Happy 2023. Here are 37 tips from 2022
✢ random tables
✢ rules of thumb
✢ new year
I like reading other peoples’ lists of advice or rules of thumb. Life’s too short to learn only from your own mistakes. Sometimes I find the tips useful, but what I’m really interested in is how much you can learn about the person giving the advice based off what they think is worth mentioning. Good advice is obvious; idiosyncratic recommendations are better because you learn more about the person writing them.
For the first post of 2023, here’s my list. Mostly but not entirely things I’ve learned in the last year or so. Some of the ideas are mine, some come from other people. Your mileage may vary. 37 because I like prime numbers.
- Less, but better. This applies to everything: clothes, kitchen tools, furniture. Everything.
- Move slowly and fix things.
- Don’t queue up to eat something famous.
- Industrial equipment is usually better and probably cheaper than the consumer product equivalent — e.g. ergonomic office chairs vs ‘gaming’ chairs, or most kitchen equipment (with the exception, as it happens, of chefs’ knives).
- Take friends’ recommendations seriously. Turns out a lot of things really are as good as people say. (I watched Breaking Bad for the first time this year.)
- The best science fiction and fantasy tends to come from people who read books that aren’t sci-fi/fantasy.
- Read fifteen-year-old art magazines. The lifecycle of any trend is thirty years, so this way you get to see fashions at their least popular.
- Do not attempt to describe a dream, the plot of a movie, or a funny video to anyone who hasn’t seen it.
- Send thank-you notes.
- Dinner parties are a hassle and sometimes more expensive than just taking your friends out to a restaurant. Just do that instead. Food’s probably better there too.
- If you do host a dinner party it’s acceptable to prepare just one dish and get dessert or salads or whatever from the deli. You’re allowed to imply that you made these yourself as strongly as possible so long as you do not lie outright.
- E-bikes are pretty good.
- Lawns are pretty bad.
- A good e-mail is less than six lines long.
- Keep a notebook. Write things down: things you’ve lent people, things they’ve lent you, books to read, rules of thumb. Doodle.
- Leave people wanting more of you, not less.
- Do not make people do homework for having fun. This applies to complicated themes for costume parties, making people learn about your RPG setting, &c.
- If the software you’re using lets you, turn off ‘read’ / ‘seen’ receipts as quickly as possible.
- You don’t need more than three fonts in one document. (You probably don’t need more than one.)
- Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
- If you’re not sure whether to invite someone to a party, err on the side of inviting them. Even if you don’t know each other that well they’ll be grateful for the invitation.
- Don’t make any grand judgements on your life after 9pm.
- In general it’s better to assume people mean what they say and they don’t mean anything they don’t say. You won’t always be right if you operate accordingly but you’ll be wrong less often than if you try and second-guess.
- If you make a song you like your alarm clock sound, you’ll start to hate that song. (I’m open to advice on how to make mornings easier.)
- Use an RSS reader rather than an algorithm. Simplest way to improve your time online. You’d be surprised how much you can do with RSS: newsletters and podcasts both play nicely.
- A nice keyboard really does make typing more fun. Get a clicky one if it won’t upset your flatmates.
- Sent does not mean received. Get it in writing and get confirmation when it reaches the other end. (The nefarious counterpart to this is don’t leave a paper trail when you do something bad.)
- Distinguish between ‘enjoy-but-do-not-want’ (going for a run) and ‘want-but-do-not-enjoy’ (Twitter for six hours). Try and do more of the former and less of the latter.
- Your local second-hand bookshop is probably happy to keep a list of books you’re after and e-mail you if they come in.
- Don’t tell people what you’re going to do before you do it. Either they’ll try talk you out of it or they’ll hold you to your first promise even if your plans change. Better to present them with a fait accompli; it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. (This is also why magicians never describe the trick they’re about to perform.)
- Never complain, never explain. Once you start making excuses for yourself in public you’ll never stop.
- Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.
- If you only care about things that matter, you’ll go insane.
- Become a regular someplace. The goal is for them to start making your drink as soon as you walk through the door.
- Start projects that will take a long time. Time will pass whatever you do.
- Keep a calendar and a diary.
- Keep your phone and laptop farther than an arm’s length away from where you wake up.
- Everything becomes easier with practice, so be careful what you practice. If you do something as a joke for longer than six months it becomes a genuine part of your personality. (This is why people veer towards self-parody as they get older.)