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The Art of Less Doing

Lesson 4 of 19

Creating the External Brain

Ari Meisel

The Art of Less Doing

Ari Meisel

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Lesson Info

4. Creating the External Brain
There is simply too much going on in the modern life to process everything ourselves - the external brain can help.

Lesson Info

Creating the External Brain

So now you know, everyone asks um really really great questions both here in the studio and in the the world audience about things that were going to be talking about now so the second fundamental of less doing is called creating the external brain now I talked about before how there's too much going on for us to possibly be processing the stuff ourselves so now I'm actually gonna tell you how to deal with this stuff. So when I was in high school I was coming up with a new business idea pretty much every week and they were mostly terrible but the ideas were there and I actually have a composition marble notebook from from high school with all these different ideas and I actually believe that I had the idea to put a clear plastic protected on cds before neto did that but now I don't want to see these anymore so forget it anyway had all these ideas in college, those ideas started coming markedly less frequently once a month maybe but I still writing them down and then after college they ...

stopped and I basically just accepted that a twenty years old I had pretty much run out of imagination. What I didn't take into account was that I was working on a construction site eighteen hours a day not taking perfectly good care of my body or my mind and so even if I was able to idea there certainly wasn't anything I'd be able to do with those ideas, so the idea of creating external brain is quite literally that where we're coming up with this sort of repository for those ideas so the number one tool for this in my opinion is ever known and ever note is if you don't know it and this is actually my evernote, but if you don't know what ever know, it is a free service that allows you to take notes in the form of, uh, text websites, pictures, audio, video notes of any kind and you khun basically just sort in this way you can put things into notebooks you khun tag them, these air tags on, it becomes searchable, so I know that there's gonna be a lot of you out there who have heard I've ever known, but again, as I said before, I use things different, so the key was something like ever not just as with something like I done this is to overuse it, you really want to overuse that if there is an idea in your head, it has to get out of your head, okay? You do not need to know if it's a good idea or a bad idea mark, we're just talking about this you don't need to know because honestly, you can't know right now, we just can't so you don't even know if it's a good idea or bad idea, and you don't need to know if it's relevant or will ever be relevant. Get it out of your head, okay, so ideas need flow. They need to have a flow to them. I talked about how I was having a new idea every week, but a lot of them are bad and then less frequently ideas need tohave flow. If any of you have ever seen the simpsons episode where mr burns was diagnosed with everything he was at the mayo clinic and the doctor had this little doorway with all these fuzzy little animals that represented viruses and bacteria, they could not get through the door, which is why it wasn't getting sick. Ideas are very similar. You need to get your ideas into a single file line and get them the heck out of your head on dh for every nine bad ideas, the tenth one may be a good one, and it may be a good one because those nine ideas added up to the good idea or because those nine, eight years got out of the way of the good idea. So you don't worry about tagging things, you know, notebooks are great, but I basically I know there's a lot of no post here, which I'm going to explain that, but essentially I have one which is called block and as you can see there's fifty, two hundred fifty three notes in there ok that's not fifty, two hundred fifty three good ideas I promise you so one of the greatest things with ever notice about that it's it's sink to cross every platform so it's on your phone it's on your tablets it's on the web it's on your desk top you can use it from anywhere and there's nothing there's no barrier country for you to get an idea down there. The other thing that it does which is great if you using chrome or so far or most of the standard browsers nowadays there is an ever note web clipper and the web clipper is just a little plug in and when you see an article that you like or a video on youtube or something that's interesting again, you don't need to know why it's interesting or if you're ever going to use it or whatever it is it's interesting click the button take two seconds and put into every note and because I want you to overuse it. This is where the information becomes so valuable so not only could you go here in search for something and see all the things that you've come up with that have been related to that that's great but if you're using the ever no web clipper so let's say uh countless coconut oil uses okay, so let's say I said I see this article and this was just a couple days ago so I see this article a clip it and the clipper will pop up and say, oh, here are three relevant notes trying to ever know that's huge okay, that is literally like if you could bring back from the depths of your brain something that you had come across a long time ago so if you can do that you have limitless power to do things with your ideas it's that simple because let's say a year ago I was actually I'll put it the other way, so I clipped this article and it pops up and it shows something that I found three days ago that was way too coconut oil and it found something that was from six months ago that I that I captured that was about antibacterial something which coconut oil has that property and that something from a year ago all of a sudden those three things have become relevant even though at the time to see a smile even though at the time it was just oh that's cool coconut oil it's antibacterial yes, one of the tools that I haven't taken the time to try toe learn how to use because there are other tasks that need to be done before I go figures out something new yeah, but you're just giving it values now after it's been on my phone for the last year and welcome everyone on and that's a fair point especially with ever no don't worry about learning and just use it just start putting information that I don't care yes, I'm shelly shelly and rv wants to know is this something that is totally crossed platform ever note you can use it on all your phones and computers? I'm pretty sure they have a stone tablet version coming out it works on every platform there is and it's free completely free teo you can put a cz much information as you want into it you can put documents you can put pictures, videos as much you another thing that's good is that if you're clipping something from the web like a new york times article that's behind a paywall, it actually takes the full on information it doesn't just take the girl so it will be there forever it's yours? Yes actually used ever know what to do put a lot of information in there about my promise is too much information that is not organized right? But okay, so and that and that's fine one of the things that I would push people to do in general especially evernote emails another example googles on example get better it's searching because all of these different aps have their own search operator's eso plus science to make things required and things like that. So if you learn and a lot of them pretty similar, you know, if you put things in parentheses sorry quotations, for instance, than it has to be like that exact phrase. So if you get better it searching that's good. Obviously, as I said, you could put things into different note books. If you want to take the time and tag things, you could do that, especially for a student. Everyone's, great for studying for things that caption and oppression. But most importantly, as I said, is it's getting it out of your head? So I mean, it would be unrealistic if that was the case. This was the case, but even if I never used five thousand of those notes ever, it doesn't matter because I wasn't trying to hold on to them and wasting time doing that. But those two hundred fifty three or pure gold kind of like that. So it's almost more important that you just get the information and they're then you figure out then figuring out how to use it, believe it or not, so there's only one. Human equivalent to this and okay it's called a mind palace on dh if you ever watched the newer sherlock holmes television show basically the mind palace is a real memory technique where it's based on the idea that people are better at remembering pathways to things than the thing itself. So if I wanted to remember all of your faces, I could sort of visualize how I got here looking all you and I put that information something safe in my mind but then to recall that information, you have to kind of sit down and stop and actually find your way back get all that information together just seems ever so everyone is the basis honestly for an enormous amount of the productivity that I'm able to achieve and as you can see here so there's several other note books that have come in here and I'm going to talk about this a little more later but uh, things like call trunk is an apt fault file is another hello sign these are other apse a lot of things integrate with ever note so what's so cool about that is that I'm going to talk about file of this later in the finance section, but one of the things that it will do is it'll pull in statements from utilities and banks and stuff pds that aaron ever note are searchable so you may end up with this this brain that is searchable. I mean, that's a big thing and it's out, you can't do that with your own mind. So if you sort of pull your whole life into this one thing, you have to worry about where to look, you don't worry about what was that thing, you could just sort of get there and figure out what it is, but even more important than that, you don't have to worry anymore that you lost the idea or that something you didn't take advantage of or that you're holding on to those things that are may never be important. So why am I spending time on this it's this take that completely out of the equation, so I actually take this even further, and in my shower, I have something called aqua notes, which is a waterproof posted pattern. Okay, so I got these suction cups on in the pencil it's, waterproof pad. I forgot. I think it was stanford got funding for a study to show that the shower is a place where I'm more creative, which is ridiculous that someone funded that because it's pretty obvious, just like the study that came out this past week that men who are married to attractive women tend to be happier, so they try to bring psychology whenever I can. So the shower is a place where more credit, but I don't have to tell you that I'm sure you know that, and part of that has to do with the fact that when we're physically naked, we tend to be more creatively uninhibited and emotionally uninhibited and all that good stuff. But the problem is that I'm sure many of you had this experience. You get the idea and you repeat it in your peter repeated because you want to write it down somewhere, and then you open the door of the shower on the idea is gone. So first of all, you might have lost a great idea, but more importantly, it's really frustrating to do that to lose the idea. So so the next service that I want to talk about, and if you don't take anything else away from this entire seminar, I mean this. Anything else? I want you to remember what I'm talking about now, which is follow up dot cc so follow up that c c is a very, very simple service, but once again it's the way that we use it, that makes it so special. So I followed that c c is an automated email reminder service, okay, that's all it does. So the way it works is that I sent an email to anybody from any platform uh which is important because I know someone out there is going to ask me about boomerang which is a great service similar but fault that's you see allows you to do this from anywhere from your phone from any device it's crossed by form so we fall does he cia sending e mails to somebody and then I may in the bcc field for instance I may say three days of all time some examples here you can do any time period you want and it goes way beyond this there's twelve hours I could say twenty minutes I could say uh, I could say thursday nine pm at fault that cee cee if I wanted teo any time period you want and then when that time period comes around again it will re send you that email again as a reminder and it will include a snooze functionality is little yellow box on the top that has sort of standardized chooses to it on our three hours two days, three weeks, whatever it might be. You can use this for so many things so as it says here, if they're reminders and the bcc field you're the only one that gets a reminder if it's in the c c field both people get the reminder, which is great for teams because if it's someone random you don't want them just getting sort of weird random follow you can also send something directly to three days a fault that's easy for instance as a reminder okay, so this is going to be the basis for a lot of stuff that I'm talking about in the next two sessions and also about how you consort of reclaim your digital life honestly so think about that yes and joe when it does the reminder um are you getting a completely new email or is it going to be a reply to the original email that will just bring that conversation to the top so if you're using gene well g mail in a couple hours but if you're using female which has threated conversations you don't have the original e mail and the fallout that sees email right below it so it'll look like a forward basically okay but it will have that reminder box added to it okay okay so now think about how powerful this is okay if you're really you know real answers office right with invoicing and getting an invoice platform when they only sent one or two invoices a month I don't I don't I send more than one we're doing voices a month but I don't use an invoicing platform I send the invoice and then I do one month at fault that c c on it uh if I meet somebody to party and you know like let's get together next week so let's talk hey, it was great meeting you let's touch base when we could follow that c c if it's around the holidays this happened a lot of the end of summer people they go I'm gonna be away for next two weeks you know? Okay, no problem. I'll talk to you in the beginning of september september one that fault that's a saying you can also do repetitive reminder so every friday at fault, as you see or every first fault the sec would be the first of the month every time. Okay, now why is this so powerful? Why is this the external brain? Because if I put a fault that's you see on an e mail which I do now for about ninety percent of the e mails that I sent within five seconds of hitting the send button I could not tell you what that email was about. It is completely out of sight and out of mind, which is the way it should be because if you think about it, ah lot of the stress related to email is about did I get back to that person? And then did they get back to me and did and and then it's gone and there's lost connections there's unprofessional acts that takes place you're being unprofessional in some cases it's really stressful to have to worry about following up on e mails you don't have to do that anymore you can completely put that off on to this other service, which is amazing yes, you create in email and say you don't want to send it at that time, but can you stand it later? Like I want to send an email to his person but I want to send like two weeks later with something that no, not with all of us easy you do it with a different service, which we're going to talk about in the fourth segment can you do this with text messaging at all? Do you know that? Yeah, there is something like text it later or something but it's a little wonky, yes, but there are ways to schedule two passages, which actually that's a great example, which the very next service we're gonna talk about I can I can bring it up, so remind me if I don't talk about that so follow that sees he also has a calendar on their web site, which you can feed into your google calendar or your outlook if you want ah lot of people don't have doing that I do it though because in a way it becomes my new to do list and I'm gonna get into that a little bit more too, but I can look on that calendar for instance I could do it on my phone right now and look it tomorrow and there may be a follow up at three twenty eight tomorrow that I said yesterday and there may be another one at five in the afternoon that I said four months ago so that's a little more rare but it's very possible that I talked to somebody for months to go in there like, hey look let's touch base in the what will be the last week of november and I said, okay, no problem and I did november twenty fifth or whatever it thought that c c and then I don't have to think about it again and why should you be thinking about it? There's nothing you can do about it question katie james photo from nashville bill in reference to follow ups see says, I wish there was a way to use that with facebook messages. My clients often contact me via facebook messaging and I find that they get buried quickly forgotten is there any advice? There are way to incorporate that into the follow up cc process? Yes, so unfortunately I mean, well, I have an answer, but unfortunately facebook messenger is not very well organized it's a really good medium honestly for contacting certain people, especially if you don't have their email but it is not particularly well organized for sort of keeping afloat so I've had that come up and what I'll do is I'll actually take it's a little bit you're sort of kabul, but I take the email notification of the facebook message and I'll use that as the following that c c so followed that for two days or something to remind me to get back to it and actually hit it because, yes, with facebook messenger, things just kind of get buried, and you really can't delete conversation, so bringing as much of it into email and this is what you might and as a surprise. But as I said, I love email, actually, and if you get it set up right, we want to get us much into email it's possible, because it becomes your ultimate system for efficiency. So the important thing about this besides mabel teo completely clear your plate is that email is a disruptive technology, so calendar reminders don't work. I'm sure people know that they just don't like you snooze them and you don't see them and they don't work. Calendar reminders are inherently flawed for some reason, so follow that sees are sort of email is a disruptive technologies we can use that to our advantage because you get to a point what you're going to get to a point after this, where your email inbox is very clear and a place of action so if there's an inn une male in the inbox you want to deal with him and I'll give you a perfect example I used to have a reminder at nine a m on the first of the month every month to give my dark they're heartworm pill okay, so the problem with that is it my daughter's tend to eat breakfast at like six in the morning sometimes so then nine o'clock sounds like oh damn, I can't give them the pill now because you have to give, you know, with their meal um and then it would get snooze and it would get pushed off a day and if I didn't have the medicine that it would just get forgot there was it was really does not work, whereas with paula does he see now I have a every first had fallen that sisi give dogs heartworm pill and that works because first of all comes in at like four in the morning or something and I can't delete that email until I give them the pill so I want to get that email I don't hand box and it drives me to actually get it done so it's something that we can really use to our advantage I talk a lot more about paul if that's you see in a little bit but the next thing I want to talk about is ift really I have tea but the company likes to call it a gift so if stands for if this then that this is in the automation category so what I have t does very simple again it's a very very simple service but it's all about how you use it it creates autumn nations triggers and actions between various popular web services so everything from uh youtube and linked into twitter and facebook and google docks and dropbox and most of the web services you're familiar with I think there's about seventy or so that it works of this point and it's very simple if this happens here do this here it's one ash in that it does but this could be things like if I star an email in gmail add it to a new ever no notebook uh if I tweet with a particular hashtag added to a line into google doc spreadsheet uh if I take an instagram picture and put this tag on it and put it into this dropbox folder you get the idea so to speak to your question mark one of the question one of the things that it has is text messaging and timing so you can say depending on you know this would not work great ifyou're just like in the middle of a conversation you wanted the land but if you actually just want to say I'm gonna send this particular text messages at this time you can do that the trigger would be at this time send this text message uh and it's uh pretty incredible what you can actually accomplish with those very simple actions. And this is what I was talking about before when it's about bill paying and all those things, this is where you can start to automate so much, and I am someone who I promise you, I know very, very little about social media, but I'm very active on social media because of I t so one of the things that has been allowed that it has enabled me to do and I love this because it's a prime example of what I'm talking about before about how you could do that five percent and the ninety five percent could be done by someone else. So one of the things that I do on a regular base says every day is I read a lot of block posts, I follow a lot of logs, I think about one hundred thirty or so at this point and it's I love it, I enjoy getting that information, but it's also where I get a lot of the concepts that I put together, I attach psychological concepts to productivity concepts and wellness and stuff, and I bring that altogether from that content so to me, it's very important for me to be able to get that information so I used seedling which eyes sort of the big replacement for google reader that both people probably heard about and I use that for my block so feed lee has a I I tt channel if I star if I save an item in feeling seven things happen because of I have tea and I said you can't do one thing but you can set up multiple recipes as they call them to do the same action or something somewhere so if I save an item and feed lee it gets tweeted it gets put on facebook it gets put on lengthen it gets added to ever note so actually that's this this right there? T so I saved this in every note I saved this in feeling and put it in every note I'm gonna tell you honestly I have not read this article but I know based on the title that something interesting to me and I know that it's something that I may want to be able to refer to it some point later on I don't have to read it right now or ever maybe but I know that something useful and if you see there's some other good examples here uh this one was not actively but this one is eat your way too clear healthy skin and fermented foods so seven things happened and one of the things that happens is that it goes into delicious links and also a couple other ones what I literally never visit but if you're putting things out you know and mohr social spirit or whatever, then you can get more coverage obviously and if you can do it effortlessly without having to deal with it because it takes me about a third of a second to hit the safe key or you know, the s ky and that means that I can go through a thousand block post today with no problem because I have those pathways I talked about to deal with the information on the other end, so I know that it's interesting enough to put it into every note because I want to save it for later but it's also interesting enough that I want to curate that content for my audience or for the people that follow me on twitter so that they can get something out of it as well I don't have to take the time to craft a social media strategy all I have to do is focus on good content and all the other stuff can be done by something else in this case I have team so one of the things that happens that's so cool is that because of the delicious thinks specifically I have decided that that one was the best one use for this so on fridays fcc says on friday at four in the morning send an email through gmail so that is the recipe that happened on friday, and what it does is it sends an email to a virtual assistant, which I'm going to explain that to you, but it sends it to a virtual assistant and says check the delicious links for the last week use those links to then follow this process, which is in a shared ever no notebook to post my interesting things of the week post that goes up every friday, which is a long time ago, someone who knew better about this than me told me that I should have a regular post every week because I was posting, you know, original article once a month or something, but they're like, you should really have something like every week that people know and they can look forward to and get used to that. So I have my interesting things with weak post, and that has since grown so now on fridays, I have a post that shows all the interesting links of the week, and while I've gone through thousands of post there's, only a few that I've put two delicious, so that sort of distills it a little bit. It also shows my last instagram picture and a recipe that I've chosen from last week, and all of this is done through actually team and a virtual assistant in that case. Taking that information so that means that I again can focus on the five percent that not only am I better at but that I really only know how to do and the other stuff can be done completely in the background without having to worry about it. And the only thing that you have to know is that it got done and that's very satisfying just like I done this all day long, same things and evernote philip wants to know if you save everything for later reference is there a time that you read the material to get to that delicious five? Yeah, right. Okay, so that's a good question. So there is actually save there's like pocket and there's things that are specifically about saving for later. In my case. Like I said, I may never, ever read that article. I just know there was interesting enough that I wanna have it in my, you know, in my war chest or something, as it were like I wanted to be there in case I ever needed. So no, I don't set a time a specific time to go back and read that what I do d'oh is that the, uh the things that go into the post on the friday for the interesting things with wings I usually read them for the first time when they come out on my block honestly s o of the three or four thousand posts that I might have gone through during the week and saved hundreds of them they're usually about ten or fifteen that end up in the delicious links for that week and that's what I will actually focus on, especially since again it's sort of like cause and effect like those are the ones that most people will be talking about because those are in the post, so I should be aware of those and ideally those the ones that I thought were the most refined, especially you they usually one or two kick starter projects and I don't have time to watch the video during the week so like that is the time to get to those when they're actually in my post and I sort of alluded to this but it's important to note that you can share evernote notebooks so you can share them with other people are friends of family or with an assistant or with someone else in your team and you can contribute to it and I'll see those updates and again because you can pretty much put anything into every note it's a really amazing resource in fact there's even a new plug in forever no called pistachio, which makes your ever note one of your ever no notebooks becomes a blogger so anything that you put in a note becomes a block post pretty cool. It makes it about it as simple is across the way. But, uh, you said you make star from your feed lee about a hundred or two hundred post and go to delicious rate how you select the five or six which get regard for in the recipe to email. Right? So that's s so sorry. I realized I kind of blurred that for the majority of them, I will just save them. And that goes to all the other things I singled out delicious. So there's several shortcuts in feed lee like save it, tio, just save it to feely and then there's buffer and a couple others. So for the things that I want to go into delicious, they don't have a direct, delicious one. They have pocket, so I actually will say, but to pocket in feed lee. And then I have tea, takes that and puts it in delicious. So basically that's confusing. If I'm going through it and it's just something interesting, I'll save it. If it's something that I want for the friday post because it's super interesting, I'll put in a pocket.

Class Description

Get ready to learn a proven way to optimize your productivity. 

In this course, achievement and efficiency expert Ari Meisel explains a systematic way for accomplishing the things you need to do so you can open up more time for the things you want to do. You’ll learn to optimize, automate, and outsource both personal and professional tasks. 

Ari will help you identify which tasks are monopolizing your time and help you build strategies to make those tasks less time-consuming. Ari will also cover simple strategies for getting through everyday responsibilities like errands and paperwork more quickly and efficiently. You’ll also learn about applying the same level of efficient prioritization to your personal life, including how to approach health and fitness in a more streamlined way.

By the end of this course, you’ll be on your way to an easier, organized, balanced way of living.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Optimize Automate and Outsource Everything.pdf

bonus material with enrollment

Book Excerpt.pdf


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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WOW - I only watched the intro video (about 1/2hr in length), and already I'm completely blown away ... I'm definitely buying this course! Already a huge fan of Evernote, (lol - stone tablet!) but the other websites also seem very useful. And if it's a matter of the best parts of the movie are all in trailer - I will be back to let you know!

Amy Cantrell

Lots of great info! I love the concept of getting ideas out of your head, leaving your mind open to new ideas, and using Evernote to keep ideas and notes organized. The email tips alone could be worth the price of the class. Creating your own work week, tackling difficult tasks when you are at your best, making smart use of your time, progress begets progress, all good stuff!

Gina Bégin

I've already recommended this course to a number of people and followed up with Ari's team to go even further — though, sincerely, there is so much incredible depth in this course that if you're just starting out or in the midst of optimizing your workflow and cleaning up your "plate" of tasks, you will be blown away. He discusses great ways to use automation (IFTTT, Zapier) and how to make better use of Evernote, tricks to ... well, pretty much increase productivity in every aspect of life from health to work. I research this stuff all the time, but had no idea there was so much more out there. Well done, Ari.