The October 2018 update–habits, anxieties, and fluctuations in weather

I took this photo from my current temporary “office” — a Starbucks in a beautiful corner of Beijing. The weather was gorgeous and sunny just a few short days ago. Lest you think the weather is always great, the answer is NO. Beijing looks polluted and dreary today. Maybe I will share a photo of that later.

I have started a morning routine that consists of:

  • Waking up
  • Drinking water
  • Walking to the Starbucks with my laptop for my morning breakfast and drink (usually tea–I’ll save the coffee for afternoons)
  • Working for about three hours
  • Coming back home, showering, and eating lunch
  • Continuing the rest of my “work day” at home, or elsewhere

I am trying this routine because my household is full of distractions in the morning. There is surrounding noise from neighbors. Renovation project upstairs. My wife needs to get ready for work. The delivery man is out and about.

It is better just to go somewhere, fire up my Spotify playlist, and get to work. It is my way of structuring my life in a way that I can control and feel good about.

I have started doing this for a whole week. Will see if I can keep this up.

What is it about routines and feeling in control?

I need routines because I am wired in a certain way. If I do not follow them, then I create a bunch of anxiety for myself.

Over the years, I have oscillated between extremes. And I have learned to tone some things down. I used to own a massive to-do list. I realized that I was spending more time organizing the list than actually doing stuff. The list still exists today, but it is drastically abbreviated.

I have fluctuated to varying degrees with the type of daily journal I write. It used to be very detailed. Now I tend not to beat myself up if I miss a day or two. Consistency in the long run is better than consistency on a daily basis.

I have created my own forms of stress from over-doing things—things that I have created out of thin air—and I understand myself well enough now to handle that anxiety. That’s the hope, anyway.

But there are positive ways to channel my outbreaks, too.

I started writing this post because I thought to myself, “Well, it’s been TWO WEEKS since I’ve written anything.”

I sent my Patrons an update yesterday because I felt that they deserved it, and I needed to do something to the people who showed me tremendous love on the Internet.

Oftentimes, anxiety drives me. Other times, it’s guilt. That’s how it goes. It can be both a blessing and a curse.

I am always thinking to myself, “What could I be doing?” The answer is usually not more YouTube, although I still fall prey to it.

What am I reading right now?

I just finished reading Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. It is a book that challenges common business wisdom and the way conventional companies do conventional things. As the authors write in the beginning of the book, they do not claim that their methods are universal; it is just something that worked for them. And what has worked for their company, 37signals, is inspiring. After reading this book, I have decided to stop reading similar books for a while. I truly believe that this is pretty much the only “business book” I need to read for a long, long time.

I also finished Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. This is the story of Theranos and its sociopathic founder, Elizabeth Holmes, who broke every ethical and moral rule in the human playbook by chasing profits, fame, and the next big thing. I kept waiting for the redemptive story arc that never came. Quite the cautionary tale, and part of me hopes that the entire VC community will learn from this debacle. But the cynical side of me says that will not happen. Read this book if you want to see the depths of human greed and misdirection.

I have started reading The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis. It is hard not to shake one’s head at the incredible depths of ignorance and absurdity displayed by the Trump administration. The brilliance of the book is that it manages, in typical Lewisian fashion, to make the everyday mundane seem fascinating. A book that tells the stories of the federal bureaucrats who serve America is not supposed to be interesting. But it is, and I am engrossed by it. 

That’s it for now! What habits work for you? What are you reading right now? I want to hear from you.




Add yours →

  1. I’m currently getting up at 6, leaving my wife in bed, and coming into my home office for a couple of hours of writing (I’m working on a ghostwriting project for a client). I use to-do lists and progress charts to amuse myself, but I am not slaves to them. It’s gratifying to lean forward, pick up a red marker, and fill in more of the horizontal bar chart pinned to the corkboard behind my computer—the one that shows me that I am now sitting at 63k words.

    As for what I am reading: I just finished Jeff Goodell’s The Water Will Come (which was excellent) and just started The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen.


    • Warren, thanks for sharing! I’ll have to check out those reads sometime. I am having a difficult time really sinking into novels. One of the things I want to do better at, going forward.

      Your morning routine sounds great.


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