Finding a hobby and learning to love it is an odd process.

Take “web development” for example (quotes because I can’t call myself a web dev).
I used to think web development was a hobby of mine but I’ve only recently realized that it really isn’t so. What happened?

I first built my first website on Tripod in 7th or 8th grade as a project in some computer class.
The topic of building websites has been untouched til the age of 16; my friend was really hyped about making websites since he earned his first few dollars from a celebrity fan site he created.

Naturally I started picking things up from him and it was purely for fun.

Learning how to program (albeit it was just HTML) was fun – and felt rewarding when I received my first check from Google for ~$100 via AdSense. The feeling simply isn’t there now.

Part I: Accepting what is a hobby and what isn’t

After a while, the focus switched to a money earning prospect.

It wasn’t a hobby anymore and still isn’t – but I’m only truly accepting that today as I type it out.

When I made websites, I had the most fun when I didn’t think about how much money I could earn.
When I start thinking about money, I lose interest.

This is a trap that I’ve fallen into the past six years.
Instead of taking it purely as a hobby, I started building websites with the mentality of making money first.

Here’s a truth I have to face: all websites I’ve made in the past six years (outside of my office job) failed.
On the other hand, all websites I’ve created before this “slump” turned great profits.

Sure, the markets have changed and ranking sites have gotten difficult, but my history shows I can make a shit ton of money (for my bosses).

I think the most important thing that changed is me and my outlook on treating my hobby as a money making machine.

I keep chasing after money and when I don’t see an immediate success (which has NO place in SEO), I lose interest.

How do I learn to love my hobby again?

Part II: A successful hobby needs…

I found a hobby that I fell in love with after moving to Tallinn: table tennis.

I played a few games back in U.S. but it wasn’t something on my radar at the time.
And back then I was quite introverted and hated going out.

Through this one hobby I feel like a different person.
Nowadays, I look forward to going out. I get to see friends and play table tennis at a not-so-shit level.
And I love every moment of it – even when I lose.

So what makes table tennis a good hobby (for me)?

  1. I don’t expect to make money from it.
  2. I see progress when I play – win or lose.
  3. I have fun with friends.

When you don’t feel the immense pressure that the world is putting on your shoulders…
When you can be yourself without worries…
When you truly enjoy spending every second doing what you’re doing…
And when you’re really living in that moment…

That’s when you know you have a hobby that you love.

…Or an addiction. But who’s to say that the two aren’t mutually exclusive?

Part III: Something you love is addictive

What I’m trying to say is…

One of the key ingredients in making progress is addiction.
Every little thing that you’ve had success with in life required passion and/or addiction.

When you have a hobby, the number one goal is to enjoy it.
Maybe you’ll find yourself addicted by it in the process.


Side note to myself on making websites

If you want to make money, then clearly define what your business goals are and what you’re willing to do/sacrifice to meet them.

Your hobby isn’t a business unless you start treating it like a business. So enjoy it!

Estonia Bank Tax Screen

Doing personal taxes in Estonia is easy. Doing company taxes is a bit different but still quite easy.

Let’s go over my <1 min tax routine.

1. Log into my bank

Log into my bank which is optional; you can log in via the official state website but I’m too lazy to search for it.
(I was actually reminded by the bank to do my taxes after logging into the bank.)
Swedbank Tax Login in Estonia
I click on “Proceed to pre-populated tax return” as shown in the image above.


2. Log into the tax website

The button on the bank website redirects me to the state website where I must log in using my Estonian ID card (wiki). As you can see, there are different ways of logging in, but I find the ID card process simple and secure enough.
Estonia Tax Login ID Card


3. Getting lost

I choose the bottom option since I got lost with the top one and the bottom one leads to the tax form. (Trial and error!)
Estonia Tax Login 2


4. Pre-filled tax form?! (Personal info redacted)

Estonia Personal Tax Form
Yep, that’s right. It’s all done for me, including the education expenses (tuition to TUT). Since all of my data is connected, there’s a lot of automation by the state and very little manual “filling in” by me. The concept is a little scary but things like this is why I love technology.

The only thing I had to do was select whether I wanted the whole amount refunded in my bank or to leave it under my name in case I owe them money. I’ll cash out, thanks.


5. Confirmation mumbo jumbo

Estonia Personal Taxes Done
This page just shows you that you’re done and you can download your info in .PDF.


I got 187 euro back from the government! It’s not a lot but it’s a nice feeling.
When I first went through this I was a bit skeptical of the process. I thought, “Ok, now what do I do? Am I really done? There HAS to be more to doing taxes, right? I must’ve missed something…” But this is it. Doing taxes shouldn’t be a PITA process. Simple, straight forward procedure like this is why I love Estonia. The fact that they’ve already calculated the amount to return is great, but it also makes sense.

Estonian roads on the other hand…


*I have no loans, mortgages, child support or alimony to pay so I’d imagine this process is simpler for me. From what I’ve been hearing, it might take a minute or two more – that’s it.
*External link: Estonian Tax and Customs Board (Maksu- ja Tolliamet)

Ludovico Einaudi – Una Mattina

A masterpiece. And you know what, I’m sold.

And “The Intouchables” is great fucking movie.

The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

Who doesn’t know this song? You must be ancient. A generic song for anything, really.

Carl Orff – O Fortuna

Want something epic? Use it.

Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation

I have no idea how this song came about but this is a timeless classic.

blender UI

What.

Where do I even begin?

Everything here looks quite intimidating at first but like any other programs out there, all you gotta do is learn all 50,000 functions in the program. Easy!

Jokes and sarcasm aside, I wanted to learn how to create a 3D environment using VR technology. I figured Blender is a great way to start since it’s completely free to use.

When was the last time you picked up a completely new program?
What is something that was crucial and completely necessary to pick up the pace?
In a program like Blender where you have to tinker a lot, learning hotkeys is a must.
Hotkeys make each finger stroke efficient. It saves time. It makes “work” easy.

Where I Started With Blender

I just Googled “Blender Tutorials” and eventually arrived at a site called CGCookie.
The only other interactive tutorial I’ve done online was through Codecademy where I learned different types of code. I thought Codecademy was amazing!

CGCookie is essentially on the same level of “amazing” as Codecademy. That’s saying a lot since Codecademy is the resource I would recommend to those who want to start learning how to code.

They have an incredibly smooth website with an amazingly intuitive UI.

Why CGCookie is Amazing

Here’s what I mean:
CGCookie Tutorial Interface

The top goes over some basic navigation like my account info and notifications.
The navigation around the video is pretty normal too. A video embedded in the site with “previous/next lesson” buttons. Simple stuff.

Things get real when you scroll down. Each lesson has chapters and each chapter shows a progress bar which is in sync with your video tutorial in real-time!
If you happen to leave the page for whatever reason and you want to go back to your lesson – it’ll just drop you off where you left off.

CGCookie Isn’t Free – but That’s Why It’s Brilliant

It sucks that such an awesome resource isn’t free.
Well, it kinda is. CGCookie’s “Blender Basics” tutorial covers everything you need to know about getting started with Blender. It teaches you how to navigate, explains the interface and all necessary hotkeys to make your workflow efficient.

Here’s an analogy:
CGCookie providing the basics of Blender is like Usain Bolt teaching you how to walk.
If you want to walk faster, it’s completely up to you and your physical abilities.
However, if you want to become an Olympic sprinter, you gotta pay the coach.

And that’s why I think CGCookie’s business model is amazing. The product is amazing.
The tutorial teaches you the very basics to get started completely for free, and you can do anything with your creative mind. Want to make some amazing piece of art that doesn’t look like the gray rectangular prism in the picture at the top? Well, you gotta pay the coach.

I quite like the tutorial they provide and I’m sure I’ll end up paying for the additional lessons.
This is a business model that I approve of.

Edit: Even got a thank you tweet from Blender!

two-things-i-quit

Quick intro: I’m a redditor and a gamer.

The past few weeks have been one of the better times of the year 2015.

I’m going to share with my lucky readers how to be more productive by quitting two of my favorite things.

What’s changed?

I don’t reddit as much, and I’m not on Steam as much. Two huge, time-consuming “hobbies” of mine – I quit them cold turkey.

Okay I lied, I still reddit and I still play games.

Changing My Reddit Habits

The difference now is that I limit my redditing time to 30 minutes max per day on useful, informative, and educational subreddits like /r/Entrepreneur, /r/startups, /r/smallbusiness and /r/cscareerquestions. Of course, the local subreddit /r/eesti is visited daily as well.

I reddit the not-so-serious stuff during my commutes to and from work (~20 minutes one-way).

How I Managed to Actually Change My Reddit Habits

It’s simple. I log out of reddit. I manually type in my browser: https://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur
I then scroll through the front page of the subreddit, click on something I find to be interesting and read.

Why I “quit” reddit and the reasoning behind my method:
Again, there’s simple reasoning behind the simple actions. If I log out of reddit, I’m less inclined to comment and participate in threads (which can be time consuming).
Of course, I can simply unsubscribe to the less productive subreddits, but I can also use a break once in a while. I put emphasis on “once in a while” for two reasons: 1. I’m not sure if I can quit cold turkey, and 2. I want to have “mindless” fun sometimes. I’m only human.

The thing about the “mindless” fun subreddits is that time really does fly. Take /r/videos for example: there are 25 links on the front page of that subreddit. Each video can be 10 seconds long or 10 minutes long – on average that’s about 5 minutes per video, totaling over 2 hours. That’s longer than an entire movie! The thing about reddit is, you always want to check the comments section too – after all, that’s half the fun! I’m not going to do the math but that’s another hour down the drain on reading comments from /r/videos. Fuck that.

Changing My Gaming Habits

I just play less games. This past week, I’ve played less than an hour and half of games. I’m at a point where I don’t know if I can call myself a gamer now.

How I Managed to Actually Play Less Games

It’s simple (we’re reaching a pattern). I stopped running the steam client on my computer.
I also made sure the steam client doesn’t save my login information so it makes it more of a hassle for me to log in.

Changing the way I see gaming was a huge step. I’m not saying all games are bad, but if a game is more stressful than fun to play, why waste time playing?

Why I “quit” gaming and the reasoning behind my method:
Dota 2 is the prime example of a “bad” game for me. It’s an excellent game when I’m winning (ie – having fun) – but if I’m losing, it’s a nightmare. It doesn’t just affect me during the game, but it affects me outside of the gaming environment as well. I’m more angry, sensitive and generally grumpy. And no one likes a grumpster.

Besides all the emotional factors, there’s also the time factor. Each match can last anywhere from 25 minutes to 1+ hour. I’ve had a match that lasted 1 hour 21 minutes and 19 seconds – and my team lost. Dota 2 takes some serious dedication to play and when you lose a match that lasts 1+ hours, your mind begins to melt.

On top of these long matches, it takes time to start a match. It takes about 10 minutes to start each match from pressing “Find Match” to you actually being able to move in-game.

What I Gained by Quitting Two of My Favorite Things

Time. Lots of time.
I think one of the things in the world that can’t hold value is time. And I just gained 4+ hours of it per day!

With the extra time, I can do things. Productive things. Take this personal blog for example. I’ve registered this domain name in March, 2013. It took me over two years to launch this blog – are you fucking kidding me?! (I previously used the domain for testing purposes FYI)

I also started learning how to play the guitar. It’s been about a week and I can play 5 or 6 chords by heart, without having to look at the guitar. It’s such a small accomplishment but I feel so damn good about it.

So here’s the rundown: quit doing time-consuming, mind-numbing, stress-inducing activities and invest the time on yourself. Learn something, create something, do something.

Something something I have a website now.

Part of being an SEO is knowing not to stand out. This isn’t an SEO blog (or I would prefer it not to be); it’s more of a personal one.

We’ll see where this goes.