Kevin Wammer

November 18, 2014

The Secrets of Sleep »

No one in developed nations sleeps this way today, at least not on purpose. We go to bed near a fixed time, sleep alone or with our partner, on soft cushions covered with sheets and blankets. We sleep on average about an hour and a half less a night than we did just a century ago. Some of our epidemic of insomnia or sleeplessness is probably just our refusal to pay attention to our biology. The natural sleep rhythms of teenagers would call for a late morning wake-up—but there they are, starting high school at 8 a.m.

I read this article after having had a 25-minutes nap.

I usually sleep from 1am till 9am before waking up, having coffee, breakfast, reading the paper and doing anything but working.

I found out that I am less productive in the mornings (I can’t get shit done) and my creativity and productivity reaches a peak when everybody else went to sleep. I have to admit though that I never tried if the same is true really early in the mornings when nobody woke up yet. I may try finding out during the coming weeks.

via Analog Senses

November 18, 2014

Reading and Writing

Years ago, still at high school, I looked forward to university because I was finally allowed to take notes using my MacBook. I hated writing by hand. I was forced to use a pen for no clear reason even though I could take notes using my Mac.

Prior to that, still in elementary school, I looked forward to high school because I was finally allowed to take notes using my pen. I hated writing using a fountain pen. I was forced to use it for no clear reason even though I could take notes using my pen.

And now? I am currently writing these words in my Baron Fig Confidant using a Lamy CP1 fountain pen and Iroshizuku Shin-Kai ink. And I honestly enjoy the heck out of it. (Reviews soon?)

I realized that my “hatred” came from the fact that I was forced to do something in a particular way. I never had the chance to enjoy it because I was constantly told to do it that way. I never had the chance to experiment and find out what stuck and what I liked.

It was not only writing though. Back then I even hated reading books. I just couldn’t enjoy it. I was – again – forced to read. Mainly books somebody chose because they were seen as classic literature. So what? Still in my teens, I couldn’t care less about what somebody wrote hundreds of years ago.

Nowadays I love reading. There is at least one book or magazine lying next to my bed and I am constantly roaming through the bookstores to find something new. Same goes for ink, fountain pens and notebooks. Even though I think I already found my perfect tools, I stop at every fountain pen or new notebook I see.

As it seems I never really had the chance to learn enjoying these things. I was constantly forced to do something in one particular way and only because some authority told me so. And now, that I’m free to do whatever fits my mood, free to experiment, try out, fail, be wrong and learn, I realize that there is hardly anything as beautiful as reading a good book or writing using a good fountain pen.

And who knows, maybe I even like Brussel sprouts? (Nope, I definitely don’t!)

November 17, 2014

Sit and breathe

You are holding a coffee in your hand, you go to your desk and you sit down. Your workday is about to start but what is the first thing you do? You probably take a sip of your coffee, open your mail app and start working. But here’s one simple advice for you.

Before you dive into your work, right after you’ve sat down, take a moment to fully arrive in the present moment. Just sit there for a minute or two and follow your breath. Don’t force it, don’t try to change or calm it. Feel the rise of your body as you breathe in. If you see thoughts rising don’t force them to go away. Acknowledge them. Be mindful of your surroundings and your inner feelings. Do this for a couple of minutes. It helps you prepare for your busy and often stressful day.

I try to repeat this every time I sit down at my desk. It truly helps.

October 29, 2014

The morning ritual

The first thing I do every morning after waking up at 7:50 AM is making my bed. I will not leave my room, get dressed or pick up my phone until I’ve made my bed. Some may consider it to be a trivial or mundane thing to do but for me, making my bed is a task as important as the creative work I do every day.

It’s by making my bed that my mind and my brain are set in a mood to do stuff, to achieve. It is the first to do I can check off my inexistent list. It encourages me to do another task, and then another, and then another. And at the end of the day I can say I’ve been productive.

Though one should not make his own bed just for the sake of making it or getting the thing done. It’s about doing it mindfully, about knowing what you’re doing at that moment. It is some sort of meditation after all.

Making my bed helps me remember that even the little things in life matter. How can one achieve big things when one can’t even do the small ones correctly?

October 28, 2014

Personal balance

I want to reach personal balance in most corners of my life. I want to reach a level at which I can say I own, do and produce enough.

I want to find the right balance between owning too much clutter and having a sterile life. I want to find the right tools, gadgets and products which help me create the best work I can, without them becoming burdens. I do not want to use something just for the sake of using it. I want to find out how this something can help me become a better human. An example: I really want an iPad mini with Touch ID. It’s a convenient thing, I use it multiple times per day on my iPhone 6. The thing is, though, that I don’t even use a passcode on my iPad. Sure, it would make purchases in the App Store faster but at the same time it enables impulse purchases. After all, I don’t have to open 1Password, type in my master password, copy the iTunes one and open the App Store page again.

Even though I want a new iPad mini I don’t need one. Same goes for a better microphone, a better camera, a car or also simple things like a new way to make coffee or even a new mug. These are things I want but not things I really need. I will get some of them as soon as I think they’ll help me produce better work or make me a happier person.

At the same time a minimalistic lifestyle does not mean living with less just for the sake of it. What I may consider minimal can be considered cluttered by some, sterile by others. It’s about finding the right personal balance.

It’s not only about possession though. It’s also about what I eat, how I live, what I think and how I work. I could always write more or edit something one more time. But I will never reach what I consider perfect. I have to learn to be happy with 90%. Most of the time what I call 90% may be close to 100% for most other people. I have high standards for the work I produce.

I want to be as productive as I can be without ignoring the things I love doing or having a social life. I could wake up every morning, make a coffee and start writing and only stop to have lunch or to go to bed. But I wouldn’t be happy this way. And even more important, I wouldn’t write anything meaningful. After all, a writer can only write about his life if he lives a life worth writing about.

So I am trying to reach personal balance. I will start writing about my thoughts, findings, research and ideas on this site. Maybe the documentation of my path can help other people.

September 4, 2014

Let’s talk about margins »

Physical work remains. Physical stuff has edges, can be “completed,” becomes vessels of wood or pulp or iron into which ideas are made immutable. It’s easy to forget this solidity as we live and make things online. Online has no boundaries and online can be fiddled with indefinitely. We trade solidity for instantaneous and boundless distribution. It’s a pretty good trade.

I could quote the whole thing. Read it!

September 3, 2014

Milk, Salt & Rennett »

Oftentimes there is a belief that paying more for something is bad unless the quantity of the product does up. It goes against what many people think is a “good deal.” This unsustainable belief is terrible for high quality, handmade products that require time and effort to create and eventually forces the quality of such products to go down.

Some months ago I decided to stop buying low quality, mass produced goods and instead focus on products of higher quality. This approach helped me to stop impulse buying and instead ask myself if the thing I want to buy in this particular moment will help or change a part of my life to the better. If the answer is yes, I start doing research to find the product which best suits my needs.

I haven’t done this with food yet but I’m planning to change that.

September 3, 2014

Sounds of the Tanner Goods Workshop

Even though I don’t particularly like leather goods1 (except belts), I’m a fan of hand-made products. This behind-the-scenes video from Tanner Goods showcases every sound created by their machines while crafting a product.

I’m also starting to realize that a lot of those shops are based in Portland.

  1. I have to admit though that I want to get this bowl for my dog. 
August 26, 2014

The bitter truth

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

- Anton Ego, Ratatouille

A reminder to stay humble no matter how successful.

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