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My dog does this thing sometimes where she eases her way into trouble. Whenever a pillow or table leg catches her eye as particularly chewable, she’ll mash her face against it and rub her nose back and forth, maintaining eye contact the whole time, as if to say: Just sniffing, can’t be mad. Often, she spends so long on this weird little preamble that by the time I notice she’s progressed to actually gnawing whatever it is, there’s already a hole in it.

We have a lot in common, in that this is also my preferred strategy for writing anything.

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Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Contributor/Getty Images

Most of us enter January on the life equivalent of a Red Bull high: amped, but in an intense, jittery way that inevitably leads to crash.

In almost everything else, some kind of slow, measured warm-up is considered good form — you rehearse before a speech, train before a marathon, tinker with an email before hitting send. You don’t start a year cold if you want to do it right. Which is why Mollie Chen, the founder of Birchbox, recently suggested a small calendar tweak in her newsletter: Think of January as the staging area for the year, a time…

In a recent Medium post, kelly corrigan reminds us that in a real friendship, hard feedback and kindness are sometimes the same thing—with the tough stuff, yes, but also when it comes to less weighty decisions. We’re all going through enough as it is; do you really want to be the downer who reminds your friend what happened the last time she tried to give herself bangs? Or who listens to the story of a dumb fight and says that actually, it kind of sounds like their partner was the reasonable one? …

✅ Today’s tip: For your next important task, choose “event time,” not “clock time.”

Research has shown that people tend to think of time in one of two ways: “People in cultures that operate on clock time schedule their lives according to, well, the time on the clock,” David Kadavy writes. “Those who work on event time, on the other hand, run their days by responding to what’s happening: When I’m hungry, I’ll eat lunch. This meeting will end once we’ve met the objective.

If your goal is to get something done quickly, Kadavy explains, clock time is the way…

✅ Today’s tip: Divide your reading into three categories: current events, historical context, and fun.

If the past year has sapped your ability to focus on more than a few sentences at a time — and no, doomscrolling doesn’t count — here’s a plan to be a better reader in 2021: Be more intentional about the purpose of each thing you read. We suggest sorting your reading material into things that help you stay informed, things that use the past to help you understand our current moment, and things that you simply enjoy spending time with.

📚 More from Forge…

✅ Today’s tip: Get a real, non-phone alarm clock.

Wake up, smash the “off” button on your alarm app, doomscroll the morning’s news — sound like a familiar ritual?

Well. With a sense of renewal in the air right now, there’s no better time to change the default opening to your day. Paul Greenberg’s advice: Get yourself an alarm clock. “The moments between sleeping and waking are the times when we are most in touch with our subconscious, and thus precious for creativity,” Greenberg writes. …

✅ Today’s tip: Find an activity that serves you and no one else, and put it on your calendar.

Is anyone else just completely depleted? This past week has felt like the crash after final exams, but instead of cramming, we’ve been doomscrolling, losing sleep, and existing in a constant state of anxiety for the past four years. As we enter a new era, let’s take some time to refuel.

Meredith Ethington writes that real self-care is intentionally doing something that serves you and nobody else. That might be a long bike ride, or a phone date with an old…

✅ Today’s tip: Block off time on Fridays, not Mondays, to plan for the next week.

Time-management expert Laura Vanderkam’s best advice for an easier Monday: “Simply spend some time each Friday listing out the most important priorities for the week ahead (those will now get done first thing on Monday morning), and emailing any requests for meetings that need to happen throughout the week.” That way, you can start your week with minimal friction — and put work out of your mind for the weekend, knowing you have a plan in place.

📚 More from Forge on smarter scheduling:

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Let’s get this out of the way up top: When we say “reading,” we’re not talking about doomscrolling.

Yes, technically, your brain turns letters into meaning as you move your bleary-eyed way down your Twitter timeline. But there’s a difference between the act of reading and the activity of reading. For these purposes, we’re talking about reading as activity — that is, intentionally taking in information that enriches you in some way, that helps you learn or understand or add some joy to your life.

That might sound quaint. Totally fair. It’s something a lot of us have struggled with…

✅ Today’s tip: Prolong a fresh-start feeling by changing up your space.

Despite what the calendar claims, the first few weeks of January felt more like an extension of 2020 than the beginning of anything new — which made yesterday’s fresh-start energy all the more potent. To extend that energy, Ashley Abramson writes, try making a small adjustment to your home: decluttering your desk, moving your couch against a different wall, reorganizing your closet. These tweaks “can punctuate how you see episodes of time,” Abramson explains, jolting your mind into drawing a clearer line between before and after.

📚 More…

Cari Nazeer

Lead editor, Forge @ Medium

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