ARTICLE: [Seth Godin] How (not) to miss a deadline

Anyone who has ever been in charge of anything runs into same problem: most people don’t do what they say they are going to do by the time that they say they are going to do it.

The “man on the street” management impulse then is to assume that your employees, coworkers, vendors, and partners are all lazy, shiftless ne’er-do-wells and that you’re the only person who ever gets anything done around here.

And, to be fair, some people are lazy, shiftless, ne’er-do-wells.

However, getting things done on time is a meta skill composed of dozens of other skills that most people have never developed.

To use an analogy, everyone hoping to change their body composition knows that they should “eat well and exercise,” but this rarely results in significant behavior change. Why? Because “eating well and exercising” isn’t one skill or behavior — it’s dozens! You have to know how to grocery shop, know how to plan your schedule to allow time for cooking, have basic competency in the kitchen, know how to make better choices when your plan blows up, have a strategy for resisting free snacks in the office, develop a training routine, understand when to push yourself and when to back off in the gym…and on and on and on.

“Meeting a deadline” is a similar agglomeration of communication, planning, tracking, using a calendar, adjusting as plans go awry, anticipating setbacks, and handling contingencies.

Seth Godin offers some very practical advice on keeping deadlines in this blog post. Salient quote: “Better buffers make better deadlines.”

ARTICLE: [Outside Magazine] What’s the Minimum Dose of Training to Stay Fit?

Much of my work as a coach involves talking athletes off the ledge.

One of the most common neuroses amongst highly motivated individuals is that — by deviating from their ideal plan or training schedule — they will “lose all their gains.” If I don’t hit all of my prescribed sessions this week, bad things will happen to me. If I don’t follow my macros perfectly, I will suddenly gain pounds and pounds of bodyfat. If I haven’t squatted heavy in a few weeks, all of my previous squat gains are gone.

The reality is that human beings really aren’t that fragile. In fact, people are able to maintain their abilities in both strength and endurance on shockingly little volume. The research on maintenance of adaptation is a bit mixed and — in practice — the actual training necessary to “maintain” depends quite a bit on the exact outcome measured.

And, from a purely pragmatic perspective, the most important thing isn’t necessarily how much a specific trait is “maintained” so much as “how long it takes to retrain a specific trait after taking time away from it.” If I haven’t squatted heavy for 6 months, I certainly don’t expect to hit my previous PR on my first session back. But, if I can get there again after three heavy squatting days, that’s a totally different situation than if it takes me three months of heavy squatting to return to form.

Alex Hutchinson reviews some of the literature on “maintenance” and finds that people are often able to maintain their current abilities on surprisingly low amounts of training.

If you’ve ever worried that you’ll “lose it all” by having a few weeks of altered training, read this article from Alex Hutchinson and rest your weary brain.

SONG: [Crust Punk Hit Of of the Week] Framtid “Prison

I’ve been on a bit of a crust punk kick after learning that Brad Boatright — who has mastered several Like Rats records — was briefly in World Burns to Death. This completely blew my mind, since World Burns to Death is just about the apogee of crust as far as I’m concerned.

Around the same time I was learning about Brad’s storied crust punk past, my friend Brian (Hi, if you’re reading) made a joke about Framtid in some text conversation. As such, Framtid and World Burns to Death have dominated my listening habits.

Framtid don’t do anything fancy, but they build on the template created by Discharge and finessed by Swedish bands like Anti-Cimex to offer a thick, punishing take on crust.

A few good “ugh”s in this one.