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Thoughts like Flies – Systems Thinking

Morning Pages - Thoughts Like Flies

Tired. It’s 07:46 and I’ve been awake for an hour. This happened yesterday, except that I woke up at 05:45 and did manage to get back to sleep. This morning though? Nope. As soon as I awake, the thoughts that are buzzing round my head like flies see that sliver of consciousness and pounce.

Let me just say that Illy coffee though? Yuck. When I wake up early, I use my tin of Illy instead of grinding beans because the family is still asleep, so it’s really an emergency supply. It reminds me of my Luxembourg days, when Maria Cristina and Leo would argue out over Illy vs Lavazza like it was the Mac vs PC wars all over again. It’s a happy memory though. I loved working with them.

Once you start getting freshly roasted beans though, the prepackaged preground stuff becomes emergency only. Even Costa is nicer than that!

August Bradley’s New Course

So, what’s on my mind? It’s actually August Bradley’s new course. You’ll remember yesterday that I talked about Nat Eliason and Roam Research? You obviously do, oh avid reader of mine.

Well, I asked on Twitter if there was a similar Notion course, and I got a helpful reply pointing me to August Bradley’s Notion Playlist on his YouTube channel.

I watched the first few videos and honestly felt like what I was watching was potentially life-changing. And this wasn’t marketing copy, although obviously this is part of August’s master plan of giving away incredibly valuable content as a way of marketing for his paid course—I get that now and can also learn from how he did that.

August talked at length about systems before he even opened up Notion to show us his workflow. And that is where I’m failing. I’ve tried various different tactics over the last year and longer to come up with habits and productivity and none of them have worked. I understand that there is more of a psychological reason here that should be explored, but I feel like August’s holistic approach will help me to understand where my points of failure are and plan for that in my system. In fact it’s not just a feeling—he actually said as much in his early Notion videos.

Sounds like I’m talking myself into buying, doesn’t it?

I scrolled through his page to get to the price, expecting it to be $1197 at least, and yes, it will be that ($1250 actually), but today it’s mine for the low low price of $750!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be facetious there; I’m sure that it’s actually really good value at that price point, but the fact is that I’m earning fuck all right now and have been earning that much since lockdown started, more or less. Affordability is the kicker.

But if I don’t solve this systems problem that I have, I’ll never make a successful living as a content creator, because I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and that is not working.

Gratitude

I should keep a gratitude list though, right? Of course I should.

  1. Lying in bed this morning before getting up. Instead of feeling frustrated at not being able to get back to sleep, I chose to be mindful of the feeling of warmth as I listened to the wind outside and felt a really nice peaceful feeling of having everything that I need.
  2. I felt gratitude that my wife was lying beside me, not only because she’s amazing in so many ways, but because she was actually in bed. She’s dealing with incredible workloads right now and doesn’t always make it to bed.
  3. A sense of achievement at having started this writing project on this website and at having tidied up some old posts, particularly my book reviews—adding Amazon affiliate links to the beginning of the posts—and my weekly Last.fm chart posts.
  4. Not having to get up to run the post office. That’s something I should be mindful of every day. That was a period of my life that I suppose I had to go through, but fuck me was it brutal! The leg injury period was easier. Twelve years I did that.

What did I Read Yesterday

  1. I finished The Elves of Cintra, by Terry Brooks.
  2. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, by Svetlana Alexievich. It’s really good.
  3. Four exercises from Solo Guitar Playing, by Frederick Noad, the book I’m planning to launch a course on.

Disclaimer: Some links are Amazon affiliate links.

Today’s Goals

  1. Decide on the Notion course purchase and own the decision.
  2. Buy the next Finiko product with profits earned over the last two weeks.
  3. Decide whether to add more Last.fm posts from my Hive blog.
  4. Complete Lesson 8 of Solo Guitar Playing by the end of the week, so six exercises and three compositions. Let’s make today’s goal the six exercises. Anything else is a bonus.

Ali Abdaal has Inspired Me BIG TIME!

Who the fuck is Ali Abdaal? I didn’t know either, until lunch time today. Since then, he’s changed my life.

I don’t know if you know, but my mental health hasn’t always been great. I came out of a bipolar downswing at the beginning of this week, a downswing that I wasn’t even really aware that I was in until I wasn’t. And it felt fucking amazing. Wheeeee! I was feeling a glow, an energy, positivity in waves that I hadn’t felt for months.

That led to productivity. I can do anything when I’m on an upswing; everything seems possible. All the ideas and plans that I had on my last upswing suddenly feel good again. Time to get to work!

Knowledge Working Space

I’ve always been interested in the knowledge working space. I remember signing up for Backpack in around 2006, listening to Merlin Mann’s interview with David Allen of Getting Things Done, reading David Sparks’ posts about OmniFocus, reading Shawn Blanc, starting a blog, and another blog, and a music website and a photography website.

Then the downswing would come and everything would seem pointless and I’d feel like I was a fraud. ‘Who cares, right?’.

I’ve been going through these ups and downs for as long as I can remember. Now I’m in an upswing and feeling like it will never end, and so I’m going to go with that and not think about the fact that it always does end. But I’m going to try and ‘bank some creative capital’ this time, and every time from now on.

Ali Abdaal

This is where Ali Abdaal comes in.

Let’s rewind a little, back to a couple of weeks ago when I discovered a new-ish note-taking service called Roam Research. I can’t remember how I found it. No, wait, it was from one of my favourite newsletters, Iain Broome’s. He just happened to mention it on his Substack blog.

I signed up because it sounded fantastic, but the upswing hadn’t kicked in and I did nothing with it until this weekend. I’ve spent the last two days watching YouTube videos on how it works, and that was how I found Ali Abdaal. I’ve watched four or five of his videos today and am now reading one of three books that he recommended.

Side note: this is another danger zone for me on an upswing - I buy stuff like I had ALL the money! I even made a note in my journal to reign that in this time around, because it never ends well. And of course I can justify every single purchase! I'm now staring at the Joker keyboard on the IQUNIX store and trying hard not to buy it (I already ordered a Keychron K4 earlier in the week --- oops!)

But the books, right. I’m now reading Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon. It’s really good.

I’m highlighting it in the Kindle app, which highlights will then be added to a page in Roam Research via Readwise. It’s the sort of workflow that really excites me. Naturally it’s going to involve buying a subscription both to Roam Research AND Readwise when the trials are up. This is what I was talking about!

Banking Creative Capital

Ali talks about passive income in this video.

He’s a doctor, working for the NHS in the UK. And he’s making a comfortable living making content and from affiliate marketing. But wait, he’s a doctor? Working for the NHS? I’ve been around UK hospitals enough to have an idea of how much work that is. And I’M complaining that I don’t have time to make videos? What?

Nuts, right?

Not only that, but Ali’s down-to-earth style in his videos really appeals to me and makes me feel a little less like an impostor. So, that’s why I’m feeling inspired af right now. I have multiple projects in my head, some of which have content created going back to June 2019 and which I’ve done fuck all with because ‘I don’t have time’. So from now one, whenever I think I don’t have time, I’ll remind myself that I’m not a junior doctor for the NHS and stop fucking complaining!

So while I’m feeling positive, I’m going to get to work with some content and a new website that’s in the works for my network marketing ideas. I know from having been part of the knowledge space for a long time that consistency is perhaps the main ingredient when it comes to algorithms and audience building, so if I can just get enough content ready and schedule it out, it could just work.

I think it’s that lack of consistency that has held me back. I hear YouTubers talking about how they’ve been on YouTube forever, meaning five years. I published my first video in 2007 before even Google bought it. But I’m not going to regret the past; I’m going to start today and send a big shoutout of gratitude to Ali.

THANKS ALI!

**Featured Image copyright Ali Abdaal.