How to make your Zoom calls 5x more fun


Hey friends,

Short email this week, just to add some variety to the otherwise mammoth pieces I’ve found myself writing recently.

Here goes – you know how Zoom calls are annoying and draining a lot of the time? I’ve just discovered a great hack to make them more fun.

Here’s what I’ve been doing: Whenever I’m on a Zoom call, I put my headphones or AirPods in. I then open up YouTube, and find an ambient soundtrack that I play at 5% volume (eg: Lord of the Rings ambience, Harry Potter ambience etc).

This way, as I’m taking the call, there’s a soft, inspiring soundtrack playing in the background.

It’s genuinely magical.

The soundtrack makes anything anyone says feel more relaxed, more inspiring, more warm, more energising.

When I’m listening, I feel like I’m in a video game, or a movie, hearing the voice on the other end on top of the soundtrack.

When I’m speaking, I hear my own voice over the soundtrack, and it makes me feel like what I’m saying is more epic, more inspirational, more rousing.

It’s such an easy trick, but I’ve been finding it makes Zoom calls 5x more enjoyable than they normally are. And it definitely vibes with my overall philosophy of Feel-Good Productivity 😜

Have a great week!

Ali xx

🤝80,000 Hours – Find a fulfilling career that does good

By now, regular readers will have heard me talk about my friends at 80,000 Hours before, but it’s a great time to check them out right now.

They’ve just released a huge 2023 update to their free career guide, which aims to help you find a fulfilling career that does good. You can read the individual articles on their site now, or get the full ebook, paperback or audio version for free.

The guide is research-driven and ridiculously in-depth — it talks you through how to find the highest-impact career with practical advice and exercises, so that by the end you’ll have a full career plan you feel confident in.

By the way, 80,000 Hours is a nonprofit, so everything they provide is free, forever. I’m really happy to have them sponsoring this issue of Sunday Snippets 🙏

♥️ My Favourite Things this Week

1 – Live Orchestra Movies – I spent several hours at the Royal Albert Hall earlier today watching a live concert rendition of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Basically, it was the movie projected on a big screen, with a live orchestra playing the entire soundtrack, all the way through. This was my first time watching something like this, and it was a mesmerising and totally mind-blowing experience. Really makes you appreciate the music a whole lot more when you can see it literally played in front of you.

2 – Video Game – I decided this week that I wanted more joy in my life, so I bought a Nintendo Switch OLED with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. So far I’ve been playing for several hours each day, and having a total blast.

3 – Online Art Course – In my attempt to also reduce the amount of time I spend “working”, I’ve decided to revive an old hobby: art. So for the past week, I’ve been spending 30mins a day (ish) working through the Proko Art Fundamentals course. I’m drawing using my iPad Pro (11 inch) with Apple Pencil + Paperlike Screen Protector (which makes it feel like drawing / writing on paper), along with the app Procreate to do my art. This is the first time I’ve tried a structured course-based approach to learning art, and I can already see improvements in my technique within a few lessons. Takeaways so far: Line confidence is ridiculously powerful, as is getting the right proportions.

4 – Article – I enjoyed this blog post by Jacob Falkovich titled: “100 ways to live better”. I’m a sucker for a listicle of life advice – in this case, I highlighted 27 of Jacob’s suggestions, which is a pretty decent hit rate. If you enjoy self-help listicles, you’ll love this one. Some highlights:

  • Any life advice that isn’t given to you personally is not designed to be followed to the letter. Try to resonate with the philosophy that generates it instead.
  • The #1 measure of an exercise program should be “is this fun enough to keep me coming back to the gym?” I don’t care how “efficient” HIIT is, it’s for masochists.
  • If you have too little social life, wake up at 10 am every day to have energy in the evening. Too many people bothering you — wake up at 5 am to enjoy some alone time in the morning.

5 – Article – On a similar vein of life advice blog posts, here’s another fun one from Calvin Rosser, titled: “What Do You Want?”. Some highlights

  • Figuring out what you want is the central task of adulthood, and it’s not an easy one.
  • The burden of having real responsibility can weigh on you. And little by little, your naive excitement turns into a dark cloud of fear and doubt. When this happens, your focus shifts away from figuring out what you want and toward a different set of questions: What if I mess it up? What if I don’t live up to my potential? What if I marry the wrong person?
  • When you explore in an unfettered way, a beautiful order begins to arise from the chaos. Little by little, as you expose yourself to the many paths the world has to offer, you begin to understand the nuances of what you want and don’t want.

🎬 My New Videos

🖥️ My Most Productive Desk Setup Ever (2023) – Another productivity desk setup video. Enjoy and critique to your heart’s content.

❤️ 8 Simple Hacks to Improve Your Health – As I’ve got older, I’ve realised the true value of my health. I’ve started to take looking after it more and more seriously, and so in this video I share 8 of my favourite simple “hacks” that I use to improve my health, which you might like too.

✍️ Quote of the Week

“Most events in life can be categorized in one of two ways: a good time, or a good story.”

From Long Story Short by Margot Leitman. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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