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The 10 Foundational Practices for a Good Life | Scott H Young

A weekly journaling habit

Writing expands our memory by giving us a buffer to store thoughts before they fade from our memory. Writing also enables self-reflection. When you write down a long series of thoughts and then read it, you simultaneously articulate an idea and critique it.

Write weekly in your notebook about your current struggles, ambitions or plans.

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The Missing Practice
The Missing Practice

One practice of having a good life is to have regular conversations with people smarter than you or at least a bit ahead in some areas of life you care about.

Yet this prac...

Benefits of Talking To People Smarter Than You
  • Books are general; conversations are specific. Books can help greatly, but they are more like an atlas, whereas you may be in need of a tour guide.
  • A lot of important knowledge cannot be written down. A conversation covers deeper information than you cannot read from a transcript. You subtly absorb attitudes, practices and beliefs that cannot be recorded in books.
  • Access matters. Opportunities are often realized through talking with other people.
An Introvert’s Guide to Having More Conversations
  • Schedule calls with people you already know. When you meet someone, get their contact information and write a friendly email or text a week or so later. If the person responds, make an effort to keep in touch.
  • Ask for introductions. This is very helpful if you've already identified someone you'd like to learn from.
  • Reach out to like-minded people. If you want to talk to someone, simply send them an email.
  • Get comfortable with not getting a response. The imagined fear of harsh rejection seldom happens. The most common rejection is no reply at all.
Good Rituals for Focused Work
Good Rituals for Focused Work
  • A good ritual should be accessible most of the time you plan to work. If you focus best in a library, but it is closed on weekends when you need it, it is not a good rit...
Using Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Wearing headphones can block out some of the ambient sounds and create a subtle barrier to being interrupted.

Regular headphones with some sounds playing will also do the trick. But researchers found listening to music with lyrics caused a decline in performance while white noise wasn't found to have the same impact.

The Distractions We Can Control

For any focused work session, we should prevent the distractions we can control.

  • Allow only a select few emergency channels to go through and interrupt you. Turn off all other notifications on your phone and computer.
  • Ensure your email inbox is closed.
  • Pack your phone away to minimise the impulse to check your phone.
  • Schedule short focused check-in times for essential emails.
The best routine for studying
The best routine for studying

It is often unhelpful to hear that the perfect routine is the one you can stick to to help you reach your goals. As everyone is different in personality, constraints, and preferences, the ideal met...

The ingredient of the perfect studying routine
  1. Instructions can be in the form of lessons, books, or tutoring. They are useful to avoid wasting time with trial-and-error.
  2. Retrieval involves deliberately remembering the knowledge, not just passively reviewing it.
  3. Spacing is repeated reviews, spread out over time. It forms part of a regular routine where you cover old knowledge along with new.
  4. Understanding. The goal of learning is for ideas to make sense. Explain the concept to yourself. When you get stuck, find a textbook or teacher to help you.
  5. Feedback. You don't have to get feedback from other people. When you can get accurate feedback that doesn't need another person, go there first.
Fixing your current studying routine

To perfect your studying routine, look at your current routine, and see what's missing. For example:

  • An amateur painter will grow faster if they add instruction to their existing knowledge.
  • Learning history by reading a lot: Why not write an essay or converse with other history buffs?
  • You work correctly through a course, but don't space your learning: A ten-minute pop-quiz on previous topics can help you remember and save hours later.