The Kaizen Newsletter #64 (22/09/2020) - How to take back control of your time

Thoughts on phones, walking and outputs vs systems

Hey friend 👋,

Welcome to the 64th edition of the Kaizen Newsletter ⛩, a weekly newsletter where I share my thoughts, new ideas I learn and make weird connections between self-improvement, productivity, product, tech, sports, anime.

My inbox is currently at 547 mails and counting. I haven’t done a weekly review in a while and thus still didn’t go through all of my emails. I just wanted to let you know that if you do send me an email, I WILL reply to it! Sometimes it just takes me more time, but I will get through it. So thanks to all of those who actually take the time to send me an email (it’s really appreciated) and please send me more :).

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It was 7AM in the morning and although I lacked a bit of sleep, I was super excited. For the first time in months, I would be spending a full day surrounded by nature, hiking with friends.

I'm not sure how to describe it, but there's this really good feeling I get every time I hike. It's a mixture of exhaustion, fulfillment and mindfulness and I love it.

However, even though I spent more than six hours trekking when we were coming back to the car, I actually felt disappointed.

Maybe I wasn't exhausted enough because the hike wasn't as demanding as I thought it would be? Maybe I knew that I had to sleep early because it was a Sunday so I couldn't just take the evening to relax? Maybe it's because I missed a 2nd newsletter mastermind in 3 weeks?

I think all of those reasons contributed to the feeling of disappointment, but the main reason why I was feeling this type of way is that it wasn't mindful enough for me.

Even though I usually go hiking with a group of people, you spend the majority of the time in your head either concentrating on moving or breathing. This means that you have lots of time to process your own thoughts and grapple with them.

It's one of my favourite aspects of hiking. But I didn't get that feeling this hike. And the main culprit? My iPhone.

I'm usually pretty good at controlling my phone inputs. Heck, I even made sure to delete most of the social media apps such as Twitter, FB, Instagram and Youtube. But for some reason, every opportunity I had, I would take the phone out of my pocket and check to see if I had any new emails or messages from FB messenger.

So looking back, no wonder I didn't feel as good as usual. Instead of being present, of being mindful, I allowed my phone to take control over my own time and thoughts.

This made me realize that even if I don't have that much social media on my phone, I'm still addicted to my phone and it still has so much power over me.

Although it's too late for my hike, I want to make sure that I take more control over my own time and decide when I look at my phone instead of vice-versa.

For that reason, I decided to take immediate action and decided to remove my email notifications from my phone. I don't have any work-related emails on my phone anyway, so nothing that I receive through email would be urgent for me to pick up my phone immediately.

Something else that I want to try in a future hike is just to leave my phone in the car. The only reason I brought my phone with me is to take pictures of the landscape, but since I'm usually in a group, I can just ask one of my friends to take a picture and send it to me later.

Although I didn't get the full hiking experience I was expecting, I'm still happy that I got away with a general reminder.

A reminder to be more mindful of my phone usage wherever I go and to be present with the people around you instead of staying connected to your phone. The next time I go somewhere (be it a hike, to a dinner or just on a zoom meeting with one of you), I'll try and remember to put my phone to DND and leave it in my pocket until I have some free time.

Now, on to the newsletter.


🤔 Thoughts

🚶‍♂️Thoughts on taking walks using pen and paper vs using Otter.ai

Earlier this month, I started using Otter.ai, a software that automatically transcribes your voice recordings, while going out on walks. In the beginning, I really enjoyed the experience as I didn't need to bring pen and paper every time and would be able to record everything that I'm thinking about instead of writing down bullet points and then trying to remember every thought when it came to transferring my writing to Roam.

However, earlier this week I changed my mind. There are sometimes where I feel Otter is great, but other times, not as much.

I feel that otter works great when I have an idea that’s stuck in my head and I want to grapple with it to help me crystallize my thoughts.

However, the rest of the time, I should just leave my phone at home. When I press record without having a subject in mind, it creates this pressure to find interesting topics to talk about and it doesn’t feel natural when I review my transcript when I get back home.

Instead, in those cases, I much prefer to leave my phone at home and just take a pen and paper with me. That way, my walk becomes a lot more mediative instead of performative and I have no pressure to produce anything. If I have an interesting thought, I can jot it down and if not, then that's okay as well.

How about you? What do you bring with you when you take walks?

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🧠 Thoughts on outputs vs systems

I've always been someone who's more system-oriented rather than output-oriented.

Meaning that I thought that the better your note-taking system (your inputs) was, the better outputs you will get.

However, ever since I saw this tweet from Cedric, it got me thinking.

This particular sentence "let your output dictate your systems” is what really struck me.

Cedric might not have meant it this way, but how I view this is that instead of starting with your system to then fix your output, do the opposite. Start with the outputs you currently have and reverse-engineer it to see where in your system is it failing and make it better.

If ever my outputs weren't good, then I would always blame it on the whole system itself. I would say that this system "isn't for me" and I would then go on my quest to finding the next best system that will magically change everything for me and increase my outputs tenfold.

Having done this a couple of times already, I now know that it usually doesn't work this way. I don't believe in ONE best system anymore. I believe in having the best system tailored to YOU.

This means that instead of trying to find an overall "best system", we should try and analyze why our current system is not working and start tweaking parts of it first to see if the outputs will change.

My old mentality was as if I would tell my company that our product sucks and that we have to build a new one from scratch every time it's not working correctly.

It's possible that the system might not actually be a fit for you, but you should do some small experiments first before throwing everything away.

One of my goals before the end of the year is to write down my whole note-taking system from capture all the way to output. I’m curious to know what is one thing that you currently struggle within your process?

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🐦 Tweets

The less you put something on a pedestal, the more chances you'll have to get it.

Love this. He actually used all of Kanye's tweets to create the pitch on why people should invest in "YeCombinator."

Love this reminder by my friend Salman.

🙏 Shoutout

Shoutout to my friend Danny. First time receiving a gift from someone I met on the internet and it means a whole lot 🙏. Sorry for the feet.


👋 End Note

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