He’s always been known as the crazy optimization guy. He famously stored months’ worth of his own piss in the refrigerator along with food and drinks he ate with family and friends. Nice.
This way of life led Tim toward burnout. It screwed with his mental health and it may have even been the reason his girlfriend left him this year.
The trend of optimization has only grown stronger since Andrew Huberman shot into the spotlight.
Andrew runs a successful podcast called “Huberman Lab” and has a cult-like social media following.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy, but his version of an optimized life is wild. He’s constantly supplementing, eating crazy diets, and telling people to try early morning cold showers.
People who follow his cult get their blood work done multiple times a year. I could never do that because I hate needles and they make me cry (and scream). Plus, I like to eat ice cream occasionally and don’t want to feel like I messed up a whole month of perfect “bloods” by doing so.
Maybe some of this optimization stuff works, but it doesn’t work for me.
It all just seems too crazy. I don’t want to spend my entire day doing meal prep and counting calories. Or measuring body fat like I’m about to train for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Body Building Competition.
I do go to the gym. I do loosely count reps and sets. But I’m not obsessive about it. Fitness is a lifestyle for me. It’s a way to retain muscle mass as I approach 40 real fast and feel like I could have a middle-life crisis.
I, too, was like Tim Ferriss and Andrew Huberman. I used to obsess over every detail of life and track everything. I bragged to people I was data-backed.
The area of life it screwed me up the most was in my finances. I started investing and looking at stock market charts every day. During the crypto gold rush of 2021 I found it hard to switch off.
I’d be out with my wife on a date and looking at crypto prices on my phone.
“Honey, you’re not gonna believe it … Ethereum has a big update coming and it’s gonna moon, I tell ya.” She grew tired of it. She grew tired of me.
Too much optimization can become an undiagnosed mental illness.
You can obsess so much over the little details that you forget the big picture. That’s what happened to me. I wasted so much time being a stupid little productivity guru that I neglected my wife, family, and the overarching meaning of my life.
Unlike Tim Ferriss I didn’t suddenly change or read a quote that made me think “it’s time to unoptimize.”
I just changed slowly because it felt right.
Unoptimization isn’t about being lazy or reckless.
The point is to do what author Derek Sivers recommends and optimize for one or two things only.
For me, I optimize my life to write every week and take care of my daughter. They’re my main priorities right now and everything else is mostly unoptimized.
The other strategy I’ve found useful, which Tim Ferriss recommends, is to do the opposite of your current productivity schedule.
The quickest way is to have a baby — that’ll blow up your perfect little productivity system and morning routine lol.
But if that’s not on the cards or has already happened long ago, then the best way is to do an experiment for 30 days.
Try having zero to-do lists.
Try having a blank calendar.
Try not having cold showers.
Try not having any dietary supplements.
Try walking instead of doing hardcore gym workouts.
Try turning off your productivity software like Notion.
Try not listening to podcasts on walks or while on the way to work.
How do you feel? Write it down every day for 30 days. Just notice, don’t judge. See if anything sticks out.
When I’ve done this I’ve found I’m often overdoing it in life with too many optimizations that just create stress, and destroy my mental health.
I now read and follow more people who live a deoptimized life because they’re far more real and relatable than these ridiculous influencers who want us to do an Elon Musk Morning Routine and live like a crazy person.
Maybe unoptimization is the new path to success.