Mission progress

Locked 101 Classes

Conquering Digital Addiction 101

​​To Sculpt or to Be Hacked? That Is the Question

​​Technology is, obviously, awesome. We’ve been using “tech” tools for 2.5 million years since our protohuman ancestors first picked up a stone and used it as a tool. 1.8 million years ago, “we” figured out how to make an acheulean hand axe which was a pretty epic innovation at the time.
​​So, with the advent of smartphones in what’s known as the “Input Age,” I’m not suggesting we should all become tech-smashing Luddites. But… (And this is a big but!), I also don’t think we should underestimate just how much we play the role of addicted users caught up in the mix of a $7 TRILLION attention economics (/mind-hacking!) industry.
​​The solution: Become Optimizites—use technology wisely to become the BEST you rather than mindlessly let your 1 million-year-old prefrontal cortex get hacked all day every day.
​​In the class, we walk through the costs of addiction, then talk about how to conquer it so we can sculpt our ideal lives.

Locked 101 Classes

Digital Minimalism 101

How To Transform Your Digital Life From Something That Distracts You Into Something That Supports True Sources of Meaning and Satisfaction

Cal Newport joins us as a guest teacher for this class! He is one of my favorite thinkers. He got his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT and is now a Professor at Georgetown. He’s also a bestselling author of a number of books. Given the fact that the fastest way to Optimize your life is to STOP doing things that are sub-optimal AND the fact that (for nearly all of us) our use of technology is the #1 thing that “Needs work!,” it’s SUPER important for us to figure out how to best use all the technology available to us WITHOUT becoming lost in a tsunami of inputs. Enter: Our new philosophy of technology use: Digital Minimalism.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Digital Minimalism

Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Cal Newport is one of my favorite thinkers. He got his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT and is now a Professor at Georgetown. He’s also a bestselling author of a number of books. Given the fact that the fastest way to Optimize your life is to STOP doing things that are sub-optimal AND the fact that (for nearly all of us) our use of technology is the #1 thing that “Needs work!,” it’s SUPER important for us to figure out how to best use all the technology available to us WITHOUT becoming lost in a tsunami of inputs. Enter: Our new philosophy of technology use: Digital Minimalism. Enter: My SUPER strong recommendation of the book and my ALL IN commitment to helping create a movement around the ideas in the book. As you know, I rarely say a book is a must read but this book is as close as it gets. Big Ideas we explore include the fact that your soul is engaged in a lopsided arms race, a definition + overview of digital minimalism, the importance of spending time alone (and the consequences of *not* spending adequate time alone), reclaiming leisure (get active!) and joining the Attention Resistance. Here's to Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World!

Locked PhilosophersNotes


How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

Nir Eyal is a former lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. His first book was an international bestseller that’s influenced the product development of pretty much all of the leading tech companies on the planet. It was called Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. We have Nir to thank for helping make the technology we use better. And... As he says, “But there’s also a dark side. As philosopher Paul Virilio wrote, ‘When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck.’ In the case of user-friendly products and services, what makes some products engaging and easy to use can also make them distracting.” After finding HIMSELF hooked to many of the products created by designers inspired by *his* work, Eyal got himself UNHOOKED and, ultimately INDISTRACTABLE. In this great book, he gives us a practical look at *why* we’re so vulnerable to getting hooked in the first place and, most importantly, how to make ourselves Indistractable so we can control our attention and choose our lives.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Stillness Is the Key

This is our fourth Note on one of Ryan Holiday’s books. Ryan is one of my absolute favorite writers. One of the testimonials in the front of the book perfectly captures my sentiment. Screenwriter and director Brian Koppelman (Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen and Billions) puts it this way: “I don’t have many rules in life, but one I never break is: If Ryan Holiday writes a book, I read it as soon as I can get my hands on it.” (btw: Cal Newport’s the first testimonial. He says: “Some authors give advice. Ryan Holiday distills wisdom. This book is a must read.”) Penguin Random House sent me an advance copy of this book. As I knew it would be: It’s fantastic. Of course, the book’s packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Deep Work

Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep Work. It’s the key to how you get So Good They Can’t Ignore You—which, of course, is the title of another one of Cal’s great books. Big Ideas include Deep Work vs. Shallow Work, how to give your neurons a workout, cleaning up attention residue, the four rules of deep work, finding the routine that works for you and learning how to shut down completely.

Locked PhilosophersNotes


The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

Irresistible. That’s the perfect word to describe the growing array of addictive technologies that are capturing so much of our attention these days. And, it’s the perfect name for the book. Adam Alter is an associate professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business. This is a great book on, as the sub-title suggests, “The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” Big Ideas we explore include the fact Steve Jobs didn’t let his own kids use an iPad (why?), why addiction is about more than just personality (and what matters), how to add 11 years back to your life, what happens when your brain gets pickled and the simple question you can ask to Optimize.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Brain Wash

Detox Your Mind for Clearer Thinking, Deeper Relationships, and Lasting Happiness

David Perlmutter is one of my favorite nutrition-physicians. We have Notes on a bunch of his books including Grain Brain, Brain Maker, and Power Up Your Brain. So, when I heard about the new book that he wrote with his son Austin (who is also an MD), I was excited to read it. It’s called Brain Wash. (It’s kinda like Digital Minimalism written by nutrition-neurologist-physicians. )
As David and Austin say, the book builds on a simple premise: “Our brain’s performance is being gravely manipulated, resulting in behaviors that leave us more lonely, anxious, depressed, distrustful, illness-prone, and overweight than ever before. At the same time, we feel disconnected from ourselves, from others and from the world at large.” Their solution? We need to overhaul our mind’s operating system. How? Via a “brain wash.” They walk us through the factors that lead to what they call “disconnection syndrome” and, of course, how to deal with it.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Shallows

What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

Wondering what the Internet is doing to our brains? Then I think you’ll love The Shallows. It’s a fascinating, well-researched, brilliant book. Big Ideas we explore include a quick look at the neuroscience of just how “massively plastic” our brains are, the hungry gremlins in your brain, how hyperlinks decrease retention, and young vs. old brains.

Locked PhilosophersNotes


How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done

This is a quick-reading, smart, practical guide on how to, as the sub-title suggests, “Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done. My kind of book. I *highly* recommend it. Big Ideas we explore include rats + rewards (real vs. random), progress hacks to conquer the progress paradox, saying “YES!!!” en route to saying “No” plus the physics of emails and 21st century superpowers.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Your Brain at Work

Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long

Ever wonder how your brain works while you’re at work? And, even more importantly, how you can OPTIMIZE how your brain works while you work? If so, this is the book for you. Big Ideas we explore include the importance of prioritizing prioritizing (aka quit blowing your brain up), how to decrease your IQ by 15 points (hah—seriously—here’s how to be 3 times less effective than someone stoned! :0), why your basal ganglia is awesome, and how to rock the seesaw that is your limbic system + prefrontal cortex.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Positive Addiction

Glasser's got an awesome, straightforward style of writing and in this Note we'll explore the psychology of strength and weakness and how easy it is to develop negative addictions as a way to shield ourselves from the pain of our weakness and poor choices. Once we've checked that out, we'll look at how we can develop our strength by rockin' positive addictions (things like running, yoga, meditation) in our lives!

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Distraction Addiction

Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is a professional futurist. (I think that is officially tied for first for the coolest job title ever. The co-winner? Professional Optimizer, of course. Hah. :) He has a PhD in the history of science and is a former Microsoft Research fellow and visiting scholar at Stanford and Oxford. I found the book fascinating and a great complement to our collection on how to conquer digital addiction. Big Ideas we explore include how to tame that monkey in your mind, email apnea (you breathing?!), the fact that "entanglement" tech is over 1 million years old ("Hi, stone tools!"), the big costs of task switching (and an easy way to feel its effects), the importance of experimenting (w/an experiment you can do today), the Latin wisdom solvitur ambulando ("it is solved by walking") and how to be an Optimizite rather than a Luddite. :)

Locked +1s

#104 The iPhone Effect

How to Immediately (+ Easily) Boost the Quality of Your Interactions Today
Have you ever heard of “The iPhone Effect”? Get this: Imagine bringing people into a lab. Split them into two groups. One group sits
Locked +1s

#151 Digital Sabbaticals

Taking Breaks from Focus NOT from Distraction
Let’s revisit Cal Newport’s Deep Work for another genius idea. At the risk of repeating myself even more than normal (yes, it’s

#291 How to Add 11 Years to Your Life

Count How Many Times You Check Your Phone Today
Quick quiz today: Do you know how often the average American checks his or her smartphone? * Enter Jeopardy music here * Well… What’s
Locked +1s

#304 Farts and Facebook Likes

How’s Your Ratio?
Inspired by Cal Newport, I don’t read the news online. In fact, my only source of news these days is The Economist. Intelligent. Spacious.
Locked +1s

#322 A Wealth of Information

Creates a Poverty of Attention
Herbert Simon won the Nobel Prize in Economics. He was one of the early thought leaders in the field of “attention economics.” In 1971,
Locked +1s

#373 How to Get Rid of Your ADD

Hint: Get Rid of Your Other ADD (Addiction to Digital Devices)
In our last +1, we talked about single-mindedly focusing. Today we’ll talk about its opposite: “continuous partial attention.” First,
Locked +1s

#459 25 Min = 2 YEARS

Your #1 Time Waster? Keep that Math in Mind
Manoush Zomorodi wrote a great little book called Bored and Brilliant. The basic idea is that we need to unplug from our constant tech
Locked +1s

#460 Delete THAT App

Yah. That One. (Remember: 25 Minutes = 2 YEARS)
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that 25 minutes every day = 2 YEARS of your life. Did you figure out how you’re wasting time and
Locked +1s

#520 The $7 Trillion Mind-Hacking Industry

Addicted Users vs. Smashing Luddites vs. Optimizites < How Are YOU Showing Up?
A couple +1s ago, while celebrating Yuval Noah Harari’s lack of a smartphone, I mentioned the fact that we don’t need to become smashing
Locked +1s

#521 Your Digital Addiction

Ancient Rome Says: It’s a Form of Slavery
In our last +1, we talked about all the zeroes (12 of them!) in the Attention Economy. Today I’d like to talk a little more about
Locked +1s

#522 To Sculpt or To Be Hacked?

< THAT Is the Question (Two Lists for Your Digital Optimizing)
Continuing our focus on how to conquer digital addiction, let’s talk about a super simple way to get a little more clarity on the
Locked +1s

#557 How to Reclaim Lost Time, Energy + Brainpower

Pro Tip: Practice Saying “I Don’t Know” + “I Don’t Care”
As we’ve discussed, Ryan Holiday is a modern Stoic. I think of him several times a day when I take his “Memento Mori” coin out of my
Locked +1s

#558 How to Get Over Your FOMO

Hint: Get Clear on What You’re REALLY Missing Out On
In our last +1, we talked about Ryan Holiday’s pro tip on how to reclaim lost time, energy and pure brainpower. (Have you practiced your
Locked +1s

#559 A Cognitive Athlete Who Smokes

Let’s Not Be One
In our last couple +1s, we’ve talked about Optimizing your FOMO by unplugging from the incessant consumption of the inessential. Today
Locked +1s

#646 The iPhone Effect: Part 3

Want Connection + Power + Productivity?
In our last +1, we talked about the importance of creating boundaries lest we slip into burnout and we hammered home the whole optimal
Locked +1s

#692 JOMO vs. FOMO

Time to Make an Upgrade?
Not too long ago, we talked about how to get rid of your Fear of Missing Out. The dreaded FOMO!! Gasp! What will happen if I don’t have my
Locked +1s

#732 You, Me, Rabbits…

And Lopsided Arms Races
The other day I was driving to my Trail a little before sunrise. It was one of those post-rain orangey-pink mornings when the sky is so
Locked +1s

#798 Building Agency: Step #1

Control Stimuli (Or Else!)
In our last several +1s, we’ve been talking about The Power of Agency. In our next few +1s, we’re going to talk about the Top 3 ways
Locked +1s

#833 Distraction

It Can Be a Full-Time Job (Is It Yours?)
In our last couple +1s, we’ve been having fun hanging out with Jake and JZ and their wisdom on how to Make Time. Today we’re going to
Locked +1s

#834 (Quit!) Touching Your Phone

How Many Times Will You Today?
In our last few +1s, we’ve been talking about how to Make Time. We talked about Jake and JZ’s four steps to rocking it: Highlight (know
Locked +1s

#835 Got Watch?

Installing a Portable Chronometer on Your Wrist
Continuing our trip through Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky’s brilliant brains and equally brilliant book Make Time, Today we’re going to
Locked +1s

#889 Are You Intexticated?

A Friendly Optimizing PSA
The other day Grandma and Grandpa visited to hang out with the E’s. We had a nice time. 😍 As we were walking to give them a tour of the
Locked +1s

#1003 Traction vs. Distraction

Which Way Are You Being Pulled?
Nir Eyal wrote the playbook that pretty much all of the major tech companies use to create their super-compelling (addictive/Irresistible?)
Locked +1s

#1021 Brain Wash

Time to Give Yourself One?
David Perlmutter is one of my favorite nutrition-physicians. We have Notes on a bunch of his books including Grain Brain, Brain Maker, and
Locked +1s

#1022 Take T.I.M.E.!

Time (Restricted) + Intentional + Mindful + Enriching
In our last +1, we talked about some crazy stats re: smartphone usage from David and Austin Perlmutter’s new book called Brain Wash.
Locked +1s

#1188 Superhero, Meet Your Supervillain

The 5 Digital D’s: Deluge + Distraction + Dementia + Deduction + Depression
A few +1s ago we spent some time with Jim Kwik and his brilliant book Limitless. Jim is a huge fan of superheroes. As a kid, he suffered a
Locked +1s

#1283 The Inventor of the Telephone

Refused to Have a Telephone in His Study
Alexander Graham Bell once said: “Concentrate all your thoughts on the task at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a
Locked +1s

#1286 “The Purgatory of the Idiot”

vs. The School of Genius
As you probably noticed if you’ve been following along, I recently rebooted the PhilosophersNotes TV series. (Check it out on the App, on

#299 The Inner-net vs. The Internet

One Has All the Real Answers
In Life Visioning, Michael Beckwith tells us we need to turn off the Internet and plug into the Inner-net. We THINK the Internet has all
Locked +1s

#1287 Numbing Our Souls

Let’s WAKE UP and Stop Doing That (Today!)
In our last +1, we took a quick trip through the purgatory of the idiot (lol) that is the crowded and busy world of incessant inputs