#428 - More Wood, Fewer Arrows

8 minute read

This Column is an expansion on Column #427. I’ll save some fun topics for the Miscellany section below, if you’d prefer to skip to that.

The Theme

“Put more wood behind fewer arrows”, is advice I’ve seen originally attributed to Scott McNealy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems. It is my primary theme for 2023; but I could have chosen:

  • You can do anything, but not everything
  • If everything is a priority then nothing is

The all of which boil down to focus more on what’s most important to you and let everything else slide. What commitments (be they hobbies, objects to maintain, or events to attend) “spark joy” for you? Are you maximizing those, or putting them in conflict with other, less important things?

Several themes from all the books I’ve read and distilled down to my various lead to this realization:

👉 I was doing too much. See the Top 20 for proof.

If you only do a few things, it’s easier to do them well, maintain a high level of success, and not encounter unnecessary stress. If you only have a few things, it’s easier to keep them in good condition and running order. After a very basic threshold is met, each additional thing you do or own brings with it a diminishing return to your happiness and quality of life. Each new calendar event or physical obligation brings with it 100% of its overhead, but only some fraction of its intended value.1


Fewer Arrows

To make room in my life, some things are falling by the wayside.

  • I am taking a break from doing 30 Day Challenges. They weren’t receiving the focus they needed to be successful, which made them useless.
  • I will no longer be posting a Creation of the Week. I’ll transition into a more relaxed “Creations of the Whenever” approach. If I make something I like and want to share, it will pop up there.
  • I am going to stop using my own NPM module “wrapper-lib” in my projects, thereby not feeling obligated to maintain it2.
  • I don’t plan on writing any new Gillespedia articles for the foreseeable future.
  • My podcast is now defunct. No new episodes will be produced. Dunno if I will remain podcast-less. I did enjoyed that.
  • I’m going to pare down my tracking a bit in the Personal Data Warehouse.

A Caption on this Tree, just to see how that gets handled.

A Caption on this Tree, just to see how that gets handled.

More Wood

So why cull those things? To have more time to do these.

  • Taking care of my body & mind - getting proper rest & exercise
  • Being a good father & husband
  • Keeping up with my personal productivity system (personal task & project management)
  • Maintaining Streaks in the Streaks app, which is meant to help me do all of the above
  • Finishing the house projects that have all stalled out
  • Continuing to learn proper web development & other coding stuff

More or Less the Same

The Column, my Notes, and my work on making puzzles is just about right.


Avatar 2

Dang that was a good looking movie. Here are my other thoughts about it:

My Workout Routine

With my recently rejuvenated back, I’m back into lifting. There are hundreds or thousands of different workout routines. I’ve tried several, but keep going back to the same basic format. It looks like this:

A day with:

  • Squats → Bench Press → Pull Up

And a day with:

  • Deadlift → Bent over Rows → Overhead Press

The sets & reps scheme every day looks like:

  1. large number of sets of low reps
  2. medium number of sets of medium number of reps
  3. small number of sets of a large number of reps
  4. accessory lifts

And I rotate all exercises through all the sets & reps ranges on six successive days.

If that was confusing - it looks like this:

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6
4 min warm up 4 min warm up 4 min warm up 4 min warm up 4 min warm up 4 min warm up
Squat - 5x5 Deadlift - 5x5 Bench - 5x5 Row Variant - 5x5 Pull-up 5xAMRAP Overhead Press - 5x5
Bench - 4x7 Row Variant - 4x7 Assisted Pull-up - 4x7 Overhead Press - 4x7 Squat - 4x7 Deadlift - 4-7
Assisted Pull-up - 2x15 Overhead Press - 2x15 Squat - 2x15 Deadlift - 2x15 Bench - 2x15 Row Variant- 2x15
Curl variant Tricep exercise Shoulder exercise Curl variant Tricep exercise Shoulder exercise
Curl variant Tricep exercise Shoulder exercise Curl variant Tricep exercise Shoulder exercise

I rotate through those days. Try to work out 3x per week. Each workout takes about 45 minutes. And I like it. Am I strong? No not at all.


This is a cool website. As a dude that makes puzzles and knows web development stuff to some extent. This in-browser encryption/decryption tool is dope.

Check it out. I used the encryption key “password1” for this:

#####  Encrypted: decrypt with http://www.fourmilab.ch/javascrypt/
#####  End encrypted message

“Puzzle” Disambiguation

Any uncontrolled language’s3 grammar, syntax, and words all change constantly in response to the needs and creativity of its speakers. English, like the vast majority of languages, is subject to these little evolutions. And yet…

There isn’t a clean way to say “puzzles, but not like jigsaw puzzles necessarily - but escape-room style puzzles… but not specifically Escape Rooms. Any sort of puzzles where part of the puzzle is figuring out what the puzzle is… or that a puzzle even exists. Essentially tricky things in all forms”.

Why isn’t there a word for that? Why must I choose between being ambiguous or having to awkwardly say “puzzles, but not like jigsaw puzzles necessarily… I mean they are fine too but you know… other puzzles too.“

Solving problems and coming up with novel ideas seem like central skills to people who consume and create puzzles. Let’s think of a new word. Or agree as a population that the word “puzzles” in absence of a preceding “jigsaw” does not mean jigsaw puzzles.

Top 20: Commitments I Was Attempting to Maintain

20. Maintaining my finances

Paying bills, tracking spending, categorizing transactions

19. Exercising my Personal Productivity System

Keeping a project list, goals, inbox zero, and weekly reviews. See Column 385.

18. Maintaining Streaks in the Streaks app

Streaks is simply a habit tracker. It’s a good way to keep yourself honest when routines can’t happen.

17. Creating a Podcast

Doing the homework, scheduling, recording, often editing & posting.

16. Maintaining the list of Tools I’m actively using

I just updated that, by the way.

15. Posting a “Creation of the Week”

This is being demoted to ‘the Creation Catalog’, which will only be updated when I feel like highlighting something I’ve made anyway.

14. Writing Gillespedia articles from time to time

This is being demoted to the archive of this site. I may revive it at some point.

13. Holding 30 Day Challenges

These are good if you’re doing literally nothing else. Put all your energy into doing whatever random thing you want for 30 days. This is being shuttered for now.

12. My “Wrapper-Lib” coding project/NPM Module

I’m aware that nobody reading this knows what this is. It’s a coding library I made. I’m going to not do it anymore and use other libraries.

11. Creating the 10th iteration of “The Life Tracker”, dubbed “the PDW”

This is still happening.

10. Actively using the PDW to track a litany of things

I’m going to knock off a few of the things I don’t care to track any more.

9. Get in to Win - my puzzle making project

The prototype puzzle is done. The first “real” puzzle is a major goal of mine for 2023.

8. The Column itself

This thing! Nothing’s changing here.

7. Reading and keeping my body of

These are cool and I hope to do this for my whole life. I do not look forward to the day where I decide Notion isn’t stable enough for me to depend on.

6. Maintaining a home/actively updating it

I guess I’ll keep doing this.

5. All the stuff that goes into my job

I have a job, too.

4. Managing an autoimmune disease

Thankfully this isn’t much of an issue right now.

3. Maintaining my health, outside of #4

Tied with #1 and #2

2. Being a good husband

Tied with #1 and #3

1. Being a good dad

Tied with #2 and #3


Less, but better.  the central message of Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism

  1. Example: You buy a kitchen gadget that makes fried eggs and English muffins at the same time. Cool. But you also own a fancy waffle iron. Now you can only really enjoy using one or the other at a time, but you have to store both of them. You have to bother getting them out of the cabinet and keep them both in working order. If they have accessories or instruction books you have to manage those things too… and you wind up eating cereal more often anyways. 

  2.  I will also be a good citizen and delist it from NPM. Move it over to a public Gist GitHub so it’s still accessible. 

  3. “Uncontrolled Language” is as opposed to a “controlled language” - which is a weird Wikipedia Rabbit Hole I fell into a while back.