I recently picked up the 4 Hour Work Week again. I remember reading it when it first came out – and like many people – it changed what I thought was possible about the world.
With books like that, I like to revisit it from time to time to remind myself of concepts or revisit principles I can still implement. Some of it rings true still. Some of the stuff is outdated (as Tim outlines here, along with some things he’d like to add).
At one point, I got to the section on the “low information diet.” This is one area where the book shows the time period it was written in.
In the section on the low-information diet, Tim brags about not reading a newspaper or watching the news in a very long time. I remember reading that in 2009/2010 and thinking that at the time was a crazy idea – but I did it – and it worked.
The funny thing is that I’ve basically continued on that protocol It’s easy to not watch CNN (except in the airport, why does every airport play CNN exclusively) and it’s even easier to not pick up a newspaper.
But with a 24/7 news delivery service that fits in your hand, red dots that catch your attention on your smart phone – it seems the machines have outsmarted me and my old protocols and have gotten better and better at hijacking my focus.
I need to update my operating system.
Here’s my attempt at doing so.
The Low Information Diet (Revised for 2018.
Table of Contents
We’ll start with a couple of assumptions. These being that you’ve already implemented the basics of Tim Ferriss’ Low Info Diet
- No Cable News
- No Newspapers
- Limited Magazines
Here’s some updated tools you can add to your toolbelt.
Find yourself compulsively typing in distracting sites?
Freedom blocks any sites on your block list – not a new idea by any means – but probably the best user functionality I’ve found with this.
Here’s a sample blocklist for you:
- Add your site of choice.
It takes any errant click to any of these sites and sends you to a freedom page – not to a blackhole of distraction.
But it works.
Other apps you can also use
=> Focus App
Full Screen Mode
Hi, my name is Joel.
I like tabs.
I like windows.
I like (thinking) I’m doing multiple things at once.
In other words, I have a problem.
I like to think I’m special and great at multi-tasking.
As it turns out, I’m not. I’m actually terrible at it. Turns out, you probably are too.
While everybody is chasing different productivity apps, there’s one already built into your operating system.
Full Screen Mode.
Full screen fixes the problem of too many tabs, too many apps, too many programs. Doesn’t matter how many you have open if you only have space on your screen for one thing.
This seems incredibly simple, but by going full screen, you force yourself too focus solely on what’s in front of you. And, it’s incredibly helpful as helping you focus (especially when writing).
Bonus points if the app is using “night mode.”
And, if you’re looking for a fantastic writing app – take a look at Ulysses – absolutely my favorite writing app out there.
Phone meet Backpack
When I’m not actively using my phone, I’ve started putting in my backpack.
Again, this might sound a bit over the top, but researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that even just having your smart phone out reduces your brain power.
Anecdotally I’ve found, having a clearer desk and working through my problems on paper, tend to work much better at
The Home Screen Cleanup
I did this after reading Dan’s article on the Tropical MBA – “Are you spending too much time on your phone?”
The only apps on my main screen are now a todo, app, nots, calendar, Spotify and pomodoro timer (for when the phone isn’t in my backpack).
Dealing With Social Media
Realize How Much Time You Spend
Download the Moment app. Or just look at your battery usage.
It might make you sick.
I found on some days that I had “5 hours” spent on my phone.
Screw that. There’s too many things to do.
Okay, now that you have it for reference,
The One App Rule
Another hat tip – this one to Noah Kagan.
Let’s play a game. There’s a new rule on your phone – you can only have one social media app on it at a time. It can be whatever you want it to be – but you can only pick one.
Before you start moaning about how this is hard. This is not hard. This is going back to 2009. Get some perspective.
I like this rule because it forces you to change your default behavior (spoiler – you’re probably addicted).
It also lets me focus on writing throughout the day and do deeper longer work and then let the tweets go from there.
Mine is Instagram. If I want to catch up on twitter, I’ll pop on the computer, get caught up and take care of it in a few minutes, but I found I could spend hours on twitter without knowing it and I needed to get rid of it.
The #deletefacebook train is in full force. I may eventually delete it, but I’ve found I still use it for business purposes (despite not using it much personally).
I’m deactivating it for a bit next week so I can go offline for a bit. I remember thinking through this and thought for a moment that “I can’t” do that. I don’t know why that was my first thought. Of course I can do that. You can do anything you want.
It’s a stupid app. It’s not your life (hopefully).
If I can’t deactivate it for a week, I have a bigger problem.
Change Your Twitter To Korean
Taking a hint from Pieter Levels, turn your default language on twitter to Korean.
It won’t affect any tweets coming through your timeline, but it will turn your moments and trending topics to Korean – so you won’t have any tempation to click around and get unfocused.
While you’re at it, here’s a good rule of thumb to follow regarding twitter.
All these people talking about how "hateful" twitter is, and I have no idea what they're talking about.
Seems like basic user error.
Simple formula to avoid this:
* Follow interesting + inspiring people.
* Ignore the outrage machines.
* Mute people trying to pick a fight.
— Joel Runyon (@joelrunyon) March 3, 2018
Wrapping It All Up
That’s what I’ve got to this point. It’s working quite well and I’ve found that I don’t have as much “news” leaking into my day-to-day work and I’ve been able to get more things done.
What would you add to the list?