A few people have asked me how I manage to do so many things in a year when it feels like I am 24*7 on twitter.
I guess most of the things mentioned in the posts above are tactical. They don’t talk about why and how I do certain things. This post talks about some of the concepts I learned in the last decade that have not only helped me get more shit done, but also improve my overall happiness.
1/ Opportunity costs
Think about opportunity costs of everything you do.
Most people never realise that saying YES to one thing means saying NO to another.
A few examples:
While commuting to office: you can either daydream, watch what your friends are doing on Instagram, or read a book/listen to a podcast.
I always somehow lean towards a new podcast episode.
Why? Because learning what my friends did on their weekend on Instagram doesn’t add any value to my life. So why waste my time in the first place?
Okay, I don’t even have Instagram but you get my point.
Same with jobs, friendships and everything else.
Whenever I am asked by someone to do something, I always wonder if this thing would be more value add than my planned default activity. If the answer is No, I pass.
I prefer picking up/ doing things which I know will make me happy in 10 mins, 10 months and 10 years. Also things which I won’t regret in the same time frames.
Listening to podcasts makes me happy now. It would make me happy 10 years later too. I won’t regret spending hours listening to smart people talk about their ideas.
Same with Reading. Since I was a kid, reading books has been the constant source of happiness. I will never ever regret reading more books.
I also keep trying/learning new things every year because it gives me something new to look forward every day. Adds a bit of variance to my life.
Playing Poker makes me happy (at least when I am winning ;)). But would I regret spending 1000s of hours on Poker 10 year later? The answer is Maybe.
Hence it is something I do from time to time but not everyday.
3/ Say No
I have become pretty good with saying No. I rarely commit to social events. In the last decade I have probably attended 1 marriage, that too of a first cousin who was super insistent on me attending.
- Birthday events? Nope.
- Meeting random relatives who I don’t care about? Nope.
- Attending parties where a bunch of strangers chit chat over beer and keep asking “so whats up”? Nope.
Based on my limited experience of attending social events, I would just sit in a corner and read a book or shit post on Twitter. So why make me as well as the host uncomfortable.
Surprisingly the people who I consider friends have still been with me in spite of my idiosyncrasies.
4/ Sunk cost fallacy
It is a big trap. Don’t fall for it.
Learn to let go of things when you see diminishing returns
I was the representative of my hostel in college. I spent my entire 2nd year in building connections, student politics, aiming for a bigger role in the student council. When I realised politics is just a waste of time, I stopped caring about it and moved on.
In college, I also used to run a satire site called Tamatar news . It was the ‘thing’ in my college. I did it for a year. In spite of people leaving reviews like these I stopped when I no longer found joy in blogging.
I did my undergrad in Computer Science. I was a developer for more than a year. Then the day I realised I was ready to move to Product and I left coding.
I was one of the top 50 most followed Indians on Quora once. This was long back before Quora was mainstream. I used to get 1000s of upvotes on whatever shit I wrote. Then one day I woke up and realised giving life advice to 15 year olds is not something I want to spend the rest of my life on. And I left. Deleted all my answers. Never looked back. I recently deleted my Quora account. Did the same with Facebook. I have never had Instagram or Snapchat accounts. So except Twitter and Reddit, I don’t have any social media to waste my time on.
Used to be a travel blogger once. Not anymore. Seriously considered doing standup comedy a couple of years back. Planned for it by testing my material on facebook. Left because I realised being judged by 50-100 people during an open mic event is not something which would make me happy.
I spent 6 months player Poker every day. Apart from my day job it was all I did. I won 1.5 Lakhs once over a 7 hours session by finishing 2nd in a tournament, and also lost 30K in a single night (not the same night ;). I was doing pretty okay but I realised with every passing day I was getting diminishing return on my happiness from playing poker. And there was nothing new to learn. So I stopped. I play sometimes, but not as obsessively like before.
Same with Fifa. I played it for years. Have not bought Fifa 20 till now. Don’t plan to play online anymore.
One day I will realise Twitter is a giant waste of my time, and I will just pick up something else to spend my time on.
I have probably picked up, and left more things than most people who are in my age group, but each new thing helped me learn something about myself, and gave me a fleeting sense of happiness if not permanent. So I don’t regret anything.
So 4 high level strategies/thoughts for this year: Evaluate Opportunity cost, Think 10/10/10, Say No, Don’t fall for Sunk Cost fallacy.