user research

When you last went on holiday, what did you research before you left?

I researched weather, temperature, trying to figure out how warm it would feel. I read old reddit forums in which other people had asked questions about the place and read people’s answers. In particular, I looked into transport links for how to get from the airport to where I wanted to go and how to get around. I also looked into what Sicilian people are like and how they treat visitors. In future, I would have looked up local food and recommended authentic restaurants. I looked up fishing in Sicily / Palermo and read what I could find which was very little. Looked up books to buy when visiting.

What were you frustrated that you couldn’t find?

Couldn’t find more about fishing. Would have enjoyed a 500 wordish introduction to the notable history and culture of Palermo. Not specific, general and linking with things I might see while there. (weaving together popular cultural interest with specific attractions I could see while there in one place.

What would you have liked to have found?

Printable ‘city guide’ 5 pages of recommended restaurants, things to do with local history woven into it. (or next day delivery pamphlet for £3.50).

What did you not love about the competitor’s sites?

What I did love is that I read user-generated content which made it trustworthy – I liked content that was negative MORE because it convinced me they weren’t trying to sell me anything.

What I didn’t like is how deep I had to dig to get answers to fairly straight forward questions. I wanted information quickly so I could move on – I did not find researching particularly fun. Seeing a beautiful image of the place got me excited, or hearing about exotic/interesting details HOWEVER, mostly I just wanted quick facts WITHOUT HASSLE (e.g. speed of answers). is a project is not going to go anywhere until I am routinely producing and editing content – creating stuff, probably everyday.

This is only a small project, so the same is true of any future creative project.

I have been trying to figure out how I can introduce routine creative time into my days. I think I might be able to manage 15 minutes in the morning without having to sacrifice on either sporting commitments, social life or sleep.

Without social life, physical activity in the evenings and sleep, I think life will be significantly worse, therefore I am unwilling to sacrifice them to take my projects more seriously.

This will then leave me with the question, what can I change in order to make creative time part of my days? I have turned my attention to my job.

The issue is that both creative work and my job involve sitting down behind a desk and compete for the same resources. Doing both would mean working days that I think would be too long, and I wouldn’t be able to do either of them to a high standard. Not saying other people couldn’t do it, but with my issues with attention and office work, I would probably be unhappy living like that. The cost of switching tasks is also very high / maybe impossible. What’s the point if it makes me unhappy?

So, I began to think about my work, and considered if there might be a more outdoors / on your feet / social job I could move towards that would allow me to dedicate my true resources to the creative work in the mornings for 3 hours or so, while leaving my mental resources free.

I then began to think that this is a poor plan. Yes, balance is good, but doing something only in order to balance something else without it having any other purpose will not make it feel engaging or worthwhile. If I was a park ranger, plumber or paramedic but my real passion was creative work, I would spend all that time wishing I was doing that instead.

The best idea I came up with was full property renovation, landscaping and maybe even interior design. This would be mostly physical work with a creative aspect, challenge and potentially large financial reward. Plus, it might help me move closer towards my dream of living in a mud hut complex // old farm area. The downside is it could be lonely, all-absorbing and the work is actually very menial and dull.

I then meditated.

The answer I came up with in this context was:

You are asking freedom to provide security and security to provide freedom. If you consider the bigger picture, you will see that you do not need to get both these things from the same source. If your side project was one that was done for creative expression, zest for life, or a simple desire to help other people, it would not be so tiring but would make your life seem more abundant. The people whose lifestyles inspire you are those that engage with beauty for the sake of beauty, they do not force every object of their attention to have economic utility. It only tires you because you are making it into a burden for generating money. What if instead you worked a job that provides you with flexibility and good amounts of leisure time. Then you would have the money and security from a job and the time for your personal projects. You should be responsible in your job and work properly, then in your free time enjoy your personal projects. That creates balance between security, responsibility and freedom, creativity.

Now, you may say ‘but I need to make more money than I will get from that kind of job, so I need to use my free time not for passion projects but for work. I must mould what interests me into something productive’.

Why do you want this money? So that you can live in a nice house and spend your time working on and funding personal projects that are intrinsically valuable? But surely if you aren’t working on those projects NOW when you could be in your free time, you will find a reason you can’t do it then, too?  What you’re really saying is ‘given the levels of scarcity, I am not in a position to give the bulk of my attention to projects that don’t directly contribute to my financial bottom line’. That might be an accurate assessment, but if you have a fairly well-paid job and are good with your money and are opportunistic and an investor, will that not provide enough security to warrant a bit more freedom? Is it not within your grasp already without starting a business?

You could just get a job that gives you a fair bit of free time, enjoy your free time for what it is, and do your job properly.

You don’t need to start a business. What you really want is freedom and independence so that you can engage with interesting and worthwhile projects more or less for their own sake. It’s actually easier to get those things by NOT starting a business (at least initially), but just having a decent work ethic and taking your passion projects seriously without requiring that they progress your career. This way you get to do what’s actually fun in your free time, that you actually enjoy. You get a life of abundance that you want RIGHT NOW.

I can imagine one life, in which I slave away at a business idea trying to make it take off. If it does, by the time I am rich enough to work on something purely because I want it to exist, I won’t be inspired enough or skilled or networked enough to actually do it with the right people.

In other words, the best way to live a live of freedom, independence and abundance is not to make yourself a slave to money, but rather to do things for their own sake with pride and to be sensible with money so that it doesn’t cause you problems and you always have enough.

I’m trying to distill this:

‘Do not expect one thing to provide both creative freedom and security. You will probably lose both. Acquire them by separate means. Be happy with that. Eventually, your creative work might be monetizable and lead to security on its own, but if you introduce that as a constraint early, it will come at the price of the enjoyment of it.’

‘I am most likely to get rich and live a lifestyle of focusing on personal projects that excite me if I start a business now’ – WRONG. 

Why this is wrong:

  • If you start a business to try and make money it won’t have its basis in something that interests you and as a result, will not be something you would choose to do for free.
  • If you get money, but you have not engaged with things that interest you for their own sake, you will have lost inspiration, and your life will suck still, so the money won’t be all that useful.
  • You are more likely to develop skills that would help you create value for others rapidly by doing two types of activity: 1) taking responsibility through work and learning from others 2) doing things that interest you and pushing your own boundaries for fun. These two things are more possible if you have a job and fun side projects than if you focus on building a business to make money.


The real idea in all of this is this:


A scarcity mindset does not create conditions that are conducive to a life of freedom, independence and abundance. Starting a business to make money so that you can get a life with those things is a very wicked mirage.

Starting a business out of inspiration in a particular area (e.g. love of climbing and a belief you can make a superior climbing sole OR an interest in sales funnels and a desire to optimise your analytics all day).

I don’t think that a scarcity mindset creates the right conditions for the life I want and I don’t buy the usual argument that ‘a focus on things that don’t have obvious economic utility is fine for the rich but most people can’t afford to think like that’.

If you are employed, with you left over time you are more likely to have a good life and start a business THE RIGHT WAY if you start with FUN and INTEREST and let utility take care of itself later.

NOTE: I am not saying that you are more likely to get rich this way. A scarcity mindset might create decent financial returns, but once you get the money it won’t be useful to you because you won’t be an inspired person with developed natural interests AND if you were the type to start a business you probably would have done it anyway at a later date in a way that was driven by inspiration rather than scarcity.

The problem here is that a focus on making money can stop you from seeing what actually has value and lead to you to sell far too much for a life that’s not that good.



Discussed this with Will and dad.

I think ultimately working uncomfortably hard and loving the game is the answer until I have a side project running properly, then I will be doing something exciting all the time, and it will be exciting growing a business. What’s more exciting than selling products every day , tracking analytics, etc? I love this. I’m going in and adding creative time before work everyday. I’m going to add more to life, and when it feels too much, add some more social, or a weekend away to get fucked, to balance it out. You can create balance by adding more or by taking things away. I am adding more to everything and hoping it will balance.

Time blocking

Reflected on the beach on how to manage my time better and the value of time blocking. 


I decided that time blocking made sense due to the following benefits: 


  • Allowing for superior prioritisation
  • Increasing productivity, partially by reducing distraction
  • Creating a feeling of calm order over your life and in your work day
  • Increasing your ability to make improvements to how you spend your time
  • Schedules are inevitable if you progress in many life areas. Family, career progression, employees etc all make calendar skills more important. 
  • A schedule can make your life more enjoyable and meaningful by making time for the super high value things that are easy to forget about. 


I also found that I struggled to form a strong case against time blocking. 


I’m going to start experimenting with it to find how it can work for me.


The purpose and use of this blog has changed.

I started this private personal blog because for a long time I felt a sense of regret that I didn’t do much writing online.

I hoped that regardless of how the blog started it would become something useful or interesting.

It has been useful to me in some ways but its time is done as a ‘thoughts blog’.

After my meditation challenge and alongside my private reflections and reading I’ve decided that most thought is pointless, and most of mine too self-centered to be of any use to anyone – including myself.

Now this is a place where anything goes, but it must be EXTERNAL..

It is now a place for looking outward, for deeper learning and projects beyond the self.

The blog is also now PUBLIC, and with a little bit of editing and tidying in the future I expect it to be read by other people. I will write the blogs in a style that is intended to be fairly readable and of use to others.

P.S to mark this change the new format is CAPS for titles.

After review

The biggest idea I’ve had in the last year is this:

‘Center your awareness around worthwhile projects, people for whom you feel affection (and always extending that group) and beauty (basically music and time in nature etc). Literally, invest your attention into these things and manage your time around them. Most everything else is a wasting your life.’

You do need a sense of direction. How about ‘Make things that help people’.

That includes the activity of thinking about what you should do, what your identity is etc. That kind of renders most of my blogs obsolete, even this very inquiry is meaningless waste.

So, I should probably stop now.

Good bye, blog.



Buffet interview

I don’t listen to economist at all, I can’t think of any economists that have been good at buying businesses. You buy a business because you think that specific business is going to do well and is under priced. There will be good economics times and bad one’s, but if you’re looking for businesses to hold forever it doesn’t matter.

If you’re living pay check to pay check (dependent on job for income) it’s good to have some cash around. Otherwise, you don’t really need any cash. We have a lot because we must have insurance claims.

(side note: but then Munger says they hold cash until they see something they want to buy)

If you buy a farm, do you go and look at the corn every week? No – if you have to look at it, you shouldn’t have invested in it. It doesn’t grow faster if you look at it.


Excessive skepticism (cynicism) is as foolish a bias as naivete, and it has serious real life costs (like missing out on things)

It’s actually one form that arrogance can take – epistemological arrogance, ironically, given that it’s epistemological modesty that the skeptic hides behind

I really need to sort this out, this is probably one of the biggest mental distortions I have – it’s going to be complex and difficult to untangle my scepticism (probably impossible) to see where I’m going wrong.

What made this sink in for me is that I’ve just discovered my colleague has masters from Oxford and was a researcher into climate change from Oxford – and all this time I’ve been assuming that he’s like most climate enthusiasts that focus in on trivial issues rather than fundamental ones…

How have I become this arrogant? I assume the people around me know nothing compared to me and that I understand ‘how things really are’ – or at least ‘how they’re not’…