Short On Beer

A site by Josh Short

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Category: Productivity


This clock is well past noon this warm June Sunday and I still have a mild-to-moderate headache from the night of cognac drinking at my father-in-law’s Southern Vietnamese Naval reunion last night. As I was laying on my couch trying to shake the hangover, which I realize are way worse in your 30s than your 20s, I decided it’s time to start writing again. I feel like writing, whether for myself or for strangers on the Internet to read, recenters my mind. It helps me focus on what I need to be doing instead of constantly spinning my wheels trying to get a grip on what’s important.

What is important? That’s a question I keep pushing myself to come back to as often as I can remember it. I can go days without remembering. But when I do remember, which writing helps me do, the clarity it brings is second to none.

My Number 1 Thing

What is important? Each morning I write out my “most important tasks” which I stole from Leo Babauta. A few days ago I changed it up. Above the MITs I added “My Number 1 Thing” and “Next Up”. Why? To help me recenter myself back on what is important. The MITs can quickly become a to-do list that gets ignored and never accomplished. In fact that’s where I’ve found myself for the past several weeks and months. I say these things are important on this little digital notepad but I struggle to get them done or I get them done and they ultimately don’t move the needle and don’t get me to where I want to go. So I’ve simplified it — “My Number 1 Thing” is it. It’s what my whole day needs to be centered around. I won’t always get to my number one thing first thing in the day. It just doesn’t happen sometimes — like being hungover on your Sunday morning then having to take your wife and mother-in-law to the Vietnamese shopping center that is 45 minutes away. Or when your number one thing has to happen after working a full day with a long commute. There’s a zillion other things I could do and want to do. Some could be beneficial like working on a blog post for EVF or running or whatever. Or they could be chilling watching House of Cards. Regardless they aren’t my number one thing. That’s why right away in the morning I have to say, “okay I’m going to do my number one thing at this time and it’s non-negotiable”.

One could ask, “But Josh, if your number one thing today is doing a thorough review why are you writing this instead?” Well, my head is not right to start working on my number one thing. My number one thing today requires my mind to be 100% there as doing my thorough review structures the next week+ of my life. Anddd at my current state I can’t do that.

Okay. I think that’s enough rambling out of me for today. I hope you were able to take something away from this.

– Josh

A Weekend Without Social Media

“Instead of refreshing Twitter, Facebook and the like, how about let’s do something productive with the remaining 20 minutes left in the office for the day while this file export,” he questioned to himself while realizing the previous twenty minutes had been wasted in the black hole of the internet.

Over the weekend I tried to do take a break from social media. Friday night I decided that Saturday would be a day without any Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat. I even decided to limit email. I had work to do so I couldn’t completely cut it out. However I’m just as bad about refreshing email as I am with checking up on Twitter and the rest of the time wasters.

Saturday morning was rough. Anytime I got bored from the work I had to be doing or just in between tasks I caught myself automatically opening up Twitter. I would quickly catch myself and close out of the app. Before Noon I must have caught myself a dozen times — and that’s not an exaggeration.

While I wasn’t get the shakes or anything like that the withdrawal wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. At one point in the evening I found myself just a little bit bored which is a feeling I’m not used to. Instead of flipping open Twitter I did something that’s been bugging me for A YEAR. I changed the theme on this site and EVF. Then I went so far as to try to figure out how to put some ads up on EVF (something I’ve also been meaning to do for quite some time). The theme change not only un-boreded me (yeah, not a word I know) but it made me feel good. I felt accomplished. I felt proud. My websites had a fresh coat of paint on them.

I made it through Saturday so happy with my experiment that I decided Sunday would be a limited social media day. I wouldn’t not check it but I’d greatly limit my time spent. The result? Positive vibes.

I’m back on Twitter and the rest today. I didn’t miss out on anything. FOMO is for real but like most anxiety-producing things nothing bad ever happens. As for next weekend maybe I’ll try this experiment again…

Sporadic Calming

There appears to be a ton of rust on my writing muscle. I’ve had this email drafted to myself open for the past 15 minutes. A cup of coffee, Snapping some friends, a handful of tweets and emailing my wife about something that’s the furthest thing from important I realized what I was doing. I turned on some Japanese rock and now I’m focused back on the present; on this writing.

The meditation app I use, Calm, keeps a calendar of when you meditate. If you meditate on a day the date will have a green circle around it. Something that has got away from me around the same time I took my brief break from writing here was meditation. Are they related? Probably.

It’s one of those things you do and 95% of the time it feels pointless. For me, I want to immediately go to sleep after (and I tend to take a 20-minute power nap which isn’t the worst thing). I guess that’s what happens when you meditate around 4:30pm. Anyway back to my point. 5% of the time I feel an immediate effect. I feel focused or more chill or calmed down. The rest of the time I’m like, “why did I just waste 10 minutes sitting uncomfortably on my couch?”

What I need to remind myself is that the benefits aren’t about those 10 minutes or the minutes that immediately follow. It’s about the practice of focusing back into the moment — like me a few minutes ago realizing I was not focusing on the task at hand, writing this post, then coming back into the moment and going from there. The last little green circle was on Monday. I’m 46ish hours removed from that meditation session. Did that particular session help me today? Not sure. But the recurring practice, even if it’s sporadic, helped. Because of it I got this writing in. And the benefit of that? Ha, well, I’m not sure of that either.

That’s it out of me today. Painters are coming tomorrow to paint some rooms. I have to finish up a video for a client then prep everything for the painters. It’s going to be a jam-packed evening.

– Josh

Off the OmniFocus Path

OmniFocus is out of control RN. I’ve been slacking on my weekly reviews, logging everything I need to get done and checking it constantly. I know why too.

There’s too much in there. There’s too much “to do” and it’s overwhelming. So why even look at it? I feel like I work all day and all night. Why am I just going to add more stress to my day by looking at this list of all the things I haven’t gotten done?

That’s not what OmniFocus is supposed to be though. It’s not supposed to be a super to-do list. I’ve gotten way off the Getting Things Done path. I think it’s time to re-calibrate and to look at all these tasks and projects on here that are constantly getting deferred and asking why.

The podcast series on GTD on Back to Work was what really got me to take the dive into OmniFocus and the GTD mindset. I remember in one of the episodes they were talking about looking at those tasks that never get done and asking why. It’s usually because you haven’t defined either what you need to do or what you want the end result to look like. When you aren’t paying attention with OmniFocus it’s very easy to find yourself off the path like I am right now.

Hopefully I will find my way back on it soon.

– Josh