Macstock 2019

While I’m a longtime Mac user, I’ve never been to either of the big gatherings of Apple faithful. I never had the chance to make it to Macworld Expo and not being a developer or Mac journalist I haven’t been to WWDC. However, when I heard about the Macstock conference on some podcasts and read some people’s experiences there on the Mac Power Users Forum, I was intrigued. When they offered tickets for this year’s conference at a substantial discount on Cyber Monday, I decided to take the leap and signed up.

Before the Conference

I flew to Chicago on Thursday and paid a quick visit to some relatives in northern Illinois. After returning my rental car on Friday, I took the L into the city and sampled some deep dish pizza (something that I’d missed on my previous trip to Chicago). I took the train back out to Crystal Lake and hit the Friday night Midwest Mac Mingle Mixer at a restaurant next to the hotel.

Saturday

Macstock proper kicked off on Saturday morning. There were a bunch of great presentations. The schedule was set up with short 20-minute presentations from each presenter in the morning with longer 45-minute “deep dives” in the afternoon. The morning presentations were all on the main stage, one after the other. The afternoon presentations were split between the main stage and a breakout room, so sometimes you’d have to choose between two speakers (and there were some difficult choices).

Allison Sheridan had a cool presentation that took advantage of links between Keynote slides to tell a series of interlocking stories about her experiences in the Mac podcast space. At the end of the afternoon session, she dove into the technical details of how she set that up. Chuck Joiner spoke on giving great presentations. To show what not to do, he had some good real-world examples of really terrible slides that he’s seen in his day job.

Rosemary Orchard Presenting

However, the highlight of Saturday’s presentations was definitely Rosemary Orchard’s presentations on using Siri and Shortcuts. She had some great demo shortcuts and did an excellent job starting with the basics and ramping up to some really high-level stuff by the end of her deep dive.

Perhaps the most hilarious moment of the day came when an attendee was going down the lunch line asking if anyone had experience taking an iMac apart and ran into Stephen Hackett. As a former Apple Genius and authorized service provider, Stephen was made for this moment. He spent the lunch break completely disassembling the iMac and upgrading the RAM and SSD.

Stephen Hackett disassembling an iMac

The day finished off with the taping of Mac Power Users episode 500, which was in a class by itself. Keen MPU listers will note that as of this writing, the most recent episode is #493. Stephen and David are going to keep this in the can until it’s time for episode 500 to publish in September. Stephen asked the audience not to post any spoilers, so I’ll just say that he and David did an excellent job and they created a fitting 500th episode for this great podcast.

Stephen Hackett and David Sparks recording MPU 500

After the MPU taping, we all shuttled back to the hotel and had a nice catered dinner, followed by lots of great conversation among like-minded folks.

Sunday

Sunday kicked off with a preview of the Macstock Short Film Fest. They showed a couple of very cool short films that had been submitted by Macstock attendees. The rest of the day followed the same pattern as Saturday, with 20-minute presentations in the morning and longer 45 minute deep dives from the same speakers in the afternoon.

David Sparks presenting at Macstock

David Sparks had an excellent presentation on how to make time to do your creative work. I’ve read David’s Presentations Field Guide and heard him talk about presentations on MPU, but this is the first time I’ve seen him present in person. He did not disappoint (very smooth and very funny). He had some great points on how and why to make time for creative endeavors along the lines of what he’s been talking about lately on Focused.

Mike Schmitz presenting at Macstock

Speaking of Focused, David’s co-host Mike Schmitz followed him with a pair of great presentations on Ulysses. They were about 2/3 tech talk with lots of great detail on how to be productive with Ulysses and integrating it with apps like MindNode, Aeon Timeline, and Deckset (Deckset is particularly tempting, if frustrating since I’ve pretty much switched to the iPad for all my mobile computing needs). The remaining third of his presentations focused on bigger picture issues with doing creative work, including some inspiring words on creativity and creating a writing habit.

Josh Rensch had a great morning presentation. It was nominally about kitchen workflows, but really about effectively bridging the divide between nerds and non-nerds a relationship. It was also a masterclass in a rapid-fire presentation style (246 slides in less than 20 minutes). Unfortunately, I missed his afternoon presentation because it conflicted with David’s.

How do you draw a crowd at Macstock?

A crowd at Macstock

Stephen Hackett disassembling Rosemary Orchard's Mac mini

Disassemble Rosemary Orchard’s Mac mini

Stephen Hackett disassembling Rosemary Orchard's Mac mini as Rosemary looks on

Brett Terpstra (drink!) had a good talk on writing workflows. I missed the morning portion (I was hanging out while Stephen disassembled Rosemary’s brand new Mac mini for a RAM upgrade) but the afternoon portion was very well done. I’m looking forward to seeing Brett and Josh’s full presentations when the videos go up online.

While Macstock was not quite over (there was one more afternoon speaker session and the film festival), I had to head out and catch the train into O’Hare for my trip back.

Macstock was an awesome experience. The talks were great, but the true highlight was all of the great folks in attendance. While I love talking about nerdy stuff online (like on the Mac Power Users forum) I seldom get a chance to sit down and talk with people who have a passion these things in person. Being able to sit down at any table during lunch, or turn to the person next to you in the audience during a break and talk about the tech and productivity stuff we all love is an experience that I really treasure.

I’m definitely planning on going back to Macstock next year.

Mac Power Users Live in Chicago

I’ve been a longtime listener of the Mac Power Users podcast. I started listening about nine years ago and haven’t missed an episode since.

Recently, co-host Katie Floyd left the podcast and was replaced by Stephen Hackett, one of the founders of Relay FM. Among his many other titles, Stephen is Relay’s Senior Vice President of Live Events, and it didn’t take him long to bring that expertise to Mac Power Users.

When I saw that MPU would record a show live in front of an audience in Chicago in early March, I jumped at the chance. I was able to grab one of the tickets that included not only the show itself but a meet and greet with Stephen and David Sparks after the event.

As much as I like MPU, flying to Chicago just for a few hours seemed like a bit of a waste, so I decided to make a full weekend out of it. I love museums, and the Museum of Science and Industry and the Field Museum of Natural History are two of my favorites. I visited both many times when my grandparents lived in the Chicago suburbs, but I haven’t been to either in over a decade. The two museums and the recording of MPU would make a nice weekend trip.

Friday

One of the nice things about Chicago is that it’s one of the few cities I can get a direct flight to from Wichita. I was able to fly out late Friday afternoon.

Saturday

I spent the day on Saturday at the Museum of Science and Industry. It’s changed quite a bit since I was last there and it’s a very interesting museum. I went all out and took the tours of their coal mine mockup and U-505, a captured German submarine. Despite spending the entire day there, I wasn’t quite able to see everything.

Over at the Mac Power Users forum, some folks arranged to meet for dinner before the show. We rendezvoused at an Apple Store near the venue and to a nearby Mexican restaurant.1 It was great spending some time talking to fellow MPU listeners.

MPU Live!

We headed over to the venue and got there just before the doors opened at 7pm. Before the show, I had a chance to talk with Focused co-host Mike Schmitz, as well as recent Focused guest Chris Bailey.

Three microphones
Three microphones

One that was obvious as soon as we entered the theater was that there were three microphones up on stage. This lead to some speculation about who might be guesting on the live show.

David and Stephen
David and Stephen

Things got rolling about 7:30 as David Sparks and Stephen Hackett came out (to much applause). After some discussion of David’s misadventures with a missing Documents folder on his iMac Pro, they were joined by Rose Orchard (co-host of Automators. She and Stephen discussed the new MacBook Air, which they both seem to like quite a bit.

David, Stephen, and Rose
David, Stephen, and Rose

Rose was not the only special guest though. After the discussion of the Air, they brought out Mike Hurley, co-founder of Relay FM.

David, Stephen, and Myke
David, Stephen, and Myke

Getting two guests to take transatlantic flights to appear at your live podcast recording is pretty impressive, and seeing Myke and Rose was a real treat.

The rest of the show just flew by. Afterward, folks who scored the “VIP” tickets (about half the audience) got to hang around for a meet and greet. David, Stephen, Rose, and Mike put in a lot of time talking to folks (it seemed like David, in particular, was really enjoying it).

In addition to the hosts and guest, there was a selection of other podcasters/bloggers in the audience as well. Beyond the aforementioned Mike Schmitz and Chris Bailey, I also had a chance to talk with Mike Potter, organizer Macstock. Talking to him has me pretty excited about going to Macstock for the first time in July (I’d bought a ticket even before they announced that Mac Power Users episode 500 would be recorded live at the conference). I didn’t even get a chance to talk to Alex Cox of Supercomputer or John Voorhees of MacStories.

But beyond the big names, I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with fellow Mac Power Users listeners. It’s always good to get a chance to share some fellowship with folks who have common interests.

All told it was quite late by the time I headed out and about midnight when I got back to the hotel.

Sunday

On Sunday I spent the day at the Field Museum of Natural History. It, too, has quite a few new exhibits from the last time I was there. However, I do remember some that date back to my previous visit a decade or so ago. The new exhibits include an excellent dinosaur exhibition and some good touring exhibits on mummies (both Peruvian and Egyptian) and ancient China.

After a nice dinner at a local English style pub, I headed out to O’Hare for my late flight home.  At the airport I found my flight had been delayed even later. Then back in Wichita the temperature was in the single digits, and I wasn’t able to get my car started.  I finally took an Uber, arriving home about 2am.

Concluding Thoughts

Save for the last minute issue with my car, this was a great trip. Going to a live Mac Power Users recording was a fantastic experience. I’m very happy that I took the plunge and decided to come. The recording itself was pretty neat, but the real highlight was the chance to talk with David, Stephen, Rose, and a lot of fellow Mac Power Users listeners. This really has me looking forward to coming back to Chicago for Macstock this summer.


  1. Going to Chicago of all places for Mexican food does seem a little odd, but it was pretty good (even with my standards for good Mexican food calibrated by growing up in Arizona). ↩︎

Doing a Personal Retreat

I’ve been intrigued by the concept of a personal retreat ever since I heard Mike Schmitz talk about it on Free Agents a while back. He described how he goes off on a “retreat” every three months to review, think, and plan. While I was interested, the discussion on the podcast was kind of barebones. When he announced that he put together a video course I jumped on board pretty quickly. Unfortunately, it came along at a very busy time for me, with the holidays and some travel for work, so I didn’t get a chance to actually do the course until late January.

After watching the videos, I was very eager to put this into practice and wanted to get started right away. While I wanted to take advantage of this burst of enthusiasm one obstacle was finding a location on short notice.1 Mike emphasizes not doing the retreat at home or another familiar (and distraction-laden) environment. He also maintains that to give the retreat the attention it deserves, you really need about eight hours, especially the first time you go through the process.

Doing it in the great outdoors was appealing in concept, but probably not in practice in January. I had all sorts of ideas for fun and interesting locations (traveling to a distant city, doing it on a long-distance train trip, etc.) but most were too expensive or required too much lead time. I looked into renting an office or conference room for a day, but that whole process seems unreasonably difficult.2 In the end, inspired in part by CGP Grey, I just got a local hotel room for a couple of nights.3

Preparing for the Retreat

To get ready for the retreat I watched the course videos a second time and took copious notes. If I had one suggestion for Mike, it would be to beef up the workbook to include more of the prompts and advice from the videos.4 There’s a lot of good stuff that didn’t make it into the workbook.

I also listened to an episode of The Productivity Show where Mike talked about his personal retreat practice. This predates the personal retreat course, so some aspects aren’t really as developed, but I still found it useful.

After dinner the night before the retreat I packed up a change of clothes, pens, pencils, and notebooks, along with the course workbook (both printed and in PDF on my iPad). I also assembled some food and drinks so I wouldn’t be distracted by needing to find a restaurant for lunch.5

One of the first things I did after checking in was put my iPad into Airplane Mode and my iPhone into Do Not Disturb (with a strong vow not to open it up and look at it until after I was done with the retreat). Since part of the point of making this, a “retreat” was to avoid distractions, I figured that it would be good to start detaching from my usual diet of digital interactions the night before. Cut off from my usual digital feed, I made an early night of it.

The Retreat

The next morning I hit the hotel fitness center and their complimentary breakfast before settling down in my room for the retreat.

Mike based the personal retreat idea off of some of the concepts presented in the book The 12 Week Year. I’d read the book, and I liked the concept, but I found it hard to implement. The core of it seemed like a good idea, but it had some extraneous stuff around it. The Personal Retreat course is a lot more focused.6

Based on what he said on the Productivity Podcast and Free Agents, Mike started doing quarterly personal retreats because he’d had trouble implementing his 12 Week Year goals. It’s intended to provide time to look back at the past three months and ahead to the next three. However, it goes quite a bit beyond just quarterly planning, encouraging you to take a look at your values and long term aspirations and so your plans for the next three months are taking you where you want to go in life.

Core Values

The retreat starts out with the big picture: defining your core values. Mike has some excellent questions to get you thinking about these. I answered all of them, then went back through trying to pick out the common threads by tallying up how often certain things got mentioned and making a mind map of how related ideas clustered together.

I’m usually more of a digital guy, but I made a last minute call to do this on paper in a Field Notes Steno Book, rather than on my iPad.7 Instead, I used the iPad to display my notes (including all of Mike’s prompts and questions). I did this using iA Writer’s focus mode. It highlights one line by graying out everything else, so it helped keep my attention on the particular prompt I was working on.

I ended up listing my core values as short sentences starting with “I am…”. Mike recommends 4-7 core values. I picked 5, but I did cheat a bit by making some of them compound (two related values, like “I am a writer and teacher”).

Between each exercise, I spent a few minutes walking around the hotel to clear my head.8

Where are you right now?

The next exercise focused on the question, “Where are you right now?” It involves an inventory of your commitments and responsibilities and assessing your satisfaction in different areas of your life. I’ll be honest, I didn’t find that this provided quite as much insight as some of the other exercises, though that may just be a product of what my particular commitments are and where my life is right now.

Designing the life you want to live

In contrast, the exercise on designing the life you want to live really grabbed me. Mike has created some great prompts to get you thinking in detail about what you’d like different aspects of your life to be in the future. I almost had too much fun writing about a day in my life five years from now. I probably crammed way more stuff in there than could realistically be done in a day (maybe next time it needs to be a week in the life of my future self).

Retrospective – Accomplishments

From the future, we turn to the past; the next exercise involves looking back over the past three months and listing your accomplishments. I was a bit skeptical when Mike said to allocate 1-2 hours for this, but it did take me over an hour and I filled two and a half pages of the Steno Pad with accomplishments. Not all of these are earth-shattering by any means, but they’re all things that moved the ball forward in one or more areas of my life (making a presentation for work, writing a blog post, etc.).

Thinking of all of these was difficult, but I found a few things that helped. I started by just brainstorming, but when I ran out of steam trying to remember things off the top of my head I looked back over my calendar to see what I’d been doing for the past three months and perused my blog to see what I’d posted there. What really helped was the gratitude journal I’d started keeping after taking Shawn Blanc’s Focus Course. Rather than being a full journal, this just involves writing down one accomplishment and two things I’m grateful for every day. Many of those daily accomplishments are too small for the personal retreat list, but others were large enough to make my quarterly list or prompted me to think of related things that should be listed. One thing I found was that in many cases, the daily accomplishments represented incremental progress on more significant accomplishments that did belong on the quarterly list. I may want to start calling out those bigger things explicitly as I go along, rather than waiting until three months later.9

Retrospective – was What you’re going to change

After a break for lunch, I started up on the second half of the retrospective: thinking about what things you’re going to change. Mike has a nice, structured way to do this involving looking at what went well and what could have gone better and what lead to these outcomes. This, in turn, leads to the three critical questions: What should I start doing? What should I stop doing? What should I keep doing?

For me, this process mostly lead to practices, rather than commitments, which I’m not sure is what Mike had in mind (looking back it’s a bit ambiguous). However, it worked for me, and I think the outcome has been very useful in terms of reinforcing good behavior, discouraging things that are hindering me from accomplishing my goals, and brainstorming ways that I can do better.

Setting your goals

The culmination of all of this, the core values, where you are right now, designing the life you want to live, the retrospective, comes in setting your goals for the next quarter. Mike recommends no more than three goals, and if you’re doing this to the first time, limiting it to even fewer, just one or two. I ended up picking two goals, and I kind of cheated a bit since my first goal, “Spend my time more intentionally” is kind of a cross-cutting issue that affects all sorts of areas. My second goal for the next three months is to write more.

Mike talks about how your goals should be connected to your core values and vision. I actually found it worthwhile to write out for each goal which core values it supports and how and which pieces of my 5-year vision it connects to. I also noted how each goal connected to things I said I should keep doing, start doing, and stop doing. For my time goal, this ended up being quite the task, since how I manage my time ends up touching so many other areas that I filled two and a half pages of my notebook writing it all out. The process really reinforced how being more intentional with my time could have a significant, positive impact on my life.

Another thing Mike emphasizes is breaking each goal down into milestones and daily habits to help ensure you actually accomplish it. The goal is the “what,” the milestones and daily habits are the “when” and “how.” Neither of my goals were all that amenable to milestones, so I didn’t set any. They are ripe for daily habits, however.

For spending my time more intentionally, my primary habit is going to be time blocking every day.10 This is something I’d been doing last year, but I’d kind of fallen off the wagon. After I stopped time blocking it felt like I wasn’t being as productive with my time, which is part of the reason I’d like to start up again.

Essentially, this time blocking practice involves writing out a schedule for each day, saying what I’ll be doing and when. That way I know what I’m supposed to be working on at any given time. It keeps me from having to make a decision of what to work on in the moment and makes it less likely that I’ll fail to decide and end up diddling around on the internet.

Of course, things come up, and there will be times when I have to adjust on the fly.11 That’s why my second habit to help me spend my time more intentionally is to do a post-mortem every day and look at how I actually spent my time compares to how I’d planned to spend my time. Did something unexpected come up? That’s fine; is it something I could account for in the future or is it something truly unexpected? Did something take longer than expected? That’s ok; how can I do better at estimating how long this sort of thing will take? Did I just blow off the schedule? That’s not really ok.

When I’d been doing time blocking last year I just did it for my working hours. This time around I decided that I’ll be applying it to my entire day. That doesn’t mean I’ll be working 24/7 though. One of my regrets about frittering away my time is that when I look back on how I spent my recreational time I spent a lot of it in ways that I don’t really value (primarily frittering it away on the internet) rather than recreational activities that I value more (reading, playing video games, watching good TV shows). I’d like to change that and blocking time for specific types of leisure is a way to do it.

For my goal to write more, my only habit is to write every day. It doesn’t matter what. Could be fiction, non-fiction, a blog post, a novel, anything. Just as long as I’m spending some time every day moving the cursor.12

To track my progress towards these goals, I’m going to track how many days I time block for, how many days I do a post mortem, and how many days I write for at least 30 minutes. I’m not going to track how much I write, or how many days I stick to my schedule. The goal for the next three months is simply to do these things consistently.

The other aspect of goal setting Mike talks about is looking at your commitments for the next three months and seeing what might interfere with accomplishing your goals. I wrote out my commitments, using the list I developed back in the second exercise, looking through my calendar, and thinking about what else I had coming up. It’s a long list, but a manageable one. In addition to making sure it wouldn’t interfere with my goals, getting these commitments out of my head and onto one sheet of paper was also valuable in and of itself.

Executing the Plan

The final exercise is to plan your ideal week. One of the biggest obstacles to achieving these kinds of goals is not setting time aside to work on them. The ideal week exercise allows you to plan out when you’ll work on your goals for the next 12 weeks. Of course, not every week is ideal, but this at least provides a starting point.

Obviously, this complements my goal of spending my time more intentionally and the time blocking habit quite nicely, so I kind of went whole hog on this exercise. I abandoned my paper notebook and went digital, breaking out the Numbers app on my iPad and using it to block out an ideal week in 15-minute increments. I set aside time for writing every morning, time for planning out the following day, and time for doing a post-mortem on the day every evening. I also made some other adjustments from how I’m currently spending my time (notably, a lot less time on the internet). Everything got color coded as well. Like I said, I really went whole hog.

As a reward for all this effort, I made myself a nice dinner (baked boneless buffalo wings, one of my favorites) and sat down with a drink and the latest episodes of The Grand Tour.13

The Results

I feel like my first personal retreat has been an incredibly useful experience, one that will pay dividends going forward. Of course, where the rubber meets the road is actually going out and implementing these habits and achieving my goals. We’ll see where I stand in three months.

In addition to the quarterly goals and planning, the retreat also helped with some deeper insights. Defining my core values and imagining the life I want to live five years from now are valuable beyond just setting goals for the next three months. Listing out my accomplishments from the last three months was encouraging. For a time in my life that I didn’t feel was very productive I actually accomplished quite a bit.

One thing the retreat helped me realize is that I have a “teacher” itch that isn’t really getting scratched right now. That’s not something I can really remedy in the next three months; rather, it’s something to work on long term (for now I’m going to try to scratch it by writing more).

As I mentioned earlier, I’d read The 12 Week Year and while I liked the concept, some of the other stuff in the book kept it from really grabbing me. Having done the personal retreat (and gotten so much out of it), I feel like I should try rereading the book and see if there are aspects of it resonate more with me now.

One other thing I learned from this retreat was that not looking at the internet when I had my phone out for some other reason was surprisingly hard. It wasn’t even a lack of willpower so much as thoughtlessness on my part. As soon as I was done with what I’d gotten my phone out to do (check my calendar, log some food or exercise, etc.) my thumb just instinctively just went to Safari, Reeder, or Spark. I’m a bit disturbed by just how automatic it was, but it’s a problem outside the scope of this personal retreat.14

Changes for Next Time

I’m definitely doing this again in three months. While it went really well this time I can already see some tweaks, I want to make. For one, I think that I’ll make taking stock of commitments for this quarter a separate exercise of its own, one that comes before goal setting. That way I can take these commitments into account when setting my goals (or change my commitments to accommodate my goals).

Of course, I’m anticipating that there will be differences just because it will be the second time through the process. This is one thing I wish Mike covered a bit more in the course, though I can see why it’s mostly geared towards first-timers. Next time I’ll already have definitions of the core values and vision of my future life (though its probably worth going through the exercises again to see if there’s anything I want to change). I’ve scanned my notes from the retreat and stashed the notebook where I’ll hopefully be able to find it in three months, so I’ll have all of my material from the first retreat available for reference. Of course, the big change will be assessing how well I did on my goals and the associated habits for this quarter.15

One thing I’d like to change between now and then to make the retrospective easier is to do a better job tracking my more significant accomplishments as they happen, rather than having to try to remember them months later.

Something that I won’t change is doing the retreat on paper. That worked really well; it helped keep me focused and slowed me down a bit (in a good way). I did realize about 3/4 of the way through that I need to leave more blank space in the notebook as I write so I can go back and add things that I think of later. I guess I’m too used to doing stuff digitally where it’s easy to insert content in the middle of what I’ve already written.

While the hotel room worked out well, I may consider some other options that more advance planning (and warmer weather) might make possible.

Concluding Thoughts

Doing the personal retreat was a really great experience. It’s already paid off with some great insights, and I think it’s going to continue to pay off over the next three months. I’ll definitely be doing it again.

I really want to thank Mike Schmitz for developing the Personal Retreat course. The way he’s structured the retreat works really well, and it includes some great prompts and questions to really help you get at things that can be hard to pin down, like your core values and a vision for your future. I’d definitely recommend the course and the practice of regularly doing a personal retreat.


  1. Hopefully next quarter around I can set things up further in advance. ↩︎
  2. Most of these places don’t even list their prices online, making it hard to tell if it’s even a reasonable option. In this day and age making someone interested in buying your product submit their contact info as a sales lead and wait for someone to get back to them is awful. ↩︎
  3. Check-in and check-out times mean that if you want eight uninterrupted hours in a hotel room you really need to stay for two nights. ↩︎
  4. It would be nice if the videos were downloadable. ↩︎
  5. I’d booked a hotel room with a kitchenette, so I had a decently sized fridge and cooking facilities. ↩︎
  6. Or is that Focused? ↩︎
  7. In retrospect, I really wish I brought one of my Panobook notebooks. It would have been perfect for this. ↩︎
  8. This made me glad I went with a hotel room rather than the cabin at one of the state parks I’d been considering. It was 18 degrees this morning, so going out for a walk would have meant getting all bundled up every time. ↩︎
  9. Around this time it started snowing outside. I’m really glad I didn’t decide to do this outdoors. ↩︎
  10. David Sparks sometimes calls this “hyperscheduling,” though I don’t really like that term. ↩︎
  11. As David Sparks puts it, “A calendar is a soup rather than a puzzle.” ↩︎
  12. This post is a down payment on that habit. ↩︎
  13. There’s no better contrast to all this deep thinking than a good dose of Clarkson, Hammond, and May. ↩︎
  14. This does have me thinking about Cal Newport’s new book Digital Minimalism, which seems like it would be on point. ↩︎
  15. The work I’ve done on this post means I can check the writing habit off for today. ↩︎

 

Why am I doing this?

I am completely incapable of learning something new and not feeling the urge to write about it.

This has been most evident in my hobbies1, but lately I’ve felt the urge when it comes to certain tech and productivity related topics. Part of this is probably because I’m a bit of an insufferable know-it-all and I can’t seem to resist occasions when I can speak from a position of authority. However, over time I’ve come to realize that a big part of this is that the process of writing is beneficial to me.

When I write up something it forces me to organize my thoughts and think more deeply about what I’ve learned than I would otherwise. If it’s something from a class or a book, it forces me to take better notes (or to take notes, period) and to engage more with the subject matter. Just about anyone would probably be better off taking good notes and doing some review/organization afterwords. Most of them don’t necessarily feel the need to make that process public. But for me, at least, a key part of the motivation to follow through on those things is the fact that it will be out there for all the world to see. Hence, this blog.

In short, the reason I’m doing this is because writing about something I learn helps me learn about it better. I’m no productivity guru2. I have no ambitions of becoming the next Shawn Blanc or David Allen. Consider this more of a journey of self-improvement, and if you’re on that journey too, consider me a fellow student.


  1. For instance, I’m a gun guy, and a detailed summary of every firearms training course I take seems to end up online. 
  2. As you’ll see soon enough a big part of the reason I’m interested in organization and productivity is because I’m naturally so bad at it.