Anna Burgess Yang

Tinkering With Ideas #031: Reading, writing, and watching

Published 3 months ago • 3 min read

Hi friend 👋 -

Happy Wednesday. I’m typing out this edition of the newsletter in the Notes on my iPhone. I’ve been in Orlando for the past few days and managed to accidentally forget my laptop charger. So I’ve used my laptop only intermittently to reply to a few things and then it ran out of juice.

When I’m taking time off, I don’t do client work. But running my own business means things come up. An inquiry came through my website and I wanted to reply. I’ll also keep working on things like scheduling social media posts or writing on Medium or this newsletter. All of which has been hindered on this trip by my lack of a laptop.

I should have just enjoyed the break, but I don’t operate that way. I want to keep things moving. I have huge respect for people who are able to completely step away, but I always think of the work waiting for me when I return. So I expect it’ll be a frenetic few days once I’m home.

1) Reflection:

One of the hardest parts of not having my laptop was breaking my 5:00 a.m. writers' club ritual. I write every morning. Some mornings are more productive than others. But without a laptop, this was next to impossible (though my body still woke up at the regular time).

I went back to look at some of my early 5:00 a.m. writers' club musings. I found the cohort through a hashtag on Twitter (and many of those people have now migrated over to Threads). I was surprised to discover that I'd written something in February of 2020: pre-pandemic. I've been telling a story for years that my early morning writing habit was born out of necessity when my kids were home from school due to pandemic-induced remote learning. I could only get work done during those early morning hours. Apparently, that was a story I'd told myself — a revision of history.

2) Product:

My 2023 Goodreads list made me sad. I used to read a lot. Now, not so much. I used to listen to audiobooks as I drove my kiddos to and from daycare every day. Now, they’re in school and take the bus.

But I realized that I consume a lot of content. Maybe I shouldn’t feel ashamed of my Goodreads list. One of my favorite things to listen to is podcasts. I consume probably 4-5 podcast episodes per week, usually while I’m cooking dinner. I find 30- to 60-minute episodes perfect for my lifestyle.

So for 2024, I’m trying to keep track of my podcast episodes more the way I would keep track of books. To do this, I'm using an app called Readwise. Readwise will let you highlight text on any webpage and sync it to another app. I'm using Reflect, but this could also be Notion, Roam Research, or a bunch of other note-taking apps.

After I'm done listening, I’ll glance at the podcast’s transcript and highlight the important parts, like I would in a physical book or Kindle book. If nothing is noteworthy, I’ll still highlight the title and description from the show’s page so it syncs to Reflect. At the end of the year, I should have an idea of my podcast listens.

3) Tip:

Do you have a New Year's Resolution to "scroll less"?

I've tried to give myself some grace. Scrolling is what I do when my brain needs a break.

But I was listening to a podcast recently (words that come out of my mouth a lot!) about background noise, specifically from autoplay that's on YouTube. The person realized that he was creating "background noise" with an endless stream of YouTube videos.

I have autoplay turned off on YouTube, and also Netflix and other streaming platforms. I've found that it prevents the video version of mindless "scrolling." It also makes me aware when something has ended and I have to make a decision about continuing to the next video. Instructions for turning off autoplay on YouTube are here.

That's it for this issue of Tinkering! See you again in two weeks.


LinkedIn | Threads | Medium | Substack

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Anna Burgess Yang

Writer. Productivity geek. Always tinkering.

I share tips, tools, and resources to make your daily life a bit easier.

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