Flywheels, untouchable days, and awesome ordinary things

Podcast notes about Neil Pasricha's interview on The Knowledge Project

Podcast episode: The Knowledge Project - Neil Pasricha: Happy Habits
Links: Apple Podcasts • Google Podcasts • Spotify
While listening… I went through a light kettlebell workout (100 swings, 10 get-ups) and shot around. (A basketball, to be clear)

⚖️ Choose the flywheel over balance—You might be losing the battle in trying to find work-life balance. Balance can be a bad premise to start with in the first place. You might get stuck with the mindset that putting energy into work means it will take energy away from your home life and family. Or that focusing on home life definitely means you’ll have to sacrifice some career success.

Neil and Shane talk about the flywheel model. Instead of thinking that you have to take away from one pot and to put it into another pot, you can instead think that filling all the different buckets in a flywheel makes the entire thing move better.

It’s like all those sayings about creativity: the more you use the more you’ll have. Same thing with energy and exercise. It takes some energy to exercise but it also gives you energy through the day.

The flywheel means that a good day at work can lead to a good time after work at home with your family.

📝 Untouchable days (mental model: deep work)—They touch on Neil’s concept of Untouchable Days. He also wrote about it in this HBR article:

“On the actual Untouchable Day itself, I picture myself sitting in a bulletproof car surrounded by two-inches of thick impenetrable plastic on all sides. Nothing gets in. Nothing gets out."

Every week, he sets aside a day for maximum focus and minimal communication. He picks the days 16 weeks out (with some flexibility). This leads to days where he can write 5000 words instead of the usual 500.

🖼 There are so many awesome things (mental model: framing)—Neil talks about starting his career as a writer and blogging about awesome things in every day life (from existential things like remembering how lucky we are to be here right now to things like saying the same thing a sports commentator says just before they say it).

Taking a moment every day to appreciate something normal helps you frame more and more things in positive light. It’s not about getting to be so positive that people think you’re delusional. It’s more to offset that you’re primed to focus on negative things in the first place.