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March 28


One would think that everything is known about procrastination, but the science is still evolving.

In a new episode of his popular science podcast, Huberman Lab, called Leverage Dopamine to Overcome Procrastination & Optimize Effort, Stanford neurobiology professor Andrew Huberman summarizes the latest science from the last 5 years and explains how dopamine works, why it's closely related to procrastination, and how to combat it.

Unlike the topic of how to improve eyesight, we're not including a short summary this time because this episode is really better listened to in its entirety. It's available on Spotify and YouTube — and as Huberman says, listeners have been asking a lot about procrastination:

By the way, Huberman was recently a guest on the JRE podcast, and in an amazingly candid interview, he discussed topics related to productivity and health.

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March 24


Over the past year, freelance creatives have been given AI tools to bring their ideas to life in photorealistic quality. Here's a demonstration of what the combination of two state-of-the-art AI tools, GPT-4 and Midjourney, can look like in practice, with breathtaking results:

Adobe is now on the move with its new AI product Adobe Firefly, which has generated a lot of excitement among designers.

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March 24


Here’s a new testimonial from our member Pavel Lorenc, who’s an ie-learning designer and consultant:

“Thanks to Robert Vlach and the online support he provided to a Czech freelance community that had grown around him, I have been able to find the necessary information, support, contacts and clients for growing my freelance business. scales all these benefits even further. It opens doors to international freelancing for me. I’m excited for any new opportunities that I meet thanks to”

⭐ Are you a freelancer too? Join us and reach out to new clients.

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March 23


As freelancers, we're part of the economy. So it's useful to have a basic understanding of economics, even if it's just for small talk with clients or reading the business media. The Economist has addressed this need with their free glossary of about 500 terms, The A to Z of economics, written in plain English. Check it out!

Note: Sadly, the term freelancer is not included.

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March 23


Our editor Daniel Sacha writes from Japan:

This is news to me too.

I was going to write you about something else today, but on my way to a meeting at the train station in Mitaka (basically Tokyo), something caught my eye. Station Work. A room right on the platform that you can rent for quiet work. You have a desk, WiFi, a power outlet, and air conditioning. Somewhere even a monitor with HDMI connection or other services. The idea behind it? Use your time efficiently, for example when you're waiting for a transfer and don't want to leave the station. The price is about €1.9 for 15 minutes.

The smaller boxes are for one person, the larger ones can accommodate a small team, so you can have a joint work session or meeting, for example. You can also easily pay with the card you use for train travel, you just have to register in advance. Station Work website is in Japanese, but with a translator that won't be a problem.

On past trips to Japan, I've written a few articles at train stations (just waiting for the next connection), but the roar of the express trains doesn't help with concentration. Anyway, it looks like I have a nice alternative. I'll definitely give it a try! By the way, you can find them in other cities as well.

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March 20


Easy searching of scientific studies, publications and other sources is one of the first tangible benefits of AI for freelance knowledge workers.

For a non-scientist, searching on Google Scholar tends to lead to more frustration and questions than good answers. This is where AI-based research tools like and come in to help. Both allow users to search many millions of scientific papers using natural-language queries and present the best results with comprehensive summaries and citations. They are far from perfect, but they are definitely worth bookmarking in your browser.

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March 16


Free enterprise by free(lance) individuals is an important part of a free society. But democracy is never safe from the autocrats and tyrants, who hate it more than anything else. That is why Timothy Snyder, a highly acclaimed historian, wrote his groundbreaking book On Tyranny, and why Robert Vlach chose it as the first candidate for the book of the year. Here’s his review.

Timothy Snyder's book On Tyranny (Updated with Twenty New Lessons from Russia's War on Ukraine) is the best book I have read this year.

Here's why you should read it, too:

A professional historian, Snyder wrote the original book in 2017 when he was concerned about the threat to American democracy posed by Donald Trump's presidency.

He wrote the short book, and its 20 lessons, as a kind of handbook for his fellow citizens on how to protect democracy.

But there was an unexpected twist:

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, he realized that the need to stand up to tyrants like Putin was more important than ever.

He sat down for 1 DAY and recorded an unscripted addendum to the original audiobook. And what a remarkable day it was!

In the addendum, which is far longer than the original recording, Snyder applied each of the original 20 lessons to Ukraine.

As a historian of Central and Eastern Europe, and Ukraine in particular, he speaks with deep knowledge about the threat to Western democracies from Russia, China, and other autocracies.

The newly added material is so remarkable that it blew me away.

More than that.

I realized how great Snyder's book is as a template for discussions about democracy and past or present tyrants with our 8-year-old son.

We took long walks by the ocean and discussed why we should NEVER take our freedom for granted.

That's how rudimentary and simple most of these lessons are:

  • Do not obey in advance
  • Defend institutions
  • Beware of the one-party state
  • Take responsibility for the face of the world
  • Remember professional ethics
  • Be wary of paramilitaries
  • Believe in truth
  • Investigate
  • Make eye contact and small talk (!), etc.

A truly unforgettable audiobook with 20 timeless lessons for all of us in the free world.

You can get the Expanded Audio Edition from Audible. Also, there’s an excellent PBS interview with Snyder recently released on YouTube:

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March 15


Our editor Daniel Sacha writes from Japan:

Is Japan an ideal country for digital nomads? Well… let's see. Here are some first-hand observations.

Personally, I'm perfectly happy with the time difference here, since I can go on a trip and be active on the PC at a time when colleagues and clients in Europe are just waking up (while it's 4 p.m. here, it's only 8 a.m. at home). You just have to remember to come back from these trips, because if you really love this country, you really don't want to come back to the computer. And at the same time, I'm working on things that I really enjoy.

It's worse with the internet, which I feel especially when I'm actually traveling. Although I think it has improved a lot in the last ten years, I prefer not to rely on internet connections in public places. And I recommend asking before booking accommodation, because even in hotels or Airbnb apartments, the internet can be an Achilles' heel.

Fortunately, you can solve this problem with something called Pocket WiFi. It's a little box about the size of a power bank that contains a SIM card (in my case) with unlimited data and transfer speeds. It's a fact that it's been bugging me a lot this year, but other times I haven't had a problem with it. To give you an idea, the monthly rental for such a device comes out to about €4 per day and multiple devices can be connected to it at the same time.

By the way, while I'm on the subject of accommodation, there are plenty of types to choose from here and changing them can be a great way to get the creativity flowing. While my first post was sent to you from a typical apartment near downtown Osaka, a city of several million people, today I'm sitting on the tatami between the four bare walls of a traditional, centuries-old house in the middle of the Kannawa spa area.

And in a few days, my favorite capsule hotel, where I've done most of my work on past trips, awaits. The possibilities are endless. But I'd recommend practicing working in a slightly hunched position, since it's definitely not the norm to have a classic desk in your apartment.

Of course, you can also go to a coworking space, of which I happen to have one across the street (a day's work for about €6.60 / month from €66 depending on the plan), and in Tokyo and Kyoto there are branches of the well-known Impact Hub (basic membership from €75).

You might also be interested in what it is like to work on trains, especially the Shinkansen. It's fine, you have an electrical outlet, WiFi, a small table at each seat, quite a bit of leg room and space for your backpack, but I find it hard to work there. Part of the reason is that I find the constant going through the tunnels distracting, which is a bit annoying without better noise-canceling headphones, probably because of the speed. And because Japan is a very mountainous country, you'll be in tunnels for a good part of the trip on some of the main lines. Other than that, I love trains and it is by far my favorite mode of transportation.

A big help for all local travelers are definitely the ubiquitous konbini (convenience stores), which in most cases are open 24/7 and you can buy whatever you need at the time. A charger, a towel, ice cream, an energy drink and a hot lunch. You can make a cup of tea, connect to WiFi, get money from the ATM, go to the bathroom and print documents. I love it. Just be aware that this convenience comes at a price, and compared to supermarkets, you'll pay about 10-20% more for mainstream products. The most common chains are 7-Eleven, Lawson's and Family Mart. Public laundromats are also plentiful.

You'll especially appreciate ATM withdrawals, as Japan, strange as it may seem, is still very much a country of physical money and, especially outside the big cities, they often won't take your card.

So. Maybe my brief summary will help you make your own decision. And if you're interested in anything else, let me know. Mata ne! In other words, I'll see you soon.

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March 14


Breaking news: OpenAI has released the highly anticipated GPT-4 AI model in a limited trial version for paying users of ChatGPT Plus.

By the way, OpenAI recently acquired the domain, and every new product they release causes a worldwide stir. The GPT-4 model will be no exception. Many freelancers and especially knowledge workers will undoubtedly use it as a working tool.

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March 13


If you work on a computer every day, good eyesight is essential. The world-renowned Huberman Lab popular science podcast covered this topic in an episode titled The Science of Vision, Eye Health & Seeing Better.

In less than 2 hours, Stanford neurobiology professor Andrew Huberman presents an amazing overview of the science. He explains how vision works and what each of us can do to improve and maintain it into old age. Among other things, he mentions these principles and protocols:

  • The eyes benefit greatly from 2 hours a day outdoors in daylight. 90 minutes of work should ideally be followed by 30 minutes outdoors, which Huberman mentions elsewhere as a highly functional schedule.
  • People who are glued to screens do little looking into the distance. Being outdoors is ideal for this, but even if you're working on a computer, it's healthy to look out into the distance at least once every 30 minutes, even if only briefly.
  • As we get older, the ability of the eyes to focus near and far decreases. However, focusing exercises (a few minutes a day) can help maintain or improve this ability.
  • Eye health benefits from looking at moving objects. There are many opportunities for this outdoors, but it can also be as simple as watching a live ball game. This exercise, called smooth pursuit, can be done a few times a week for 5-10 minutes.
  • Certain supplements can strengthen vision or slow its deterioration. However, their benefits are not as universal as the above principles of eye care.

If you're interested, listen to the full episode on Spotify or YouTube:

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