Tools Of Titans book review part 0 – Habits

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Benjamin Franklin

Hi RIP friends,

Few weeks ago I’ve told you that I started waking up early, thanks to several input signals last of which was reading first pages of Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. I’m still waking up early, finally made the switch to 6am (still aiming to 5am) and it’s been great so far. It’s amazing how things go smoothly and quality of life improves once you overcome initial costs of installing a new habit.

I kept reading ToT as one of my daily routines. Essentially, the whole ToT book is about offering you a vast amount of options in terms of new habits to install. Tim says he wrote this book as a collection of life gems / advices / habits given by successful people he had as guests on his podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show. I truly love the idea of squeezing roughly a hundred of two-hours long interesting interviews in a sort of “collection of life directives“.

I knew little about Tim Ferriss before buying this book. I heard about the 4 hour workweek, of course, but neither I purchased it nor I researched about the author and the messages he wanted to communicate.

Then I saw this book recommended by so many people I follow, including James Altucher (James’ podcast with Tim, Tim’s podcast with James), and I wanted to try it out. I knew I loved the format, the interviewees and the topics: how to become healthy, wealthy and wise.

So that’s my Christmas gift to myself: 700 physical pages of amazing life lessons!

I’m a scientific person who does things in the most structured way possible. When I read a book I want to know everything about the author, the story behind, related works and so on. I want to explore further concepts I liked, I want to build on top of the ideas I’ve read about. This book is a gold mine for a person like me. It could keep me busy for a century. Read a chapter, get interested about the topics, go listen the whole associated podcast, get to know the podcast guest more, repeat with next chapter.

Trying to read between the lines of Tim’s comments within each podcast, it seems he did almost the same, but at the next level. Listen, interact with the guest, ask questions, experiment techniques on himself, repeat with next guest. It’s like cooking: once you have so many ingredients you can then start to mix them up for unique recipes. A lot of them won’t work – who cares – some of them will rock. I love Tim’s experimental approach to life!

Inspired by him, I’m writing my own “Life Directives” doc too. It’s not meant to be a book, just a life cookbook for myself. I’m parsing articles, videos and blog posts I saved in last years and extracting gems from them. Obviously ToT is one of the sources!

Must say that extracting ideas from an already compressed book like his is not simple. It’s like a juice of another juice.

My process is: read a chapter with a black pen on my hand, underline the concepts I want to export, transpose them to my doc once in front of a computer.

I don’t usually like to underline on a physical book, but who cares! That’s not a normal book: it’s a trip, an experience. I want to feel I’m physically consuming the book. I want it shredded at the end of this adventure, like a backpack after a hiking month, as a sign of the fatigue and toughness of the adventure itself.

About the content. The book is divided in three sections: healthy, wealthy and wise. Each section is mainly composed by “podcasts extracts” but there are special chapters written by either Tim himself or someone else that don’t follow the standard podcasts extract scheme. In the healthy section there are two very interesting special chapters on workout and meditation that I took as they are and started implementing straight away.

I’m roughly at 30% of the book, started moving first steps in the wealthy section. I must tell I’m not onboard on every chapter. The healthy section dives into subjects I don’t want to experiment with (for now) but it’s good to know what’s around, which variables one can play with in the game of life. More on this in the next part of this multi-post book review.

Do I recommend the book?

Totally! You won’t agree with everything but I guarantee that, even if you just take the 20% of this book that resonates with you the most, it would be worth 10x the money and time you spent on it.

To whom?

To whomever wants to improve the quality of their life. To those who are struggling to get things done. To those who have a researcher mindset and can’t just sit and repeat meaningless actions for the entire life. To those who want to overcome procrastination and laziness. To those who have an entrepreneurial mindset and want to build something. To anyone who is less than 25 years old.

Is that an affiliate link?

No, not yet. Well, I guess I’ll setup an affiliate account on Amazon,.I think there’s nothing wrong on making few dimes on such heartfelt recommendations!

A case of study: myself

Ok, how has the book influenced me so far? How is it worth the 15 USD I paid for it? I already said I started waking up early also thanks to Tim. Reading thru the pages of ToT I found that many successful persons have some sort of morning routine, usually including some form of meditation and physical activity. So I decided to have one. Reading Tim’s deep personal struggle on one of the special chapter (no spoiler!) I rediscovered the importance of uninterrupted blocks of focused work on a single task. So I decided to organise my time to allow for such blocks.

I’m trying to structure time following a simple pattern which is essentially a variation of what James Altucher suggests in his Choose Yourself book (which I didn’t read btw): trying to make yourself 1% better each day by doing something that improves life on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.

My structure is similar, but my levels are slightly different:

  • Physical: do some kind of workout each day, at least get myself out of breath each day.
  • Social: connect with new people, re-connect with old friends, enjoy the presence of friends, family and my partner, do something that makes at least a relationship better.
  • Creativity: do something that’s expression of my uniqueness. Write, code, play guitar, whatever stimulates my mind and makes me do something.
  • Curiosity: learn something new. Read blogs, watch youtube videos on topic I want to learn more, taking a coursera class, watch a TED talk. Whatever stimulates my mind and expands my knowledge and brain capacity. P.S. I love TED talks! I’d like to host a TED marathon with friends, watching the top25 TEDs of all time plus someone I personally loved, and following up on each one with a discussion within the attending crowd. And obviously one of my dreams is giving a TED talk!
  • Spirituality: I’m no religious but I do consider myself a very spiritual person. My daily spirituality routine includes some form of meditation, journaling exercises (write down your anxieties, what scares you, what you’re grateful for, what’s important for you, how you see yourself in 5 years…), decluttering (both mentally and physically) and finding new ways to improve my happiness baseline.
  • Pleasure: enjoying a videogame, wasting time on Facebook, browsing the internet, watching a movie or a tv series or just doing nothing.

Well, not everything is doable every morning! My goal is to do at least a single step on each ladder each day. So far I’m devoting time to Creativity, Curiosity, Spirituality and Pleasure each morning. Social is tough at 6am, but I see room for improvements: I could write an email to an old friend I don’t see much anymore, connect with a new person, prepare a handwritten letter for Miss RIP (or prepare her breakfast, she’d love it). I’d prefer in-person social things but I could still do something.

Physical, don’t hide. You’re next in line. As soon as temperatures will allow a morning run there would be no valid excuse.

What’s your routine?

5 comments

  1. Thx for the review. A friend of mine is a Tim Ferris fan. He has the book lined up to read as well.

    I tried a few habits before, with mixed results. short term, I would like to drop eating snacks at work and drinking high calorie drinks throughout the day.

    An evening routing to read a book would be nice. It now is a blog routine. Not bad either…

  2. Have you come across a method on how to inspire your SO to share some of the excitement for Tim’s book?
    I always have this challenge, I get super excited, but can’t start the spark for her to grab the book full of great content..

    1. Simple: I purchased “the 4 hour body” for her (she’s trying to get fit) so she gets to know Tim’s approach. Let’s see if it works 🙂

  3. Hi MrRIP,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book.
    I’ve read the 4-hour-workweek some years ago that was somehow one of the trigger of my journey towards financial independence. MMM was the epiphany.

    Since then I’ve been craving for books such as this one you mention. I will add it to my list.

    As for my routine, I’m on a quite good streaks at waking up between 5-5:30am every workday, and sleeping max 7h per night including on weekends.
    My morning rituals is composed of meditation, writing, affirmations, and reading. I keep the exercise for the end of the day at the moment as a way to externalize all the tensions from the day.

    I will surely write a dedicated post about it as it has proven to be so valuable in my life for the past six months!

    Looking forward to exchanging more interesting ideas and concepts with you!
    MP

Comments are closed.