Last week, as I was applying for an online contest, I looked at my calendar and realized that I have been blogging for five years. That’s five whole years worth of who I am that has been shared online.
It got me thinking. So much has changed since the day that I decided to start blogging, and yet some things are still exactly the same. I had no idea what today would look like five years ago, and I have no idea what things will look like five years from now. But day in and day out, I find myself doing a lot of work, and putting all my effort into various different things.
What do I really live for?
It’s a question that everyone faces. No matter how certain and confident a person may project themselves in the world, there’s always a deep question in the shadows questioning whether or not you deserve to be there. (tweet that)
Even today, while trying to think of what today’s blog post should be about, I took a deep breath, thought about how jammed pack these past two weeks have been, and asked myself if I’m really making a difference. I had no idea what to write about. Who even cares if I write?
There are so many areas of life where I could put myself down, look at myself like an amateur, and cause my feelings of insecurity to push me into hiding. But that doesn’t get me anywhere.
Your life’s work isn’t going to be easy, and nobody is every a hundred percent certain that they are the best fit or the most appropriate qualifications for the job. You just have to take a deep breath and know that you can do it. Have grit.
Because you are where you are for a reason. Don’t let what you have just fly by.
I’ve don’t believe in putting tools above mindsets and strategies, but sometimes it still is helpful to see how other people work and the tools they use to get their work done. Inspired by Lifehacker’s How I Work series, I’ve decided to venture into the slightly more personal space of my life and share my workflow with the world.
Current Computer: Lenovo Thinkpad R400
I’ve had this computer for a while now, same one I had two years ago. Still runs more than fine for my daily needs, and the build quality of ThinkPads is truly legendary. I dual boot Windows 7 and Arch Linux, which allows me to use graphic / creative stuff in one operating system and code in the other.
Current Mobile Device: Galaxy Nexus GSM
Still going strong on the trusty Galaxy Nexus. I wish Google would release a kitkat update for this little guy, but it doesn’t look like that’s happening. Android is a great mobile platform, and it’s also great to have the pure android experience on a Nexus device.
Other Electronics: ASUS Transformer, FitBit Force
I have an ASUS transformer for light computing days at school when I don’t feel like lugging around my laptop, as well as to read ebooks on. My ridiculous appetite for books is satisfied largely through this little handheld tablet.
My new FitBit Force is my venture into wearable technology. I’m quite pleased with it so far, and it’s turned my daily exercises nearly into a game. I like it’s subtleness unlike other wearable technology solutions out there that look absolutely ridiculous *cough* galaxy gear. Being able to quantifiably see how active I was today is definitely a cool thing.
My workspace consists of a dual monitor setup attached to a docking station for my laptop, which is extremely convenient when I come home and want a full blown computing space. I also have on the wall very carefully chosen colors and arrangements. Unfortunately, I am probably sitting in front of this thing for too many hours a day.
Apps I Can’t Live Without
The list is really long here, but I’ll go through them briefly. I use Thunderbird for email because I’m still not used to using email straight in the web. I use Chromium cause it’s awesome like that. I still use Pidgin for AIM and gchat (yes I’m still on AIM). Evernote is where I keep all of my thoughts and write all of my blog posts before they are published. If you don’t use Evernote, you’re seriously missing out.
As for Internet apps, I use tweetdeck to manage all of my never ending twitter interactions, and Buffer to schedule content sharing. Google docs and google calendar are also huge ways of organization and collaboration for me.
Sites I Frequent
There is always a tab open on Hacker News in my browser window besides my everyday Facebook, Quora, Tumblr, and Pinterest feeds. I also visit Lifehacker, Engadget, and Wimp regularly to keep up to date with tech and such.
My TODO List Manager
I’ve been using Google keep to keep track of things to do ever since it was launched. It has a great flexibility with lists and other note taking abilities. I also use Google tasks for Homework and other things that have time sensitive due dates.
Music I Listen To
Switchfoot has gotten me through life, no matter where I’ve been. Fading West is an amazing album. Other than that, I do have a couple EDM playlists on Spotify to get me pumped whenever I need more energy, or country music for whenever I feel like driving a tractor.
I’m always reading, and right now I’m enjoying “Think and Grow Rich” by Napolean Hill, as well as “Abundance” by Peter Diamandis.
Amazingly enough, I am able to get about seven hours of sleep a night consistently, usually between the hours of 12 to 8. Sleep is important for me, as it helps me to really have energy and focus through my days.
So there. Those are the tools I use.
Words can be confused with communication.
Words are a vehicle for communication, but it is not communication in itself.
Communication is simply sharing my thoughts so that someone else understands my thoughts and where I’m coming from; it’s translating the thoughts from my head into someone else’s head.
People that talk the most aren’t necessarily the best communicators. Talk isn’t necessarily communication.
The best communicators are ones who are able to understand the person they are speaking to. They are able to pick up on their audience’s culture, or frame of reference they are using when processing what they are saying. They are able to address the varying concerns of different audiences depending on who they talk to. Thus, the best communicators are open and understand the backgrounds and cultures of other people. Top communicators understand and transcend culture. (tweet that)
That’s why most of us find it easier to communicate and interact with people who are from similar backgrounds or cultures, because people these people already think and act similarly, saving the need to communicate as much context.
Therefore, the most quick and dirty way to foster effective communication within a team or organization isn’t to talk more, but to focus on creating a unique culture. This phenomenon is seen in practically all the fun and hip companies such as Google, Pinterest, IDEO, Facebook, etc.
The power of building a unique culture is to foster more effective communication, but the danger happens when people in a culture become elitist and closed to becoming a communicator that is effective across cultures.
Building a culture is great, but understanding culture is legendary.
How many times have you heard someone tell you that they wish they could do something without having a plan to accomplish it?
Most people want to master certain skills and become world-class at something, but lack the definiteness and discipline to achieve it. Most people settle on hoping that they’ll get lucky. People hope they will be discovered much like they hope they will win the lottery.
However, people who understand how to systematically and intentionally establish change in their life understand how to make the most of what they have access to, and are therefore able to turn what seems like nothing into something more and more significant. Successful people are specific about the work they do, knowing that there is no way around hard work. (tweet that)
Too many people set goals that seem more like wishes, because they don’t have the plan or discipline to follow through. This can be easily fixed, given that the individual has the desire and will to change it.
Habits are the building blocks of accomplishment, and by understanding how to build and break habits, a person can achieve anything.
Many people overlook the daily things because it doesn’t feel glamorous or incredibly sexy. People see the success of an entrepreneur without seeing journey and difficulty the entrepreneur went through to get there. But by embracing and building the little habits to propel you toward your goal, that is how people become unstoppable.
When it comes to your life’s work, there are three main approaches that people have. Neither of these are necessarily better than another, because it ultimately is a decision made by each individual.
Seeing your work as your job means that what you do is merely for the purpose of paying the bills. A person that goes to work to get paid simply sees money as the end result. People in this category usually don’t care about the background or content of their work as long as it provides them a means of income.
Seeing your work as a career tells a story about yourself. It creates a narrative of your life, and it makes you feel good about yourself because you’re able to garner some fulfillment through your work beyond simply paying the bills.
Seeing your work as a calling places the work that you do more important than your own needs at times. People who see their work as a calling are usually people who are willing to do what they do for free, because that is how much they believe in the things that they do.
Of course, not everyone has to find such fulfillment in the work that they do. Many people see their work as a job in order to pay the bills and give them the ability to fulfill their calling in their families or other communities. There’s nothing inherently wrong with seeing your work a particular way.
However, it is important to understand your own perspective as well as the perspectives of the people you interact with in order to understand where someone else may be coming from.
What’s very interesting today is that most millennials want to see their work as a calling. Generation Y seems to trend toward asking the questions of “what is my work’s purpose?” or “why do I do what I do?” and not settle for the same reasons of generations past.
What do you see your work as?
Startup Kids, a documentary about young entrepreneurs around the world, gives a glimpse of what it’s like to be starting a company in your twenties.
One of the many people interviewed was Zach Klein, the man who started CollegeHumor as well as Vimeo. What inspires me about Zach is that he spends half of his week in the woods, unreachable by phone or internet.
There’s something about the Thoreau esque approach to life that really gets to me. Simple, minimalistic, but yet still involved in the world and making a difference. Perhaps more people should take time like that to be with themselves, away from the constant input of data from the cloud. Maybe we should look at some real clouds for a change. (tweet that)
The more recent trend of bootstrapping startup companies, or starting a company with a little funds as possible, requires a very unique personality similar to a modern day Thoreau. All of the kids interviewed in this film have a unique boldness and high tolerance to risk. They’re the ones that are crazy enough to start companies, build cabins in the middle of the woods, and change the world.
But seriously. If you’re interested in startup companies, give this documentary a watch.