Saturday

Saturdays are no-work days for me but there are weeks when I’m tempted to cheat. 

At times, it’s because there are deadlines looming. Other times, it’s because I’ve read something inspiring or had an idea flash and can’t help myself. 

This week was a combination of those two. 

But I’ve learned that if I give in and let myself fall into that stream of work, I’ll do it again next week. And the next. And probably the next. 

I’ve learned that if I’m not careful, it leads to fatigue. Like when you work a muscle out too much, it takes longer to recover. And I’m always frustrated when that happens. 

So I have a solution for myself. 

If there are deadlines looming, instead of working, I fill up my calendar for the following week with all the times I should work on that project. It helps to reduce the anxiety that stems from thinking that I won’t be able to finish in time. 

All inspiration and ideas are written down so that I won’t forget. This can be a good thing, because not all the ideas are actually good ideas in the current moment. 

Sleep is a good filter. Things become more solid after a good night’s sleep. 

Audio

After some hmm-ah-ing, I’ve added Audible onto my list of media services to subscribe to. I’m on the free 30-day trial and after a day, I still have mixed feelings. 

One of my goals this year is to double the number of books I read last year, which means that I want to read at least two books per week. 

(I’m 13 books ahead of schedule thanks to Kindle Unlimited, which I am really getting into.)

So I thought, why not audiobooks as well? My typical thing to do while commuting is listening to podcasts. It would be easy to substitute that with an audiobook. 

Or so I thought. It’s not been as easy as I thought it would be. 

The thing with listening to books is that I often miss parts because my mind wanders. When I’m reading, I tend to highlight the text, let my mind stay longer on certain points, form connections with things I’ve read or learned elsewhere. 

When I do that with audiobooks, I come back into the moment and realise… I’ve missed a whole chunk of the reading! So I rewind and listen to it again. Rinse and repeat. 

This happens less commonly when I listen to podcasts because it’s more conversational. 

On the other hand, what I do love about audiobooks is that it gives my eyes a break. I often read before I fall asleep and that can be hard to do some days. 

The jury is still out. Let’s see how the next 29 days go. 

Do you listen to audiobooks? What do you love about it?

Journalist

For years I’ve been hearing that journalism is a dying career. In uni, and then even after I began work as a journalist, I was told, the job market isn’t great, nobody is hiring now.

And yet, throughout the years, I have seen a constant need for storytellers, a demand for people who know how to digest technical information quickly and turn it into something understandable, or informative, or entertaining.

Journalism may be a dying career (I don’t think so) but the skills we learn on the job are extremely transferable.

Phillip Smith, the Founder of Journalism Entrepreneurship Training Company believes that the skills that journalists have developed make them ideal for entrepreneurship.

“They already have the skills that we look for in entrepreneurs — that mythical classification of people who breath life into new, novel, and often innovative ideas,” he wrote in an article on Medium.

Although he is making a case for journalists to start something of their own within the same profession, I’ve found that the same skills apply within other industries as well.

As a young reporter, I learned to think on my feet, to get some kind of story at all costs, and to do it all within tight timelines.

I’ve been told that I’m a bad writer, that my ideas don’t make sense, that I’m not good enough. And through all of that, I have learned not to crumble.

No matter what job you’re working, no matter what your profession is, there is something to learn and there will be something to use in the next chapter of whatever career path you choose to pursue.

The machines won’t take all our jobs. And even if they do, we must trust ourselves and know that we will figure something out.

Perception

There are days when I am disappointed by everything around me and I’ve begun to notice that it’s usually people that I am most disappointed by. 

But in Feb 12’s reading, The Daily Stoic asks, “Why are you subjecting yourself to this? Is this really the environment you were made for? To be provoked by nasty emails and an endless parade of workplace problems?”

Written based on Epictetus’ Discourses which calls for us to “keep constant guard” over our perceptions, it is a reminder that I have more control over my environment than I think I do. 

Epictetus goes on to say that our perception is not a trivial thing to protect. By controlling our perception, we are protecting our “respect, trustworthiness and steadiness, peace of mind…”.

“For what would you sell these things?” he asks.  

Complete peace of mind can be hard to come by, but we can certainly foster it, reduce disruptions to it. 

There’s no point stressing out over things that I have no control over. When I am disappointed, is it because of what people have done, or is it because of my perception of what they’ve done? 

The world shapes itself according to how we perceive it.

Stretch

I recently signed up to Google Sheets Tips, a newsletter I discovered while researching the query required to create a sheet that updates itself. 

Just last year, opening a spreadsheet made my brain feel like it was melting. All the numbers and text in squares that ran both lengthwise and crosswise. I never knew where to start looking.

(I sometimes feel the same way when I look at slide decks. Or even comic books.)

For years, Ming and other people have been extolling the power of spreadsheets. And I’m finally seeing it. It’s yet another shiny object that’s turning out to be a real addition to my toolkit.

So I thought, why not question the limitation I’ve set on myself with regards to video and photography. 

At the same time, I didn’t want to divert too much effort away from my priorities. So, I did a MOOC on mobile journalism (playing the videos at 2x speed) and have come away with some basic knowledge on how to shoot and edit videos on my phone. 

It’s amazing what you can produce with just a few hacks. For example, did you know that there are simple ways to create transitions even while shooting? There’s no need for fancy video editing software. 

If you’re someone who wants to create content regularly, but have limited time, there are heaps of hacks that you can use. I’ll be experimenting and sharing some of these tips and hacks on my Facebook page. Feel free to follow along!

Password

One of my pet peeves when it comes to web applications is unencrypted passwords. 

The biggest factor for distrust is when an app sends me my password via email. No, not a reset link or a temporary password, my actual password. 

Even I know that encrypting the passwords of users who sign up for your service is a must-do, and seriously, it’s not hard to implement. Coming from someone who’s not a great coder, that’s saying something. 

What’s even more annoying is when the app is so powerful in every other way. Because it means that the developers are not incompetent, they’re just lazy. 

Why should users trust companies that can’t even get something so basic right? After all the hacks and leaked passwords, wouldn’t apps with a huge database of users want to be more responsible? 

I am always extra disappointed when an app that I am especially excited to use doesn’t encrypt their password. 

I’ll admit that I am often lazy and I don’t always know the best way to do things, but as users, I think we have to take responsibility for our own online safety as well. 

Don’t use the same password on different services. Use strong passwords (if possible, use a password manager that can generate this for you). Turn on 2FA. 

I often test the “Forgot password” function as well.

Do you have any other tips on how users can increase their online security? Please share in the comments or by dropping me a line.

Steps

There are days when it feels like I may never achieve what I want to achieve. The path looks steep, the road looks winding, and I am tired

“You don’t have to hustle,” Josh Spector writes in an article titled 20 Things You Don’t Have to Do Tomorrow. “A little laziness does a body good.”

And I’m inclined to accept that advice. Since I started sleeping longer hours and allocating more time for relaxation, my skin has stopped bruising. My rash is healing more every day. 

A doctor told me recently, “Sleep is the best medicine.” 

Sleep is a challenge for me. And not in the sense that I toss and turn in bed before falling asleep. I just don’t enjoy sleep. There are a lot of other things I would rather be doing. 

But I’m learning that this journey that I’m on is not an ultramarathon. It’s not a race, it’s an expedition. 

It’s not about getting from point A to point B in the fastest time possible. It’s about exploration, and discovery, and growth. 

I’m learning that it’s okay to halt during bad weather. To recover enough today in order to go further tomorrow. To enjoy all the little nuances of the journey. 

And instead of taking the entire road ahead all in one go, I need to focus on doing the best I can right now.

“The road to back-to-back championships, or being a writer or a successful entrepreneur is just that, a road. And you travel along a road in steps,” writes Ryan Holiday. 

“Excellence is a matter of steps.”

Not speed, steps.