ML153: Josh Kaufman on Overcoming Akrasia, The Ultimate To-Do List and The Dangers of Overoptimising

Discover how to overcome akrasia, the autofocus method of managing a to-do list and the dangers of optimising something too early.

ML153: Josh Kaufman on Overcoming Akrasia, The Ultimate To-Do List and The Dangers of Overoptimising

Josh Kaufman is an entrepreneur, researcher, and author of three bestselling books – The Personal MBA, The First 20 Hours, and How to Fight a Hydra.

This is Part 2 of my conversation with Josh, so if you haven't already, I recommend you go back and listen to Part 1 where we discussed:

  • The concept of exploration/exploitation and how it helps you decide what to work on
  • The system Josh uses for choosing what to outsource
  • How Josh applied the fundamental law of marketing to his book Personal MBA

In this second part, we cover:

  • How to overcome akrasia, defined as a lack of self-control or acting against your better judgment
  • The autofocus method Josh uses to manage his to-do list and the research methods he's used to produce 3 bestselling books
  • The need to acknowledge tradeoffs in business and life and the dangers of optimising something too early

Show Notes

  • Introducing Josh Kaufman [00:38]
  • How does akrasia manifest in Josh’s life? What are the things that lead to this state of mind? [02:50]
  • How does akrasia help us understand what we really want out of life? How do we overcome akrasia in order to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves? [05:52]
  • Understanding ourselves and other people can be a long and confusing process, how does the method of reinterpretation help us with this process? Josh breaks down the steps behind reinterpretation. [08:11]
  • What was the role of reinterpretation in Josh’s professional career and on The Personal MBA? How did he utilise this tool to advance his career and achieve a better mindset? [11:43]
  • Josh explains the productivity method called autofocus and how to incorporate it in our daily lives. How does autofocus rephrase the things we need to do and help identify the things that matter most to us? [15:11]
  • What is the value behind longhand writing and why does Josh prefer it over digital form? [20:23]
  • How does Josh avoid the distractions of the internet while working? What are the tools that he uses to stay productive in a digital era? Josh shares the system that he implemented and how it helps in focus and attention. [24:32]
  • Where do we start when starting a business? There are five business principles according to Josh: value creation, marketing, sales, value delivery, and finance. How do we analyse these things to improve how our business operates? [29:34]
  • Josh explains how experimentation and exploration can bear fruit in the future of your business. [33:11]
  • How does Josh go about the process of optimisation? What is the difference between optimisation and trade-off? Why is it better to solve one problem at a time and focus on individual variables versus restructuring the system? [36:17]
  • How does the theory of constraints and other process improvement concepts correlate with the core principles of The Personal MBA? What is Josh’s ultimate goal with The Personal MBA? [43:02]
  • Closing statements [44:00]