Daily Reading Notes

August 06, 2019

Essentialism

A great read for anyone that feels pulled in a million directions. This book condences down techniques to get to the core of what it takes to live a simple life. It includes everything from way s to say no with dignity, to how to pioritize your most important tasks.
Every day you have a choice. Go in a million directions trying to please everyone, or focus on the most important thing you can. Having focus makes the difference between getting to your goal, or being overwhelmed while making only tiny progress.

Learned helplessness occurs when we feel that our choices have no bearing on the outcome of a situation, so we stop taking action, even if it could dramatically improve the circumstances.

The 80/20 rule is the minimum of the impact choosing a correct activity could have. In some areas it could result in an exponential multiplication of the results.

There are no solution, there are only tradeoffs.
Only allow yourself as many goals as you have time for. Then give all your
focus to them one at a time.
Don't ask "how can I do it all?", ask "What can I go big on?"
If you have 4 things you want to do and you want to excel, you need completely reject 2 of them.

Create space to escape and explore life.
Despite popular belief, eliminating boredom and down time will result in worse
outcomes.
Give yourself time to think. It can be 5 minutes every morning or two solid
weeks a year.

Learn to see the patterns between the mountains of facts around you.
Keep a journal. When you write about an experience, you clarify it in your
mind so the important connection can pop out.
Go to the source to figure out the real problem.
Look for what others missed. You will find treasure between the lines.

Clarify your question until you get a clear answer. People are likely to dodge a tough question, or simply get distracted by tangents.

Play is essential. It opens up your imagination, fights stress, and stimulate logical reasoning. These benefits will multiply your output at work and more than make up for time spent at play.

The most important asset you have is yourself.
Enough sleep is the highest impact habit you can make for your creativity,
productivity, and health.
If you think you are fine with 4 hours of sleep, you just forgot how being
rested feels.

Your answer should be either hell yes or no. This means only saying yes to the top 90%.

For every opportunity or option you are considering set 3 minimum criteria and 3 ideal criteria. If the opportunity fails any of the minimum criteria or 2 of the option criteria, it's an automatic no.

We end up with hundreds of options when searching for good. Strict criteria eliminate the majority of those options.

Make your goals "really clear", not "pretty clear".
A good goal is concrete, has and end, and eliminates thousands of later
decisions.
A goal with a clear direction inspires more than a vague grandiose one. Nobody
knows how to stop world hunger, but you can come up with a plan to feed 100 homeless this year.

Every no to a new commitment strengthens an existing one.
People say yes quickly because they are afraid of the initial awkwardness, but
they miss out on the long term cost of failing to meet a commitment when they become overloaded.

A no to a commitment will not change a relationship.
Bring focus to the tradeoffs. What would you give up to find the commitment if
it wasn't presented to you.
A failure to meet a noncommittal yes will tarnish your reputation. But a clear
no will garner you respect.
The organized person knows all their commitments and possess the awareness to
say no. The disorganized person will overload themselves with too many yeses.
Ways to say no:

The sunk-cost bias prevents us from quitting when we should. Think of what else you could do with the time and money you are going to keep pouring in with no return.

The endowment effect makes us value what we own more than we would pay to attain it. To fight this effect, get over the fear of waste and ask yourself what you would pay if you didn't own it already.

Instead of forcing a bad fit, admit your mistake and learn from it.
Question past choice and established practices, otherwise you may fall into
the status quo bias.
When you evaluate your schedule, make ever activity earn it's worth from
scratch. Don't keep it around just because it was there before. Apply zero-based budgeting to your schedule.

Run a reverse pilot by temporarily eliminating activities you suspect to having little value.

Become the editor of your life. Make it clearer, simpler, and more enjoyable.
Cut out options so you can avoid mental fatigue and indecision.
Condense your life by doing more with less, not trying to squeeze more activities into your already packed schedule.

Continuously adjust your systems and philosophies toward your ideal life.
Know when to stop editing. If you try to change everything, you will wear
yourself down and make things worse.

Setting rules in advance eliminates the need for a direct "no". It's easier to let someone know about a rule than to personally reject their request.

Make time for the essential activities by setting boundaries on all your activities. Even your most important activities deserve boundaries so you can reduce stress and lived a balanced life.

Identify your deal breakers for common scenarios, like a maximum time you stay out, and make them into social contracts with others.

Your daily activities need buffers. Like the room between cars moving at fast speeds, buffers provide room to react to changing circumstances.

Allow yourself 50% more time than you estimate. Worst case, you end up surprised by extra time you find.

Prepare as early as possible so unexpected events don't wrack your plans.
Prepare for failure by figuring out what activities will mitigate the damage
it causes.
Your biggest obstacle holds back progress in all areas. If you can improve on
it, everything else become easier.
To identify the correct obstacle, become clear on your intent. Your obstacle
may even be a productive activity, just in the wrong direction.

The strongest motivator are achievement and the recognition of achievement.
Start small and build momentum. Don't go for the big all in win.
Seeing progress and being encouraged produces better results than threatening punishment.

To build momentum, make the smallest amount of progress possible. If you want to write, start with a paragraph per day.

Prepare early and in small increments. Splitting an assignment over a month makes the work far easier than cramming it into the last day.

Design routines so your brain can go on auto pilot. Then you will have reserves of energy for the difficult problems.

All bad habits have triggers. To break a bad habit, associate a positive habit with the existing trigger.

To build a new habit, use an existing routine as a trigger. Then just add your habit to what you already do.

Do the most difficult thing first so you have energy to give it the focus it deserves.

Changing a routine takes enormous concentration. Tackle them on one at a time.

You can only focus on one thing at time.
You can still do multiple things once, but all except one should require no
focus. Doing dishes while thinking on a problem is a great way to accomplished a task while focused on thinking.

To bring focus, pause to create a list of your top priorities. Then give each one your full attention until it's finished.

Before you move on to the next activity take a deep breath and let the past fall away from you.

To become successful at essentialism, it has to be at your core. The non essential activities should be the slip ups, not the norm.

Don't let opportunities that come with success distract you from your most important work.

Don't practice essentialism, become and esstialist. Then it's not another thing on your growing list of todos, it become who you are.

The essenialist leader:

Copyright © Artem Chernyak 2020