Week 46 Roundup: Monticello, Procrastination, and Commuting


Today during a visit to Monticello I gained an appreciation of Thomas Jefferson the geek:  TJ was an unrepentant polymath and reader who at one time held the largest collection of books in the young United States. He compulsively recorded his expenses, gardening activity, and the daily temperature and wind direction. He also wrote over 1,000 letters a year (which were copied then filed in chronological and alphabetical order). And he used a standing desk:

Thomas Jefferson's standing desk

After strolling the grounds, I went into the gift shop and found proof TJ was also a proto-blogger: he wrote a top-ten list of “canons for observation in practical life.” Here they are:

  1. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.
  2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
  3. Never spend your money before you have it.
  4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
  5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
  6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
  7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
  8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
  9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
  10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.

Now for the links:

  • Corbett Barr just posted a video on 3 tips for dealing with procrastination. #1 is my favorite: procrastinate anyway, but do something fun that has value and moves you toward your goal.
  • Seth Godin wrote something a couple days ago that resonated with me called Self Truth; he says that you’ll never become the best violinist in the world, but you can be an “idiosyncratic exception to the standard” [of best]. In other words, sitting around and improving your technique/skills is a form of hiding…or procrastination.
  • Here’s a pair of articles from David Mansaray on consumption and production as they apply to advanced learning (1, 2). In my experience, it’s way too easy and tempting to use “research time” as a way to avoid the pain of actually producing anything. Getting out of this habit is a matter of behavior change. Check out this post for more.
  • For people like the idea of Write or Die but would prefer something more cuddly (I kind of wish Write or Die’s  ‘electric shock’ option actually worked), check out http://writtenkitten.net/
  • Commuting sucks, I used to have a five-minute walking commute. Now I do 40 miles a day and the only thing keeping me sane is audiobooks. I enjoyed my car-free lifestyle while it lasted, but the commuter trains stopped running by my house about sixty years ago. Anyway, here’s a great infographic entitled The True Cost of Commuting. While you’re on the subject, check out this blog post on the same topic.
  • Here are 8 Counter-Intuitive Ways to Increase Your Well-Being & Creativity.
Have a great week!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • JALINE November 20, 2011, 8:23 am

    Some thoughts: This was a really good post, Seth. We would do well to live our lives by those ten principles. I guess Jefferson did his best.

    First time to the Little Mountain? What a wonderful place.

    I see what side of the a/an h word debate Jefferson was on.

  • Anonymous December 2, 2011, 8:32 pm

    I was at Monticello when I was an older kid, but I had forgotten most of what I had seen. Going back as an adult was totally worth the drive.