Marc Jenkins

on freelancing, productivity, tech and more

  1. This morning I was introduced to Roam Research by Blair Wadman who kindly spent an hour talking through his setup. I’ve since spent some time playing with it and I’m impressed.

    Roam is hard to explain. It’s a note-taking tool that uses an outline structure (think Workflowy), with powerful cross-linking capabilities making it easy to organise and find information. It’s setup like a journal, with today’s date at the top, which makes the concept even more appealing.

    Nat Eliason has an excellent article on how he’s using Roam that would make a great starting point if you’re interested in learning more.

  2. Came across this quote from It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work today and it resonated with me:

    Happiness is shipping: finishing good work, sending it off, and then moving on to the next idea.

    I’ve not shipped as much as I’d have liked over the past few years, so this feels like a good mantra.

  3. I’m relaunching my newsletter this week. If you want to get a monthly email from me that includes links to the latest articles I’ve written, as well as recommendations for interesting articles, books or tools I’ve come across, then sign up today.

  4. I’ve just published some updates to my /Uses page. I cover the hardware and software I’m currently using and my current desk setup. Hat tip to Harry Roberts, Wes Bos and the excellent Uses This site for inspiration.

  5. A small win last week: I signed up for Offset Earth. For a small monthly fee, you can offset your carbon footprint by planting trees.

  6. Upping my reading habit

    I’ve been using Goodreads to track the books I’ve read since 2014. Since then, I’ve read on average 18.3 books per year.

    I don’t have a reliable way to track how much time I spend reading, but anecdotally it’s around 20 minutes per day. I read in dribs and drabs. On one day I’ll read for hour and then I won’t read a thing for days on end.

    Assuming I live to the age of 80 and that I’ll be reading until the day I die, that gives me 47 book-reading-years left.

    At my current rate of reading, I have 860 books left to read in my life time.

    If I was to increase my reading time to 30 minutes per day, that’ll mean I’ll be getting through 27.5 books per year. That now means I could get through an additional 432 books, a total of 1292 books in my remaining years.

    Now, let’s push this further and say I read for an hour a day. It may sound like a lot, but most of us watch far more TV than that in any given day. A few small habit changes and it’s possible to read more.

    Reading for an hour daily means I’ll be getting through 55 books in a year. At this rate I could get through 2858 books before the age of 80, 1725 more just from increasing the time I read from 20 to 60 minutes per day.

    That’s why I’m going to push myself to read for at least an hour every day.

  7. I loved reading Patrick Collison’s Fast Project. He has compiled a list of ambitious projects that were completed incredibly quickly. Some of my favourite examples include the iPod shipping in 290 days after being started and Amazon Prime being brought to life in 6 weeks.

  8. After a few weeks off over the holiday period, I’ve been using The Theme System Journal to help get my habits back on track.

    These are the daily habits I’m currently tracking:

    1. Reading (20 mins+)
    2. Writing (20 mins+)
    3. Complete highlight
    4. Deep work (3 hours+)
    5. Meditate
    6. Close activity rings
    7. Go for a walk
    8. No alcohol
    9. Finish work at 5:30pm
  9. 2019: year in review

    A summary of what went well and what went badly in 2019, plus the things I’m thinking about for 2020.

  10. Redesign notes: #2

    When I started redesigning this website a few weeks ago, I started from a blank slate (an empty WordPress theme directory and a couple of Sass files that I use to start new projects). Since then, I’ve built out most of the core components to get the site looking reasonable.

    On the surface, a blog design is simple. You have posts and pages and that’s usually about it. But when you dig deeper, you realise there’s lots of little design decisions that need to be made.

    One such design decision is how blog posts are displayed. The previous version of my blog listed posts chronologically, like this:

    The previous version of my blog listed blog posts by title

    No dates, no content, just a list of blog posts. This approach is fine if each post is a self-contained topic, but it doesn’t feel particularly well suited to a ‘weblog’ where each post can vary in size. Clicking through to a post with two or three lines of text doesn’t feel right.

    Now take Manton Reece’s blog as example:

    Manton Reece’s blog

    Manton’s blog has two types of posts: full articles and microposts. This is the approach I decided I wanted to take. Sometimes I just want to a share a thought or a link and several lines of text is all that is required. This smaller bite-size approach to blogging is called microblogging (incidentally, Manton runs micro.blog).

    The design as it stands currently

    This is the design I’ve ended up with. Very much inspired by Manton, I now have two types of post: a standard post and a note. I’m still experimenting with the format, but I hope that now that a post can be tweet-sized, it’ll make it easier to get back into the habit of publishing.

  11. Redesign notes: # 1

    One of my goals for next year is to write and publish more often (as it has been for the past few years and I’ve horrifically failed at). But, as everyone knows, before you can start writing you have to redesign your website.

    This week I’ve booked out a chunk of time to redesign and rebuild my site from the ground up. The hope is that a fresh new site will provide the perfect platform to start writing and publishing again in the new year.

    Here are a few of my thoughts as I start the project:

    • I’m sticking with WordPress and plan to fully embrace Gutenberg. I know there are lots of great platforms out there to choose from, but it makes sense to stick with what I know given that my business specialises in WordPress development.
    • I want the site to load as fast as possible. It will be minimalist in style and I’ll only include what is absolutely necessary.
    • I plan to use as little Javascript as possible and where I do, I’ll be using vanilla Javascript.
    • I’m going to stick with Sass. While I’ve enjoyed writing vanilla CSS again lately, there’s still a few things that I find useful: mixins, imports, etc.

    The tools I’ll be using to build the website look something like this:

    I’ll be “live designing” as I go, so the plan is to launch updates throughout the week. I’ll be sharing the process as I go.

  12. The best books I read in 2018

    In no particular order, here are some of my favourite reads from 2018.

  13. 2018: year in review

    One of the wonderful benefits of these annual reviews is that it encourages you to look back at the year as a whole. I was reminded that 2018 was actually a really good year.

  14. How to run a mastermind retreat

    Some of my thoughts on why and how to host a mastermind retreat.

  15. What’s in my bag (2018 edition)

    I’ve always enjoyed reading about the tools and gear other people use. I stumbled on Matt Mullenweg’s “What’s in my bag” post in 2014 and I’ve followed his updates since. But it’s only in the past year or so—as I’ve been working more frequently from coffee shops, co-working spaces and client offices—that I’ve begun to invest in my own travel setup.

    What follows is my everyday bag. I keep it permanently packed (minus the laptop), so it’s always ready to go when I head out.

  16. The best books I read in 2017

    A curated list of my favourite books from 2017.

  17. 2017: year in review

    What went well and what went badly in 2017 and things I’m thinking about for 2018.

  18. A framework for setting goals

    My thoughts on setting good goals.

  19. The Case for RSS

    David Sparks on why he prefers to use RSS:

    The reason I’ve stuck with RSS is the way in which I work. Twitter is the social network that I participate in most and yet sometimes days go by where I don’t load the application. I like to work in focused bursts. If I’m deep into writing a book or a legal client project. I basically ignore everything else. I close my mail application, tell my phone service to take my calls, and I definitely don’t open Twitter. When I finish the job, I can then go back to the Internet. I’ll check in on Twitter, but I won’t be able to get my news from it. That only works if you go into Twitter much more frequently than I do. That’s why RSS is such a great solution for me. If a few days go by, I can open RSS and go through my carefully curated list of websites and get caught back up with the world.

    When Google Reader shut down in 2013, I stopped using RSS. RSS felt like yet another inbox to attend to, so I ditched it and used Twitter instead. But in the past few months, I’ve returned to RSS and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed keeping up with a select few sites.

    My return to RSS was based on two factors:

    1) I’m using Twitter way less than I used to. I’m not enjoying it as much as I did. Twitter was how I kept up, but not anymore.
    2) I’m using an iPad more. Reading RSS feeds on a tablet-sized device is a great experience.

    I completely agree with Sparks advice on subscribing to high signal, low noise sites:

    RSS is so easy to implement that it’s a slippery slope between having RSS feeds for just a few websites and instead of having RSS feeds for hundreds of websites. If you’re not careful, every time you open your RSS reader, there will be 1,000 unread articles waiting for you, which completely defeats the purpose of using RSS. The trick to using RSS is to be brutal with your subscriptions. I think the key is looking for websites with high signal and low noise. Sites that publish one or two articles a day (or even one to two articles a week) but make them good articles are much more valuable and RSS feed than sites that published 30 articles a day.

  20. Seth on writing

    Seth Godin, author and blogger, just published his 7000th post. Every day, Seth writes and publishes to his blog.

    And his secret?

    The secret to writing a daily blog is to write every day. And to queue it up and blog it. There is no other secret.

    Simple, but not easy.

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