More blog posts in 2022

Some thoughts about how to write a little bit more / easier, and which things are in my way achieving this.

These are some very good posts about how and what about one could write:

“Blogging principles I use”

  • be honest about what I know
  • try to not write anything (too) wrong
  • be positive
  • write for a past version of myself
  • stick to my own experience
  • talk about what I’ve learned recently
  • remember it’s OK if not everyone likes it

“Blog about what you’ve struggled with”

  • it’s not about the struggle, it’s about what you learned
  • what you struggled with shows you what to focus on
  • it can take years to figure out what you learned
  • write it down while you still remember what was hard
  • advanced mode: write about other people’s struggles
  • sometimes you just haven’t learned enough about a topic yet (and that’s ok)
  • it’s a bit weird to be vulnerable on the internet
  • you can practice identifying what you learned
  • talk to a friend or coworker to figure out what you’ve learned
  • why I like writing about what I learned in public
  • I really should try to follow these basic points.

Perceived problems, and potential solutions

Now to my perceived problems, and potential solutions:

image insertions

  • getting pictures from my phone and into a post feels cumbersome.
  • Already using the Airdrop app, and I believe there is no easier way without Bluetooth or using a cable.

writing itself

  • composing thoughts and bringing them coherently “to paper” is harder then it sounds.
  • Nothing can be done about this than writing more.

multiple projects or thoughts

  • I used to hold the idea that I should work on a single thing, finish it, and then move to the next. This is obviously a bad way to go about it…
  • Keep notes when working on something or thoughts arise, and publish a refined version when ready.

weekly posts

  • are a fun idea, but put a lot pressure on you, especially when there is no real value to it — except to force you to write more. Writing more is good, but it should not necessarily be coupled with the publishing itself.
  • Better put some time per week aside to write; and publish when ready.

Habits: The Power of Habit / Digital Minimalism


Recently I have read 2 good books back to back: “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg and “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport. The similarities were a bit unexpected for me — which are pretty obvious in retrospect. Nonetheless it made me want to write a bit about the topics at hand.

The Power of Habit is about habit formation in general, and Digital Minimalism is about bad digital habits.

Here are some standout quotes and some thoughts about it.

What are habits

Essential Meaning of habit

1: a usual way of behaving: something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way [1]

Because Digital Minimalism is a bout bad habits, it’s definition is akin to addictions:

addiction is a condition in which a person engages in use of a substance or in a behaviour for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behaviour despite detrimental consequences.[DM]

while Power of Habits core approach is about the habit loop

cue -> routine -> reward

this is how new habits are created: by putting together a cue, a routine, and a reward, and the cultivating a craving that drives the loop. [PH]

What drives habits

only when your brain starts expecting the reward — craving the endorphins or sense of accomplishment. [PH]


how tech companies encourage behavioural addiction: intermittent positive reinforcement and the drive for social approval. [DM]


rewards delivered unpredictably are far more enticing than those delivered with a known pattern. Something about unpredictability releases more dopamine — a key neurotransmitter for regulating our sense of craving. [DM]

In essence the reward is not the driving force, but the expectation of a reward. This force is even stronger when the reward is unpredictable.

Modifying habits

based on the cue -> routine -> reward loop, there are three obvious points in modifying habits — and also in establishing new ones.

Power of Habit establishes a protocol for approaching this

1: identify the routine

reducing the easy distraction without also filling the void can make life unpleasantly stale — an outcome likely to undermine any transition to minimalism. [DM]


you must aggressively explore higher-quality activities to fill in the time left vacant by the optional technologies you’re avoiding. [DM]

Removing a routine itself should be accompanied with replacing it with something better.

2: experiment with rewards

3: isolate the cue

asking patients to describe what triggers their habitual behaviour is called awareness training, and is the first step in habit reversal. [PH]

4: have a plan

patients who didn’t write out any plans were at a significant disadvantage, because they never thought ahead about how to deal with painful inflection points. they never deliberately designed willpower habits. [PH]


this is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behaviour ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives. [PH]

A plan in this context means not only what you should do if everything works out perfectly and there are no obstacles.

A plan in this context really means to think about everything you always do wrong in situations, and how you will tackle the situation correctly. With yourself in mind. Make backup plan you can really execute.

Be deliberate, and believe in change

Change is hard.

the sugar high of convenience is fleeting and the sting of missing out dulls rapidly, but the meaningful glow that comes from taking charge of what claims your time and attention is something that persists. [DM]


approaching decisions with intention can be more important than the impact of the actual decisions themselves. [DM]

The decision what to do is far more important than the actual result of the decision. Things do not always work out, even when the decision and way was objectively correct, and vice versa.

we do know that for habits to permanently change, people must believe that change is feasible. [PH]


however, to modify a habit, you must decide to change it. you must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. you must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it. [PH]


and once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom — and the responsibility — to remake them. [PH]


– [PH] Power of Habit
– [DM] Digital Minimalism
– [1]

Some diet tips

Diets are always hard if you don’t know how to do them 😉
Everything here is for “normal” weight loss, down to 15% or so, where the abs are beginning to show.

Here are some tips that have helped me:

  • Calories in / calories out are the single biggest weight loss driver
    This means, that calories consumed mused be reduced, and daily activity should remain, or slightly increase
  • Protein is more filling than carbs and fat
    and it helps keep the muscles, when you keep training
  • Volume and regularity of meals helps with hunger
    instead of just removing things to eat, or removing whole meals altogether, try to keep the volume similar by replacing foods.
  • Water fills also
  • Hunger before meals is ok, and normal.
    But you should not be always be hungy. Fruits and vegetables are great snacks.
  • Sleep more.
  • Still try to enjoy foods. Skipping breakfast at the weekend to enjoy some icecream instead? Yes please.
    Small treats and gifts for yourself are important to keep going, and make the journey not to bland.
  • Eating out: minimize
  • Eating out with friends / parties: It is ok to occasionally indulge a little bit, when the situation arises
    Just be mindful about the foods and portions
    You don’t need to eat a whole cake

That’s most of it, I believe. Nothing special, and posted everywhere else.
There is no magic trick to do it.

6 weeks down I now am at 3kg less weight 😀

Github issues as my todo list

Introduction / motivation

Some friends and me have a regular weekly meeting. Besides friendly chatter, the reason for this particular meeting is to discuss what everyone has done respectively failed to do. We listen, give feedback where necessary, and the task to actually talk about your tasks is a great productivity boost. At the end of each session the planned tasks for next week will be presented. Additionally everybody has to sent an eMail presenting a small summary of tasks (not) done / tasks todo.

Until now I didn’t really track these tasks, besides some notes in the eMails themselves and some paper scraps. But this changes this year with Github issues.

Github issues

There are quite a lot todo list apps out there. Personally I did try Wunderlist and Todoist in the past. Why would I choose Github (GH for short) Issues over these more “traditional” tools?

Besides a personal preference about the way GH is used, there are two big reasons:

  • templates
  • API


Github lets you save templates from which you can choose for different issues. Not only can you set the issue text, but also the labels, assignments, and milestones / projects they belong to. For example a template for normal todos with sections for SMART goals, and a template for buying things with a budget section.


Automation is sometimes pretty handy and even useful. GH offers a very comprehensive GraphQL Api, which can be used to handle issues.

Further down I describe two cases where the API is used to great satisfaction.

more reasons

The following reasons contribute also:

  • As a software developer I am already comfortable with GH and its UI / possibilities.
  • Githubs UI is in my opinion better for usage on the desktop. (Regarding smartphone useability I have no idea — I generally use my smartphone only for podcasts and chatting.)
  • Progress can be easily tracked with comments and appended files (like pictures).


There are some Saas platforms like zapier or IFTTT that have integrated GitHubs API. And there are tools you can use respectively self-host that have integrated or at least can be used with the API. Tools like huginn, n8n or Node-RED.

The following two tasks have been automated (for now with Zapier ¯\_(ツ)_/¯):

Book summary issue

After finishing a book, a reminder to summarize the book is created. Not all books need a summary, or have some lasting value, but some do. The reminder is an issue with the book title, read from a Goodreads RSS feed containing my read books.

Weekly check-in

One of the things that can’t be represented in issues are daily or otherwise very often repeated tasks. These I track offline. But a weekly check-in issue to track the overall accomplishment of dailies is a good compromise in my eyes. Just let the automation service create a checklist issue with the current week as title.

Open tasks / questions

Like already mentioned, there are things that cannot really be represented in the GH issue flow. For example things like dailies or otherwise often repeated tasks and deadlines / schedules.

For now I just use the weekly check-in as reminder respectively a calendar.

Thanks for reading!

Motivation (and Purpose)

Motivation gets generally a bad rep. I thought so too. But after a short discussion with a friend about discipline, something caught my attention: For somebody having a low opinion about motivation, I sure have lots of motivational quotes, poster, pictures and music in my everyday life.


Let us clarify the terminology first:

Definition of motivation

  • 1a : the act or process of motivating
    b : the condition of being motivated
  • 2 : a motivating force, stimulus, or influence : INCENTIVE, DRIVE


Definition of purpose

  • 1a : something set up as an object or end to be attained : INTENTION
  • 2 : a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution


From my understanding of these definitions, motivation and purpose seem like they need each other. Or at least work well together.

Let me think

The bad reputation stems from the common misapplication of motivation. Everybody knows the meme about full gyms after silvester. Without the desire to fulfill the long-term goal (aka purpose) of being fit, looking good, getting healthy, … there will be nothing that keeps these folks returning to the gym.

If there is no purpose, motivation can be detrimental.

On the other side, what is purpose without motivation? The purpose is motivation enough! Haha, we are not kidding ourselves here. Without small wins, without some form of positive reinforcement or encouragement, the greatest purpose loses its appeal.

If there is no motivation, purpose can be not enough.

Have a purpose. Know why you are doing something.

Enjoy the way. Celebrate some goals, struggle after failures, and if a fist-bumping song helps rising the spirits, then turn the volume up.

Motivation and purpose are on a spectrum. They are neither good nor bad themselves, but what you make of them.

Thanks for reading!