Praveen Ramesh

I write about things I learn from books, and my observations on being a creator

I read Subtract by Klotz. Through evolution, we are always taught to accumulate stuff. Our default is to ‘add’ things to get more done.

Klotz explained how Subtracting could be the missing piece in getting things done effectively. For example:

  • I’m constantly stressed by my to-dos. Instead of seeking the next productivity magic bullet, think about stuff that you can subtract.
  • People keep zoning out in status update meetings. Instead of thinking about adding ‘excitement’ we could choose to do away with it (and explore some other format).
  • I don’t like my current book collection. Instead of buying more, I could donate the ones I’ve outgrown or don’t love. I’m only left with books that spark joy.
  • I get tired while on vacations. I could ditch visiting every tourist attraction, and do things that energise me.

What do you think?

I was never a good learner. And naturally I struggled a lot during my initial schooling.

My mom used to help me study at home. One way she would make complex concepts easy is by finding patterns or fitting them in something I already understand.

“This” is like “that”

“That” could be a real life scenario, an anecdotal experience, a story, or something from a different subject. It made things so easy. And now, that’s become a practice.

I try to remember everything in metaphors. Lessons are often found where we seek for them.

What’s a hobby of yours that doesn’t involve a screen?

I go for long evening walks around my neighbourhood while catching up with my friends who live in a different timezone. Even there, I’m using my phone (though technically I’m not using a screen).

I go for group workouts, and that’s one of the few places where I’m completely off screen. Because they mandate it. But apart from that, Zilch.

Do you have one?

Not all book are meant to be finished cover to cover. It took a long time for me to realise this.

I used to have a perpetual guilt around quitting books. I forced myself to read the entire texture, irrespective of how I felt. And I believed I wasted money if I don’t do so.

Until I realised how liberating quitting books can be. You could quit a book for multiple reasons

  1. You’ve got enough value from the book from the first few pages. Let’s admit- most non-fiction books could’ve been blog posts.

  2. You’re not in the zone to finish a book. Maybe you want to read fiction, and you’re pushing yourself read about productivity :)

  3. If the book doesn’t enrich your perspective. Just because something is published, doesn’t mean it HAS to offer value.

And numerous other reasons.

Realise this

It’s the book’s responsibilities to hold your attention and provide value. The moment it stops doing it, quit the damn book.

This is a follow-up to my blog on changing opinions. Vignesh, who’s good friend provided the following insight on rethinking

The first step to changing your opinion is to admit that you don’t even remember why you came to a certain conclusion. Most of us picked it up along the way.

And that’s when I realised that we never really “think” about how we formed an opinion. Awareness of how or why you have a certain point of view is great starting point in rethinking perspectives.

Thoughts?

We grossly underestimate the power of compounding. I want to explain it with an example.

Two people are awarded money for working out. But with a slightly different kickers.

Person A

He’s offered $5000 at the end of every month. He will receive this irrespective of how well he performs in training.

Person B

She’s offered $10 per week to workout. This amount increases by 10% at the end of every week. All she has to do is show marginal progress week on week.

Let’s map out how much they would have at the end of each month

At the end of Year-1 (Month-12), Person B looks like a stupid for letting go of ‘easy money’.

But wait.. the compounding magic is yet to kick-in…

In Month-16,

  • Person B ($86,762) will make as much as Person-A ($80,000). Phew finally!

In Month-17

  • Person B will make $127,000. That’s a whooping $40,000 more than Person A ($85,000)

And if she keeps going, at the end of Year-2 (Month-24)

  • Person B will make a whooping $2.2 Million averaging $1.1 Million/year
  • Compare this to Person A who will make $120,000 averaging $60,000/year.

Massive success are built on small, unsexy, and imperceptible everyday decisions.

What’s your excuse?

The fear of failure and judgement stops us from doing things. Especially things that are considered risky in our worldview.

What if we fail?

The question is not what if. All of us are certain to fail. The question needs to be what next after failure?

Depending on where (and how) we failed, we will be one step closer to success. We become wiser and stronger with our experiences. We make better connections and start looking things from a new perspectives.

And almost certainly can become torchbearers for people who’re hesitant to try newer things.

We love people who look effortless in their trade.

The Youtuber who’s winging it.

The singer who does not have stage fear

Or the designer who comes with design in a jiffy.

Heres the thing- we have to put in more effort in order for something to appear effortless.

Effortless actions are result of mindful and effortful practice on a consistent basis.

Simple is actually not simple.

I love creating. I get excited by speaking to people who create. The bloggers, video creators, Instagrammers, Tik-Tok’ers, artists, singers, musicians and the likes.

But here’s the thing- only a handful of people I know create stuff. Procrastination aside, a lot of them state lack of ‘creativity’ as a blocker to get started.

Here are 7 things about creativity that I observed, and learnt over the years.

  • Being Creative ≠ Being Original

Even the best creators we know seek inspiration from somewhere. Don’t let originality stop you.

  • Creativity= Connectivity

Art manifests itself when you connect things you’ve read, observed and seen.

  • Record Your Ideas

All of us overestimate our ability to remember things. Note down and preferably record ideas as soon as they come to you.

  • Open Minded

Creativity ceases the moment you close yourself to a single vantage point. Explore, speak and read about things that don’t align with your world view.

  • Expertise is overrated

You don’t need to be an expert to be creative or share things. You can document your journey/learnings along the way.

  • Time Complicates Things

Most creators I know sweat the small details. Sit on their idea before they feel bored or discouraged. Always work with a deadline or an MVP in mind. We can figure stuff along the way.

  • Be Personal

I often fall into the trap of wanting to sound intelligent and hence creating things that will get me eyeballs.

Create things for personal joy. Because you enjoy doing them!

Economists at Berkley have estimated that members with an annual gym membership paid more per class than those who opted for a monthly membership. Basically, those with a monthly membership had attended more class for every penny they invested.

How often have we been in this scenario? 

  • Buying a yearly planner and not using it beyond three days. 
  • Buying an annual subscription of your favourite tool and not using them! 

This happens because of pre-commitment. Pre-commitment often fails because our motivations and actions are external. And we won’t stick to things unless our motivations are internal.

Paying money does not equal to you turning up at the gym. Investing just money in self-improvement rarely propels self-improvement.

How can we overcome this?

With pre-commitment, we assume that our future self will want/need the same stuff as our present self. We overestimate our abilities and motivations and end up spending on things we might not stick to. 

Start with a MVB- Minimum viable habit. 

  • A simple A4 sheet over a journal
  • A weekly/monthly subscription over annual subscription. 
  • Cutting one day of junk before going 'all-in'. 

Thoughts?

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