A day in the Life of Lex Fridman (Must read for work from home freelancers)
A Day In The Life
Lex Fridman is an AI researcher at MIT and a YouTube podcast host with over 2.4 million subscribers. My boy TechLead on YouTube somewhat exposed him for being an insecure, nerd incel. However, he is killing it on YouTube. His daily routine seems very helpful, because it seems he works from home and makes sure he gets two four-hour deep work sessions a day, where he does nothing else but that task.
Lex wakes up after 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Of course, there are periods in his life where he pulls an all-nighter, but typically he tries to get the requisite amount of sleep plus the mythical, epic, power nap..
He believes that sleep diet and exercise are essential for productivity, just under passion and whatever you need to stay happy and low stress.
When he wakes up, he goes through his mantra, which is a list on a sheet of paper. The mantra has the following sections:
- Rules and Constraints
These are his current set of rules and constraints, on his various addictions and the things that drain all of his time.
One of them is social media. He only checks social media when he posts, which shall take up no more than 10 minutes. He believes that this is one of the main addictions that people should control.
Some people completely remove themselves from social media, and that’s one of the possible solutions, but Lex thinks that’s a bit of an easy way out. The hardest thing to do, is really moderate the use of social media, because use in moderation can bring you joy.
The other rule is diet and exercise. He makes sure he exercises every single day, even when he’s injured. He also follows a strict diet, within the constraints where he can control himself. He’s on Keto, which is a very low carb diet.
Lex then visualizes and meditates on the idea that he may die today at any moment today. So he tries to accept the notion that today could be the last day on this earth. He usually has a moment where he breathes in, then out, then has a moment of pause where he meditates on the fact that it’s freaking amazing to be alive, and that life is amazing.
3. Long-term goals
Lex then lists out aloud his set of goals for the next 5 years. These are ambitious, big goals, that he would like to achieve in the next 5 years.
4. Short-term goals
Then Lex lists out aloud his more near term goals. For example, by the end of 2023, I want this. They’re just out of reach, but reachable. But if he really works his ass off, and with a bit of luck, he can get it done. And that really gets Lex amped up and ready to go to work.
5. Visualize the Day
Then Lex zooms in a bit further and visualizes the rest of the day, and all the things that he thinks he needs to get done. Lex literally visualizes himself, like on a game of sims, on fast forward, running around, getting all this stuff done successfully.
He visualizes both the struggle of it, or the hardest part on his to do list, getting it done, crushing it, but really, at the same time, focusing on the timing of it, or the beat for the day, getting it all done.
6. Core principles
Finally, he recites a few principles that he tries to live up to as a man. They are a bit cliche, but they center around compassion, empathy, love, character, integrity and strength (both physical and mental).
Deep Work Session 1
Following the mantra, he drinks a litre of water, drinks a coffee and then he hits the day hard with a four hour session of deep work. He focuses on a single thing.
- If interesting ideas come out of his head and if it pulls him towards that idea, he gently sets it aside, to put it on a Google doc to address later, Then he gently sets his mind back on the focus of the task. That’s because ideas may keep coming, but you really want to focus on the task.
- The only interruptions that are allowed are: 1) water, 2) coffee and 3) bathroom, but he tries to minimize those. He tries for one break in that four hour session.
- He stops the timer whenever he takes a bathroom or water break and resumes the timer when he resumes. When he takes a break, he doesn’t do any social media or anything of that nature during the break. This is to make sure that his mind is still focusing on the task at hand, and he’s ready to hit that task hard when he returns to that task.
- Lex works at a sitting/standing desk. Sometimes Lex wears a suit, especially when he films, sometimes he doesn’t. He also has a Kinesis keyboard like I do.
- Lex does not get sentimental when he does the four hour deep work session. He just grinds it out.
Social Media & Guitar
Thereafter Lex posts on social media. He tries to keep the entire experience under 5 minutes, and definitely under 10 minutes.
Thereafter, he has a music session (around 20 minutes) without exception. Usually, he plays the guitar.
Does around 90 minutes of hard suffering, a.k.a. exercise, and face the demons in his mind. He starts by running and by listening to brown noise, it allows him to focus deeply. 2–3 miles into that process, he switches to listening to an audiobook.
Sometimes he runs 6–7 miles for an hour. After the hour run, he does the David Goggins inspired nickel and dime workout. Every single minute he does 10 pullups and 5 pushups. Usually 15 to 20 minutes of doing that kicks his ass.
He has not eaten food until this point. Of course, before going on a run, he takes a salt pill, because it’s important to have electrolytes in the body.
He loves exercising fasted, because it focuses the mind. He enjoys not eating then doing intense, hard and focused workouts. He suspects that this is the case, because his Eastern European ancestors probably walked around fasted and then wrestled a bear with all their might.
He showers to “Fortunate Son,” Rocky or Metallica. Then he thinks of what kind of person he needs to be, if he was living in Nazi Germany, to stop the decline into evil and stand up.
Deep Work Session 2
After the shower, he’s right back into the grind of deep work. During the shower, he thinks about what to focus on during the second session.
He sees this as a sprint to the finish, then he eats. That is because he really just sees this 8 hour session as what he wants to get done for the day. There is a four hour light session thereafter, but it’s more relaxed, all over the place, distracted.
- Even if the focus doesn’t come, just stay there and the breakthrough will come. Use the discipline of ritual, and be there, even if you don’t want to be there.
He eats now and breaks the fast with:
> Athletic Green
> Grass fed ground beef
> Cauliflower (for vegetable)
> Or carrots (if he wants to get fancy)
> Sodium chloride tablets (1000mg in pill form)
> Magnesium glycinate (helped cure the keto headache)
> Fish Oil (Public Goods)
The food takes about 20 minutes to prepare.
Shallow Work Session
He then has a four hour session of relaxed work, perhaps filming or checking e-mails. Lex checks e-mails, at the most 3 times a day. The first two times, he checks for emergencies, and for e-mails that just take less than 30 seconds to respond. He’d also do filming, web design and continue a bit more deep work.
If I don’t feel good, he can hang out with friends, watch Netflix, be chaotic, and he can also drink a beer. This is the time for that to happen. He also reads a research paper.
He then reads research papers for an hour.
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