We’re big fans here of Cal Newport’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You. The book centers on figuring out what follow your passion really means. It makes a strong case that following your passion isn’t quite the right framing for how to do good work and makes suggestions about what is. Have you read it? Did it change your thinking? What about your actions?
That’s the key part to consuming anything: Does it make a meaningful change in how you act?
The thinking part is good but until your actions are changed, even in the slightest way, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to consume something. And there is a lot to consume.
I finished watching the third season of House of Cards and after my hour long shower to feel no-quite-so evil after realizing who I was rooting for, I went on with my day. There’s nothing from House of Cards (hopefully) that I’m bringing into my life. For other things though, I want a deeper knowledge and appreciation for what to do. Posts about the The Pomodoro Technique are great, but they fit in the House of Cards-like bin until I act on them. Until I set a timer, dive into the work, and use that actual technique it’s a bit useless.
Not everything has to be an explicit action like this. It can be small thoughts that nudge our behavior. In How to Invest Your Time Like Money, Elizabeth Saunders introduced the INO framework which encourages people to think about how they are spending their time. Is each activity one that you can Invest in, Neutral and takes the time that it takes, or one you can Optimize by efficient layering (multitasking)? This mental model has changed my workflow in small ways. It made me realize that trying to add 100 words to a blog post while waiting to pick up my daughter from school didn’t bring much value. But cleaning out my inbox did. It was like doubling down on a questionable mining stock rather than buying a sliver of Apple stock instead.
This all circles back to Newport’s book. I’m starting a book club. It’s more like an enhanced reading experience, but book club is easier to tweet. Over the course of April we’ll be reading the book at about the same pace and I’ll be emailing people five updates. Each update will include a summary of what you read and bonus material. For example, the very title of the book is from a Steve Martin quote and there are a few additional resources, like Martin’s talk with Charlie Rose that are incredibly interesting. That’s the sort of stuff that will be in the emails.
But (you’re thinking) I don’t have time to read. You make time to read like you make time to eat, sleep, work. Charlie Munger wrote:
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero.”
Perhaps you’re now thinking I’ve already read it. That’s great, but this will be a deeper experience. The way that we build our understanding of things is through regular, repeated exposure. We have to revisit things to understand them deeply, a very idea from the book.
If you want, you can sign up and get each email. The “live” version will be free and if you find this after the spring of 2015, a paid version will be available to purchase. If you have questions, let me know in the comments or on Twitter, @MikeDariano.