Why You Should Treat Your Life Like a System

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Hey friends,

There’ve been a few mornings this week where I found myself lying in bed wasting time watching random YouTube videos on my phone. If I were doing this intentionally and it was part of me living my best life, then that would be totally great. But I wasn’t doing it intentionally. Instead, I was purely wasting time, knowing that I’d rather have been out and about, going to a coffee shop for breakfast and getting started with my day, but ending up being a total wasteman.

When things like this happen - when my intentions don’t match up with my actions - I try to not beat myself up about it, because we’re all human. Instead I like to treat my mind and body like a system, of sorts, and figure out what systemic error led to the issue.

In this case, I realised the problem - I’d run out of coffee.

Here’s the thing - I don’t have a very specific morning routine, but it does involve (a) skincare, (b) gratitude, (c) making coffee, and (d) writing in my journal while sipping my coffee.

We ran out of coffee a few days ago, and I’ve kept on forgetting to replenish our stocks from the local grocery store. So today, when I was lying in bed wasting time, my thought process was: “I should probably get up and do something useful. Yeah, I’ll get up, wash my face, do my skincare stuff, and then I’ll make coffee! Oh wait, we don’t have any coffee. Urghhhhh okay I’ll just continue to lie in bed and waste time on YouTube on my phone.”

This was a subconscious narrative, and it was only afterwards when I was thinking “why the hell was I a wasteman this morning?” that I realised the problem.

The other major problem was that I had my phone on my bedside table. Again, when I was in Cambridge, I’d realised this was a problem, and setup my phone on the chest of drawers away from my bed. That way, if I wanted to get my phone, I’d have to physically get out of bed. This friction increase was enough to stop me from wasting time on my phone each morning (and night).

But since moving to London, I’d defaulted to charging my phone on the bedside table thinking “hah! I’m a productivity master. I don’t need to use such a simple tactic like separating myself from my phone! I’ve got enough willpower and discipline to not waste time on it if I don’t want to.” This was my fatal error.

The decision to keep my phone within arm’s reach was one I made for my future self. And one of the commonest psychological traps that we fall into is thinking that our future selves are more competent than we are today. This is why it’s so easy to procrastinate - we’re tired today, but our future selves won’t be tomorrow, or next week, or the week after.

So all that said, I’m making two systemic changes to my life after reflecting on my failure to get out of bed this morning. (1) I’m going to buy some coffee right now (just ordered some on Amazon Prime). And (2), my charging dock is going to live in the living room, so that I’m not tempted to take my phone into bed, and also not tempted to waste time on it in the morning.

I’d love to hear from you - what are some systemic changes you’ve made to your life that have helped you live your best life more intentionally?

Have a great week!

Ali

🎥 Part-Time YouTuber Academy Is (almost) Here!

Tomorrow on Monday 11th at 1600 BST we'll be launching Cohort 4 of the Part-Time YouTuber Academy - my flagship YouTube course.

If you want to learn how to grow your YouTube channel without quitting your day job or sacrificing your current projects, it's one of the best places to start this journey.

Inside, you'll find 6 weeks full of:

  • Core live lectures with me and the team
  • Open Q&As with me and other professional creators
  • Homework video assignments (for accountability)
  • Guest workshops with top-class creators
  • Detailed feedback from me and the crew
  • Weekly small-group calls led by pro YouTubers
  • Access to a community of hundreds of likeminded creators
  • Dedicated support from our crew members who know ins and outs of YouTube
  • Access to our private online discussion forum
  • Other fun activities that we got planned for you behind the closed door

So in the end, you'll walk away with a well-set-up YouTube channel with ideas for the next 3-6 months of content and a clear idea of what to do next to keep growing.

If this sounds fun, check out the course page where I go into detail on what's inside the course and why it's worth your time and investment. Thanks 🙌

Check out the course

❤️ My Favourite Things

🎧 Audiobook - Listening to audiobook of The Status Game by Will Storr, it's sick. Really interesting and is making me question all my life choices.

📚 Book - Reading Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman, kinda an anti productivity productivity book. Highlighting it a lot.

✍️ Quote of the Week

"Carving out a space for yourself online, somewhere where you can express yourself and share your work, is still one of the best possible investments you can make with your time."

From Show Your Work! : 10 Things Nobody Told You About Getting Discovered - Austin Kleon. Resurfaced using Readwise.

🎙 3 Things I Learnt From Unjaded Jade

This weeks guest on the Deep Dive podcast was Unjaded Jade, here's a few topics we discussed...

What keeps you motivated is having a why [38:46]. With anything we do it’s important to ask ourselves “why am I doing this?”. Whether you’re studying for an exam, doing a task at work or learning a new skill, finding an intrinsic sense of why you’re actually doing what you’re doing makes it a lot easier to find enjoyment. Motivation is about the narrative you tell yourself. So when we feel demotivated, this often comes from what we tell ourselves about the thing we’re trying to do i.e. ‘I can’t do this’. Reshaping your narrative by figuring out 1) why you don’t want to do something 2) how you can make the task more fun and 3) what the benefits will be from doing it, can help you feel more motivated.

Productivity is spending your time well [47:15]. There’s the age old assumption that content about productivity on YouTube (and StudyTube back in the day) is in some way ‘toxic’. This has mostly come about from ‘10 hour study with me’ style videos - which are pretty misleading in that most of the time it’s 4 hours of studying and the rest is banter. Basically, productivity doesn’t mean revising for 10 hours, productivity is simply spending time doing more of the things that are meaningful to you and having fun along the way.

If you want something you’re going to have to say it out loud, take actions towards it and you’ll probably need a bit of luck because that’s how life works [01:18:40]. Most things in life aren’t served to us on a silver platter, but we can optimise our chances of things working out the way we want them to. Jade tells us that the law of attraction is good for this because it’s about getting really clear on what you want and then assisting yourself with visualisations, mood boards and exercises like the Odyssey Plan (which I explain in this video) to give you a sense of where you want to go.

For more insights from the conversation with Jade you can listen to the full episode here:

🎬 This Week's Videos


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