Consuming Too Much Content Makes You Dumber
How To Improve Concentration Without Quitting Social Media
Happy Monday from Las Vegas, NV ☀️
This edition shares my vision for the next few months of this newsletter and my thoughts on improving concentration skills.
Some Personal Highlights Since Last Time
Saw two great stand-up comedians: Trevor Wallace & Joe Rogan
Signed a lease for 11 months in Scottsdale, AZ (starting in 1 week)
Had a great weekend visiting friends in Laguna Beach, CA
Onto The Content
Publishing Schedule 📉
This year, I’ve been far less consistent with this newsletter than I initially hoped.
I think there are a few causes (what others might call excuses)
I spent most of this year traveling, and fell out of my writing routines.
General burnout. Some periods are simply more prolific than others.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m saying obvious things without context for why I’m saying them. This makes me feel like a glorified motivational quote Instagram page.
I’m not writing for the benefit of specific person with specific problems and goals. This makes my commentary feel vague and irrelevant.
All that to say, I still really enjoy writing this newsletter.
Most of my role models owe their success to their writing.
Writing makes me smarter and is a career accelerant.
Whenever I manage to get past the difficulty of starting, writing itself is very enjoyable.
How do I fix this?
I think I need a clear, simple format that makes the task of publishing each issue less daunting. I also need context and framing to break the notion in my head that this publication isn’t distinguishable from an Instagram quotes page.
On reflecting on this and rereading past issues, I discovered a format that I hope will help me do all the above and stay motivated to publish more frequently.
Deliberate Improvement Experiments (Yes, that spells DIE)
Every few weeks, I realize that there’s something I should be doing better and then I come up with some idea for how to do that.
Past examples from the Louis’ Learnings archives include:
I’m not speaking my mind when I know I should → The Risks of Silence
I’m not making good use of my downtime → What To Do With The Next Ten Minutes
My habits aren’t improving → Notes from Atomic Habits by James Clear
Conveniently, that first section itself would count as a deliberate improvement experiment.
I’ve been burnt out of writing → Simplifying to this framework will help.
Does This New Framework Resolve My Barriers To Publishing?
I’m wise enough to realize that I’m going to repeat mistakes.
Good habits often break down when I forget why I started them in the first place, and some lessons aren’t internalized after one attempt.
When I inevitably encounter repeat problems in the future, I’ll have a record of what I’ve tried before.
Now, instead of just shouting “motivation” and “wisdom” into the void like the aforementioned “inspiring” Instagram quote page, I’m building a library of solutions to my own, most common problems.
If we want to get unnecessarily corporate, I’m growing a folder of personal ‘SOPs’ (standard operating procedures).
I’m documenting the process of trying to solve my own problems, and it’s just a coincidence that I happen to share these ‘SOPs’ publicly.
After all, people are similar and you might relate to some of the struggles I’m having.
Will this be a durable remedy to chip away at some of the writers block that’s reduced my output this year?
Anyway… Here’s DIE #1 To Kick Us Off
*** DIE = Deliberate Improvement Experiment. Because we want the old, bad habit to DIE.
Consume Less + Consume Better
My concentration muscles have weakened noticeably.
I think a reduced media diet will help.
Implementation has two main steps:
Use a new tool to block newsfeeds (different from quitting social media).
Discontinue 99% of passive listening activities.
The Mistake I Think I’m Making
Recently, I think I’ve consumed too much media that was only recently created.
Think Tweets, YouTube videos, Podcasts, and new nonfiction.
I’ve also been overdoing passive “companion” media consumption.
Music while working (even in a quiet space)
Podcasts at the gym, even while with a friend
Podcasts or YouTube while eating, cooking, driving, or cleaning
I lost the habit of dealing with plain silence and boredom unless explicitly meditating (which was infrequent).
Why I Think This Is A Mistake
I think these habits make me dumber and erode my ability to concentrate.
The ability to have good ideas and see them through (ie, concentration) are objectively the most important professional skills. I want to break any habits that weaken these skills.
Consuming too much new content makes me a shallow thinker.
Relying on constant stimulation makes doing creative work much harder.
Consuming new content makes me preoccupy over subjects that will be irrelevant sooner than later.
What was created recently is most likely not that good. How many tweets genuinely changed your life? Do you learn anything from the daily news?
What is “old” and enduring is likely good. Think Shakespeare, Stoicism, The Bible, Harry Potter, and The IMDB top 250.
Expected and Desired Rewards of This Experiment
Strengthen concentration muscles. Improve focus duration and intensity.
More frequent newsletter publishing.
Improved professional performance.
Get better at Jeopardy.
Overall reduced anxiety and frenetic energy.
Missing out on some current events, trends, and opportunities.
You interpret this as a suggestion to consume less of my content (oops).
Ideas For Fixing This (Implementation Plan)
Kill every newsfeed and hyper-personalized page. (with this chrome extension).
Twitter is reduced to messaging and posting.
YouTube is reduced to search only.
Block IG, TikTok, and dating apps entirely.
Continue not to use any of these apps/websites on mobile.
Readwise is a good substitute mobile habit.
Use podcasts more intentionally, such as researching for an upcoming guest for my podcast, or learning about a specific topic.
Increase “defragmentation time.” That’s nothing at the gym, nothing while driving, nothing while eating. Just the activity. Call me old fashioned.
Earplugs instead of Airpods. Be honest, are you seeking silence or distraction?
Why I Think This Will Work
That chrome extension is a game changer for feed eradication.
I’ve been putting this into practice for a few weeks and look what emerged (the 3rd newsletter of 2022!)
I’m moving to a new city which is a chance to create habits from scratch.
The hours spent writing this post create accountability to stick to the plan.
Will this be a durable remedy to improve concentration?
The Links 🧑💻
Things I’ve Published (Podcast Episodes) 🎧
Elliot Holland: Buy A Business Without Leaving Your Job
Richard Draper: Fractionalized Wine, Whiskey, and Watch Investing
Will Brown (part 2): Using AI to Automate Lead Generation
Ken Rusk: Contrarian Career Advice From a Million-Dollar Ditch Digger
Robby Wade: Bringing super chat apps to the west
Matt Phelps: Turning Tik Tok Trends Into $$$
Seed Oil Disrespectr & Joe Consorti: Remove Seed Oils From Your Diet ASAP
Andy Johns: Lessons from investing $200,000 in mental health
Jackson Kerchis: Former Zen Monk on Practical Tips To Become Happier
Recommended Tools 🤨
I’ve recommended all of these tools before and I still love them.
New content isn’t always the right answer!
The "Start Here" for why Seed Oils are bad (28 minute video)
Cold Turkey Writer — A brute force approach to distraction free writing
Akira The Don’s Music — The best ideas from the best thinkers, set to music
Okay… this is a new
The distraction blocking Chrome/Brave extension recommended earlier
Thanks for reading 👋
As always, I’m happy to hear from you with comments, questions, or life updates.
Photo Of The Week 📸
A few weeks ago, I started to stack all my books where I've interviewed the author.
Numbers on a chart are cool, but watching this stack grow & get heavier with time is cooler 😎
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