Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 20, 2017)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 20, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

How to Be Better at Stress by Tara Parker-Pope via The New York Times

In a 2012 study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 28,000 people were asked about their stress level and compared them to premature death. The study found that having more stress didn’t necessarily lead to premature death but having a lot of stress and believing it was taking a toll resulted in a 43% higher risk of premature death.

This is an important and actionable finding. If we know we’re stressed but decide to do something about it, we increase the likelihood for disease prevention and long-term health. The article has some great tips on how you can go about reducing stress in your life.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

The Magic of Thinking Big by Davd J. Schwartz

I first learned about this book through Tim Ferriss who said that this book helped him overcome the fear in launching his business and writing his first bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek. I picked it up and I was not disappointed. Although the book was written over 50 years ago, many of the lessons and actionable advice are highly applicable. I’ll be writing up a summary of this book on www.actionablebooks.com but I recommend picking up a copy and diving right into how you can transform your life by thinking big.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Empathy suggests you enter another person’s pain as you’d enter another country, through immigration and custons, border-crossing by way of query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there?

— Leslie Jamison

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

A little reshuffling goes a long way.

Earlier this week, I spent about an hour playing around with my home office configuration. I’d had the same layout for the past 2 years and felt that a bit of change would do wonders. And to my surprise… it did.

Instead of having my sit-down desk in the centre of the room, I now have it next to the window (natural light is key) and my standing next right next to it. This configuration also makes the layout a lot cleaner and open.

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If you’ve had the same home or office layout for the past little while, experiment with a little reshuffling. You’d be surprised at how even a small shift can make a big difference!

Featured image by Scott Web.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 14, 2017)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 14, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals by Shane Parrish

This is a stark reminder about how professionals take their work, competence, and processes to another level. I realized I’ve been operating at an amateur level on many facets in life; it’s a great reminder of what’s needed expected from pros.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

The Founder

The fascinating story of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. Michael Keaton does a great job playing the ever ambitious founder and the winding road that McDonald’s took to get to where it is today. On one hand it’s a rewarding story of one man’s persistence and on the other a disturbing look at what he’s willing to do for success.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.

— Elizabeth Gilbert

Product I’m loving —

15 Minute Timer (Hour Glass) from The School of Life

With so much our lives happening through screens these days it’s really nice to have something that’s completely analog. This “hour” glass tracks 15-minutes for you to focus on doing something offline. It’s beautiful and elegant. I use it to track a quick workout while the maker of the hour glass has a number of other great suggestions like writing a letter to a good friend or contemplating an important question in your life.

Featured image by Medhat Ayad.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Pilot: Behaviour Change with One Book, One Summary, and 30-Days of Tracking

Pilot: Behaviour Change with One Book, One Summary, and 30-Days of Tracking

Behaviour change is difficult. It’s the reason why I’ve been doing the same habits for years and years. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve tried to change my behaviour on certain things – but the deeply ingrained thinking just can’t get rooted out.

So, I have a proposal. Let’s try a new strategy for changing our behaviour. One that requires a little bit of planning, learning, and execution. But it won’t be too painful.

The idea is simple: I’m going to read one personal or professional development book per month and write a summary for it on ActionableBooks.com.

If you haven’t heard of ActionableBooks.com before, it’s a website that hosts over 1000 business book summaries collected over 10+ years. It’s amazing resource for those looking for a quick hit of learning and insight.

After writing the summary, I’ll decide on one behaviour change that I want to make. Over the course of the next 30 days I’ll track my progress of a scale of 1 to 4 to see how well I did on it.

By the end of the 30 days, I’ll do a post-mortem and see if and how that behaviour change took place. I’ll debrief with a third party who’ll give me honest feedback on my progress.

The plan is to read and summarize my first book this month and begin my 30-days of behaviour tracking in September.

If you’d be interested in joining me on this quest, add a comment below along with your book choice and we can keep track of each other’s progress! I can also help you get setup with the ActionableBooks.com team so you can get started with your first summary.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 7, 2017)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 7, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

The Four-Letter Code to Selling Just About Anything by Derek Thompson

A fascinating piece on how to sell people on ideas and products. The key? If it’s something new and suprising, make it feel familiar. If it’s something familiar, add something that’d suprising. Great examples in this article from Spotify’s Discover Weekly to movie sequels that illustrate this point.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different than the things we do.

— Albert Camus

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Reorganize your phone screen.

In last week’s learnings roundup, I wrote about the value of using tools for their intended purpose. In particular, I talked about how our smart phones are sapping our ability to focus due to their multifuctionality.

In an effort to put this into action, I’ve reorganized my iPhone screen into three main sections.

  1. Communication (its primary purpose)
  2. On-demand information (it’s secondary purpose)
  3. Time Wasters (non priority)

I’ve also cleared up a lot of apps that I don’t use and kept my main screen simple with less than 12 apps. The key communication apps – Phone, Inbox, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Messages – were preserved on this screen along with Google Calendar.

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On my second screen, I added some of my valuable but non essential apps. This includes Audible, Instapaper, TTCWatch (transit), Google Maps, and Weather; apps that provide on-demand information.

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On my third screen, I group the embedded Apple apps, some additional navigation apps, and other apps that I don’t use on a frequent basis.

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Finally, on my fourth screen, I put what I call my “Time Wasters”. Apps that usually lead to distraction. The two main culprits for me are Instagram and Safari. I’ve relegated these two to iPhone “Siberia” so it’s less likely that I spend time here. Plus, I’ll feel kind of guilty spending time in either of these apps.

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Just a caveat here that my way of organizing things may not be the optimal way for you. And, of course, your apps will be very different from mine. The key here is that you’re using your smart phone as a tool that works for you and your intended purpose – not the other way around.

Featured image by Tranmautritam.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 4, 2017)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 4, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup.

This week I was in London, UK, for a friend’s wedding and to visit my sister. London is a beautiful city with so many interesting boroughs that you can easily spend a full day in. I was also blown away by how well they’ve integrated green spaces and parks into the city – something cities (like Toronto) can learn from.

I also had a chance to visit the London branch of The School of Life. I love their focus on developing emotionally intelligence and their store was full of interesting personal development resources.

It’s another motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

What Do You Want to Create and Why Haven’t You Done It? by Neil Strauss

We’re at our best when we can create something to share with the world. Overcoming the fear and status quo has many benefits; Neil reminds us to forget about the outcome and experience the process of creating something you believe in.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

The man who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.

— Seneca

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Use tools for their intended purpose.

We hear more these days about the negative impacts of tools like our smart phones. They distract us, reduce our ability to focus, and even impact the quality of the relationships with people around us.

Paradoxically, one of the reasons why tools like the smart phone is reducing our ability to focus is because of how versatile it is. On the surface it’s nice to have a device that can do many different things. But when you start adding things like news, music, podcasts, the web, email, messaging, etc. etc. you can easily get lost in this labyrinth of stuff.

This can’t be good for our (easily distracted) brains.

I suggest that we shift our thinking with each device that we own and use it for its intended purpose. A phone is a communication device so it should strictly be used for that purpose – calling, texting, and emailing. For entertainment or informational purposes, use your computer, tv, or some other device. Just don’t mix up the intended purpose; our brains love distraction and the dopamine hit – prevent it from being a click away by keeping your phone clear from these non-essentials.

App that I’m loving —

Moves for iPhone and Android

Moves is an app that shows you all the places you visited during the day along with a step and distance count.

I found it really interesting while I’ve been traveling over the past couple of weeks to see where I’ve been. It’s a nice little recap of my travels and helpful for orienting myself especially in a foreign country.

The bad news is that it uses up quite a bit of battery. My iPhone SE barely made it through the day with Moves running in the background.

Featured image via Gratisography.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (July 23, 2017)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (July 23, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

Top 10 Strategies for Learning New Skills by Farheen Gani via Zapier

Really nice piece outlining key strategies for learning. I love their suggestions around improving the quality of practice, leveraging the “diffused” brain mode for learning, and putting something on the line by testing yourself.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When you don’t know what habor you’re aiming for, no wind is the right wind.

— Seneca

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Ask your doctor for your health data.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to my doctor for my yearly physical and got my blood work done. As part of the process, I also made sure I also got a copy of the test results from Life Labs and put the data points into a Google Sheet for future reference.

More labs are providing test results directly to the patient and this is great news. As patients, we get to take greater control of our own health and monitor them. Especially since many MDs are often short on time, nutritional knowledge, and resources to provide sustainable advice for lifestyle changes.

So being able to track your data, at a minimum, will help inform you on where your health is headed. If you’re looking to take your health to the next level, this data can be extremely handy in improving your health with a naturopath or a nutritionist in the future (which is something I’m doing currently).

Product I’m loving —

Fitbit Aria

Speaking of tracking my health, I just recently purchased the Fitbit Aria smart scale and I’ve been loving it. I’ve been using an analog scale for the last few years and it was useful, but the Aria takes it to another level. It tracks weight, body fat, lean mass, and your BMI. As someone who wants to reduce body fat but maintain lean mass through nutrition and fitness, having a tool like this is extremely valuable.

Aside from the Aria, there are some great options out like the Withings scale that measure more things like bone mass and water. I liked the Aria option as it connects natively with my Fitbit app.

Featured image by Nirzar Pangarkar.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (July 15, 2017)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (July 15, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

Active Listening by Shane Parrish

I really like how this article breaks down what active listening really means. Personally, I find myself too often thinking about what I want to say next instead of truly listening to the person I’m talking with. As the article suggests, real conversations happen when you’re not colouring the things your conversation partner is saying but understanding the heart of what they’re saying and connecting with it.

Podcast episode I’m enjoying —

Naval Ravikant on Reading, Happiness, Systems for Decision Making, Habits, Honesty and More on The Knowledge Project

Naval Ravikant is a highly successful angel investor and someone who loves to learn and grow. This podcast episode from The Knowledge Project (via Farnam Street) goes into Naval’s life philosophy. For a guy who has had so much success in Silicon Valley, it’s amazing how down to earth he is and content he seems with blazing his own path to happiness.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

It’s never the changes we want that change everything.

— Junot Diaz

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Manage your energy – not your time.

Something that I’ve been feeling increasingly constraining is this idea of “time management”. Don’t get me wrong, managing your time is a critical skill to develop for focus and productivity. But if time management becomes your one and only objective, you may be missing out on your true potential.

We all have different times of the day when we feel energized, creative, or tired. Trying to power through hours of your day that you usually feel tired might leave your full potential untapped. (And that second, third, or fourth cup of coffee isn’t going to help in the long run).

Developing an awareness of your energy and doing the right things at the right time can make a difference. If you feel like you’re running out of gas late in the morning, maybe go take a walk. Or if you’re feeling lethargic in the early afternoon, maybe go take a nap (if you have a place to) or find a colleague to chat up so you feel more energized.

Personally, I try my best to be a robot to “be productive” during all hours of the day – especially from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. But I’m not a robot. I’m human. And acknowledging that and respecting my energy throughout the day can help me be more productive and satisfied in the long run.

Featured image by Breather.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.