THIS IS ISSUE.015 OF THE SMRT LIST
In this edition of THE SMRT LIST, we’re going to chat about shrinking attention spans, the illusion of time, and how to develop laser-sharp focus because managing ourselves is hard work.
We complain about toxic bosses but what if the problem was us? We could be the worst bosses because we can’t manage our minds.
Before we dive in, a life update and a preface to our theme of the month:
My 2023 has been chaotically stimulating— right up my alley, I guess. I’m so used to living in discomfort that I can’t seem to stay comfortable for long. Still debating whether that’s good or bad. Even my therapist can’t tell. 💁🏻♀️
The Worst Boss In The World
It’s 6 months into 2023. I keep on asking myself “where does time go?!” even though I know time is an illusion. I always thought I had my shit together but life started to go crazy in the fall of 2020 and I realized I was my own worst boss.
So last year I spent $15k on training to ‘make more time’ and not have to feel “rushed” all the time. Money invested in yourself is always worth it.
Humble brag, but I’ve mastered the art of “creating more time”. I worked really hard on it, okay so let me have my moment.
How? 🤓 You will find out later in this newsletter (feel free to skip my babbling tho).
Slowing Down To Get More Done
Another paradox. Don’t you just love this confusing reality we live in?
Little did I know, I didn’t need to be more productive. I know how to work hard and stay focused but I didn’t know how to “truly” slow down.
No, scrolling on social and watching Netflix is NOT slowing down. Even my beloved podcasts on my bike rides. 😩 That’s called “passive recovery” because your brain is still being stimulated, usually by the not-so-good stuff that comes with the media such as grown-ass men arguing bro science on Twitter and your friend who keeps on posting IG stories while they’re still out at dinner. 🤦🏻♀️
I’ve preached about recovery, but turns out, my version was like ordering a salad drowned in extra dressing. Looks good, but probably clogging my arteries.
I became a master of time-bending and self-care badassery. No more passive recovery for me. I’ve traded Netflix for cold showers and Twitter bros for cold showers, plunges, saunas, breathwork, nature therapy, myofascial release, bike rides, and walks with no devices— all successfully incorporated into my routine like brushing my teeth.
I fucking love neuroplasticity.
Watching my brain being rewired in action is my favorite form of intrinsic motivation while fueling my fear of middle-aged mediocrity with relentless self-improvement.
Mastering the art of active recovery and finding the sweet spot between chaos and tranquility is priceless. Life is all about balance— saying a hard no to chaos will make life boring but we don’t need too much of it either. 🧘🏻♀️
Still, I can’t help but cringe when I see folks clinging to their bad habits such as keeping their house at 25°c with the windows closed (stale warm air, gross) or whining about the weather. I mean, to build real grit, you’re either in an 80°c sauna or a 0°c igloo, right? 🤣
No judgment, though. I’m probably just triggered because I despise weakness and confronting the uncomfortable truth of our current epidemic: the comfort crisis.
ADHD: When The World Is Too Slow
As a kid, I felt like the world was stuck in slow motion— probably because I had an extrasensory power to predict people’s next words (seriously, 95% accuracy, no joke). But that resulted in my entire adulthood being spent working hard to get rid of my habit of cutting people off.
All you self-diagnosed high-functional ADHD’ers know: starting a billion things, getting bored, and moving on. The world… urm, let’s just say it couldn’t keep up with our lightning-fast brains (*a self-soothing strategy). When harnassed, we can be high-functional AF and get more done than the average but it’s a double-edged sword.
I was a boring kid though so no interesting stories to share unless building Backstreet Boys websites was the cool thing to do— I funneled all my bottled-up energy into writing, reading, learning, art, and teaching myself how to code. When I discovered interesting things like the wonderful world of dial-up internet and Yahoo chatrooms, my life changed.
It turns out most of us don’t have a problem with focus— we just needed to do what we loved.
Good thing I somehow had the intuition to land productive and lucrative hobbies. When you’re immersed in learning and things you love, you drop into flow state.
I discovered flow when I was 13 years old in 2001 while immersed in Photoshop, designing. I became addicted the first time I became aware that losing myself in doing things I loved changed my sense of time. Design, writing, coding, and Sim City— those were my flow drugs. As I got older, cycling became the thing.
⚡️ ACTIONABLE STEPS
The Secret to Laser Sharp Focus
The secret to laser-sharp focus lies in taming the unruly beast we call the brain. Our best friend and greatest enemy.
Well, none of us will ever have full control but life will be seemingly effortless as you learn to trust yourself to solve any problems that arise because you’ve eliminated the noise that constantly derails you from your path.
It’s not going to happen overnight but you can implement strategies into your daily routine to rewire your brain to a new normal.
Here are two things you can do today to sharpen focus and attention spans:
Problem #1: The Big Elephant In The Room: Short Attention Spans
Solution: Distraction Disruption
Journal these questions to identify your issues.
- What 3 things are distracting you most right now?
- How can you eliminate them?
- Are your smartphone settings all dialed in to avoid distraction?
- Are most of your distractions self-distractions?
Bringing these to awareness is the first step to fixing them. Your brain can’t solve what it doesn’t know. Next time you get catch yourself get distracted, exercise your discipline muscle to pull your attention back to your task. It’ll get easier over time because you’re rewiring your brain.
Problem #2: Your Brain Is Overworked
Solution: Deploy active recovery.
In this article, we break down:
- 3 Simple Concepts For Executive Athletes
- Breaking Down Active Recovery
- How To Implement Active Recovery
- 9 Ideas To Deploy True Active Recovery
⏱ Current: Your Low Standards Are Keeping You Stuck
🥑 Health: You Are What You Eat.
💸 Wealth: What Does It Mean To Be Healthy and Wealthy?
💕 Love: Unconventional Relationship Advice
🥂 Life: 9 Unconventional Truths About Introverts
🧬 Science: The Flow Cycle: How To Drop Into The Zone
🔮 Future: Create Boredom For A Fulfilled Life
⌛️ Past: Time Is An Illusion: How to Create More Time
Curiosity Is The New Intelligence
🔊 Huberman Lab: AMA #8
- Daily caffeine consumption is generally safe for adults, but avoid it 8-12 hours before bedtime for better sleep quality.
- Caffeine improves cognitive and physical performance compared to a non-caffeinated state, but regular users need to abstain for 4 days to 2 weeks to experience these benefits.
- Children under 14 should avoid caffeine; adolescents should limit intake due to the developing brain’s sensitivity.
- Manage caffeine intake by tapering or cutting consumption in half, taking breaks, and being mindful of caffeine sources, especially energy drinks and sodas.
- Consider alternative sources like tea or coffee, but decaffeinated coffee still contains small amounts of caffeine.
🔊 Jay Shetty x Rick Rubin: Why Unconventional Methods Lead to Success
- Being true to oneself is the best way to resonate with others and create authentic art.
- Open-mindedness and curiosity are essential for personal growth and understanding different perspectives.
- Fear, particularly the fear of what others might think, can be a significant block to creativity.
- Artists should focus on making something great as a devotional act, rather than trying to please others.
- Having a diverse and disconnected circle of acquaintances can lead to more original and authentic thoughts and ideas.
🔊 Huberman Lab x Dr. Immordino-Yang: How Emotions & Social Factors Impact Learning
- Emotions are crucial for learning, decision-making, and well-being.
- The brain and body work together to shape our feelings and beliefs.
- Our sense of self and emotional responses are influenced by our culture and social environment.
- The default mode network helps us understand and empathize with others’ emotions.
- Education needs a shift towards engaging students in problem-solving and fostering curiosity.
- Emotions have a dark side, influencing behaviors like violence and genocide.
- Age-related cognitive decline affects memory, reaction time, and executive function.
- Focused attention and rest help maintain and improve cognitive function.
- Engaging in cognitively stimulating activities and addressing modifiable risk factors can prevent dementia.
- Muscle strength is crucial for brain health, and resistance training improves cognitive function in older individuals.
- Supplements like creatine and choline may mitigate the effects of traumatic brain injuries.