βœ… Some Goals for 2024

1. Spend more time reading. Page count doesn’t matter. Book count doesn’t matter. Just put in the time.

2. Read more nonfiction. I typically read a lot of genre fiction, mostly mysteries and fantasies. This year, I want to read more nonfiction and more classics.

3. Work away from the computer. Use the laptop less. More thinking, less browsing.

4. Settle down. I’ve traveled a ton in the last two years. It’s time to settle in and get back to a routine with a workspace and an exercise regimen.

πŸ’€ Embrace Boredom

“‘It is a theory of mine,’ I said, warming to my theme, ‘that we owe most of our great inventions and most of the achievements of genius to idlenessβ€”either enforced or voluntary. The human mind prefers to be spoon-fed with the thoughts of others, but deprived of such nourishment it will, reluctantly, begin to think for itselfβ€”and such thinking, remember, is original thinking and may have valuable results.'”

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

Boredom can be a good thing. We are too quick to fill idle moments with the superficial gratification of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. The next time you find yourself reaching for your phone, pause and choose to spend that time bathing in boredom. Get lost in your daydreams. Contemplate life’s dilemmas. Good things might come from it.

How to embrace boredom:

  1. make no attempt at productivity
  2. avoid tasks that occupy the mind
  3. work on mindless physical activities like dishwashing and long walks
  4. let your thoughts wander
  5. when an idea comes, write it down

πŸ“š How to Never Run Out of Books to Read

  1. When you visit the library, check out more books than you think you need.
  2. Keep a list of books you want to read. Add titles when you hear good suggestions.
  3. Use Gutenberg and Anna’s Archive liberally.
  4. Place holds on books that aren’t currently available for checkout.
  5. Load your shelves with books you haven’t read yet but want to eventually.
  6. Build a Little Free Library so others will share books with you.
  7. Visit your local bookstore regularly.

πŸ“ˆ 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.

🎨 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.

⏰ 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. Therefore, given the opportunity to trade money to buy time, one should take 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.

1. Get a housecleaning service. Pay someone else 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 for home and car repairs. If you rent, hold your landlord responsible for home repairs.
4. Pay for faster transportation. Fly instead of drive. Opt for direct flights.
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 to be 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 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 to do.

Not everyone has the disposable income for these options. Luckily there are 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. Eating healthy, exercising, and regularly visiting your doctor 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 house cleaning 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.

✍ 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.

😞 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.