Increased output necessitates decreased input

Increasing output by decreasing inputs may seem contradictory. But if you read yesterday’s post, you’d know that given diminishing returns we may already be reducing our potential productivity. In nearly every case, we are. We lump so much into our lives that it’s impossible to create as we should be creating. Barely getting enough done.

So, if our productivity suffers from too many inputs, we must reduce them to reach peak productivity. Hence entire movements on time management and minimalism.

Maybe peak productivity isn’t the goal. Maybe it’s a simpler life. Or fewer bills, less stress, less to clean. Maybe it’s just the search for more happiness.

Whatever it is, it can’t be found by throwing more and more at it. It’s better to try and remove one or two things at a time until you can find some breathing room.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Weekly Roundup

Hello again, campers! Ready for your campfire tales? No? Not really?

I finished listening to the Camp Red Moon short anthology, and it took me a while to recognize the voice in the second story. Kevin T. Collins, who’s performed the audiobooks to the Sam Capra series by Jeff Abbot. Speaking of, it’s about time for another installment in that series.

Anyway, here’s what’s on my plate this week.

Reading: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Just getting started, and I haven’t seen the movie either, but I recognize the desire to travel, isolate, and found yourself. A lot of my library seems geared towards those sentiments, even if they all haven’t been read yet. A 26-year-old, reeling from tragedy, decides to make the 1100-mile solo hike.

Listening: You Learn from the Alanis Morrissette jukebox musical Jagged Little Pill. I had this in the nineties (it’s probably still floating around my cd collection somewhere). This ensemble number is really touching, and I enjoy it a lot.

Doing: Goal setting. I’ve been using a couple of resources – Designing Your Life, Tony RobbinsSeth Godin, & Tim Ferris. Before I start making cuts to some of my projects and interests, I want to make sure I’m doing it for the right reason. So having those goals set are important.

Sharing:

Everything in moderation

I had a teacher once tell me, “do anything you want, as long as you do it in moderation.”

The reason for this advice was, at the time, I was not known for moderate living. Even now I still have flashes of excess. But I’m more able to control my urges, likely a result of getting older. Impulse control can be a challenge for anyone, and I certainly had troubles in my youth.

But the advice is sound, and still applicable.

Moderate spending is the key to debt reduction and building wealth. Moderate eating is good for weight management, and moderate activity for staying fit and healthy.

As we cross over into the new year, be mindful of moderation in both your lifestyle and in your resolutions. Pushing too hard out of the gate is a sure-fire way to not make it to the finish line.

Improving

It’s no fun working to get better at some things. Most of us aren’t inherently wired to find joy in the difficult tasks.

Maybe that’s going to the gym. Or cleaning house. Separating transactions into individual accounts.

For a select few, that is a place of extreme joy. Some people love going to the gym and pushing themselves to their very limits. Some people love organizing, cleaning, and meticulously managing a household. And some people love numbers in such a way that accounting becomes both game and reward.

Us others are left looking in with amazement. However, we can cultivate that joy. We can improve. It’s just a matter of sticking with it.

We may be limited in ways that will prevent us from being top performers. We may not be. We won’t know until we try.

But no matter what it is, we can get better by doing.

More

It seems that we’re constantly in search for more. More money, more time, more freedom, more happiness.

I’m actually looking for my space on my computer, prompting this post.

And I started thinking about all that I already have. And it’s a lot. I think we accumulate a lot of stuff. Would I like more time? Sure, but I could be using the time I have a little better.

More money. Absolutely! But I don’t need to be spending the money I do have on things that aren’t enriching my life.

We often focus so much on the more, we neglect the why. And if you’re not appreciating what you currently have, then do you really need more of it?

Week’s Highlights

Some of the things that caught my interest this week.

If you’re thinking about how you’ll make it to retirement, here are six suggestions from NBC’s Kelsey Butler in January of last year. I’ve been thinking about retirement accounts a lot over the past couple of months, having blown through three of them over ten years.

The Tim Ferriss podcast with my hands-down favorite author Neil Gaiman. I first read Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek last spring (listened to the audiobook, twice in a row on several trips across Florida). Gaiman’s Neverwhere I read as a high-schooler, and that was my first introduction to the author. I’ve since read just about everything he’s written, including the Sandman series (straight through and then with the annotated editions from Leslie Klinger), American GodsStardust, and The Graveyard Book, to name a few.

If you have an Aubible subscription, get Sam Shepard’s True West, the West End production featuring Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones‘ Jon Snow) & Johnny Flynn. It’s a free download for subscribers (up to two Audible originals each month), and it’s really good.

Unroll.me. I was slow to get this one, but it really works! I’ve gone from a couple hundred emails a day down to less than 30. I’ve still got some clearing out to do, especially across multiple email addresses. but thus far, this has been an amazing help. Plus, its single daily email with previews of each email you’ve rolled (not unsubscribed but not individually let in) gives me one place to see if there’s anything there that I need.

 

April Reading

Books Bought:

  • My 1980s and Other Essays – Wayne Koestenbaum
  • Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books – Michael Dirda
  • Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad – Austin Kleon
  • Critique of Pure Reason – Immanuel Kant
  • Plato: Collected Dialogues – edited by Edith Hamilton
  • The Secrets of Closing the Sale – Zig Ziglar

Books Read:

  • Money: Master the Game – Tony Robbins
  • The Essential Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks) – unfinished
  • The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham (Revised Edition) unfinished

After listening to the Tim Ferriss Show, mostly catching up on episodes I’ve missed, I heard him compliment Tony Robbins’s Money. I had audio book credits through Audible, and decided to give that one a try. So far I’m enjoying it. Some similar threads to Intelligent Investor – a book I’ve had for years but didn’t read much.

I’ve been an investor, and at times a speculator, over the past fifteen years. Mostly I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had success in school with Finance: Micro- and Macroeconomics; & Managerial and Financial Accounting. But mostly I just played around.

I had my first 401(k) in 2004, when I went full-time with NASCAR (prior to pursuing a career in the arts). In five years I think it went up to just over $10,000. I rolled that over into an IRA actually rather recently, in 2014 or 2015. Then, in 2016, I cashed out that IRA entirely. It was at the height of my dark period, and I was getting out of the country for a while.

I think even though I’m back in the country, I’m still somewhere else. My friend Anthony tells me that it’s been a three-year wake-up call, and now I get to be who I was supposed to be in the first place. Honestly, he may be right.

So I’ve been re-looking into the financial markets – which I did used to enjoy learning about.

I’m also newly into Audible, which I had cancelled maybe a decade ago… I like the physical book, more than I did audio or digital. However, I’m finding much more time spent driving or traveling in general, and the convenience of that audio book is nearly impossible to beat. After going from South of St. Petersburg to Daytona and back a few times last year – enough to listen to Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek twice, I decided it was time to re-up Audible.

As for Rumi, just another staple in my go-to perusal section. I’ve been thinking about the tavern-goer:

This drunkenness began in some other tavern. When I get back around to that place, I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile, I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary. The day is coming when I fly off, But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice? Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking.

If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison for drunks. I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This is one of those constant quandaries that invades my thoughts, and reading Rumi not only gives it the poetic air, but also expands my thoughts on the problem itself. Knowing others who share your thoughts, your concerns, makes the load of those concerns a little lighter – even if this person has been deceased for quite some time.

My book purchases were impulses mostly. I knew the name Koestenbaum, but hadn’t read anything before by him. Browsings seems similar to Ten Years in the Tub, which I’ve yet to finish, but it’s right up my alley. I read Steal like an artist before, so I wanted to read Keep Going for a while. Kleon always has something fun and inspiring to say.

Two books of philosophy, for my downtime reading… (here’s hoping I get a lot of downtime). And Zig Ziglar came at the recommendation of Godin, and as I’m working in sales right (along with my other gigs) I thought improving those skills couldn’t hurt.