Welcome to our first bona fide 2024 newsletter! A warm welcome to the new subscribers who've stumbled upon this blog and newsletter - Hello! We've some exciting content to share from the past month, but first, a little housekeeping. You might notice a slight change in the email address from which this newsletter is sent, courtesy of modifications implemented by Ghost.io, our platform hosts. If this newsletter has been filtered as spam, my apologies! If you can whitelist the email address or mark it as 'not spam', these words should end up in your inbox straight away each month.
January is officially behind us, and this newsletter is a reflection on a month I've always found to be a perfect storm of hope and gloom. I'm not a fan of dark mornings and early sunsets. My goal this month was to become a 'morning person', so I've been setting my alarm for 6am almost every day. It's been successful, lengthening my mornings and increasing my writing time, allowing room for my Morning Pages and a 10-minute meditation before jumping in the shower. This routine has enhanced my clarity of thought, although implementing a suitable bedtime remains a hurdle. And by ‘hurdle’, I really mean I’m bloody knackered! And it doesn’t help that the darkness swallows the North of England by 4.30 pm. Fun fact: sourced from Alexa, so it must be true, the sun will start rising at 6am from March 17th (until clocks are adjusted a couple of weeks later). 😒
📚 The Books
For all those intrigued by time management and productivity, let me present two fantastic book recommendations this month. First, Ali Abdaal's eagerly awaited Feel Good Productivity, closely followed by Four Thousand Weeks - Time Management for Mortals. Both texts were great reads, offering slightly alternative views on familiar productivity concepts, thus straying away from the many books that focus less on behaviour and more on a specific methodology.
Feel Good Productivity stood out for me for its incisive look at procrastination, investigating the reasons behind our tendency to delay task completion as creatives and professionals. Abdaal argues compellingly that procrastination is primarily a byproduct of dwindling confidence and a natural reflex when the task lacks appeal. The book also lives up to its title and gives so great insight into how our productivity is linked to our mood and how we can turn the mundane into something you can enjoy doing. I also wrote more on this is one of my recent blogs, which I’ll come to shortly.
The theory of ‘make it fun’ strikes a familiar chord with some of the advice you’ll recognise if you’ve who've read James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. He reinforces the idea that any task or habit needs to be appealing and enjoyable. We often procrastinate doing things we enjoy, rather than the things we need to get done - so let’s switch that up!
Simultaneously, Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks, views procrastination as an inevitable act that we could benefit from embracing. Essentially, the choice of what we allow ourselves to procrastinate on can become a potent tool and we can use it for personal growth, if we can almost harness our inner procrastinator. Four Thousand Weeks comes from the statistic that we, as humans, only are on this earth for an average of 4,000 weeks. Bit of a depressing thought, but if we embrace our finitude then, we won’t squander the time that we have. A really uplifting book, and genuinely got me thinking about how I use the limited time I have.
Both books offer remarkable insights and I highly recommend them - You can check them out at the links below
Purchase Feel Good Productivity on Amazon:
Purchase Four Thousand Weeks on Amazon:
📖 A Quote
"The overarching point is that what we think of as 'distractions' aren't the ultimate cause of our being distracted. They're just the places we go to seek relief from the discomfort of confronting limitation."
Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman
✍️ The Writing
This year I have set myself the goal of writing 50 original pieces of content for both Not Entirely Boring’s website and also reposted to my page on Medium and we’re 5 down with 45 to go. I started this year with a blog about weight loss - as I mentioned in the January NEB Newsletter, I was shamelessly capitalising on the increased traffic from google (Sorry, not sorry)
“Combating Procrastination” I wrote this blog as a bit of a sequel to my blog detailing how I’m in an abusive relationship with note taking applications, because I procrastinated so much developing the perfect system - but as productivity enthusiasts will know there is no perfect system. But we become slaves to the chase. So in 2024, I’m using digital note taking only for very specific projects where I need to, and this blog talks about why I have moved to an analogue system and how it’s improved my levels of productivity. (And it may work for you too!)
When we talk about new year, new me - one of the habits I wanted to continue to develop was meditation. I have a history of practicing mindfulness meditation as a tool to destress and be a little bit more present. But having broken the habit about nine months ago, I was able to really see the difference in how that effected by approach to a lot of tasks. In this essay “The Impact of Mindfulness on Productivity” I’ve investigated how being more mindful can help us get more done and used some of my experiences as examples.
“Mastering the Art of Saying No” was written, to some extent, almost as an act of self care. Some of us may have experienced being a ‘people pleaser’ and saying Yes to things to our own detriment, or because of our own insecurities or imposter syndrome, or fear of people thinking if we say no, it’s because we can’t. It’s silly when we step back and look at it objectively. I really wanted to investigate this further because I think that there is personal power in saying No and setting boundaries.
Upcoming blogs that I’m writing for February include subjects on - Highlighting (when to and when you shouldn’t), The history of Commonplace books (I’ve started using one myself recently), and I think I’ve go the perfect way of managing tasks and improving task management mindset. (And it’s not just a to-do list). There is also a piece that I’ve been working on about the history of Video Game review scores, and I was so close to trashing it, as it’s been so research heavy and the scope of it is actually massive. But I’ve decided to move it back from the ‘on hold’ to the ‘in progress’ folder. You’ll need a good half an hour to read it. (Sorry).
📝 The (Absolutely Terrible) Book
Yes, I’m putting it out there. I am writing a novel. I am going to write and finish this novel before my birthday in early May and subscribers to this newsletter will have access to the PDF draft via a link in June’s newsletter and this brings me to the last blog I published - “Why I am writing a Terrible Novel”. I have an idea that has been brewing for over twenty-years and I’ve done a ton of research building the characters and the world, ever since my early 20s. The problem is, I am not that great a writer and I think that the story deserves a better writer than what I am. And as I don’t write a lot of fiction, I’ve decided to set this crazy challenge. I’m writing fiction. I need to write an average of 6000 words a week at my current pace to hit the goal of 100,000 words.
So how’s it going? Well - come closer, because between you and I (I need to whisper this) - It was going really badly. I started writing a science fiction story. My fingers hit the keyboard and with no plan and no idea I just started to write and I wrote thousands of words, but then, before I knew it, the story was lost. It got so complicated and confusing that it was giving me a headache. And it wasn’t writers block or fear of the (admittedly) stupid challenge I’ve set myself, I didn’t connect with it. And that’s a lesson learned. BUT!, I am determined to do this! Rather than living with my utterly crap dystopian space opera, I decided to begin again, but this time I came a bit closer to home. I had a paragraph that was a story idea that I had written down ages ago. The synopsis was less than 80 words. When I found that paragraph I Immediately knew what to write. I’ve planned out about a fifth of the book already and though I’m a little behind on word count, I’m finding that I get into a creative flow state really quickly and easily (for now).
My terrible novel. Written so I can say “I finished a work of fiction”, is in the works. Wish me luck.
🎧 A Podcast worth listening to
For a few years, Gavin McKinney had been uploading health and fitness advice on TikTok and Instagram. I love his deadpan humour and his humility. In the last year, Gavin has stopped (for the most part) making short form content, and has doubled down on his podcast 'Chat Sh!t, Get Cancelled’. The Podcast is an interesting exploration of his life experiences, relationships, travel, food, nutrition and above all, fitness. Gavin, who is a personal trainer (and in some way reminds me so much of my own trainer), offers excellent advice interspersed with hilarious anecdotes. - and he’s not trying to sell you some crappy sports supplement.
In the most recent episode - he and guest, Caelan Tierney talked about Steven Bartlett - from Dragon’s Den and the influential podcast, Diary of a CEO. They are quite clear in their claims about Bartlett, providing examples, on him using his platform to push nutrition misinformation. To be honest, this wasn’t a huge shock to me as though I used to love Diary of a CEO, he gave a platform to some guy who said that being in a calorie deficit won’t lead to weight loss (And I agree with Gavin, who is clear DOACEO was for a long time, a great, interesting and informative show, but lost its way) To hear Gavin and Caelan break down some of the incredible claims that the have been made on the podcast - it was quite the eye opener. Check them out and give him a follow on the links below:
🎬 A Video (Actually Two)
It took a year, but OverSimplified - easily one of the best (if not the best) educational YouTube channels has finally released not one, but two new videos! - The Second Punic War. (Parts 1 & 2)
With the same humour as in the many other videos, and the same art style. Honestly, if you’re reading this and you’ve got kids - get them watching this channel. The creator makes history fun, interesting and most importantly, accessible. I discovered the channel about a year ago when I was reading The Count of Monte Cristo and was interested in the era, and have binged everything. A true return to form on a subject that I personally knew very little about.
📺 Ant & Glen
Speaking of video - I still haven’t pulled my finger out and finished editing the most recent cruise series. I fully intend to have the first video - A cabin tour from Odyssey of the Seas out very soon. I lost some footage, and on top of that, some of the stuff didn’t really come out great. So editing has been like trying to bake a cake, but with really rubbish ingredients. It’s really got me thinking about cameras, especially stabilisation (as that’s been quite a problem - some of the footage is less Royal Caribbean and more Blair Witch. But it’ll be fine… it’ll be fine (I’ll keep telling myself that) - Watch this space!
But if you’re considering a Greek Isles Cruise in 2024 you can always catch up with the last video!
The new videos will be released over at www.youtube.com/@antandglen very soon! (Please subscribe if you haven’t already!)
Anyway! I wanted to keep this short, but of course I’ve managed to rabble on for far too long, so I’ll say goodbye for now - Have a great February, wherever you are in the world (don’t forget it’s a leap 🐸 year)!
If you want to get in touch, you can follow me on socials - I post whenever I release new content :)
Twitter: (I refuse to call it x) www.twitter.com/giffordant
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