Justin Jacoby Smith is an organizer, web geek, Buddhist, and poet.

Filtering by Tag: merlin mann

more rewarding things to be scared of

"I pitched Inbox Zero to them as the opposite of The 4 Hour Work Week. The book deal that I got was based on the fact that I said 'he gets the first third of all of that right,' which is 'learn how to manage your attention and not apologize for it.' I think he gets the last two thirds wrong, because he says 'phone it in and put up a hammock with your free time'.

This about how to make the time to do something harder than what you're doing. Rather than managing your attention to be able to do less, it's about making the time to be scared of something that's more interesting. Thinking this way is complicated, and hard, but I hope it does encourage someone to make a change to do something more worthwhile than fiddling with their e-mail. Or writing a book about fiddling with e-mail.

I hope this is something along those lines. If it's not, maybe I'll do it better next time. But it's not gonna stop me from trying."

-- Merlin Mann, on why he abandoned his book, in B2W #13, "The Kids' Great"

on 'the platform'

On Quora someone asked what Merlin Mann means when he refers to thinking of your work as "a platform." This was my answer: I keep a text file of some of my favorite of Merlin's jags from Back to Work (ladies). Often when Merlin says something I think is especially brilliant I'll rewind and transcribe it, then work to edit it a little for coherence--the nature of podcasting can lead to some sentences that sound brilliant but are hard to follow on paper.

I opened up this file 'o mine and ctrl+f'd 'platform' to find these edited & concatenated observations from the episode you highlight and, as I recall, the one preceding it. They're very helpful in answering your question, I think. Emphasis mine. As you say.

Time and attention applied well reward you. When you spend your time well you learn what to pay attention to. When you pay attention to increasingly more interesting and challenging things it becomes clear how to spend your time. If you're a dumbass and you waste all your time on things that don't deserve your time and attention, you don't get to complain about why you're sad. Start paying attention to stuff that challenges you and moves you further along.

Ask yourself: what am I trying to build here beyond keeping this job or getting the next one? Are you building towards doing things you increasingly like? Are you keeping your eyes open for the right mix of opportunity and cash somewhere else? Are you looking to get connected with the right people? Accept that it's a process.

This all seem obvious now. You know why it seems obvious? Because it's the next step. It wasn't the next step six steps ago. That's the platform: the approach to your work--specifically your output--that makes desirable next steps more apparent. It's like a clock--let's say noon is your current job. Six o'clock is the full opposite of your work, everything you'll never do. What's two o'clock? Your next step. The next place you want to go."

missing what you need to learn about your failures

"Very few people got out of a tough situation--a failure, if you like--by dwelling on it. You can come up with an excuse for anything, but all the time you're making excuses you're not out there doing the next thing. If you just sit around and make charts about what to learn from your failure, you're missing what you need to learn about your failures: 'get back to work."

merlin mann, on systematic #33