0193 – prioritize ruthlessly and follow through

It is now midnight, I wish I had gotten home by 11pm and I wish I had written this vomit 25 minutes earlier. All of that is anxiety, though. I’ll just move right through this. I haven’t yet thought about what I’m going to write about, so this is the most honest and ‘pure’ vomit I’ve done in a while- in the sense that it’s completely improvised on the spur of the moment. (But of course, “completely improvised” is a misnomer- I haven’t taken a single second to plan what I’m writing, but I’m writing about stuff that’s coming to mind- stuff that was on my mind earlier.)

So what’s on my mind? A bunch of things. A couple of things I don’t feel comfortable writing about yet- one is status symbols across different social groups, how they are different and varied and yet ultimately all a manifestation of the same sort of heirarchical systems. Another is how weird it is to me that marketers have to talk about how they increase their conversion rates and the on-page times by being more conversational. Shouldn’t the point be to be conversational to begin with? If you’re not having an actual conversation, why bother? But yeah, I gotta think about those a little longer before I feel ready to speak about them. Maybe I’ll explore them later.

In the mean time, the main thing I want to focus on is the thing that makes the most difference in  my life, which is my own decision-making system. To get meta a little earlier than I should- choosing to focus on my own decision-making system instead of external world things like status symbols and marketing trends is my first indicator that my decision-making system is getting better. Why? Because thinking more clearly about my decision-making system (let’s call it DMS for short) is going to help me make better decisions. And given that life is precious and limited, and we have limited resources (time, money, energy, opportunities, etc), it makes a lot of sense to dedicate oneself to making better decisions.

My main realization was- the most important thing is to identify the next most important thing as quickly as possible, and then break it down into the simplest actionable steps- and then do those things as efficiently and effectively as possible. How do you decide what’s most important? There are a bunch of heuristics you can use. Maslow’s heirarchy might not be completely accurate in describing the way human life is actually organized (meaning we do care about meaning even when we’re hungry), but it’s a useful guide. If you’re hungry and in need of shelter, you should sort that shit out. If you’re not sleeping properly, you should sort that shit out, unless you have to do something to pay a bill that would otherwise leave you homeless.

Blah blah. Fairly self-evident stuff. Where do I get to something interesting or useful? What have I learnt that’s surprising? I think the main thing is to awaken to the reality that you inhabit. That is, to take time off (unless you’re literally at war, and you’re not if you’re reading a blog) to quickly sketch out where your time and energy is going. I recently decided that time spent on Facebook and Twitter was a huge mindsink for me- the headspace that those things occupied were a much higher cost than the excessive time I was spending on them- sometimes even 3 or 4 hours a day. That was time I could’ve spent sleeping better, eating better, spent quality time with my wife, get my work done more effectively and more quickly, that sort of thing. I guess so the thing is to identify the time sink… and then take drastic action? In my case I had been deliberating about it for a long time. Maybe years. I deactivated my Facebook account in August last year- I’m sure I’ve written about it in some earlier vomits, and I’ll compare notes when I’m doing the 200-vomit thematic/narrativistic summaries… but what happened was, I knew that I’d get back to it eventually. I knew that I had friends who were “waiting” for me. (Waiting in the sense that they would post again if I returned, but they would still move on with life if I disappeared. C’est la vie.)

This time, I went total scorched earth. I literally unfriended and unfollowed everybody in my life. And the amazing thing is- I was so scared to do it. Why? Probably some lizard brain instincts. You can’t get rid of your friends, you can’t betray your friends, you’re going to miss out on all the cool stuff, think of all the stuff you’re not reading, all the conversations you’re not having. But the thing is- I started to see how boring and vacuous those conversations were becoming to me. It’s simply not possible to have a super-high-level conversation with somebody without stakes. Or to refine that, if you’re really fucking serious about something, you need to supplement your conversation with action. And generally speaking, the power users on social media aren’t taking dramatic action. The celebrities and superstars might get a lot of attention for whenever they do post, but those people already paid their dues. They already put in the hours of work earlier. And… fuck it, even if it’s possible to make great leaps in a given direction while also being a social media user, for me personally, as a social media addict, I’m far better off if I focus on my work entirely without the distraction.

Fuck it. It’s all storytelling. It’s all narrativistic. All that matters is that I feel better and happier, and I’m doing more work, reading more books, sleeping better, exercising more. They might not necessarily be related. But it’s part of the new story I’m telling myself, and I’m making it stick.

What have I learned about decision-making systems? You have to prioritize ruthlessly. You have to really be super clear about what is absolutely the most important thing, at the expense of all others. And I still haven’t quite learned to do that. I’ve crossed my 1000 words, and the most important thing for me right now at 12:26am is to go to bed so that I can sleep early and go run tomorrow morning. And then we’ll continue this conversation immediately after. We can move this more quickly, it’s all up to me, and it’s all in my nervous system.fact.

Note to later self rereading this: I don’t really actually answer the question directly. I sort of just meander around the context of the question. Next vomit let’s lay down the first principles and follow the implications. Alright goodnight

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