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Make time for synthesis

Why are so many of us so distracted, so unfocused, so unsure of what to do?

Why are how-to guides and tips so popular?

Because there's not enough synthesis going on.

The Internet gives you analysis. It gives you the principles, the facts, and the hot takes. Analysis aplenty. The Internet gives you the dots.

But it is up to you to synthesize—to take the disparate pieces of information, the dots, and connect them.

It requires taking the external information (books, tweets, videos...) and the internal information (your circumstances, talents, state of mind...) and putting it all together into a cohesive whole.

Synthesis is the hard part. It's not hard physically, it's hard intellectually.

Synthesis requires facing uncertainty, being with the tension of not knowing the answer, and most often staying in solitude.

In other words, the hard part isn’t writing, or coding, or speaking.

It’s determining what to write, what to code, and what to say.

The act of giving concrete substantial form to abstract ideas is the real work, regardless of the particular activity.

There are many opportunities to synthesize hidden in our day, but many of us choose to squander them, in favor of cheap stimulating activity like browsing Twitter or watching YouTube.

Make time in your day for synthesis-inducing activities:

  • Walks & bike rides
  • Boredom, mind-wandering
  • Journalling, writing
  • Conversations with lots of questions being asked ...

Avoid consuming more and more information, much of which is utterly irrelevant to your life.

Without enough synthesis, you don't make decisions and act on them with conviction. You're forever consuming the supposedly useful information online, never applying any of it.

Create empty space and take the time and effort to figure out what to do with the various pieces of information you already have.

It will require tackling with uncertainty, confusion, and boredom, but that's the price.

The reward is spending your time in accordance with your values. It's having solid convictions about your own direction in life. It's not regretting where your day went.

Only you can synthesize effectively because only you have the best information about yourself.

You already have the information, now go synthesize.