Deciding is the easy part

So recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to use it less. About how to get the benefits from the technology without all the downsides.

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/a-radical-guide-to-spending-less-time-on-your-phone/

Hey, thanks for deciding to receive this not-so-little email from me each week.

Did you notice how easy it was to decide to get this additional, new interruption? My web site is friendly, the form is friendly, dear Friend all you have to do is put your email in this form . . . But if you decide to leave this weekly email? Well, first you have to have one of the emails in front of you, then scroll down and find the unsubscribe link at the bottom, click that, etc. It’s not much harder than joining, but it is just a little bit harder.

Let’s say you decide—after reading Holiday’s post or this post or that post—to clear the home screen of your phone, (not the lock screen, but the first screen you see after unlocking.) Have you tried to do that? It’s difficult. First you have to manually move those apps, one by one, to other pages… Then you have to keep up with that if your phone throws new apps on that nice clean screen. You have to change how you launch apps; If you simply swipe and find the app, well, that’s going to become a new default habit: Unlock-phone-and-swipe-right will be muscle-memory in a day. To make the blank home-screen useful, you have to also get in the habit of using your phone’s search to launch exactly the app you opened the phone for in the first place. But that is quickly learned by your phone. You have to go in and adjust search settings so that when the search input is blank, it doesn’t suggest the apps you often use. Otherwise the search screen will become just another screen of app icons you’ll tap on via muscle-memory. The phone is designed to try to help, so it’ll feed you a new habit. Then a notification pops up. And you want to disable those, so you have to dive into settings… And get used to telling apps, “no notifications” when they first ask. And then something will break… like suddenly Google Maps can’t use “Siri” so it doesn’t work in Car Play. (Me: “Wait. Wat?”)

It’s not just with fiddly phones. Decide you don’t want to watch Netflix. …but, movie date-night with the spouse is a legit thing we want to do now and then. Decide you want to only own one car. Decide you want to grow some food in a garden. Decide you want to make a few new friends. Decide you don’t want your phone ringing.

My friends, deciding is the easy part. The hard part is doing the really complicated, detail-oriented, 57-step planning, and 2 hours of fiddling, (or days of labor or thousands of dollars in expense,) figuring out how to make the change, how to keep the change in place, and even how to figure out in advance what things depend on the thing you’re deciding to change.

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Something sustainable

What we need is something sustainable. Something balanced. Something deliberate without being forced. Purposeful without being obsessed with productivity. We need something like a great Saturday—or one of those Mondays where you’re not sure if it’s part of a three-day weekend, resulting in just enough work that it’s productive, but not so much that it’s a chore.

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/you-could-have-today-instead-you-choose-tomorrow/

Sustainable. Yeah, I’ve no idea what that means.

It occurs to me to make a note to have, “…but holy crap did he get a lot done!” put on my tombstone.

And I’m instantly reminded of my favorite de-motivational poster: “It could be that the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others.”

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Well enough alone

Some take nothing into account, and others want to take account for everything. They are always talking importance, always taking things too seriously, turning them into debate and mystery. Few bothersome things are important enough to bother with. It is folly to take to heart what you should turn your back on. Not the least of life’s rules is to leave well enough alone.

~ Baltasar Gracián

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Better left alone

Many see the trees but not the forest, or bark up the wrong tree, speaking endlessly, reasoning uselessly, without going to the pith of the matter. They go round and round, tiring themselves and us, and never get to what is important. This happens to people with confused minds who do not know how to clear away the brambles. They waste time and patience on what it would be better to leave alone, and later there is no time for what they left.

~ Baltasar Gracián

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Turmoil

It’s the pursuit of these things, and your attempts to avoid them, that leave you in such turmoil. And yet they aren’t seeking you out; you are the one seeking them. Suspend judgement about them. And at once they will lie still, and you will be freed from fleeing and pursuing.

~ Marcus Aurelius

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Busy idleness

Some men are preoccupied even in their leisure. In a country house, upon a couch, in the midst of solitude, though they are inaccessible to others, they are troublesome to themselves; their life cannot be called leisurely but rather a busy idleness.

~ Seneca

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The privilege of a serene and untroubled mind

The days of our present come one by one, and each day minute by minute; but all the days of the past will appear at your bidding and allow you to examine them and linger over them at your will. Busy men have no time for this. Excursions into all the parts of its past are the privilege of a serene and untroubled mind; but the minds of the preoccupied cannot turn or look back, as if constricted by a yoke. And so their life vanishes into an abyss.

~ Seneca

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The science of hitting

The book contained a very interesting picture, of himself at-bat with the strike zone broke into 77 individual squares.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2013/07/make-better-decisions/

I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I know enough to be impressed by what Ted Williams managed to do. I’ve had enough balls pitched at me, that the idea of even being able to know in a split second exactly where the baseball is going to be— …just click through and look at the graphic already. :)

What intrigued me about his idea of knowing—in real time, to the inch—what to literally swing at is the power of saying no writ explicitly and at high speed. I’m often thinking or talking about focus; talking about saying no to the right things to make space for the important yeses. But I’d never thought about intentionally practicing making the decision more quickly.

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A long voyage

Would you think a man had traveled a long voyage if he had been caught in a savage gale immediately on leaving port and had been buffeted to and fro by alternate blasts from opposite directions so that he was running circles in the same spot? That man has had not a long voyage but a long floundering.

~ Seneca

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Baseball

If I stick with it, however, my mind eventually downshifts — quieting the noisy neuronal clamoring for easy entertainment, and leaving instead an unencumbered attention of a type that I often seek in my work.

~ Cal Newport from, https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2015/04/11/deep-habits-listen-to-baseball-on-the-radio/

Once or thrice I’ve heard a baseball game on the radio. This would have been back in the 80’s when with some neighborhood friends—brothers, whose father was a plumber—we’d occasionally ride to a baseball game. The kind of game where we were playing as kids; semi-organized little league games at random churches’ baseball fields scattered around the Pennsylvania rolling hills. A homerun into left-field was in the graveyard and into right-field was in the corn field. I can’t convey in writing what it sounded like riding in the truck with the radio on; some combination of a monotonous announcer with a touch of crowd noise, a big ‘ol truck engine—this was the plumbing truck full of plumbing supplies in the back—a 5-speed manual floor shift and 3 rowdy kids with the windows rolled down and the smell of fields and manure and baseball gloves.

I think I had something else to say about baseball and focus when I started typing. But I forget what it was.

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