The Joys of Tidying Up

I bought Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing at the end of 2018. Since then, I’ve been reading it on and off and find it to be quite good. I’ve taken some of her techniques and put them to use in my house, not because it’s overly cluttered but to help bring more harmony to my house.

Our house is not overly cluttered but it does have some pockets of disorganization and clutter. This is mostly in our office. Both my wife and I work from home 90% of the time and the office tends to be the magnet for papers, letters, books, laptops, chargers, cameras, etc.

Another spot of clutter is the coffee table in the living room. It becomes a magnet for magazines and books. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that ‘books’ and paper products appear to be the big things in our house.

The next big thing is laundry. We have two kids and it seems that every time I look around, there’s another load to wash and fold. Usually, we do 4 loads at a time and then have 4 loads of laundry to fold. This turns into a large pile of terror to look at and we tend to leave folding for the last minute. Everyone in our house folds completely differently and clothes get jammed into weird places in our respective dressers and closets.

Joys of Tidying Up

After watching some Kondo videos and reading her book, I decided to take charge of the laundry problem while I think about the book and paper problem. I cleared the tops of the washing machine and dryer and now the laundry right as soon as it comes out. I do it using her ‘stand up method’ and folding it in thirds. Then I put it away, wait for the next load to finish washing, then dry it, and repeat.

I even got my wife to do this and we’ve found that the dread of folding a mountain of clothes has completely gone away. The kids help too and we’ve reduced our stress completely, so score a point for Marie.

Book Clutter

Worse than the paper clutter (and I start recycling them), is my book clutter. We have 100’s of books that haven’t been read and are just jammed into our bookshelves, coffee tables, and nightstands. I love books and love reading but I came to a realization that 85% of these books are never read, 10% is used (recipe books, reference, etc), and 5% are books I’ve read several times over the years.

What was it about 5% of the books I’ve re-read over the years? It’s because I love them and I always learn something new from them. So I completely get Marie’s point on touching the book and if I get an emotional reaction to it, then I keep it.

What are those books? They’re my books on Haiku and History. Some are on Self Improvement and Personal Growth. Others are Hiking, Adventure, and Cooking. The rest of them I feel zero emotion to them and realize I can probably donate over 50% of them to the local library book sale.

I will be commencing with a book decluttering shortly after I talk my better half into decluttering her books too.

The Joy of the Library

The book decluttering process has taught me, or shall I say reinforced another lesson. Learn to Love Thy Local Library. Instead of buying books from Amazon, I can borrow the books I want to read and then return them. I can return them if I don’t like them or if I loved them. I can re-read the ones I loved and never read again the ones I don’t. I can return them and never have them clutter up my house for years.

Yes, that’s the power of your local library. Get books for free, read them for free, and return them. It’s a super win-win. You save money, support your local library, and have a clean house. Why didn’t think of this before? Score another point for decluttering books Marie, and get a bonus point for reminding me how awesome libraries are.

Sparking Joy

One of the big themes in Marie’s book is the concept of Sparking Joy. We all have a short life to live and it’ll be filled with problems and stress. Yet, we are meant to live our lives in happiness and joy, so we try to surround ourselves with loved ones, a good job, friends, and things that make us happy.

Marie’s point is that your space, your house, your ‘castle’ is a primary point for creating (sparking) joy. If your home is not in balance and you’re not feeling happy, then there’s something wrong and your entire life can get out of whack.

I completely get this as all these things are ultimately in your control. You can pick good friends, you can find people to love, you can search for a job you love, and you can create your living space in a joyful environment.

Thanks, Marie. I’m going to doing to do a load of laundry right now.

Stop Being Medium’s Writing Whore

I know how it starts. You make your first post on Medium and it gets views, maybe a comment. Then you find a publication and submit your new post to it. Overnight you find your community of wonderful writers on your given topic(s). A month goes by, then two, and all of sudden your Medium earnings start to climb.

You read some big writers on Medium and how they’re making a living on Medium. You get inspired and write more, hoping that writing more will equal more earnings, and it does for a while.

Medium is nothing more than a pimp that lured all of us in with the promise of making money for our writing…

Then Medium changes its internal workings and suddenly your earnings drop but your views skyrocket. You can’t figure out what’s going on but Medium offers a referral bonus, so you start adding that link to the bottom of the posts. And you write more, always more, you suddenly feel tired and exhausted but you feel compelled to write more, always more.

Stop.

Stop being Medium’s writing whore. Medium is nothing more than a pimp that lured all of us in with the promise of making money for our writing, showcased those writers that are making it, and put a pen in your hand and put us out on the street to get to work.

Reclaim your whore self.

At first, being the new thing out on the street, you made money and Medium was pleased. Then the market changed, the preferences changed, Medium changed, and you have to work harder than ever to keep earning. So you write more and more and the views go up but the earnings don’t.

Now what? Quit the life?

Not on your fucking life, you built an audience. You have regulars. What now?

Reclaim your whore self.

My Medium experiment

I will be the first to admit that I’m somewhat chaotic in my writing, blog hosting, and online life. This is partly due to the startup nature of my life. I quickly evaluate what works and what doesn’t work, make course corrections, and move on.

Then my father died.

I created an account on Medium back in September 2015 and would cross-post some of my old Neural Market Trends articles there. I let them sit for a while and got a small boost to my traffic but it caused some SEO issues for me so I deleted them from Medium.

I still stayed on Medium, paid the $50 a year membership, and started reading some amazing authors. The quality of work, the topics, and the interaction within the comments inspired me.

Then, after my existential crisis, I decided to start to pick up a pen and start writing again. This time it was for me and on new topics, I was interested in exploring. Yes, all the glorious sex, relationships, and parenting topics.

Since June 2021 I started building a small audience and wrote a few low viral posts. I thought it was nice and I ended up earning over $50 in October with a 350+ subscriber count.

That gave me an idea to write a post every day in November to raise money for Movember, a men’s health charity. I did this in part because my father was a survivor of prostate cancer and I have a friend who is a testicular cancer survivor.

Then my father died.

All my plans were thrown out the window, and rightfully so.

I managed to make a bunch of posts in November as a way to write out my grief and mourning but something had changed. I changed and Medium changed.

I caught myself from replying to a bunch of low-quality shit when I realized that THIS IS WHAT MEDIUM WANTS.

I was hoping that my past month’s work and new work would push me over the $50 mark for November so I can make a sizable donation. I wanted to honor my father that way, a small token of how much I appreciated him.

At first, I was happy, my views increased over 300% but I failed to break October’s income record. I made less in November and ended up donating just over $45. A nice sum but I wished it was more.

Quality over quantity

Over the past few months, I started to notice an uptick in low-quality work on Medium. Medium’s recommendation algorithm must’ve been tweaked to give new writers views and possibly some earnings as they started their writing whore life.

I usually don’t mind new writers, hell I encourage them, but I started to notice that these were red pill/MGTOW people. The antithesis of everything I hold dear about relationships and sex. Why the hell was I seeing them? Why the hell was I being recommended them?

I caught myself replying to a bunch of low-quality shit when I realized that THIS IS WHAT MEDIUM WANTS.

It wants you to engage, generate views, and earnings for new people so it can drive MORE REVENUE AND SUBSCRIBERS for itself.

Own your content and syndicate your work.

Of course, this is all speculation on my part, but as someone who works in the AI/Machine Learning space, an engagement algorithm can be very profitable if it gets you to engage. What better way to get a person like me, a polar opposite to the shit I was seeing, to charge me up and engage with low-quality shit.

This does not sit well with me at all.

So how do I, a little writing whore, reclaim myself?

The answer is very simple. Get off Medium’s street and become a pimp myself.

Me, the pimp

I did this before with my old blog and I’m doing it now on my new blog. Own your content and syndicate your work.

Let me repeat this.

Own your content and syndicate your work.

Owning your content means you have to host your content on your domain. I’ve written before about the coming pornocolypse in my Only Fans Debacle post, but the advice is the same whether your content is SFW or NSFW.

Use Medium the same way as they used you. Use them for the traffic.

Still, if you write just on your domain you become some guy or girl screaming into the Internet void.

Unless you are a master at SEO or have some existing writing credibility, your views are going to be very low to zero.

Make Medium your whore, use it for the views but keep safeguards around your content.

Try to transfer the eyeball traffic from Medium to your site over time. Set up a newsletter service (I used Sendy), one that can charge a monthly subscription rate (if you like).

You can still make money on Medium by participating in the Partnership program but you control your work. You become an empowered writing whore and pimp at the same time.

Use Medium the same way as they used you. Use them for the traffic.

But how do you do that?

Write, import, tag, SEO optimize

My process is simple. I write my quality content, then I import the story on Medium, add the appropriate tags, go to Story Settings and edit the SEO Settings, and then publish.

What happens when you import your story, Medium automatically canonicalizes the posts by inserting code that points to your article, on your domain, as being the original.

Of course, the SEO settings on your Medium post rank higher in a Google search page because Medium has strong domain credibility BUT Google will not penalize you for the duplicate content.

This is your data, this is your work, don’t accept anything less.

Some writers will take the original post and modify it for Medium, maybe drop snippets of the post or point back to the full article on their site. This is a great strategy too but only works if you have a big enough audience.

Some writers will use a membership type of blog setup, like Ghost, to set monthly subscriber tiers. They can share all kinds of other content behind the scenes.

What matters is that YOU need to stop being used like a whore and start thinking like a pimp.

Besides, this is wise. You never know what could happen to Medium. They may IPO, they may be bought out, they may scrub all NSFW content. I’m guessing here but I’ve seen all this happen before and it will happen again.

It’s always best to control your content on your domain and build up your subscriber newsletter. This is your data, this is your work, don’t accept anything less.


Endnotes: I use the terms whore and pimp in a context to illustrate my points in this article, to show that it’s often a negative power exchange. I don’t denigrate sex work as a legitimate endeavor or sex workers as real people. I love you all.

Thank you 2018

I was on Twitter the other day and someone had posted a set of old Tweets about how bad the year sucked. One tweet was “2014 sucked, let’s hope for a better 2015” and the next was  “2015 sucked, let’s hope for a better 2016,” and so on. I felt really bad for those people because I’m of the opinion that every year you spend above ground (aka alive), is a good year. Sure, there are good and bad times but you can’t truly understand the joy of the good without the pain of the bad.

2018 is about to wrap up and I’m grateful to have been a part of it. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year and practice gratitude. It’s an important thing that I do nearly every day in my life because doing so has changed my life. I no longer ‘sweat the small stuff’ but find those important ‘big rocks’ in my life.

Family BAE

My family. What else is there in my life? My family is BAE. What’s BAE? It’s Before Anything/Anyone Else. Of course my niece informed me that BAE is no longer used but it’s an apt acronym for how I feel.

My wife and children remain the bedrock of my life.

I loved all the camping trips, game nights, and time spent together this year. I’m grateful for my cooking class so I was able to cook them nutritious meals and actually get a ‘thumbs up!’  when they loved it. I will cherish the many “I love you Dads” from my kids and the “I love you ” whispers from my wife late at night. My wife and children remain the bedrock of my life.

I’m grateful for my parents and the fact that they’re still alive and kicking. Time moves way to fast these days and I’m happy to spend time with them.  I’m grateful for my sister and nephews, my cousins, and extended Asian family. We’re spread across the world like seeds. How lucky are we?

Work

I’m grateful for the work I do. I use my mind to solve problems and I love it. I work in an exciting field where I get to travel and make impacts in the world. I’m grateful for the education I received many years ago and I’m even grateful for spending 20 years in the wrong career. It was my passion the drove me to start a successful blog in machine learning that launched me into a new career at age 44.

I’m grateful for learning the lesson of ‘being true to ones self.’ It was a hard lesson and first I felt like I was jumping off a cliff but in reality, I was just stepping off a curb.

Life

I’m thankful for everything in my life. I’ve learned to simplify and find peace. I’ve learned how to make sourdough bread from scratch. It feels wonderful to make it by hand. I learned how to make pasta from scratch and be a better cook in general.

…I felt like I was jumping off a cliff but in reality, I was just stepping off a curb.

I have good friends at my Karate Dojo and two close friends living far away from me.  I have a roof over my head and a refrigerator stocked with food. I live in woods, a place I’ve always dreamed about as kid. I go hiking and have adventures. I’m grateful to be writing again.

I’m truly blessed.

Thank you 2018, you were wonderful.

I hope yours was too.

When is it not busy?

Dear Friend,

It’s been a busy year up till now, and that’s ok with me. I closed down my consultancy and joined a new firm in September. I went from being busy to super busy, and that’s ok.

Being busy means that I need to be hyper aware of my time. I need to be on point with work and with my family life. I need to invest my time in people and myself. Time is the only resource that is not renewable. One it’s gone, it’s gone.

Invest your time

There is no bank or mutual fund where you can invest your time in and get more time back. There is no way to stop the flow of time once it’s begun for us at conception. There are ways to capture it, to use it, but it all leads to once place. The future.

The most precious thing you can give any person is your time. As a parent, I spend a lot of my time with my children. I invest my time into them so that they become a better human being than me.

I invest my time with my wife so the I may have a deeper and loving relationship. Building a life with someone and ‘grow old’ with them is a wonderful thing.

I invest my time writing, reading, and tinkering. It is so that I can better myself. A better man. A more informed citizen. I invest my time working so that I may earn a living and prepare for the golden years.

Waste your time

I try not to waste time.

I try not to waste time on useless meetings and frivolous
work. I try not to waste my time on people that are negative and lack compassion.I try not to waste my time getting angry.

I try not to waste my time on things that don’t interest me.

I try not to waste my time, period.

Start today

Why am I spending time thinking about time?

It might be because my mortality is starting to stare me in my face. When I was in my 20’s, my body stayed the same for years. There was no noticeable change from 21 to 22 to 23, and so on.

Once I turned 40 I began to notice a change from year to year. A little more hair loss, an aging face, a bit too much weight around the belly. Add in family and work life, and I felt like time is accelerating.

In my 20’s, there was too much time. In my 40’s, there’s not enough. I’m reminded by the Rush song, “Time Stand Still.”

Summer’s going fast
Nights growing colder
Children growing up
Old friends growing older

Thank you

I want you to think about your time. It’s all you got and it’s not ‘all the time in the world.’

Do you feel the urgency yet?

I hope you do.

Thank you for reading. I hope that I did not waste your time.