Sweat the small stuff

Consider some complex issue in your studies or life.

Instead of tackling it in its entirety, find one small element of it and solve that part completely. Understand the subissue and its solution backwards and forwards. Understand all its connections and implications. Consider this small piece from many points of view and in great detail. Choose a subproblem small enough that you can give it this level of attention. Only later should you consider how your efforts could help solve the larger issue.

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

[11:01 AM]

Okay. Here’s my big problem: I’m not doing the work I should be doing. But man that’s such a big challenge. So let’s think of a specific example.

Right now, I should be working on the quickstart guide.

Ok maybe working on is too big and not specific. Right now, I should open the quickstart guide document…

But I didn’t want to do that. Why not? Because I was thinking of doing this overwhelming thing, “working”

So instead I’ll just open the document and read a bit. Then maybe I can type three sentences for one thought. That’s easy. Anyone can do that.

I just need to remind myself that all I need is to start. Just start. It doesn’t have to be hard. I’ll just write 3 sentences. That’s easy. Anyone can write three sentences.

I’ll do that now.

[Update: 11:33AM, 32 minutes after]

Done. Damn man that was easy. Why’d it take so long!

Writing this for three reasons:

1. To remind myself that this is a useful exercise and that I should repeat it in the future

2. To encourage you that you are not alone. Laziness is a feature, not a bug. It’s not you, it’s your animal brain.

3. To recommend that you read The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking. I bought it in Kindle, and had to buy it in print for easy referencing too. Finished before, but didn’t apply. Reading again. Definitely one of my favorite, most underrated books. Read if you want to improve your thinking, learning, and creativity. It will help you think of execution ideas and take action too.


“So, you are alive, then, as you are?”

You want to live – but do you know how to live? You are scared of dying – and, tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different from being dead?

Caligula was once passing a column of captives on the Latin Road when one of them, with a hoary old beard reaching down his breast, begged to be put to death.

“So,” replied Caligula, “you are alive, then, as you are?”

–Seneca in Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

Finally reading 33 Strategies of War

Despite Ryan Holiday recommending this so many times… I am so intensely aware of the weakness of my will, my procrastination, inability to follow through, of my humanity, that I put off reading this book indefinitely.

I assumed it will be full of theories and intellectual ideas.

I knew they’d be brilliant, but that I would not be able to put them to use, until I train myself to follow through.

Not true.

From calming our overwhelming emotions to our addiction to comfort to our lack of energy in life… It’s all about ruthlessly looking at reality — at what we actually do instead of what we hope to be doing — and using that knowledge to win at life.

In general, with regards to books on war, my mistake was thinking war people are superior to me. That they were somehow born without my inherent weaknesses as a human… They aren’t.

This book made me realize that in the same way money does not make you a better person, only revealing more of who you already are…

War, desperation, and high stakes do the same.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Like Cortes, you must locate the root of your problem. It is not the people around you; it is yourself, and the spirit with which you face the world.

It’s full of gems like this. Read it. It’s fantastic.

Definitely reading more war books after The 33 Strategies of War (Joost Elffers Books).