People Who Always Say No

ProTip: Don’t listen to people who tell you no.

I’m always stuck in these weird little cracks in the system because of the unusual lifestyle I lead. People are constantly telling me no, no, no… Over the last couple of years I’ve been location independent and that invariably means I don’t fit into the little check boxes bureaucrats love so dearly. It’s frustrating at first but you really just need to figure out how to handle it.

There is always someone who wants to tell you no. No that’s not possible, no we don’t offer that service, no that’s not how it’s done.

It goes like this:

“No we don’t offer that service and you can’t do that.”
“Oh wait my supervisor said that yes in fact we do offer that service but you have to pay extra.”
“Oh wait in fact you don’t have to pay extra.”
“So yes you can do that.”

Whenever you’re trying to do something unusual people will tell you that it’s not possible for a number of reasons.

Sometimes they’re just covering their asses and don’t want to get in trouble for doing something unusual. Yes that’s right get in trouble! They feel like they’re in grade school and their bosses will slap them on the wrist for doing something wrong.

The default position of some people is no. They just have a fundamentally different world view. Fall in line, do as your told, don’t rock the boat… No, no, no, no….

Often they’ll say no because they don’t want to acknowledge that you may in fact know more about the current situation than they do. Another reason people will say no is because they have an agenda. Case in point, any salesman that works on commission. A common excuse people go negative is “that’s just not the way it’s done.” If it’s not the status quo it can’t be done! When you’re doing something unusual it freaks people out and their first reaction is to just tell you NO.

The trick with all these types of problems is to think creatively and be polite. Kill them with kindness and know your stuff. If that doesn’t work just be such a pain in the ass that it’s easier to just let you do what you’re trying to do than to keep saying no.

Whatever the case, don’t take no for an answer if what you’re trying to do is important to you. To find your solution be polite, persistent, knowledgeable and creative.

Going Surfing

I took this photograph in Torquay Australia just before we drove the Great Ocean Road.

There is something wonderful and playful about the excitement of these young girls running out to go surfing! It was quite a scene at the beach here. The surfers were catching a few last waves as the sun was setting. To top it off a rainbow was forming. It was one of those little magic moments of travel-bliss that you cannot convey to someone who wasn’t there.

Dorothy and I went surfing in Australia and it was very very awesome. It got me to thinking about fear.

Anyway, I have roughly a bazillion photos to process from Australia. I’ll git-r-done soon enough and post them up.

Nothing new to report from Key Largo. We’re just enjoying our little RV and getting some work done.

Counterintuitive: Start Your Day On A Hill

Here is something you can do to really kickstart your workday. Start each day on a downward slopping hill. A metaphorical downward hill that is.

Stopping a task at an arbitrarily defined time like 5PM really makes no sense. Try stopping your task on or shortly after the point you’re most excited about it. One would think if you’re excited about something you should continue working on it until the excitement wanes. This is great if you can complete the task in sitting. If the task takes you into another day you may want to consider quitting while you’re ahead.

The whole point of this is that it takes an incredible effort to get back to that level of energy and excitement the next time day. Sometimes generating that kind of interest is just too much to ask early in the morning. So we allow the distractions to take over. Like processing email. In other words procrastinating with something that feels productive but is really just busy work.

Stop when you find yourself totally motivated and pumped up. Move onto the next item and get that task rolling.

When you start your next day you’ll be excited to get back to the first task where you left off. Ideally if you stagger your tasks like this it will never feel like a chore to get going, and you’ll be a ninja on startup every day.

[photo by incase]

Hard Choices Are Easy Choices In Disguise

When faced with a personal decision choose the more difficult option because it will actually be easier in the long run. It’s like personal finance. Spending money now is easy but it’s not good for your long term savings. Saving money now is always the more difficult option and yet it is far better in the long run.

For example:

Decision: Should I smoke that crack?! No!
Result: You won’t become a drug addict and you’ll save money on buying crack. (isn’t crack cheap though? hmph)

Decision: Should I wake up earlier and gor for a run before work? Yes.
Result: You’ll be happier and healthier in the long run.

Decision: Should I work instead of playing Angry Birds? Yes.
Result: You’ll accomplish more and spend your time doing things that matter.

I think you get the idea.

It’s pretty easy to get overun by the “shoulds”. I should be doing this or I should be doing that. Don’t let that kind of thinking take over. Be gentle with yourself and if you really want to just sit around watching movies than do that.

Just don’t make a habit of making the easiest choice all the time. The choices you make now become the habits you form and those habits will impact the rest of your life.

A side effect of this line of thinking is that you’ll appreciate the down time, or non productive, or just plain fun stuff more. A ‘treat’ isn’t a treat if you do it all the time. You wouldn’t eat a tub of ice cream every day? So why would you watch 2 hours of TV or movies every night?

Also, I’m really enjoying writing these posts these days. I hope you’re finding them useful. Also, I’ve fixed up this site a bit but you won’t see it if you’re viewing via RSS. I’ve updated my photography portfolio and disabled comments on this site. I feel the comments just aren’t adding any value and they’re just another inbox for me.

The Flow State

You Know The Feeling
Your head is down, you’re cranking out whatever you’re working on and all of a sudden time disappears and nothing else matters. Everything else is muted and you are just destroying! Well, er, in a good way of course. Everyone has this feeling of getting into the zone or being in a state of flow from time to time. I’ve started to ‘hack’ this artificially get myself into this headspace at will. Here’s how I do it.

I’ve noticed that I almost always have some type of drink on the go. And no, I’m not talking alcohol. I gave up that poison years ago. I’m talking about the best espresso you’ve ever tasted at a cafe in Athens. Or the incredible organic coffee from Arbutus Coffee in Vancouver. Whenever I get into this flow state or into this zone there is always a drink involved. I suppose the caffeine induces some type of biochemical or neurological response which makes my feel like I’m in the zone… It could also be that I’m least productive when I don’t have a drink going.

Music or Silence
If there is not complete silence at the ass crack of dawn then I need to have music. Usually ambient or lyric free music is best. For example this week’s Friday Mixtape by Tor is exactly the type of flow inducing music that I love.

Very Early Mornings
I’m talking 4:30 or 5:00AM. When I get a restful sleep I can rock up at this time of day and immediately start cranking it out. For many people, like my most awesome brother, the late night is a better flow time. He and I once tried to work together and this caused huge issues! He works best at night, I work best in the morning. You can’t just start waking up this early on a whim. It takes quite a while to get used to the sheer ridiculosity of this time of day. The best part about this time of day is you can take your dog for a walk and there is near silence. Take your dog to the local cafe and crank out some work before the rest of your timezone is even awake.

The best combination is this: some fantastic early morning exercise, a great coffee type drink, and silence or ambient music. If you’re a runner you can parlay your well documented ‘runners high‘ into your flow state. If you can combine all of them in the right order you’ll be a productivity master. Your inbox will be zeroed and you’ll get your most important tasks done before your friends or colleagues are even awake. They’ll wonder how you make it look so easy. It appears as though most high performance people (yeah I just said that, pfft!?) do this.

If you really have trouble finding your flow state use one of the time tracking tools to monitor your productivity. Then take note of your environment. Act accordingly.

Counterintuitive: Fear, Run At It

Imagine you’re out in relatively shallow water in the ocean. The waves are breaking and everything is beautiful. All of a sudden there is an enormous set of waves coming in and they’ll be breaking right on you. What to do? Do you run in fear toward the shore or do you run right at the waves? If you run toward shore chances are you’ll get pummelled by the waves, if you run toward the waves you can easily just dive under them to calmer water beyond.

I’ve found this handy little analogy serves me well. It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently: running at fear.

Use that little voice in your mind that says you shouldn’t do something because you’re afraid as a guide. Don’t listen to it and simply do the opposite. Run toward what scares you at full speed and you will prosper. You will be totally alive and happy.

Whether it’s new experiences, new challenges, new opportunities, or just big risks, let your fear guide you. Fear is great, it tells you what you should be doing! It’s practically a compass.

I’m not talking about being reckless (like base jumping without a parachute or something) so don’t be an idiot. I’m talking about growing as a person. Act accordingly.

Update August 13 2012
See also: Push, push, push. Expanding your comfort zone. by Derek Sivers.

Counterintuitive: Internet, Less Is More

Contrary to what common sense would suggest, having less connectivity will actually increase your productivity. If your internet access is intermittent and you’re genuinely offline, you’ll get more crap accomplished.

I’ve written 40 000+ words, shot 30 000+ photos, bought and sold several websites+domains+photographs, and run a successful photography school. All of this was with very limited connectivity while traveling through 20+ countries this past year. I’ve gotten more done in less time and I’m happier for it.

When you do have “online” time you have be highly focused on what you need to get done. As a result, you get it all done. Think reverse Parkinson’s Law which states:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Online time should be a treat, like ice cream. If you have 24/7 high speed internet getting distracted into useless minutiae is easy. The web is a hyperactive distraction machine. There is something incredibly awesome and simultaneously useless that comes out every single day. If you want to be more effective give yourself more offline time.

Spend your time having fun and building sand castles, not Facebooking your friends to death. Speaking of ways to be more effective, read this article about email.

On Task Batching

task batching

Here’s a little ‘pro tip’ for you:

If you’re not already, start task batching stuff you need to get done as much as possible. Do you empty your garbage each time you put a piece of trash in it? Do you do your laundry every time you toss a dirty item into it? Obviously not. It’s clearly a waste of time in these cases because of the time it takes to switch back and forth from task to task.

Saving Time
Think about this in terms of basic productivity. Are you reading and responding to emails and calls as they come in? Does it take away from the work you are doing at the time? You might want to start batching that stuff and then attack each batch with the agility of a ninja. Think about batching your errands, emails, calls, meetings, bills, etc etc.. It will save you time and will help you focus properly on what you actually want to be doing instead of being constantly disrupted by inbound stuff. If you’re not task batching you might as well be taking out the trash every time you get a new email.

This dovetails nicely with inbox zero, and GTD.

[Photo by laszlo-photo]

Blogging for 5 Years

50 years ago today Sputnik was launched. The launch of this site is undoubtedly on par with Sputnik in terms of historical significance! Here is a look back into the archives at some of the highlights from five years of blogging in no particular order.

Random Projects

Helping others start blogging

Nata Village

Gmail Clock Photos


The Earth Sandwich

The Other Half of the Earth Sandwich

Adam Dow


5 things meme

The day citizen media went mainstream

Looking Down Over the Edge of a Cliff

Telling Gdub to Fuck Off

Blog nerds


Memory Maps


Moblogging for the First Time

Readers and other naive thoughts

Movie Watching Strategies and the Death of Network TV

Having a Voice

Automatically Geotag your Pictures (only 12 steps heh)

Hitting 1 million “hits”

Smart Automatic Movies

Post Comments of Die

Closet readers

First link: Viking Kittens -> precursor to lol cats?

More Personal Stuff


Being inducted into the League of Awesomeness (still waiting for my certificate lol)

Protesting the invasion of Iraq two days after it started

Having the PVR I built on Engadget

Video on the CBC’s Zed

Getting quoted in the Globe and Mail (now behind a stupid paywall)

Getting Dugg back when 250 Diggs was alot


People will ask you to blog about things or not blog about things.

Blogging has made me a more inquisitive more engaged person.

Motivations will change.

It pays for it’s own hosting and my daily coffee.

Go back and look at your archives from time to time theres lots of interesting things there!

Theres no such thing as a permalink. Links rot and die.

Try to include everything in the post itself.

The platform and design will change frequently.

Stick with at least one stats package.

Link to other people and comment on their stuff.

I like blogging.

Some not so useful stats:

There are currently 3,871 posts and 3,511 comments, contained within 674 categories.

Akismet has protected your site from 131,365 spam comments.

Successful requests: 12,263,356 (280,308)
Average successful requests per day: 15,058 (40,043)
Successful requests for pages: 6,766,422 (119,704)
Average successful requests for pages per day: 8,308 (17,100)
Failed requests: 166,604 (11)
Redirected requests: 1,682 (6)
Data transferred: 3.32 terabytes (31.66 gigabytes)
Average data transferred per day: 4.18 gigabytes (4.52 gigabytes)

Figures in parentheses refer to the 7-day period ending Oct 04 2007
Analyzed requests from Jul 11 2005 to Oct 04 2007 (814.37 days)

5 Things Meme

A while back I was tagged by Lee Lefever to write my ‘5 things you don’t know about me’ meme post. Does this mean I actually have to write something?! I’m used to lazily re-blogging everything…

Bad Film School Films
I wrote and directed a few short films and they turned out very badly. Months and months of work and in the end you get a bad film. But the point wasn’t to make an amazing film. The idea was to learn the process of filmmaking. Turns out making films (on film) is very hard and can be very tedious when you’re working with bitter people…

Nascent Mad Magazine Collection
A good friend of mine (Rick) has been trying to get me into comics. He’s a huge comic book nerd and he’s been on a quest to have me hooked on comics. He bought me a 1974 Mad Magazine and that was it. Now i’m knee deep in ebay auctions and other comic dorkery. Mad Magazines are so rad. Brings me back to when I was a kid and we used to read em. Looking back as an adult its interesting to see how much of it went over our heads as kids.

Failed Video Blog / Podcast
My brother and i created a daily travel video blog called scourist. The idea was a free daily travel show that didn’t suck. We did the show for like a month and got about 40 000 unique visitors. My brother and I went separate ways and the project fizzled out. I learned alot from that experience and it was pretty rad while it lasted. Why do I see it as a failure? Mainly because we didn’t really give it a chance. It could have done very well if we kept at it.

I AM NOT A DEPLETIST!! I do my best to use only the resources I need and no more. I’m constantly trying to infect others with this thinking as well. Just ask anybody who knows me and they’ll tell you I’ve been pushing this sustainability stuff for ages.

Closet Librarian
I spend an inordinate amount of time archiving and sorting media. Instead of watching TV or doing something productive I often find myself sifting through stacks of photos or wading through reams of video films. I’m constantly pruning my iTunes collection (17 000 tracks) , my flickr collection (currently 58,319 photos mostly private / 74,311 views ), my digital videos (almost a terabyte) etc etc. Weird… Was I a librarian or something in a past life or something?

I’ve been clinically diagnosed with a form of depression that makes lots of things suck. Things like life. Everyone keeps trying to put me on drugs for it but I’m trying to battle it old school by eating properly, doin some frikin exercise, and re-wiring my brain to think more positively.

Ok, so that was 6 things… It would be nice to here from some friends on this meme: Jon, Bill, Sean, Justin, and Alicia. Given that this is a meme it doesn’t have to be 5 things about you that people may or may not know. It could be whatever you want. Memes are better when they evolve. Tag, you’re it.