Ep. 238: The Joys Of The Reading Life

Transcription for the video titled "Ep. 238: The Joys Of The Reading Life".

1970-01-01T08:46:26.000Z

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Introduction

Cal's intro (00:00)

So what I want to do today, the deep question I want to dive into today based on this article as a starting point is going to be Why is it important to read books? I'm Cal Newport and this is Deep Questions. The show about living and working deeply in an increasingly distracted world. I'm here in my deep work HQ joined as always by my producer Jesse. Jesse, I'm going to make an announcement about something that you in particular have been working on in recent months, which is our new ish website, the deeplife.com. So we soft launched this a couple months ago just to get used to the interface and to start populating it in content with content. But the deeplife.com is the official home among other things of this podcast. Every episode has its own page at the deeplife.com where you can listen to the episode, find it in all the various players. Also, any videos related to that episode to be found right there on the episodes page as well. So that is going to be the home for this podcast, the site for this podcast. It's also the home for all of the video that we produce. So all of the video we produce related to the podcast as well as the standalone videos that we produce infrequently now, but probably more frequently in the future. All of those will be housed in addition to on YouTube at Cal Newport, YouTube/Califer Media. They'll also be housed at the deeplife.com. So if you want to watch podcast episodes, watch clips from episodes, watch other videos we've done like our weekly update videos, but you're suspicious, for example, of the YouTube recommendation algorithms, watch them at the deeplife.com. Nice clean interface in our environment. So if you want to understand the idea behind this, I mentioned this briefly, sort of buried in a recent episode of my answer to one of my questions, but the reason why I've launched this separate website, the deeplife.com, is that I'm trying to get some clarity between my work as an academic and writer and public intellectual, where I write books and academic articles and public facing articles for the New Yorker, and I explore a lot of topics all roughly within this general frame of technology and its impact on culture and society. I want there to be some clarity between that world and the direct engagement I do with you, my listeners and readers, with things like this podcast, like my videos, on the specific goal of trying to cultivate a deeper life. Because unlike other, I would say other personalities that are out there, where their entire existence is tied up in their direct engagement with their readers' listeners. They're a YouTube podcaster and that's it. I have this whole other life in the world of ideas. So the way I see it is I'm a thinker who writes and thinks about a lot of things. I spun off this separate move at the deeplife.com with the very specific goal of being, as I say at the top of that website, the online home for the deeplife movement. So right now it's where my podcast is. Right now it's where my videos are. Conceivably in the future, the deeplife.com and the movement it represents could have some other voices on there as well. Maybe another show on there, other types of video series. So anyways, that is the deeplife.com is the home for the podcast. That's where you can find pages for every episode. That's where you can watch videos without having to see YouTube recommendations. Yes, that looks good. Yeah, so I'm going to have to, Jesse kind of is the mastermind behind keeping it humming. But it seems like it's working great. Like we have all the episodes are in here now or something like this. We have a pretty big archive. We might in the future add transcripts, start adding transcripts to pages and go for it as well. We haven't done that yet, but when we do that's where to live. Each episode has its own page. We've got to start producing more video though. Yeah, I like video. I get suspicious about YouTube sometimes. So it's nice to have a place people can go to watch those videos if they don't want to actually be in the YouTube universe. We're always happy to have you at YouTube YouTube.com/ConceauportMedia. That is the YouTube page where all these videos of these episodes and our clips are housed. All right, so you may have noticed or you may notice if I drag a little bit in today's episode. I was sick this week. You know, Jesse knows this because we actually had to reschedule this taping because I was too sick to do it on the original time that we were going to record. But being sick, and this is why I wanted to bring this up at the top of the show. The day when I was the sickest, which was on Wednesday of this past week, I had an interesting epiphany. So I was really run down as nauseous, my head hurt. I couldn't read books. I tried. I couldn't concentrate. I was like, I can't follow this, but I could read the internet on my phone. And I believe, and this is a precise quantification, I believe I read on that day and I'm looking up the number here, all of the internet. And I said, that's the right way of quantifying it. But it stuck with me for a second. My mind was run down. I was sick. I was out of fraction of my energy. I was still able to do stuff online. I could read stuff online, but I couldn't read books. And it occurred to me. There's something different going on in book reading. Something much more demanding than when I'm scrolling on my phone. And this is honestly what I was doing in the comment section on the talknats.com web blog, which has the best online discussion community on the internet for the Washington Nationals baseball team. Those are interesting guys. I could read that. I could read Mark Zuckerbergman's articles on Masson about, you know, what was happening. I couldn't read even relatively straightforward books. So then I came across. This was on my mind. I'm starting to get a little bit better. For two, it is Lee, one of you, my listeners sent to my interesting account Newport.com address an article that got right to the heart of this. And I'm going to bring this up on the screen. So if you're watching at YouTube.com/Cal Newport Media, this is episode 238. And if you're watching at the deep life.com, this article I have a here up on the screen is called success and circuit lies. How do we cultivate deep reading processes in a digital age? It's from February. And it's written by Mary Ann Wolf. Mary Ann Wolf used to be a tough. Now she's moved to New Center at UCLA. She's an expert on the neuroscience of reading. In particular, she's done a lot of breakthrough research on dyslexia. What actually happens in the brain with dyslexia? She wrote a great public facing book called Proust and the Squid, which I really recommend. This article had in it a lot of great insights about why reading is a special or exceptional activity for human beings. Why it does something for us that other types of consumption and media doesn't and why we should be worried about losing it and be eager to fight to get more of it. These points were all embedded in this article. So let's look at some quotes from this article.


Discussions On Reading And Writing

Today’s Deep Question (07:40)

There's a lot of different things going on here. I've pulled some quotes out of here, not in their order that they appeared, but in the order that I think they're important to our discussion. So let me grab the first quote I want to start with here. All right, here is Mary Ann. And again, I have this on the screen. If you're at YouTube.com/Cal Newport Media, this is episode 238. All right. So let's start with this quote. "No human was born to read. Literacy requires a new plastic brain circuit. Plasticity allows the circuit to adapt to any writing system and any medium. The catch is that circuits reflecting mediums characteristics, whatever they are. So we'll start with this point. It's a big point that was made in Proust and the Squid. Humans aren't meant to read. It's a highly unnatural activity. We hijack significant portions of our brain that were originally evolved to do other things. And we retrained them to do this reading activity that humans invented. It's a cultural innovation that's relatively recent in the history of our species. But what Mary Ann is saying here is we're reshaping our brain to this new activity. So the specifics of this activity matter. So what we're reading, how we're reading it, what format we're reading it, actually can have an impact on how the brain is shaped. All right. Second quote I want to read here. This is now about let's dive into how different mediums can affect how our brain is shaped around reading. The medium of print advantages slower, more attention and time requiring processes. The digital medium, by contrast, advantages fast processes and multitasking. Both well suited for scheming information's daily bombardments. Mary Ann has a little interesting piece here where she says stop for a moment and think about that sentence you just read. Did you really read the whole sentence or did you skim and bounce around some words? Because as she goes on the clarify, that's really how we engage with words on screens and web browsers on social media, etc. We skim, we jump around. There's things called Z patterns and F patterns. We'll read the first line to middle section. Our eyes jump around. We feel like we're going fast, but we're missing a lot of information. So different types of reading, digital versus physical requires different types of processes. So does this matter? Well, let's see. Here's what Mary Ann says. To skim to inform as we do when we read on digital is the new norm for reading. What goes missing, however, are deep reading processes which require a quality of attention increasingly at risk in a culture and on a medium in which constant distraction bifurcates are attention. These processes include connecting background knowledge and new information, making analogies, drawing inferences, examining truth value, passing over into the perspectives of other, expanding our empathy and knowledge, and integration and critical analysis. Here is the key quote about summarizing all these things we get from reading a physical book. Deep reading is our species bridge to insight and novel thought. Alright, so let's think about what they're saying, what Mary Ann is saying here. We have to reshape our brain to read. If we're reading on a screen, we tend to do what she calls skim to inform. We jump around and see ideas, try to get to just to what's going on. When we instead read on a physical page, we instead are prioritizing processes that give us all of these advanced human cognition behaviors as we get the analogies, inferences, truth value, passing over perspective, empathetic, putting ourselves into the shoes of others, integration, critical analysis. The things that she describes as our bridge to insight and novel thought. As Mary Ann Wolf goes on to summarize those traits we get from physical books, but not digital, to deploy these interactive processes requires nearly automatic decoding skills and purposeful attention that moves as William James once put it from flight to purchase for thought. In perceptible pauses and reading can lead to lightning speed leaps in our thoughts for this reaches. By contrast, when we skim, we literally physiologically don't have time to think or feel. So this is a big idea that's being made here. Slowly reading full sentences one after a time as we do when we look at a physical page is supporting and kicking off all of these incredible things. It's all of these incredibly advanced deep thinking processes that are at the key of what makes humans human. And it's not just being able to think clearer, it's also being able to be more empathetic, it's being able to integrate the ideas you're seeing into other ideas. What she's emphasizing here is just the ability to pause and just think for a moment about that sentence before you move on to the next allows you to integrate it successfully into existing structures of thought, therefore growing a much more sophisticated understanding of the world. All of this comes from the pace of reading the style of reading happens on physical pages. On a screen, on a phone, on an iPad, we don't get that, we're skimming around and we literally physiologically don't have time to think or feel. So we're not able to integrate the thoughts we're reading. We're not able to examine them successfully for truth value or understand how they fit in or challenge existing schemas. We do not have the physiological or psychological space for empathy for the other people. So what we look for is arousal. Hey, this makes me mad, this makes me laugh, this makes me excited about something, this makes me scared. Emotional arousal kind of captures our attention and we look for keywords about do I like this person or not? Is this on my team? Do I grew this idea or not? It's a primitive engagement with information. Does this affect other types of thinking? So if we spend most of our time reading in a digital screen instead of reading on a physical screen, will that impact the way we think, not just when we're engaging with text, but when we're trying to do other type of thinking and other aspects of our life? Here the article provides evidence that yes, the answer there is yes. Marianne points towards a recent study that was published in JAMA Pediatrics by a group of researchers from Singapore, McGill and Harvard. It looked at over 500 young children. What they found is increased screen time at a young age was associated with weaker development of the brain regions responsible for the executive function skills that cover attention, impulse, inhibition and some aspects of memory. So they're not getting the cognitive training that book reading in physical books gives you. And without the training, you're not developing those skills. So it's not just the act of reading itself while you're reading allows you to do this deeper thinking. It's cognitive strength training. It's making those parts of your brain able to do that type of thinking better in the future when you're doing other cognitive activities. Now, is this just for young kids? Well, no, Marianne goes on to say the same sentence. She's referencing a sentence that summarized what I just said. Could as easily describe the experience of older children and indeed adults. So to me, these are important points. Reading a physical book in a slow, deliberative and careful manner. Sharpens a type of innovative, empathetic, creative and critical thinking that is otherwise hard for humans to access. It requires us to literally rewire our brain to do that type of thinking. And without a concerted effort, we will not develop those skills. If we avoid the slow and deliberate reading of actual physical books, if we mainly consume information on screens, constantly keeping up with the news on Twitter. Looking at what's going on in Instagram, jumping around, highly engaging websites or following links on social media. Even very highly educated people will do this and convince themselves, "I'm really up on things. I know what's going on. I'm jumping back and forth between the substack quotes that I saw, quoted and other tweets. You feel like you're really engaged, but you're not doing the type of reading that supports innovative, empathetic, creative and critical thinking. So what happens is the sophistication with which you understand and later make sense of information is decreased. And your ability to apply sophisticated thinking in other contexts is also atrophied. Avoiding books is like being in ancient Sparta and avoiding doing any physical training. You're going to be bad at the main activity that your civilization prioritizes. For the Spartans, it was physical war. For us as cognition, you're making yourself much worse at that. If you avoid physical books. Now if we think about this even more literally, and we go with this idea that wolf pushes, that training our brain to do this type of innovative and empathetic and creative and critical thinking is something that's unnatural. We have to hijack huge portions of our brain and doing this very difficult unnatural activity that is sitting there and holding a codecs and trying to decode the sentences that we have to do something incredibly unnatural again and again to train our brains to be this higher order of human. If we're not doing that, if we're substituting that time with screens, we are in a literal sense evolving our brain backwards towards our pre-literate tribal selves. We're going backwards to the type of brains we had before the advent of literacy and the impact that had on the plastic formation of how our brain actually functions. I spent all day last Wednesday sick on the internet and here was my conclusion, it's a terrible place. Seriously, there's no empathy to thinking as simplistic. There is a automatic knee jerk meanness to any perceived outsiders. In other words, if you're bouncing around Twitter and social media and sub-stack fights going back and forth, it's a digital paleolithic tribe. It's exactly what Wolf would predict. If you don't do this effort that makes us more than what we used to be, we're going to go right back to what we used to be. And when I see Twitter today or what 10 years ago would have been tumbler fighting with 4chan and before that, who knows, what I see there is the human brain going backwards. It's going back to where it's comfortable. Where's my tribe? How does this make me feel? Who's the bad guy? I want to feel something big right now. And when we do that, we get away from what characterizes and distinguishes humans, the modern human from any other animal or beast that's ever come before. Aristotle identified in the Nicomachean Ethics concentrated deep thought, the ability to sit here and manipulate ideas just within our head as the essence of what it means to be human, what separates humans are teleological end point. So to voluntarily move backwards from that is something that we should be cautious of. All right, so I'm being pretty philosophical here. Let's get more concrete. What is my recommendation for my listeners here to the show? I think we need to think about a serious reading habit as an exceptional activity, one that you need to isolate and support and really prioritize in your life. No matter what else you think is important in your personal definition of a deep life, I'm increasingly convinced the serious reading of good books needs to be in there. So I have seven suggestions I want to give. Seven suggestions about integrating real reading into your life. All right, number one, always be reading something challenging. I don't care if it's fiction or nonfiction, but something that's challenging. Ideas you have to grapple with characters whose psychological reality is difficult or pushes you into new psychological or emotional places like in fiction, but challenging. Number two, read real books, not on a phone, not on an iPad. Kindle, I think, is okay. We're going to get into this later with a question later in the program with a good collection of questions coming up. But for now, I'll just say, Kindle's okay. Physical books are okay. Don't read on your phone. Don't read on your iPad. Wolf goes into this in this article. It's where the other distractions are. And you're going to read in those old ways if you're trying to read on those same devices. You're going to read in the skim style. Number three, read when possible and awesome awe-inspiring locations. I don't like this mindset that reading is a take your cod liver oil type of grin and bear it. Ice bath type self-flagellation behavior. Make it awesome. It's sunny out. I'm going to go to a park and sit on a bench or hike into the woods for 20 minutes and bring a book by, you know, Thoreau, read at a coffee shop in the morning. Or as I would occasionally do when I lived in Beacon Hill for a while and I was at MIT, go to a pub. The British are great at this. Americans are terrible at this. The art of being a grad student that has a book that's a little bit too hard but you have a heffa-wise in a back corner of a pub. It's great. It opens up great. I'm excited to read. This feels like the right place to be doing it. Take your time. There's number four. Take your time when you read. Go slow. Seek to understand. If you're reading a complicated book, use secondary sources to push yourself. So read books about the book you're reading. It will give you things to look for. To push your understanding. You'll come back to the book and be able to come at it more sophisticated. Again, I'm not a big believer of just immerse yourself in the complicated thing and you will just grow. No, don't just grab Ulysses. Read a book about Ulysses so you have some understanding of what was going on with modernist English literature in this point. Why is this so important? What are you looking for? Number five. The quantity of books finished in the reading life is less important than the time spent actually reading. So reading regularly, slowly and deliberately is what matters. The quantity of books that translates to will depend on two things. One, happenstance. The length of the books you happen to be reading. And two, just as your skill increases. If you get better at reading, you might finish books faster. Six, keep notes. Keep notes when you are tackling an idea that's important. Maybe you've read multiple books on it. Start a document somewhere. Keep notes. This helps you practice. It puts you in the mindset of I'm not just reading the sentences. I want to actually try to extract information from these sentences. You're going to slow down. You're going to allow those purchase for thought that William James talked about. That pause in between that allows you to say, "Hmm, what was said here reminds me of what was said there." And it changes the way I think about what I wrote the other day. That's where real interesting synthesis happens. And finally, to support all of this reading, when it comes to your life with screens, especially phones and iPads, try to reduce the use of screens as a default response to boredom. That should be a planned thing. It's okay if you say, "Tonight I'm going to watch a show that I'm going to stream." Or there is a baseball game today, and at breakfast, I am going to check on this site, that site, and this site to get the analysis of what happened there. That's perfectly fine. What you want to avoid is, when I'm bored, whip this out, "Hey, TikTok algorithm or Twitter social dynamic, show me some stuff that makes me feel big." That you want to avoid. You want your brain to not crave that so much. You want your brain to be more comfortable with not having the big feelings at all moments. So that when it comes time to do deep reading, it doesn't complain. Alright, so that's my advice. So here's my summary here. The reading life is a deep life. The screen-filled life can be downright primitive. Which one do you want? It's all about books, Jesse. So I like that deep dive because as you know, we like to do one theme on the show each week. So we have five questions coming up, and they're all about reading. Yeah. I'm excited about it. I love reading questions. Yeah, I like it too. It's popular topic too. A lot of people watch those types of videos. They're always interested in the books you read each month. Yeah, so we've got five good reading questions that I want to dive into from you, my listeners. Before I do, I want to briefly first mention one of our favorite sponsors of the show, and that is our friends over at Blinkist. You've heard me talk about Blinkist before. The Blinkist app allows you to understand the big ideas from over 5,500 non-fiction books and podcasts in just 15 minutes.


Cal talks about Blinkist and ExpressVPN (25:04)

You know, I'm realizing, Jesse, that's a little bit ambiguous as worded. One potential reading of that is the Blinkist app will allow you to digest 5,000 books worth of ideas in 15 minutes. See, I think that's too much of a summary. But that's not what it means. What it means is you can select from over 5,500 books, and for any one of those books, get a 15 minute summary that you can either read or listen to while you do something else. So summaries are called "Blinks." If you want to adopt a reading life, like we just discussed, there is no better sidekick than Blinkist because here's what it allows you to do. "Triage potential books to let into your life." You say, "I'm interested in this topic. Here's a few books on it. Which one should I buy?" You'll listen to or read the blinks on all three of them. You get the big ideas. And quickly, you can kind of hone in. But on this one seems like it's a blog post that's expanded. Oh, this one seems serious. That's the one I'm going to buy. That's the one I'm going to read. So if you're a serious reader, Blinkist should be your sidekick. They also have this new feature called Blinkist Connect, in which you get two accounts for the price of one. So you sign up for one and you can gift an account to a friend. Jesse, you and I both use Blinkist. You have volunteered for me to actually bring up, allow me to bring up your Blinkist app on the screen here. Let's look at this real quick. Let me just jump over to it. So for those who are watching at youtube.com/calnewportmedia, I blog in to the Blinkist app here. The reason why I wanted to do this was just to show you one other thing which I like about Blinkist is they have these things called collections. So it will also help you discover new books. So I'm looking at some collections on the screen here. Here's one. A friend of the show, a friend of mine, Adam Grant. Adam Grant's book recommendations. So I'm going to click on that. And what you get here is a collection of 14 books that Adam Grant is recommending. So you have like from Strength to Strength by Arthur Brooks, Parenting by Gene Olinwing and so on. Obviously this is a nonsense list because none of my books are in it. But the point is you can also have books recommended. And so there's 14 books in this list. Click on any one of these things. Get the 15 minutes summary to see if you want to buy it. I'm telling you, if the reading life is something that you think is important and you really should, Blinkist is a great sidekick to have along to ride. So right now Blinkist has a special offer just for our audience. If you go to Blinkist.com/deep to start your 7-day free trial, you will get 25% off a Blinkist Premium Membership. That's Blinkist spelled D-L-I-N-K-I-S-T. Blinkist.com/deep to get 25% off and a 7-day free trial. That's Blinkist.com/deep. Remember now for a limited time you can even use Blinkist Connect to share your premium account. You'll get two premium subscriptions for the price of one. I also want to mention our sponsor ExpressVPN. In many prior ad reads I've explained why you need a VPN so that your internet provider or people who are sniffing your packets as they move through the air from your device to a Wi-Fi access point can't tell who you were talking to on. You have a secure connection to a VPN server that talks to the sites and services on your behalf. There's a fun extra bonus reason why you might want a VPN like ExpressVPN is that if you choose to connect to a VPN server in another country, the websites or services you talk to think you're in that country. I was messing around with this recently for example. I watched The Office by logging into a ExpressVPN server in the UK and then logging into my Netflix account because Netflix UK has the rights to the office whereas Netflix in the US does not. It's on Peacock. You can fill that in for all sorts of other regionalized shows thinking about the show Vikings on Canadian Netflix for example or Korean dramas go to a Korean server connecting the Netflix. You can see some of the Korean dramas that you want to normally see in the US. That's a cool bonus feature you get in addition to the security and the protection and the privacy is like, "Hey, you can put yourself into different countries." Actually, the way I use that most often, I would say is when I am traveling overseas and I'm homesick and I want American Netflix. I just want to watch a show. I'm in a hotel room somewhere in Berlin. Connect to a VPN server in the US, go to Netflix and Netflix thinks you're back in the good old US of A. So VPN's are vital. They also let you do fun things like that. ExpressVPN is the one I use because I think it has the most servers I love the available bandwidth and it's very easy to use. Click a switch. It's on. You don't even realize it's on. So if you want all the benefits, security privacy benefits of VPNs as well as access to hundreds of new shows, go to expressvpn.com/deep right now. You can get an extra three months of ExpressVPN for free. That's expressvpn.com/deep. Expressvpn.com/deep to learn more. All right, Jesse, we got now five questions from our listeners all related to our central deep question about why we should read more books. These are all book related questions. Who is first? All right, first question is from bookish. I've thought about buying used physical copies of all the books I've read on Kindle that I found worthwhile, but it seems wasteful. Would this be crazy?


Should I buy physical copies of books I enjoyed on my kindle? (30:50)

The TLDR here is no. And before I elaborate on that, let me briefly detour to address the topic I put a pen in earlier, which is Kindle used to read. Is that the same as reading physical books when it comes to the advantage talked about by Mary and Wolf? I would say almost completely yes. It's pretty close. And the big issue, this is what Wolf points out, the big issue with reading on a phone or an iPad is it's the same screen we do all this other distracting behavior on. And that's what pushes us into these skin patterns. Kindle we only use to read books. And so it does not seem at least anecdotally to induce that same skimming mindset. I mean, the Kindle is not really even a screen in the traditional sense of, let's say, an iPad or a phone where you actually have different color lights being projected from these very small pixels that form an image. That's not exactly, it's not how a Kindle works. A Kindle is actually electromechanical. It used a technology called E, Inc. And all it is is a grid of very small disks laid out like a grid. One side is essentially white. The other side is essentially black. And there is a little wires. Think about it like there's wires to every little one of those things. And if you put a little electrical pulse to one of the disk, it flips over. So what's happening with the Kindle is when you switch your page, there's a pulse to all these pixels. It flips them over into a pattern. And now what you're physically looking at, these physical disks, white on one side, black on the other, have all been flipped in a way that what it shows you is to page with your text. So there's no light behind it. It's not shining pixels at you. It's actually physically a pattern of white and black physical disks. That's why you shine a book light on it like anything else. It's like you're reading paper. It really is like you're reading paper. Electricity is only used to flip those. It's not steady state supported by electricity. That's a little bit in the weeds, but I think it helps explain why the experience of reading a Kindle really can be like reading a physical book in a way that reading on your iPhone is not. All right, let's go back to bookish's question. Is it crazy that if you have a library book and your Kindle and you love it, did you go and buy a copy of it? No, I don't even think it needs to be a used copy. Collect books that are important to you, or you think are important. I think that makes a lot of sense. What better thing to collect? You have in a single codecs that has stilled wisdom that might have come from years of effort. It had a real impact. This very narrow thing that cost you $22 or $18 on Amazon has the ability to permanently rewire your cognitive configuration, changed the way you understand the world and live your life. I mean, what's more powerful than that? You get it for $18. Yes, celebrate these things if they've made a big difference in your life. Buy a copy of a book that you think is really good. Have a library in that way. You're also supporting the construction of this art. You're supporting writers who put all these efforts into it. I am not one of these people that thinks we should minimize our books or that having books is somehow fetishistic. I mean, I think it is one of the most important artifacts for the reasons we talked about in the deep dive that began to show. They alone among all sorts of different things human produced are responsible for literally evolving the human brain, allowing us to move to a higher, more sophisticated, creative, empathetic state of being. I think that's something that we can celebrate. Yeah, buy the books bookish. Buy the books you like. All right, what do we got next, Jesse?


How should I organize my notes when writing a non-fiction book? (34:45)

My next question is from Patrick. I'm a theology grad student. I just signed my first nonfiction book contract. I've been using your paper research database method, but I'm worried it won't be flexible enough for a full book. What do you use to track notes for your books? Well, Patrick, congratulations on the contract. That's a call callback to earlycalnewport.com. What do you call it? The paper research database method. I remember writing this. It was an article for my blog years ago. And if memory serves, I had read an article or watched documentary about how the Pulitzer Prize winning nonfiction writer Taylor Branch collected and organized the notes for his epic three part biography of Martin Luther King. And he used a paper research database. And again, this is me pulling back pretty deeply into my memory banks. I did not refresh my memory of this article before the show. I believe he used a Microsoft access database. So that's how old this was. And what he did is he immersed himself in essentially every source about King's life. And when I say every source about King's life, I don't mean he read a lot of books about King. He did more than that. I don't just mean he went and read important academic papers written about King. He did more than that. I don't mean that he went and read every newspaper article that mentioned King during King's life. He did do that, but he did more than that. He would actually go and say King was in this town on this day. Let me see what's in the newspaper in that town in that day. Just so I can see what's going on, what was it like in Selma in 1954 on Tuesday, April 17th. And so to organize all these notes, he put everything into a database that was all keyed by date. Everything had a date and then he would summarize what's going on. He would either transcribe relevant notes and what he observed from it. And he just spent years and years doing this. And the reason why he did is that when it came time to write his biographies, he could say he had a timeline. Okay, I'm at the point now where I'm talking about what happened in the summer of 1951. He could essentially have his database spit out everything basically at all relevant to King in those three months in chronological order. And then he could immerse himself in all of that. And from that, be able to pull out a very nuanced contextualized narrative about what King was doing, not just King specific actions, but what was happening in the country at this time, what was happening around King. So it was a really cool method. Patrick, I think that is probably too inflexible for your book. Unless you're writing historical nonfiction, you're going to spend a lot of years on it. But I can tell you what I do, because I've evolved my paper note-taking systems over the books I've written. I've published seven of now in the middle of book number eight. Finished the first manuscript doing edits right now. So I've done a lot of books. I have to write my books much faster than Taylor Branch. You know, I might have five months to put out one of my books because I have to fit this between other things like being a professor, etc. And so in my systems, I can say what I tend to prioritize is speed and reducing friction. I want to be able to capture as much relevant information as possible and get to that relevant information as quickly as possible, while minimizing obstacles. The lower friction I have in collecting, organizing, and reviewing notes, the more notes I can take and the more I can pull from when I'm trying to actually pull together my ideas. So I can tell you for my most recent book, the book I'm writing now on slow productivity, I have moved to a system in which everything with one key exception I'm about to tell you, everything goes into Scrivener. So I write my books in Scrivener, but I also keep all of my research notes in Scrivener. A bunch of folders and documents within those folders. I have PDFs I've dragged in there. I have a bunch of websites. Typically what I like to do is put the URL of the webpage and then copy all the text and put that in the script near to. So I don't have to go to the website again. All the information is right there. I just have random observations of my own. It's all organized in folders and the folders have sub folders and those sub folders have sub folders because it's incredibly easy to just throw stuff in there. And that's where I write. So all the information is already where I write. I write in Scrivener. So everything I might need for a chapter when it comes time to write that chapter, I've spent throwing random stuff in the folders for all sorts of chapters for months. And when it comes time to write a particular chapter, I can just go to the folders relevant to that topic and review everything I have there. It's all right there. It's like Taylor Brant saying, what's everything that anyone ever wrote about King in the summer of 1954, but in this case about slow productivity. I'm going to have all my notes. And then if I'm working on a chapter, I'll start with that, build an outline, say I need more information here. I need a better story here. And you think more about that here. And then I'll go get more research, throw it on the script. So I just take the notes and put them directly where they need to be when I'm actually going to write. I don't want there to be intermediaries. I don't want those notes going into other note taking systems, or taking from those systems and pulling back into my book. And that's because I write fast. And I think the less friction I have, the more notes I'll be able to take the deeper my writing will actually be able to be. All right. So that's what I do it. Other systems could work too. But again, I don't think that Taylor Brant's method is relevant unless you're Robert Caro or Taylor Brant or Robert Gross. Someone who's writing a book that they just spent the last decade on. All right. In the weeds, Jesse, I like this. Are you impressed that I remembered that paper research database? Yeah. I think I got that right. I almost want to look it up now. I don't know how old that is. I think I got that right. I remember writing that article. It's a good for Patrick. He's an old timer. That's good. It's been around for a while. All right. What do we got next? All right. Next question is from Sambit. I have a strange relationship with books. I buy a lot of them, but I can't read them.


How do I train myself to become a reader? (40:39)

After the first 10 to 12 pages, I feel bored and I stop reading. I can, however, listen to long podcast with full attention. How do I become a reader? Well, Sam, but the key thing is you have an ambition to become a reader, so let's give that a check mark. The second thing I want to point out here is you have inadvertently provided us, I think, a really good case study of one of the big ideas from the deep dive earlier in this episode. You can listen to long podcasts, no problem, but you're having trouble with books. That just emphasizes, in my mind, the exceptional nature of book reading when it comes to all cognitive consumption activities. I mean, podcasts are complicated. It's not like you can't pay attention to something. You're able to focus on a podcast. You're able to listen to me and what I'm saying. So it just goes to show you that there is a unique, complicated, but ultimately essential cognitive dance that happens when you're grappling with sentences written on the physical printed page. So it's a good case study that you're providing us here. All right. So what you need to do is train. I don't want you to despair. There's no such thing as I'm not a reader, I am a reader. There is I have trained to read or I have it. And if you haven't, how do you fix that? You do the training. It's just like I wouldn't say I'm not a runner because I just tried to run a 5K, having never jogged in my life, and then it go very well. I would say I am not in shape to run a 5K, but I'm sure if I trained within a few months, I could run these on a regular basis. So I'm going to give you a training regime, Sam, but then I'm going to suggest about how you become a better reader. All right. So we're going to start with books that you are excited to read. So we want to take out of the equation early on the boredom factor or the comfort with intellectual discomfort. So this could be genre fiction. That's really exciting. You might even want to start with short stories. I recently read Ted Chang's original short story collection of sci-fi short stories. It was excellent, right? But they're 20 pages each. They're really gripping, whatever. So it could be genre fiction or it could be nonfiction, maybe pragmatic nonfiction, like the type of books I write. Like, yeah, I want to read digital minimalism because I'm really motivated to spend less time on my phone. And so you're motivated. I'll read atomic habits or memoirs. I'll read, you know, Goggins' memoir because I want to get fired up or get some discipline. So start with books you're excited to read. Forget about what they are right now. It's just about time on page. Number two, find a cool reading location or ritual I talked about in the deep dive. It's going to help you here. Go into the coffee shop. 20 minutes, while I finish this one cup of coffee, I'm going to the pub. You bring in the book with me. If you go to a pub, it has to be an English style pub. And you need to wear a scarf or an ascot. You got to use your accent. And you got to use it. So you got to come in with an ascot, preferably a beret. If you're going to wear a shirt, it should be striped like a French sailor. And you need to say, good day, Marquis. A pint of ale. Well, I peruse my book by David Goggins. You have to talk like that. And they're like, look, this is like a member of the lost generation. Essentially, essentially, we have Steinbeck here. All right. Then I'm going to say, so that's the setup. Scheduled interval training. Five days a week, you're going to read 10 minutes at a time. Do that for at least two weeks. Then up at the 15 minutes. Do that for at least two weeks, up at the 20 minutes. You're giving your mind support. I'm excited about the book. I have an awesome accent and a bar somewhere. Everyone just thinks I'm awesome. You're fighting the secretly beautiful, but kind of nerdish women because they have the glasses on. When you take off the glasses, they're actually models that are just so attracted to the fact that you're clearly like a serious intellectual because you're ascot and you're reading in the pub. You're fighting off women as you're trying to read. You've given yourself, you've set it all up, and now you're doing a very reasonable amount of time. 10 minutes at a time. You do it for two weeks. You go up to 15 minutes. You're pushing your mind's comfort, actually reading beyond a few pages. And then once you get to 40 minutes, stop upping your time. Fix that as the time you're going to read four to five days a week. And what you're going to start upping is the complexity of your books. So you get really comfortable at reading most days for 40 minutes. And then you start upping the complexity. Slightly harder books, slightly more challenging books. And you sort of push yourself up the ladder. Maybe be a year or two of this. You can get to the point where you're ready to actually tackle classic books, really complicated books. Books that require secondary sources. I'm going to read the secondary source first. Then I'm going to read the book. I'm telling you one year, Sambit. I'm going to be a reader. He's got a train. Now, why you have to do training more training than other people is other people just inadvertently or through whatever circumstance or through inclination or how they're raised. Just got more of this training already. So they've already done the training. They grew up with a family of athletes. They ran every day. Arnold Schwarzenegger's dad in Austria made him do pushups before he could get a meal. He had an advantage. By the time he got to the military and started bodybuilding, he was around it. Okay, you didn't have Arnold Schwarzenegger's dad making you do pushups in the cognitive realm. You got a little more training to do. It'll take you a year. You'll catch up. Actually, you don't want Arnold Schwarzenegger's dad. Actually, his autobiography is good. Fantastic. I listened to it, but I love that. It's such a great autobiography. His dad was from a generation of Austrian men who post World War II were just depressed alcoholics. Just trying to grapple with... It's not like he was a member of the Nazi party or something, but they were all sort of complicit in what was going on. There's just a destroyed generation of men. Advantage of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Extra pushups. Disadvantaged, depressed alcoholic Nazi collaborator dad. I would say you could probably just figure out a pushup routine on your own. That's kind of going far far. It is a really cool biography. You know what I like about that? The fact that Schwarzenegger comes over here and weightlifting and basically becomes a millionaire before he really gets into movies, he does these businesses other people don't want to do. Brick Lane and stuff like this. Invest money in real estate. Not an amount of controversy investing in this beach, I think. Investing in real estate by the beach. Just doing a hard work. You built up a fortune and then was like, "Oh, I'm going to get in the movies." So your answer to Sambit reminded me a couple of things about location. I went to the Library of Congress a couple of weeks ago. My friend gave me a tour and that was pretty inspiring. It's expired. I told Jesse I have a researcher card there just because I like to go and work. You know where I would work when I go to the Library of Congress was not the big room with the desk. They're all in a circle. But in the arts and industry library, it's pretty cool because it has these 1920s art deco light fixtures. It's a cool place. I told Jesse that I got to find a way to write a book at some point soon that requires me to access the collection of the Library of Congress just so I can spend days in that massive reading room and have people bring me. Because if you're an academic, you can get a researcher card and they'll just have these awesome collection. It takes them a couple hours, but you can basically get any book you want. They'll bring them all to you in a cart to your desk and you can work on it all day. So I need a reason to do that. The other thing I do, thanks to you, is I put on my weekly plan every week, just some of the stuff I want to get through. Because I get a lot of magazines and I have different book size. You need to be reading on your weekly plan. Yeah. Specific. And then if I have a pile of New Yorkers, I'll just get through a couple of them. So you might put Thursday afternoon, I'm going to do some New Yorker reading. Yeah. So I put what I want on and then when I do my daily plan, I just put it in there. I'm going to read this. You have a queue of what you want to read that week. When you do a daily plan. The other ones I can keep track of it and I'd forget about certain things. So now I just kind of... I like this strategy. It's like, here's my reading queue for the week. And then when you're doing a daily plan, you're used to putting aside time for reading. But now you can actually pull something from that queue and say, this specifically is what I'm going to read. Yeah, it's been working out. Yeah. And the other thing that I do too is especially after going to Library Congress and looking online stuff, it's like, you've got to be comfortable knowing that you're never going to read everything. Like, there's so much stuff. And just get through what you can. Just kind of what you talk about and slow. I'm surprised by how often I'm a big library guy. We're a personal library person. And the next question is going to get at this. I'm surprised by how often I'll get a book. Like, I just finished a book last night that I originally bought five years ago. But I kept it in my library. It's like, it's a book I want to read. You know? And sometimes you have to wait till you're in the right mood. And it took five years. Mm-hmm. And I read it. And I finished it last night. Yeah. You know? And I'm surprised by how often that... This is why I love libraries. How often that'll happen. You know, sometimes I'll buy a book and like, I'm not going to read this right now. But I want to own this and I think I'm going to read this. I think it's an important thing to have. I get to these things. And it can take me years. But I cycle back to things. All right. Speaking of libraries, we have a good library question. Let's see this next one. All right. Next question is from Karan. "I'm becoming more of an avid reader thanks to Gal. How should I build my library?" All right. Well, I'm a big fan of... As I was just talking about libraries. My current library set up just so we can calibrate. So now we're down to... We have one full bookshelf here in the HQ.


How should I build a library? (50:40)

Then in my study at home, the whole room is built in bookshelfs. Now, on one half of the room, it's all kids' books. We have a really great collection of kids' books at various readers' age. And then... Oh, the other shelves are adult books. And then in our living room, we also have a full wall of built in bookshelf. So I sort of have, you know, kind of three major libraries. So I'm a big fan of personal libraries. How do you start one from scratch? Well, all right. I have a method. Here is my method. You start with a single bookshelf. And you start filling that bookshelf somewhat haphazardly. You know, you buy books that are interesting. You go to use bookshelfs. Let me try this. Books you want to read right away. Books you want to get to at some other point. If you live in a town like I do with a lot of little free libraries, hey, this book looks interesting, I'm going to grab it from there. Right? So you're kind of filling this bookshelf with books you bought, books you've read, books you might want to read, some really good, and some you're like, I don't know so much about this. Once the book is... the bookshelf is full, then for a while what you do is the replacement rule. And when you get a new book, you say, I have to make room for this on the bookshelf. So let me take off whatever sort of very low on my ranking of books on here. What's a book? This is probably my least favorite book. This is kind of... replace that with the new book. So you're replacing sort of worst book with new book. You do this for a while. So now you're kind of cycling through the same bookshelf. That bookshelf's quality on average begins to increase. And after a while, most of these books on these bookshelfs are pretty good. I mean, they've survived this calling for a long time. Most of the stuff that was... here's this random book on quilting that I got at a yard sale and I never really did. That stuff is gone. And now your bookshelf is pretty good. Then you can buy a second bookshelf. And you can start kind of doing that same process over there. And you do that until you have the number of shelves you think is appropriate for where you live and your interest and how you feel about books. So I'm a big fan of that. Phil, then replace for a while to get the average quality up and wait until a shelf is of high quality before you actually move on to get a new shelf. I mean, there's a whole art to library tending. And I would say, Jesse, if the personal libraries we've seen or looked at at the show, probably our man Ryan Holiday wins. He's got a lot of books. He's got a lot of books. He's got a lot of books. It helps to be... so Ryan and I have the advantage that as writers we get sent a lot of books, which is great. And I buy a lot of books because I feel like it's important for my job. But still, he has a lot of books. I have a lot of books. He has a lot of books. So... We had a bookstore. Yeah, eventually I had to get a bookstore. Hey, bookstore is supposedly coming to come to park. Really? Yeah. Are you involved? I don't... they're new to the town. I met Kevin Coffey with him. Oh, he's gonna... or he or she is gonna love you. Yeah, it's a family. Yeah. You have kids. So I don't know. I just was like, look, I want to meet these people. Yeah. It just gives a sustained round of applause. And I'm excited about the idea of having them. You'll be a good customer. Yeah. Yeah, I'll be there all the time. What I'm gonna tell them is I'm gonna do like three or four days a week, multi-hour long signings. Like, just usually not gonna be people there. I'm coming to see me because I'm gonna be there something like 15, 20 hours a week. I'm just gonna show up a lot randomly and just like have a book. It's gonna be like... and this is sad. Not sad. But there's... one of our favorite museums is the Aaron Space Museum out by Dolis. And it's... I think it's cool if they allow people who have published books about their experience and usually military aviation come and like sign books or whatever. But they don't really promote anything. They just like have them on a table sort of over by the bar. And they're like, so they're always just sort of there and I always feel sort of bad about it because as an author, you really are empathetic to unpromoted book signings. It's the worst. It's nothing worse. We've all had it. You're on Book Tour and like three people show up or whatever. But anyways, I'm gonna lean into that. Just unsolicited. That's good news. Yeah. Anyway, so I hope that works out real... we'll be able to think around the corner from here. Great. All right, libraries. All right, let's do a... let's do one more question. We got time. All right, sounds good. Next question from Sarah. Would Cal like to comment on this quote from Sam Bankman Freed. I'm very skeptical of books. I don't want to say no book is ever worth reading, but I actually do believe something pretty close to that. I think that if you wrote a book, you f'd up and it should not have been a six... and it should have been a six paragraph blog post.


What does Cal think about Sam Bankman-Fried’s claim that books are worthless? (55:25)

Well, if you don't know who Sam Bankman Freed is, look it up. And I think this question will make more sense. Sarah, here's my answer. Let's look at the state of my life today and the state of Sam Bankman Freed's life today. Someone who prioritizes the creativity, innovation, empathy, and critical thinking that is developed by reading and someone who prefers six paragraph blog post. Where would you rather be? Whose life would you rather have right now? I'll leave it there and rest my case. Have you seen pictures of Sam Bankman Freed? I wouldn't look at them for book advice. I wouldn't look at them for fashion advice either. I'm doing a panel in San Francisco later this spring and we were talking with some of the other panel members and we were joking. So is the dress code Sam Bankman Freed? Because you do these panels with... there's a picture of him doing a panel with former president Bill Clinton and he's wearing shorts, cargo shorts, flip flops, and a t-shirt. He was like that in the commercials too. But his parents are professors, right? Yeah, lawyers, law professors. So you think you must have read at some point? Yeah. I mean he's obviously an intelligent person. I mean he went to MIT and everything. I just think his... I don't know. He's got a little... That brain got shook up somewhere. Something done broke. I think it's because they didn't read enough. He's a PSA. This is your brain... He's a PSA. This is your brain not on books and then there's like a quick montage of Sam Bankman Freed and then they're like this is your brain on books and it's me at a table all by myself in the new bookstore in Tacoma Park with an ascot and a striped shirt drinking a beer. Use your English and your French accent. Mixed together. Yeah. Yeah. Flexing furiously. Because you got them both. You got them both. Well, they're both intellectual people. All right. I'm nothing that nonsense. All right. So what I'd like to do in the third act of the show is shift away from our main question and talk about some interesting things that readers have sent me. Before we do, let me mention another sponsor that made this show possible. This may be our very first sponsor. I got to go back and confirm that like from way back in the pre-Jesse days. But that is our good friends at Grammarly. The feature I have been messing around with with Grammarly that I am most impressed by is Grammarly Premium's Advanced Tone Suggestions.


Cal talks about Grammarly and My Body Tutor (57:57)

This is why this is so important in a knowledge work world and especially in an increasingly remote knowledge work world where more communication is textual. Emails. Chat under the Zoom window. Slack communication. The quality clarity of your writing plays a big difference. Now I actually think there is an opportunity embedded in this evolution of our office landscape. There's a lot of issues I have with the shift towards everything being textual communication. But there is one opportunity for you, the list of the show, which means if you get really good at clear textual communication, you get the sudden competitive advantage over everyone else. You come across as more confident and smarter and more on the ball just because you're writing better. So there's no other time in the history of the world of business where clear communication, clear written communication is more important. Grammarly Premium and a particular Grammarly Premium's Advanced Tone Detector can help you get there faster. So I have a couple examples I want to tell you here, Jesse, of the Tone Detector in work. So I have some real sentences here, real corrections for the Tone Detector. So one thing it can do is help you with confidence in your communication. So here's a real sentence. We may want to consider providing an update. Here's a suggestion from the Tone Detector for increasing confidence. We should consider providing an update. Seems like a small change, but you come across more confident in that email and that Slack makes a big difference. All right, here's another thing the Advanced Tone Detector does. Reframe negativity. So here's something you might write, "Yeah, this marketing strategy isn't right." Just throw that in a Slack message. But that's going to come across as negative people might feel attacked. Here's an actual suggested correction from the Tone Detector for that sentence. The marketing strategy needs to be different. All change makes a huge difference in the impact on the reader. There's obviously a lot of other things you get with the Grammarly product from even just the basic fixing your broken grammar to these much more advanced Tone Suggestions and Sentence rewrites. But anyway, it's like having a personal editor who sits there and helps you be a better communicator. The right tone can move any project forward when you get it just right with Grammarly. So go to Grammarly.com/Tone. To download and learn about Grammarly Premium's Advanced Tone Suggestions, that's g-r-a-m-m-a-r-l-y.com/Tone. Let's also talk about our friends at MyBodyTutor. If you want to get in better shape, if you want to get healthier, the problem is not information. You know how to do it. The problem is actually accountability. How do you actually get motivated to continually take that action? This is where MyBodyTutor enters the picture. It's a 100% online coaching program. It connects you with a dedicated online coach. They work with you, the specific circumstances of your life. Right? Are you? And I'm just being hypothetical here. A 40-year-old male with three kids, 10 or under who are sick all the time and have seven jobs. The workout plan is going to be different than if you are a 22-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger on the bodybuilding circuit in Venice, California in the 1970s. They build a plan that makes sense. Let's think about your eating. Let's think about your exercising that makes sense for you. Then, think magic. You check in every day. When you're doing an app, it's real easy. You say, "Here's what I did. Here's what I ate. Here's what I worked out. Here's any questions I have." They give you feedback. That's where you get the consistency. That's what makes it work. It's like having the dedicated dietitian and trainers that the actors get to train for Marvel superhero movies, but without having that huge expense of having to pay people to come to your house because it's all online. Adam and his coaches at MyBodyTutor are the best in the world at delivering highly personal accountability and coaching. If you're serious about getting fit, Adam will give you $50 off your first month if you mention deep questions when you sign up. When you sign up, you just mention deep questions and they'll give you $50 off. MyBodyTutorTutor.com mentioned deep questions and get $50 off. Final segment of the show is something interesting. I usually just talk about one interesting thing that listeners sent me today, Jesse. I'm going to do three. Going crazy today. I like it. Yeah. Number one, this is visual. Hold on. I'm going to grab something here from the ground.


Interesting Points

Something Interesting (01:02:32)

You're not watching at youtube.com/countampertmedia or at the deeplife.com. You're missing out here. It's the end of an era, Jesse. I have been made fun of for months now after I revealed on one of our weekly update videos the state of my computer keyboard because you may not know this about me. I write a whole bunch. I had worn away all of the keys on my keyboard from just hitting them too much. Only the Q and the Z keys actually still remained. All right. Here we go, Jesse. Oh, wow. End of an era. Completely clean keys. That comes off real easily, right? So what it is is just a little silicon thing. So that should show them the ones that look at that. So I can actually see the keys. I don't have to touch type all the time. Advantage, and I do like Apple products, but the new MacBook Airs is the 2018-19 models. The keys were too low. I really care about the tactile feel of keys I write for a living, and they got too low. Like your keys are a little on that delt. They're a little bit higher. Yeah. That's a much better experience. Adding the silicon cover to my keys gives me an extra little eighth of an inch, and you have a little bit more carry on each press. I like it better. So your next career is going to be a Mac or is it going to be? Yeah, I like the Mac ecosystem. But I, this is whoever's in charge of this now, you got to work with riders when you build your keys on the keyboard. It can't be too low. We got it. We need some spring. You need the fingers to do a little effort and the pound up a little bit. So I'm simulating that with these. Gives you momentum. Gives you momentum. I'm a fast rider when I get here. I'm a fast tiper as you might imagine. So I need momentum. All right. So the second thing is a quote that was sent to me, the interesting that calnewpart.com email address. This is from a TIL Reddit forum. In a previous episode, readers told me that stands for today I learned. So TIL, what TIL means, is that recursive? Anyways, here was a quote from that forum. Napoleon Bonaparte refused to open his mail for three weeks. By that time, most of the issues raised in letters had resolved themselves and no longer retired his attention. I like the strategy. Just ignore your email until people have moved on in anger. The only issue is it helps. It's not necessary. But if you can arrange this, it helps for the strategy to be the emperor of Europe. It's a little bit harder if you are not the emperor of Europe to do the strategy. But still a good one. All right. The third interesting thing I want to talk about is an article that was sent in from a product management website. Now, this article is, this is a technical. I'm not going to get lost in the technical details. What I care about here is a big picture idea that I think is relevant to slow productivity. So if you're watching this on the screen, you will see the title of this article I have up here right now is called Stop Obsessing Over Development Velocity. Focus on this instead. So if you read this whole article, it's talking about software development. And it says there is an issue of software development to focus on the velocity of features getting completed. How many features do we complete and add to the product this month or this week? And it's this endless hurry up cycle to push more and more of those features. This article makes the argument that that's not necessarily the way to maximize the value you produce. So here's a few points. This is actually the summary that the listener sent me along with this article. And software, most new features don't make a positive impact for users. Because of that, increasing the velocity, that is the number of features you ship per unit of time, can create more waste. If you obsess instead over making a positive impact, you deliver more value with fewer features. And because existing features go to our bad, slow down the development of new features due to code complexity and the maintenance requirements and supporting them, the positive effect of building fewer but better features compounds as time goes on. I think there's a cool idea there that is relevant well beyond just software development. Focusing on a smaller number of things that are clearly very important and high impact and doing them very well in many different areas can end up producing more value and therefore more success economically than just trying to do as many things. This approach of course falls out of the three big principles of slow productivity. Do fewer things working at a natural pace, obsessing over quality. So looking at impact over velocity is exactly the type of strategy you might adopt if you are a believer in those three principles. And I can imagine this in so many different areas. I mean, think about academic service. Instead of saying how many different issues can we get through as a faculty during the semester in our faculty meetings, it might be let's really take our time to figure out what's the biggest thing we can do. Let's do that well and take our time and do it really well. You know, you're probably going to end up better. You imagine working on client service. Let's try to do this one thing really well, really change that client's business as opposed to look at how many things we responded to and got back to them on. I could imagine this impact versus velocity trade off happening in a lot of different areas. I love that mindset. And so I love this way of thinking. So I wanted to highlight that. This article is by Idamar Gillad. So good for you. Smart ideas. If you're software developer, follow the link of the show notes. You can get lost in the weeds here. But for everyone else, let's just like this idea. Velocity is not always the key to producing more value. All right, everyone. So that's all the time we have for today. You can now now shut down your podcast player and go read a real book. We will be back next week with another episode of the deep questions podcast. And until then, as always, stay deep.


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