2. Remember everything, fast
I used to be able to remember all my friends' phone numbers. Now I can hardly remember five! And that's fine — phones do a better job than I ever could.
The same is true for all information. Maybe I want to remember this great shoulder workout I found on an obscure trainer's website, but I don't waste energy trying to memorize it now, either.
We're all cognitive misers, which means we need help getting information out of our heads and into mental buckets… that we can instantly recall when needed.
For example, if someone sends me an amazing recommendation for Indian food in London, I'm going to spend 3 seconds to put it in my "London" bucket. And the next time I plan a trip to London, I have an entire list of places to check out.
Here's how I do it:
- For interesting articles, I save them to Pocket. Whenever I'm waiting for the subway or early to a meeting, I can catch up on these articles.
- If I really love something, I'll save it to my bookmarks. I started off with broad categories like "business" and "interesting," but ended up creating hundreds of different categories. If I want to be inspired, I can read my Inspirationalbookmarks. If I want to find an experiment from my psychology days, I can look up my psychology bookmarks.
- I also set up similar tags in Gmail. If I'm emailing with someone and they live in Portland, I'll file their name under "Travel/Portland." Every time I travel to a city, I'll look up whoever I know there and invite them out to coffee.
3. Make a decision … and move on
One of my students once asked, "Which book should I read first? Book A or Book B?"
My answer: Whichever is on top! Pick one and start!
It took me a long time to really "get" this. Below the surface is the problem of perfectionism: We want to make "perfect" decisions, when in reality the choice doesn't matter.
In fact, simply making the choice to read consistently is more important than the books you actually read!
This happens all the time in everyday life. We:
- Read 100 Amazon reviews to buy something mundane, like a spatula
- Compare grocery receipts so we can save 50 cents on paper towels
- Spend weeks analyzing weight-loss programs instead of just picking one to start
Once you crack this code, you'll feel liberated from 90 percent of life's minutiae. Then you can focus on the 10 percent of decisions that will have a significant impact.
For me, instead of picking the "perfect" coffee shop or restaurant for business meetings, I have a list of three that I love — and pick one of those for all my meetings. Steve Jobs and President Obama famously wore the same outfit every day.
Look at the decisions you make on a daily basis: the TV you watch, food you eat, where you shop ... and automate anything that doesn't matter.
Ultimately, execution on one idea is worth more than 100 great ideas we never take action on. If you're interested in learning how to follow through on everything this year, read more here.
Ramit Sethi is a New York Times bestselling author and CEO of GrowthLab.com, where entrepreneurs go to launch and grow their online businesses. He spends his first five minutes of every morning checking Instagram.
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