Switching to Substack: Letting Go
I’m a programmer. I love writing code and making things work. That was a large part of why I decided to initially use Ghost for this newsletter.
I enjoyed its self-hosted, open-source nature, its ease of customization, and the sense of ownership it provided.
But — I’ve decided to switch over to Substack.
The reason is simple: You don’t care about my tinkering. And the intention of this newsletter is to provide insights, ideas, and inspiration for you.
And while I love tinkering, every time I went to go write a new post, I found myself trying to remember the kludged together system I had for collecting and sending emails.Or realizing there was a new upgrade to the platform and I should do that, first. Or wanting to try a new, fancy plug-in for the blog. I did pretty much everything except write.
So, here we are. Substack it is!
Productivity Apps vs Pen-to-Page
This concept of simplification has positively impacted other areas of my life. There are a whole host of tools, apps, and systems that promise to organize your life. If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried every single one of them. Todoist, Ticktick, Notion, Evernote, Google Keep, Asana, Omifocus, Things — the list goes on.
What finally ended up working the best for me? The Remarkable 2. A glorified pen and paper.
All of those productivity apps are excellent. They do what they say — and for a lot of people, they work wonderfully. In fact, I still use some of them in some cases.
But the thing that the Remarkable does for me that none of the others do is provide strict focus and simplicity. There’s no possibility to get lost in tinkering as the UI is just folders and notebooks. No rabbit-holes of figuring out how to make tasks recur. No googling for how to use certain features.
Pen meets paper and focus is restored.
Finding Opportunities for Simplicity
This idea of simplicity leading to focus is relatively new to me. I have a feeling that there are a whole bunch of areas in my life that can be improved by finding ways to simplify.
Should I go full Steve Jobs and wear the same thing everyday? Hm. Probably not.
Are there other areas of my life that I’m focusing on the wrong aspect of when I could be focusing on the actual bit that serves my main goals? Almost certainly.
Actionable Tips for Finding Simplification Opportunities
1. Find fewer things to do. Prioritize and find what’s most important.
Do that first. I want to do everything all at once. Coding, writing, acting, exercising, have a healthy social life, etc. Narrowing focus helps with determining what’s non-negotiable and what is.
2. Be mindful while working.
Are you working towards your goal or are you working around your goal? For me, I was working around my goal of a consistent newsletter by ‘setting things up.’ Focus on the main goal. For me, that meant writing.
3. Limit distractions.
Turn off notifications, block websites, and create a designated workspace. This can really help you focus. I use Freedom to block sites on my computer, phone, and tablet during various focus periods in the day.
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Let’s hear from you
If you’ve found areas of your life that you’ve been able to simplify, automate, or reduce rabbit-holes, I’d love to hear from you! Comment here or shoot me an email. Your experience may inspire me or someone else achieve their goals.
Ghost is actually really good at collecting emails, sending emails, and writing a newsletter. It was the way that I was doing things that became the problem.
You might ask why I don’t just go completely simple and use an actual pen and paper. Two reasons. First, writing on the Remarkable gives me unbridled tech-geek joy. It begs to be written on. Second, it’s incredibly handy for organizing. I don’t need multiple notebooks and I can find things quickly.
Loving these emails Eric! Spot on point about focusing on the main goal (working toward, not around it) 💪