Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

On Giving Up Something You Think You Love

A chess board, with the white king condeding defeat

Many of us have too much on our plates. Work, family, side projects, hobbies, social commitments, and more. We don’t have time for all of those commitments. It’s no use fooling ourselves into believing that we can find or make that time.

It’s not going to happen.

To make space in your life, you sometimes need to give up something you love. Or something you think you love.

Finding the Balance Between Simple and Complex

A bunch of wires at the back of a device

Whether we realize it or not, we often need to find a balance between complex and simple. Too often though, many people err on the side of the complex.

To some, the complex choice in anything seems better value. Others fall into the contingency mindset when choosing between complex and simple — they figure they might need more at some hazy point in the future, and go with the more complex option.

If you’ve been reading the posts in this space for any length of time, you know that I tend to choose the simple path wherever and whenever possible. Why? Simple offers less drag on my efforts. Simple requires less maintenance. Simple cuts to the core of what I need to do, what I want to do, what I want to know.

Take, for example, a task management application called Remember the Milk. I started a year-long experiment with it in January, 2016. Over the 12 months that I used Remember the Milk, I found it had more features than I’d ever use. It has more features than I need. That doesn’t mean that Remember the Milk is a bad tool. Far from it. It became clear by the middle of 2016, though, that Remember the Milk wasn’t the right task manager for me.

That’s not to say I shun the complex. Complex does have its place. You can’t wrap everything that’s happening in the world today in a simple, straightforward package. Very little is black and white. There are too many shades of gray.

Some people, for example, need the advanced features of software like Photoshop or The GIMP. Something like PicMonkey just isn’t enough for their needs.

Balance comes when you understand when to go simple and when to go complex. That balance isn’t easy to find. It takes a bit of introspection. It takes you challenging your ideas about what you need. In the end, though, you can strike that balance. Your world might not radically change, but it could wind up being a bit better as a person.

Links Roundup - May 9, 2017

Organizing Yourself with TiddlyWiki

The word 'wiki' spelled out in keys from a keyboard

When you think of the word wiki, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is Wikipedia. That’s not a surprise, considering that Wikipedia did help put the concept of the wiki into the popular consciousness.

Wikis, which are web sites you can edit, are great tools for collaborating and for organizing yourself. But wikis usually require a lot of digital plumbing and a bit of care to use and maintain. All of that’s overkill for personal use. While you can install desktop wikis on your computer, they’re not as portable as some people want them to be.

Enter TiddlyWiki. Not only is it great for organizing yourself, it’s easy to use and very portable. Let’s take a quick look at how to use TiddlyWiki to organize yourself.

(Note: I’m only going into the basics of TiddlyWiki. I also include links to some good tutorials in this post.)

Musings on The First 20 Hours

A watchface

I read Josh Kaufman’s The First 20 Hours a few years ago, and since then my mind has drifted back to it on a number of occasions. And, as you might expect, each time my mind drifted back the ideas in the book crystallized a bit more in my brain.

While The First 20 Hours does get a bit repetitive, it’s an interesting book that contains a number of useful concepts. At the same time, though, some folks misunderstand and misinterpret the book and its aims. I’ve heard people (who probably haven’t cracked the book’s spine) pooh-poohing The First 20 Hours, complaining that 20 hours isn’t enough time to, for example, become an expert at a task or fluent in a foreign language.

They’re missing the point. There’s definitely no way 20 hours is enough to do any of that. What’s interesting is that Josh Kaufman never says it is. It should be blindingly obvious that mastery isn’t the goal of those first 20 hours.