Insights on Writing, Habits, Happiness & More

2 min read

Delete the first paragraph of each article: A great writing tip I learned from The Minimalists is to write a complete article, then go back and remove the first paragraph entirely. More than likely it’s an unnecessary introduction that adds little value to the article. Better to jump straight into the content.

Screw it, ship it: I used to get hung up on trying to write perfect articles. I would be 95% satisfied with a post, then spend hours or days trying to bump it up to 99%. Now I practice the mantra “screw it, ship it.” The more I publish, the more the universe rewards me with more ideas to publish. 

Ask for help: Asking domain experts for help is a life hack for two reasons. (1) Experts are often ecstatic when a novice asks for their help and are more than willing to share their knowledge. (2) An expert can help you understand a topic much faster than if you tried to learn it on your own. In my day job, I constantly ask for help with code from guys who have been in the industry for 20+ years. They’re always happy to teach me a trick or two and their expertise speeds up my learning.

Optimize your energy: Monitor how your own energy flows throughout the day and use it as a guide to boost your productivity. I have personally found that I do my best creative work in the early mornings, especially after getting 7+ hours of sleep and sipping on a dark roast cup of coffee. I avoid doing work in the evenings since my energy and motivation only decrease as the day goes on.

Get housing expenses under control: There are massive perks to living in a smaller place than you can afford. (1) You can overspend in other areas and still maintain a high savings rate due to low housing expenses. (2) You can spend less time on maintenance and upkeep. (3) Humans adapt quickly. Your “small” place will no longer feel small after a few weeks. 

Quit boring books, shows, or podcasts: I used to feel obligated to finish every book I started, but I have come to realize that there are too many other great books out there for me to waste my time reading one that doesn’t interest me. Same goes for shows and podcasts. If something doesn’t capture my attention, I’m quick to move on.

Recognize that the best marketing strategy is writing content worth reading: I frequently get emails from people asking about my social media and marketing strategy. I don’t have one. I have never spent a dime on advertising. I attribute any blog growth to word-of-mouth marketing. An article resonates with a reader so they share it with a friend. That friend then shares it with their friend…you get the idea. Write stuff worth reading and your marketing will take care of itself.

Use white noise: Ever since I started playing white noise in my room at night, I have fallen asleep faster and slept better than ever before. I also listen to background noise from Noisli while I work. I find that it helps me concentrate.

Realize that your life is a reflection of your habits: Your habits make up your days. Your days make up your weeks, which make up your months, which make up your years, which make up your decades, which make up your lifetime. Your life is merely a reflection of your daily habits. A day packed with bad habits won’t impact much. Even a bad habit-filled week or month won’t have noticeable effects. But string together enough bad habits for a long enough time horizon and you’ll wake up one day looking back on an unremarkable life.

Know that success is delayed: Any success you are experiencing now is a result of work you did weeks, months, or years ago. This means any success you want to experience years down the line will be dependent on the work you’re doing now.

Recognize that your happiness is more dependent on your attitude towards your circumstances rather than the circumstances themselves. As Marcus Aurelius said, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” 

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5 Replies to “Insights on Writing, Habits, Happiness & More”

  1. Hi Zach,
    I took your advice from a couple posts ago and wrote an article every morning this week. I have not increased my posting frequency yet (currently 3 posts over every 2 week period), so they are in my schedule to go out over the next couple weeks. Although I didn’t ship them yet. I didn’t obsess. I proofed them and said – good enough and hit the schedule button. Thanks for the advice and motivation. Trying now to decide if/when to increase my posting schedule???

    It’s interesting that you differ from most blogging advice I have read. Specifically, spending 3-5 times writing time on marketing and social media. Your approach is refreshing.


  2. Zac,
    Well written article with lots of “ little gems “ within its walls. Thanks for sharing your talents, I enjoy reading your work. Keep them coming!

  3. I’m still struggling with putting down books I’ve started when the don’t connect. My ocd makes me feel like I have to finish everything I’ve started, and so far I have.

    But I must say it takes me way longer to finish and I’m not as motivated to read said book. It’s a vicious cycle.

    I need to try your approach

  4. I like the idea of deleting the first paragraph. Usually, that paragraph is more to help me get the writing ball going than it is important information for the reader. I’m going to toy with it on future posts I write.

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