> Hello
> My name is Julian
> This is my lifelog
>
and digital playground  

Inventory Update (Q2/20)

This is a quarterly update and review of new tools and products I have recently added to my personal productivity stack.

Glyphfinder
I used to spend at least five minutes each day on Google just searching for specific unicode characters – especially when I was writing or designing. Until I found Glyphfinder. Glyphfinder is a Mac app that gives you instant access to more than 30,000 characters and emojis. The best part: Super fast and well-designed search that just works. (Whoever is building Alfred 2.0 – good unicode search has to be a key feature!)

Nototo
I stumbled upon this app in John Palmer’s article on Spatial Software and it’s one of the most unique products I’ve seen recently. The best way to describe Nototo is probably as a cross-over of Notion and Minecraft. Instead of writing down notes on a blank canvas like in any conventional note taking app, Nototo gives you a game-like map on which you place and group your thoughts. The idea is that visualizing your notes makes it easier to connect and remember them. As someone who loves working with post-it notes, I definitely subscribe to that idea.

Zelda and Chill
This playlist of Zelda soundtracks remixed with lo-fi hip hop beats is my new go-to productivity music.

Other apps I’ve played around with in the last couple of weeks but don’t have an opinion on yet: Pitch, Centered, Clay.
May 09, 2020  ×  Berlin, DE

Media Consumption (Apr 2020)

>_ Summary
  • Read 7 books (1325 min, -34% MoM) and 22 long-form articles (-31%)
  • Listened to 605 songs (+25%) and 8 podcast episodes (370 min, -49%)
  • Watched 0 movies (0 min, -100%), 0 soccer games (0 min, -100%) and 34 TV episodes (1875 min, +33%)
  • Played 2 video games (195 min, +457%)
>_ Books

Tools for Thought (Howard Rheingold)
░░░░░░░░░░░▓▓▓▓ Progress: 73-100%

Designing Games (Tynan Sylvester)
░░▓▓▓▓░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 11-42%

The Glass Hotel (Emily St. John Mandel)
░░░░░░░░░░░░▓▓▓ Progress: 78-100%

History Has Begun (Bruno Maçães)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 0-100%

Fatherland (Robert Harris)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 0-100%

Dominion (Tom Holland)
▓▓░░░░░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 0-12%

>_ Recommended Articles

Spatial Interfaces (John Palmer)

Spatial Software (John Palmer)

IT’S TIME TO BUILD (Marc Andreessen)

Nintendo’s Little-Known Product Philosophy (Adam Ghahramani)

>_ Recommended Podcasts

Creating Tools For Networked Thought (Venture Stories)

>_ Music

Top Artists: Mikel (97 plays), Sufjan Stevens (47), IAMX (42), Travi$ Scott (40), EOB (32)

May 01, 2020  ×  Berlin, DE

Media Consumption (Mar 2020)

>_ Summary
  • Read 6 books (2015 min, +540% MoM) and 32 long-form articles (+68%)
  • Listened to 483 songs (-26%) and 11 podcast episodes (732 min, +55%)
  • Watched 2 movies (+∞), 3 soccer games (290 min, -74%) and 28 TV episodes (1413 min, +9%)
  • Played 1 video game (35 min, -36%)
>_ Books

The Design of Everyday Things (Donald A. Norman)
░░░░░░░░░░░░░▓▓ Progress: 85-100%

Tools for Thought (Howard Rheingold)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓░░░░ Progress: 0-73%

Designing Games (Tynan Sylvester)
▓▓░░░░░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 0-11%

Disunited Nations (Peter Zeihan)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 0-100%

South of the Border, West of the Sun (Haruki Murakami)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 0-100%

The Glass Hotel (Emily St. John Mandel)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓░░░ Progress: 0-78%

>_ Recommended Articles

The Most Important Media Businesses of the (Past and) Future (Matthew Ball)

How Hip-Hop Helped Cash App Grow Faster (Trapital)

Cyberpunk: Then and now (The Dork Web)

>_ Recommended Podcasts

Ross Douthat on Decadence and Dynamism (Conversations with Tyler)

Building Prosumer Software with Rahul Vohra and Todd Goldberg (Venture Stories)

>_ Music

Top Artists: Tame Impala (58 plays), Endel (44), Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (26), Cage the Elephant (21), Destroyer (21)

Apr 01, 2020  ×  Berlin, DE

Music for Productivity

As part of my ongoing work on a personal operating manual, I’ve been thinking a lot about what Tyler Cowen would call the “Julian Production Function”. Namely, a list of all the habits, routines and things that make me more productive.

One element of my personal production function I find particularly interesting is the impact of music (or audio more general) on my productivity.

Based on almost 15 years of Last.fm data, I know that music consumption overall is a pretty good proxy to measure my productivity. The graph above shows the number of songs I listened to on a monthly basis (the gray bars) as well as the monthly average per year (the black line).

My music consumption peaked in years where I did lots of deep work such as studying, writing or coding (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017-2018). Years with less screen time correlate with a lower number of songs I listened to (2014-2016, 2019).

Of course not every type of music is necessarily great for productivity. When I dug a little deeper into the data I found another interesting trend: Over the last ~10 years, I have increasingly listened to ambient music and soundtracks. These two graphs essentially represent my efforts to optimize my music consumption for further productivity improvement.

The problem is that I haven’t found a good way to measure if (or which of) those attempts to improve my productivity have actually paid off. More music consumption tells me that I worked more – but it doesn’t tell me if I worked better or more efficiently.

It’s hard to quantify actual productivity or focus work: I’ve tried using productivity proxies such as RescueTime, number of emails sent and GitHub contributions – but all of those are pretty vague. Rating each day with a “perceived productivity”-score also hasn’t really produced any meaningful data.

Nevertheless, I will continue to experiment with different music to improve my focus. Here’s a list of music apps and playlists I’m currently using:

AMBIENT MUSIC
Brian Eno’s Music for Airports is great for productivity – I especially like this 6 hour time-stretched version. Someone put together a fantastic Spotify playlist of similar airport music. Max Richter’s Sleepis meant to be listened to at night” but I find it perfect for focus work. (I also tried listening to it at night to see if it would improve my sleep. It didn’t.) If you like Richter’s work, you might also enjoy Nils Frahm and Jóhann Jóhannsson.

SOUNDTRACKS
I can recommend pretty much everything by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (the new Watchmen OST is particularly great). The Black Mirror soundtracks have a similar dystopian feel – Jason Kottke compiled all of the songs in a playlist here. Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar and Dunkirk soundtracks are also great for productive work.

NATURE SOUNDS
You can find endless nature sound playlists on Spotify and YouTube. I prefer thunderstorm and rainforest sounds. Noisli is great to mix and match different sounds.

LO-FI ANIME BEATS / CHILLHOP
I’m subscribed to ChilledCow and Chillhop Music on YouTube, but to be honest this type of music has never really worked for me.

FOCUS MUSIC APPS
My go-to productivity app these days is a service called Endel which “creates personalized, sound-based, adaptive environments that help people focus and relax” based on a variety of inputs (including time of day, weather, heart rate and location). I have also heard good things about Brain.fm and focus@will.

Last but not least, Flow State is an excellent newsletter that sends you a daily focus music recommendation.

Do you have any other recommendations?
Please let me know on Twitter!

Mar 16, 2020  ×  Berlin, DE

Media Consumption (Feb 2020)

>_ Summary
  • Read 2 books (315 min, -73% MoM) and 19 long-form articles (-44%)
  • Listened to 656 songs (+34%) and 9 podcast episodes (472 min, +6%)
  • Watched 0 movies (-100%), 11 soccer games (1125 min, +389%) and 22 TV episodes (1298 min, +127%)
  • Played 4 video games (55 min, +∞%)
>_ Books

The Design of Everyday Things (Donald A. Norman)
░░░░░▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓░░ Progress: 31-85%

Ra (Sam Hughes)
░░░░▓▓░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 25-35%

>_ Recommended Articles

Spotify: The Ambient Media Company (Brett Bivens)

Reddit’s Profane, Greedy Traders Are Shaking Up the Stock Market (Bloomberg)

Yuval Noah Harari’s History of Everyone, Ever (The New Yorker)

>_ Recommended Podcasts

Sriram Krishnan on Building Consumer Social Platforms (Venture Stories)

World After Capital, with Albert Wenger (Invest Like the Best)

>_ TV Shows

Chernobyl (Season 1)
░░░▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 20-100%

Narcos: Mexico (Season 2)
▓▓▓▓▓▓░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 0-40%

Succession (Season 2)
░░░▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 20-100%

Watchmen (Season 1)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓░░░░░░░ Progress: 0-56%

>_ Music

Top Artists: Endel (110 plays), Zoot Woman (80), Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (68), Abel Korzeniowski (35), Tame Impala (25)

Mar 01, 2020  ×  Berlin, DE

Media Consumption (Jan 2020)

>_ Summary
  • Read 5 books (1160 min, -19% MoM) and 34 long-form articles (+36%)
  • Listened to 488 songs (-21%) and 8 podcast episodes (444 min, +26%)
  • Watched 3 movies (-40%), 2 soccer games (230 min, +5%) and 10 TV episodes (571 min, -43%)
  • Played 0 video games (0 min, -100%)
>_ Books

A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara)
░░░░░░░░░░▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 66-100%

The Design of Everyday Things (Donald A. Norman)
░▓▓▓▓░░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 3-31%

Designing Design (Kenya Hara)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 0-100%

Ra (Sam Hughes)
▓▓▓▓░░░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 0-25%

Hackers & Painters (Paul Graham)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 0-100%

>_ Recommended Articles

2019 Letter (Dan Wang)

Products I Wish Existed (2020 Edition) (Elad Gil)

Products I’d Pay For (2020 Edition) (Dominic Monn)

Underutilized Fixed Assets (Kevin Kwok)

Two Hands Are A Lot (Dominic Cummings)

Shopify: A Starcraft Inspired Business Strategy (Non-GAAP Thoughts)

>_ Recommended Podcasts

Matt Clifford on Investing Pre-Company (Invest Like The Best)

Reid Hoffman on Systems, Levers, and Quixotic Quests (Conversations with Tyler)

>_ Music

Top Artists: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (201), Woodkid (36), Auf Der Maur (35), 坂本龍一 (35), Abel Korzeniowski (33)

Feb 01, 2020  ×  Berlin, DE

Media Consumption (Dec 2019)

>_ Summary
  • Read 4 books (1435 min, +390% MoM) and 25 long-form articles (+79%)
  • Listened to 620 songs (+10%) and 6 podcast episodes (352 min, -38%)
  • Watched 5 movies (-38%), 2 soccer games (220 min, -46%) and 21 TV episodes (998 min, +372%)
  • Played 1 video game (60 min, +∞%)
>_ Books

The Great Successor. (Anna Fifield)
░▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 2-100%

A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓░░░░░ Progress: 0-66%

The Design of Everyday Things (Donald A. Norman)
▓░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 0-3%

Augmenting Human Intellect (Douglas C. Engelbart)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 0-100%

>_ Recommended Articles

What will you do to stay weird? (Tyler Cowen)

The power of naming (Leo Widrich)

2020 Startup Themes (Part 1) + (Part 2) (Daniel Gross)

Whimsical ideas for 2020 (Sriram Krishnan)

>_ Recommended Podcasts

Tony Fadell on Building the iPod, iPhone, Nest, and a Life of Curiosity (The Tim Ferriss Show)

>_ Music

Top Artists: Max Richter (140 plays), Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (59), Eminem (39), Frank Ocean (34), Abel Korzeniowski (31)

Jan 09, 2020  ×  Berlin, DE

Media Consumption (Nov 2019)

>_ Summary
  • Read 2 books (368 min, -56%) and 14 long-form articles (-60%)
  • Listened to 562 songs (+6%) and 9 podcast episodes (618 min, +99%)
  • Watched 8 movies (+167%), 4 soccer games (405 min, -51%) and 12 TV episodes (268 min, -70%)
  • Played 0 video games (0 min, -100%)
>_ Books

Softwar (Matthew Symonds)
░░░▓▓▓▓▓░░░░░░░ Progress: 20-55%

The Great Successor. (Anna Fifield)
▓░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 0-2%

>_ Recommended Articles

Digital Tools I Wish Existed (Jonathan Borichevskiy)

The Social Subsidy of Angel Investing (Alex Danco)

Reimagining Messaging (Daniel Gross)

Integration and Monopoly (Stratechery)

>_ Recommended Podcasts

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger – How to Build a Great Product (Invest Like The Best)

Ted Gioia on Music as Cultural Cloud Storage (Conversations with Tyler)

>_ Music

Top Artists: Abel Korzeniowski (55 plays), Travi$ Scott (37), Kanye West (32), Beck (30), The National (28)

Dec 14, 2019  ×  San Francisco, US

Media Consumption (Oct 2019)

>_ Summary
  • Read 3 books (827 min, +9%) and 35 long-form articles (+1650%)
  • Listened to 528 songs (+18%) and 6 podcast episodes (311 min, -35%)
  • Watched 3 movies (same), 9 soccer games (835 min, +178%) and 13 TV episodes (899 min, +203%)
  • Played 3 video games (210 min, -76%)
>_ Books

Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
░▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 7-100%

Fentanyl, Inc. (Ben Westhoff)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 0-100%

Softwar (Matthew Symonds)
▓▓▓░░░░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 0-20%

>_ Recommended Articles

Pmarca Guide to Personal Productivity (pmarchive)

The Audio Revolution (Alex Danco)

Secular Cycles (Slate Star Codex)

How Do You Like We Now (Matt Levine)

>_ Recommended Podcasts

Ben Westhoff on Synthetic Drugs, Dive Bars and the Evolution of Rap (Conversations with Tyler)

>_ Music

Top Artists: Travi$ Scott, Tool, The National, Kanye West, Hans Zimmer

Nov 01, 2019  ×  Berlin, DE

Media Consumption (Sep 2019)

>_ Summary
  • Read 4 books (760 min, -33%) and 2 long-form articles (-96%)
  • Listened to 447 songs (-17%) and 7 podcast episodes (476 min, -21%)
  • Watched 3 movies (+50%), 3 soccer games (300 min, -61%) and 5 TV episodes (297 min, -59%)
  • Played 3 video games (860 min, +1465%)
>_ Books

The Power Broker (Robert A. Caro)
░░░░░░░░░░░░░░▓ Progress: 93-100%

Super Pumped (Mike Isaac)
▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ Progress: 0-100%

Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
▓░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 0-7%

The Dream Machine (M. Mitchell Waldrop)
▓░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ Progress: 0-8%

>_ Recommended Articles

Almost Everything About Goodreads Is Broken (OneZero)

>_ Recommended Podcasts

Alain Bertaud on Cities, Markets, and People (Conversations with Tyler)

What Bryan Caplan Thinks About Basically Everything (Venture Stories)

>_ Video Games

Into the Breach, Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

>_ Music

Top Artists: Tool, Bon Iver, Yann Tiersen, Deichkind, Bob Moses

Oct 13, 2019  ×  Berlin, DE
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