Piles of Index Card (POIC)

After reading the Getting Things Done audiobook by Dave Allen, I was looking for the easiest analog system that I can start with.

The most influential lesson I learned from the GTD is to keep your action items/reminders/to dos as bullet lists of decision items. Before that, I used to file all the external supporting documents with a post-it of what needs to be done on top. According to GTD, all those reference items just add junk and clouds your head. If all the reference/supporting documents are filed appropriately, then they can be retrieved as needed.

So what we're really working with is a bunch of running action items lists. The problem with keeping those lists in a notebook is that it's hard to sort them out--either I have to take them out of the binding to sort them to similar project/tasks, or rewrite them all over again. Hawk Sugano solved this with an index card system he calls Piles of Index Card (PoIC).

With PoIC, you jot down only one idea per card. Each card is timestamped. You can refer to other cards (ex. related tasks) by their timestamp.  The timestamp is a unique identifier. You can make more categories and develop legends for them according to your needs. Hawk uses 4 classification: Discover, Record, GTD, Cite. 

The weird but clever part about his system is that he uses a linear time-based retrieval system. The cards are organized chronologically, so the cards are not filed according to topic. It can be sorted on a regular review basis if you want to connect numerous cards. Index cards allow for a freeform mind map sorting. The rationale for using timestamp is that if you frequently organize by topic headers, the classification system becomes too complicated. The ones that recurs often or most recently are the "open loops" that need to be closed. I'm still new at it so I haven't really practiced any retrievals.

Going Analog on To-do Lists

Google Notes and Trello are still dependable, but they're no longer my favourites. I've been struck with the bullet journal bug:

The beauty of a Bullet Journal is that it can be customized to your idiosyncrasies. As history teaches us, there is no end-all on productivity systems--someone is always remaking the wheel.

So why not learn from the masters themselves? What they can accomplish with just the humble pen and paper puts me to shame.

Thomas Edison's To Do List


Divide and Conquer through Media Overload

Trump's ascendance from laughing stock to president of the most powerful nation in the world is a clinic on how to take advantage of people's short attention span. Adam Curtis' analysis of Russian politics and its similarities to UK foreshadowed Trump's media strategy.


0:00 So much of the news this year has been hopeless, depressing and above all confusing. To which the only response is 'Oh Dear'. But what this film is going to suggest is that defeatist response has become a central part of a new system of political control and to understand how this is happening you to look to Russia and to a man called Vladislav Surkov who is a hero of our time.

0:30 Surkov is one of President Putin's advisors and has helped him maintain his power for fifteen years, but he has done it in a very new way. He came originally from the avant-garde art world and those who have studied his career say that what Surkov has done is import ideas from conceptual art into the very heart of politics. His aim is to undermine peoples perception of the world so they never know what is really happening.

1:05 Surkov turned Russian politics into a bewildering constantly changing piece of theatre, he sponsored all kinds of groups, from Neo-Nazi skin-heads to liberal human rights groups, he even backed parties that were opposed to President Putin, but the key thing was that Surkov then let it be known that this was what he was doing which meant that no one was sure what was real or fake.

1:31 As one journalist put it 'Its a strategy of power that keeps any opposition constantly confused, a ceaseless shape-shifting that is unstoppable because its indefinable.'

1:45 Which is exactly what Surkov is alleged to have done in the Ukraine this year. In typical fashion as the war began Surkov published a short story about something he called Non-Linear War.
A war where you never know what the enemy are really up to or even who they are. The underlying aim Surkov says is not to win the war but to use the conflict to create
a constant state of destabilized perception in order to manage and control.

Cal Newport's Deep Work

According to Cal Newport's perspective, intense focused work can be simultaneously a source of self-gratification while producing something of value (knowledge, product, etc) in the world.

Quality over quantity is achieved by batching and intense focus (approximately 3-4 hour uninterrupted sessions devoted on "deep work" projects).

The interesting part is when Cal and Scot talk about the intersection between good habits (such as "Deep Work") and natural talent--at what point is good habits enough to override one's lack of natural talent?

An inspiring conversation between Cal Newport and Scot Barry Kaufman. 

Zero to One

Peter Thiel's contrarian guide on living as a benefit maximizer:

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
Zero to One Audiobook

Zero to One in a nutshell:

+ Aim to monopolize a (niche) market by creating technology (vertical progress). Look for a non-conformist truism and take advantage of it.

+ Avoid copying/marginal improvements of competition (horizontal progress) which would put you in the mercy of those fickle choice-addicted consumers.

As the founder of Paypal, Palantir, and Machiavellian supporter of Trump, he basically demonstrated the benefits of his mantra, "Tell me something that's true that nobody agrees with you on". Now he's one of the very few Silicon Valley technocrats that's in the seat of power as a member of Trump's transition team even though he lacks political (read: zero public office) experience.

Bravo, Mr. Thiel! 👏