Cal Newport's Five Books Read This Month List

Cals-books

I am a big fan of Cal Newport's Deep Life podcast.

One of his monthly goals is to read at least five books, which he then covers in his podcast.

Fellow podcast fan Bram Adams ([email protected]) has created a database of all Cal has read here: Cal’s Five Books of the Month.

Bram's site also makes fantastic use of Notion.

Thanks, Bram!!


My 2024 Daily Morning Personal Devotion Plan

Pexels-tima-miroshnichenko-5710598Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

Here is an update to my 2023 plan.

This year, I am reading and journaling about the following two books as part of my daily morning routine:

I was wondering if I was going to do The Daily Stoic book again, as I've re-read it for the last four years. However, after the first week, it is just so good that I'm happy I am re-reading it again.

As far as last year's two other books:

I enjoyed both of them very much, and I recommend them if you are looking for something to do as part of your daily routine.

I am reading these books on my Kindle Paperwhite (which I also recommend if you want a dedicated ebook reader).


Thoughts & Tips On Digital Reading

Kindle-camping-mount-guard-your-heartPhoto by Frank Holleman on Unsplash

In a recent episode of Cal Newport's The Deep Life Podcast -- Episode 238: The Joys Of The Reading Life -- Cal provided his well-thought-out ideas on how to have a deep reading life and how that intersects with our digital technologies.

I agree with Cal that reading deeply needs concentration and is free from distraction. Physical books are excellent for those that want that experience.

I also agree that reading on the Kindle (or other dedicated eBook readers) can be a deep reading platform. My Kindle Paperwhite is my primary device for all my reading with my eyes. [NOTE: Listening to audiobooks is reading. Don't get me started.]

He is also correct that reading on most people's standard mobile phones or digital tablets like an iPad is not a deep reading platform.

If you do end up reading on a phone or tablet, here are my recommendations.

My phone already has very minimal alerts, but with a quick swipe, I turn on "Do Not Disturb."  And in my Kindle application on the phone, I have changed the background color (Layout > Page Color) from white (default) to green. The other options are: tan, white, or black. I'd choose tan if you don't like the green color.

I find having that green background - uncommon like the tan - tells my mind that I am now in reading mode and not scanning mode (like with a white or black background). This lets me read more deeply when I don't have my Kindle and only my phone. Once I finish reading, I turn off "Do Not Disturb."

Reading on my iPad is more straightforward, as I have 'Do Not Disturb' always on. And I am only reading content on my iPad with colors: comic books, WWII books with maps, Star Wars guides, recipe books, etc. I don't change the background color on my iPad.

Thoughts? Comments? Feedback is always welcome!


My 2023 Daily Morning Personal Devotion Plan

Thought-catalog-505eectW54k-unsplashPhoto by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Back in 2019, I embarked on a daily morning personal devotion and growth plan by reading these two books on my Kindle Paperwhite (no ads):

Since then, I've rotated the faith devotional book yearly, but I have kept re-reading the The Daily Stoic (it is really that good).  The previous faith devotionals were:

In addition to reading these, I have been practicing journaling whatever comes to mind before my readings. Looking back over my journaling, I see some themes: what happened the day before, or what is going to happen soon; prayers; concerns/worries; and insight into how I am feeling or how I am doing professionally and personally.  I also capture some thoughts or ideas that stand out from my readings. I have tried to journal both on paper and digitally. I have currently settled on paper.  I am currently using a Moleskin that was given to me by Manager-Tools.com.

Another practice I have been doing is high-lighting those verses mentioned in the faith devotionals in my Bible (NIV Faithlife Study Bible: Intriguing Insights To Inform Your Faith).  It is becoming very interesting to see what verses get used across different authors, and those that only get one or two mentions.  An additional insight is how much of the Bible hasn't been referenced. It is also especially interesting to me when my "Faith Daily Devotional" is very aligned with the "Stoic Daily Read."

This year I am going to read in the morning:

I am looking forward to Rolf's book as I've been listening to his podcast for years, and he inspired me to take this Europe Trip in 2019.

NOTE: Links to things you can buy go to Amazon Prime.

#human_generated_content


Recommended: Adam Smith Podcasts From Freakonomics.com

Kirkcaldy_High_Street_Adam_Smith_Plaque

I learned a lot about Adam Smith that I didn't know about in this three part podcast from Freakonomics.com: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Here are a few examples:


GTD Tip: Moving Content Someday/Maybe Items Into A Different List Manager

SomedayMaybe_thumb

My current personal external Getting Things Done (GTD) brain/tool is Nirvana.  I recently decided to move some of my "content" related items in my Someday/Maybe list to external list options in tools that are native for that type of content.

For books I moved them to an Amazon Book Want To Read List.  This is using Amazon's Wishlist option.

For movies and TV shows, I am using the Watchlist feature in IMDB.

One of the benefits of this approach was it got each of these content types into a more "non-text" list in Nirvana with more visuals, and it helped to speed up my review of my Someday/Maybe items during my GTD Weekly Review.

I also have a Wishlist on Amazon for physical things I might want to purchase.  When something new comes a long that looks interesting, but I don't know for sure that it will be useful, I put them in this list.  And then I review it every month or so to see if any items are really something I need.  Not just something I wanted at the spur of the moment.

If you have any suggestions on other types of list tools for content, then please let me know.


Thoughts & Tips for May 2021

Circle-blur-1This photo is part of my Blurry collection.

CURRENT HAPPENINGS

All but one of us is vaccinated. Guess which one? Ha Ha! #stay_home_if_sick, #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, #wear_a_mask

Theoaks2Christy and I had a great 2nd retreat to The Oaks to celebrate our 27th Wedding Anniversary.  It was super reflective and restful.  Here are some photos!

I recently did a Getting Things Done (GTD) related presentation to Manager-Tools' M Conference attendees alumni group.  Here is more information about the presentation with an offer to present to other groups or organizations that are interested in productivity.

Scavenger-huntMy work did a virtual Spring Break scavenger hunt (above are some of the photos).  It was super fun and collaborative with friends & family helping out. It was also nice to get out-and-about little bit more. I highly recommend doing something like this if you have the opportunity.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

Carson-lb-state-Carson is going to be graduating high-school soon, and has decided to go to Long Beach State to study nursing.  We are very proud and excited for her upcoming college season.

Summer vacation plans seem to be coming together: Mission Beach beach house rental, back to The Oaks, Def Con (Las Vegas), and camping at San Elijo State Beach.

I am hoping that my friend's D&D session (mentioned in previous posts) will get us through this epic battle I have been DMing for months, and on to a new "underwater" related adventure created by our other DM Darren.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

Here are some greate Windows 10 tips from ZDNET. The one about the new Clipboard History is especially useful as I have had to use a 3rd party tool to do this in the past.  To open Clipboard History, press Windows key + V. Neat!

Wireless-podcast-gear

I have been experimenting with these Rode Wireless Go Compact Microphone Transmitter & Receiver Systems for The PodCraft Beer Show.  So far they are working well, and they definitely decrease the amount of gear I need to drag to each recording.  I think they are also making the conversational style of the podcast easier to record, and edit on the back end.  I'll probably do a future full review, so standby for more information.

Engadget's article on "Google makes it easy to jump back to the search box by pressing '/' -- The new shortcut makes it easier to refine your search results." should enable you to quickly expand searches to include addition terms.

I knew how to schedule the release of emails, but this article from Wired describes how to do this on Apple iOS devices and on Google Android devices for text messages.  Super handy to know.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” - Peter Drucker


Introduction To Getting Things Done (GTD) Presentation Offer

Title Slide

I was recently asked by the Manager-Tools.com team to present to their M-Conference monthly collaboration Zoom meeting on the topic of David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD).

It was a lot of fun to put together the material, share my personal GTD journey, summarize current training & coaching offerings, provide some tips & insights, and summarize some great resources available.  The Question & Answer (Q&A) during the presentation and at the end was also super cool.

This is what the presentation covered:

Table Of Contents

I would be more than willing to provide the same presentation to other groups or organizations. Just let me know!

As a bonus, here are all the links I referenced:

Also the company that did the GTD Workflow Map graphic for David Allen has a ton of free resources at: https://xplane.com/worksheets-subjects/people/.

And here are my notes from attending the M Conference in 2019. 


Thoughts & Tips For September 2020

Paris-woodPhoto by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

No big change for us on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.  The good news is that Christy's school as been able to go back to teaching kids in person with a host of safe guards which is a blessing and an answer to prayer.

Tour de France 2020. Who doesn't want to watch 4 to 5 hours nearly every day during September seeing some of the best athletes in the world do what most people would consider completely impossible? I am all in. I am watching via NBC Sports via YouTube TV.

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My candidate for President of the United States in 2020 is Jo Jorgensen (#letherspeak, #letherdebate). While I don't agree with everything she is advocating, she is in my humble opinion the best option for a President Of The United States who believes in and will fight for:

  • right to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness
  • right to keep & bear arms
  • right to live where you choose & how you chose
  • right to privacy
  • right to worship how, when, & where you choose
  • right to be treated equally under the law

OTHER THINGS THAT ARE GOING WELL

  • The PodCraft Beer Show just had episode 7 and next week is episode 8. I have had some super spectacular craft beers that have blown my palette away.  As a craft beer fan I have actually realized how much I've missed by not paying attention to the special releases that many breweries do and I had no clue how amazing they are.
  • I am still playing D&D every week or so with friends from high school.  It is frankly one of the best unattended consequences of COVID-19 for me.
  • I am still loving my water-proof MP3 player -- AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz.
  • We were able to camp at San Elijo State Beach in August which was awesome ...

Beach-2020

EXPERIMENTING WITH MEDITATION

The book "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works"
By: Dan Harris (#meditation) got me to do a little experiment over the last month since finishing the book. I've been doing five minutes of unguided meditation using the Apple iOS app Oak from Kevin Rose before I stretch in the morning.  Nothing bad has happened (Ha Ha!) I actually now think a little "mind exercise" is a good thing. My monkey mind is strong! More updates as time goes on.

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If you are interested in guided meditations, then the only examples I've had experience with are Mike Foster's Guided Meditations. The Oak app has them but I haven't used them before.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

I have just started using this new Google Chrome browser feature for organizing tabs.  So far it is an awesome new feature.

This what I've been listening to on Audible (you can try Audible for free for 30-days and get two free books if you want). Over the last month:

I am currently doing all my Audible listening on my cell phone Samsung Galaxy S10+.

I also managed to finish a few Kindle books (I am currently using a Kindle Paperwhite for nearly all my reading):

One of my "newer" (I've heard in the past that this isn't a word, but I still use it all the time) favorite bands is Lo Moon.  They opened last year for several shows that the CHVRCHES did, and I'm super impressed with them.  I recently bought their album Lo Moon on Amazon so I could load the MP3s on my AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz  as I really wanted to listen to them while swimming.  Other specific albums I listen to frequently while swimming are: CHVRCHES (Bones of What You Believe, Every Open Eye, Love Is Dead) and Maggie Rogers (Heard It In A Past Life).  I will also drag a lot of 80s New Wave to a folder for 'random' mode listening.

Def Con (the yearly hacker conference I've been going to since #18) was completely virtual this year.  A ton of solid cybersecurity content is readily available if you are interested.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"We are what we repeatedly do, therefore, excellence is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle


Thoughts & Tips for August 2020

Wood-Aug-2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

We are still health on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.

ReopeningHELPING LAUNCH A NEW PODCAST

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Two friends Chris & Charlie have started a new podcast about craft beer with my help. You may think I know a lot about beer, but they know a ton more than I do. I learn something new everytime we record a show. The PodCraft Beer Show is currently at episode two, and the third episode should be out on August 3, 2020. I am primarily focused on audio recording, production, editing, and digital distribution.  In addition, I am also helping in setting up some of the services for website development, social media, and other backend stuff. Lots of fun!

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

With over a month of almost daily hands-on testing, I am now a big fan of the AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz. The bone conducting technology does take a little bit of time to get use to, but once I did, I like not having the headphone part in my ear even with the great headphones I had before. The Xtrainerz is a pretty straight forward MP3 player, basically you load files into folders and you can play the folder in order or shuffle them.  At the top level you can also shuffle or play the folders in order.  All in all I recommend them if you are swimming a lot, and want to listen to music while you swim.

Xtrainerz Black Diamond

When I am not swimming, I have been listening to more Audible lately than podcasts.  My main focus is plowing through books that I bought in the past, but have never listened to. You can try Audible for free for 30-days and get two free books if you want. Over the last month:

D&D

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My Halfling Fighter In 3D!

Dungeons & Dragons continues to be a great new hobby (my personal blessing from CV-19), and it is awesome to be playing with friends from high school on a regular basis. The main physical books that I bought were the: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.  The tools we are using to play online include: Zoom/Discord (for video collaboration), Beyond D&D, (for character sheets & DM resources), and Roll20 (for sharing maps, combat, etc).  Two of my favorite mapping tools are: Inkarnate (for world, geographic, city, and town mapping) and Dungeon Scrawl (for dungeons, buildings, combat level maps, etc).  If you want a demo, then let me know.

OTHER TOPICS

  • My in-person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) classes at work for August and September are still technically on the calendar, but I'm not confident I'll be able teach them with us still being on maximum telework. I am starting to scope out a Virtual GTD Training Class using Adobe Connect. (Editorial Opinion: I hope Adobe got the memo that Flash (.swf) is dead.  Just get with the program please.)
  • Related to GTD and the above mention of re-reading of "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg, I recently took for work the Power Of Habit class from Vital Smarts.  I am still unpacking the training and will report more in the future.
  • My music listening has been all over the board recently.  One band that continues to impress me is Lo Moon. I was introduced to them as the opening band for Chvrches in San Diego last fall.  I call them the Talk Talk of today. They are on heavy rotation. Music for the soul.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"The more control you have over your attention, the more control you have over your future." - James Clear