A review of 2018 and some thoughts on 2019

As a record largely for myself, below are some notes in review of 2018 and a few thoughts about 2019.

Writing: I started 2018 intending to post to this blog at least once a week, which I did. I set this objective as I had several long stretches in 2017 where I dropped the writing habit.

I write posts in batches and schedule in advance, so the weekly target did not require a weekly focus. However, at times I wrote shorter posts that I might not have otherwise written to make sure there was a sufficient pipeline. Traffic for the blog was similar to the previous year, with around 100,000 visitors, although unlike previous years there was no runaway post with tens of thousands of views. Three of the 10 most popular posts were written during the year.

In 2019, I am relaxing my intention to post on the blog every week (although that will largely still happen). I will prioritise writing on what I want to think about, rather than achieving a consistent flow of posts.

I wrote three articles for Behavioral Scientist during the year. I plan to increase my output for external forums such as Behavioural Scientist in 2019. My major rationale for blogging is that I think (and learn) about issues better when I write for public consumption, and forums outside of the blog escalate that learning experience.

I also had a paper published in Evolution & Human Behavior (largely written in 2017). For the immediate future, I plan to stop writing academic articles unless I come up with a cracker of an idea. Having another academic publication provides little career value, and the costs of the academic publication process outweigh the limited benefit that comes from the generally limited readership.

For some time I have had two book ideas that I would love to attack, but I did not progress in 2018. One traces back to my earlier interest and writings on the link between economics and evolutionary biology. The other is an attempt to distil the good from the bad in behavioural economics – a sceptical take if you like. Given what else is on my plate (particularly a new job), I’d need a strong external stimulus to progress these in 2019, but I wouldn’t rule out dabbling with one.

Reading: I read 79 books in 2018 (47 non-fiction, 32 fiction). I read fewer books than a typical year, largely due to having three children four and under. My non-fiction selection was less deliberate than I would have liked and included fewer classics than I planned. In 2019 I plan to read more classics and more books that directly relate to what I am doing or want to learn, and picking up fewer books on whim.

I’m not sure how many academic articles I read, but I read at least part of an article most days.

Focus: I felt the first half of 2018 was more focused and productive than the second. For various reasons, I got sucked into a few news cycles late in the year, with almost zero benefit. I continued to use most of the productivity hacks described in my post on how I focus (and live) – one of the most popular posts this year, and continue to struggle with the distraction of email.

I am meditating less than when I wrote that post (then daily), but still do meditate a couple of times a week for 10 to 20 minutes when I am able to get out for a walk at lunch. I use 10% Happier for this. I find meditation most useful as a way to refocus, as opposed to silencing or controlling the voices in my head.

Health: I continue to eat well (three parts Paleo, one part early agriculturalist), excepting the Christmas break where I relax all rules (I like to think of myself as a Hadza tribesman discovering a bunch of bee hives, although it’s more a case of me simply eating like the typical Australian for a week or two).

I surf at least once most weeks. My gym attendance waxed and waned based on various injuries (wrist, back), so my strength and fitness is below the average level of the last five years, although not by a great amount.

With all of the chaps generally sleeping through the night, I had the best year of sleep I have had in three years.

Work: I lined up a new role to start in late January this year. For almost three years I have been building the data science capability in my organisation, and have recruited a team that is largely technically stronger than me and can survive (thrive) without me. I’m shifting back into a behavioural science role (although similarly building a capability), which is closer to my interests and skillset. I’m also looking forward to shifting back into the private sector.

I plan to use the change in work environment to reset some work habits, including batching email and entering each day with a better plan on how I will tackle the most important (as opposed to the most urgent) tasks.

Life: Otherwise, I had few major life events. I bought my first house (settlement coming early this year). It meets the major goals of being five minutes walk from a surfable beach, next to a good school, and sufficient to cater to our needs for at least the next ten years.

Another event that had a large effect on me was an attempt to save a drowning swimmer while surfing at my local beach (some news on it here and here). It reinforced something that I broadly knew about myself – that I feel calm and focused in a crisis, but typically dwell heavily on it in the aftermath. My attention was shot for a couple of weeks after. It was also somewhat of a learning experience of how difficult a water rescue is and how different CPR is on a human compared to a training dummy. My thinking about this day has brought a lot of focus onto what I want to do this year.

4 thoughts on “A review of 2018 and some thoughts on 2019

  1. Hi Jason,

    Happy new year!

    What’s your new role?


    Simon Simon Russell BA(jur) BCom GDipApFin&Inv MApFin DFP GCertMgt Director Behavioural Finance Australia simon.russell@bfin.com.au http://www.behaviouralfinanceaustralia.com.au http://www.linkedin.com/in/simonrussellaustralia 0413 587 766

    The content of this email is not intended to represent financial advice, stock broking advice or tax advice, and it should not be interpreted as a recommendations to buy, hold or sell any investment. Behavioural Finance Australia (BFA)* expressly disclaims all or any liability that results from relying on the content of this email. BFA’s full Terms and Conditions are available on its web site at http://www.behaviouralfinanceaustralia.com.au . * Simon Christopher Russell as trustee for the BCF Consulting Services Trust trading as Behavioural Finance Australia.


  2. Hey Jason,

    Thanks for your blog. I’m a firefighter in Honolulu but prior to that I was a policy wonk and still have one foot in that world. I’ve been fascinated by the rise of BE and some adoption of it’s principles in policy work. I appreciate your constructive criticism of the field in a way that helps make it’s contributions better.

    In any case, I’m writing because of your experience trying to save the swimmer and your saying you’ve thought about it alot. I’ve had to face situations as a firefighter that are deeply tragic, traumatic and personal. Even as a professional there are calls that affect me more than others. Not knowing your role or what you did, just know that there is very little chance of doing high quality cpr on somebody that has succumbed in the water. My guess is that there was very little you could have done to change the outcome. We can put death in context or reconcile it in an abstract way, but it’s a whole different ballgame when you experience it up close and personal when you are in the act of trying to make sure it doesn’t happen. You may have triggers or think about it a lot but understand that you may also have PTSD. If it ever overwhelms your thoughts reach out to a professional. In the fire service we are more aware of needing to support each other in the things we see and not just “man up” and move on.

    Take care and keep up the great blog.


    Brent Dillabaugh

    On Sun, Jan 13, 2019 at 10:00 PM Jason Collins blog wrote:

    > Jason Collins posted: “As a record largely for myself, below are some > notes in review of 2018 and a few thoughts about 2019. Writing: I started > 2018 intending to post to this blog at least once a week, which I did. I > set this objective as I had several long stretches in 2017 w” >

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