Do the Opposite #65

Message Regarding Current Events, Get More Done by Doing Less, Get Specific, How to Negotiate, Apply 80/20 Principle to Your Life

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Message Regarding Current Events

In light of the recent events in the US, the injustice that has happened and keeps happening, I must say that I stand in solidarity with those demanding justice and changes. I believe there is no place for racism in this world, but unfortunately the reality we live in is different. Let’s all do our part in supporting the black community and everyone who is affected by these awful events.

I am not the best when it comes to articulating these topics, nor do I have enough cultural understanding and life experience to guarantee that I say the right things. In situations like this I think it’s better to say something rather than stay silent.


Get More Done By Doing Less

I’ve been reflecting on my procrastination patterns. I’ve noticed that on days when I don’t have much free time I’m able to put more work into my projects than on days when I have all the time in the world. That realization caught me by surprise.

How can that be? It’s very counter-intuitive. It would seem that I should be making most of my progress on weekends, but in reality I get more done after work on weekdays. After giving it more thought I’ve realized what the problem is.

I have way too many “priorities” and I spread myself too thin. On weekends I want to relax after the workweek, to cook breakfast, to go for a walk, a picnic, a bike ride; I want to finish that programming course I’ve bought a month or so ago; I want to pre-write this newsletter, get ahead in my work on the Zerno app, read a book for an hour or two, watch a new fun TV series with my wife, video chat with my family back home; play a couple of StarCraft matches with my friend; film a video for YouTube; meditate, go for a long run (I always do that on Saturdays), continue with the #100DaysOfPushups challenge, hang out with friends (by video), etc.

The list goes on and on and on… No wonder not much gets done. I also become disappointed with myself no matter how much I actually do, because I haven’t done all these things.

Listing out all these activities gives some perspective. How can anyone do all of these in the same 48 hours we all have on the weekend? There is not enough time.

What’s the solution? I think the solution is to scale down on the activities that are not absolutely essential and that are not bringing me closer to my goals and dreams. I need to be ruthless in cutting these out. There is always a FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when it comes to saying No to certain activities.

It feels like you’re limiting yourself when you cut any of these activities from your potential plans. That’s a good thing! You and I need to limit ourselves in what we commit to doing and what we expect from ourselves. It’s like trimming a tree to create Bonsai. Like cutting all the extra marble to expose a beautiful statue inside.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the expectations and commitments you’ve set upon yourself, write them all down. Don’t skip this part, sit down and write, give yourself time to remember and identify them all. Once you have your list, take a small break.

When you come back, go through the list one by one, and ask yourself: Is this important to me? Is this activity bringing me closer to the life I’m dreaming of? Does this activity leave me with less energy for the more important projects? Am I doing this because I am trying to escape some other, more important but scary task? Is this a filler activity that I’m filling my time with because I am not clear of what my priorities are?

Another important question: If I had 2 hours of free time in a day to move my projects forward, would this activity make the cut? If the answer is no, either stop doing it or only do it if you’ve already done other more important tasks: the ones that you would feel the 2 hours with if that was the only available time you had.

As you laser focus on the few activities you’ve decided to keep, you will find that you are making greater progress and that it’s easier to start working on them: because now you don’t have to spend 20-30 minutes deciding which of the 20 activities is the most important to do right now.


“Get specific!” by Derek Sivers

In order to make real changes in your life, you need to get specific about what it is you are after. It’s a nice and short article that provides you the process for doing just that. “I want to learn French to be able to hold a 15 casual conversation” is always going to beat “I want to learn French”.

We often have these vague ideas about our goals and things we want in our lives. When we start digging in to get more specific one of the 2 things is bound to happen: 1) we realize we don’t really want it and it only had appeal when it was vague. 2) we discover the specifics behind our dream/goal and that helps us create a plan for getting there.

“How to 80/20 Your Life” by Mark Manson

These days the Pareto’s Law is widely known, thanks to Tim Ferriss and Richard Koch who have popularized it. If you’re unfamiliar, it says that “80% of effects come from 20% of causes.”

Some examples: 80% of the time you wear 20% of your clothes. You listen to 20% of your music collection 80% of the time. 20% of the projects you or your company does bring 80% of results and profits.

Many people miss the point when they hear about something like this. They say, “Yes, I know exactly what it is. I’ve known about it for a while". It’s not about knowing it, it’s about putting it to practice.

The potential for change that practicing the 80/20 principle can bring is immense. Sit down, choose an area of your life you’d like to improve and analyze. What 20% of the activities you do in that area bring 80% of results? Write these down. Then focus on eliminating the ineffective activities and swap them for the ones that bring more value for the time invested.

“What Do You Mean “You Don’t Have a Bike”?!” by Mr. Money Mustache

Why owning a bike is a wise decision? You don’t have to use your car to do errands. That means that instead of wasting money on gas you are running on your own energy, and get fitter every time you use a bike instead of a car. That adds up in both personal finance and your health. It’s a win-win situation where the winner in both cases is you.


Leo Babauta On Bad Habits and Massive Results | Good Life Project

This is such a gem! I remember watching it years ago and learning a lot from it. I’ve rewatched it recently with a better understanding of habit formation, and Leo’s wisdom has opened up to me with more depth. In this video Leo shares his story from the very beginning: how he lost weight, quit smoking, moved his whole family to a different city, quit his job, built a huge following and a business. Watch it to get a dose of inspiration for changing your life as well as to get practical tips on how to do it.

How to Negotiate (or, "The Art of Dealmaking") | Tim Ferriss

Negotiation is a very powerful tool. It can make an enormous difference in your career trajectory, in the impact of your business and projects, in your personal relationships. The earlier you recognize it and start improving your negotiation skills, the further you will go. It’s like a compounding interest on anything you do that involves other people. Tim packs a series of actionable tips and book recommendations (I’ve added them on my list to read) to help us take our negotiation skills to the next level.

How I Organize my Office – Declutter and Clean with ME | Matthew Encina

I’ve watched quite a few similar videos to get inspired to declutter and organize my home, but this one stood out. I like how Matthew breaks down his approach into a step-by-step plan anyone can follow. Remember, as you simplify and declutter the world around you, you are doing the same to your mind. Thoughts get clearer and new ideas find their way into the empty space you’ve created.

When a Costumed Person Destroys The Drums At Children’s Music Concert | NyangoStar

Absolutely hilarious clip of someone in this cute costume going crazy on the drums at a children’s event. Must watch to raise your spirits! The skill level is out of this world.

A Trip Through Paris, France in late 1890s / Un voyage à travers Paris, 1890 | Denis Shiryaev

This is one of the many videos that take old footage, improve its quality, colorize it and bring it to 4k quality using a neural network (Machine Learning). I love watching these and imagining what the life was like back then. If you like this one, just search YouTube for more.

Tweet of the Week



“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
― Lao Tzu

“Think of it this way: There are two kinds of failure. The first comes from never trying out your ideas because you are afraid, or because you are waiting for the perfect time. This kind of failure you can never learn from, and such timidity will destroy you. The second kind comes from a bold and venturesome spirit. If you fail in this way, the hit that you take to your reputation is greatly outweighed by what you learn. Repeated failure will toughen your spirit and show you with absolute clarity how things must be done.”
― Robert Greene, “Mastery”

“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.”
― Leo Babauta

“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking...”
― Leo Tolstoy

“We are all in search of feeling more connected to reality—to other people, the times we live in, the natural world, our character, and our own uniqueness. Our culture increasingly tends to separate us from these realities in various ways. We indulge in drugs or alcohol, or engage in dangerous sports or risky behavior, just to wake ourselves up from the sleep of our daily existence and feel a heightened sense of connection to reality. In the end, however, the most satisfying and powerful way to feel this connection is through creative activity. Engaged in the creative process we feel more alive than ever, because we are making something and not merely consuming, Masters of the small reality we create. In doing this work, we are in fact creating ourselves.”
― Robert Greene, “Mastery”


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Keep doing the opposite,
Alex Kallaway