Spending my mornings learning

I fell into a trap a few years ago that I have been slowly digging myself out of, bit by bit. Being all consumed by my working life, I left little room for reading and learning. I don’t claim to have resolved this issue, but I do feel I made substantial progress this week with one tweak to my morning routine.

The root cause of the problem: I wasn’t prioritizing reading and learning in the morning. For years I tried to do this at night. But with the fast paced, high stress, and definitely mind consuming work that comes with being a part of two very successful startups (Dyn & Fastly) in the past seven years, I was simply fried at the end of my work day. My mind would endlessly drift any time I tried to read a book or focus on a learning project in the evening.

I had tried shifting my reading to the morning before, but I could never make that schedule stick either. Maybe it was because I don’t drink coffee. Maybe sometimes I take a little bit longer to get out of bed to make my way to the couch where my iPad normally sits…if I made out that far before I had to rush to get ready for work.

This past week I have tried something different: placing my iPad next to my bed and reaching for that device in the morning when I wake up, not my iPhone.

Something about this workflow change has made me priorities. When I wake up in the morning now, I prop up my pillows and reach for my iPad. I immediately open iBooks and start reading, even in my semi-awake state. With this, I have already finished two books this week I had been reading for over a month with little progress previously.

Because my mind is activating quicker from reading in bed during the morning, when I make my way to the kitchen to begin breakfast, my brain is begging to learn more. So I now turn on a podcast in the morning when I make/eat breakfast, usually one that focuses on teaching its listeners something. In my case, for the past week I have been catching up on the awesome Seeking Wisdom podcast. My notes file this past week has filled with little tidbits and thoughts from these morning podcast sessions.

In the end, this seems to be going well because of a simple workflow change: placing my reading device (an iPad) next to my bed, which somehow triggered my brain to want to read. Let’s see if this continues!

"Robbed of My Childhood" by Mary Jane Cutting

I am trying to track down a copy of a book my great-great grandmother wrote. The book, “Robbed of My Childhood,” was written by Mary Jane Cutting in 1968 (just two years before she passed away). Within it contains a largely autobiographical account of her childhood (with a few names and places changed) and how awful her step-father was to her family.

My parents somehow found a copy of the book being sold online a few years ago and were able to purchase it, but I really would like to own a copy for myself. Having a priceless first hand account of my great-great grandmother’s childhood preserved is extremely important to me.

There are several problems tracking down a copy of this book:

I am going to research who actually owns the copyright on this book by finding and examining the will of my great-great grandmother. If my great-grandmother was granted the rights to the book, that would mean children (my grandfather and his sister) would own the rights currently. Current copyright law is silly and says that the book remains copyrighted until 2063. I would love to release this book from copyright and put it into the public domain.

If there is anyone out there that currently owns a copy of this book and would like to sell it, please contact me. I will be very interested in owning a copy of this priceless (to me) book.