Document, Don’t Create

Like most non-creatives, I had a lot of resistance to publishing content online. I felt I didn’t have a body of work ready to publish. But I’ve been encouraged by watching Ali Abdaal’s YouTube videos.

Ali Abdaal recommends the same book to everyone who tells him about their impostor syndrome: Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon. The title comes from doing school assignments where you receive credit for not just the final answer, but for showing how you got there.

“I really like Gary Vaynerchuk’s concept of ‘document, don’t create‘. Document the things you are doing already. Document the things you are already learning. Don’t try to ‘create’ new content.”

Ali Abdaal. YouTube. How to Make Money Online in 2022

In this video, Ali is interviewing the teacher of online writing, David Perell.

“Sell your sawdust. What are the things you’re already doing. How do you take that and turn it into something useful.”

David Perell. YouTube. How to Make Money Online in 2022


Getting Things Done – by David Allen

To have an infinite number of things to do, but nothing on one’s mind“.

This was the phrase that caught my attention.

Getting Things Done – by David Allen

There were two parts of David Allen’s life that perhaps he brought together to create his methodology for ‘stress-free productivity’. He was a management consultant, and he practised karate.

David talks about the ‘ready state’ of the martial artist. One of clear mental space, where we are dedicating 100% of attention to whatever is at hand. Undistracted and relaxed, we can do our most meaningful work. This is what martial artists call a mind like water and athletes call being in the zone. Here we respond appropriately to input, neither under- nor over-reacting.

David uses lists – but the right lists. With the wrong lists, the mind notices that they don’t contain what we said they would. So the mind distrusts them, which leads to friction and then becoming numb to the method. David has figured out what the right lists are, so that the mind can trust them, and releases their contents from active memory. He has then gathered these lists into a workflow for capturing, organising, actioning and reviewing our do lists.

Anything that does not belong where it is, the way it is, is an open loop, which will be pulling on your attention if it’s not appropriately managed.

David Allen. Getting Things Done. 2015 Kindle Edition. Page 13.

All of this helps us to let go of what we have decided not to do in this moment, and focus on what we have committed to doing right now.

We can achieve stress-free productivity even in our complex lives and create the conditions for creative flow.


Be Boring In Your Life

Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work — Gustave Flaubert

Austin Kleon. Steal Like An Artist. Paperback. Page 118.

“Be boring” says Austin Kleon.

If I want to get my life-work done each day, then the rest of my life needs to stop being such a distraction.

There are lots of different methods for organising projects and to-do lists, but one of them is special. One methodology has the goal of having an infinite number of things to do, but nothing on one’s mind.

I’m going to have a second try at implementing David Allen‘s book Getting Things Done.


📝 Loafing

I really like this word, loafing.

Is it a privilege of social class, or a measure of success? Maybe it’s just a state of mind.

Ernie J. Zelinski talks about creative loafing, a constructive state of creativity.

Loafing makes me think of Richard Branson wearing a sweater instead of a suit. Something about success that doesn’t need to impress.

Perhaps it’s part of the greater resignation I have in mind. A successful career, filled with creative flow, and without hustle.

I’ve started wearing slippers, during my ‘work’ hours, as a reminder to loaf more and be creative.