[NOTE: The rules in this post have been extended indefinitely, as they worked. In other words, I’m no longer reading books in the same year that they are published.]
Donald Knuth, a renowned mathematician and recipient of the Turing Award (considered the Nobel Prize of computer science), retired from using email in 1990.
He issued a public statement on his Stanford faculty page, which I saved to Evernote 1–2 years ago. I think of it often, and my favorite portion is below:
“I have been a happy man ever since January 1, 1990, when I no longer had an email address. I’d used email since about 1975, and it seems to me that 15 years of email is plenty for one lifetime. Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration.”
I want to make 2020 a year of smarter decisions.
To make that a reality, I’ve been pondering how much I want to specialize in speed versus finding targets that don’t require speed. That is why I bolded and underlined the above lines in Donald’s post.
Looking back over the last decade, I have made many good fast decisions, but I have nearly never made good rushed decisions. The former can be made from a place of calm, whereas the latter come from a place of turbulence and blurred judgment.
How can we create an environment that fosters better, often non-obvious, decisions?
There are many approaches, no doubt. But I realized a few weeks ago that one of the keys appeared twice in conversations from 2019. It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve that I noticed the pattern.
To paraphrase both Greg McKeown and Jim Collins, here it is: look for single decisions that remove hundreds or thousands of other decisions.
This was one of the most important lessons Jim learned from legendary management theorist Peter Drucker. As Jim recounted on the podcast, “Don’t make a hundred decisions when one will do. . . . Peter believed that you tend to think that you’re making a lot of different decisions. But then, actually, if you kind of strip it away, you can begin to realize that a whole lot of decisions that look like different decisions are really part of the same category of a decision.”
Much like my startup vacation/retirement in 2015, I’m now asking myself across the board: what can I categorically and completely remove, even temporarily, to create space for seeing the bigger picture and finding gems?
To that end, I’m committing to *not* reading any new books in 2020. This means I will not read any books published in 2020.
Here are a few reasons why:
- We don’t have that much time left to read books. Tim Urban’s The Tail End makes this clear. Based on his calculus, he might only read another 300 books before he dies. He and I are roughly the same age, and Tim is a very fast reader. Considering that, taking a year to read books that have stood the test of time seems worthwhile.
- I’m susceptible to fear of missing out (FOMO) when it comes to new and popular books. I’ve always found refuge in books, but being wedded to the identity of “the well-read guy” can breed keeping-up-with-the-Joneses consumption. Taking new books off the table for 2020, in a sense, also takes that type of FOMO off the table. I can’t compulsively scratch the itch of new, so I’m better able to calmly use other criteria.
- Each week, dozens of unsolicited books are mailed to me. Here’s an example from one day(!) in 2008, which is perhaps 20% of the current deluge. These books have recently come from publishers like Avery Books and Knopf, among others. I immediately donate all such books to libraries, but it still consumes energy and is a waste of trees. Thanks for permanently removing me from your lists, guys.
- I’m not good at moderation. I’m much better with fasting than caloric restriction, for instance. “No dessert” is a lot easier for me than “some dessert.” I thrive with loving constraints: strict, binary rules that remove all deliberation and protect me from my lesser self.
- For years, I’ve had a public policy of not blurbing books. This is to avoid picking and choosing among friends, which is awful. I’ve put this policy on the blog and in my email auto-response, but it’s not visible enough; I am still asked on a weekly basis. Things can and do get uncomfortable. So, I’m publishing this blog post and fixing the problem further upstream: I’m not even reading any new books in 2020. No “What I’m reading” bullets in the “5-Bullet Friday” newsletter will feature books published in 2020.
- I am prone to procrastinating via reading. It’s a socially acceptable form of avoiding things, but let’s make no mistake: reading is often used to avoid things. If I want to write more, for example, it behooves me to dramatically limit the types of books I’m allowed to read.
To quote Bishop Desmond Tutu, “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”
Making too many decisions is often symptomatic of poor systems or process. I’m as guilty of this as the next person. In 2019, I made waaaay too many decisions, and it exhausted me.
But guilt can serve as a useful diagnostic tool. As one of my favorite people, Maria Popova, said in our last conversation: “Guilt is the flip side of prestige, and they’re both horrible reasons to do something.”
Here are some questions that have helped me think through all of this:
- In my life, where am I making decisions or saying “yes” out of guilt? Can I create a blanket policy that makes it easier for me to say “no”?
- In what areas am I making a lot of decisions, or sending a lot of communication? Are they concentrated anywhere? Can I create a blanket policy that makes it easier for other people to make those decisions?
- In what areas am I making a lot of decisions, or sending a lot of communication? Are they concentrated anywhere? Can I create a blanket policy that entirely removes the need to make those decisions?
How can you make higher-level decisions? Look further upstream.
Do you want to try to stay on top of things, or do you want to try to get to the bottom of things?
Personally, I’ve vowed to focus on the latter in 2020. No new books is part of that, and there will be more divesting. Much more.
Where have you made single decisions that removed many decisions? Or where could you make single decisions that remove many decisions? Please let me know in the comments, as I’d love to share ideas as a community.
Here’s to making the right de-cisions (as in “cutting away”) . . .
Onward and upward,
P.S. If you’re interested, this is the last “new” book I’m allowing myself to read. There are two reasons for this particular book: 1) it was sent to me in 2019, and 2) it’s the updated version of an older book that helped me out of a dark place when I needed it most.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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290 Replies to “Finding the One Decision That Removes 100 Decisions (or Why I’m Reading No New Books)”
When I was in grad school my graduate advisor criticized his students about how many papers and books we were reading. He wanted us to stop reading and do our own original thinking/research. He was a great mentor and turned out to be right on this.
In the spirit of this de-cision, I’m reminded of Laozi / Lao Tzu: “if you do not change direction, you might end up where you are heading.”
One decision that eliminates millions decisions (concerns, questions etc) – have no kids. Bad idea? Good idea? i dont know.
I have two, i love them, but they give us hundred decisions to make a week.
say what you think?
[Moderator: promotional content removed.]
The decision on whether or not to have kids is a tough one. I have been thinking about it a lot (since I turned 40), but since I’m single (I actually broke up with my last partner because she didn’t want to have kids ever), the act of ruminating over the what ifs of the future might be the thing to eliminate on my part.
I am an academic postdoc and found this answer fascinating. I personally don’t like to read very much unless it assists me directly in the current/upcoming research, but often feel pressure to read more. So this is interesting.
I can utterly relate to what Linda said above. I’m working on my dissertation and I have given up reading for pleasure because it created such guilt in me that I wasn’t reading for my research. Although I have to admit I’m in a quandry as to what decision I could make at a higher level that will help me finish my dissertation faster? I probably spend too much time working out but that is my detox/downtime/mental health/keep me sane therapy I’m loath to reduce it. I’ve already given up tv and thinking about signing off social media (note inherent irony as I’m posting this) but I don’t know that those tactics would be anymore effective?
Really needed to read this. Such a simple solution for a seemingly complicated approach. 2020 is all about getting to the bottom of things. No more FOMO 😊
In a book about something that was called the slowness revolution, one individual decided to read one great book, in that case it was Anna Karenina. He looked up words that he didn’t understand, read about the times that it had taken place in: Russia in the days of the czars. He literally lived the book, and it became something profound! Reduced his reading to one great book, and virtually walked into another world that, he found, magnified his own! My recommendation, try the same with Hamlet. No kidding, it will remake your world.
What a cool idea.
i finished similar read with Count Monte Cristo (though i had read it 10-20 times before), this time my longest one and gave such a profound experience – history, culture, conversations, and so much more.
Totally great idea.
I love this idea. Thank you.
This is an awesome idea
This is a super cool idea. Thanks for the comment (and that goes for everyone else, too!).
Love the idea! Thanks.
Tim’s going to skip “The Mirror & the Light”? Oh no! But maybe your recommendation is profound. Immersing myself for the next year, only in the 3 Mantel books and forsaking all others. Hmmmm sounds like a plan.
What a fantastic idea. This would be a great experiment to even try for a month. Take a week and consume a book, outline the life to live with continual reference to the book daily as well journal your progress every day and maybe do a blog/vlog or create a youtube channel for it to capture it for yourself and others. So many possibilities with this.
I guess I confused what you mean by new books. If it’s time to read the 100 Great Books 📖 f Western Civilization or any-other list this is the year.
Yeah I was thinking Tim meant only reading books he’s read before. Honestly a year of only rereading is not a bad idea.
I always give money (in reasonable amounts) to my friends who are raising money for a cause they believe in and make a request directly to me. I refuse to donate to anyone I don’t know who solicits my donation over the phone, mail, email. Makes the decision fast and easy every time.
This is a very smart way to give. Giving strategically to support what I believe is one of my top priorities for this year.
Oh, I love that one. I’m a sucker (read: guilty old white guy) for causes great and small. This will actually solve at least one problem for 2020!
My dad would always say, “I don’t do business over the phone.”
A great rule of thumb but in these days of social distancing it may no longer apply
We just decided on something similar 2 days ago. For us it was the decision not to NOT travel extensively in 2020 and 20201. But to rather seek out local experiences closer to home. In the past 10-15 years or so we’ve traveled to over 36 countries and have been living abroad as expats (Belize and France) since 2003.
Because I work from my laptop and can work from anywhere in the world we got caught up in jet-setting all over just because we could. (Thanks Tim and the 4HWW!)
But excessive travel can be a distraction and I often felt decision fatigue. We were always planning the next big trip. It costs a lot of bandwidth, time and money to “keep this up” and I felt burned out.
So we are taking a break from that type of lifestyle. And to be honest I’ve never felt more calm and peaceful since making that decision. It’s refreshing.
Good for you. My husband and I made a similar decision last year. We did not travel as much as you did, but we realized we were traveling because it was something we felt we should like, rather than something that we actually liked. It’s made me question the conventional wisdom on a lot of things I think I like: do I ACTUALLY like this? Or do I “like” this because it’s something one is supposed to like? This cuts down on decision-making as well, since it limits my decision-making to things I actually care about.
My wife had a close friend killed by a drunk driver so she adopted a zero drinks rule if she was driving. None. No need to worry if she’s still ok after 2 or maybe 3 because the first one was before supper ect.
Mine is simply. I don’t steal. Once you make this rule it becomes maddening how easy it would be to steal little things.
AWESOME to both you and your wife. I am borrowing both of those ideas.
Thank you for the inspiration.
On a lighter note, paraphrasing a line from Downtown Abbey –
You borrow when you intend to return 🙂
Great timing for this Tim.
I made a similar decision a week ago in regards to reading new books this year. And a blanked decision I made was to not invest in outside projects this year. I get asked a lot, and it’s hard for me to say no. Especially when a part of me wants in on the action. So it’s a relief that in 2020, I don’t do any angel investing. Period. I’ll only be investing in my own things. No need to even entertain outside options!
Congrats Tim. McKeown and Keller are rubbing off on you which is awesome.
I think rereading books is the way to go. Too often we are caught in the moment while we read with a wonderful idea but instead of taking the time translate to action, we get caught up chasing unicorns in new data.
1. No new books period. Only allowing myself to reread books that have resonated with me this year with a focus on implementation of action as I’m reading them with a surge after completion. Discipline Equals Freedom the field manual is full of gold and where I’ve started. Very quick read. Next I’m reading The One Think by Gary Keller. Then principles of Life and Work by Ray Dalio… then Essentialism by Greg McKeown… the Good to Great by Jim Collins… my one exception on a new read is Jockos Leadership Strategy and Tactics. After that I’m going to take a break and focus only on action.
2. Only are listening to select episodes from 4 Podcasts… Yours, Jocko’s, Coaching for Leaders and maybe a few of Joe Rogans on health (fasting, sauna, sleep… etc.).
3. No external commitments to functions that don’t directly support my goals (unless for charity or in support of my kids). My spare time will be spent with family, with friends on my terms or doing some type of stress reducing activity.
4. Two hydro flask water bottles… one small one for coffee and one larger one for water… that’s it. Coffee and water shall enter this body … nothing else. Maybe an occasional unsweet iced tea.
5. No facebook, no Instagram, … only the Twitter. Going to reduce the number of those I follow as well. I will keep my Facebook messenger app on my phone for those who need to reach me for some reason.
6. Saying no to friends not in the top 5. If you aren’t in the top 5 we can link up on my terms not when you decide you have a spare moment and want to catch up. My top 5 closest friends I will reserve time to meet their needs judicially but for everyone else they will need to take a number that may not get called on. I will reserve discretion to break protocol for extenuating circumstances like a friend in danger.
7. No more volunteering to mentor those that don’t ask to be mentored. If a padiwon comes a calling I will assist however I’m not putting my services on call for anyone who needs guidance at their convenience.
That’s all I can think of for now. Great post.
Jason in Cedar Park
I’m glad you start again to post written content this year. I’m finding you really inspired and inspiring. I mean, I love your podcasts but post like this, to me, are life changers and you can feel that while you read, great.
I decided years ago to read only classics book, there are so much of them I didn’t read yet. In different areas, fiction or non fiction, I prefer to read a classic, even for a theme I’m not know too much, than risk to wasting time in a book that has not proven by time yet. When in doubt I often pick from Derek Sivers’s book list. Talking about Derek, which I love as you, I’ll break my rule this year for his upcoming books, as I did whit your’s TOM and TOT.
Thank you to be a person that while trying to improve himself help a lot others to be their best version!
Gabriele from Florence, Italy
Great comment – your number 4, 5 and 6 make a lot of sense.
Love your ideas – thank you for sharing!
The immediate example of “single decisions that remove many decisions” that comes to mind is the, much written about, decision to wear the same thing every day – as allegedly practised by Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and even Obama.
That’s one decision that potentially removes 365 decisions a year!
Thanks Stephen, we need more of these kind of hacks in life, not to mention the “butterfly” effect of not making these decisions.
The decision to wear the same thing every day has changed my life. Totally frees the mind!
same here. It was because of creating a work uniform, I noticed that I started caring less with what others say about me.
Did the same about 3 years ago and donated all my former work clothes. Makes mornings and work travel so easy.
Wow, until this very moment, I assumed that only worked for guys! I didn’t even realize that I had that belief until now.
So what’s your favorite outfit that has worked for you, Carla?
Looking to borrow (and learn) from you!
Same here, Carla! And for Monique…I work in a fairly casual environment. Black yoga pants with a plain t-shirt. I have a couple pull over sweaters for cooler days. Makes life simple!
The decision to not answer seems to have removed a lot of micro choices for me. I have learned that when a family member reaches out for help with an impossible problem, after an hour of not hearing back from me, they are forced to try their luck in the vast unknown and learn how to solve their situation. (E.g. computer problems, searching for cheap flights, etc.). I first check before throwing them into the air by their lonesome, to make sure they are completely capable of finding a resolution without my presence being further needed, especially if this is the first “ghosting” on my part. It is like training a pet.
A similar thing happens with my clients, and their 2 am emergencies of the universe exploding. If I wait long enough, they figure out that the cause was their own wrongdoing, and a polite apology attached to an embarrassing email is promptly received.
In summary, don’t respond, at least not right away.
I love this! I’ve been working in 2020 to find more space to cultivate joy in my life.
I’ve never comment on a blog before and this might get buried but wanted to just say say the 4 Hour Work Week changed my life. I’m currently in Bali with my VP and CoFounder, running our company, surfing every day and making more money than I ever thought possible at 29! At 27 I had an ex boyfriend tell me I wasn’t intelligent or creative enough to start this business, dumped the boyfriend, but also found myself broke in China crying about my future when the line “there are always lateral options” changed everything for me. I went back to the states, lived out of my car, listened to every podcast I could and launched. I’m now here and feel so grateful for people like you that you use your platform to spread knowledge! Thank you!
Do you have a blog? I’d love to read more about your journey.
Hi! So sorry, didn’t think anyone would reply to this! I don’t have a blog but my company’s site is [Moderator: link removed.] and me and my CoFounder have a podcast – The Occupation Wild Podcast where we have casual conversations and explore the unusual paths people to take to live life beyond 9 to 5. You can find it on Spotify and Apple! Thank you for the kind words
I’d love to read about it too! Do share!
I don’t have a blog, but we have a podcast where we discuss a lot of similar topics and interview cool people! The Occupation Wild Podcast – on Apple and Spotify! Thank you for the kind words!
Courtney, that’s truely amazing and enjoy every moment of it. Well done, I love hearing stories like this. I wish I was as fearless to start a business of my own.
Thank you for the kind words!! You can do it! I get it can be scary at times.
Huge congrats, Courtney! Thank you for the very kind words, and keep up the great work. I am reading every comment on this post, so I didn’t miss yours 🙂
Wow! Haha I’m speechless and probably should have checked back on this post sooner! Thank you for showing people it’s possible to live their dreams.
Just for everyone who wants to know what Courtney’s website is: just click on her name and the link will take you there.
Ive read your comment =) WOW, AMAZING! Im a founder and lover of the 4HWW too. Tim has helped me get through some tough times and so has his community. Good for you, girl. It makes me so happy to hear stories like yours.
Thank you so much!!
Your story is very inspirational. Do you mind sharing which other podcasts helped you the most during those two years when you were launching your business?
Great point about fast decisions and rushed decisions!
This is interesting reading about everyone’s ‘cutting back’ for 2020 and beyond. I’m curious though – how do you plan to stick to it for the whole year? Even when your resolve is down? This reminds me of Gretchen Rubin’s book about mastering habits.
I am reading a new book for the year – my father’s. I have to fit it in around other things, but it makes me feel happy.
Now I want to read his new book. Title, lease. That decision was fast… lol
Not sure which book you’re wanting – the Gretchen Rubin book on habits is called ‘Better Than Before’. I found it to be very helpful. The other one is a finished novel by my father, but not yet published.
There are so many interesting comments on here – love it! 🙂
About 3 months ago, I decided to stop following the news. I already watch minimal television…maybe an hour or less a week. After reading Ryan Holiday’s Stillness Is The Key, I got to thinking more about focusing on things that are within my control versus things outside of my control.
Our newsfeeds are filled with news articles that have no direct impact to our daily lives…things that I can’t directly influence 50% of the outcome on. People get upset my news multiple times a day. I followed all of the major news networks : ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, BBC, etc. When one news story broke, my newsfeed was flooded with 7+ different posts on the same event. Look at an ongoing news story and its days or weeks of noise in my newsfeed.
A couple of months ago, I stopped following all of the network news pages on FB and instagram. I dont watch TV news. I dont follow news at all. I’m more focused. I feel happier. I’m more productive. My newsfeed is less polluted. Yeah, I’m less in-the-know about current events, but I’m okay with that. I’m putting more energy, thought, and action into things I do directly have influence over.
This was an experiment. Not sure I’m going to do this long term, but it is working beautifully for me right now.
For me it is time blocking. When I time block, then the decision has been made for that hour, or many hours. I don’t feel any guilt towards anything else because it is not scheduled. I am present with that action for that moment. I give everything that I have, then when the time is up, I move on to the next time block, which has already been decided for me. Making the decision to time block has been huge for me. As far as reading, I have have created more time, and have committed to the opposite. I am reading more than ever. Because everything else has been done (time blocking) I can no devote some time to learning, or validation. Repetition is the mother of skill. I can build those synapses, and make them stronger while improving my muscle memory in certain areas. I have not listened to as many podcasts because they usually are sales funnels for books lol
However, my intention has never been more precise. I am very intentional with my time. Every moment means something. And since the decision has already been made, I don’t have to make one for awhile. So I make 0 decision, except for on Sundays when I do my weekly review.
I love this comment. Makes so much sense to me! Do you have a certain method that you use to time block (i.e. how big of a block to give to something, how to schedule those blocks either earlier or later in the day, etc.)? Thanks!!
I’m glad you start to write more this year. I’m finding you really inspired and inspiring. I mean, I love your podcasts but post like this, to me, are life changers and you can feel that while you read, great.
I decided years ago to read only classic books, there are so much of them I didn’t read yet. In different areas, fiction or non fiction, I prefer to read a classic, even for a topic I don’t know too much, than risk to wasting time in a book that has not proven by time yet. When in doubt, I often pick from Derek Sivers’s book list. Talking about Derek, which I love as you, I’ll break my rule this year for his upcoming books, as I did whit your’s TOM and TOT.
Thank you to be a person that while endlessly try to improve himself, help a lot others to be their best version!
Gabriele from Florence, Italy
If you want a really good book, go to a nearest synagogue and ask for a book called “Mesilat Yesharim”.The Path of the Just, by Moshe Chaim Luzzatto. Originally published around 300 years ago.
I’d love to see a list of old books you are planning to read or just the occasional blog post/5 Bullet Friday entry of some old books you’ve been reading and mulling over. I have been trying to curate my own list and love seeing “timeless” must read lists from people I respect.
Ahh…c’mon Tim, make a teeny-tiny exception for my new book. You’ll dig it. 😉
Looking forward to getting my copy Ben!
If you send me a copy, Ben, I’ll read it. I’ve been following you for years… since you were in Vinnie Tortorich podcast the first time long looooong time ago.
DM me on IG and fill me in…
I did think of your book when I read Tims post. I was notified that my copy was shipped yeserday. Expected some time in February – LOL. Postal services. However cannot wait to get my hands on it and dig in.
Congratulations on the new book, Ben! Alas, rules are rules, but I’m sending good vibes your way 🙂
Ben, love the book, but I’m not sure “teen tiny” is the right way to describe the size of the exception it would take to the rule. 🙂
I do this with music. I never intentionally listen to music from the current calendar year, giving myself a present each new year’s day of an entire years worth of music to dig into. The book by Neal S. Anathem inspired me to this – in his world this avouts separate themselves in various ways from their culture so they can focus on study – doing with with books and music is as close as I can get to the Anathem plan.
The idea of “going upstream” to discover one decision that eliminates the need for making other decisions is very attractive. However, isn’t that exactly what our current POTUS has done by making the decision to be, above all and at all costs, self-serving?
I feel that the distinction you are making is nebulous at best…
Interesting…I’ve done the same with music, I am a big music lover and have a large collection of vinyl, CDs, and digital. I’ve told myself I’ve found all the music I need and will not invest in new music. Same with spiritual/self help books, I’ve read all I have to. Funny, as I’ve reached the age that I am, I look for things I can eliminate (material, emotional, spiritual) as I know there are things I am missing and to experience.
Guessing a new book from yourself will not be coming out in 2020 🙂
No, he said “no” to his book about “saying no”.
Gentlemen’s Quarterly has a reoccurring feature in it’s pages called something like ‘When we got it wrong’. Nehru Jackets, MC Hammer balloon pants, etc. Stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time but 10 years later reminds you that like hitters in baseball everyone will swing and miss occasionally. Save this article as I think it will finds it’s way into the 5 hour equivalent.
I think reading 20 new books a year, my personal goal, is a little bit like setting aside time to meet 20 new people for coffee and picking their brains on a virtually unlimited range of subjects. A little brain stretching to balance the mind settling of meditation. When finished some will get the Full Monty treatment of note taking. Others not so much.
Anyway, big fan. Keep up the great work.
I stole this one from the legend, Steve Jobs, but I do not spend time deciding what I wear to work every day. Working in a startup environment, work attire is as casual as we want it to be (within reason). I am personally a fan of comfort > everything else, so each day I wear a pair of Lululemon pants (the comfiest pants you will ever own) and a clean t-shirt. Low-cut socks and a pair of white tennis shoes. I estimate this one decision (having a pre-determined set of rules that I use to pick my outfit every day) saves me ~5 decisions/day. That is 1,825 decisions/year and I will never go back.
Remember – if someone calls you out as an outfit repeater, it makes them an outfit rememberer 😉
Does this bring me joy? I apply Marie Kondo’s approach to clutter, to everything, things, people, decisions etc.
I used to believe that for some areas of my life to do well, other areas of my life had to suffer. For example, if I made time for yoga and meditation, I wouldn’t have enough time left to get all my work done. I’ve finally come to realize that this is a silly, erroneous belief. I’ve decided that I can be successful in all areas of life! So now I ask myself “is this going to cause another area of my life to suffer” when I think about taking on something new. If the answer is an obvious Yes, then I pass.
I really like this.
Last year I was trying to decide how to limit my alcohol consumption. Maybe one drink every week. 2 on special occasions. I wrote and crossed out these different lines until I tore up the page and wrote on a new page. I will not drink alcohol again. Drinking was not an obvious problem for me. But I knew that it was getting in my way of fully engaging with life. I also limited netflix to one night per week. Max 2.5 hrs. Life has been wonderful since. And I have not regreted it at all.
Absolutely agree with you about the drinking. None of my friends or family think I have a problem, but I know it was hampering progress in my life (financial, physical, time, emotions) and taking up way too much space in my brain, particularly when I tried to make rules about moderation! Life genuinely feels so much clearer, straightforward and real with that one overarching decision made.
Single decision to say NO to boxes of Girl Scout cookies. So that I don’t have to say NO a hundred times when they are in my pantry.
(Did give a donation to the Girl Scout who rang my doorbell….)
Look forward to observing my choices with the ‘single decision’ method!
As a former Girl Scout dad, I now don’t buy cookies. I just make it a rule that if they ask, I donate $5 (or whatever is in my wallet) to them. Angst-free response, no decision needed, do some good, and (bonus!) they get to keep all of my money in their troop.
Interesting that your books are plastered next to this blog…
They are not from this year, I believe 🙂
Listen and meditate on “The Power of Now” blows up the concept of splitting yourself up into two parts – the “I” loving the “self”. Heed and beware. Just “be” yourself.
I do not give out my cell phone number to most people. I leave the cell phone in my (home) office and do not look at it after 5 pm. I remain off the internet after biz hours. Simplifies my life and creates space for other activities, relaxation and sleep.
Found this on Knuth’s blog:
If you believe you have found a typographic error, you must prove it by showing that the original was incorrectly transcribed; believe it or not, your language has changed over the years, just as English has.
Although I’m working full time on Volume 4B these days, I will try to reply to all such messages within nine months of receipt.
I miss reading,… But I like doing much more. Let me explain. For years, for decades, I dreamed of living a life like Indiana Jones, exploring remote landscapes, learning of ancient cultures. I also wanted to make movies. I was so far from either and spent my free time reading books about expeditions, survival and filmmaking. I read and read and lived vicariously through the books I read. I felt I had lived the very experiences I read about… Fast forward several years and now I have a successful YouTube channel that allows me to be an explorer and experience in real life adventures similar to those I read about. I also realize now that I rarely read anymore. It wasn’t a conscious decision but rather when my YouTube channel took off I just switched into “doing” rather than “dreaming” or “prepping”. I still use books for researching specific topics because the quest for learning doesn’t end but now I’m learning more by doing… Does this make sense??… Many people have told me that I need to write books but I won’t consider it at this time because I feel that “doing” the adventures is more important at my age and that I should leave the writing for a time when I take a physical rest for several weeks or simply retire.
Sounds like a huge win, Chad. Well done! I aspire to more adventures, instead of reading about adventures…
There’s a book that just made it in 2019 that I would highly recommend, which brings a gentler metaphor to the business world. ‘Winning not fighting’ is the title. And it’s all about moving towards a sustainable and happy world. (I might have already mentioned this on twitter. I literally have no benefit from it other than the world it describes is one I would want to inhabit!)
The simplest, best decision I’ve ever made was to remove animals & animal products from my plate. It removes copious micro decisions & so much harm – to self, others, animals & our world.
it’s been over a decade since I decided to get to the heart of the matter (by getting to the bottom of it) and, as I said up there, it’s the most valuable decision I’ve ever made.
Tim, thanks again for getting back to this type of post – I gain more actionable benefit from 5 minutes of reading this than any I do from any other source I can imagine.
Thanks so much for reading, Greg. This is the type of feedback that keeps me writing.
For my mental health, as someone who once took anti-convulsants for bipolar disorder, I’ve decided to just focus on one health metric this year: My Glucose:Ketones Index (GKI), a metric used by people who have epilepsy following a ketogenic diet. My husband, when he had cancer in 2014, monitored this number as his three large tumors rapidly shrunk near his aorta. Not just my weight or any other number. We are also both focusing on simplifying even more by staying away from alcohol and vegetables (we’re both nose-to-tail carnivore eaters, which makes eating so much easier–no more decisions on what to make, what to eat).
Thank you for being such a great inspiration for health, creativity, productivity and more. Over the years, my husband and I have bought and read all of your books, even sharing it with our son, who is now a teenager in high school. Love your idea of simplifying and reducing the mental clutter that can plague modern life.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Lily. I’m very interested in Glucose:Ketones Index (GKI) and will definitely be learning more…
“I am prone to procrastinating via reading.” There are so many times that I resist taking action in my life by reading a book on how to take that action. Including now! I’ve been meaning to re-work my yearly goals because they weren’t cohesive – but I’m reading this article. Cutting off now! Thank you for this!
Funny – I thought of doing something similar this year. I think I’m going to grab 3-5 books I really like and read them all a few times this year. Kind of pound them into my brain.
1) The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson
2) The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
3) Turning Pro – Steven Pressfield
I have some ideas like Think and Grow Rich, The Alchemist and The Four Agreements.
I have recently made the decision to never “pass the buck” to myself or others. For example, instead of deciding if I will take the trash out now or somewhere down the line, I decide not to “pass the buck” to myself and I take the trash out on my way downstairs. This rule of thumb has lessened by overall anxiety and stress and led to a much more orderly life in all ways.
I’ve typically been physically fit. At 48 years old and after a couple of shoulder surgeries in 2016 and a downhill MTB accident in 2017, I found a way to accept those as excuses. On March 24, 2019 I went for a run. A simple 3-mile run around my house. I paced 11:30, felt like I was going to die, and decided I need a change. I checked the scale and I was 217 pounds (at 5’8”). I typically have little willpower with food.
As a complete coincidence, my wife was reading Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” after we heard him on your podcast. I decided that the next day I would act on a few simple good choices that eliminated thousands of bad choices.
1. I won’t eat added sugar of any kind (cane sugar, fructose, sucrose, honey, stevia, any other kind you can think of. Basically eliminate almost every processed food there is.
2. I won’t eat grains of any kind. Although this did remove some healthy grains, it eliminated hundreds of other things like bread, pasta, crackers, etc.
3. I won’t eat chips of any kind
4. I will run at least 1 mile everyday no matter what I feel like, how busy I am, where I am, or the weather (I live in NH so it can get interesting)
Anyway, I’ve since lost 55 pounds, have been taken off statins for high cholesterol, ran my first marathon at 3 hours 24 minutes, and Have run ever day since June 1st 2019 averaging 5.5 per day. My resting heart rate is 41.
Those 4 decisions eliminated thousands of bad choices. Thank you, Tim, for your help through your podcasts. The Greg McKeown podcast and his book helped me overcome managing a bunch of decisions that would have been subject to willpower failures or motivation issues. Instead, I just said I am making these 4 decisions.
Life changing for me
Thank you so much!
I LOVE this story! Time for me to get my running shoes on, too.
This sounds a lot like David Cain’s (raptitude.com) idea of having a “Depth Year“. Equally wise.
Are you still going to read older books? and if so, how many (as opposed to your rate over the last number of years)?
The decision that will fix several for me is super mundane–I need to just suck it up an buy a parking spot. I then no longer need to decide–where will I park when I get to work, what if the cheap spot is taken, can I afford (the time) to feed a meter?
Hey Lisa! Yours was intriguing. Did you buy the parking spot? Did you get relief for parking spot Decision Fatigue?
Two of my favourite guests you have interviewed in the past year have helped save me many many thousands of other decision making events. Derek Sivers simple but highly effective “Hell Yeah or No” – the no part of this saves whatever previously I might have said yes to and all the associated time and effort that saying yes requires. The other was Gary Keller the author on the One thing who you had on recently. In the same vain as you are talking what’s the one thing you can do that makes all other things easier or irrelevant. Add to this Deep Work by Cal Newport and I easily had my best year ever last year – happier / more productive / less stressed / more elevated higher level decisions because the big stuff will take care or overrule the little stuff.
Also a note Tim to thank you for all the incredible interviews and the preparation you must do to ask the right questions to provide such an amazing podcast and supporting blog post info. Incredible work.
These may be a little mundane, but work. Don’t buy new clothes, shop in your closet when you have an event or meeting to go to. Don’t wear make-up or color your hair (women). I’m with Tim, no desserts or sweet snacks. Do indoor stuff after dark so that daylight hours are saved for outdoor activities. Extremely timely article for me. Thanks.
Having been introduced to Jocko Willink on the Tim Ferriss Show a few years ago now (check out Jocko’s episode 212 with Echo Charles as they discuss this) I made the decision to get out of bed earlier, at 4:30am.
Getting out of bed earlier means I can “get after it” by having more time before everyone else in the house gets up. I suppose it is an “up before the enemy” approach.
I have a ton of time to cook a breakfast, exercise, study, meditate, get the news of the day out of the way and sometimes work before I actually go to work.
A side effect is to also not have to worry about getting out of bed early to catch that early flight and that weird waking up four times in the early hours before actually have to.
The down side is that I do have to get to bed earlier but that is OK as I’ve never been a night owl anyway.
I can’t remember when I last watched live unrecorded TV or a “new” TV program.
All but a few of the F1 races are at midnight here so I watch them at 5am, without knowing the result first so it has that live effect. Any other TV is old programs watched with the kids (teenagers) more as something to do together than anything else, and we don’t binge watch.
Something educational happened as a side effect of watching MASH and that was talking about the Korean War, what I’d heard on the Jocko Podcast and what was is happening with North Korea today. Certainly helped a 15 year old learn a bit of history in a round about way.
I’m working through the GTD Book (thanks Tim for interviewing David Allan) and one simple rule is: If I have to do a task and it will take less that two minutes then do that task now, otherwise, schedule it for later.
There is a heap of other things I’ve changed over the past four years however getting out of bed earlier is certainly one habit that has made a big difference.
Wow. I’m surprised to hear the name Donald Knuth in the article! He essentially revolutionized the world of mathematical typesetting with the TeX typesetting system (the most popular variant being LaTeX, which we happen to run an article on a while ago). That said, Knuth is also someone with many peculiarities as well.
And without trying to feed the FOMO, there’s a famous book called The One Thing by Gary Keller which essentially explores the idea of focus and inhibiting all other distractions — the theme being alluded to in this article.
I did this just yesterday out in the pasture!! Thanks for giving it a name 🙂 I was spraying mesquite trees – they have to be sprayed now and then or they will take over the whole place. I would walk up to each tree and decide if I should spray it or not… It sounds easy but it was getting kind of exhausting making that decision each time. I decided to leave the trees that were taller than me, and spray the ones that were shorter. That one decision saved me probably thousands of decisions!
Look at Ignatius of Loyola’s take on decision making. Even Jung has lectured on it. If you like de Mello, go to the source of his spirituality.
Re-read, and re-read, and re-read the Tao until you think you understand it, then re-read it again, and again, and again, etc.
You only need to make one decision…don’t look at shiny objects.
Now this! I needed this! Thank you.
decisions are an interesting concept. I have found, through practice, that I do not make decisions. They just happen. If it seems like a decision is called for I do research as I am led. At some point in the research process, made without urgency but with curiosity, the decision is obvious and just happens. Any “decisions” that happen quickly are a result of my conditioning. Notice who claims the credit for the decision.
Always good and I agree. Though I would do one thing first. Decide what I am going to do first then kill off those things that would cure/free me. I would never want sudden free time through deletion to be wasted time. According to the life time clock I have less books than you do to read before I punch out.
Wow 300 books. according to the lifespan calculator I only have 1748 weekends left as well. Better get my life examined and treat my time a lot more like the precious commodity it is.
Another way to look at life span calculators, is IF I get this time. Most people in all of history have lived less time than we do. Then, the entire future is a gift. Either way, acknowledging that now is most important time, is key. I don’t want to spend any more of this time FOMOing, or asking the same questions over again. Exercise first thing in the morning, or I spend the whole day trying to work it in.
Personally, i decided to pick one subject matter and focus completely on that for a year. Because with my reading speed (mostly Audible) I can read somewhere around 10-15 books a year.
I choose AI because it’s an interesting field and broad enough to really have learned something in a year.
My challenge is more with other content. Don’t mean this as an insult …. because I enjoy that Tim Ferris show.. but do i really need an Bob Iger interview? Or a 4 hour Jocko podcast?
I find a “nugget” of truth or insight in nearly all the interviews, from Ken Burns to Neil degrasse Tyson. Ken Burn’s interview introduced me to a quote from Learned Hand regarding the importance of doubt, which unlocked the intent behind the feedback from my boss that I was “too certain”. It has completely changed the way I communicate ideas and opened the door to better collaboration.
I think the decision for me is to be very selective with sources. Agree with the various posts about the vast proliferation content that is mere repacking. And it’s only surface (no meat and thus mostly a waste of time). My decision is to chose sources wisely.
It strikes me that the issue you are addressing is one of too many options, too little time. Too much noise and distraction, not enough focus. Keep the main thing the main thing. I LOVE your recommendations, books included. What is your purpose? If reading and sharing books is central to it, do not cut that off. When I have a headache, I do not behead myself. Avoiding what you fear gives power to that fear. FOMO has you not reading new words of wisdom? I would love to see you acknowledge that you have time to read only X number of books. Your FOMO is an unrealistic expectation that only you can deflate. And, there are ways to conquer that beast beyond just total avoidance. Do a deep dive on fewer books. Share more of your thoughts on books you have read. One a month? Pick the books you choose w/o worry of what the suppliers think … if they get concerned, that is their selfishness. You can only read so many books (and none is not optimal for a seeker and sharer of knowledge and truth)
As for what single decision can eliminate others … my question is this “am I intentional and aware of my attitude, my time and my effort – and am I using these gifts in a non-distracted way on what is most important for me to serve my purpose?” If the answer is yes, do it. If the answer is no, cut it. Keep the main thing the main thing!
When asked how he went about creating the sculpture of David, Michelangelo said, “it was easy, I just chipped away all that was not David.”
Enjoyed your reply
Marrying the right person. I love you Tim and you’re an inspiration. Love the podcast. But get marriage right, and you avoid millions of other decisions. Lou
Great post Tim. Makes me think of one of my favorite Einstein quotes – “Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” Cheers to simplifying decisions and reducing consumption of information!
I ask myself ‘Where am I spending mindless time?’. For me, it’s rerun TV and reading news on my phone / internet. Once I’ve identified ‘mindless’ time, my goal is not just to remove it, but replace it with something meaningful.
I also ask ‘Does this decision or situation increase my energy or drain me?’ Any draining decision becomes a ‘no’. For those that will still read in 2020, I recommend a book called ‘Focusing’ which helps you develop a habit of listening to your body when needing to make any decision or cut to the heart of vague feelings of un-ease.
It seems that marketing, or should I say marketers, are the root cause of our needing ‘new information. Consultants, speakers, and especially thought leaders, are told daily that their credibility will be significantly increased once they’ve published a book, and more than one book is even better.
So the marketplace has become inundated with ‘new’ material that’s really re-purposed ‘older’ content that’s already stood the test of time.
Tim, I found this post of great interest especially the fact that I’m 65. There’s still so many books from long ago I still haven’t read and want too. When I was locked up in Federal Prison for 10 years I read over 5,000 books. Yes! I kept track and recorded each title and author. When I released I vowed not to read again and I haven’t. But, now there are books as I said form long ago that I want to read before I go. So I’m kind of on the same path. No new books. Only old ones.
Here’s to 2020!
wow! the comments are just as interesting as the post itself. thank you!
“Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It” is a terrific last book for 2020 and I’m sure you can get through it in an hour.
I read it in 2017 when I asked friends for a short but impactful book. I read 52 books that year, and it was one of the best, the lesson of which was the easiest to remember, too!
Interesting. The single decision I made? Ending a 40+ year friendship. You just can’t imagine all of the little exhausting decisions this eliminated.
I retired early after a 24 year career because it no longer satisfied me. That one decision gave me room to cultivate living in a manner aligned with my personal values and how I truly wanted to serve. I live more simply now and do far less. Plus I don’t try “to keep up.” Sometimes I wonder if I suffer from a bit of inertia, but as a pleaser, it’s refreshing to pay more attention to my intuition and figure things out day by day. Practicing meditation helps immensely.
My unnoticed tweet, so, for the record here it is again:
A little reminder for you; I’ve read all your books, listened to all your podcasts, learned a lot, made use of all those invaluable info in all areas of life. But, I dislike your calling *fan* for people like me. You are a writer for me and I see you as a friend. I’m not a fan.
Where have you made single decisions that removed many decisions?
– Pausing between tasks and becoming still for one minute. From that place of stillness it usually becomes clear what I should be focusing on next.
A couple of thoughts; I’m recently inspired by Jim Collins idea of the “stop doing” list, to help free up more time and also keep me on track with personal goals. Also, will your no new books rule affect who you have on your podcast? I.e. no authors with new books to promote?
Coffee and sugar.
For the last 18 months, after a period of complete abstinence, I thought I could regulate my intake.
I can, but it’s difficult, and not worth the bother.
Too little coffee, and I’m dozy, too much, I don’t sleep properly.
Constantly fluctuating sugar levels, from cake or chocolate makes my hyperactive, then burned out, then irritable. I was eating chocolate less than twice a week, and I hate the effect it has, and just kept doing it…………
Any more than one cup of coffee every three days has me waking up in the middle of the night, feeling like I am dying.
So, as part of my past year review, I’m quitting the lot. Wrote it down in nice big letters.
Haven’t touched coffee since January 3, and I’ve eaten one small cake.
Now I don’t have to make the decision, of, do I need coffee or not? Where should I get it?When did I have the last one? Will this keep me awake tonight? Is it too late in the day? What will I feel like tomorrow if I don’t have one today?
And all that exhausting nonsense, for something that had zero detectable positive impact, and a whole load of negative ones.
My sleep is better, my focus is better, my guts feel better, I’m less tired, and I just don’t feel the need for either.
Bring on the green tea.
Enjoyed your post! You got me thinking about my own coffee consumption now.
If you are willing to introduce a small decision in your beverage choice, consider trying Sweet and Spicy Tea (GoodEarth, I think). Green Tea or Sweet and Spicy Tea
Quick edit: you doubled up on the question, “In what areas am I making a lot of decisions, or sending a lot of communications?” As always, great quotes and insights.
I thought so too, but he actually didn’t. 😊 Take a look again.
Where have I made a single decision that removed many decisions? I quit drinking alcohol: Should I? Shouldn’t I? If so, what and how much? How can I make the consequences of drinking fit into what do I have to do tomorrow and the next day? Exhausting and ultimately unproductive.
I utterly LOVE your experiments Tim which are extreme to test the hypothesis. I identify with using reading (or audible), sometimes known as ‘just one more piece of research’ to procrastinate.
Best of all, I love that you admit if an experiment didn’t work or needed tweaking. So if you start reading again, please let us know!!
Pauses……allow space between deciding
Maybe it is a breath in , pause, breath out
Listen more, listen deeply
I continue to remind myself to live this way whether I am listening to my thoughts or someone else
My response now to others is……I will give that some great thought
Try for one day not making a firm decision
Next day, answer ? Perhaps
Easy- attend Nine Gates Mystery School. Then you will make whatever decisions you need to from a new expanded perspective. Concepts like guilt, FOMO, prestige will melt away. Productivity is not the goal, well-being is, then you become naturally productive. Tim, I am enjoying reading Consciousness Medicine very much, thank you for the recommendation, so I can’t take this latest advice until I catch up on the last. 😉
I hadn’t quite put it in your words, but “simplify, prioritize and reduce the loss of energy” are my guiding principles for 2020. Thanks for further insights!
One of the best decisions I made to remove extra decisions was not to work ON other people’s businesses. I can offer advice and guidance, but I’m not going to be the one executing for other people anymore.
Freeing the time from putting out other people’s fires has given me a new lease on life. Now I can focus on the projects that I’m excited about without feeling guilty.
I love going to cafes for breakfast and go to various different ones in my local area. Once I have been somewhere once, I choose what I will order and then each time I return, I always order the same thing from that particular cafe. I choose differently at each place for variety, but it means I never have to look at a menu, which saves both energy and time, as I can order as soon as I arrive. I also like eliminating decisions about what to eat for breakfast so I have greater energy for more important decisions in the morning at work.
I try to eliminate decisions/options by making rules for myself, even for seemingly minor things, e.g. after three times getting stuck overnight at airports, I created a rule to never take the last flight out of anywhere. When I’m tempted, I ask myself “what is my rule?” I also use questions that reframe my thinking, such as, “is this what I want to spend my money on?” to move past a decision that might otherwise waste time.
So so good Tim, I love this, I am excited to find more areas where I get to make rules in my life to reduce decision fatigue. I’ve started in my closet and my food, and now I get to find new places in relationships and social situations to do the same. #chooseme Thank you for your contribution, your honesty, and offering to the planet of a way to be. 🙂
When I decide that I would only read (or listen to) books recommended by a very limited number of people,
Tim has helped me. Tim asked for help via upstream ideas. I talked to my team (~300 Aerospace Engineers) Here’s the top 3
Use a drying pad like swimmers do in the Olympics. Eliminates a lot of towel related cleaning folding, buying etc. Pad is simple to clean and uses much less energy
Delete food delivery apps: Path to the devil, bad for fitness, adds stress, non justifiable expense except when man is at their weakest (weekend on the sofa with the game on)
No loyalty programs of any kind. airline miles, grocery cards save very few dollars when examined but influences and lengthens planning of all shapes. Don’t ever forget if a company did not have rock solid analysis results that show they will end up taking more money from you the loyalty program would not exist. Everyone thinks they are a meta human and that they will be exception to the rule that causes the program to unlock unprecedented value, but the stress, time, and anxiety don’t even compensate for the potential, theoretical value limit.
Hope it helps Tim, and yes upward indeed!
Thanks so much for the vetting, Nayo!
To attain knowledge add things every day. To attain wisdom subtract things every day.
I only wash my socks quarterly.
A year or two ago I found socks I liked at the dollar store and just kept buying pack after pack over the course of a few months.
Now I have about 120 pairs of the same type of sock. I never have to find a matching pair. I never fold them. I have a bag of clean socks, and a bag of dirty socks. There’s enough for months, so I only have to wash my socks quarterly.
It’s well worth the space they take up!
One decision I made was to prevent outcomes from influencing or encouraging me to change decisions. Instead I would use confirming & disconfirming evidence during the decision making process to ascertain how solid the decision is.
This has helped me avoid making decisions based on outcomes which may have occurred due to various external factors – not just the factors involved in decision making. It has also prevented me from making decisions in a rushed manner , avoiding cognitive biases as best I can.
For example, when deciding an exercise program I come up with 3 results that I expect , pick a program that fits and search for disconfirming evidence that I will not achieve the 3 results. If the decision holds, then I continue the program for a time period that will help me achieve the 3 results. Then, I avoid switching between several programs, buying less equipment & gear , etc
No TV since 2003. No news from online media since 2015 – I learn about major events only from F2F conversations with my wife, a friend or a colleague. No FB (I never had an account). No Twitter. Only LinkedIn and only at work if I need to research a person or a company. Transport to go to work (last 2 years): only walking allowed, and no matter what’s the weather (rain, snow, too cold, too hot). I use the time (8km/30 mins) to listen to podcasts: typically TF or Sam Harris.
Binary (all or nothing) decisions are easier for me as well. And until now it works in a sustainable way. But I don’t make decisions that would be valid only during the next year. Again, all or nothing – the decision is valid forever (or at least until deliberately changed by me based on new information or beliefs).
Thanks to Tim and to everyone that’s contributing with ideas – it’s a great topic.
8km/30mins means you walk at 16km/h! That’s FAST, like really fast running 🙂
Yeah sorry – it’s 8km total – 30 – 35 mins one direction 🙂 but the principle is worth exploring – you save money, improve your health (both physical and mental) and it gradually becomes a habit, so you don’t think about it.
My wife and I recently divested ourselves from a 5,000 s.f. antebellum home and moved to Costa Rica for 75% of the year. Over 3 years, we reduced attachments to acquired things, useless possessions and, ultimately, the house where we had raised our 3 kids.
We renovated one floor of my office building into a small flat and reduced most of what wouldn’t fit (though we still have a bit more to go).
We were going to buy in Costa Rica and I spent 7 trips to do my due diligence on the local real estate market. I even found a few fantastic fire sale deals. Luckily, we had the discipline to simplification and we chose to rent.
No mortgage payment. No exorbitant real estate tax bills. No maintenance costs. No HOA. No pool guy, gardener, housekeeper. Nada!
The decision to reduce the physical space of our home reduced a plethora of micro-decisions and opened up emotional space, mental space and financial space.
We sold & moved in September which is only 4 months from this writing. It feels to us like it has been FOUR YEARS! No regrets.
What a great story. Felicitaciones!
The one decision that removes hundreds of others: in two parts: hiring very capable, decisive people and ensuring they understand the strategy and are fully authorised. They will run their part of the business autonomously and leave you out of hundreds of details.
Instead of deciding what to post on Facebook, and what to comment on, I simply gave up Facebook two months ago. I thought I would miss it. I did, for four days.
I started investing all of my spare capital into an index fund to avoid having to make buy and sell decisions on a particular stock. It minimizes almost all investing decisions for me now so I can focus on creating more cash flow in my business. All I do now, is click “buy” when there is a market selling off. Pretty simple!
My single decision this year is not to shop in supermarkets. Now I only buy local and seasonal.
I ran a very successful community oriented retail store and was asked for donations every day. Each year I decided on a topic to guide my donations. One year, only women’s groups, one year only social services, one year environmental – you get it. Phew made life easier.
DON’T DO FAVORS. JUST SAY NO WHEN SOMEONE ASKED FOR A FAVOR. Those who think lesser of you because you said no can be banished from your life. Those who accept a NO as graciously as a YES are friends worth keeping.
That’s awesome Tim! I did the same thing re older books. I use the Booklists published by Faster To Master which rank them based on age, good reads reviews and Amazon reviews which is great as it surfaces the best books with a preference given to ones that have stood the test of time. Here is the booklists if you’re interested:
This may be my favorite EVER post from you, Tim. And thanks for asking.
My “de-cision” has been to focus entirely on teaching people – difficult, stubborn people like me – how to kick smoke, chew and vapor, tobacco or nicotine in any form, and putting heads together with other healthcare professionals on how to have ever more fulfilling conversations with patients, clients, fam and friends on this subject I call buttkicking.
In my career, in my life thus far, I’ve done a GREAT many things, and have enjoyed that.
And, I kept pondering the Rumi quote, the one about “forsaking a thousand half-loves to bring a whole heart home.” I can’t do everything well. I am, however, very good at this work I do. And doing it, diving in, to the bottom of things, as Donald Knuth said, could have a massive impact. One billion people using tobacco on this planet, and many already wanting to stop.
And, I notice now, because I’m more tuned in to my body, that every time someone tells me they have kicked, it feels like my cells are dancing.
So that helped to clarify!
Joanna NicciTina Free
Great work you are doing Joanna. I clicked over having seen Rumi quote that Tim cited on his newsletter.
Another quote from Rumi that I first learned from Saki Santorelli’s book Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine, “Don’t turn your head. Keep looking at the bandaged place. This is where light enters you.” A great book for the client/patient relation on mindfulness.
Thanks, Randy! Lovely quote, too.
This is interesting – I feel as though I’m doing something similar (not completely opposite but different enough) … I plan to make notes for any nonfiction book I read and, if it isn’t worth learning from, to quit reading it; I also plan to enjoy reading classics along with fiction – again highlighting and making notes for sentences and turns of phrase I find most thought-provoking.
I’m curious how you feel about this decision midway through the year – and I am very interested in what classics you read or reread instead!
good post for me.
Can someone clear this up for me please?
Tim writes above: “So, I’m publishing this blog post and fixing the problem further upstream: I’m not even reading any new books in 2020. No “What I’m reading” bullets in the “5-Bullet Friday” newsletter will feature books published in 2020.”
From what I gathered, he isn’t reading any new books in 2020?
Is he saying, that the “What I’m reading” bullets are going to be of books he heard were good without actually reading them?
Tad confused. Sorry, I promise I read his post twice.
My understanding is that he will be reading, just revisiting older classics instead of books published this year. I resonated as I have a library full of great books that have been collecting dust and also made the decision to revisit many of the classic business books that have stood the test of time. I am finding revisiting classics help reinforce different points while also continuing to inspire me. Hope that helps.
Yep. I”ll be reading plenty of books, just books published before 2020.
My only comment is that in my opinion, it would be wise to try and get Paul Salopek on the Podcast.
A couple of years ago I decided to simplify my diet by picking the top most nutritious foods I enjoyed eating and sticking to them, organized by day of the week. I started with my favorite foods and I captured all nutritional information in an excel spreadsheet. This ensured I get all vitamins and minerals I need, and supplement otherwise. It’s focused on low carb foods, but you can make your own version based on personal preference or need. On Mondays I fast. For the rest of the week, for breakfast I have Bulletproof coffee, or just plain coffee if I don’t need the energy/it’s too hot out. For lunch, I alternate chia seed vanilla whey protein pudding or Wild Planet sardines over green salad or a chopped tomato. If not available, I skip. I have a predetermined set of spices/flavorings/oils I eat with those meals (pick your top favorites). Here’s the weekly schedule for the main meals (usually dinner for me):
1. Monday: I fast
2. Tuesday: Poisson Cru (Ahi Tuna, cucumbers, tomatoes, coconut cream, salt)
3. Wednesday: Poisson Cru
4. Thursday: Sesame and Shoyu Poke or Sashimi (the base fish is again Ahi Tuna or Swordfish)
5. Friday: NY Steak or Ribeye with grass fed butter and Spinach or Asparagus if in season
6. Saturday: Lamb Chops or Pork Chops with butter and Brussel Sprouts
7. Sunday: Bacon & Eggs, sometimes livers fried in the bacon fat
Snacks are limited to almonds, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, passion fruit if in season, green salad, avocados, yogurt, good cheese (pick top 3 favorites), good saucisson.
I try not to drink alcohol during the week, and stick to Champagne (Priority 1), good wine (Priority 2), ginger beer and good rum otherwise (Priority 3). As in, I will always pick the Champagne if available.
Whenever in doubt picking a brand or type of the foods described above (a luxury I have when back in the US, but almost never in my travels), I use a set of heuristics to determine the best choice: no/least sugar added, grass fed & pastured, local, in season, fresh, favorite brand.
If I go out, I simply pick the restaurant version of the daily meal – most places have steak, pork chops, fish and vegetables options.
This approach significantly simplified my shopping, cooking, and saves countless of decision cycles wondering ‘what should I have for dinner today’. I call it the Stoic Hedonistic approach because it’s severely limiting in terms of options and incorporates fasting but I still get to eat steak, blueberries, and Champagne which are my 3 favorite foods.
I often find myself trying to make a decision as though I am in a maze. I have to get outside the maze to understand what is really going on and then I can make the best decision at the time. If not I am making a hundred decisions when I just need one, thank you. Another way of thinking about this is that I can not solve a personal problem when I am in the problem (substiture decision or challenge).