An Open Letter to AJ Jacobs

Dear Mr. Jacobs AJ,1

I’ve always been a big reader of non-fiction books. Heck, I talk about productivity to the point where I have dubbed myself (as well as others who do the same) as a “productivityist” and have even gone so far as to have written a manifesto for folks like me.

My wife, however, tends to read more works of fiction. She’s read The Hunger Games books, belongs to a book club and doesn’t get into reading non-fiction as much as I do. Then her book club picked one of your books as their monthly read, and she’s been a fan of yours ever since. Which is good, because I’ve been a fan as well. I haven’t read every page of all of your books, but I have read bits and pieces of each. I have read a lot of your work for Esquire, so I’d say that when it comes to writers that make me laugh and teach me something at the same time, you and Neal Pollack are my go-to guys.

But this goes beyond being a fan of your work. Way beyond. Not stalker-ish beyond, but still…

You see, my wife reads your work and can totally identify with your wife. To be fair, she’s probably more of a fan of your wife than anything else. She says the stuff you do is the kind of stuff I’d do – and do do. When she reads about you doing it, however, she laughs out loud. Not so much when I do it.

I’ve been thinking about her thoughts on this, and after looking at my writing we do tend to travel down experimental waters regularly. The readers at my weblog can attest to that. I’ve decluttered my devices through trial and error, wreaked havoc on my wife with my quest to get up earlier and I won’t even go into my risk-taking career shifts.

She’s read about your treadmill desk and asked me if I’d ever heard of such a thing. As Managing Editor of Lifehack, I explained to her that I “most certainly had” (and I’d actually mentioned it to her before). She noted how you were wearing Vibrams and how I wear them. She talks to me about outsourcing services now – even though I’d been talking about them for a while (and now knows I’d never use it to communicate with her…I leave AwayFind to do that for me over email). She’s told me to run to do my errands like you do and frankly…I’d rather outsource those.

With all of this in mind, I’d like to thank you for showing her that there is someone else out there – a writer, no less – who engages in the same kind of activity that I do. (She calls it crazy activity, but I preferred to remove the adjective.) I’m sure she’d love to have the chance to talk to your wife one day – if only to exchange stories of challenges undertaken and experiments conducted by you and me. Either way, she’s going through Drop Dead Healthy right now and chortling regularly as she does.

As for me, I’m adopting some of the things you’ve written about in your most recent book. I’m flossing regularly for the first time ever, have committed to getting in better shape and when I hit New York City next week I’ll be going underground into the subway to cross the street as you suggested.

I’m also feeling the need to get back into writing more humourous stuff. I waded my toe into the waters again with a recent post on a new social networking site and it felt really good to get that out there. Heck, I may even resuscitate my old Eventualism site where I satirized the very thing that brought me to the table: productivity.

So thank you for helping my wife not so much understand what I do and why I do it – but perhaps tolerating it just a little bit more than before. If we ever cross paths, I owe you a beer.

Or whatever crazy beverage we’re checking out at the time.

Photo credit: Sharon Drummond (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

1 AJ read this letter (as I also sent it to him by email). He asked me to call him AJ. So there’s that.