Yet another attempt at time blocking

When I was doing my annual review, one of my observations was that I had attempted time blocking in two distinct periods in 2021. It’s been a while, but I suspect my motivations for coming back to time blocking stemmed from reflecting on Cal Newport’s Deep Work and Nir Eyal’s Indistractable.

When I’m using time blocking, I usually find that I get a lot done throughout the week, and my most important tasks are more likely to be completed.

At the same time, I’ve stopped my attempts at time blocking twice last year (and even more times in the past) because of three pain points: time blocking takes a lot of time, things such as emergencies and collaborating with other people aren’t fully in my control, and the need to adjust my schedule when I don’t finish essential tasks in the scheduled time block. I will discuss each of these in more detail below.

The first pain point I mentioned is that time blocking takes a lot of time. I have to figure out everything I want to do in the week, which involves filtering through my to-do list. I then have to filter that down even more because I don’t usually have time to do everything I want to do during the week. This becomes especially apparent as I try to fit everything into my calendar around pre-existing meetings and time for self-care.

So I’m trying to limit this process to one hour, one morning each week. In both Indistractable and Sahil Lavingia’s The Minimalist Entrepreneur, there’s an idea of how constraints inspire creativity. By forcing myself to make all my scheduling decisions for the week in this one hour, I force myself to tap into my imagination to figure out how to play Tetris with my schedule.

For this to work, it also means I have to commit to my schedule for the week. Suppose I allow myself to move things around. In that case, I’ll be making decisions later on in the day when I’m more likely emotional and susceptible to decision fatigue. That is, I’ll be more likely to make poor decisions about what to do with my schedule. This also relates to the second and third pain points I’ve experienced with time blocking.

The second pain point is that there are things in my week that aren’t always in my control–a coworker may ask a favour, my boss may schedule a meeting, a pipe may burst in my home. These sorts of things usually give me anxiety because I know they can happen, I can’t predict them, and they influence the plans I make for the week.

So let me start by saying there is such thing as legitimate emergencies. If a pipe bursts in your apartment, it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to not only your unit but also other units that are affected by the water damage. If you are experiencing appendicitis, you may die if you don’t get to a hospital quickly. Some things are worth straying from your schedule.

At the same time, I know I treat some things as emergencies, even if they aren’t mission-critical.

If a coworker asks me a question or wants to pair on something, I tend to respond immediately. If someone schedules a meeting with me, I feel inclined to accept that meeting.

So something I’ve been doing this time is being more critical of my thoughts and beliefs regarding some of these things. I’ve recognized thoughts such as “I’m a bad coworker if I don’t get back to people immediately” and then explored those thoughts using prompts similar to Byron Katie’s Four Questions–exploring whether those thoughts are true.

As a concrete example of a change I’ve made in light of this, I put appointment slots in my work calendar each day for the week and then asked my team to try to book any meetings, requests for pairing, etc. during those times. I also recognize that this is a change and an experiment for both me and them, so I asked them to let me know if something about it isn’t working for them so I can adjust.

This also has me practicing building the muscle of saying “No” more often. 😉

The final pain point is when I need to adjust my schedule because I don’t finish a task in the allocated time block. Sometimes this is because I would be idealistic when making my schedule. Sometimes this is because of Parkinson’s Law (since I knew I’d create more time if I didn’t finish something in the intended time block).

So now when I schedule my week, I schedule for the likely scenario, not the ideal one. I try to anticipate what could go wrong. I try to anticipate my energy levels. I try to anticipate when it would be useful to block off time to recharge. And I schedule my week respecting those things. It often means that I fit fewer things into my plans, but it also often means that I get more done.

As for Parkinson’s Law, most of this comes down to addressing my perfectionism. Yes, I could spend substantially more time making sure something was perfect, and often this is the driving force for when I want something to expand past it’s intended time block. But as the Pareto Principle suggests, I could spend 80% more time making it perfect, but I probably already have 80% of the value produced in that time block.

I’m learning to change my definition of done. Not only does this help with time blocking, but it also allows me to do more with the time that I have. (It’s incredible to think of how much human potential is lost due to perfectionism, but that’s a topic for another day. 🤣)

Perfect is the enemy of good.

Voltaire

So here’s to yet another attempt at time blocking. 🥂

Last week felt super productive and I was pleased with how it turned out. Hoping to keep up these results and learnings as the weeks go on!

When we hold ourselves back

recently tweeted about how self-esteem is about being able to see one’s options and feeling free to choose from those options.

(If either of these is missing, self-esteem is lacking. If someone sees themselves as not having any options, it doesn’t sound like they have high self-esteem. Similarly, someone may see options but feel that most if not all of those options are too costly to really consider as options. So they feel trapped–just picking the least bad option–which also doesn’t sound like they have high self-esteem.)

Our self-esteem comes from our thoughts and beliefs. It seems like a part of the human condition for us to tell ourselves stories that limit our self esteem.

I’m not smart enough to publish a book.”

My ADHD prevents me from limiting my overconsumption of information.”

I have to do this because I set myself this deadline.”

“It isn’t really an option to publish what I wrote this morning—it’s just a draft, it requires editing, I’m not done thinking about that topic yet, and there’s more I intend to write about.”

In Arcane, Silco shares this thought about power:

You see, power, real power doesn’t come to those who were born strongest or fastest or smartest. No. It comes to those who will do anything to achieve it.

Silco

Now, as much as Silco is a villain and uses this phrase to manipulate someone, I think there is some wisdom regarding self-esteem hidden beneath the surface.

The way many of us seem to think about self-esteem is almost meritocratic: if I were a better communicator, I’d have more self-esteem towards using these new relationship tools I’ve been learning; they’re so good at what they do, it’s no wonder they have so much self-esteem.

But self-esteem has nothing to do with merit.

A recent example of this is Simone Biles. Biles is tied as the world’s most decorated gymnast of all time. If that isn’t a display of merit, I don’t know what else is.

Despite this, Biles withdrew from the 2020 Olympic Games following her experience of decreased self-esteem.

Again, self-esteem has nothing to do with merit. It has to do with the thoughts and beliefs we have.

Looking at the last part of Silco’s thought (ie. “It comes to those who will do anything to achieve it.”), three things jumped to my mind.

First, I thought about goal achievement.

There are times when we work towards are goals, and things become difficult. We may not know how to do something. We may not know what to do. We be doing what we know to do, but it just isn’t getting us the results we need.

When we encounter this, we may give up on the goal. We may move the finish line to something easier. We may shift focus to another task or goal. But all of these communicate “This goal as it is isn’t an option for me.”

If instead we push through those feelings of discomfort and uncertainty, we can continue progressing towards our goal. And this helps you to see freely-choosable options where you didn’t see free-choosable options.

Those feelings that once seemed like insurmountable summits now feel like speed bumps on our journey.

Second, I recall examples of this is in 14 Peaks.

Nirmal Purja wanted to climb all 14 mountain peaks with an altitude higher than 8,000 meters over the course of 7 months.

He had so many opportunities where he could have given up.

Harsh weather could have prevented him from climbing certain peaks. But he and his team decided to take the risk and climb anyways.

Governments had shut down certain peaks due to dangerous conditions. But he rallied his supporters to write to the government to open the mountain to Purja and his team.

After summiting one of the peaks, he volunteered to summit again to help rescue another climber who got in trouble coming down. This could have been an excuse for why other peaks couldn’t be climbed in time. But Purja kept his focus on why he could accomplish his dreams instead of focusing on why he couldn’t accomplish his dreams.

Finally, I recently rewatched The Last Lecture.

In this lecture, Randy Pausch presents the theme that brick walls are there to show how badly you want something and to stop the other people who don’t want it bad enough.

One of the examples he shared was how he wanted to experience zero-gravity. With a team of students, he entered a NASA competition where the prize was to take a ride on a jet that would allow them to experience zero-gravity. And the team won.

But then he found out that faculty advisors were not allowed to participate in the zero-gravity experience.

It would have been easy for him to see this as an option he couldn’t take and quit there. But he knew it was a brick wall.

So he e-mailed NASA and told them he was resigning as the team’s faculty advisor and applying as the team’s journalist. And (after a bit more bargaining because it was very transparent to NASA about what he was doing) he was able to experience zero-gravity with his team.

He kept going where many of us would have allowed our thoughts to stop us.

So where in your life are you feeling stuck or low on options?

What thoughts or beliefs do you have that are keeping you there?

Awareness is an interesting thing

In Ultraspeaking Fundamentals this week, we were working on storytelling.

I was playing one of the games, and a topic came up. Fortunately, I had a story that came to mind, so I jumped into sharing that story.

Afterwards, my group gave me some feedback. I learned that I was sharing my thoughts about the story–not the story itself. My coach suggested that I find a specific moment, and share from that moment.

The next time I played the game, I again had a story come to mind. I managed to put myself in a specific moment of that story, and I shared from that specific moment.

Again, my group told me I was sharing my reflections about that specific moment. Instead, I should try speaking in present tense as if I were reliving that moment.

So I tried playing the game again, this time sharing from a specific moment–describing my actions, thoughts, and feelings using the present tense.

Although I again got closer, I was told that sometimes when I shared my thoughts, I jumped back out of the moment–almost as if I were jumping into the role of a third-party narrator.

I was surprised. I knew the exact moment I wanted to talk about. I know what present tense is. Yet, somehow, I wasn’t aware of when I shifted out of present tense in telling my story. I wasn’t aware of when I shifted out of telling my story and instead move towards reflecting on it.

This made me think of a story I read this week in No Rules Rules. Reed Hastings shares a story of teaching high school math in Swaziland as a Peace Corps volunteer:

On a weekly quiz I provided a problem that, from my understanding of their skill set, they should have been able to answer:

A room measures 2 meters by 3 meters. How many 50-centimeter tiles does it take to cover the floor?

Not one of my students gave the accurate response and most of them left the question blank.

The next day in class I put the question on the blackboard and asked for a volunteer to solve it. Students shuffled their feet and looked out the window. I felt my face becoming flushed with frustration. “No one? No one is able to answer?” I asked incredulously. Feeling deflated, I sat down at my desk and waited for a response. That’s when Thabo, a tall, earnest student raised his hand from the back of the class. “Yes, Thabo, please tell us how to solve this problem,” I said, jumping up hopefully. But instead of answering the question Thabo asked, “Mr. Hastings, sir, please, what is a tile?”

Sometimes, things are right in our face, and yet we’re blind to them. Sometimes we can only see things when other people point them out, or when we find ourselves in a position to see another perspective.

This also made me reflect on an experience I had almost a year ago when I was learning how to drive. I had another driving class this week, and my instructor and I were laughing about this. For some reason, pullover parking was the bane of my existence.

I pulled over to the side of the curb slowly, trying to keep all the queues in my head. Then I felt a small bump as the front wheel touched the curb.

As I recall it, my instructor told me that it doesn’t need to be perfect. Just 95% would be great–we can fix the rest later. He gave me a demo, and then asked me to try again.

So I tried it again. I slowed down the car, slowly pulled up to the side of the curb, and then bump.

This time, my instructor gave me a food analogy. When salting food, it’s always better to add too little salt. If you over salt, there’s nothing you can do to fix it. If you under salt, you can always add a little more salt afterwards. With that, he gave me another demo, and then asked me to try again.

So I tried it again. And once again, my attempt concluded with a bump.

It took probably between 3-5 lessons for me to figure it out.

Eventually, I realized what he kept demoing to me. Something about my perfectionism or maybe my ego had me thinking 95% meant my error range was on the order of centimeters, not feet.

But as soon as it clicked, pullover parking was suddenly easy.

My instructor and I had a good laugh about that.

Awareness is an interesting thing.

All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.

Brené Brown

Control issues

I have control issues.

When I feel in control of things, it makes me feel like I can help drive the results I want. And even if I fail, being in control means I can learn and improve next time.

It’s different when I feel out of control. Being out of control makes me feel like I don’t know what results I can expect. If I succeed, it feels lucky. If I fail, it feels unlucky. (I hate gambling.)

This week in Ultraspeaking Fundamentals, we were playing with the idea of letting go of control.

Usually when I speak in public, I don’t follow a strict script, but I do have a plan. I have an outline of were I intend to start, I know the list of key points I want to cover, and I can see how I intend to tie everything together at the end.

It’s all quite controlled.

One of the guest workshops this week was on Alexander Technique with Michael Ashcroft.

One of the topics covered by this workshop was the distinction between attention (ie. a focus on a single thing) and awareness (ie. one’s capacity to notice noticeable things).

Previously, when I would speak in public, I would be focused on my plan.

Unfortunately, there are side effects to maintaining an intense focus on something. When you hold your attention strongly on something, it tends to generate muscle tension in the body and it can impact your breathing.

Speaking is a creative activity and can require a lot of brain activity. Perhaps this is how the discomfort resulting from the muscle tension and the decreased oxygen delivered to the brain due to the changes in breathing may impact one’s speaking; perhaps being in this state is more likely to lead us towards rambling, going on tangents, ranting, second guessing ourselves, etc.

So one of the things I was playing with this week in Ultraspeaking was letting go of my plan.

To do this, every so often I would let my attention go. I’d try to bring myself back to my field of awareness. I waited there until I had let go of the attachment to my plan, and instead had some spark of inspiration to speak.

It was a very different approach to speaking, but I got some good feedback on the results from my classmates. And I’m guessing it’s one of those things that will get even better with consistent practice.

Related to this, I stumbled upon this quote while reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way this week:

Art is not about thinking something up. It is about the opposite—getting something down. The directions are important here.

If we are trying to think something up, we are straining to reach for something that’s just beyond our grasp, “up there, in the stratosphere, where art lives on high. …”

When we get something down, there is no strain. We’re not doing; we’re getting. Someone or something else is doing the doing. Instead of reaching for inventions, we are engaged in listening.

Our brains give us access to both conscious wisdom and unconscious wisdom.

We understand our conscious wisdom, and that gives us a feeling of control.

Our unconscious wisdom offers no explanation. It feels mysterious and out of control.

But our subconscious mind is continuously processing way more information than our conscious mind can handle.

We have the potential to surprise ourselves when we let go of our need to control things and tap into our unconscious wisdom.

Ultraspeaking

I’m currently taking the Ultraspeaking Fundamentals Course. The class is highly interactive and you get a lot of practice time in front of a coach and a couple of classmates.

I decided to take this course because I know I’m not great at speaking. I hate hearing my own voice, and I generally avoid speaking during recorded sessions out of the fear I’ll hear my voice permanently stored in the cloud one day. I have the tendency to speak really quietly, which may be related to why I sometimes mumble my words. Sometimes when I explain things, I look to see the confused looks of other people on the call, so I’m not great at clearly articulating my ideas. And my energy levels when I speak are a pretty consistent, flat, low energy. It’s interesting because back when I was in microbiology, I felt pretty confident when I spoke. I don’t know that I ever regained that confidence since switching over to writing code.

Anyhow, I was pretty excited for the first week of Ultraspeaking. I knew I wanted to get better at speaking, and I had some pretty great experiences with other cohort-based courses last year. After the first lecture, we went to our first break out room–a coach and three students. We were about to play our first game–Rapid Fire Analogies–in which we have to come up with an analogy comparing two random words in only a couple seconds while maintaining an air of confidence. The first two people went, and it was cool to see the connections they were able to draw as the random words were flying past.

And then it was my turn. I wasn’t able to read the words fast enough, let alone come up with an analogy for them. I had to skip a couple of them to regain my composure before I could continue on. I’d say the first thing that came to my mind, but then my mind would circle back and be like “What. That doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t work. You failed.” All of a sudden, it wasn’t exciting or fun anymore. I was embarrassed. I wasn’t the same level as the other people there.

And it got worse and worse as the week went on. The time between slides got smaller, and the number of slides increased. As the break out rooms got shuffled, I saw more and more people being able to do amazing jobs with their analogies. It wasn’t just a fluke, I was truly worse than everyone else. And it didn’t seem like I was able to execute the coaches’ suggestions either. I remember at one point, a coach asked me to play the game with super high energy. Afterwards, she asked me and the other students how we saw the energy level on a scale from 1 to 10. I thought it was about an 8. The others described it as maybe a 4 or a 5. I wasn’t only doing poorly–I was struggling to improve as well.

At the end of the day, I got an email from a coach to me and one of the co-founders recommending me for an assessment. sigh. It looked like I was so bad that I was going to be evaluated to see if I was a good fit for this course. So I signed up for a calendar spot a few days later. I was hoping that they’d let me keep access to the games so I could practice on my own time, and that I would hopefully improve enough for whenever my participation was deferred to (I was hoping I’d be able to make enough improvements on my own before the next cohort).

So a few days later, I hop onto the assessment call. Both co-founders are on it. I feel my nerves stirring again.

After brief introductions, we jump into various games. Something’s weird. They seem pretty positive. I mean, yes, they point out some of the things I expect to hear–lacking self-confidence, can add more variety, etc. But they also point out a bunch of unexpected stuff–I’ve got a lot of ideas to draw from, I’m good at finding meaning in things, etc. It’s not all bad. And there was no mention of me needing to defer my enrolment to a future cohort.

At the end of the assessment, they sent me a “report card” of sorts. It pointed out areas for growth, but also areas that are already strengths. This made me feel better–I no longer felt like a total lost cause.

Afterwards, I looked through my email and found one that I had deferred reading. It was an explanation of the assessment and how all the students would go through it and what the report card would look like. 🤣 It wasn’t anything like what I told myself it was going to be about.

When the classes for week 2 rolled around, we moved onto a new game–Conductor— in which we have to match the energy level of the slide showed on the screen. More surprises. I felt like I was keeping up with everyone else. I found out that high energies were actually more of a strength for me than low energies. Week 2 was a totally different experience.

Both externally and internally, it’s incredibly hard to see what’s really there. You only ever find those things that you’re looking for.

Thinking and Lasting Behaviour Change

Lasting behaviour change is difficult if you aren’t also being intentional about your thinking.

Let’s suppose you’re taking an online class on personal knowledge management. One of the ideas they might talk about is that one of the challenges of personal knowledge management is over-consumption–the hoarding of other people’s ideas you find in books, articles, podcasts, etc and the tendency to continue seeking other people’s ideas ideas instead of developing and using your own. And to address this, they might suggest reducing your collecting of other people’s ideas to only the handful of ideas that you personally find most valuable.

So let’s also suppose that you try this new behaviour. The next time you read a book, instead of highlighting every single passage that seems like it might be useful to someone someday, you instead decide to really question if this passage is of super high value to yourself.

You may try this new behaviour because it’s something you feel you should do. You may try it out so you can honestly say you gave it a shot, but you don’t really believe it’s going to work. As you’re reading the book, you may be worrying that the things you didn’t highlight this time but would have highlighted in that past might be important for a future project and by not highlighting them now, you may lose them or create more work for future you. You may try this new behaviour despite an experience of FOMO as you keep thinking about you’re not highlighting.

When your thinking looks like this, it’s going to be hard to maintain this behaviour change going forward. When you look through your notes, your mind is going to think of all the cool ideas you remember reading but aren’t present in your notes. You’re going to think you took a step backwards–you’ve now created more work for yourself because you have to now re-read the book to capture those highlights that you skipped last time. You’re going to think that you’re doing this new behaviour wrong–there’s some subtle nuance about the behaviour change that you’re not understanding, and that’s why it didn’t work for you this time. You’re going to feel anxious about what you didn’t capture. You’re going to feel bad that you weren’t able to implement this practice properly. And you’re not going to be able to develop your own thoughts or use your own thoughts to create anything–you’re always going to feel the need to keep capturing all the ideas out that that you don’t yet have in your notes.

You’re not going to want to try this new behaviour again.

Now instead, let’s suppose you may try this new behaviour because you want to develop your own thoughts and use your own thoughts to create new things. You decide to trust your intuition about what are the most valuable ideas while you’re reading, and you only highlight those select few phrases that really call out to your subconscious. When you finish reading the book, you create new notes to develop your own thoughts focusing on the highlights that you have already collected in your notes. And you’re able to create new things using the notes already in your possession.

When your thinking looks like this, it’s going to be easier to maintain this behaviour change going forward. You’re going to look at what you were able to do–both your thinking and your creating–with the reduced number of highlights you took. You’re going to start to see yourself as someone who is able to produce great insights and create new value in the world. You’re going to feel good about collecting only the most valuable ideas from other people and how that allows you to spend more time on the activities that are truly important to you.

You’re going to want to try this new behaviour again.

Getting the reps in is important when you’re trying to make lasting behaviour change. However, perspective is key to ensuring those reps are having the impact you truly desire.

Time Spent On Planning

Last week, I shared a bit about my annual review. One of my thoughts coming out of my annual review was that I felt like it took too long for me to complete.

If I recall correctly, my review took me about 4 days to complete. Doing the math, this works out to be approximately 1% of the year.

In a conversation with Shirley, I started reflecting on whether my judgement was fair–is it really that bad to have spent 4 days on my annual retro and planning?

Reflecting on projects at work, we seem to spend significantly more time on project planning and project retrospectives. From this perspective, it actually feels sort of absurd if I put a constraint on project planning and retrospectives to be less than 1% of the time. At that point, I’d really be questioning if we’d put in the valuable effort into:

  • learning what worked previously and how we can do more of that
  • learning what didn’t work previously and what we can do instead
  • understanding the problem we want to solve
  • understanding why that problem is important to solve
  • understanding what we want to do to solve the problem
  • understanding how we’re going to execute on that solution
  • reflecting on potential challenges we may face and what we could do in response
  • (et cetera)

At the same time, this estimation for how much time I’m spending on planning and retrospectives isn’t complete. I do spent time throughout the year on my monthly and quarterly reviews which allow me to refocus on my annual vision, and also (along with my weekly reviews) learn from the past.

I’m also experimenting with including a transcluded block of my monthly vision in my daily note template. Ideally, this means I’m re-reading and re-presenting my vision each day; in reality, I do skip this on those days I feel the most flustered (probably the most important days I remain aligned with my vision though 🤣).

And that alignment with the vision is what’s truly important.

Maybe that’s why it requires more planning and retrospective time for work projects–alignment is more difficult to achieve when there are multiple people involved. Having multiple people creates additional complexity through different perspectives, motivations, expectations, communication styles, values, etc.

And maybe that means I should focus less on judging whether I’m spending too much time planning, or judging where the line for spending too much time planning is. Maybe I should stop the judgements and just reflect on whether this amount of planning is still effective, useful, and serving me.

My 2021 review

To me, it feels like 2021 went by super fast. At the same time, I realized just how much had happened this year when I did my annual review last week.

My annual review took me many days to complete.

The way my annual review is currently structured, I do:

  • A qualitative review of the projects I completed this year. I do this by reviewing an annual project note in Obsidian, and also my completed tasks in OmniFocus
  • A quantitative review of my finances
  • A quantitative review of how I spent my time
  • A quantitative review of select health metrics (eg. weight and body fat, heart rate variability, sleep, consistency in workouts/running)
  • A qualitative review of the core areas of my life
  • A visioning exercise for the upcoming year based on the giving yourself an A exercise from The Art of Possibility

I’d like my annual review to go faster next year. Also, I want to be review things closer to when they happened so I have more of the context fresh in my mind. To these ends, I’m planning on doing a smaller version of my annual review each month so that next year, my annual review should most involve drawing from the insights I had from all my monthly reviews that year.

One thing that surprised me this year–pretty much every single interaction I had with friends and family this year (eg. phone calls, meeting for food or projects, playing board games, going camping or hiking) got highlighted in my annual review. I think the reduced face time that comes with the COVID-19 pandemic has me really appreciating the time I do get to spend with other people.

I took a lot of new risks this year. I’ve put off getting my driver’s license for about 15 years now due to various excuses and anxieties, but this year I managed to pass my driving exam and get my novice license. I have a lot of anxiety around sports-related things and I tend to stick to things I’m familiar with, but this year I visited a bunch of new places to play volleyball which has given me new options to play in the future. And after years of thinking about it, I’ve finally stepped into the practice of coaching.

And I also stumbled upon some unexpected money. I thought that I had used up my mental health benefits earlier this year. However, I learned that this wasn’t the case when I did my annual review. I was able to submit claims for some additional therapy sessions and I got reimbursed almost $1000. It was definitely a nice Easter egg in my annual review 😻

#tweet365 Challenge

I’ve decided I’m going to participate in the #tweet365 challenge this year. This challenge involves posting at least one tweet on Twitter every day using the #tweet100 hashtag.

I’ve decided to take on this challenge because I want to try establishing a bigger online presence this year.

One of the people who I’ve been following this year is Kevon Cheung. I’ve been pretty inspired by two of his initiatives I stumbled upon this year: Build in Public Mastery and Making Twitter Friends. To be clear, I haven’t participated in the former and I’m still in the process of going through all the emails from the latter. However, I’ve really enjoyed seeing how Kevon connects and engages with various communities on Twitter.

Last year I participated in Building a Second Brain and Linking Your Thinking. One of my takeaways from these courses was that it’s valuable to share your thinking and work with others early on. This can help improve your thinking and work as you can get early feedback from others. And connecting with people with similar interests can help improve your learning and thinking. By having multiple people sharing what they’re individually learning in similar areas, you can accelerate your discovery of resonating thoughts. In this way, it reminds me in a way of parallelizing your thinking, or dividing and conquering a problem. (And then after writing this, I realized the the term I was looking for is crowdsourcing).

Because I’m also diving into coaching this year, having a bigger online presence may also help me discover new clients. Some of the people I connect with may be interested in exploring coaching, and I may be able to help them explore in our areas of mutual interest.

When I publish something on my blog or newsletter, most of the people who see my writing are existing readers. I am extremely grateful that I have these readers, and I have great conversations with many of them on a regular basis. However, Twitter has some social functions (eg. retweets, likes) that help to quickly increase the visibility of online writing. Additionally, for many people it’s a lower bar to follow someone on Twitter than it is to sign-up for email updates from a blog or newsletter. Because of this, I’m hoping that I can increase the number and diversity of conversations I have with other people this year about the things I’m interested in.

My consistency with using social media is not great. Below is a visualization of the number of tweets I made each month in 2021. The spike in May/June was from when I was participating in Building a Second Brain, and I had many great conversations with people from my cohort (in fact, I’m still in regular contact with many of them still today). That being said, I’d like to be more consistent with my engagement online. I’m hoping by participating in #tweet365 I can eliminate having these months of no/decreased engagement going forward.

Graph of Tweets vs Month

Also, one of the themes I’ve picked up on from seeing posts from the Ship 30 For 30 course (I haven’t taken the course myself) is the idea of data-driven writing. Because tweets are so small, they can help isolate variables. You can get rapid feedback on the effectiveness of your writing. And tweets are free. So I’m curious about experimenting this year with this idea of data-driven writing.

As part of this, at least for a while, I’m planning on sharing the main body of my weekly newsletter in my blog. I still plan to produce my weekly long(er) form of writing, but I’d like to try focusing on this new experiment for now to get things started.

Diving into coaching

Over the years, I’ve experienced various forms of coaching (and coaching-like experiences) at work and in life. I’ve enjoyed talking through problems and exploring different perspectives with friends. I’ve done a bunch of learning about coaching through books and podcasts over the years.

It’s something I’ve wanted to try for years. It feels very meaningful to me to help other people realize their own potential.

I am not certified as a coach, nor do I have any formal training. However, the field of coaching is currently unregulated.

So I’ve decided to dive in.

My current plan is to start off offering coaching sessions for free. My goal here will be to gain experience, get feedback, and learn how to improve my practice.

As I gain experience and grow a track record of actually helping people, I will gradually increase my rates over time. But before I increase my rates, I want to make sure I’m actually providing value to my coachees/clients.

I do plan on eventually getting formal training and certifications in coaching–likely through multiple schools, as there’s already several I really respect and have been admiring for years.

The reason I’ve decided to dive in before that is because I know I have a bias towards learning over action. It would be easy for me to keep putting off my coaching practice because there’s always more to learn about coaching. By starting first, I can help ensure my learning is targeted and being put to good use.

It’s one of a few big experiments I’m planning on trying out in 2022 🙂 I’ll share the others in the near future.

If you’re interested in learning more about my coaching practice, or are interested in signing up for a session, please check out my coaching page here.