Alberto's weekly email: Essentialism, Memex and more! 🚀

Hi everybody,

What I am reading 📚

Whenever I am struggling with something — a decision, an idea, procrastination— I resort to books for help. Last week was an example of this.

I had been struggling for some days to prioritize and effectively work on my projects so I decided to pause everything and revisit a few books that might help. One of these was Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

Since the first time I read it, Essentialism has helped me regain focus when I lose it. Many times, this piece describing what essentialism is about is all that I need:

The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes the obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other others, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.

The main idea of the book is to constantly ask questions, to understand that everything is a trade-off and that we can decide what to focus on. Most importantly, only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter. I’ve written about this in the past.

Whatever your situation this is a very actionable book. It is fun and easy to read so I recommend that you check it out! If you are in a hurry or don’t want to be glued to a book for a few hours, you can listen to McKeown’s interview on the Tim Ferriss Show 🎤.

Nerd Corner 🤓

Two weeks ago I wrote about a couple of Chrome extensions I was experimenting with. One of those was Highly, an extension that lets you highlight any webpage and keep them for later review.

While the extension works very well and you get used to it very quickly, it is built to make it easy to share the highlights on Twitter. It doesn’t provide any features to annotate, comment and tag the highlights. This makes it very hard to go back and retrieve the information when you need it.

Luckily, this week I found an extension that claims to have all the features that I wish Highly had. Memex is an app that ships with a Chrome extension that lets you highlight, annotate, and tag websites. The name itself means an electromechanical device enabling individuals to develop and read a large self-contained research library as coined by Vannevar Bush. This concept is not different from the Zettelkasten method I’ve described in the past.

The mission of the team behind Memex is to make it effortless for individuals to organise, recover and share the most useful and knowledge-expanding content on the web. That sounds pretty cool to me!

I started using the app over the weekend. While it is still very buggy it has a lot of potential. It lets you import your reading list from Pocket and similar reading apps and has a companion app to backup your data locally. I hope that the app catches so that the creators can improve it and maintain it!

If you are using it or use something similar, I’d love to hear your story!

Also interesting 🤯

  • Inside the mind of a procrastinator. In this Ted Talk, Tim Urban (from WaitButWhy) describes what procrastination looks like and advises us to be more mindful about our time. I wish I’d seen this earlier. Stop now and go watch it!

  • This GitHub repo showing the historical edits about the USA constitution is awesome. I didn’t know that the constitution was fairly short and easy to read. In particular, I liked this view which shows the chronological order of the edits made to it.

  • While browsing Cake I found this thread about photographing surfers and waves at Mavericks. I knew that the waves were huge and dangerous but reading this first-hand account made it all the more impressive and scaring. If you don’t want to scroll much, watch this short slow-motion clip.

Before you go 🚀

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Have an awesome week!