Enter the ODie

Man's Best Friend - Do you have one?

It's almost midnight. So that means I'm late in pushing out my newsletter. Well, not really. Thanks to timezones, it's still Monday morning somewhere in the world. Here's to all you folks in sunny California.

If you're expecting a valid reason for being late, I'd have to disappoint. I'm just the enfant terrible of personal knowledge management. All my information, insights, and ideas are right there for the taking, but more often than not, I'm just lazing in my easy chair. So like my role model Garfield, I decided to delegate the job to my dear friend ODie.

If you're a fan of Garfield or have been at some phase of your life, then you know who I'm talking about - Odie! You probably believe him to be an enthusiastic idiot with an unusually long tongue. What's less known is that Odie hides his intelligence and merely uses the idiotic front to gain an advantage over Garfield. He's been seen reading War & Peace, setting up decoys, completing puzzles, and even writing poetry.

Intelligent ODie is my best friend, at least until I get access to GPT-3. He's the one who's writing this newsletter for you. Tiago Forte has been overheard calling him a second brain. Here's why I love ODie, my best friend.

The ODie I've been referring to isn't Odie the dog, but ODie, my new method for being lazy and still being obsessed. O denotes Observe and D stands for Document. I still liken it to Odie, as I would much rather have my best friend be a dog than a mental model, creativity tool, or even a second brain. So let me show you one of ODie's tricks.

Observe & Document

I love wrestling so I'll use that as an example. But I suspect you can use this for any intense and creative experience.


Learning is best in relation to another, so in this case, I'll start with a sparring bout with a partner.

1. In between rounds, I quickly jot down observations in my book. To be true to the example, with all the adrenaline and the nerves, you'd be better off with a big whiteboard and a fat marker. You don't wanna take voice notes when you're huffing and puffing.

2. At the end of the session, while I'm recovering, I start building on those notes and paint a more coherent picture. This would dive deeper into the context of the experience. Training agenda, the sparring partner's unique attributes, skills and energy in the interaction, my emotions, insights, regrets, skill deficiencies or successes, etc.

3. Through the day, every 2/3 hours, I keep popping into my notes casually and spend no more than a minute or 2 skimming through the entirety of it. I may at times choose to focus on a single point. The idea here is to just drop a seed for subconscious contemplation rather than steal conscious attention.

4. At the end of the day, just before I sleep, I append my notes with fresh insights and realizations if any. And then make a plan to put the insights back into the grind. To test my insights and see if they hold up their promise. Not the end, this just loops back into the experience that I started from.


I complete the loop as well as restart it with the next sparring session. This time I start by reviewing the previous notes, so I have a sense of progression and not just perseverance.

I time the process with my diurnal rhythms, so I enjoy the creative experience soon as I wake and contemplate the last stage of the feedback loop, just before I sleep. This acts as a suggestive impetus for my mind to mull over it while I sleep. I often wake up with fresher or deeper insights than I slept with. In this case of combative experience, my motor body often discovers those insights before my cognitive mind registers them. Using this OD loop reduces the gap between the two.

This constant process soon becomes a flywheel, so I find myself needing less effort each consecutive time. Why did I design this for myself? As I said before, I'm lazy and I don't want to obsess over my art, but I want to be obsessed. If you want to have your cake and eat it too, give this a try. It can be used for solo training or any form of creative exploration. Because you're only switching between two modes - observation and documentation, the cognitive load is minimal. I found myself becoming more mindful and observant of every moment’s experience. If you want specific techniques to document, look to build a second brain.

So there you have it, that's my ODie, who obsesses over my art even when I sleep. Faithful ODie, intelligently observing every experience and documenting each new insight. The concept of making him a mascot for my mental model makes my pursuit of art and perfection fun and endearing. I want to experience each step towards the pinnacle of my evolution as an artist and a lover of life. I want to be able to feel, know, and share my insights and ideas. I think ODie is doing a damn good job so far. I'll write more about him in greater detail soon on my blog, so if you have feedback or questions, let me know. I'll be sure to pass the message to ODie. If you want to complain about this irreverent piece, blame Nate for approving this.