Ali’s Life Lessons


Hey friends,

I wish I had something substantial to write this week but I’m a disorganised slob who has to be up in 6h to save lives or something.

This week’s email is therefore a guest post from Luke Jones, a high school senior who’s apparently been consuming all the drivel I put out into the world for the past 2 years. He writes about 3 life lessons that he’s learned from my stuff. Enjoy!


How to study for exams – Evidence-based revision tips” was the first Ali Abdaal video that I stumbled across in September, 2018 that effectively sparked my own journey of personal growth and academic excellence.

This ultimately fly-wheeled into effective time management and an effusive life for me–all thanks to Ali Abdaal. After two years of soaking up all of the content I could find from his Youtube channel, podcast, and weekly newsletters, I have led a substantially more productive and happy life.

Here are three key takeaways that I have gleaned from Ali’s content and found to be most impactful:

1. Active Recall

You hear this term thrown around a lot nowadays in study circles around the internet, and maybe even from one of your professors on occasion. However, it is unlikely that they are referring to it in the form that provides its highest form of effectiveness. Ali has shown me that by testing yourself on the material that you are studying and embracing the difficulty of learning, you solidify neural networks that lead to permanent understanding as opposed to uselessly crammed, last-minute jargon.

2. It’s not that you don’t have time–it’s that you choose to spend your time on other things

Everyone knows that one person that seems to be oh-so busy and “just doesn’t have time” for the things that they wish to pursue.

False. False. False.

Ali’s wizardry productivity videos have shown me that everyone has the time for precisely what they prioritize. That’s the trick though, you have to focus your attention with intention on the tasks that you want to accomplish and provide you the most fulfillment(this can take many different forms). Want to go see a movie with friends because it makes you happy? Sure! Go for it! But don’t drudge on about how you just don’t have time to study or make it to the gym ever.

3. Make it a game

Learning is hard! Nobody likes to start those big projects that have been looming over their heads or study for long stretches of time. But if you cue up some background instrumental music and just make it fun, the time flows by and you get to enjoy yourself during the process. So sit down and get cracking like you would a board game with friends, and give yourself that dopamine hit for the “wins”–or in this case, right answers to your active recall questions.

This might be the one that I still continue to draw from the most . If you’ve been watching Ali’s Youtube for a fair amount of time, you’ll see his resting expression is this half-excited sort-of cheeky grin, irregardless of whether he’s just taken a massive final year exam or finished chilling out with friends for the night. I perceive this as his own personal manifestation of Stoicism and finding pleasure within his own mind because life and studying are as fun as you make them!

P.S. I talk about Stoicism and more on my blog “The Evolv(ed)(ing) Teenager”. I’d love it if you checked it out!


Thank you Luke, for those kind words, and for saving me from the joy of sleep deprivation. If anyone else would like to contribute a guest post to this newsletter for future (distressingly common) occasions when I leave it to the last minute, please do email me a few paragraphs and I’ll be eternally grateful.

Have a great week!


This Week on Not Overthinking

Not Overthinking is the weekly podcast hosted by me and my brother. If you enjoy these emails, you’ll hopefully like that too. You can listen on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsStitcherCastro (my favourite podcast app) or any other podcast app – just search for ‘Not Overthinking’.

This week my brother and I discuss Games People Play, a book about the psychology of human relationships. Because he’s as disorganised a slob as I am, he’s still in the process of editing the episode which should be up within the next hour or so. You can find it by subscribing to Not Overthinking wherever you listen to podcasts 😛

My Favourite Things This Week

1 – Podcast –

The latest episode of Invest Like The Best with Tobi Lutke about Building A Modern Business is an excellent listen. There is both business advice but also just some great life advice that we could all take from the episode.

2 – Article –

This article by Jamie Jackson about his reflections on a year of Performance Coaching from the Tony Robbins Foundation is fascinating and draws some really interesting conclusions.

3 – Podcast –

Noah Kagan’s latest podcast – How To Sell Online Products – featuring an interview with Sahil Lavingia founder of Gumroad, is essential listening for anyone wanting to get started with making money on the internet. (You can also rewatch the livestream I did with Noah last month here).

4 – Video

– I enjoyed this TEDx talk from Lexie Alford. She’s the youngest person to have travelled to every country. It’s a nice reminder about the power of stepping outside our comfort zones, and how fear is the main thing holding us back in life.

Quote of the Week

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

From Atomic Habits by James Clear. Resurfaced with Readwise.

Tweet of the Week

This Week’s Videos

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