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What the work happened #4

A very personal reflection on my work in April 2021.

Ondrej Markus
Ondrej Markus
7 min read
What the work happened #4

Hey there 👋

Uh. April felt busy. I don't like busy.

But as I move through my journal, it seems (again) that I remember last month being worse than it actually was. I've done more work than I thought I did, and I felt 7+ on most days.

It looks like I'm never gonna shut up about the benefits of these monthly reflections. So here it comes: They're good. Try it sometime.

Ok. We got that out of the way. Now let's look at what the work happened in April. First, I'm gonna throw some numbers at you.

Some life numbers

I currently track 2 numbers in my life:

  1. How much deep work am I doing every day? (● = 1 Pomodoro = 25 minutes)
  2. How do I feel on any given day from 0 to 10? (0 = I died, 10 = please god let me repeat this day forever)

I'm not super strict about tracking these numbers perfectly. I'm okay with a rough number. Usually, if I work for let's say 2 hours straight, I jot down 4 ● and move on.

The final number of deep work ● in April is 253, which is not bad given that it was relatively meeting-heavy. And the average daily NPS is 7.13.

This is how it looks like in a monthly view of my Notion journal:‌

Monthly view of my Notion journal
Monthly view of my Notion journal

Next, let's move to the happenings of April.

But first.

My dear Crypto FOMO

Everyone seems to be interested in Bitcoin these days.

My own short story of crypto-investing is this: I bought some in the biggest hype in December 2018 for 16k. Then it dropped down by ~75% and I forgot about it. Then began the recent rise, I sold everything on ~25k (too soon). Now I have none except for some random leftovers in the other coins.

The thing is: Investing isn't interesting to me. It seems like (sometimes) intelligent gambling. If anything, I'd put money somewhere long-term where they compound over time. Short-term speculation isn't for me. I don't like to spend the mental and emotional energy on investing.

But that doesn't mean that my brain isn't bothering me with the fear of missing out on a HUGE OPPORTUNITY (his words). So even though I rationally don't want to be bothered by crypto and focus on the work I actually enjoy instead, it doesn't let me off the hook so easily.

The FOMO loop works like this:

  1. I hear about someone getting rich on crypto.
  2. My brain yells at me: "Don't be stupid and buy some! Look it up and get in the game, son."
  3. I get anxious.
  4. But then I remember that I don't care about investing in stuff.
  5. So I talk to myself to stop being anxious about it, but it doesn't work 100%. Some primal survival instinct keeps bugging me at the back of my head: DON'T BE STUPID, GET MORE MONEY
  6. Then I start getting anxious about being anxious. That's the worst kind of anxious. The self-destruct sequence has been initiated. I wait for the implosion.
  7. Then I listen to Alan Watts, and everything is fine.
  8. Ugh. That was close, luckily now I know how to deal with this sh ... oh nooo ... back to 1.

Less job, more writing, please

The design project I worked on in the last few months ends in May, and I want to use the opportunity to write (almost) full-time for at least the next 2-3 months.

I have enough savings to live on a minimal income for years. Probably. I don't know. It depends on what minimal means. What I want to say is that I would rather write for free now than to do any work for money (until I have to).

I mean, is there a better way to invest money than to fund yourself?

(Don't you dare say Bitcoin.)

So I'm plotting a new writing routine. I'm not sure what is it going to be yet. But I know I'm going to focus on improving consistency and frequency. And I'm pretty sure it's going to be an overkill.

Recently, I was researching a couple of successful writers, and I found that all of them have or had a period of time when they produced relentless quantity on a consistent schedule.

This seems to be the way to go for me. Because I don't struggle with sitting down to write. I struggle with finishing things. So adopting a routine designed to force me to finish things seems to be the right move.

I'm considering the challenge of publishing 100 articles in 100 workdays (5 per week). I read about it here, and at first, I dismissed it as madness. But then after about a week of pondering, it doesn't seem so crazy anymore. I could use some madness.

Me vs. 100 articles
Me vs. 100 articles

It might actually work perfectly if I build my whole writing process around it. I would have to write differently. My current method isn't suited for starting and finishing an article in one day. Just saying the words: "Finishing an article in one day" feels weird to me right now.

I'd have to focus on finishing things in one revision rather than doing 4 drafts before I hit the publish button. I really want to build a mindset that enables me to finish things more often. Smart people say the process is more important than any one result and I believe them.

One part of me thinks this is a terrible idea. The other part is certain it's brilliant. I guess I won't know until I try.

Looking for project names is the worst

Last month, I said I'm going to write a newsletter every week. Ups. That didn't happen. But I have a semi-good reason for it.

As I started writing one article every week in April, I realized I would like to publish under a website that isn't just my name. I don't know why exactly, I guess I just like the idea of a separate website for my writing rather than sharing everything as me.

Maybe it's because it frees me to be weirder and experiment more? I'm not sure. But it feels right. So I'm going to launch a new website and do the newsletter and articles there.

Now, the problem is, I don't have a name for it and I hate looking for names. You need to get a good domain, and you want the name to be unique, but all the good domains are taken. It's hell.

Anyway, I burned at least 10 hours on brute-forcing name generators for options. There isn't a task where I feel less productive than this. But it needs to be done. So I kept on looking.

After 2 weeks, I have some ideas I'm not super-happy about, but not having a name blocks me from publishing and I'm getting to the point where I'm going to flip the table and name it Chip&Dale. I don't want to get to that point.

So I'm gonna pick something over the next week and change it late if necessary.

The concept of the new website is going to be something like this:

I'm not 100% sure what some things in this prototype mean. I expect it's going to evolve in time after I get more feedback. (Please, email me what you think.) But I know I prefer being informal-ish in what I write, so that's one fixed part of its DNA.

Generally, I want to write about how to make a better life for yourself without taking it too seriously. I love games, good design, and I could talk about personal productivity systems forever. So those are also parts of the Venn diagram I'm going to start from.

MetaSprint from start to end

From 1st to 30th April, me and 7 others sprinted to write 1 article a week for 4 weeks. However, I'm going to write about how it played out in a separate article because I'm still gathering feedback, and I want to summarize it properly.

In any case, I finished these 4 articles even though they aren't on this blog (waiting for the new website, damnit).

Here they are at least in Notion:

New articles

Lastly, a couple of crunchy bits I enjoyed this month:

Reading 📖

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

I was looking for something to make my writing better. I'm not disappointed. I'll probably write and share a summary at some point.

Playing 🎲

The last weekend of April I spent playing board games with friends after a long time. We played Cosmic Encounter, Cyclades, Arcadia Quest, and a little bit of Poker.

Listening 🎧

Every day I can, I hop on a bike for a 30-minute ride with Alan Watts in my ears. It keeps my sanity levels above livable during a busy month. (Excellent not just for deflecting crypto FOMO.) Highly recommended.

Here you can find my audio collection I listen to: How to start with Alan Watts


That's all – consistently inconsistent – as always.

Email me about what you're up to, and have a good one.

Bye 👋

Reflections

Ondrej Markus

I help creators design a system for work, so they can finish the right things while enjoying the process.