Tag Archive | Essentialism

Learning Optimization 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize Learning?”

Gain optimal feedback on the quality of your learning immediate feedback after every learning session and daily feedback at the end of every day.

How effective was your learning? (Strategy)

Did you learn the highest-leverage things you could be learning? (Leverage)

Did you learn them in optimal order (so that they optimally build upon one another)? (Sequencing)

How efficient was your learning? (Tactics)

Did you challenge yourself?

How active was your information absorption process? (Understanding Efficiency)
Did you process – that is, deeply reflect on – the information immediately, or just lazily saved it for later?

Did you practice deliberately? (Practice Efficiency)
Did you actually have deliberate practice time?

Always keep in mind the central tenet of Essentialism:

Less, but better. (Greg McKeown)

On remembering what’s essential

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“There are moments when I can’t remember what’s essential.”

“Temporary forgetting is inevitable. You can hold nothing in mind indefinitely. So be prepared for it.

Have a ritual for reminding yourself of what’s essential.

“What do you have in mind?”

“I’m thinking journaling/questioning

Take a piece of paper and ask yourself questions:

What’s essential?

What’s important?
What’s important now?
What’s the most important thing?

What’s the priority?

I’m also thinking reading

Read from a selection [<link] of the most powerful ideas you know that remind you of what’s essential. As you know, reading a couple of them one after another has an emotional flooding [<link; short read] effect.”

The Art of Anchoring 6

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can remember what’s essential?”

Make the unessential a reminder for the essential.

Input/Output Oscillation

The 50/50 Rule: Learn for 50% of the time and explain what you learn for 50% of the time. (Thomas Oppong)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the optimal input/output ratio [<link; short read] for learning?”

“Which is more important, the input or the output?”

“The output – processing information, implementation/experimentation, explaining what you’ve learned, deliberate practice.”

“Our tendency is to lean towards the input because it’s easy. Spending a few hours absorbing information gives you the illusion of learning. But your efficiency is so low that you’d have been better off using that time elsewhere.

The main principle of Essentialism applies here as well:

Less, but better.

The input/output ratio is a useful metric to get a general sense of how well you’re doing. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. 

Efficiency emerges from the structure of the learning process.

Let’s compare two structures:

(1) Half the day input, half the day output.

(2) Alternating between a pomodoro (30m) of input and a pomodoro of output, for the same total duration.

Both amount to the same input/output ratio at the end of the day, but in terms of efficiency, (2) is vastly superior.”

“Why is it superior?”

“Because it integrates the input with the output into one structure. You no longer conceive of input without immediate output. The input and the output together form a learning cycle.

Learning Cycle = Input + Output

Also because you get faster feedback. Feedback on what you’ve just learned, but also on the efficiency of the learning process itself.” 

“So every learning cycle is also an optimization cycle.”


To increase efficiency, decrease the distance between input and output. Get more cycles in.

It can be 1 pomodoro of input / 1 pomodoro of output.
It can even be 1/2 pomodoro of input / 1/2 pomodoro of output.”

“Does it have to be 50/50?”

“That’s a useful guideline. But don’t take it as gospel. Experiment, see what input/output ratio works best for you.”

The Essence of Implementation 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the essence of implementation?”

In essence, to implement means to take action on.

We might say everything you absorb and experience has a learning potential. Implementation is taking steps towards the actualization of that potential.

Let’s take reading a non-fiction book as an example.

As you read, the main goal is to identify the information that has value. This requires what Edward de Bono calls ‘value sensitivity‘. The information might have value in that it helps you understand something, or in that it has what I call an ‘actionable kernel‘ – a potential to improve your life in some way if put to use.

Let’s say you discover an idea that has an actionable kernel. This is a decision-point. You may choose to do something with that information, or not. 

If you don’t, nothing happens – and, by doing this consistently, nothing will ever happen.

If you do, you initiate the implementation process. The process has three stages:

Stage 0: Idea Capture
Stage 1: Transformation
Stage 2: Design

Stage 0 is note-taking. You highlight the idea and/or save it somewhere – ideally in a commonplace book. You’ve taken an important first step. However, unless you progress to the next stages, it has close to zero value.”

“I was stuck at this stage for a long time.”

“The advantage is that, once you transcend this stage, all that information is available to you.

Stage 1 is transformation. You take the idea, reflect on it and deconstruct it, extract the actionable kernel, and give it actionable form. This means paraphrasing the initial idea, transforming it into one or more directives that tell you exactly what you need to do. (Specificity)

Stage 2 is where the magic happens. This is a beautiful creative iterative process. 

At a micro level, depending on the nature of the idea, it may involve creating habits (Behavior Design), creating drill-games (for practicing specific skills), or creating experiments.

At a macro level, it means discovering how it connects with everything else (Thematic Interconnectedness), discovering synergies with other practices, and beautifully integrating it into your life.

It also means continually optimizing the implementation process itself, to increase implementation-density and implementation-efficiency.”

The Essence of Implementation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the essence of Implementation?”

“I like to express it as two directives:

Think something different.
Do something different.

“What does it mean?”

“The first directive expresses two ideas (so far):

Thought is the blueprint for action.

It all starts in the mind. First as an idea-seed, which grows into a plan, which blossoms into action.

Thought is the fundamental means by which we access our resources. It’s a tool-making tool – a meta-tool.

Implementation is a creative process.

You can get inspired by the ideas of others, but you must adapt them to your own circumstances. It’s a beautiful opportunity to express yourself creatively and innovate.

The second directive expresses three ideas (so far):

Implementation means changing your behavior.

If you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. (Tony Robbins)

To change something about your life, you must change your behavior.

Eben Pagan took it one step further:

Learning is behavior change.

Implementation is a design process.

This is an extension of the point about implementation being a creative process. What this one emphasizes is that implementation is essentially problem-solving, hence focused on the practical.

Design is a structured creative process. It’s a beautiful opportunity to embrace your Designer identity.

Implementation is experimentation.

Implementation is an iterative process. You generate ideas, you evaluate and narrow them down, you test them, get feedback, then repeat the process, optimizing with each iteration.”

On Pleasure

If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no”. […]

When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”

(Derek Sivers)

Focus on that which lights your soul on fire. (Brian Johnson)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I don’t like it.”

“Pleasures can be cultivated. You can grow to like it.”

“I don’t want to grow to like it.

An important aspect of my Art is cultivating the right pleasures.

“Which are those?”

“Those aligned with my Vision for my Masterpiece Life. I choose to focus exclusively on those.”

“Aren’t you missing on the simple pleasures of life?”

“On the contrary. Simplicity is one of my central values.

Another important aspect of my Art is cultivating simple pleasures.

For instance I only drink water. If you do it mindfully and gratefully, the simple act of drinking water is a joy.

The idea is, I’m very selective about my pleasures.

Some pleasures add to your life.
Some pleasures neither add nor detract.
Some pleasures detract from your life.

From my perspective,
if one wants to live a great life, it’s important to eliminate the third;
If however one wants to live an extraordinary life, it’s important to eliminate the second kind as well.

The second kind, while seemingly unimpactful, come with a subtle opportunity cost: they take away time and energy from the full expression of the first.”

Gratitude Flooding 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I want to own as little as possible. So a while ago I did an inventory of all my possessions, 80/20 style.”

“Have you thought of making that information usable?”

“What do you have in mind?”

“You can use it in your Gratitude practice.

You can turn it into a Gratitude List.

“I’m thinking Gratitude Flooding [<link; short read].”

“I’m thinking that’s a great idea.”

On Implementation 2

The question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?” (Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I implement this wisdom?”

“Here’s a few ideas.

Use the question as a filter.

Whenever you look at a set of options, ask yourself:

What would excite me?

Order the options based on how exciting they are; eliminate the unexciting ones.

Expand the question.

For instance, you can use it in the context of Self-Awareness.

Ask yourself about the activity you’re engaged in,

How exciting is this?

You always have two choices:
change the activity to a more exciting one (selective)
make the activity (more) exciting (creative)

As concerns the latter, ask yourself:

How can I make this exciting?

How can I beautify this?

How can I play with this?
How can I make it fun?

You can also use it in the context of habit creation.

Remember James Clear’s four rules.”

“Make it obvious. (Cue)
Make it attractive. (Craving)
Make it easy. (Response)
Make it satisfying. (Reward)”

“You can upgrade the third one to,

Make it exciting.

Which brings us back to,

How can I make this exciting?”

The light side of technology

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Did you know that adult Americans touch their smartphones on average more than 2,600 times a day?”

“I’m guessing there’s a lot of statistical wizardry involved in getting to that number, but let’s go with it. So people touch their smartphones a lot. What do you think about that?”

“That seems a bit excessive, doesn’t it?”

“Not necessarily.

Depends what you touch the smartphone for.

For instance, imagine if with every touch of the phone you read a random little piece of wisdom. Those little pieces of wisdom would really add up.

“One approach is to reduce the number of touches. I’m guessing that’s the one you’re advocating.”

“Yes, it is. What’s your approach?”

My approach is to make every touch of the phone meaningful, and to use the phone only as a productivity tool.