10 Ways to Get Smarter, Be More Productive, and Do Everything with Zero Effort

Why did you click? Was is for the promise of being awesome? Was it the ten ways to get smarter? Was it for the image that has nothing to do with the post?

Why do you want things to be so simple and easy?

The best way to be more productive, generally speaking, is to stop clicking on headlines like this one.

I know, I do a few of them now and then too so I’m just as guilty as the next person competing for your attention. (In fact this year I’ve been experimenting a little more with headlines just to see what would happen.)

Generally, I’m feeling disgusted with all the illusory promises of quick ‘x’ in my twitter feed, my inbox, and my life. And headlines are one of the keys to spreading messages. So the odds of this stopping anytime soon are slim.

10 ways to listen to music better. 10 ways to pay attention. 10 ways to have sex. 10 ways to build better relationships. 10 keys to being awesome. 5 ways to win every negotiation. 10 ways to get rich by doing nothing. … blah blah blah.

These are hard to resist and there is sort of a Gresham’s Law at play where the bad content drives out the good. We want everything for nothing. It doesn’t work that way.

There are no shortcuts.

But often these articles disappoint. (Sometimes they don’t though; that’s variable reinforcement for you.) Most of the time, however, you’ll forget these nuggets of distilled common sense by the time you click on the next piece of link bait.

And next week, the same crap will be out with a different title. You’ll click again and agree with the common sense advice again. This isn’t really knowledge. It’s an illusion. And it’s mostly a waste of time.

Farnam Street is different. (I hope.)

I’ve been thinking a bit about what 2014 will look like on the site. My goal remains to expose you to things that you’re interested in that you never knew you were interested in. That means that if you read the site for a day it won’t be as valuable as if you read it for a week, a month, or even a year. It means you won’t agree with everything on the site, nor should you. Posts contradict themselves all the time.

I want to give you tools that you can use to live a more meaningful life, make better decisions, and generally just be a knowledgeable person.

That’s not a headline that promises quick wins but rather something we build toward each and every day. Slowly. Non linearly. There are fits and starts. Things are not always packaged in a digestible manner. There is effort required on your part, and that’s a good thing.