Using forced downtime as a chance to refocus

Trying not to chase productivity, when that’s all that you’ve known

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I’m doing a 366 Day Challenge, and am 129 days in! You can follow along on my PixelFed account.

I’ve been feeling a bit of malaise lately. I’ve been joking that the rest of the world has been catching up to where I’d been pre-pandemic, though I realize that a lot of people are in a much worse situation now than before quarantines were imposed and our lives went into limbo.

Yesterday I wrote a long article (yet to be posted) in a short amount of time that just flew out of me. Sure, it was on assignment from SiteGround, which probably made it a bit easier to complete when I started. Regardless, I felt this sense of achievement which came from using ideas to create something, putting it all together, and hitting an end point. So much lately has been staring at countless project ideas, but not making the plan to actually start them.

I have a few things in mind that are exciting me, which is a welcome reprieve from the lack of enthusiasm that I’ve had for work of late. What I’m trying to do now is figure out how to fit things into my life without treating everything like the eternal quest for productivity.

I’m trying to use some of my extra downtime to wipe my slate clean. The calendar is already free of external obligations, and anything that I can easily trim out, I’m doing. You’ll notice that the recommendation portion of the email is a bit smaller than usual, and that’s intentional.

As always, here’s a few of the things that I’ve read and watched this week that I’d recommend going into the weekend.


Being basic as a virtue – Nadia Eghbal

Nadia Eghbal makes an astute observation here: just as being tan moved from being a of lower-class, working folks to those who can afford the free time to lounge, the ability to spend some non-work time not thinking can be a way to showcase that you can afford to not constantly be thinking about work and responsibilities.

Umberto Eco’s Antilibrary: Why Unread Books Are More Valuable to Our Lives than Read Ones – Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

Pair this with the prior post. We shouldn’t strive to jealously guard knowledge as a signpost of our accomplishment. We should treat the unknown as an opportunity to realize how much will be unknowable throughout our lives.


I don’t have a lot to share this week, which is probably a good thing, considering the trimming down of internet fat that I am trying to accomplish. I mean, I still watch plenty on YouTube, but it’s mainly low quality junk that I’ve seen before or long music mix videos. We’ve been watching Westworld and rewatching the new Ducktales, both of which I recommend.

Sci-Fi Short Film: “The Right Choice” | DUST

A humorous yet dystopian take on designer babies. This does what good sci-fi is meant to do: uses a possible future to point out flaws in the present.

Robin Sloan – Writing with the machine: GPT-2 and text generation

Robin Sloan wrote two of my favorite books, and is working on both a game and new book, both of which will use some machine generated writing to help inform the story. This talk from a conference on roguelikes explains his technique a bit and the output that it creates.

That’s it for this week. Everyone stay safe and healthy out there ๐Ÿ’

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