Personal Manifesto

One of the things I wanted to do better in 2015 was write in my journal. I’ve been following this excellent list of prompts from the Art of Manliness. Yesterday’s challenge was to write a personal manifesto and it’s something that really resonated with me.

There are so many things in life pulling us in a million directions. If you aren’t intentional about what matters to you and what you’re striving to make of your life every day, you can get lost in the sea of crap. Writing a personal manifesto can give you a rubric for spending time and making decisions.

The word manifesto traces its roots to the Latin manifestum, which means clear or conspicuous. A manifesto is defined as a declaration of one’s beliefs, opinions, motives, and intentions. It is simply a document that an organization or person writes that declares what is important to them.

A manifesto functions as both a statement of principles and a bold, sometimes rebellious, call to action. By causing people to evaluate the gap between those principles and their current reality, the manifesto challenges assumptions, fosters commitment, and provokes change.

I’m still working out the details, and will be for some time, but I wanted to start by just laying out the areas of my life I want to address in my manifesto

  • My relationship with God
  • My relationships with family
  • My use of goods and resources
  • Care of my body
  • Service to community
  • Responsible use of technology

I’m still sussing out what each of these means. A couple of them are related, so I might try to fold them into each other for simplicity. But these are the areas I landed on that are important to me. That I want to be conscious of every day. One aspect that’s missing is my work. Not because it isn’t important, but because I’m still trying to thoughtfully address it. I want to nail the essence of why my work matters to me and where I pull the meaning from.

Sprinting

We’ve started using Agile in our team at ESPN, and the experience has made me see just how discombobulated my strategy for working on side projects is. Starting this week, I’m taking some Agile-ish concepts and getting them into my workflow.

One of the problems I have is I’ve got two (well, three, but one has been way on the back burner) projects going on at once and I’m constantly going back and forth on this and that. This context switching from day to day even makes it almost impossible to make real progress.

Each week I’m doing a little sprint. Each sprint will focus on one project. For now I’m just going to cycle through all three projects week by week. Taking away my ability to just hack on the little thing I want to hack on will help me get shit done. If the nature of deadlines or tasks that need to be done requires it, I will adjust my plan a bit. But I want to make sure I’ve got my weeks’ planned well in advance.

I’m pulling my projects and tasks into Omnifocus and doing my planning there. I really want to love Omnifocus, but it feels like the learning curve is so steep. So if you have any tips or workflows for Omnifocus, I’d love to hear them. If it ends up creating too much friction I’ll just move back to Things, which has been my old standby for years now.

Maintaining discipline with a project you work on alone is tough. It’s time to get proactive about my planning.

It's ok

It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to lose. It’s ok to be depressed.

I’ve had this one queued up for a while to share. Too long really. If you’re struggling with depression, talk to someone.

Universal Sandwich Theory

I’ve come up with something I’m calling ”The Universal Sandwich Theory". Follow along with me here: A sandwich made with bad ingredients and poorly made bread will be a horrible sandwich. A sandwich made with good ingredients but poorly made bread will be a bad sandwich. A sandwich made with great ingredients but poorly made bread will be a mediocre sandwich. Conversely, a sandwich made with bad ingredients and great bread will be a mediocre sandwich. A sandwich made with good ingredients and great bread will be a great sandwich. A sandwich made with great ingredients and great bread will be a fantastic sandwich. Bread is the most important ingredient of any sandwich. When making a sandwich, focus on getting the best bread you can. It makes whatever is happening in the middle better. (This also applies to way more than sandwiches.)

Completely agree. This is why I don’t like standard whole wheat bread. It’s dryness just completely ruins any sandwich for me.

Also definitely applies to burgers. I’ve had a lot of really good burgers (medium rare, with some mayo in case you need to know), but what separates the great ones is the buns.

Canadian Passports

These Canadian passports are beautiful.

From Open (Unlimited) to Minimum Vacation Policy

I think this is a fantastic shift. Open vacation policies can be difficult to navigate and leave you feeling guilty even when you take a minimum time off. It’s hard to track how much time your coworkers are off, but you always tend to fear looking like you aren’t working. Butts in seats != work. I’m a fan of open vacation policies and shorter work weeks. Not just because it makes life a little easier, but I think at the very least, it doesn’t reduce productivity.

Core Curriculum

And so, why not put together a small notebook that contains highlights and summaries from the books, speeches, articles, sermons, teachings, and other things which have most shaped us? Our own Core Curriculum.

Great stuff from Shawn Blanc. I’m thinking on this as I debate what to do with my journal once I’m done with the 31 day prompt list I’m following from Art of Manliness.

I think what I want to do is in the vein of Shawn’s Core Curriculum. I want to compile a fairly small list of questions that inspect the various important areas of my life. What did you learn about marriage today? How did you experience God? What inspired your work? In the future, what did you learn about fatherhood? How did you fail or succeed financially?

I’d like a list of maybe 10 or so questions to choose from. And each day I’ll pick one from the list. Whatever question lines up with an experience I had. I need to make sure I word the questions so that they’re scoped well and feel answerable.

Definitely going to stew on this through the end of January...

Poaching lawsuit sounds familiar

The thing is, that “they chose this route” defense doesn’t work in antitrust. The reason we have antitrust laws is because if a firm or group of firms acquires enough market power, they can make that choice a farce, eliminating the aspect of our market economy where firms compete to make the best offer and then we choose among them (whether to buy sometime or to sell something, even our labor).

Sound like a topic of conversation somewhere else...

My Analog Life

I'm a software developer who uses video games to unwind. Officially, I think, this makes me the kind of person many people imagine would be waiting with bated breath for some kind of ubiquitous, brain implanted computer. I will admit, I do have what I consider a serious addiction to information acquisition -- books were a gateway drug. However, my boundary between digital and analog is extremely definitive. Where most people see digital and analog as opposing forces, and one easily annihilating the other, I always see two different but complementary tools. I wouldn't eat soup with a knife, nor would I cut a steak with a spoon.

Paid Things

I recently shared some of the things I’m digging from 2014 going into 2015. I wanted to take some time to share a few more things. Specifically I wanted to share some things I pay for that I could probably get for free.

Fastmail - $10-40/year per user

Sure I could use Gmail or Yahoo Mail or a million other free services, but I prefer to be the customer not the product. Fastmail focuses on security and privacy. The web app is every bit as good as Gmail but with no pesky ads. They use all the email standards, so you can use whatever desktop and/or mobile client you prefer.

Beyond all that you get calendar and contacts syncing, file storage with FTP & WebDAV access, website & photo gallery creation, XMPP chat, etc etc. I don’t think I’ve even taken advantage of everything Fastmail can do in my life. I absolutely recommend them to everyone. They will be powering my family’s email for many years to come.

Feed Wrangler/Pod Wrangler - $19/year

Back in the day, the only way to do RSS reading was Google Reader. Then Google decided to shut it down and the race was on for products to replace it. I’ve tried several of them, and I settled on Feed Wrangler. I’m a simple user and don’t use most of the advanced features, but there’s a lot of power in the smart streams.

Also as a subscriber to Feed Wrangler I get access to Pod Wrangler, a companion podcast syncing service. It’s a lot of simplicity added to my life for less than $2 a month.

Dropbox - $99/year

I love me some Dropbox. Basically all of my frequently used files are stored, synced, and backed up to Dropbox. All of the photos from my phone are backed up there as well. My only complaint is I wish Dropbox offered a plan somewhere between the free couple of gigabytes and the pro 1 Terabyte plan.

Evernote - $45/year

I keep so much in Evernote. Any email I might need in the future gets emailed into Evernote. All my paper bills and major receipts get scanned in. Most of my transfer bandwidth is used by pictures of beautiful homes.

I highly recommend that when it comes to the important web services in your life, you find products you love and are worth paying for. If you take the free and easy option, you likely will be the product not the customer or you won’t have much to complain about when that service gets shut down.