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It’s not about knowing when to stop. We all know when, most of us just don’t. We rationalize ourselves past our limits from a place of unconscious anxiety, and then we’re frustrated when we burn out.

But what if being burned out is actually how we check to see if we’re doing it right….? And if we’re not burned out we think something is wrong. The check statement returns false and an exception is thrown, a top level interrupt is triggered! Must do something to create burnout, else failure is imminent!

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I may not work as an engineer anymore, but I still consider myself an engineer in the domain of life. I still rely heavily on systems and processes to make my life easier. If I’m going to do something more than once, I come up with a system for how to make it great every time. And once that system is in place and running smoothly, I’ll tweak it and upgrade it as I go to make it even better.

Weekly and daily planning are great examples of recurring events that can be chores or optimized awesome sessions, depending on…

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I walked past a dumpster chute on my walk to the office today with a sign taped to it that said “please break down your boxes.” I think we should tape signs to our laptops that say “please break down your work.”

The pull to check email a hundred times a day, or organize your desk for the fourth time, or add the fillets to your model before you’re even ready to do a draft analysis, is a pull to feel like you’re making progress. And progress is our greatest motivator. …

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Here is my call to you today: Automate. Automate. Automate.

Here’s the catch, you’re only going to use analog technology, like safety pins and file cabinets.


One of the best ways to get more productive is to make things happen automatically. I’m not talking about using a computer to do your job. If a computer can do your job, time to learn a new skill. We’ll all need to do this multiple times in our lives anyway, but no need to accelerate it. …

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Work, like life, is cyclical. The four seasons (2 if you’re in Seattle, 1 if you’re in California, 4 per day if you’re in Colorado) fade and slide into one another year after year. We have periods of intense creation, periods of celebration, periods of getting things in order, and periods of rest. These may not follow a 12 month calendar, but the pattern’s there nonetheless.

We run into trouble when this natural rhythm gets interrupted. You’re a few weeks away from tooling release or board fab, and the client realizes they have a budget problem and you need to…

And how to change that shape to experience greater self trust

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I’m not doing enough. How come this is easier for everyone else? I’m not cut out for this, I’m sure they’ll find me out soon.

Imposter syndrome, the insidious belief we’re undeserving of our position, that we don’t belong, is a painful drain on our mental energy and creative productivity. It sucks. And it has pernicious tricks it uses to perpetuate a vicious cycle. The more you doubt your abilities, the harder you try to keep up an appearance of competence. And this leads to anxiety, burnout, and low productivity, which makes you feel like more of an imposter!


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“Do you have the current registration?” she asks, with a hint of fear and apprehension in her voice.

“Yeah, out in the car I do, should I go get it?”

“Well, do you know if it still has the receipt attached?” There’s still some worry in her voice. I’m starting to have a hunch about why, since I did my research.

If you move a car into the state of Colorado within a year of purchase, you have to pay the applicable use and sales taxes for Colorado, even though the car was purchased in another state. If you already…

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Each of us is bestowed with a finite reserve of willpower, a reserve that replenishes roughly once a day. How are you spending yours?

We face a mind boggling number of decisions and distractions, all fighting viciously for a piece of that willpower and mental energy. It’s best to find some allies in this battle who can help you fight back. I’ve searched high and low for tools and tricks to make the path of least resistance coincide with the path of most impact.

Below are 5 of my favorite finds. These are some of the most helpful tools and…

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I tried blocking it all together. I tried using willpower. I tried clicking “not interested” on hundreds of videos to bend the algorithm to my will (this almost worked). And then…I found it. The perfect way to have a healthy relationship with YouTube, getting all the benefits with none of the hangover

I don’t use Twitter, I rarely go on Instagram, Facebook doesn’t pull me like it once did.

But YouTube…YouTube can still make an afternoon disappear in the blink of an eye if I’m not careful.

Watching videos for entertainment, edutainment, inspiration, or just to veg out is not inherently bad. Where it takes a turn is when one 8 minute video turns into 4 hours, you…

Maximum Rosencrantz

I help busy engineers create careers and businesses they love. Find me at

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