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Last year I had a truly spectacular todo list. It ranged from building a cabin on the island (with no idea how to do so), getting the floors replaced on a rental property in Las Vegas, a huge number of Cruisesheet bugs and fixes, work on a book, a few dozen emails, and then tens of random tasks that can't fit in any one category.
This happens to a lot of us, especially as we expand too much and take on a lot of big important tasks. And it's actually a pretty crummy place to be, as the psychic load of a big todo list is a major distraction.
The fundamental problem is that the items that cluster on a todo list tend to be the ones which are never urgent enough to warrant action. So we just keep dealing with more urgent things, and simultaneously accumulate more non-urgent tasks.
To get through this, you must treat "clearing your todo list" as a big urgent item, not because any one thing on it is urgent, but because having a big pending todo list is holding you back and affecting your more urgent tasks.
I had never been so happy to have a sore throat, especially such a bad one. My throat hurt so much that it actually woke me up. Surely this was a reasonable excuse to get out of the talk I was supposed to give in a couple days. I sent a text to the organizers saying that I wasn't feeling well and would probably skip the trip to Kazakhstan if I didn't feel better the next day, when I was supposed to leave.
Four months earlier I had felt differently about the trip. My friend Ben Yu got a random email inviting him to speak at a conference called GoViral in Kazakhstan. The people organizing it offered to show him around the country if he could make it out there. When he asked if I wanted to see if they would have me come too, the idea sounded wild enough that I said "of course".
As the date approached, though, I was regretting the decision. There were a lot of other trips I would have preferred to do, and now I was stuck going to Kazakhstan for no real reason. I also didn't know exactly where Kazakhstan was before I agreed, but when I went to buy tickets I realized it wasn't near anything and was going to be a long flight in and out.
My throat got better and absent a very legitimate excuse, I felt that it would be rude not to show up. So I hustled to the Tokyo airport for my long journey to Kazakhstan.
You know that feeling when you're sitting across from someone and they're prattling on about something in which you have no interest? They aren't actually trying to bore you, they just don't know any better. Which begs the question—are you ever that person?
In reality I'm sure we all bore someone sometimes, but we can work on reducing or eliminating that to make sure that it happens as infrequently as possible.
First, think about what benefit the information you're about to share has to the listener. Will they be entertained? Will they learn something useful? Are they a good friend who will want to share your joy or help you with your problem? If there's no benefit, don't share the information. Save it for someone else.
A prime example for me is politics. During the election everyone wanted to talk about politics, which was never an enjoyable experience for me. I was forced into tons of conversations, very few of which were positive experiences.
I've now written seven books, at least three of which were category bestsellers on Amazon. They all get really good reviews and are legitimate enough that foreign publishers have bought the rights to two of them and that domestic publishers have tried to offer me a book deal.
For many people writing a book is a bucket list item, which seems a little bit funny to me because it's actually a relatively easy thing to do. You can write a book in approximately two weeks, plus some time for editing and publishing. My first book (and, admittedly, my worst) was written in two days and was decent enough that many people emailed me telling me it changed their lives.
One of the biggest things that seems to get in peoples' ways is that they believe that writing a book is some huge daunting task, and that the book must be perfect. If you think that way, you'll trip over yourself and psych yourself out and never actually finish the book.
The first thing to realize is that the point of writing a book is to share information with people. If they receive and understand the information, you have succeeded. Take your ego out of it. Your book doesn't have to be fancy or make you seem like a scholar, it just has to help people (or entertain people).
I recently spent the time going through my roster of credit cards to see which ones I should be using for various purchases. I believe I've come up with a pretty universal strategy, so I figured I'd share it since I've already done the research.
To preface, if you are ever paying late fees or interest on credit cards, you are better off without them. Points and cashback are fantastic, but they aren't worth paying fees for. But if you are discplined about paying your credit cards off in full every month, you can take advantage of cashback programs and earn a significant amount of money.
Here are the cards I use currently:
I love opera and ballet, but I didn't always. I remember very excitedly going to my first ballet in San Francisco and leaving with no idea what I just saw and having thought that maybe there was a better way I could have spent my time and money.
Opera wasn't much better. A lot of the music I listen to is classical, but whenever I was listening to a big playlist of Mozart music, I'd skip through the opera songs.
Now opera and ballet are my two of my favorite types of performances to go to. I prefer them to rap concerts, movies, and just about anything else. My favorite place to see these types of performances is Budapest, and I'll often adjust my travel schedule around them.
While ballet and opera are obviously fairly different, the key to enjoying both of them is the same.
I often get asked how I make friends with so many great people. This is sort of a funny question because I think most people actually don't know just how great my friend group is, since they only know a few people who are well known. So in a way, it's an even better question than they realize. On the other hand, maybe I should be offended that they think those people wouldn't want to be friends with me naturally!
Joking aside, I believe very strongly that having a good friend circle is one of the most important things you can do, and that it's very smart to proactively think about how to be the best friend possible and build the best friend group possible.
If you're interested in going deep on this topic, you should read my book Superhuman Social Skills, which covers it extensively.
A fundamental idea which I don't believe is really talked or thought about is that most people don't understand what it's like to be someone who is sought after. The priorities and values of a person like that are very different from a person who is actively trying to increase their number of friends.
When I recently asked for blog topics, someone asked for a granular breakdown of how I spend time on cruises. This is actually something I get asked about once in a while, so I figured I'd answer even though it's fairly niche.
Plus the general idea translates to land-based travel, too.
The question is probably asked because the activities on the ship tend to be pretty lame. Today there was, for example, a lecture on which British celebrities had good American accents, plenty of bingo, and an art auction specializing in truly terrible art.
But, like life in general, you have to use a cruise as a blank plot of land and build upon it what you want.
In the last post I talked about how I save money and earn money. This week I will talk about how I spend my money. I think that I spend my money very strangely compared to normal people, but to me it makes a lot more sense.
Most people think about investing long term, but I think about spending long term. Of the money flowing out of my accounts, I want as much as possible to go towards things that will still be benefiting me 10+ years in the future.
For example, I'll spend anything on the best computer possible because if it makes my work 5% better, that effect will ripple through my future. I spent $1000 on the best pots and pans more than fifteen years ago, and will probably never buy other ones. I'll spend money on trips with friends, because doing so strengthens bonds with the people who will be around me for my whole life. I'll pay good money for healthy food and tea because my health is important.
I will never finance anything. My personal rule is that if I can't afford to buy something cash, I can't afford it. I would like for as much of my money as possible to go to utility, and servicing debt takes money out of that pool. Monthly payments are a direct affront to freedom. If you pay cash for everything, you have the ability to throttle your monthly spending down to almost nothing. If you have monthly payments, you don't have that option. Debt makes you responsible and vulnerable to others through mechanisms beyond your control. Look at the people who were wiped out by the housing crash.
I have a somewhat unusual method of thinking about and managing money, which has worked out very well for me. Because money, saving, and spending is such an emotional issue, I believe that there is not a universal correct method for everyone. For example, a strategy that increases someone's earnings by 5% but also increases their stress by 50% probably isn't a good one.
So I present my ideas on finance not as empirical examples of perfect management, but rather something that works great for me and may work for people of similar mindsets.
The goals of my system are to minimize variance outside my control (e.g. stock market performance), maximize long term utility on assets, and minimize the chance I will ever have to do anything I don't want to do. The end goal is not to have the most money possible or to earn the most possible, though both of those things can support my goals.
I don't want outside variance because it inhibits my ability to plan. Accepting variance often increases long term rewards, so I am happy to accept some of it, but I never invest in the stock market because I believe that earning an average 7% per year is not worth putting my whole nest egg at stake.