As an trading algorithm engineer and blogger.

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Artwork made in Affinity Designer. Source: author.

Search “productivity” on the App Store. Hundreds of options. Writing a French cookbook? Engineering parts for a space shuttle? There’s probably an app out there to help you do both. For just $25.99 per month, billed annually.

It’s tough to parse signal from noise. Suitable tools don’t necessarily stand out. But over the years, I’ve curated a little collection. My battle-tested all-stars. Apps that help me do what I do best. Tools that never let me down.

Of course, the value of a tool depends on what you use it for. I’m a writer and trading algorithm programmer. Generally speaking, my daily tasks involve generating, managing, and executing on ideas. Sure, it’s methodical and technically dense. …


Still longing for love, but at least I’m not thirsty.

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If there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s that we’re all looking for love. But some of us look for it in unusual places.

Which brings us to a lonely aisle of a grocery store, one ordinary Wednesday morning. There I stood, scanning dusty shelves of bottled water drenched in clinical fluorescent lights. My modus operandi: Secure a new source of daily drinking water.

At that point, I had not quenched my thirst for almost two days. The water available at my new residence — a temporary spot after moving out of my family home — was not water at all. …


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Illustration of the world’s origin story. Source: author.

The world is flat. And it rests on the back of a giant turtle. At least, according to the mythological story. The story goes that a World Turtle balances the flat earth on its back. And funnily enough, this turtle rests on the back of an even bigger turtle. Which in turns rests on a bigger turtle. And this keeps going forever. That’s the origin of one of my favorite expressions: “Turtles all the way down.”

Endlessness is fascinating. There’s power in that which repeats forever. It’s not the kind of power you can wield, but the power of a constant. Something that never goes away will always exert its influence. …


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An illustration of two types of learning. Source: author.

I have an idea. How about we play a game? It’s a very simple game. Won’t hurt at all. Ready?

Alright, you start. Go on. Make the first move. What are you waiting for? Go first. Play the game.

Obviously, that was a trap. You can’t play a game without knowing the rules. You wouldn’t know what to do. That’s a fundamental element of games: A set of rules. You need something to strive for, some direction to run towards. This seems synonymous to learning.

What’s the first thing you need when you set out to learn something? That’s easy: You need to know what you’re learning. Without a goal, what do you do? It doesn’t make sense to start without something in mind. …


It’s not about the problem. It’s about you.

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Illustration by author.

What do string theory, quantum computing, and aerospace engineering have in common? Difficulty. Arduous to understand, let alone use. Where do you even start? Sure, you could watch some YouTube videos. Maybe you’d be able to recite some theory. But applying it? Absolutely not. No one’s making superconductors in their garage.

We run into these all the time: Problems too large for comprehension. You don’t even have to stray so far into complexity. Programming software. Building a writing career. Producing music. Day trading. All reasonable ambitions. Nothing revolutionary, unlike quantum computing. And yet they’re just as unapproachable. Doesn’t take much to be overwhelmed by a problem. …


What I learned as a prolific writer.

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I spend most of my time alone. Source: author.

Two weeks ago, I had an idea. Sure, it had potential. But I did have a feeling it would get me killed. Nothing unusual. All the best ones start that way. The idea was to publish an article a day for two weeks. Fourteen articles. Fourteen days. What could possibly go wrong?
Imagination causes all my suffering. I’m adept at coming up with these things. But figuring out how to do them? Not so much. I’m a decent writer. Given enough time, sleep, and steak, I know how to string together a coherent narrative. What I don’t know how to do is work miracles. And that’s what I’d need to do to publish every day for two weeks. After all, writing isn’t my only job. You thought that was hard already? I’m primarily an algorithmic trader. Doesn’t get worse than that. …


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The fountain I visited on the night of July 2nd. Source: author.

Sadness feels different when you’re surrounded by joy. It’s sharper. More bitter. Of course, I couldn’t blame the couples sitting around the fountain. Or the mirthful teens trying to push each other into the water. Saturday nights are fun nights, right? Mine certainly should’ve been. After all, I wasn’t sure how many I’d have left.

I had a decision to make that night. Sitting on the steps by a fountain, alone in an unfamiliar city, I had to decide if I was going home. It was the end of a line. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to be. Nothing to be. My body: Weary from travel. My mind: Crippled by jagged memories. …


How I cope with being stressed for a living.

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Early-stage drafting for a trading algorithm. Source: author.

What do you get when you cross a hyper-productive carnivore and a Michelin-star restaurant? This article. Steak, salt, garlic, and cheese. That’s all I eat. All the time. Except when I go to a nice restaurant. The temptation of decadent, battered, sweet and sour pork is too vicious. Hence I pay the price. With physical pain and a whole day of missed work.

I won’t get into the science of the carnivore diet. Plenty of other sources already do this well. What I do know is once you’re adjusted as a carnivore, straying from the diet has consequences. That’s why I suffer every time I slack off. Cheesecake? Pain. Potatoes? Torment. Battered meat fried in vegetable oil? I felt like I was actually dying. Not even kidding. …


A novel approach to productivity, decoded.

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My draft of an article. Source: author.

Here’s a challenge for you: You’re 19, and you must find a way to generate income autonomously. As if making money at 19 wasn’t hard enough. Now, you have to do it passively. So that it doesn’t eat up all your time. That’s the challenge.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Your living conditions are stressful while you’re solving this, too. Parents’ roof, so rent is free. Win. But you’re stuck with a vitriolic, emotionally abusive mom likely stricken with an anxiety disorder. Not a win.

Long periods of sustained focus are impossible at home. Every hour or so, your mom lashes out at you. Bitterness about her broken marriage. Trivial gripes over not closing your bedroom window. Accusations of adolescent promiscuity. It’s all in the cards. You’re going to have to deal with that on a daily basis. And you can’t go out to work, either. …


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Ocean at dusk. Source: author

Upwards of $70 million dollars. That’s how much you’d have to pay me to get a bachelor’s degree. The experience would be traumatic, hence my modest compensation. School was never my thing. Back then, I couldn’t tell you how I survived. Now, it’s downright inconceivable. Like pudding on pizza. Or not owning bitcoin. The notion doesn’t compute.

College was a funny experience. Not very funny at the time, but in hindsight the stories are gold. Like the time I tried to learn an entire semester’s worth of Statistics 101 in two weeks.

The final exam was coming up. And I was in hot soup. At the time, the plan was still to pass. Do as little work as possible, but get the degree nevertheless. I hadn’t fully come to my senses, yet. So I ignored statistics for most of the semester. But when the final rolled around, I got to work. …

About

Mika Y.

Algorithmic crypto trader, artist, watch collector. <mikaomarr@gmail.com>

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