NOVEMBER 16, 2015

When there is no desire, all things are at peace. — Laozi

I find this quote extremely related to how Francine Jay defines happiness. The peace described by Laozi comes for the mere fact of wanting what you already have, of being happy with it.

(via)

NOVEMBER 4, 2015

Ideally, you would focus on doing just one thing; do it; then move into doing something else. But in the end, you find so many distractions. Tasks take longer to do than expected. Things get post-poned for tomorrow, for next week, or for never.

Again and again, what happens is not that we don’t have time to do stuff, is that we want to do more stuff than we can. What else would you be able to do if you renounce to non-important things?

OCTOBER 28, 2015

Close to finish what you are currently reading?
Take a look at a few books that—in some way or another—changed my life.

Over the last years, I have been lucky enough to find a series of books which helped me getting introduced to organization methods and learning how to work on my own projects in a consistent way. (A project could be any life-goal you set for yourself to do.)

  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (David Allen). Allen presents a powerful way to manage and organize the tasks and projects you want to complete—how to get things done, basically—in order to have a good work-life balance. Get it from Amazon.

  • Making Ideas Happen (Scott Belsky). Techniques and work habits to make your creative projects happen. From the creator of Behance. Get it from Amazon.

  • Unclutter Your Life In One Week (Erin Doland). Even the most common sense tasks of your daily life—as can be organizing your clothes or getting rid of physical clutter—can benefit from fire-proof methods tested by others. In this case, Erin Doland provides a handful of them. Get it on Amazon.

  • All Marketers Are Liars (Seth Godin). A swift introduction to marketing. How to wrap what you have to offer around a story so it can be understood and spread by others. Get it on Amazon. Read Seth’s blog.

  • The Art Of Non-Conformity (Chris Guillebeau). Go away from the life you are supposed to live and enjoy an unconventional way of living doing what you actually like doing and, maybe, making a profit out of it. Get it from Amazon.

  • The 4-hour Work Week (Timothy Ferris). Change the way you see life. Get to know the new rich, the one that makes the amount of money needed for the way of living he really wants—but not more—being able to work less hours as a result. Get it from Amazon.

Hope you found this useful. I strongly believe that, even when books tell us things that are damn simple and obvious, advice from people who learned the hard way, after years of experience, is extremely valuable. No matter how basic their recommendations are, they are useless if we don’t make an effort for them to be present in our daily lives.

We all know "the right thing to do," but do we actually do it?

(Image via)

OCTOBER 21, 2015

August 12, 2015. I was on holiday in my hometown, Málaga, south of Spain. The summer was a transition between living in the United Kingdom to living in the United States—to disconnect and sort out a fair amount of paperwork I had to do before leaving.

That day, I had an appointment to renew my Passport at the police station. That was all I would worry about that morning. I got inside the building, said my name at the front desk, and heard the magic words: "Please, wait here."

And there I was. I had been given a precious gift. A few minutes or, maybe, half an hour, when all I could do was just sit there and wait for my turn. A span of time in a context you would never decide to be on your own, but now you have been forced to. All you have to do is sit there and do nothing.

It is a precious moment for yourself. A moment when you can think. You can empty your mind. You can write. You can listen to music. You can do nothing.

OCTOBER 14, 2015

We are all busy. We are definitely doing something wrong.

We have more things to do today than we could do in a whole week. More often than we’d like to, we produce things and forget we have to "sell" them.

It does not matter how good what you create is, the need to market it is always there—people need, somehow, to know about your product. There is no way they can give it a chance if they don’t even know it exists.

Along the same lines, you need to let them know what you are up to. No matter what you are doing, it is extremely important to give your potential customers a way to keep track of what you are working on—especially if what you are pursuing is to build a tribe, a community. May it be a mailing list (which you should already be rolling out), an RSS feed, or a social media account, your users must have a way to follow your work, one that they are comfortable using already. The best case scenario is, probably, a combination of all of those mentioned, so the user can choose how she'll be hearing from you.

It’s one of my biggest business mistakes, not setting up an email list for several years. —Ramit Sethi

Giving people a way to know about what you are doing is key to any activity that relies on a tribe. Even more important, is providing users who value your product with ways to pay for it. Remember that store that couldn’t take your money because they didn’t accept payments by card? The worst thing you can do is having users willing to follow and pay for your work and not letting them do it.


This essay is part of the book I am writing on how to organize your life in order to create more and better. If you want to receive new parts of the book as I write them, please join here, and check other posts that will be on the book.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2015

There’s a myth that time is money. In fact, time is more precious than money. It’s a nonrenewable resource. Once you’ve spent it, and if you’ve spent it badly, it’s gone forever. — Neil A. Fiore

Essentially, time isn't money. You will never recover the time passed. We find it difficult to frame our lives this way. Money spent can be recovered and it will, maybe, free up slots of time in our busy schedules, but it won't—ever—buy us more time.

As a reminder, Frank Chimero sums it up in two short sentences.

Money is circulated. Time is spent. — Frank Chimero

This essay is part of the book I am writing on how to organize your life in order to create more and better. If you want to receive new parts of the book as I write them, please join here, and check other posts that will be on the book.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2015

While reading Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, I found this quote—penned by William Morris, an influential designer, writer, and socialist of the nineteen century—which summarizes what minimalism is in terms of physical belongings.

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

SEPTEMBER 9, 2015

Everyday, many of us struggle to achieve our goals. Those goals may be simple things we thought of doing, important documents we have to submit, or things we want to try that end up never happening.

People often ask me: How do you find time to do that? or When do you work on that kind of stuff? I don’t have time.

The first thing that comes to mind is that I don’t have time usually means it wasn’t important enough.

Well, it is probably true. Not getting something done means that, after all, it was not as important as it seemed—or that it was not urgent—so you didn't do it. The thing is, that even when you consider something important and urgent, you need time get it done, time to get your hands dirty.

What works for me—and for many others—is to write down the things you really, really want to do on an actionable list and take your time seriously.

Set Your Focus: Decide What You Want To Do

Decide what it is you want to focus on the next time you sit down to work. Make your projects a part of your life—no matter if your plan is to spend time exercising, writing, or learning Chinese. When you have a clear idea of what projects you want to focus on, you will know what to do when you have time for it. Then, ruthlessly ignore everything that does not contribute to move the ball forward to your goal.

Write an Actionable List

After deciding what to do, you need to convert those things-to-do into actionable steps. For instance, instead of Learn Chinese, your to-do list should split the project of learning Chinese as: Search for a Chinese course; Sign up to a course that fits my schedule; Study Chinese; Do homework.

Notice how every task in your list starts with a verb, an action you need to perform to fulfill the task? It's important to follow this structure, so when you read the task in the future you can directly take an action to complete it. If you want more detail, see this post.

This to-do lists seem so silly for many people, who think that just by knowing what they want to do, they will. Wrong.

When you have a 30-minute break, or an unexpected free morning, or a whole day to do stuff, it is way too easy to waste your time doing nothing (you have to consider what wasting time means for yourself, as nobody else can do it for you). Some people may consider productive spending the afternoon watching movies or series, while others may rather write, paint, or exercise instead.

In these dead moments is when your list comes into play. Like a message in a bottle, you can message your future-self with a set of things you intended to do.

Maybe, you wanted to go for a run, or to write an article, or to email required documentation to your real state agent, or to spend more time with your family. The thing is, you don’t have to think on what to do, you can just choose among a set of things that, apparently, you want to do, and are written down in your list.

One day, you will embark an 8-hour flight back home. Your to-do list will remind you of one thing: an article you wanted to write, a document you wanted to read, or some other thing you are curious about. You will get hands on it and, maybe, will get out of the plane with one more thing done.

This essay is part of the book I am writing on how to organize your life in order to create more and better. If you want to receive new parts of the book as I write them, please join here, and check other posts that will be on the book.

AUGUST 5, 2015

Is it when we get old that we gain experience?
Is the act of doing the only way to forge it?
Do you need to be employed by someone to acquire skill and knowledge?

Experience. noun. the knowledge or skill acquired by experience over a period of time, especially that gained in a particular profession by someone at work.

Experience is obtained by doing. It may be doing stuff at work or doing stuff at home. Doing work for your boss or doing work for yourself. It is all experience. The more you practice an activity, the more experience you get.

By being constant and consistent; by learning from other people's stories; by getting feedback on your work and finding ways to implement it in the future. That is how we obtain knowledge and skill. That is how we gain experience.

You cannot create experience. You must undergo it. — Albert Camus

Picture a person who wants to get really good at public speaking. The only way she can get better at it is by doing that activity. By speaking—a lot—in front of people. By interiorizing techniques and reading what professional public speakers do will probably help her be more confident and feel the situation is under control. It may provide knowledge, but it won’t provide skill. The key part is the act of speaking in front of an audience: Practicing.

I believe in experience as the result of combining both hard work and consistent efforts over a period of time; becoming better at something by doing, and by constantly learning from yourself and from others. This doesn’t necessarily imply you won’t learn anything by reading other people’s experiences, but, surely, it won’t get the job done.

Experience can be accelerated. Different people may reach different grades of experience, depending on how good they are at something, and how much time they put on it. Experience can be accelerated by forcing ourselves to do more.

You don’t need experience. Experience can sometimes get you in the door, but what really matters is where you are now and where you’re going next. The past belongs on a resumé. — Chris Guillebeau

In an ever-changing world, the task of finding a job to get real-world experience can be challenging. As Chris Guillebeau questions on The Art of Non-Conformity, experience may not be that important after all—as nobody knows what they are doing.

The exciting part is, we have today the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skill in almost any field on our own. Take your laptop. Take an online course on iOS programming. Make an app. If you learn from an online or offline resource on your own, build something, and ship it, that is real-world experience.

This is, I believe, why many young entrepreneurs have succeeded early in life—and you can do too—working under their own terms. By practicing, reading, learning, executing, and shipping, they have imbued themselves into real experience.

This essay is part of the book I am writing on how to organize your life in order to create more and better. If you want to receive new parts of the book as I write them, please join here, and check other posts that will be on the book.

JULY 24, 2015

As we continue adopting new digital services and embracing new technologies, our [digital] lives gain more and more complexity. Everything we use gathers data, stores the content produced with it, and, in many cases, learns from the way we behave.

Information, content, reports, and other kind of media conforms a big compound of data, which is often difficult to manage.

How are we expected to handle this situation? How are we supposed to properly manage systems that were not even invented when we were educated? And even worse, how is people expected to teach us about things they have never used? I firmly believe that this will affect our generation, too. We feel like we have the situation under control; just give it a few years until new services, new technologies, and new things are released.

Digital tidiness should be a subject at school. Everyone needs to be able to correctly manage digital clutter.

But there are surely ways to work that may ease the pain. Defined workflows can be implemented in our use of digital systems. The same way we use workflows in our daily tasks outside the digital realm to tackle everyday problems, we can use them in the digital world.

The process you follow when you bring new things into your room: arranging your belongings and your clothes; trashing out old stuff you no longer need, is, for instance, a workflow implemented in your life.

With the same ease digital services allow us to store and manage our data, they become a mess of unmanageable things.

Digital tidiness should be a subject at school. Everyone needs to be able to correctly manage digital clutter, as everyone needs to know how to arrange their clothes, to keep physical documents in place, or to find their belongings when needed.

Every once in a while, I find myself arranging clothes or belongings and giving away things I do not want anymore—archiving and deleting, basically. At times, stuff is just too much to be handled, or there is no time to invest on the task.

The amount of data produced should be limited according to how much can be processed and stored.

The same problem exists in electronic devices and digital storage system. When we produce more content than we process, we are leaving behind a lot of things that would have to be done in the future. For that reason, apart from organizing all our data, we need to be conscious of how much stuff we can handle. The amount of data produced should be limited according to how much can be processed and stored.

One concrete example is taking digital pictures. Thanks to flash-memory-powered DSLR cameras, giga-sized internal capacities of our portable devices, and on-the-go cloud storage services, pictures and videos can be taken daily with no limits. The problem is, these instant task will later take an enormous quantity of digital space and an immeasurable amount of time to process and organize.

Workflows can help reducing the processing and organization time, but awareness of how much is produced is equally or even more important than post-processing. Do you really need to take that picture? Maybe not.

JULY 15, 2015

Creating a plan to make a difference is easy. Sticking to the plan—and adopting it as a habit—isn't.

That's the difficult part—the reason why not everyone will succeed in the long run.

Think of what you want to do. Commit to it. Set deadlines. Involve others in the process. Do at least ten minutes of it every single day. Make the habit.


This essay is part of the book I am writing on how to organize your life in order to create more and better. If you want to receive new parts of the book as I write them, please join here, and check other posts that will be on the book.

MARCH 30, 2015

It is in our nature. We have a need to produce stuff. It does not seem to matter what it is that we produce, the important part is producing something. The judgement of others, or even our own judgement, is the reason why what we produce gets to be important, and how good the result is, leaving aside the process more often than we should.

In a world with so many talented people, high expectations freeze people. They stop people from getting a pen. And just because they know somebody else has, will, or is doing something better than them, somewhere else. But that is wrong. If you did not even try, how are you so sure your stuff is not better? Or, does it even matter if it is? I don’t believe so.

What you are willing to produce may have been done before, but your personality will always add a bit of originality to anything you do.

Frustration, though, comes due to the fake need to produce more and more, caused by our era, the digital. The Internet moves so quickly that when you clarify your concept, someone else has already funded the idea on Kickstarter.

The key: understanding there isn’t such a need to produce more and faster, but to produce wiser and better.

MARCH 27, 2015

The concept of the new rich was coined by David Moore's book, and also explained by Tim Ferris in The 4-hour Work Week, as a response to the way many people configure their lives nowadays. The term defines a new kind of person—one that has enough money to do what she planned to do, but no more than necessary.

It also means that the person has built some kind of framework around her life in order to keep things going. Just the amount needed in case things go wrong.

This person knows that life is to be enjoyed today—not tomorrow—and believes in money as a mean of being able to achieve things today, as-we-go, and not to lie in a tomb whenever we die with gold, useless belongings, and other stuff accumulated over the years.

Of course, living today is risky; the “amount needed” to be out of danger will never be clear; and the safe zone is a comfortable one. But it seems it is worth it, because, who can assure you will be able to enjoy tomorrow?

MARCH 9, 2015

More and more, online services are making their best to provide free services in exchange personal data [trust, and habits].

The currency used to pay this services—like Facebook, Twitter, or Google—is private data, which turns out to be, pretty often, really sensitive information.

Everytime you click an ad on Google, a hashtag on Twitter, or content on Facebook, you can expect to be bombarded with similar content on the future, with related products to buy, or with brands that advertise specifically on the terms you searched for.

Gently lent your computer to a friend who had to look for flights to China?
Expect a lot of ads with sales to fly to China in many other pages.

It is when we see this kinds of things that we realize we are actually being tracked with a purpose. Have you ever regretted a click? I have.

MARCH 2, 2015

Sometimes, magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect. — Raymond Joseph Teller

DECEMBER 10, 2014

If what you do is not on the mainstream movement of its discipline or category, your public is a minority—one that may be interested in the same things you are. That minority is formed by the ones who may listen to what you have to say—but reaching their attention is no easy job.

I do not expect everyone to read what I post, nor do I expect everyone to be interested on the same things I do. I hope that those who are [interested] will come back to read more of what they liked, and will be the ones sharing what I write with their friends.

Focus the work you do on what you like doing, and make it understandable for everyone. The ones who want to listen will slowly discover your work and, hopefully, will come back to see what’s new.

Frequently, what you need is not changing what you do to find new public but reaching the people who like what you already do.

DECEMBER 1, 2014

Is to leave them aside. To be connected to them—as a sketcher to her pencil or a painter to her brush—so the tool fades to let the creative focus on the design, instead of getting lost on the tools.

Knowing what you can do with each tool is essential to create. Otherwise, time disappears trying to master a tool rather than creating with it.

Knowing when to go back to pencil and paper—and concentrate in ideas—is important too.

NOVEMBER 24, 2014

A friend of mine is going to get a new MacBook Pro soon. Depending on the conversation, he frases his incoming acquisition in two different ways:

  • I am going to buy a laptop which has a Retina Display, an Intel Core i5 processor, and a 1-terabyte SSD drive, or;

  • I am going to buy a laptop that will allow me to write, code and design stuff I like—in a better way than I do now.

Everything we experience is seen through a lens—a moldable and adaptable lens. Somehow, we choose what we see through it.

Defining your world with facts and figures—as happens in the first example—allows to quantify how much time, money or effort a given life-change is going to cost.

On the other hand, perceiving the world with stories leaves figures aside and lets the subconscious decide for you, as it wants you to be that person writing, coding and designing—with a tool supposed to give you a better experience.

This is, in many cases, the reason why people buy expensive things. They tell themselves a story, one that creates an ideal world, achievable if they have that thing, no matter if it's a new house, a new laptop or a new pen. Also, it is the reason why people keep drinking Coke. Coca-Cola does not advertise a drink, they sell happiness.

Making it easy for people to create and share their own stories about your product is—with no doubt—a key factor if you want them and their friends to use it.

OCTOBER 8, 2014

Why is it harder to commit to oneself [and make a living with your own work] than working for someone who pays you?

When there is no guaranty your work will cover your fees at the end of the month it is complicated to employ your time working on it.

Solo-work is hard. It requires discipline, willpower, and commitment. If nobody is watching, it is so easy to get trapped in the incoming flux of social media, email, and other distractions, letting the time go without getting anything done.

Freelancing and remote work, on the other side, bond you with a contract to a client. You are responsible to fulfill the needs of the person who ensures you will be paid. This responsibility makes it easier for you to invest your time on the work.

The key point is then finding how to enforce ourselves to create a bond with our work without having a client at the other end. Commit to your public, to your users, to the future clients of your product. Look for ways to motivate yourself and make things happen on your own, without being tied to anyone. It is possible.

OCTOBER 8, 2014

Success is waking up in the morning, whoever you are, wherever you are, however old or young, and bounding out of bed because there's something out there that you love to do, that you believe in, that you're good at; something that's bigger than you are, and you can hardly wait to get at it again today. —Whit Hobbs

Want to see older publications? Visit the archive.

Listen to my Podcast.