There’s no reason to be snooty about beer – sure, you should drink good quality beer if you like it. But a Bud Lite, for example, is just fine. Thinking poorly of a person because they’re drinking crap-beer is a waste of your time. The opposite is equally true: there’s nothing special about beer because it’s crap-beer, and you shouldn’t drink it because of brand, “life-style,” or anything else other than your enjoyment of the beer itself. Drink it because, first, you like it, and second, you can afford it.
The higher principle is: drink what you dig, and allow others to do the same.
Here are a few things you should spend good money on – a big fridge, a kitchen sink and faucet, a few good outfits (all of them if you can afford it), good looking footwear that you wear all the time, a good bathrobe (it gets cold), anything related to coffee, computers, gifts for your wife, booze, ear phones, BBQ, cords you use to plug charge things (buy lots of them), cheese, pens (just nice plastic ones, not $50 pens or anything) a dining room table (you’ll spend a lot of time using it when you’re not eating), fast Internet.
Dress nice when confronting fear – when confronting something you fear or that causes stress, dress nicely. But dress in something that makes you feel secure more than anything else: if dressing nice weakens you, don’t do that. Typically, dressing nicely removes any distractions about your appearance, if you fit in, and sometimes the worry of choosing what to wear. Men are lucky: a suit always works.
Agree to be done right now – if someone says, “I could be done right now, or I could…” always agree to be done. You’ll save a lot of time and stress in your life. Cutting corners helps make your life well rounded.
Avoid psycho-analyzing in groups – It’s never a good idea to ask someone if they’re in a “bad mood” in a large group, or why they’re embarrassed. If they’re either of those things, asking them when you’re in a group will make them even more so. If they’re not either of those, it will make the others think they are, and then put the person in question into one of those moods, potentially.
Watch out for free stuff – often, you don’t need free stuff. The airport parking lot I go to gives you a free paper in the morning. I don’t ever read it, but often take it unthinking. Then I have a paper in my car forever. The same generally goes for conference shirts and bags, which end up just piling up in my house and creating work for me: taking them to Goodwill.
Use what you have – Use what you have to get what you can done, not what you wish you had to get what you wish you could get done. Put another way, Buddha had it wrong: unfulfilled desire is the root of all suffering.
Release early, release often – getting starred and getting it out there is more important than structure, tools, etc. Stop worrying about perfection or the perfect publishing mechanism and just publish. E.g.: I worry about putting a PDF in Slideshare because I can’t track metrics as close as in or weblogs – but we don’t actually track PDF metrics ourselves at the moment. I should just post it there and benefit from what Slideshare has. Another example: don’t worry about Scribd vs Slideshare: use the one that you’re currently using and just get it done. Writing is the hard part, not publishing. And, you can always edit and re-publishing. In fact, you should.
This doesn’t really apply to just writing, most things you’re “creating.” Writing is just the easiest thing to re-work. A house, for example, is a bit more difficult.
Make lists of what to do when you’re stressed – while it’s nice to know what to do, a list allows you to know when you’re done. It will also make it easier to give up (and stop being stressed) when you’ve done “enough.” And it will allow you to pause and pick up the remaining items later. The list should be detailed. Instead of “clean the living room,” list dusting, vacuuming, removing piles of clothes, etc.
You can always get up earlier than you think – Just get out of bed. In most cases, people with power and money will value doing things earlier in the day. On the other end, not much interesting happens late at night as you get older. As Governor of Texas, Ann Richards once said, leaving an evening meeting, “nothing much important happens after 9pm.”
Often when people when complain, they don’t want you to fix their problems – complaining is often cathartic – solutions to the problem are often easy, not impossible. While people who complain will often want help fixing the problem, in many instances they’re not looking for your help applying those fixes. They just want to air themselves out, and have you agree. They want to know they’re not alone in being frustrated and, indeed, if you don’t acknowledge their complaining, they sometimes feel like you’re thinking less of them, belittling them. Know when the recognize when people are just complaining as a social exercise instead of to get things done.
Also, once you offer to fix a problem, you’re drawn into spending time and energy to help fix it. Worse case scenario: you get blamed when it doesn’t work.
Before complaining, try fixing the problem – things go wrong all the time, and the easiest thing to do (other than ignoring them) is to complain. Perhaps the point of complaining is to build sympathy and support for getting to a fix, but I find most people complain about something that could easily be fixed. Have a head-ache? Take some aspirin. Nothing good to eat? Go to the grocery store. Tired? Take a nap. Before you complain to those around you, ask yourself if you can just fix the problem. People will appreciate being around someone who isn’t always pointing out problems and instead seems to have “things always go their way.”
Also, most people don’t care about your problems, they have their own that they’re trying to fix.
Smile a lot, laugh too – much of our lives are filled with boredom and, worse, frustrated people who are generally grumpy for no reason (the person in front of them at the grocery store decided to pay with a check at, perhaps). People will appreciate if you smile at them, and if you laugh from time to time. They’ll often smile back, making you feel better and, if you’re lucky, they’ll do extra things for you because you smiled. Dogs wag their tales and tongues when they’re looking to tell people that they’re happy. What us humans have is smiling and laughing. Which one would you rather be around (dog and human)?
When saying “no,” ask yourself “what else do I have going on that’s so important?” – often, we’re tired and just want to go home and stare at something (a book, TV, a drink, our spouse, food, etc.). Or, maybe we don’t want to try out something new. There’s plenty of reasons to say no to new things, or just different things, but you should try to ask yourself what else you have going on that’s worth taking a pass for. What’s so great about just going home instead of to that work happy hour?
Let your friend be unreliable, and remember if they are – we often think that we should be able to rely on our friends. They’re not co-workers, they’re people we enjoy spending time with. Many friends will actually be “reliable” (they’ll show up when they say they will, with a truck to help you move if you’re luck), but many will also be unreliable. The unreliable ones will “flake” on you, whether by simply forgetting or by coming up with perfectly valid, but very convenient excuses. Don’t let these flakes turn you off if the friendship is otherwise good. But, don’t let yourself rely on them just because they’re friends. Know that they’re flakes, and keep chummy with them nonetheless.
Avoiding bike shed topics – Talking is fun, and talking in a group is fun as well. Often, when you’re in the thick of trying to get something done, everyone in a group thinks they should give input into a trivial decision (what color the bike shed should be painted, for example). There are often better ways for you to spend your time, and the group’s if “it” could decide as such. When you see people getting involved in bike shed topics (you don’t really care what the decision is as long as one is made and, really, it could be any decision), just drop out and do something more important. Even trying to stop people can be a waste of time: you can probably do something more important.
Of course, if it’s fun and you’re in need of fun, go for it.
(See Parkinson’s Law of Triviality from which this is derived.)
Keep the little rules – There’s no end of little rules you have to keep: fashion, law, properly filling out forms, putting the toilet seat down. Though it may seem tedious and, at times, like you’re giving in to flawed reasoning, you should follow most of these little rules. It’ll save time (the world is optimized around these little rules, and rebellion of any sort of time consuming) and then when you want to break the big rules, they’ll at least have to say you have a good track record.
Always walk around like you know where you’re going – First you’ll get there faster because you’ll be moving faster. Second, people will stop you less because, obviously, you don’t need their help an should be going there. Third, if you don’t actually know where you’re going, just picking some direction and speeding off towards it will get you somewhere.
The Girlfriend Jacket – guys, how many times has this happened to you on a cold night? You’re leaving the house, you ask your special lady friend if she’d like her jacket as you’re putting yours – she says “no.” A few hours later, you two are walking along, she’s warm and cozy, wearing your jacket, and you’re cold. Jason Cohen pointed this principal out to me a long time ago: just bring her jacket for her. The general idea applies applies to many things, like strollers (“we don’t need it, I’ll just hold him!” she says).
(The gender here doesn’t matter: it could be the boyfriend jacket, or the scary uncle jacket – whatever you like.)