The four types of activities

There are things I do (or try to do) every day. And I can sort these (and nearly everything else) into four groups:

  1. Things I need to do (due to survival, health, etc.)
  2. Things I should do (interests, personal improvement, etc.)
  3. Things I want to do (but probably should avoid)
  4. Things I should not do (because it’s not good for me)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about which things belong in which category. Ever since I realized Warren Buffet was to blame for my lessened interest in pro wrestling, my mind has been sorting these things out.

So let’s break it down.


These are the things that are essential to live, survive, be healthy, etc. If I’m unable to do anything else, I need to do whatever it takes to do these things to the best of my ability. Though it’s not all obvious stuff.

These things include: Eating well, sleeping well, being active (not necessarily an intense workout), being grateful, engaging with positive people, reading, using my idea muscle, taking time to sit and breathe, laughing, etc.

Also, “going to work” fits here, as long as money is a factor.


These are the five things I’ve ultimately settled on after doing Buffett’s 5/25 list:

  • Writing
  • Learning
  • Practicing the ukulele
  • Playing some pinball
  • Watching some pro wrestling

Those last three may seem out of place. Well, first of all: I listed them in order of priority. If all else fails, I should make sure I write. I’ve written in the past about why writing is healthy for me. I’ll probably write it again. Learning is an interesting one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a class (though it can be). It could be reading a book about a topic that interests me. It could be thinking about a movie I watched and what it taught me about people. There are constantly new opportunities to learn, if you look for them.

The other three (ukulele, pinball, wrestling) are of personal interest. They may not stay on this list forever. I may find something else worth pursuing or my interests my falter in any of them. Maybe I reignite my desire to become skilled in Esperanto, and that boots off pinball. Maybe I start a podcast, and it kicks off wrestling. Or maybe it’s a podcast about wrestling and it merges. I don’t know. But as long as an activity meets any of the following conditions, I’ll consider it:

  • Does it teach me something useful?
  • Do I find genuine joy in it?
  • Does it help me financially?


This is the scary one. These are the hobbies I think I love, but really just take time away from the things I truly love. Time wasters, essentially.

This feature: Watching TV, most video games, unnecessary eating (which also fits in the next category), Twitch live streaming, language learning, good cooking (I’m easy to please, food-wise, why waste time?), golf (hitting balls as an occasional way to work out or social activity is fine), etc.

Most of the stuff in this list is a “I know it when I see it” sort of thing. The tricky part is being self-aware enough to see it when it comes up. Maybe I’ll do some of these things once in a while to accomplish something on the upper two groups, but hopefully not too often.


This list is easy. It’s not stuff I should mostly avoid, like the last list. It’s the blatantly unhealthy crap. I should not: Eat when not hungry, stay up late, swear a lot, be negative, argue with people, lose myself in social media, complain, be rude, etc. There’s a bit of a theme to a lot of these, but the gist is simple: Live a happy life.

I’m going to screw up in all of these from time to time. I haven’t been writing as detailed stuff as I’ve wanted to, as of late. (I have been writing, though). I just finished a book, and I haven’t started reading another yet. I ate too much for lunch today.

But no matter how many times I screw up, I trust I’ll figure it out in the end. The other option is to keep living life without fulfillment. And I can’t afford that.

How Warren Buffett killed my love of pro wrestling

There’s a popular story about Warren Buffett. Well, there are a lot of those, but there’s one in particular that stands out to me. I don’t know where it started, but you can read about it in detail here. But I’ll summarize it.

The story involves Buffett chatting to his private pilot. He starts talking to his pilot about goals and careers and gives him an activity to do:

1) Buffett asked the pilot to write down his top 25 career goals.

2) The pilot was then asked to circle his top 5 on that list.

3) Buffett then asked the pilot to put the circled items in their own list. Continue reading

Six things I learned from Impractical Jokers

About a month ago, I was in Minnesota, visiting family. And as we always do together, we watched television–which isn’t something I do much of these days (at least not “actual” TV).

One of the shows I’d only heard of, but had never seen before, was Impractical Jokers. And while it took me a few episodes to form an appreciation, I’ve learned to love it for many reasons. Continue reading

About me

I grew up in a small town in Minnesota, whose population was under 500.

At age 18, I went to college. A small state university in a town with a population of about 15,000.

At age 20, I decided to major in political science, with the goal of going to law school and becoming an attorney. Continue reading

The benefits of anger

I don’t think I have an anger problem. Maybe I do. I’m not sure. I like to think I get angry about as much as anyone else. Although I’d prefer to think I never get angry, but that would be a total lie and would 100% indicate an anger problem.

Today was not a great day. Starting from a bird pooping on my hat before work, to a long day at work, to butting heads with someone, to apologizing because I felt like an ass about it, to finally getting off work after an 11 hour shift. Continue reading

The trouble with Twitters

I’m killing off almost all my social media.

I deleted my Facebook account a couple months ago. Never regretted it. Facebook is the ultimate “time-wastey” social media. It’s mostly full of people being overly angry at the news, a bunch of really dumb videos that auto-play, the worst ads of any social network, and really dumb notifications. Continue reading

Writer’s block

I had an idea for something to write, but I decided it was too much work, and I didn’t want to put that much effort into something not fun.

I think that’s a good way to approach life overall: Don’t waste time with things that don’t improve you or make you feel good. And if you need to do something you don’t want to do, find a way to make it as enjoyable as possible. Continue reading

Lessons from a bad interviewee

I’ve had a lot of job interviews over the past five or six years. And I mean a lot. If you include phone interviews, I’m sure I’m well over 100. But I’ve had a ton of in-person interviews, as well.

And while I feel very good about landing the phone interview, and pretty good about nailing it, it feels like my record at in-person meetups is lacking. Mostly because only three interviews have ever turned into an offer. Continue reading

Give a hoot, write a book

One urge I get when I start writing regularly is the urge to write another book. I’ve written (and self-published) three. One was an unfinished novel I published in its raw state a 2-3 years ago. The others were short ebooks I haven’t thought about in a few years. Maybe I’ll start a mailing list at some point and give them away.

I liked writing those books. Not so much the unfinished novel–when I write fiction, I tend to get bored after a week or two and never finish the story–but the others were experiences I loved, even if I never want to go back and read them. Continue reading

The Benefits of Writing

Every blog I’ve ever started (or rebooted, like this one) has included a post like this. It’s the most important topic I can write about. More important than how work makes me feel. More important than how college was a waste of my money and I want to return my degree. And more important than developing a sense of loyalty to myself.

The most important topic I can write about is writing. Continue reading