3 min read

The Chaotic Year Ahead

Some thoughts as we enter year 4 (!)

A quick aside to start: in Evaluating This Year, I mentioned the momentum that annual themes have and how they often play out over a longer horizon than just a single calendar year. In 2019, I decided to start writing here as a way of learning new things and continuing to cultivate expertise; I set the goal of publishing at least every 2 weeks. I came nowhere close to that goal. I got out 9 posts between March and September before going totally dormant for 6 months...but I had set something in motion. The machinery was there so when in April of this year I realized I had actually built up a large backlog of potential articles, all I needed to do was polish them up a bit and hit send. Ahh, the joy of the virtuous cycle.

So 2022 marks the fourth year that I'm publishing Routine Chaos but the first year that we're coming into with a bit of momentum. It also marks the first time I can give you a bit of a sense of what to expect from this newsletter this year. The focus has clarified for me over the past few months, so this year you can expect once or twice a month to get a medium to long essay from me related to one of three topics (and maybe the interplays between them?):

  • the process of creation & creative collaboration
  • product design and management
  • learning & human development

I've got a few essays already queued up, but I would also love to hear from you with any questions or topics you'd like to see me cover. If you received this as an email, you can respond directly and it will land in my inbox (or you can hit that lovely comment button below if you want your topic out in the open for others to like).

In that same post on evaluating the year, I also had a bit of a buried lede: that I left my full-time gig at the end of the year in order to double down on a few promising side projects. Something new I'm going to do in this newsletter this year is share with you a bit about those side projects as they take shape. In fact, the newsletter is where I'm going to do previews and early access to those projects. I've got 3 of them that will roll out in the next 4 months, so - as Samuel Jackson would say


Here's the fun part - not all of these side projects are going to work quite right. Some may get tweaked and iterated, some might be dead on arrival, some might get put on ice. And hopefully some of them will also be compelling enough that we keep going. The newsletter this year is going to be a behind the scenes look at all of that with a big focus on normalizing low risk failure (new post forthcoming on this topic).

One more thing: Routine Chaos is a free newsletter, and it's going to stay a free newsletter. When I think about so much of what I've learned over the years, it has come about from the generosity of so many people who have shared their wisdom and insight with me - so I'm just trying to pass some of that along. If you want to support me or my work, there will be opportunities in the future. In the meantime, feel free to forward this along to anyone you think might benefit from it.

Some things I'm enjoying these days...

  • Story Club with George Saunders - speaking of paid newsletters, this one might be the best way you can spend that hard earned cash. As a follow on to his book A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, Saunders - imho, one of the most distinctive voices in literature - is writing this newsletter as a masterclass on writing a short story. Man, it's really good. The paywall hasn't gone up yet, but I'm going to pay for it when it does.
  • James Hoffmann on YouTube - apparently the theme today is "masters of a craft delve into their craft." Over the last couple years, I have learned A TON about all things coffee from James Hoffmann...if you want to get super nerdy and real into craft, I really enjoyed watching his 2007 World Barista Championship routine (for which he was, indeed, crowned the world champion).

Til next time!