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I wrote this post a few years ago and am trying my best to learn from it myself as I reread it now. It became genesis for my book Just Do The Thing: A Guide which I sold for a bit on on Amazon & Smashwords but now make freely available as a gargantuan post on Medium. But this is where it all started.

Simple is marvelous place that you really can inhabit. Yes, you too can get there.

Oftentimes, the only thing that it takes to get from here to there is to give up the things that complicate our lives.

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Yeah, so like most simple things, this is easier said than done.

Nobody ever said simple was easy! (Well, okay, maybe somebody did. But they were simply wrong!)

Here are some tips to make “simple” a little easier:

1. Forgo acquiring new tools
Tools cannot make life simpler. Processes make life simpler. Tools can make the processes easier, yes. But the one thing tools will never fix is a bad process. So forget bringing any new tools into the mix while you’re focused on simplifying something. Always focus on process first.

2. Try not to learn any new skills
You will fail at this — and that’s okay. The point is that simplification is subtraction. You should be taking things away, not adding new ones. Ironically, this even includes learning. If “I should really learn how to ______” is in echoing in your mind, it’s a clue that you’re not simplifying. You’re doing something else, and it smells more of avoidance than of simplifying.

3. Don’t organize, drop!
Structuring information inevitably involves making things a bit more complicated. That’s the wrong direction. Instead, just filter out all the things that aren’t what you’re looking for and don’t bother with them. Whether an item is crossed off your to-do list because you worked at it and completed it, or because you just decided not to do it, it is still just as crossed off. Which is easier?

4. Pre-decide your limitations
Anything you do has a beginning and an end. To make life simple, decide how long the duration will be before you start. Then when the pre-determined end time arrives, you end your actions, and make a clear choice about what happens next. This allows your intuition to surface over the dull roar of thoughts & judgements.

5. Stop and see what happens
This last one is not for the faint of heart, but I have found it to be extremely effective. We tend to think that if we stop doing something important, bad things will happen, right? Well, maybe — but maybe not.

So…how can we find out?

Well, for starters, you can try strategically NOT showing up to do stuff. This already happens when we fall ill, have family emergencies, or other such immediate reprioritizations. In those situations, life still goes on. But you can also just declare an act of “Simple Disobedience” and see what downstream impacts this really has. What actually breaks? Did anyone even notice?

Oftentimes, nothing bad happens at all.

If it does, just be prepared to swoop in and repair it quickly, apologize, and see if this avoids permanent damage. In my experience, it almost always does. This is good to remember when complexity becomes burdensome.

May this help you in your journey to The Land of Simple, which is not the myth you may have come to believe. You can really get there! You just need to follow a map or a guide who can direct you — and remind you to stop when you arrive.

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Y’know, I’m really not very good at this whole holiday/vacation thing.

Having juggled between jobs and gigs and workshops and teaching and travel and rarely taken dedicated time off for many years, it’s still just plain weird for to me to take time off at all. I want to fill the time with useful projects or experiences.

I don’t think of myself as a workaholic, I do really like not working. I simply end up doing the work thing a lot to make up for stuff that went wrong at work, then being put in charge of things that are slightly (or massively) beyond my ability to deliver in the time allotted. I have a hard time handing stuff off because I don’t know who to hand them off too or how to communicate what is needed well enough.

This opportunity to work full-time for someone else’s company for the first time in my life is giving me a lot to think about and play with. I took the last two workingdays off for a Denise’s birthday getaway, and because I have so many vacation days built up that my my challenge now is trying to find where to put them on the calendar before they go away at the end of the year.

Never before in my life have I had a problem like this. While it’s a good problem to have, it is a struggle that’s helping me confront some deeply held beliefs around my life and work.

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It’s been a while since I had this feeling, I don’t quite trust it yet.

As I wrote about in my When My Tech Started Breaking post, there is a clear dividing line between when I could trust my technology, and when I couldn’t anymore. I still don’t know what switch flipped where, or how to toggle it back to the nicer default mode that I enjoyed for the first 40 years or so of my life. I just know that something changed somewhere and everything got more difficult after that.

For the last few years, I’ve not been able to put into practice what I preach. It’s not that I didn’t try, I never stopped trying, it just didn’t work no matter what I tried.

Now — dare I say it? — Now it looks like I might just be… all backed up!

That means my data exists in 2-3 places at any given moment, and it’s easy to keep those places in sync. Not 1 place, not 0 places, not 5 places. 2-3 is all I need.

1. Family of devices (M1 Mac + 3 other Mac laptops + 3 phones)
2. My primary NAS (Synology DS920+ 14TB)
3. My secondary NAS (Synology DS218 9TB)

My calendars sync with Synology Calendar
My contacts sync with Synology Contacts
My photos & videos sync with Synology Photos (the new DSM 7 photo app)
My shared files sync with Synology Drive
My devices all backup via Time Machine or an equivalent to a specified directory on the main NAS.
I’ve even got my own VPN working now, which I can access while out of the country as I tested recently.

All this runs from my primary NAS, and backs up weekly to an off-site secondary NAS via Hyperbackup.

Now if only I could get my damn cellphone number to work :) Hopefully soon! And I might just roll my own email server after that.

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Snap Synapse LLC is currently dormant, though not totally gone.
The website is still up, see for yourself at SnapSynapse.com

Though I never used Snap Synapse as a pseudonym, some people thought it was. Nope! My name is, and only has ever been, Sam Rogers. But for social media about my work in certain areas, SnapSynapse is a handle that I’ve used frequently, especially in the 2010s.

So what is Snap Synapse? It’s a company that I started originally as a side-project doing web development in the early 2000s, and as a music publisher for my music catalog. In 2008, I incorporated as a single-owner LLC (in Nevada where they let you do that kinda thing, which California did not). Then in 2016, as a Utah LCC as I had moved there. By that point the company was heavily focused serving the internal Learning & Development needs of clients such as Google, Deloitte, ADP, AAA, Sunrun, etc., but not exclusively. Snap Synapse also purchased my girlfriend’s boutique publishing company (Clear Mind Publishing) around that time to help manage her audiobooks and other products.

Judging by this 8 year cycle, Snap Synapse should be back in some new form in 2024 ;)

The company was really only ever an umbrella for work that I was delivering. I sometimes outsourced help for parts of projects, but mostly it was me doing everything all the time. The corporate structure helped me cut through all the red tape to work with larger clients, and it also helped not alarm people that it was really me delivering for them (I like to deliver inhuman-scale results, which can sometimes scare people).

What happened to it is that as I expanded into more an more different arenas, I found things that worked and things that didn’t. And mostly, they didn’t.

Now don’t get me wrong, I had a very successful learning consulting business, especially for a few years there after my raving success at YouTube. But eventually I hit a wall and couldn’t get where I wanted to go (business data) because the company was holding me back. Even the fastest high-performance race car does not make a very good airplane.

So in 2020, I finished sunsetting all my Snap Synapse clients and I took a real jobby-job with a global company in a heavily-regulated industry that makes products I believe in. Now that I work as the Global Learning Technology & Analytics Manager for ConvaTec, Snap Synapse doesn’t see much action. This may change again someday, if needed. Consulting and Publishing are two reasons that it might.

In the meantime, it’s nice to just be Sam.

Did I miss anything? Questions and fanmail are welcome in the comments below.

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Last week was my first post-pandemic international travel. Actually, my first time on a plane at all since March of last year!

I’m happy to report that it wasn’t all that bad. Humans are creatures of habit, but we’re also remarkably adaptable.

Yes, I had to wear a mask everywhere. For those of us who traveled in Asia in the last 15 years, it’s really not that a big deal.

Yes, I did choose to be vaccinated. Proof of this didn’t count for anything in the US though, as apparently there’s been so much forgery. This changed between when I booked my ticket and when I used it.

Meanwhile, even though I was traveling from a severe risk area where less than 1 in 3 people are vaccinated and our COVID numbers are way up (central Utah) to a low risk area where over 2 out of 3 are and their numbers are lower than they’ve been since spring of 2020 (Panama), they validated the phone-uploaded picture of my vaccination card well in advance of my flight. No test needed on that end.

But yes, I needed a COVID test to get back in the USA. Only the rapid and not-so-intensive one, not the uncomfortable “brain swab” like before. I timed the travel so that I could get the test in the US and get back before it expired (3 days), which worked out fine. Other than making it too little time on the ground at my destination.

Overall, it was a good dry run for int’l travel. Granted that I do have Global Entry and TSA Pre and all that, but these are no guarantee against travel mishaps and getting stuck in prolonged conversations with border guards. I’m happy to report that I had no real issues anywhere.

Two things that did stand out, both in the US.
  1. When boarding my flight to Panama in Houston, there were 6 very intimidating big officers with big guns and big dogs interviewing and sniffing everyone in the jetbridge (between where they scan your ticket & the plane). That was weird, never seen that one before in all my travels. The only thing they asked me is if I was carrying over $10,000 in cash. Sadly, I was not. I don’t lead a life so well-financed that this would be an issue for me. (Though even if someone did have 10K USD on them, I’m not sure why they would ever answer “yes” to this question? Admitting this is the same as saying, “No, I don’t want to be on this plane that I’m boarding right now after all. I’d rather have a conversation with you about why you’re confiscating my money and whether I’m going to jail today or not.” Seriously, does this kind of question ever work?!?)
  2. For the flight from IAH to SLC, after being told 3 times by the flight attendants about the mask requirement, the pilot had to go all “Dad in the car” and announce that the plane wasn’t going anywhere until everyone put on their masks & seatbelts, and that we could have left on time already if everyone had. We departed a minute later.

Just saying what I observed, in case this might be useful to you. This is not a political post, but you can make it one in the comments as you wish.

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