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To do lists, sleep & how to write

To do lists, sleep & how to write
By Tom Littler - Notion & myKanban • Issue #30 • View online
There’s better ways than to-do lists, do you really need 8 hours sleep? Periods over commas.

Hey guys,
Trying a new format this week. Rather than writing long form in the newsletter I’m just going to summarise what I’ve created this week, and some really interesting stuff from people I’ve dug up online!
Let me know your thoughts on the new setup. I’m hoping it will be more skimmable, while giving you the option to to explore other topics if you’re interested!
An Effective To Do List
In this article we dissect the bread and butter of productivity tools - to do lists. My main gripe with to-do lists, is while they are blissfully simple to use – they aren’t really conducive for prioritisation of important tasks. When using them I often get sucked into doing low effort, less important work, checking off a small task gives just the same dopamine hit as checking off a big task.
Rather than mindlessly bash the humble to-do list I suggest an alternative option, that takes the importance of a task into account as well.
‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker Might Be a Load of BS
In ‘Why we Sleep’ Matthew Walker argues we are living in a ‘sleep epidemic’. I’m always skeptical of sensationist language like this, but I have to admit, his book had me pretty convinced that I, and the whole world for that matter, weren’t getting enough sleep. That is, until I came across this brilliant critique by Alexek Guzey.
Guzey clearly presents the primary research of the literature walker cites, and shows how Walker, in many cases misrepresents the data, and in a lot of cases downright makes it up!
Guzey, doesn’t try to invalidate the importance of sleep, more he tries to caution us that to aim for a arbiratry target of 8 hours sleep per night might not be beneficial for many of us, but Walker uses scare-tactics and fear mongering to win us round to his point of view.
I feel quite strongly that the current craze in ‘sleep tracking’ and all manner of fancy devices to do so is a bit overkill. Surely in the majority of cases we can feel when we need more sleep (plus lack of sleep is one of easiest things to recognize visually - ‘you look tired’) - what happened to checking in with our bodies?
The One Skill Everyone Should Develop
Pretty much everyone writes. Whether it’s emails, business plans, marketing copy or blog posts - there’s always going to be a need to communicate clearly through the medium of words.
Unfortunaltely, a lot of what we get taught about good writing in school is wrong – or at least not optimal for the modern world. A big part of writing is punctuation. Punctuation determines how easy your content is to read. Punctuation determines how skimmable your text is. Punctuation in a huge way determines whether your writing is effective or not.
This great blog post on how to effectively use punctuation by Julian Shapiro shares invaluable principles and rules. Never use a comma when you can use a period. Avoid semi-colons. Basically a load of stuff you’d wished you’d known 10 years ago.
This Week on Youtube
My Full Notion Tour - Get my workspace here
What I'm Reading
If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic! “And, besides, that’s not the purpose of going into business. “The purpose of going into business is to get free of a job so you can create jobs for other people.
Micheal Gerber articulates why most small businesses fail. He also offer some great strategies to small business owners of how not to fail. This is a great antithesis to much of the ‘move fast and break things’ rhetoric I hear in the start-up bubble. Gerber argues small businesses need to organise themselves as large businesses from the start. With clear job descriptions, roles, and processes – even if you are a 1 man band!
I’ve taken a lot of leanings from this book into my own business, would highly recommend.
We’ve been getting some great feedback on myKanban this week…..
If you got some use out of today’s issue, spread the word by forwarding it to a mate! Keep the subs rolling…
Did you enjoy this issue?
Tom Littler - Notion & myKanban

Hey, I'm Tom, a product manager and startup founder living in London.

We talk productivity, mental models and all things you need to live a life full of purpose.

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