What Eyes Want (Alexandria #037)

The best content related to design, psychology, and productivity. Sent sporadically.

Adam Sadowski
3 min readMar 28, 2022

Featured Article

How to (Properly) Break Your Design Systembreakyourdesignsystem.com

“I remember when I was 6, this quite vivid memory of my dad, who was an engineer at the time, designing the blueprint of our new home. I remember the smell of the graph paper, that lively choreography between pencil and ruler. Once the foundations were in place, my father would color code electric wiring, water pipes, annotate wall and foundation measurements on the side, write special instructions for the builders, so forth.

That was probably my first exposure to a Design System: a set of patterns and rules documented in such a way that other people could use to build something.”

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What Eyes Want


“In other words, when we first give anything our attention, it is a distraction from what we were focused on before. This is true even when we are looking for that thing. And that is where judgment comes in. We scan that thing and our mind asks, “Is this the thing I’m looking for?” and often answers “yes” or “no” before we are even conscious of it. When Indiana Jones, for example, rapidly scans a room full of cups to find the true Grail, his eyes hardly rest on a single one for more than a tiny fraction of a second. And yet, his brain is calculating, cup, cup, cup, grail? no, no, no faster than he even perceives. It’s all transient attention until his eyes rest upon that humble “cup of a carpenter,” and his attention becomes sustained.”

Run Your Own Race


“Run your own race, as in you set certain standards for yourself, and you focus on meeting them. When you meet them, you’re proud of yourself. When you don’t, you urge yourself to try harder. You don’t question your standards based on what anyone else is doing. You don’t look over at someone else’s race and think, I’m doing a bad job because you’re going faster. You just focus on your own pace.”

How to Ask Useful Questions


“Keys for asking for advice: Be clear and precise about what you’re trying to achieve. Be clear about your priorities, and include any known tradeoffs. The recipient can’t read your mind or set your priorities for you. Make it clear you’re asking for advice or perspective, not for the recipient to decide for you. Give the recipient an easy out — you’re asking for a favor, so be polite.”

How to Rest Well


“Rest is like breathing or running. On the one hand, it’s completely natural; on the other hand, it’s something you can learn to do better and, in so doing, you’ll more effectively harness its power to benefit other aspects of your life. Just as swimmers and Buddhist monks learn to use their breath to maintain energy or calm their minds, busy people need to learn how to rest in ways that will help them recharge their mental and physical batteries, and get a burst of creative insight. That requires developing new daily practices and thinking differently about rest.”

So Many Accidents


“To be born when and where we were. To have people who give us the benefit of the doubt. To have a chance to read and to speak and to connect. To be surrounded by opportunities that others never even dreamed of. And then, given those opportunities, the efforts expended and the care extended. The belief we have in others, the smile we offer or the contributions we make. All toward community and possibility.”