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How to stay on course with your goals

typewriter with word goals written

Dear Friend,

I hope you’ve had a good week. This week I re-designed the website – what do you think?

Writing ✍🏼

This week I’ve been writing about how to do a Monthly Review and a Weekly Review.

In contrast to the Yearly Review and a Yearly Plan I wrote about last week, these processes are about staying on course with your goals, rather than setting them. In short, the Monthly Review is checking you’re going in the right direction, and that your systems are working, while the Weekly Review is about clearing your inboxes, and making sure tasks are working their way through your system.

A bonus of doing these reviews is that they’re a counter to the disappointment you might feel if everything hasn’t gone 100% since 1 January. Every week, and every month, is a chance to work out what you could have done better in the previous period, and start afresh on the next one.

Silly YouTube video 📺

I also published my very first YouTube video this week. It covers the material I wrote in How to find good new music, but in a pretty absurd way. It’s not exactly polished, but I hope it’ll at least make you laugh

Check it out

What do you think of the format? What are your favourite YouTube channels? Let me know at

Look out for another video coming this week on Why yoga is a waste of time.

What I’ve been paying attention to 👀

The story of the US intervention in Afghanistan, 2001-2016

This week I’ve been listening to the audiobook version of Directorate S, by Steve Coll. The audiobook is a whopping 28h 31m long, so I’ve still got some to go, despite listening on 3.2x speed!

The best book I’ve read on Afghanistan is Coll’s Ghost Wars, which charts the history of the CIA’s and ISI’s covert support to the Mujahideen during their fight against the Soviet Union. This book covers the more familiar territory of the US intervention from 2001 to 2016 – despite the somewhat misleading title. So far, it’s similarly rich with behind-the-scenes stories of the major players, if less gripping for the focus on politics over ‘covert action’. I’d still really recommend it for anyone not familiar with America’s longest war.

The rise and fall of Getting Things Done

The best article I read this week was Cal Newport’s history of personal productivity. He notes that since the rise of ‘knowledge work’, management has made little intervention into how work is done. This is in contrast to the post-industrial era, where factory bosses made huge productivity gains through re-arranging the system.

Knowledge work has been defined by the autonomy of the individual worker, but this results in a sort of tragedy of the commons, where it’s in individuals’ interest to ‘task’ other workers indiscriminately, and where workers have to communicate all the time. The results in diligent employees being overwhelmed by requests from others, and struggling to get any work done under the deluge of emails, Slack messages and meetings.

The ‘always on’ culture of remote working, and having to juggle responsibilities like homeschooling during the pandemic, has made more people turn to personal productivity. But, Newport argues, this can only take us so far in a system where everyone is doing their own thing. If we are to fix the broken system that leaves so many of us frazzled, management intervention will be required.

What’s coming up this week

You might have noticed there’s a lack of content in the ‘Finances’ section of the website. This week I’ll be rectifying that with articles on How to do a Monthly Financial Review, and Why you should invest as soon as yqou make any money.

As ever, I’d appreciate any feedback on this newsletter, or on the articles I’ve written this week. You can directly reply to this email, or contact me at

All the best until next week,


P.S. You can now follow me on Twitter @TheTomNorth, or get a feed of my latest articles @ELivingCo.

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