4 min read

7 Habits of Highly Effective Newsletters

Hi Friends,

It's getting colder in the city but we still have not seen a big snow this season. I like the snow, and look forward to it every year when winter comes around. ❄️


7 Habits of Highly Effective People: I'm currently in a self-improvement phase, basically just getting my shit together in a way that I haven't really been able to do before. And so I'm spending some time reading what people have written on the subject. I'm mostly interested in things that have stood the test of time, books that have maintained an outstanding reputation for years or decades after they were published. My most recent read on the subject was 7 Habits, which I finished this week.

I have yet to really process my thoughts on it, but I can say at this point that I see why it has the reputation it does. Not everything in the book is groundbreaking. Many ideas in the book I have come across in other ways before, just by nature of living and operating in the world. But the framing and explanation of the why behind everything is a big value add.

A Brief History of Time: I've been reading this book on my phone when I get little snippets of time here and there. Now that I finished 7 Habits I'll be able to focus on this one as my primary book and hopefully finish it this weekend.

I think I just picked up this book because it's just considered such a classic in society, and I wanted to read something about relativity and black holes. I'm almost halfway through and I'm loving it. It's really the perfect layman introduction to the current state of physics. I should have read it a long time ago!

I've had a passing interest in physics and astronomy for years, so most of the concepts are not new to me, but regardless it's taught me some really interesting things. For example, the chapter I was reading today is about how stars can collapse into black holes, and it says that neutron stars have "a radius of only ten miles or so and a density of hundreds of millions of tons per cubic inch." That's insane!

Life Org System

Last week I said I would write about the system I use to manage my life. I basically use David Allen's Getting Things Done system adapted into the Notion app.

Some core principles that make everything work.

  1. When you think of something that you need to do, write it down immediately. Getting it out of your head means a) you won't forget about it, and b) the act of trying to remember it won't block other thoughts from happening.
  2. Review and clean things up once a week. The system only works if it stays up to date. During the week, when you're running around at work and errands, things will fall out of date and out of place. If things are allowed to stay that way for long, the system will become cluttered, ineffective, and will probably do you more harm than good.

There is more to the philosophy than that, but for me, those are the most important practices.

I've tried a bunch of different tools and systems over the years without much success. The fact that GTD works for me is probably some combination of the quality of the ideas and the fact that I'm willing to putting in the required effort. I haven't always been willing to put in the required effort to keep an organized life, and so other systems not working for me isn't necessarily a reflection of those systems.

The ideas behind GTD are tool-agnostic. It's up to you how you want to implement them. I use Notion because it's extremely flexible and versatile, and I can construct pretty much the exact interface I need. Also it looks nice, and aesthetics are important to me in the tools I use. I want to enjoy working inside my organization system.

Here is what my Notion dashboard looks like.

I just blurred out some things I'd prefer not to share with the world :)

Basically I keep everything in a single database and create views for each context that I use frequently.

I have a board at the top of the dashboard which shows me everything that I scheduled for the current day. Also in the top row are quick links to pages I use for managing and writing about different projects. And finally my daily habit tracker in the top right.

Below those views I have tables for tasks falling into the Inbox and Next status. I also have a list of active projects, and a list of goals that I've set for the current quarter.

And finally, at the bottom of the dashboard is a calendar view which gives me insight on what is coming up in the next month.

In the end, tools are simply one part of an effective system. The process by which you use the tools is, in my opinion, more important. And the most important part is the time and energy you dedicate to the practice. Tools and processes can't live an effective life for you, that's your responsibility.

Stay safe and see you next week ❤️