4 Life Hacks derived from 7 Days without Internet

Posted on September 12, 2011. Filed under: Hyperpublic, startups, venture capital |

I just got back from 7 days rafting down Grand Canyon with no internet.  I’m still processing what I learned on the trip, but Fall is here and it’s time to start hacking my brain again.  You’re not going to learn anything from reading this post, but I decided to publish as a form of social governance to ensure I stick to what I’ve decided to attempt:

1)   no email in bed in the morning:  I’ve decided to cut the habit of rolling over and scanning my inbox first thing in the morning.  I want to wake up, brush my teeth, shower and get dressed before absorbing the fire hose of new stimulus that is waiting for me on my iPhone.  I realized during my time “unplugged” in the Grand Canyon that the first 20 minutes of a morning can be an awesome time for reflective thinking.  An opportunity to digest the previous day’s information with the benefit of rest and a quiet mind, enables you to look at what’s going on in life through a slightly slower and more thoughtful lens.  I don’t think anything is going to change with regard to my output or response if I delay my morning consumption of emails, but I’m looking forward to a couple light bulbs in the shower that have nothing to do with whatever unfiltered mail was sent to me overnight. My friend Andy Weissman told me once that he keeps a Crayon in the shower to write down the ideas that emerge during this super valuable thinking time…I’m going to quiet some of the noise of “post alarm clock stimulus” and arm my bathtub with a few Crayolas…

2)   No news before 6:00PM:  I went an entire week without a single piece of news, and again arrived at some insights that were much deeper and more interesting than my normal day to day thinking.  I’m thinking that my current daily architecture of breakfast meeting, catch up on news and inbox, create and add to do list, execute on specific tasks and analysis is incorrectly ordered.  I think I’ve been wasting high value bandwidth when energy and attention is very high in the morning on passive news and email consumption, while tackling more mentally intensive tasks late in the day when my mind is less sharp.  News is never-ending, so I’ve decided to push all consumption of it to the less mentally productive portion of  late day. If I fatigue I’d rather not get to that last article or two in tech crunch or hackernews in exchange for crushing the operations that can really move the needle early in the day.  I haven’t decided yet if this means no logging into twitter before 6:00PM, but maybe…

3)   Gym in the morning: ever aspired to and never realized, but I think I’m going to make another real run at exercising early in the morning as opposed to after work.  When I was away, I spent a ton of time hiking and exercising and focusing on improving my physical state.  No new surprises here, I’ve always known that a healthy body contributes to a sharper mind, but the last few months the gym has taken a backseat to late nights at work and late meals with slightly-neglected friends and family.  So…in the gym by 8:00AM is the new plan.  Doesn’t hurt that I moved to an apartment yesterday that is ½ a block from my gym and 5 blocks from work.  Gained an hour in commute time, going to put it to good use.  Maybe also some morning runs on the Hudson river if anyone wants to get into the mix, holler…maybe also some running meetings…a strategy pioneered by my college roommate and founder of the awesome @sonarme app, Brett Martin…

4)   Experimentation: Abrupt changes in context and routine always unlock hidden and interesting things.  If you have any life hacks that you’ve found particularly useful or interesting, please share with me or in the comments. I’d love to give them a whirl.

Not sure what other life hacks will emerge, but the most salient takeaway from rafting down a river with no internet for 7 days is that life in startupland in NYC is VERY VERY noisy.  As a result, I’ve decided to experiment with the yield of building a little structured quiet into each day.

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5 Responses to “4 Life Hacks derived from 7 Days without Internet”

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Ha ! I’ve never had the discipline to do all this, my day definitely looks more like this other post of yours I just read : https://jordancooper.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/progression-of-thoughts-in-an-entrepreneur%E2%80%99s-day/

Cool post, I went through a similar transition myself about 5 months ago. I implemented a series of habits, one every two weeks, and working out first thing in the Am was one of the best in the series.

This article might be useful to you in terms of scheduling: http://calnewport.com/blog/2008/01/21/monday-master-class-how-to-use-time-arbitrage-to-maximize-your-productivity-profit/.

[…] site: 4 Life Hacks derived from 7 Days without Internet This entry was posted in Latest Gadget and tagged college, discipline, Health, hyperpublic, […]

Great post. I’ve had a similar experience cutting out the digital stimulation after I get up. I think that the distractions/immediate gratification we get by checking our emails, twitter, etc within the first 45 minutes of waking up prevents us from really thinking. Instead we’re reactive. I’ve recently cut out all of these activities until I get to work and now just carry a notebook to record my thoughts during this time. Its been super valuable for me personally and I highly recommend it.

I don’t know what it is about your articles Jordan, but I always enjoy reading them. Hope Hyperpublic is going well. Cheers.


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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I think there is one metric that can be used to measure the value of a human life and that’s impact. How did you change things? How many people did you touch? How different is the world because you lived in it and how positive was the change that you affected? (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it) You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com

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