Ultimate Productivity Theorem and Corollary

The simplest and most useful rule for productivity1, where “something” can be an action of any kind:

1. Ask yourself what will happen if you ignore something. If nothing, or nothing important, or no one cares, then do so.

And the corollary:

1a. Ask yourself what will happen if you stop doing something. If nothing, or nothing important, or no one cares, then do so.

It’s astounding how many things fall into one of these categories.


  1. Note: I’m defining “productivity” here as “helping me get things done that make me happy(ish).” 

Reading Montaigne 1.04: How the soul discharges its passions…

In this essay Montaigne briefly ruminates on the folly of men who attempt to express their emotion on the physical world, providing many examples of people doing just that: Cyrus ordering his army to spend days “taking vengeance” on the river Gyndus for being difficult to cross, Caligula tearing down the house in which his mother had once been prisoner, and Caesar banging his head against a wall and crying out “Varus, give back my soldiers!”

Sometimes the examples are amusing, such as the man who suffers from gout finding relief in cursing “now the sausage, now the ox tongue and the ham,” or the philosopher Bion who asked, witnessing a king literally tearing his own hair out, “Does this man think that baldness relieves grief?”

But the essay is making a serious point, and one that is extremely relevant to my relationship with the physical things of the world in two different ways.

Read more Reading Montaigne 1.04: How the soul discharges its passions…

Reading Montaigne 1.03: Our feelings reach out beyond us

“…we have no grip on what is to come (indeed a good deal less than we have on what is past)…”

Perhaps because I know so little about any religion, my first thought reading Montaigne’s third essay, “Our feelings reach out beyond us,” is how much of his philosophy, informed by Stoicism, feels very similar to a Buddhist philosophy. In the first paragraph Montaigne notes the importance of, essentially, non-attachment:

Read more Reading Montaigne 1.03: Our feelings reach out beyond us

Newstalgia

Woke this morning with the portmanteau “newstalgia” in my head. I’m sure it’s been coined many times before, a word for the longing for something before it’s been gone long enough to justify the sadness…or before it’s gone at all (forestalgia?).

As Ben Folds puts it in “Bastard”:

They get nostalgic about the last ten years
before the last ten years have passed

And I’m aware that all of these formations are basically backward, since the “algia” part of the word comes from Greek algos, for pain. But word formation seldom bows to etymological logic. Nostalgia itself is, after all, a relatively recent portmanteau.

I’m guessing the roots of this, other than my own pathological case of critical nostalgia, is from the combination of stumbling across the idea of solostalgia within a few hours of re-reading and commonplacing Sherman Alexie’s poem “Terminal Nostalgia.”