๐Ÿ“’ Why I Use a Pocket Notebook

I carry a pocket notebook with me wherever I go. In it, I write thoughts, ideas, anecdotes, and to-do tasks. I could use a notes app for this purpose, but I find a paper notebook more convenient and accessible for several reasons:

1. Paper and pen is quicker.
2. While with company, it’s perceived as less rude to be writing in a notebook than typing on a phone.
3. Phones and computers are distraction machines. Often I open them for one purpose and end up down a rabbit hole of frivolity.
4. There is an indefinable magic to writing things by hand.

For multi-page writing, a computer with a keyboard is the most efficient tool. For anything less, pen and paper can’t be beaten.

๐Ÿ’ช 25 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Life

1. Tidy your space.

2. Make a gratitude list.

3. Read a book.

4. Listen to an audiobook.

5. Watch an educational video.

6. Drink water.

7. Go for a walk.

8. Tell someone you appreciate them.

9. Read a Wikipedia page.

10. Set a budget.

11. Check your credit report.

12. Talk to someone smarter than yourself.

13. Sit up straight.

14. Unclench your jaw.

15. Floss.

16. Delete Facebook.

17. Block time-wasting websites.

18. Eat something healthy.

19. Do push-ups, squats, or burpees.

20. Write a list of goals for the week.

21. Download a password manager.

22. Set up automatic deposits for your savings account.

23. Take a break from the computer screen.

24. Set up a file backup system on your computer.

25. Stretch.

๐ŸŽป 15 Ways to Unlock Your Creativity

1. Read. Read about creativity. Read about artists. Learn new things.

2. Get bored. Sit down. Do nothing. Let creativity fill the gaps.

3. Journal. Free write. Let your thoughts flow unencumbered. Try asking yourself questions. Answer them on the page.

4. Do something mindless. Go for a walk. Go for a drive. Do the dishes. Keep your body busy while your mind wanders to other places.

5. Review your notes. Look at your past thoughts. You might have a different perspective now than you did then.

6. Copy your idols. In other words, Steal Like an Artist.

7. Start with one small step. Write one sentence. Make one brushstroke. Do the minimum. Just get things started to overcome that first hurdle.

8. Make a list. Create a mind map. Spit words and ideas onto the page. Figure out what to do with them later.

9. Create more. Creativity isn’t finite. The more you create, the more ideas you get. 

10. Break routine. Do something different. Use new experiences to fuel your creativity.

11. Talk through it. Just saying your thoughts out loud can help you work through them.

12. Change your process. Use new tools. Try a new technique. Approach your work from a new angle.

13. Try collaborating. Get an outside perspective. Find help from someone with different experiences and expertise. Just talking your project over with people can bring new insights.

14. Set constraints. Endless options can lead to analysis paralysis. Set constraints to force creative solutions.

15. Remix your old work. Edit it. Tweak it. Repackage it. You are a different person now than you were in the past. You have experienced new things. You have different skills and opinions. All of that can impact your work.

โฐ Spend Money to Buy Time

Money is infinite. If you lose money, you can always earn more. Time doesn’t work like that. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. So whenever you can trade money to buy time, you should do it.

There are even scientific reasons to buy time. According to studies, buying time promotes happiness. But how do you do it? Depending on your disposable income, you have a few options.

Ways to buy time:

  1. Get a housecleaning service. Pay a service to do your dusting, vacuuming, and scrubbing.
  2. Hire a gardener. Get someone to mow your lawn and prune your bushes.
  3. Outsource repairs. Hire others to repair your appliances, house fixtures, and car. If you rent, hold your landlord responsible for home repairs.
  4. Pay for faster transportation. Fly instead of drive. Opt for direct flights. Pay for priority parking.
  5. Get an assistant. Hire someone to keep your schedule, make your appointments, and run your errands. If that is out of your price range, try online services.
  6. Outsource work. Hire freelancers to research, edit, write, design, code, or do whatever else you need done.
  7. Cut down on commute time. Pay more to live closer to work. Or quit your job and find one that allows you to work from home.
  8. Pay someone to cook for you. Order out for meals. For a healthier (and more expensive) option, hire a personal chef.
  9. Retire early. Be frugal with your spending. Save as much as you can. Invest wisely. Retire early so you can spend time doing what you want and not what you need.

Not everyone has the disposable income for some of these options. But there are a handful of things you can do to free time without spending money.

Ways to free time without spending money:

  1. Automate repetitive tasks. If you need to do it more than twice, find a way to automate it. Set up autopay on your bills. Write scripts for repetitive computer tasks. Use automation software.
  2. Streamline decision making. Author Neil Strauss eats the same lunches from the same restaurants every week. He does this so he doesn’t have to spend time choosing what to eat. The decisions are made for him. Find ways to cut down on your decisions.
  3. Stay healthy. By eating healthy, exercising, and regularly visiting your doctor, you can add years to your life you might not otherwise have.
  4. Stay on task. Manage your responsibilities in a timely manner, so you can move on to tasks you enjoy.

It’s up to you to decide which strategies you implement. Some things you might actually enjoy doing. Others you will want to outsource. If you enjoy cooking, don’t bother ordering out. However not many people enjoy dusting and vacuuming, so you might want to hire someone to do the housecleaning for you. Like most decisions, the more money you have, the easier they are to make.

Now take the time to choose what you want to outsource. Do it for your own happiness. Go task by task, deciding what you can and can’t afford, what you enjoy and what you don’t. Don’t limit yourself to the tasks in this post. The more time you buy, the more time you have to do the things you love.

๐Ÿ“ 20 Ways to Improve Your Writing

1. Write daily.

2. Read On Writing Well or one of these other books on how to improve your writing.

3. Get feedback from friends and family.

4. Join a writing group, class, or workshop.

5. Participate in NaNoWriMo.

6. Listen to the Writing Excuses podcast.

7. Watch Brandon Sanderson’s creative writing lectures.

8. Keep an observation notebook.

9. Read read read.

10. Rewrite rewrite rewrite.

11. Copy great work.

12. Follow the Pixar rules of storytelling.

13. Craft a story from a writing prompt.

14. Read your writing out loud.

15. Start a blog.

16. Travel. Experience the world.

17. Keep a journal.

18. Outline your novel like Jim Butcher.

19. Re-read good books.

20. Try to get published.

โœ 11 Books to Improve Your Writing

Included in this list are books on how to write both fiction and nonfiction.

1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott โ€” Advice on writing fiction, including exercises to get you started.

2. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss โ€” A guide to proper punctuation with hilarious examples of real-world misuses.

3. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White โ€” A brief guide on how to properly write a sentence.

4. On Writing by Stephen King โ€” This Stephen King classic is more memoir than how-to guide. Still, it reveals plenty of insights into King’s writing process and serves as great motivation for the wannabe novelist.

5. On Writing Well by William Zinsser โ€” If you need to do any kind of writing to get through the day, this book will teach you how to improve.

6. The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester โ€” This book gives a beat-by-beat guide to writing a fantasy novel. Even if fantasy is not your genre, you can find value in this book.

7. Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer โ€” A sharp and funny guide to clarity and style.

8. The Everyday Writer by Andrea Lunsford โ€” An all-purpose writing guide for students.

9. The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth โ€” Learn how to elegantly turn a phrase.

10. Stein on Writing by Sol Stein โ€” Editing is an essential part of the writing process. This book will teach you how to fix writing when it is flawed.

11. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley โ€” If you have any interest in creating online content, this book will show you how to attract and connect to audiences.

๐Ÿงฎ Less and More

Less television.
More reading.

Less soda.
More water.

Less scrolling.
More writing.

Less jealousy.
More generosity.

Less consuming.
More creating.

Less overthinking.
More acting.

Less self pity.
More determination.

Less cars.
More bikes.

Less couch.
More sunshine.

Less impulse.
More consistency.

Less judgment.
More openness.

Less spending.
More saving.

Less loneliness.
More friendliness.

Less complaining.
More problem solving.

Less sloppiness.
More organization.

Less indifference.
More curiosity.

Less fear.
More bravery.

Less talking.
More listening.

๐Ÿ’ธ 75 Purchases Under $100 to Improve Your Life

Sometimes a small purchase can make a huge impact on your life. Below are 75 affordable purchases that have the potential to improve your life in some way.

Note: Links below include affiliate links to Amazon.com. I am an Amazon Associate, therefore I receive a small commission for every purchase made through these links, at no added expense to the customer.

The list:

1. A pull-up bar to get you in shape fast.

2. A heated blanket for cold nights.

3. A detachable showerhead for washing the hard to reach places.

4. A pair of blue light blocking glasses to protect your eyes from screen fatigue.

5. A YNAB subscription to get your finances in order.

6. A bidet for a thorough cleaning.

7. A headlamp so you can see in dark places without occupying your hands.

8. A sharp chef’s knife because a dull one is dangerous and less efficient.

9. A sunrise alarm clock for a more gentle way of waking up in the morning.

10. Blackout curtains to sleep peacefully.

11. A shoehorn so you don’t damage your shoes.

12. A journal for working through your thoughts.

13. Noise canceling headphones for focus mode.

14. A National Parks pass to explore America’s best places.

15. A second monitor for optimal efficiency.

16. Timer cap bottles so you don’t have to remember if you’ve had your medication.

17. A mechanical keyboard for satisfying typing.

18. An extra long phone charging cable so you can use your phone while it charges.

19. A toaster oven for quick meals.

20. A fireproof safe to protect your most valuable possessions and documents from disaster.

21. The perfect notebook for capturing ideas.

22. A therapy light to bring the sunshine indoors.

23. A rice cooker for easy rice.

24. A first aid kit for emergencies.

25. A AAA membership for safe driving.

26. An e-reader for cutting down on book clutter.

27. Slippers to keep your feet warm.

28. A phone lockbox with timer to cut out distractions.

29. A kettlebell for heavy lifting.

30. A BKLYN library subscription for unlimited ebooks.

31. A tongue scraper for better breath.

32. A Bluetooth headphones headband to fall asleep to soothing sounds.

33. A jump rope for some cardio.

34. An egg cooker for an easy breakfast.

35. A pair of socks to last you forever.

36. A curved shower rod for more space in the tub.

37. An electric toothbrush for optimal dental hygiene.

38. A meat thermometer for safe and tasty eating.

39. A Uni-ball Jetstream pen for smooth writing.

40. A beautiful planner for managing your schedule.

41. A kitchen scale for more precise measurements.

42. A fabric shaver to keep your cloths from pilling.

43. A handheld vacuum to clean the hard to reach places.

44. A toilet stool for better bathroom time.

45. An iFixit toolkit for electronics repairs.

46. Scrivener for writing efficiency.

47. A vertical mouse to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

48. Motion sensor lights to make walking around in the middle of the night a little easier.

49. A carbon monoxide detector for a safer home.

50. An air compressor to fill up your tires and more.

51. A portable jump starter for when you need a jump.

52. A fire extinguisher to save your home.

53. A dash cam so you don’t get blamed for an accident you didn’t cause.

54. An SSD for faster computing.

55. A car emergency kit in case disaster strikes.

56. Touchscreen gloves for when you are outside in the cold.

57. A power bank so your electronics don’t die.

58. A Bluetooth car kit for more pleasant driving.

59. A pepper mill for delicious, fresh pepper.

60. A bento box for more pleasant lunches.

61. A running belt for a place to put your stuff as you exercise.

62. A foam roller to loosen your muscles.

63. Smart plugs so you don’t forget to turn things off.

64. An emergency blanket just in case you get stranded on the road.

65. Bar Keepers Friend for easy scrubbing.

66. A reusable water bottle so you don’t have to buy water bottles.

67. A water flosser for healthy teeth.

68. A bicycle helmet to protect your brain.

69. A water filter for clean drinking.

70. Cloth napkins to cut down on paper towels.

71. Magic erasers to clean the stubbornest of stains.

72. A slow close toilet seat so the lid doesn’t slam.

73. Houseplants to add some green to your living space.

74. A soft robe for luxurious lounging.

75. A drill brush to deep clean any bathroom.

๐Ÿ˜ž 37 Things People Tend to Regret

1. Spending too much time at work.

2. Not pursuing their passions.

3. Not studying or working hard in school.

4. Losing touch with friends.

5. Not traveling the world.

6. Not taking chances.

7. Not asking out their crush.

8. Not spending more time with parents and family.

9. Not learning things when they had the chance to learn things.

10. Taking up smoking.

11. Being a bully.

12. Being selfish.

13. Being shy.

14. Fretting so much over the future.

15. Living in the past.

16. Playing life safe.

17. Treating their bodies recklessly.

18. Eating poorly.

19. Drinking too much.

20. Wasting time.

21. Wasting opportunities.

22. Not wearing sunscreen.

23. Credit card debt.

25. Pointless arguments.

25. Petty grudges.

26. Poor dental hygiene.

27. Breaking laws.

28. Being hard on themselves.

29. Not asking for help.

30. Worrying about how others perceive them.

31. Getting attached to people who don’t reciprocate.

32. Staying in an unhealthy relationship.

33. Not saying “I love you” enough.

34. Doing what others want and not what they want.

35. Rushing into marriage.

36. Just going with the flow.

37. Not sticking up for the little guy.

๐ŸŽ 2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Creators and Explorers

2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Creators and Explorers

Celebrate the winding down of this chaotic year with some holiday shopping. Below are my gift suggestions for the 2020 holiday season. This list emphasizes creation, exploration, and learning. You will find useful things, fun things, and causes worth supporting. Good luck shopping, and happy holidays!

Disclosure: Some of the products listed below link to Amazon.com. I am an Amazon Associate member, which means anything bought through one of these links sends a little money my way at no extra cost to you.

NATIONAL PARKS MEMO BOOKS

Get these beautiful notebooks for writers with an appreciation for the outdoors. The National Parks memo books are sold in packs of three. If you can’t decide which parks you want, get all 18 by buying the box set.

FREEWRITE TRAVELER

The Freewrite Traveler is a great gift for the easily distracted writer. It consists of a keyboard and an e-ink screen for maximizing writing productivity โ€” no editing or web browsing capabilities included. When finished writing, press a button to send your work straight to your email.

HOW TO WRITE ONE SONG

Songwriter Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame breaks down his creative process. Even those who aren’t musically inclined and have no wish to ever be could benefit from this book.

CRITERION CHANNEL SUBSCRIPTION

Get the largest collection of classic cinema. The Criterion Channel is a curated collection of the best movies ever made, making it a perfect gift for film buffs.

SONY ZV-1 VLOGGING CAMERA

Start your YouTube career. The Sony ZV-1 is made specifically for content creators. It includes a pull-out screen that allows you to see yourself as you record โ€” perfect for the filming crew of one.

HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL

This award-winning memoir by writer Alexander Chee explores life as a gay Korean-American and the impact it has on his art.

PERSONAL LIBRARY KIT

Play librarian. Turn your bookcase into an at-home library. This kit comes with card catalog checkout cards, bookplates, a pencil, a date stamp, and an ink pad.

THE CITYRADIO

Wake up to the sounds of cities across the world. Press a button and listen to the radio from a city of your choice. Customize your cities from up to 18 different locations around the world.

CUSTOM TRAVEL COASTERS

Commemorate your travels across the world with custom coasters.

WINDSOR & NEWTON WATERCOLOR KIT

Create art. This portable watercolor set is perfect for anyone wishing to connect nature to their art.

LAMY SAFARI FOUNTAIN PEN

A beautiful writer deserves a beautiful pen, and there is none more beautiful than the LAMY Safari. It’s a great pen for the beginner fountain pen enthusiast as it is quite affordable (as far as fountain pens go) and easy to use.

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY MERCH

Support public libraries, specifically the New York Public Library. They sell all kinds of merch at their website including the hat seen above. You can even buy bookends of the famous library lions Patience and Fortitude.

50 THINGS TO DO IN THE WILD

Rediscover the outdoors. With 50 Things to Do in the Wild you will learn skills and projects to bring you closer to nature.

RASPBERRY PI 400

The Raspberry PI 400 is a computer in a keyboard. It’s great for the project enthusiast or those who want to learn about tech. When you buy the Raspberry PI 400 you also get a mouse and a beginner’s guide.

XI’AN FAMOUS FOODS

Recreate dishes from the popular New York noodle shop. Xi’an Famous Foods will teach you how to make delicious Western Chinese meals.

PARKS PROJECT MERCH

Support our National Parks by purchasing something from the Parks Project. Proceeds from the purchase of these beautifully designed items go directly to helping out parks. The mug seen above depicts landmarks from parks across the nation.

IFIXIT PRO TECH TOOLKIT

Fix your stuff. The iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit comes with (almost) everything you need to repair your electronic devices.

MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR

For most people the opportunity to fly a plane will never be a reality, but with Microsoft’s Flight Simulator, you can get close. Fly over the world and do your best to scratch your pandemic-induced travel itch.

LETTERS TO THE FUTURE NOTEBOOK

Write letters to your future self. This notebook comes with perforated pages and twelve envelopes, so you can tear your letter out and save it for later. This is a limited edition release from Baron Fig, so once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

BLACKWING 602 PENCILS

The perfect pencil makes the perfect stocking stuffer. With the Blackwing 602, Palomar promises โ€œHalf the Pressure, Twice the Speed.โ€ After using these pencils, you will never look back.