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Have you ever felt like you were in a zen-like meditative state while working, mentally free to execute and apply your skills with no distracting thought whatsoever inside your mind? Feeling entirely absorbed in an activity? This is called being in the zone or getting in the flow.Those expressions are often used about athletes performing at their peak, with all their attention focused on the task at hand. No concern, no conscience of time—just pure, invigorating work driven by heightened awareness.

“How are things?” asked a friend. “It’s busy, but I’ll take some time to relax when things ease up,” I replied. I recently caught myself giving a variation of this answer every time I was asked how I was doing. “So much work, but hopefully it will be better next week.” Being busy all the time can give us an illusion of productivity which may feel reassuring, but isn’t there a risk we are too busy to enjoy life?

Scholars have discussed the mechanics of persuasion since ancient times. Persuasion encompasses every aspect of culture, with rhetoric as a crucial tool to influence every sphere of society, from mundane negotiations to big national debates. One could argue any form of communication is a form of persuasion. Whether through writing or talking, at home or at work, with friends or customers, chances are you spend a good amount of your time trying to persuade someone of something. In Rhetoric, Aristotle defines three main ways to persuade people: ethos, pathos, and logos.

A system without a goal is like a marathon without a finish line. But a system with a bad goal will result in a bad outcome. Traditional goal-setting methods use the SMART framework. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Sounds great for small, short-term goals, but not so much for ambitious, long-term ones. If you have one or several ambitious goals—such as learning how to code, studying a new language, writing a book, growing a newsletter, becoming a designer—you may want to consider making a PACT as an alternative to SMART goals.

I genuinely feel silly writing out these instructions. It’s an incredibly simple system to make your journal more actionable—or to actually start a journaling practice. As always, it may not be for everyone, but it’s done wonders for me. I still use Plus Minus Next journaling for my weekly review, and interstitial journaling makes it even easier to go back to see what went well and what didn’t during your week.

Ness Labs


Ness Labs provides content, coaching, courses and community to help makers put their minds at work. Apply evidence-based strategies to your daily life, discover the latest in neuroscience research, and connect with fellow curious minds.


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