Everything finds its right time. And despite the fact I’ve been writing online for more than 20 years, and have been running my own business for nearly nine, I’ve never been able to settle into the habit of writing about what I’m working on as I’m doing it. While I’ve known for years that Weeknotes, for example, are profoundly useful for both the reader and the writer, hooo boy have I found myself stuck in the paralyzing gap between neuroses, trigger-shyness, and pressing deadlines.
But now it feels right to start. If the gap between posts gets too large, feel free to give me a nudge. Hey, say hi anyway. Hi! I’m firstname.lastname@example.org
Slowing it Down with Pencils and Cameras.
According to the specialists, I have pretty enthusiastic ADHD.
“We place people with these disorders on a spectrum, Ben. Neurotypical people are here. People with difficulties in school here. People who are usually in prison are here. And you? You’re waaaay over here. Sooooo…Whatever you’re using to compensate, you should keep doing that. But also: drugs!”
It’s of a type that’s been, frankly, kinda useful for my life — though which caused what is an interesting debate — as it’s a subtype that invokes hyper-noticing and connection-making. For a journalist who became a futurist and strategic consultant, the ability to see things and make connections between them that other people have yet to is, well, very useful. People do (you can too!) employee me for this skill. But also as a journalist, and someone who has bashed his head against a desk in the writing of five books and millions of printed words, I have always struggled with the point of the process where I have to get the insight out of my own head and into my client’s. Since my proper diagnosis, I’ve been purposefully working with some practices that genuinely help. Alongside meditation, the one that seems to really help is a return to paper. Introduced to Christina Wodtke’s Pencil Me In by Dan Hon in his excellent newsletter I’ve been taking the time to work first on paper, with sketching, away from screens. It slows me down considerably, not least in the act of concentrating on making my letters legible — drawing them, not writing them — but that seems to work wonders for my attention.
When I added in the habit of printing out all my daily news briefing emails — shrunk down to 4 pages to a sheet — reading those over breakfast with no devices, and pushing the wake-up-to-screen-on time back even just another 30 minutes, my brain, and the rest of the day, is a much happier place.
That’s all very well for work in isolation, but a lot of my work is collaboration. Not a problem. At a morning at the theatre with my daughter to see the puppeteer Tom Lee’s “Tomte” I saw him use the Ipevo v4K Here it is on my desk:
Because it’s a camera, I can use it as a scanner and all that. But more excitingly, I can switch to it in video conferencing apps, and sketch my thoughts right in front of people. I’m finding it’s *really*really*good* to do this on video conference calls. Especially with software developers when you’re explaining just what you’d like them to build. I’m building something. I’ll tell you more next week.
I’m writing this at homebase in Brooklyn, but tomorrow I’m flying to London for work with Sainsbury’s, and the Friday I’m onto Bangkok where I am giving a keynote at the Digital Thailand Big Bang. My talk is called “Everything Silicon Valley Says About Innovation Is Wrong”.
I should pack. Thank you for your attention.