Read

I’ve been asked a number of times how I read so much.

My first answer is usually “I read a lot of trash” and that’s true. Weird af romance novels are my guilty pleasure. And with my Kindle Unlimited subscription, most of the ones I’ve been reading lately are basically porn.

My next answer is that I find moments to read. I don’t need an hour to sit down and get reading.

Plane delayed for an hour? I read. Standing in line for the bathroom? I read. The person I’m meeting is 15 minutes late? I read.

Rather than scrolling through my social media feeds — which, after my cleanup, is almost non-existent — I read.

If we think about how much time we spend, on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, and imagine using that time reading instead, we’ll realise that it’s easy to read a lot more.

But that said, reading is overrated. I read because I enjoy it, not because I feel it’s something I must do.

When I am knee-deep in a particularly gripping book, it’s hard for me to even think about doing anything else. There have been days when I can’t sleep because I want to know what happens next.

Text is always my medium of choice. And perhaps that’s the real reason I read as much as I do.

Disclosure: Some of the things I share in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you go through them and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. There are no extra charges for you, but it’ll contribute to my coffee (read: alcohol) fund. Thank you!

Stock up

How can stoicism be practised even during the good times?

Today’s reading of the Daily Stoic email newsletter suggests that during the “good times”, we stock up our “Fortress of Fortitude“. 

That we “prepare for an uncertain future and to never be so naive as to expect things to always be booming and pleasant”. 

When we are on top, we should enjoy it, yes. But we must remember not to let it go to our heads. 

We must continue to practise the same kind of mindfulness, to keep journalling and strengthening our character. 

Sometimes I think: it’s when times are good, that we are most at risk. We are at risk of being too comfortable. We are at risk of revelling too much in the now and thinking too little about the future. 

We must continue to build on what we have, lay down new foundations, discover new possibilities. 

When times are good, we have resources in abundance and we must deploy them in the most effective manner so that when the hard times come (and they will), we still have the resources we need to thrive. 

The Daily Stoic email reminds me that the worst that could happen is not any of the negative things that could happen in the world or in my personal life. 

It would be for that to happen and for you to turn inside to your cabinet of fortitude or your inner citadel and find it empty.”

Disruption

Work-batching and time-blocking are great methods for maintaining productivity but as Barry Davret says in his article The Time Management Secret Nobody Talks About, there’s a lot less advice on how to handle disruptions. 

And at some point, disruptions are bound to happen. 

We can try our best to control our environments but there are too many variables. The only real thing within our control is ourselves. #stoicism

In times when we find our well-planned schedules disrupted — like when you’re heading home to meet a deadline and get into a car accident — Davret suggests that we take a step back, instead of reacting with rage or indulging in self-pity / a complain fest. 

He provides a checklist of questions that we should ask ourselves, to take us out of a “knee-jerk emotional reaction” and decide our next course of action. 

I’ve found that most cases of disruption to my schedule are out of my control. Disruption in the form of interruptions or distractions are things that I’ve factored into my work day. 

These can be minimised or controlled by doing things like scheduling time for providing updates (so you don’t get asked), turning off notifications, saying “no”. 

Task transition journalling is also a great way to identify what my disruptors are and figure out a strategy to minimise them.

Sick

What do you do when you’re ill?

If you’re like me, you probably try to power through your day. I’ve learned and am still learning, that it’s not sustainable. It’s not effective or productive. Especially when all your body wants to do is rest.

“I just need to get through today,” I tell myself. And then I tell myself the same thing the next day. And the next.

At some point, my body stops believing me.

It’s not that I’m a workaholic. There are just a lot of things I want to do.

But it’s the times when I’m sick that I wonder if that’s sustainable as well.

And the question that’s been on my mind the last few days is this: how do I combine my wide variety of interests into one thing that will bring me ultimate satisfaction?

Is it even possible? And is it even required?

I’ve been asked countless times to focus. And yes, I’ve somewhat done that by cutting out a lot of things that don’t generate value, by saying no even to things that I desperately want to say yes to.

But what if I enjoy the exploration? What if I want to follow my curiosity down rabbit holes?

Back when I was taking trumpet lessons, someone asked me why?

“You’re not naturally talented,” he said.

I wouldn’t delight an audience, that’s for sure. But what if just playing the instrument (and possibly sucking at it) makes me happy?

And if that’s my goal, wouldn’t that be considered successfully achieving it?

Female

A while back, I wrote about how I experience lower productivity during my period and since then, have been fascinated by the idea of cycle syncing. 

It turns out, I’m not the only one. There are groups of women who actually do it. And apparently, femtech is now a billion-dollar industry

It’s an industry that I’ve been exploring without realising it. 

So much of the world, especially the working world, has been built for men. And this was valid because in the past, the home was the woman’s domain. 

During my recent visit to South Korea, we visited one of the old houses of a nobleman (who later became king) and the women’s quarters were much larger. This was because all the handling of food and clothing was done there. 

But the world is different now. And yet, our approach remains the same. 

Is “equal opportunity” really that if environments outside the home remain “hostile” to women? 

I’m asking, not because I’ve experienced overly negative experiences. I’ve been relatively fortunate. 

But I think all women have learned to navigate within this world that wasn’t built for us. And we’ve grown accustomed to so much of it, that we don’t question the status quo. 

And I’m wondering if we should. 

For storytellers

I recently read about a new product from a company that Spotify acquired a couple of years back called Soundtrap. 

What piqued my interest about this new product, called Soundtrap for Storytellers, is that it allows you to cut your audio file by editing your transcript. 

As a podcaster, this can be a painful process, especially if you’re on a deadline (I usually am). So of course, I had to try it out. 

It’s a little complex if you’re new to sound editing but it’s easy enough to pick up. I managed to record and somewhat figure out how to create music tracks in about 10 minutes.  

(Yes, you can create your own music tracks electronically.)

I tried out the transcription bit and it works! 

The UI looks a bit like Anchor’s, which I like.

The transcript is automatically generated and is pretty accurate. I could have enunciated better and it would have been perfect. 

I decided that I would cut a part in the middle. So I cut it in the transcript, and that reflected in the audio as well. I’m amazed. 

After Spotify’s acquisition of Anchor and Gimlet earlier this year, as well as the launch of this new feature, it’s becoming clearer that podcasting and the audio medium could be seeing a new revival. 

I’m excited! 

Partner

There are days when Ming frustrates me. This is normal.

Being in such close proximity with anyone definitely leads to some level of disagreement. (And if there aren’t any disagreements, that probably means that someone isn’t being fully honest.)

But more often than not, Ming makes my life better. He makes life feel better in so many different ways.

And he makes so many of the things that I do possible, pushing me towards things that I don’t always think I can do, supporting me even in projects that he may not be interested in.

One occasion that I will always remember is when I was invited to read at Readings@Seksan.

I wanted to read a piece of old writing about a man who broke my heart.

Even though he hadn’t even read the piece (he doesn’t read my writing), Ming laid out my text so that it would fit nicely onto four pages (A4, folded in half) and then printed out copies.

Even though he wasn’t into this sort of “literary” event, he came to listen to me read. I was too shy to distribute copies of the printout so after I was done reading, Ming walked around handing out copies of the piece I’d read.

On days when I’m frustrated, I think about the little things like these that he does and I’m blown away by how amazing he is.

And instead of focusing on how I think he’s falling short, I think about how I can be better for him.