Dillon Carter

Entrepreneur, Hacker and Future Mad Scientist 🚀☕

Category: Lifestyle Page 1 of 9

How to Successfully Use Defaults to Streamline Your Life

Defaults are an amazing limitation one can easily apply to their personal life. A default (like the name implies) is your go-to choice for anything from the airline you always fly with (unless you’re a travel hacker) to the brand of t-shirts you always wear. 

Usually, the process is the following: problem -> consideration -> decision -> solution. 

If we take a little time upfront to determine what our default should be in any given situation (the consideration and decision phases), we can easily eliminate half of the equation. 

Here’s a shortlist of my current defaults:

To further streamline my life, I’ve created a List within my Amazon Prime account named “Defaults” so that anyone could jump into the list without thought and replace or reorder something that I routinely use. Even better, I can use a tool like CamelCamelCamel to easily alert me of massive price drops to stock up or take advantage if wanted. 

Although not holistic, the above list should give you an easy idea of where defaults could fit into your own life. I urge you to not stop at just physical products but to expand your defaults into other aspects of your life; the same lunch during the workweek (this alone is a game-changer), only wearing Omega brand watches, only getting a Grande White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks (don’t judge me) or only holding work meetings on Mondays. 

Regardless of the aspect of your life, you can easily find defaults that better serve you than having to continually make the same decision every single day. Now, let’s talk about Decision Fatigue for a quick moment. 

The Problem With Decision Fatigue 

Decision fatigue is a plague that leads to unproductive time throughout each day. What should we eat for lunch? Where should we go to replace our favorite t-shirt? What airline should we book our flight on for an upcoming trip? These endless decisions create an overwhelming mountain of mental fatigue that further takes away from what’s actually important. 

Not only are these decisions fatiguing but they’re also repetitive – leading to daily overwhelming and task decay. In a blog post from Rescue Time, they found “the average user switches between tasks more than 300 times per day (and this was only during working hours!)”

That’s a single day. Imagine what negative compounding is happening after just a few weeks of this. 

Defaults Lead to Automation/Streamlining 

I first started learning about defaults thanks to my rather (un)healthy obsession with automating the majority of my personal and professional life. When it comes to automation, standardizing your inputs is paramount to achieve consistency of quality and execution. If we replace the word standardize with default, it’s relatively the same thing. From this perspective, better defaults lead to a streamlining or automation of your life in the areas that drain you the most.

Tools like Instacart are only as good as the inputs they’re given. When you eat the same breakfast and lunch during the week, it’s much easier to completely automate your grocery shopping or have a bot quickly replace your favorite t-shirt via a Slack message. 

Deploying Explore / Exploit Algorithms

Another fantastic outcome of using defaults is that it ensures quality. I’m not sure about you but I have the biggest buyers regret when it comes to shopping for clothes. If I don’t already own the specific item, I’ve got a roughly 60% chance of regretting my buying decision within the following hour of the transaction. 

One method I can deploy to easily handle buyers’ regret is an algorithmic approach I learned from reading Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. The book looks at various algorithms that can easily apply to general life. One that I found most applicable is the idea of Explore / Exploit. This algorithm states that you should take a period of time (perhaps using an Optimal Stopping algorithm) to explore various options. In this first phase, you’re simply “tasting” a bunch of different options. Next, you would “Exploit” the best option found from the Explore phase. 

A great example of this could be purchasing t-shirts from 5 different brands (the Explore phase). Once you’ve tested all 5 you would then choose the best option as your new default (Exploit). 

You can also do this with restaurants (sometimes you want to Explore new options but when you’re not feeling adventurous, you should Exploit the best options using a tool like FourSquare to easily track your previous reviews). 

This is a very interesting perspective to view the mechanics of your life. A perspective that could lead to a better life altogether. I’ve found that the reduction of things, whether personal or professional, leads to more success. This seems to be the opposite of my assumption that a successful life requires more complexity. Rather, a simplified life leads to more success. 

The Homeless Millionaire: When having nothing means having everything and the Four Pillar Equation

The final domino fell. My family had been running an entertainment business for quite a while (I don’t mean like strippers but weddings) and decided it was time for them to expand. Like true moguls, they found a local rental company that was for sale. They went through all of the due diligence required and bought the company.

 

They immediately went to work to grow it and use both companies to influence the other. The only bad thing about this seemingly successful story was timing. It was 2008 and the US economy quickly slid into a financial gutter, waiting for the dust to settle before coming back out to play.

 

Like most when buying a company, they used leverage. A smart move in most situations and you couldn’t blame them for using that financial strategy, but when a bank calls your $750,000 loan, things become complicated.

 

They quickly realized we would lose our home and would have to file bankruptcy. Losing your home, at least when you still have an income really isn’t as bad as it sounds. We just went from homeowners to renters and my parents needed to rebuild their lives. Fortunately, we still owned the initial, still profitable but struggling first business.

 

It was a tough time financially, but we recovered fairly well. I learned a lot from that time. We’ve always moved frequently. Not for any reason other than my parents wanting to try a new place out. Always in the same city and within the same ten-mile radius. With each move, I began to loathe the process. Realizing how much shit (literally providing zero value) I, a then nineteen-year-old owned, was appalling, to say the least. How had I actually had enough life to hoard this amount of useless junk?

 

Eventually, I found myself removing a lot of my belongings that simply sat in my room and in my closet to avoid having to physically move it and re-clutter my next room. I donated what I could and trashed what wasn’t salvageable. I felt lighter. A weight was lifted that I didn’t even know was there the whole time. In essence, I found minimalism. Not the spiritual minimalism, but the Stoic, Spartan and ultimately practical minimalism.

 

Over time I became more content with less and my spending habits began to reflect that shift. If I had $100, I found something that I wanted and spent it. It wasn’t until I found a small book in my step father’s office called “The Richest Man In Babylon” that I took things a step further.

 

In one chapter of the book a rich man sends his heir-to-be son to another city with two things; a bag a gold and a clay tablet holding the “laws of gold”. Foolishly the boy loses the gold quicker than he could imagine. Unable to return to his father, as it would be shameful to do so he remembers the clay tablet. Immediately implementing the gold laws his financial life changes.

 

At a coming home feast put on for the son, he tells his story. The important lesson I took away from his story was in his return. Not only did he return the amount of gold his father gave him but did so with interest. Instead of the one bag, he gave his father three. He had something to show for his time and effort. After my time, granted a short period, I had nothing to show from my meager earnings. I had truly built nothing from my hard work and could show little of it.

 

Sure, I had all of this stuff, but what of financial security?

 

This lesson made me shift my perspective on value. Things can only provide so much value. I’m not a minimalist in a traditional sense, I wear $14,000 watches for god’s sake. I decided a new view on value needed to be created. A new perspective on a modern life. Instead of having a ton of things in our home, what if we were minimalist in the things that provide small amounts of value and invest more in things that provided more value? In essence, only paying the appropriate value in regards to the value we receive from what we own.

 

My Panerai 213 that I’ll get paid $800 to wear for a month

 

From this new perspective, I would argue a One Bag lifestyle while also using value to create more value. What the hell does that even mean…..

 

Instead of raising my expenses to consume, I would spend my money on things that would yield more value in my life in either time, new money or even income. I’ll wear the same thirty pieces of clothing that provide a minimal amount of value to my life, but then briefly own a $14,000 watch because it provides a short period of enjoyment (because I really enjoy horology), but can also sell that watch at a profit. Therefore getting my cake and eating it too.

 

Everything I took to Paris for a week fit into the small weekender bag above….Including a suit.

 

This idea had me coin the homeless millionaire idea. The old view of wealthy people held strong the idea of grand estates, closets filled with things you’d wear once a year and sheer wastefulness. The view on money should be that of someone who USES things to get more value instead of consuming them. There’s nothing wrong with owning a home, assuming it provides cash flow or pays for itself (like house-hacking). There’s nothing wrong with driving an Aston Martin, assuming you can enjoy it long enough for the excitement to wear off and then get out for what you put it. This idea would shift your perspective on what you own, turning your liabilities or expenses into actual assets.

 

You can afford anything you want, as long as it’s profitable.

 

If any statement in Today’s time could ever change your life, it’s the one above. Changing your perspective on value, ownership, wealth and on HOW you can do something versus IF you can do something is the key to an amazing life.

 

So could all of your belongings (besides furniture of course) fitting into a single bag, you driving an exotic car, wearing $14,000 watches and even traveling frequently lead to a more financially wealthy life?

 

Yea, I think so…

 

I know this isn’t the most clearly laid out podcast and the idea needs some work, but the meat is there. I’ve been working on this “new modern life”, the Four Pillar Equation financial idea for the last year and testing what I can to prove the concept and as time moves forward I’ll share more clearly laid out concepts for you to better understand this awesomeness that is positively plaguing my mind each day.

Three Cures for Freedom

I’ve found there are different kinds of freedom, although we love to use the word singularly in our society. I want you to really think about freedom for a bit. I’m not talking about the patriotic kind, but the natural, innate kind of way. You’ll find the following kinds of freedom:

 

  1. Freedom of Resources (money)
  2. Freedom of Location (travel)
  3. Freedom of Time (to be able to travel and use your money)

 

These different freedoms are amazing exclusively of each other, but true freedom comes from obtaining them all together as they magnify their benefits.

 

Have you ever thought about why you need a job? Have you ever questioned this “fact”? Those who spend every dollar they earn are slaves to their job and boss. They hold the keys to your freedom, because at any time they can easily throw you to the street to fend for yourself and because you spend the same (or more) than you earn, what will you do then?

 

You’ll most likely go into (more?) debt or ask family to bail you out. Those of us who live on less than we earn, save and invest the rest aren’t affected or even worried about being let go. I can speak from personal experience on this.

 

But we say we live in freedom, that we are free. If you have to wake up and do something you do not enjoy doing like going to a job because you need the money, you are not free. What would you call someone who is required, each day to work for someone else because they do not have a choice? I’m quite sure that is a similar definition of slavery.

 

This isn’t some manifesto-style post. This post is meant to make you question the life you live and to understand there are solutions to these problems we simply call life.

 

Freedom of Resources

 

Although many consider the only way to reach this freedom is through winning the lottery or going public with a company like Snapchat, the simple truth is that it’s much simpler and more in your control than others would have you believe.

 

In fact, it’s summed up in a very short blog post from my idol, Mr. Money Mustache who, with his wife, retired after only working 10 years with enough money to live on FOREVER…

 

It’s important to note that freedom of resources DOES NOT mean you have enough money to spend on stupid things and buy new cars each year. That’s foolish and a terrible financial decision that keeps many, even high-income earners poor. The goal is to live a great life, build wealth and be free. Not “look” rich, but to actually BE rich.

 

Doing my best to become a minimalist, I’ve found just how little we really need to live amazing and happy lives. Once you realize this, spending goes down 90%. This makes freedom of resources easily accomplishable. It also makes your life lighter by allowing you to move with very little and have everything you need. No checked bags, no semi-truck to move your belongings if you decide to move. Everything easily accessible and purposeful.

 

Zero waste and more money in the bank.

 

I’d love to make this part of the post longer, but the reality is that it doesn’t need to be.

 

We often think the things we have yet to learn are very complex and shrouded in the terminology we won’t be able to grasp. The truth is that it’s often simpler than our high school classes ever were. We simply choose not to take the time or find the right sources of knowledge.

 

Hopefully, I can help with that.

 

Freedom of Location

 

Travel, the one thing almost everyone wants to do but most never do for various reasons. I’ve finally been able to start traveling with my girlfriend. We spent four days in Oregon in a private cabin hiking, seeing waterfalls and enjoying hot springs for all of $25 for both of us. Next, we spent 5 days in Paris in a private and fully furnished loft in the middle of town. We saw palaces, catacombs and amazing artwork for a grand total of $250.

 

What did you spend your last $500 on?

 

I tell you this because freedom of location has never been more available than any other time in history. It’s easier now to find a job that will allow you to work remotely. Not just from home like a decade ago, but literally ANYWHERE in the world. As long as you have the skill set and perform, the companies do not care where you are. First a week it’s Paris, the next it’s Peru.

 

When you add the awesome hobby of travel hacking to a remote job and a freedom of resources, the world is completely open to you. No $1000+ plane tickets or expensive hotels. Try $100 flights and fully furnished apartments for $50 a night around the world. Cheaper in some locations.

 

Freedom of Time

 

Once you have a lighter life through minimalism, require much less money to be happy, are able to live and work anywhere you want to be in the world and have the financial resources to comfortably do so, you can begin to develop a freedom of time.

 

This is probably the hardest to accomplish as it takes a ton of patients from how I see it.

 

Freedom of time can mean many different things for each person, but for me, it means that each day I can decide what I want to do. I am not forced to do anything ever for whatever reason. I can still be running my business each month, but it won’t require time from me if I set it up right.

 

Also, because I’m working hard to build a business that is completely online, I should be able to have freedom of location, and because it generates a profit, I’d have freedom of resources. It’s quite difficult to have freedom of time if you don’t have at least freedom of resources. Unless you want to be a hobo. Technically they have freedom of location and time, just no resources. It’s interesting how missing just one of these freedoms, but having two others could mean the difference between being homeless and considered “rich”.

 

I think it’s important to work towards achieving these freedoms as they are leverage points that yield incredible benefits and bring us closer to actual freedom in life.

My experience taking Smart Drugs for a whole week

My Week on Smart Drugs and One Year Update on Performance

Over the past few years, I have been interested in Nootropics or what is normally called “Smart Drugs”. My fascination began with the 4 Hour Work Week as Tim Ferriss speaks on the subject. He does speak openly about his use of these drugs via his blog and various Youtube videos and podcast interviews.
 
My fascination grew larger after watching the movie Limitless. The sheer thought of enhancing my brain was intriguing and exciting, although the movie completely exaggerates nootropic usage. Because of my lack of knowledge and access to these drugs, I have sat on the bench for some time. At least, until this week.
 
After focusing a bit more research on the subject, I decided to give it a go and test a specific, “beginner friendly”, Nootropic. After reading countless reviews and case studies using a stack of CILTEP and Smart Caffeine by Natural Stacks, I made my purchase. Within a few days (Yesterday), I received my package.
 
In my following words, I will share my first experience using a Nootropic stack.

 

Day 1 – Starting the Smart Drug Journey:

 
I woke up on Sunday (Fathers Day) and took my first dose of CILTEP. I took my three pills and one pill of the Smart Caffeine. My initial response was difficult to determine as real results or placebo effects. After a few hours, I became more talkative with my family, interested in discussion and an overall feeling of mental clarity.
 
My day progressed with ongoing mental clarity as I became aware of everything.
 
At 8pm I took another 2 pills of the Smart Caffeine to test the effects. I could tell right away the CILTEP and Smart Caffeine began working. My TV was off, little distraction and I just became focused. I quickly read through two chapters of my current book and another four chapters of a book I have been meaning to read.
While I read, my mind ran wild with the theories provided on its pages. Then, I sat down to write the first part of this post. That’s right. I’m writing this post while on full production mode from smart drugs.
 
Although it doesn’t seem like I accomplished much today, I have been more focused, active mentally and motivated to do more than usual. I am faced with the fact that I am incredibly unproductive when it comes to tackling tasks.

 

Day 2 – Smaller Experience:

 
I took the same dosage as day one with less noticeable effects. I took my final exam for personal training and passed. I highly doubt this was a result of the nootropic as I studied for three plus months. As before, I don’t seem to feel anything within the first few hours.
 
I still feel a bit more on my game than usual and less distracted and on task so something is working. I feel like I should see more results from the stack, but time will tell. I may also need to experiment with dosages and find the right amount to take.

 

Day 3 – Adding Smart Caffeine:

 
I decided to switch things up a bit and see if it alters the effects. As stated before, I didn’t feel much in the morning. The directions say to take the dosage with an empty stomach. I opted to wait until eating something before taking my dose.
 
This change, turned out to work much better. I became more focused, clear and articulate as I did on day one. Things seemed to connect in my mind and I seem to recall knowledge much quicker.
 
The Smart Caffeine influences work load. Throughout the day I am clear and focused but when I need to buckle down and knock out a task with ease, I take 2 Smart Caffeine pills and I get to work.
 
So far, I’m really enjoying this stack and its effects. I have been looking for more research, resources and case studies on nootropics for future use. The more I learn about smart drugs the more interesting it becomes. There are many types and for many uses. Some for better sleeping, some for more focus and even some for better creativity.
The more I research the more I find out who use them. Some of our most successful CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs take nootropics to keep them focused and working 14+ hour days. Some of our most influential writers and authors take smart drugs that directly influence their creativity.
 
Some may see smart drugs as cheating but I see them as a great asset. You are able to work at your peak performance and make the best progress possible. Talk about a great investment.

 

Day 4 – Increased Recall:

 
Today I write from my local Starbucks a my room felt cluttered and restricted. Just as yesterday, I decided to alter the variables in my little experiment. I ate more food before my dosage and also waiting till around 10:30. I did not feel much today other than the usual clearness and general focus.
 
Around 5pm I felt incredibly tired, although I had enough sleep. Not sure what the root cause of this was as I am not a nap taker at all.
 
At 7pm I took another dose of Smart Caffeine to get some work done, including this post. I feel good, on track and focused. I know my environment plays a huge part in how focused I am. A combination of coffee shop and smart drugs may be the key to my productive survival.
 
I feel as though I should feel something more, but the feeling is not the end result we want. What we want is results. It doesn’t matter if we feel focused and productive but that we are focused and productive. The best way to determine if this stack works is by determining if I accomplished more than I normally would. Which is true at this point.
I’ve been able to sit down and read for longer periods of time without distraction and with more understanding of its content. I have been able to recall more information in a time of need or articulation. Overall, I believe this stack is doing what it was intended to do.
 
I have no pounding heart beat or OCD style focus. I am clear, concise, focused and alert. Not exactly.

 

Day 5 – Clarity with Side Effects:

 
Last day for my five-day experiment and things seemed fine until I went to the gym. Now, this whole week I have been going to lift weights for about an hour long duration. Today I took my dosage a bit later in the day and worked out much earlier, shortening the time between the two. About half way through my workout I felt like my heart was pounding a bit more than usual.
On top of that I was breathing much heavier than I normally would. I also took in less Carbs than I typically would before working out, so I cannot blame the stack for this effect. It could have been a culmination of many variables. Of which, the stack may have had no part in.
 
For the remainder of my day I felt the usual clarity and awareness. My mind stayed on track and focused on accomplishing what I needed to get done.

 

Conclusion:

 
I have to admit that this stack was a great experience. It’s also important to note that this stack will take a few weeks before finding its optimal level. So, given more time the results will expand.
 
Here is a quick glance at my experience and effects:
  • Clarity
  • Awareness
  • Mental Focus
  • Task Accomplishment
  • Felt Better Emotionally (less anxiety than normal)
  • Lack Of Influence By Distractions While Working
  • Quick Connects Between Thoughts and Past Information
 
Overall, I felt and continue to feel amazing while taking this stack. I will however take two days off each week from the stack to see what happens. There are many more Nootropics that you can take depending on what effects you want. For me, being more focus, direct and clear while working is a very high priority. I got exactly what I needed and expected.
 
Check out CILTEP + Smart Caffeine stack as it is hands down the best (IMO) nootropic for a beginner.
 

Follow-up:

One Year Later:
It’s been roughly a year or more since I wrote this post. My most popular and commented on post, and I wanted to give my readers a bit of an update. This week long experience wasn’t left in my past. I now routinely take some form of “Smart Drug” or Nootropic, although not every single day. I’ve also begun to hack my sleeping routine, increased my reading speed 10x and have honestly changed the way I think about life.
 
Fast forward from the week that started it and I’ve excelled in college, started a profitable and growing online business, travel hacked my way through Oregon and Paris, France and much more.
That week was merely the beginning to something quite incredible. I’m not saying this new life is due to smart drugs by any means, but it has allowed me to grow into some amazing knowledge and experiences so far.
 

Resources:

 

How We Spent Four Days In Oregon For $25

This is a repost of an article I wrote for http://10xTravel.com/ which you should absolutely subscribe to!

—-

Hey guys!

 

I recently got back from a four-day trip to Oregon with my girlfriend. From hot springs to waterfalls to snow capped mountains, it was was an amazing adventure.

 

I had been sitting on some points for a while and finally had a short break from class, so we quickly decided to book a trip. The whole booking process took less than an hour.

 

 

As everyone knows, trying to make time to travel can be particularly frustrating, so we booked this three months in advance. As a budding entrepreneur, this gave me enough lead time to ensure I had everything in place so I could relax on my vacation.

 

For those who don’t think you can take the time away from work, I’m here to tell you that it is possible. With a little planning, you can not only take a great vacation, but enjoy it too!

How I try to sleep on a six hour flight at 6am

 

In total, we took six flights over the course of 5 days to get from Florida to Oregon and back. Thanks to this experience, I now know that I’m terrible at sleeping on planes.

 

Even after staying up the night before our 6am flight (for some reason), I still couldn’t sleep.

 

Pro-tip: staying awake for 28 hours is a terrible idea. Don’t do it.

 

Who knew it would be such a journey to fly from Florida to a small city in Oregon…

https://vimeo.com/191062606

 

Here’s How We Did It

 

To book our flights, lodging and rental car, we used the following points:

  • Capital One Venture – 50,000 points
  • Chase UR (transferred to United) – 40,000 points

 

 

If you want to read the complete post, click here

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