Daily Habits Checklist (February 27 – March 19): Controllable time and The Sovereign Individual

The last three weeks were very good, after almost two months of crappy scores. If you saw my earlier checklists you’ll understand the reasons for this swing: in January and February my time was spent on business projects and business travel, and in March I shifted back to working for myself.

Working for yourself is one way to maximize the amount of time in a typical day that’s under your control. Let’s call it “controllable time”. I’ve come to realize that having many hours of controllable time is almost essential if I’m to maintain the habits that I consider necessary for a good and fulfilled life. Like the habits listed above: Writing and publishing. Exercising and meditating. Socializing and exploring.

Above money, above fame, sometimes above even love and intimacy, I value having large amounts of this controllable time. A big piece of what attracts me to a writer’s lifestyle is this almost pure expression of life freedom. You can choose to spend each day, every day, exactly as you wish. Much of the time it’s wasted, but it’s wasted wilfully. It’s not perfect by any means, as each day is a kind of mental torture. As a friend elegantly put it, “you have to constantly outwit yourself to get anything done.” This might seem strange or selfish to some. For others it may feel like an indulgence or a luxury best enjoyed in small doses. For me it has slowly become a necessity. I crave it and I look forward to it, each and every day.

Current book: The Sovereign Individual. A rare book which is living up to its buzz within tech circles. Forecasts and describes a future where individuals gain increasing sovereignty at the expense of nation-states. Because technology empowers the individuals who know how to create and exploit it, and because organized violence – the state’s most effective and reliable tool – is increasingly outdated and ineffective. There was no Kindle version, but I managed to find a PDF and then convert it to mobi. If you’d like a copy, email me.

Current quote:

The best lovers do not have the best bodies. They are not the best-looking, and they do not have the largest respective body parts. What they do have is the best attitude: they are completely enthusiastic. – Lou Paget

Why do I track and share this stuff? Click here. Thanks for reading!

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.

Daily Habits Checklist (February 13 – 26): REAMDE and the irony of freedom

Skipped a week (February 6-12) because I was sick for most of it.

I continue to underperform, again due to business travel. But this past month had a useful outcome, which was to help me realize, again, perhaps for the last time, that I’m just not ready for, nor interested in, a full-time job or business project.

I’m going to focus instead on writing – random essays, short stories, maybe a sci-fi novel. And with the increased flexibility and reduced travel of a writer’s life, the habit scores *should* rebound.

Current book: REAMDE by Neal Stephenson. The title is not a typo. A techno-thriller about a brilliant businessman, an addictive MMORPG, a group of young Chinese hackers, and a spunky girl geek turned heroine.

Current quote:

True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline – Mortimer J. Adler

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.

Daily Habits Checklist (January 23 – February 5): Lonesome Dove and Gandalf

Another disappointing 2 weeks, with the usual culprits of more “business” work and a lot of Asia travel. Some days – like Wednesday and Thursday – I get off to such a bad start that I just say “fuck it” and give up habits altogether that day…

Current book: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty [Kindle]. The best book I’ve read in months, maybe years. Here’s my brief post on it

Current quote:

Look to my coming, at first light, on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East. – Gandalf

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.

Daily Habits Checklist (January 9 – 22): Swarmwise and Milton Friedman

As a result of my shifting priorities, I’ve made some tweaks to the habits checklist:

  • Brought back the “Publish” habit, which means I need to write and share something publicly every day (Quora counts)
  • Removed Singing and Guitar – this makes me sad, but I was seeing only incremental progress at best with the existing habits. If I re-commit to music in the future, I’d need to up the ante, maybe by enrolling in music school, or joining a band lol
  • Reduced writing time to 1 hour
  • Changed from “Evening Prep” to just “Evening To Do’s”
  • Will share a current book I’m reading and a current quote on my mind with each habits update

Current book: Swarmwise by Rick Falkvinge [free PDF]. It’s a concise and tactical book, almost a how-to manual, on social movements and crowd behavior. Falkvinge started the Pirate Party which took Swedish politics by storm, coming out of nowhere to receive almost 10% of the popular vote

Current quotes:

I’ve always wanted a ship. Now I want a dozen. Strange, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what we want, once we get it, then we want something else – Little Finger in Game of Thrones

The only person who can truly persuade you is yourself. You must turn the issues over in your mind at leisure, consider the many arguments, let them simmer, and after a long time turn your preferences into convictions. – Milton Friedman

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.

Daily Habits Checklist (December 26 – January 8)

A mediocre two weeks. And it won’t get better, because my schedule’s gotten busier. I’m moving away from a writer’s schedule to a business person’s schedule. Which means more meetings, more emails, more unpredictability, more travel. Which has been a shock to my habits system. That’s the ultimate test – how can you keep your habits up when it’s hard to do so? Easy is easy, but hard is meaningful if not always fun.

The main areas where I fall short are singing and guitar. When traveling I simply don’t have a guitar on me. So trying to think of alternatives. For example at my uncle and aunt’s home they have a piano. Maybe I can count 30 minutes of piano playing as a replacement. Or maybe just scrap these two habits, and focus on the foundational ones: Waking early. Running. Writing…

Evening prep is also not consistent. I just haven’t bought into the value of picking tomorrow’s outfit and planning tomorrow’s to-do’s. In the morning, I pick my outfit in 5 minutes. And I keep a sense of internal priorities, of what’s important and what’s urgent. At night I like to relax, not think about work, read my books, and watch Netflix lol.

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.