningfulness of the underlying task or they don’t actually function.
A person cannot just generate willpower out of nowhere, and unrealistic results are only unrealistic when they are placed in a context of work that a person actually hates doing.
When you enjoy what it is you are doing and are excited by the prospect of it there is no need to generate up willpower using a contrived technique to trick yourself into working.
A lot of guru-productivity advice comes off as useless fluff trying to sell you some product. The joy of reading someone like Cal Newport comes from his consistent use of first-person narratives on the working habits of historical people dealing with stimulating problems.
If you can create a stimulating set of problems for yourself that feel meaningful, the energy to work on those things flows naturally (unless you are suffering from an outside issue like depression for example).
Current Working Habits
Lately, I’ve been working a lot but it never seems to be as much as I would like that I would like which is mostly a factor of things that are out of my control or that I mindfully allow to take up random blocks of my schedule like my interpersonal relationships.
So, the quantity of my work goes up and down based on factors that I often can’t control but despite that, I have remained very much a partisan of this work maximalist approach.
It isn’t really an achievable ideal but it is interesting to strive for each moment of a person’s life to be filled with interesting actions or thoughts. Any action or thought that isn’t interesting is done so on purpose to create a situation of boredom and reflection rather than by force.
Lately, I’ve been making time to go on a short 3-mile walk nearly every evening just before sundown. I don’t really do so to try to do any serious cardio or something but just to have a moment of boredom and reflection. Walking along a forest path each day gives me time to unwind.
The other important thing is not trying to work as fast on things that I’m actually enjoying. When I take my time on things and go slowly with my work while still staying concentrated on it, ironically I get more done going slower.
I feel like I’ve almost optimized to the point that I’m able to orient my life around fun and interesting projects rather than tedious busywork.
This represents my sole contribution to the endlessly growing body of useless productivity articles online.