At the end of July I read an audio-book of James Altucher’s “Choose yourself: Be happy, make millions and live the dream.” It consisted largely of little things you can do for yourself to improve your quality of life, that everyone knows but the author argues are under-emphasized, such as eating well and getting enough sleep, and curating the information you consume. One piece that was original, that he argued for most vehemently, was the practice of coming up with ten ideas a day. Doing this, Altucher argues, will strengthen your creative muscles and turn you into an idea machine. Since reading that, I have been coming up with ten ideas a day almost every day (I miss a couple here and there, especially on the weekend). So far it has had some interesting benefits.
There is no rule regarding the topic or the ideas you come up with so long as there’s ten, so I started with “What are ten questions I would enjoy asking of myself (and would enjoy answering) over the course of the next ten days?” Some of the answers include:
– What are ten fictional tools that would make my day more efficient?
– What are ten books I would like to write?
– What are ten places I would like to visit in the next ten years?
– Who are ten people I would like to meet? (a good follow up would be ten ways I can arrange to meet each of them)
– What are ten ways of rewarding myself for doing good work that I could actually appreciate?
– What are ten changes I could make to my bedroom that would help encourage me to act like the person I want to be?
What I’ve found as a consequence of this is that my mind keeps looking for more problems to solve, since a problem is an opportunity to generate ideas as possible solutions. When I am confronted with a new problem (what can I do to improve my social skills?), i’ve started using this as a method of finding possible solutions (What are ten challenges I could complete that, if done, would significantly improve my social skills?). I find that each batch of ten contains some bad ideas and some great ideas. What’s more, some of the ideas are simpler or more obvious than one would think.
The strangest personal experience was answering the question “What are ten fictional tools that would make my day more efficient?” I started thinking of aspects of my day that are inefficient and was to alleviate them, and while I thought of some fictional tools, such as “A drug that completely eliminates the need for sleep” and “A tool that combines chat functions from all the apps I use, including facebook, without distracting me with facebook posts”, I also came up with some mundane tools, such as “a wider knife for spreading peanut butter onto sandwiches”, “An instant water boiler for making tea”, and “A pillow for my butt.” The last one is because the chair I occupy at work is terribly uncomfortable and was not meant to be sat in for any length of time. After working from 9am-630pm for five days my ass usually feels like it’s about to fall off, and one big joy of the weekend is letting my butt recover. For some stupid reason I suffered for a year and a half until a “ten ideas” challenge made me consider getting a $20 seat cushion off of amazon.com. I have a cushion now and while not great, it’s much better than before. At least I can say: thanks to James Altucher, my ass hurts less. One of the benefits of this exercise is it gets you to consider obvious solutions that will leave you wondering why you ignored them.
I’m gonna end this post with my ten ideas for today, which are ten possible blog post ideas for the future. Let me know what you think of them and, if you start coming up with ten ideas a day, let me know how it works for you!
What are ten blog posts I could write about with <= 1 hour of research for each?
– Continue my exploration into the bioinformatics of LSD manufacture
– Write about gene drives (since I did most of the reading a while back already)
– A discussion on a big piece of science news this week
– A tutorial on building simple web sites with flask.
– A tutorial on a simple web crawler
– A discussion on potential, kinetic and Activation energy in terms of keyboard layout economics
– On the importance of good passwords and a good password manager
– Take a look at the relative difficulty of growing yeast, E. Coli and Algal cultures.
– Examine the chemistry of rechargeable batteries, what separates rechargeable from non-rechargeable, how do they wear out and what separates longer-lasting batteries from ones that wear out quickly
– Examining collagen based regenerative topical treatments. They’ve been known about for roughly a decade, where are they now?