The Nerdist Way: A Self-Help Guide For Me

The Nerdist Way: A Self-Help Guide For Me

I’ll start out with as strong a recommendation on The Nerdist Way, written by Chris Hardwick, as I can give: You should buy this book. Now I’m going to tell you why.

Hardwick, self-professed past-and-future nerd, has struggled with productivity issues in the past. So what would make him qualified to write a “self-help book” (my words, not his) worth reading? Because he went from having zero jobs to having 15 in just a few years (not really an exaggeration). When you wonder, “how does this guy do so much in the same amount of hours that I have,” it’s usually hard to get a clear answer. Hardwick provides one.

But why this book? One, if you’re reading Lifehacker, you’re probably somewhat of a nerd. Because you enjoy tech, or like to optimise various parts of your life or look for tricks that use common household items creative ways, you can classify yourself under the umbrella term “nerd.” And nerds (we’re generalising here) have the ability of laser-focusing on one particular subject and learning everything there is to learn about it.

You can harness this skill to get more stuff done.

Chris divides his book into three sections: One about harnessing your mind (addiction, anxiety and other mental issues), harnessing your body (getting better looking while naked) and your time (finances, work, projects). They all make sense, but you might not need all three sets of tips if you are already adequately taking care of yourself. I wasn’t.

I’m going to pull out one very useful Lifehacker tip from his book — there are plenty more — that’s very applicable to readers who are freelancers and almost as applicable for people who want to start their own side projects or work for themselves. Hardwick says that you should look at employment these days like a shopping centre.

Every centre has its anchor stores, like David Jones or Myer, which is takes up a large percentage of the space and brings in a lot of cash and customers. You should think of your main job as a chain store; something a little bit soulless that you do just for the cash and to keep the place open. However, you need smaller stores because if your shopping centre was made of just these stores, it would collapse. So you need boutique retro video game stores, a store that sells stuff from Japan, a jewellery store, an antiques shop and a tax prep guy renting out cheap office space. These are the metaphorical equivalent of selling stuff you sew on Etsy, doing web design on the weekends or making extra bucks by playing with virtual currency. It’s really up to you how you divide up your time; the point is to not let your main job dominate your life.

For freelancers, this means you should go ahead and take on that large project, even though it’s not as creatively satisfying as you would like. Then use your free time to take on projects that expand your portfolio, doesn’t make you much money, or is just a gamble that might pay off big in the long run. For people with more traditional jobs, this philosophy means that you should carve out time despite being drained from work in order to pursue something you’d rather be doing. This, of course, is easier said than done and sometimes people have to ditch their DJs in order to let their EB Games thrive.

Really — and I’m not just polishing his ego here — you should get this book, because he explains this topic (and many more) a lot better than I do. If you’ve got any part of your life that you’re unsatisfied with, whether it’s growing bigger muscles or finally getting a project started, this can help. I know that I’m going to follow Hardwick’s rules and get more of MY ventures in line, rather than just talking about them to the annoyance of my friends.

The Nerdist Way [Amazon]


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