Posts filed under “Creativity & Productivity”

Hustle & Float Keynote

I’m happy to share one of the first keynotes for Hustle & Float. It’s a quick 20 minutes, and acts as a good introduction to our contemporary work culture, and the belief systems that created it. I spoke at Wired For Wonder in Australia, and was simply blown away by the response. I had so many people come up to me afterwards to say how much they felt the message resonated with them, which is so nice to hear when you’re working on an idea and you while you might think it’s interesting, there’s always a part of your brain that worries you’re the only one who will care about this.

So, thank you my friends down under for being so welcoming and enthusiastic about Hustle & Float!

Can we stop with the early bird propaganda?

This post, is a part of my thinking and research for my new book, HUSTLE & FLOAT that centers around the tensions between productivity and creativity. You can follow other related entries here

I’ve always hated mornings. Give me the darkest hours of night, and I’ll show you my most productive output. I’ve flirted with being an early riser before. Unfortunately, much like overly strict diets, the resulting misery was never worth it and the battle against my body’s natural rhythm was exhaustive and often counter-productive.

I’ve made peace with the fact that I am a creature of the night. I get up around 9am (sometimes later). I like to read, exercise, and am ready to start work right after lunch. I’ll work until dinner, eat, and then go back to my computer for another few hours. 9pm until 3 am is my most productive and magical time. I’ll average thousands of words written, I’ll power through research, and I’ll come up to solutions for client work.

I’m not advocating you adopt my methods, just outlining what works for me. I’ve never thought of my routine as worse or better than an early riser’s and so, I must admit, I’m a little annoyed at the constant preaching about how the most productive people are early risers. There is an interesting early-riser archetype that is being packaged in the media as the embodiment of discipline and success. It’s one of the fascinating cultural influences that I’m researching for my new book, Hustle & Float.

A few points:

  1. We’re all different. Scientists are discovering that early risers and night owls have different brain structures and that our preferences for early mornings or late nights is built into our genetic code. Forcing people who have a natural predisposition to stay up late to conform to early hours can have a negative impact on the actual physiology of their brain. So just because your best creativity happens at 5am, that might not be the case for your spouse, partners, and colleagues.
  2. There’s no one right answer. For every study that says early risers are more productive, there’s one that favors night owls. (Here is one about how people with higher IQs are usually more nocturnal. Not to be outdone, early risers are apparently happier. And so on.)
  3. It’s the same advantages and disadvantages. You know those early morning hours of uninterrupted time? I get the same thing at the other end of the day. While you’re getting ready for a 10pm bedtime, that’s when I’m powering up. And when you’re kicking your to-do list’s ass in the morning, I’m fast asleep. Let’s stop focusing on arbitrary metrics like hours and start looking at output instead.

So how about we stop trying to shame other people into changing a normal and natural preference? Instead, let’s encourage people to:

a) Become attuned to their own energy cycles and schedule their time accordingly. Track your energy and productivity levels during the day and pinpoint your most creative times. For me, it’s between 9pm and 3am. For you, it could be 6am or 3pm. Whatever it is, guard that period of time for your most important work.

b) Make sure you get enough sleep. This amount also varies by person, and could be anywhere from 6–9 hours. You can use a sleep tracking app to find that ideal time and try to avoid over-sleeping.

c) Let’s be compassionate to each other. Especially when scheduling meeting times. I promise I won’t hit you with a 7pm calendar request if you never schedule anything before 10:30am ever again.

Let’s stop trying to make everyone fit in some one-size fits all sleeping schedule. HOOT HOOT!

f you’ve found this post interesting you might also enjoy my monthly newsletter where I share research from my current projects, as well as talk about digital culture, creativity, productivity, and tech. Here’s one I wrote about Leo’s Oscar Meme frenzy. And one aboutAbe Lincoln’s use of the world Hustle. Happy reading!

Off to write HUSTLE & FLOAT! See you in SEPT!

This post, is a part of my thinking and research for my new book, HUSTLE & FLOAT that centres around the tensions between productivity and creativity. You can follow other related entries here

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For the next few weeks I’ll be in my writer’s cave working on Hustle and Float with my co-author Riwa. I’ll be splitting my time between the deserted cafes of Paris, where most people have left for their annual vacation, and Muskoka, Ontario, where Jesse and I have rented a lake-front cottage.  It’s the perfect venue to contemplate creativity, productivity, and the importance of being unplugged.

I’m pretty excited to start this phase of the project because by the end of the month, I’ll have a very, very, early draft of the whole book. I always print out the first copy of the draft, no matter how awful it is (and it’s usually pretty heinous) because it marks the transition of something from an idea to a physical reality.

Speed is the name of the game for first drafts and so I’ll be doing a month-long writing sprint: a dedicated period of intense focus where I’ll do nothing but hit my daily wordcount: about 2000-3500 words per day. If that sounds like a lot, consider that when I was working on Decoded, I was averaging about 4000-5000 words per day.

I learned this process, called Fast Draft, in a workshop run by Candace Haven a few years ago. I was averaging close to 8,000-10,000 words per day and it was the most intense writing I’ve ever done. Add to that a couple of years of NANOWRIMO   and suddenly 3,000 words per day feels like a vacation!

On that note – there won’t be any new content here on the blog until September when I’ll be sharing chapter excerpts, research notes and more. (The best stuff always goes out to subscribers first!)


 A note on process: it’s not magic. 

Reading Show Your Work by Austin Kleon has taught me the importance of peeling back the layers and sharing what goes on behind the scenes of my writing. So, I’ve included a few notes on my own process and some tips if you want to try Fast Drafting yourself.

TL:DR: Hitting high word count consistently isn’t magic – it requires preparation and practice. For me, I try to make sure that I have as much of the prep work done as possible in advance.


1. Outlines are your friends.

I’ve been working on the research outline for Hustle and Float for close to a year now, and I’m finally ready to start putting words on the page. If you have a solid outline this process becomes a joy because you’ve basically created a map for yourself to follow.

word countOutlines are the touchstones of my process. I cannot (and will not) do anything without an outline whether it’s a 700 word post or a 70,000 word manuscript. I like to plan everything out in advance before I write anything on a page. The outline is probably the most intensive part of the process because it forces you to chart your course and figure out how your ideas will unfold beforehand.

Not every writer uses outlines but I swear by them. I’ve had too many friends  in the middle of writing a massive chapter, only to realize they forgot crucial research, have over/under estimated their word count or discover their chapter is missing a logical flow. For me, an outline addresses all of these problems. It helps me to organize my thoughts, forces me to be thorough in my research and makes sure I don’t forget  important details. My outlines include detailed research summaries of articles I want to reference, notes and thoughts, even snippets of unfinished sentences that I want to include.

I developed my outline process as a survival mechanism against the crippling anxiety that writers often experience when starting a new project and faced with a blank page. This way, I have a guide to help me move from chapter to chapter, and I can immerse myself in the writing, knowing that I’ve done the work and checked the research beforehand.

 2. Realistic Expectations 

Image result for you can fix anything but a blank page

Nora Roberts

Fast drafting is a process that addresses the biggest hurdle a writer must overcome: their own doubts. The speed adds an intensity that gets your mind off whether or not you’re using too many adverbs, or if your vocabulary sucks and it forces you to just start writing.

From an expectation perspective, a fast draft will need several revisions, but that’s ok. The goal isn’t to craft perfect prose, but to get everything out on the page in it’s messiest, ugliest form so you can take a look at an early version of the work to spot any weaknesses. The Fast Draft of Decoded made us realize we needed to make some massive structural changes and we were able to do so before we’d invested too much time polishing and editing. And I firmly believe it resulted in a stronger book!


I’ll report back in a few weeks to let you know how it went! Wish me luck!



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New York: The Sketchbook Project

This post, is a part of my thinking and research for my new book, HUSTLE & FLOAT that centres around the tensions between productivity and creativity. You can follow other related entries here


From my Instagram @foushy

One of my best friends, Dan, organized an amazing surprise for me during my last trip to NYC: a visit to the Sketchbook Project in Brooklyn, a crowd-sourced library that features more than 33,000 artist sketchbooks from around the world. Free to the public, you can use the handy mobile site to search through the massive collection using keywords, locations or artist names.

If you’re a creative, this place is pure heaven. I’ve been obsessed with perusing people’s sketchbooks online for years, and we easily spent a few hours diving into the imaginations of strangers. It. Was. Awesome. If you’re headed to NYC in the near future – add this to your list of must-sees! If you’re too far away to enjoy, worry not! There’s  a digital version of the library too.


I was so inspired by the experience – there’s nothing like being surrounded by creative work. The space just had a vibrant energy that had be eager to get back home and work on my own stuff! It was incredibly useful for my Hustle & Float research and I’m already trying to figure out when I can go back to spend some more time there. I’m even toying with the idea of submitting my own sketchbook! 😉


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Free Download! ArchiTechs Volume 2

ArchiTech Volume 2

ArchiTech Volume 2


I’m delighted to share the second volume of ArchiTechs, an on-going series of long form essay that explores how individuals are leveraging new technologies to access a scale and scope of power that was traditionally reserved for large organizations and associations. The series explores how technology is impacting our daily lives. Volume 2, focuses on the evolution of online identity and outlines the phases of online development that got us to our current state.

We also discuss how countries like South Korea have tackled some of the challenges of allowing anonymity to exist online and some of the dangers that comes with too much transparency.




Download Red Thread | ArchiTechs Volume 02


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