Lessons Unlearned

Each day I wake up at 6am.

At 6.30am I sit down at my desk.

In my desk I find a note.

I turn around my hourglass.

I set up my laptop.

I start doing what the note says.

When the hourglass is finished (30 min), I stop.

I store my laptop. I tidy up the desk.

I write a new note for tomorrow.

I repeat daily.

The note is the key. Act without thinking. Never think first. Thinking first is a trap.

Inside my head lives that guy. He knows a website that can improve this post. He remembers a YouTube video. He is sure there's a good quote in the next chapter of the book. He is smart. He wants to help.

Thinking first is listening to that guy. If I listen to him, I'll do what he says: nothing useful.

That note on the desk is a message from someone else. Someone that says: "Trust me, just do this." I trust him.

You can keep a note on your phone too. If you use a good app, you can actually track when you wrote the note and when you did it, giving you insights...

See? It’s that guy again. No, an app won’t do. Trust me, just put a post-it on the desk.

Then there's the hourglass. The hourglass is a cheesy prop. It’s cheesy but it works. It keeps my butt on the seat for about 30 min. That’s all I need.

A timer in the phone would do, too.

No, it won’t! It’s about the materiality of the gesture; it's the sound of the sand in the early morning shshshshshshsh; it's the inaccuracy. No, a phone would clearly not do.

Notably absent from my workflow:

  • Targets
  • Deadlines
  • Plans

Yet everything gets accomplished (even when it doesn't).

Notably absent from my workflow:

  • Pressure
  • Stress

At every moment I know exactly what my next step is, even if I don't know precisely where it will take me. Each post feels like a long walk.

All work should feel like this.

The Hourglass and the Note

  1. A walk, not a journey.
  2. A journey is bound to its destination.
  3. A destination steals your present.
  4. Life in a discounted future, waiting for reality to catch up.
  5. Reality is slow, and stubborn, and messy, and I didn’t anticipate this issue, and it seems like we’re not going to get there on time, and we were too optimistic in our plans.
  6. Find yourself between someone’s expectations and a hard place.
  7. Dissapointing both the here and the there.
  8. “If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere”, he said, eyes into your eyes, his fingers touching the gun.
  9. A walk is more a verb than it is a noun.
  10. It’s easier to do the verb than to embody the noun.
  11. Not easier, but more honest; more true, as in a boolean data type.
  12. The verb will come to your call, loyal as a dog; the noun will see, sneaky as a cat.
  13. The verb lives in you; the noun lives in other people.
  14. Hell is other people.
  15. Too many journeys and not enough walks.


The frame you are proposing is weak.


What do you mean by weak?


Progress is made by focusing on results, not on the process.


I disagree.


It’s only by focusing on results that you can deliver something, instead of wandering aimlessly.


Focusing on results is what is driving the world mad.


If the world is going mad, then we need to address our relationship with results, not ditch them altogether.


It will not work. Results have a too powerful effect. We are helpless in their distortion field. We must focus on process and treat results as a byproduct. Focus on process and results will come.


I don’t think we’re going to agree here. Results come only to those who set goals, set an action course to achieve them, and remain accountable. Yes, we can have a more gentle way to deal with dissapointments along the way, but not at the cost of questioning the fundamentals.


And I believe the problem lies in the fundamentals; that focusing on what we can control, the process, will prove to be more effective and, above all, more sustainable.


We are not going to agree.


Have we ever?

  • possibility-quote
  • brainstorm
  • the-note-screenshot
  • editing-dialogue
  • editing-draft