Hey Friends 👋,
Remarkably this is issue 54 of The Curious Engineer which has only been possible as I have written it consistently every single week.
In contrast, I haven't made a new YouTube video for the past 7 weeks. This is partly due to all my spare time going into making my first course, but I think there is more to it than that.
If you want to achieve anything in life you need to be consistent, you need to show up, every day.
This isn't new and if you follow any successful creators online or read self-development books you will hear the same message.
The only “hack” is relentless consistency. It’s not glamorous - and it's not fun - but it works. - Sahil Bloom
B+ content and A+ consistency is the winning formula for email newsletters. Most of the value comes from consistency, not content. - David Perell
In this society, consistency will give you a competitive edge and will keep momentum on your side. More importantly, consistency will continually increase your confidence. - Peter Voogd
So why is it that I have managed to write this newsletter every single week, yet I am struggling to maintain consistency in other areas of my life?
For example, I would love to be more consistent with:
- 🏋️♀️ Exercise - At most I have managed about 4 weeks of consistent exercise before something comes up like illness or work that puts a stopper in the works. Usually several months pass before I try again.
- 🎸 Guitar - I love playing the guitar and I always feel better mentally after a decent jamming session, yet it has been weeks since I have played my guitar longer than 10 minutes.
- 🎬 YouTube - If I want my YouTube channel to actually be successful I really need to produce more videos.
- 💻 Side Projects - I have a long list of side projects that I would like to build, include the domain names to go with them, but the list just keeps getting bigger.
👾 Make it Fun
This is one of the biggest factors I have found to maintain consistency. You may have noticed that this newsletter is a little bit all over the place when it comes to topics.
The topics for this newsletter generally fall into a few buckets:
- Software Development
- Career Advice
- Creator Economy
With my YouTube channel I have tried to keep the content strictly to Software Development. That is what everyone recommends if you want to build a following online. As they say "The riches are in the niches", which doesn't sound nearly as good if you aren't American.
I generally write this newsletter the same week that it goes out. For example, it is currently Thursday (23/11) as I am writing this, and it will go out this Sunday.
I used to plan out my newsletter topics weeks in advance, but I often found that I would sit down to write and I just didn't feel like it. These days I just pick a topic on the day, which is usually influenced by what I have been thinking about during the week.
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I am due to start a new part-time job next week. I am going to be working 100% remotely but for the first week I am flying out to Berlin to meet everyone, which should be fun.
As I don't need to rely on the income I get from my creative hustles any more I can have a bit more fun with them and not have to worry that a video hasn't done very well or people have unsubscribed from my newsletter.
Once I get back to making YouTube videos I am going to broaden the topics I talk about which maybe the cardinal sin of YouTube but the key for me is to keep it fun.
Rather than being strictly about software development my "niche" will be software developers and include any topics that will likely be of interest. I am basically going to create the content that I would like to consume and hope others will enjoy it too.
😌 Make it Easy
This newsletter takes me around 3 hours to write, including putting together all the picks of the week I have at the bottom. Writing a newsletter has another big benefit, I can write it from anywhere.
My YouTube videos on the other hand take at least 12 hours of work and sometimes more if there is a lot of code involved, and I have to record them in my office.
Running a YouTube channel is definitely not easy. It is not just a case of turning on the camera and talking for 10 minutes. This is the typical breakdown for each of my videos:
- Research and scripting: 3 hours
- Recording: 1 hour
- Slides and animations: 5 hours
- Editing: 5 hours
If there is a code project involved in my video then you can easily
add another 5 hours to that.
Believe it or not, I have got quicker with making videos over time due to the systems I have put in place. For example, I have my lights set up all the time so all I need to do is turn them on. I still have to set up my camera each time which does take 15 minutes or so as I use my iPhone. I also have a few templates I use for my videos so that I don't have to create everything from scratch each time.
I definitely need to find a few more optimisations and systems to make recording videos easier.
This "make it easy" approach has helped in other areas as well. For the past couple of weeks I have managed to work out at least 5 times a week. Each morning I get up around 6 am and do a 10-minute HIIT workout or some yoga. I make sure my workout clothes are next to my bed, so I don't have to hunt for them in the morning.
Even on days I don't feel like it, I can think to myself, "well it is only 10 minutes".
✅ Hold Yourself Accountable
My last tip is to hold yourself accountable. I write this newsletter every week because I have told everyone that is what I will do. I like to be a man of my word.
Most of you probably don't care if you receive this email or not but by having other people reliant on you is one way to hold yourself accountable.
I could do this with my YouTube channel as well, but the reality is I haven't got the time to make a video every week. It is important that you only commit to things that you actually have time to complete otherwise you will be heading straight for burnout.
Next year I plan to take up guitar lessons. I have been a self-taught guitarist since I was 15, but I am nowhere near as skilled as I should be for someone who has been playing for over 20 years.
I am hoping that weekly guitar lessons will not only give me the much-needed guidance on what I should be learning but also force me to practise, knowing that I have a lesson coming up.
To be honest I could do with an accountability buddy when it comes to fitness as well. My wife and I make pacts to work out together, but we are our own worst enemies sometimes. Life gets in the way, we get tired, and it is all too easy to just order takeaway or have a lie in when no one is forcing you up.
❤️ Picks of the Week
📝 Article - Windmill - Fastest self-hostable open-source workflow engine. I have had Windmill on my self-hosting to-do list for a while now. I am currently using n8n to run scheduled processes on my home server, but Windmill looks more sophisticated and fast too.
🛠 Tools - LM Studio - Discover, download, and run local LLMs. I used ChatGPT this week for another small script on my home server. It compares the backups I have stored with the ones on Dropbox and deletes any that aren't needed any more. It was definitely a lot quicker to write with ChatGPTs help even if it did need several iterations and some manual fixing. I wouldn't use it for anything sensitive though which is where local LLMs would be really useful. If you have a machine powerful enough LM Studio looks interesting.
👾 Game - Why does the moon change size in GTA when you snipe it? I like hearing anecdotes like this from game developers especially about games that I used to play when I was younger.
📝 Article - YouTube punishes ad-blocker users with slower videos on all browsers. I think most people have a distaste for adverts, and I am no exception. Even though I do make some money from YouTube adverts I don't like the approach they are taking by making the experience worse for those that don't want them. Moving all my videos over to PeerTube is going to be top of my list in the new year.
🌎 Animation - Earth | Interactive 3D planet animation. It is amazing at what can be achieved in the browser these days. The lighting on these planets is superb.
💬 AI Voice - StyleTTS 2: Towards Human-Level Text-to-Speech through Style Diffusion and Adversarial Training with Large Speech Language Models. The quality of the voices for text to speech are getting really impressive. It is worth [checking out the samples](https://styletts2.github.io/) as well.
👾 Game - Half-Life 25 years old. I spent a lot of time when I was younger playing Half-Life. Half-Life is now 25 years old and is offer on Steam if you have never played it before.
In case you somehow missed it, Sam Altman CEO of OpenAI was fired by the board, snapped up by Microsoft, and then returned as CEO again of OpenAI with new board members. A bit of a busy week for him then!
💬 Quote of the Week
Lack of consistency is the subtle, but great stealer of dreams and desires. You must consistently improve your mindset, emotional intelligence, perspective, philosophy on how success is achieved, and how you view yourself. Not just when you feel like it, but consistently.
From 6 Months to 6 Figures (affiliate link) by Peter Voogd.