Purpose

  • I’m JRO. This site is my personal knowledge base - a collection of notes containing information which are useful to me, and hopefully other people too. I use this tool to remember what I learn, so I can build on and evolve my ideas over time. The content of this site (like everything in life) is evolving, work-in-progress, never finished.

On a quick personal note - there is a huge emotional chasm to cross when deciding to take a note which you know will end up published on the internet. Is this note really useful for anyone else? Is it even useful for me? Some things are embarrassing (personal health topics can feel this way). A lot of topics can feel “throw away” - it feels like I’m taking a note on a topic I’ll never encounter again, and the act of taking the note can feel like a waste of time, especially when there is a more pressing concern at hand. And yet if we simplify the situation and say “statistically, if you ran into it once, you’ll probably run into it again” - it does start reinforce the idea of slowing down, sharpening the saw, and incorporating notes into your daily life.

How to get started

Start with blank index cards, also known as note cards. The next time you do anything frequently that feels like you’re on autopilot - for example, gathering your keys, wallet, phone, coat, turning off the kitchen light, giving the dogs a treat - Slow down. Write down everything you’re doing as a check list on the note card. The order doesn’t matter - just try to capture the actions. This notecard is now known as the Heading Out routine, or Mission. It’s a pre-flight checklist for this activity. This mission. And from now on, for the rest of your life, you are going to get better and better at this mission.

Leave the “Heading Out” Mission notecard out somewhere in plain sight- maybe magnet it on your refrigerator, put a pen nearby - and add to it anytime you think of something. Be as detailed and pedantic as possible. Don’t put “Water plants”. Be more specific than that. Put “Water plant in bedroom.” and then “Water plant on balcony.” Separate actions. Separate contexts.

Once your Heading Out checklist is feeling complete (this usually takes 3-4 iterations - usually spanning weeks, because the realities of life will make this feel low priority always. Still, the card exists, and when you have a spare second, try to add one or two item to it. Just to commit to the cause), it will become a friendly tool. One day, when feeling motivated, you are going to put the notecard next your computer. Open an Apple Note. Title the Apple Note “Routine: Heading Out”. Type the items from the notecard into the note. This is the fun part, and where the computer shines over handwritten notes. You are going to use your intuition to find the best flow for the routine. Open your mind, and just freely ask open questions to yourself. “Where do you picture your body? What’s most important? Is anything missing? What do I forget most often? " For each task, think - “where am I? what do I need? where am I going?”. You may find yourself really overthinking this, and feeling guilty about that. It’s natural. Don’t feel guilty. You are using your brain as a tool right now, and you are on a mission to improve one part of your life - for the rest or your life. You will do this to many other aspects of your life, and the knowledge will become increasingly multiplicative. Knowledge will start to intersect, new connections made, patterns seen, mental models develop. Your actual ability to learn will increase, because you’ll learn how to improve that activity. It’s a lot of fun to see how far it goes. But first, start with the note cards.

Optimizing Routines

We have so many routines in our lives. The morning routine. The shower routine. The feed the dogs routine. Even routines for the apps we check on our phones (check messages! check instagram! catch up on DMs. Clear out emails). Have you ever written all of these down? You might say, of course not that’s crazy. Why is it so crazy? Is it “crazy” for a captain of a ship to step through a checklist? He certainly checks that there is sufficient fuel in the ship to make the journey safely, with reserves. And yet, how often have you rushed out of the house in a hurry, only to find yourself fuming in traffic, arriving grumpy, hangry at the office, rudely rushing through conversations, feeling anxious at the idea of work, feeling drained in meetings. Had you been a captain of the ship in a hurry (perhaps during a a storm), you still fuel the ship. You still go through the launch checklist. Once you have a checklist you built and you trust. You can slow down, take time. Often, you catch yourself in a hurry - saying, I’ll just skip over it this one time - conquering those thoughts is the main “battle” you have to win. I’ve found it helps to create positive-sounding affirmations. “I am a smooth operator” “I’m John Wayne, taking care of business, one thing at at time. They can wait”. So welcome aboard Captain. Captain of the HMS “You”.

Thanks

Thanks to everyone and everything which has helped make this site a reality.

People

  • Akash Kumar Sharma is an expert Hugo web application developer. He’s a true professional, and I am thankful for the opportunity to get to work with him on this dream project. If you have a chance to work with him - do it. He’s sharp.

Technology

Client

  • Note editor: Obsidian edits and organizes text files, using a simple text format called Markdown.
  • Code repository client: Working Copy publishes content to the content repositority.

Server

  • Content repository: GitLab stores the text content for this site. The underlying technology is called Git, and tracks changes to sets of files.
  • Site generator: Hugo is a tool which converts text notes into a website.
  • Platform: Render is a simple & easy way to host a cloud application. When Render detects that content has changed, Render automatically re-builds and re-publishes the site within a few moments.

Media & Creative