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Three Thing Thursday
Who doesn't love an unnecessarily alliterative title?
I’m trying something new. For the next several Thursdays, I will share three things that improved my thinking, creativity, or effectiveness.
My curiosity has a wide surface area, so I read about many things (design, philosophy, physics, literature, history, etc.) and collect nuggets to improve my work or outlook on modernity. These things excite me, and I want to share them. But I don’t want to ramble endlessly to my friends and family, so this newsletter is an outlet.
I have three goals for the Thursday edition of Turle’s Pace:
Be useful. Each edition has practical insights you can apply today.
Be consistent. Publish each Thursday. No weeks off.
Be brief. Make the whole newsletter digestible in 3 minutes.
The word priority is derived from the Latin prior—meaning first or superior. Based on this definition, I believe projects can have only one priority. This project’s priority is reader usefulness. I’m not here to make money—you won’t see affiliate links, ads, or sponsorships. Writing something that people read gives me immense satisfaction, so I want to keep you subscribed. Ergo, my priority is to make this newsletter useful.
Let’s get started! After all, it’s…
Color coordination for dummies
We’re all designers. Whether we create slide-decks, flyers, or menus, it’s helpful to learn design basics—like color.
When done right, color elevates content. When done wrong, it tarnishes credibility. A few tips to get color right:
Align to values. In Western cultures, blue = trust/safety, green = nature/cleanliness, red = life/energy.
Less is more. Limit yourself to one primary and a couple of secondary colors.
Use a palette. Although design can feel “squishy” and subjective, color coordination is scientific. Adobe Color is a free tool to generate a palette of 5 colors. Use these auto-generated colors and they’ll outperform guesswork.
The road to hell is sloppily paved in adverbs
Words are alchemy. They transfer abstract thought from your head to another head and can change the material world. Clear writing makes that alchemy more effective and you, the alchemist, more interesting.
To make your writing clear: Cut adverbs.
Adverbs describe verbs (i.e., quickly, loosely, happily), so beware words ending in -ly. They’re a crutch for poor verbs, so cut or replace them with a stronger verb.
Smile happily → smile
Run quickly → sprint
Hang loosely → dangle
Beware the bike shed
Engineers gather to discuss two designs: One for a nuclear reactor and one for a bike shed. The reactor discussion is smooth and short, as people nod in agreement. But the bike shed discussion lasts for hours as engineers sketch layouts, discuss paint colors, and think critically about building materials.
Bike-shedding (a.k.a. The Law of Triviality) is rampant in knowledge work because complex problems are difficult to criticize. Trivial problems are easy to grasp, so people are quick to share opinions.
Bike-shedding is a dangerous form of procrastination for teams and individuals. It’s easier to manage your inbox than write code, so you might waste time creating Outlook rules instead of designing an algorithm.
To avoid team bike-shedding: Keep meetings short (30-45 min) and focused on one topic. Nudge the group back if discussion trails off course.
To avoid personal bike-shedding: Block time for one, important task. Set a timer and do nothing but that task.
Auto-generate color palettes for more credible designs
Cut -ly adverbs from your writing
Avoid trivialities by focusing on one thing
Did this newsletter give you ideas? Have thoughts for future editions?