Greg Morris

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The More Apps, The More Gaps

For quite a while, I’ve had this feeling that my system of writing notes in my notebook was needless. That I was writing too many things down, and generally speaking, I didn’t refer to them. Which meant that my practice was a waste of time and energy. That was until I experienced someone else looking for something they had written down only a few weeks ago, and I instantly felt better about my system.

Once I heard the words “what app was I using then” I knew the chance of finding that information had drastically reduced. This is not a post about belittling anyone, it’s more about my realisation that too much complexity ruins everything. Multiple blogs, apps, and anything else where there is a question on where to put ‘it’ means you’ll have a harder time finding it when you need it.

I always opt for the simplest path. The one that stores everything in one place and removes as much cognitive energy as possible. We’ve all had to turn the house upside-down trying to find something you kept safe, but you can’t remember where, and the same is true for information you want to retrieve. It doesn’t matter if it’s a digital thing, or a physical thing, if you don’t know where you put it, you stand much less chance of finding it.

This way isn’t easy. There’s always a new fancy app launched, with a whole heap of paid influencers telling you how great it is (until they move to the next one next week). There are always questions about digital calendars, notebook, apps and everything other place your stuff can be stored. Ryder Carroll, the person behind Bullet Journaling, says “the more apps, the more apps” and this simple mantra should be your guiding light.

The more complexity you introduce, the more questions need to be asked at the time of storage, which leads to less chance of it being useful in the future. The more thinking you need to do, the more chance you’ll either not bother or never find it again. Whatever it is you are trying to save will fall through the gaps, never to be seen again.

Micro Blog

What Happens When Google Search Doesn’t Have The Answers?

Nilay Patel for The Verge:

We live in an information ecosystem whose design is dominated by the needs of the Google Search machine — a robot whose beneficent gaze can create entire industries just as easily as its cool indifference can destroy them. 

This is exactly correct. Every website must conform to their standards, bow to their non-disclosed algorithm changes. Google not so much shapes the web, more smashes it into its image.

All those bold subheadings in the middle of articles asking random questions? That’s how Google answers those questions on the search results page.

Searching the web for information is an increasingly user-hostile experience, an arbitrage racket run by search-optimised content sharks running an ever-changing series of monetisation hustles with no regard for anything but collecting the most pennies at the biggest scale.

This is why literally any other way to search the web reliably will explode. Everyone knows that a Google search is littered with SEO spam, but there is no other option and I feel as if they push towards LLM led search is a response to this.

Working From Everywhere

Ever since the pandemic hit in early 2020, I’ve mostly been enjoying the comfort of working from home. Of course, there have been a few weeks here and there when I had other commitments that required me to be elsewhere. But at least 3 out of 5 days, you can find me tucked away in my cozy spare bedroom, diligently working away. Working from home has brought me incredible benefits like improved focus, work-life balance, and so much more. However, as my professional journey progresses, I find myself having to spread my time between home and office life, and it can be a little annoying.

Don’t get me wrong, my job itself isn’t the annoying part. It’s the fact that I have the opportunity to tap into the benefits of both working situations, but figuring out how to make the most of it can be a bit of a challenge. Let’s face it, working from home (WFH) is an absolute game-changer for many of us — I’m a huge fan. It allows me to work longer, deeper and better without the distractions of a traditional office setting. But, there’s no denying the wonderful perks of being around other people.

I have begun to appreciate the value of bouncing ideas off my colleagues, engaging in vibrant conversations, and simply having that positive energy that comes from working side by side with others. That’s why most days, you’ll find me popping into the office for a quick meeting or a planning session before heading back home. Lucky for me, my office is only a couple of miles away from home, but it’s still a tad inconvenient.

I have a desk at work and another one at home, which means I’m stuck with two keyboards, two monitors, and all the other gadgets I’d rather not drag around. It also means that neither place feels like the perfect fit for me. While I do enjoy some of the advantages of both working environments to a certain extent, it’s as if I’m constantly on the go, working from different spots all the time. Maybe the solution lies in finding a balance by splitting my time and establishing clear boundaries. Honestly, I have no idea how flexible workers manage it, but I’m open to suggestions!

It All Led Here

Every so often I see posts, usually on Reddit, that say something similar to “what would you tell your 15-year-old self” and I always think through the same things. There have been times in my life that I’d rather had avoided. Terrible, painful times that have left emotional and physical scars on myself. However, as an ever showing optimist, it was all worth it to get here.

I could tell myself to not play in that football game that ended my career. Or avoid that relationship that ruined me for a few years. Life events that you would rather not go through always come to mind, but as with every time travelling film teaches us, small events lead to more significant changes. There could be some gains to be made, but if there is any risk of me not getting to meet my wife and have my wonderful kids, for me, it isn’t worth the risk.

Friedrich Nietzsche proposed a thought experiment based on Eternal Recurrence. A demon comes to you at night and says the life you are living is just a cycle. One you will carry on reliving over and over again, exactly the same. All the pain, all the joy. Everything, as it was, forever. Would this change your outlook on life? Would you look at this as a gift or a curse?

Greater than this though. Whenever you experience painful times, would you look on them better, knowing that they all lead to a point that made you happy. That in those darkest hours when you felt like the world was ending, there was always light at the end. Your newly opened eyes would treat these life events with a more Stoic approach. An acceptance that these bad times need to be bared to get to the good times.

Then this demon is not required to change your way of thinking because this reality is already true. Through all darkness, there comes light, not matter hoe small. Although we are not destined to repeat our lives over and over again (that we know of) the same thoughts are true.

Surfacing The Things You Need

In my tendency to over simplify things, I wrote a post about how to maximise your productivity. There are no apps involved, just a notebook and something to write with. No fanciness, no expensive things, just a tried and tested method of keeping everything with you – the problem is: How on earth do you put it to use?

There’s a practice that is rife in productivity, it keeps people busy and keeps whole companies in business, it’s called the collectors' fallacy. The logic that saving some things can be helpful, so more must be better. With the only issue being you are quickly drowning in saved ‘things’ and cant make use of it. As R.J. Nestor put it in his newsletter, the issue is often that capture is too easy and I would also argue too permanent.

…capture in itself is not the primary problem for most of us. The problem is that we capture too many things, and we don’t have a corresponding way to surface what we’ve captured. — R.J. Nestor, Surface Tension

We’ve all be there. Like a note hoarder, we can’t bear to not save something, or later delete it “just incase”. When digital storage is so plentiful, there might seem like no downside to collecting absolutely everything to refer to at some point in the future. However, it then becomes impossible to sift through the pointless stuff and get to the important parts of your system.

In almost every productivity system I have come across there is always some kind of ‘inbox’ followed by a sorting phase. A review has to take place to make the most of the things you have saved, no matter if they are digital or physical things, you must review them. The next part is painful, though, you must now admit your errors and throw out most of what you saved.

Not throw it out per se, but at least no longer dwell on it. If it’s digital, consider deleting it or perhaps not tagging and sorting it. If is a physical note, don’t copy it anywhere else, read it, digest it, and then decide to move on or not. The real benefit of physical notes, of which I am a massive proponent of, is that by writing them out you are more likely to remember them anyway. As much as 70 percent increase if you go through them again in the next 24 hours, and it produces stronger brain activity too.

This post is about more than that though, it is about getting the most out of your system, and that involves sorting your notes afterwards. I have tried indexing my notebooks for more benefit, but that didn’t last long. Copying out and sorting my mess of a handwritten ledger has proven is essential to surfacing information I can use later on. Making sure the helpful notes hang around, and the useless ones fade away.