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How to prepare for a digital detox [Weekly Brain Tools]

Jan 31, 2019 | Posted by Cristina in Newsletters

The Power-Up is the best way stay up to date on the gaming industry news. Click here to find out why!

The text below was sent in December 2018 to our newsletter subscribers. If you enjoy it and want more, join us.

Morning, brainiacs!

I’m gonna start today’s email with a question we’re asked all the time: why do we unsubscribe those who don’t open our newsletters?

This is probably hard to understand, as it’s contrary to what others practice. Most “influencers” or companies play a numbers game: they want as many people as possible subscribed to their newsletter, podcast, YouTube channel, plenty of Instagram and Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and so on. Perhaps they even use unethical ways to attract them, or give out freebies as frequently as possible, cause those are known to work, even if they don’t attract quality followers.

Afterwards, they publicly signalize their number of followers, bragging about how big of a community they have, and use that as hook for advertisers (and money).

We don’t do that. We’d rather focus on different metrics, the kind that matter over the long term, even if it’s harder to measure them.

To us, it’s important that our readers will take their time to process the content that we put out there, question the ideas and books that we write about, and truly learn something new and improve their lives every day. We value our readers’ trust in what we write.

We celebrate every time someone tells us that they’ve bought and read a book thanks to our recommendations, or learned something new from one of these Monday Brain Tools emails, and that resource has changed their life.

Therefore, we see no point in keeping “ghost” subscribers, who don’t actually open and read our emails. It’s also about ego: we’re all busy. We get it. But we put a lot of effort into what we’re writing here, it’s our main communication channel. We’d rather have less people subscribed, but who truly value our work.

By the way, we do something similar on Twitter and Instagram, and block out those who have obvious fake accounts (unfortunately, it takes more time to do that on social media than on email, since we can’t filter them as easily).

And then, of course, there are financial reasons to automatically unsubscribe those who don’t read our emails. Sending them costs money, and the number of subscribers is directly related to how much it costs. Those folks who aren’t active also influence the “deliverability” rate – in other words, they could affect those who do want to read our emails, but they might end up in the Spam or Promotions folder (by the way, if this ever happens, please move them to your Inbox, Mark as not spam and set a filter).

Hopefully, this satisfies your curiosity. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll reply publicly, in one of the upcoming newsletters or through a blog post.


1. Fast Company: #Unplug: Baratunde Thurston Left The Internet For 25 Days, And You Should, Too

Back in November 2012, entrepreneur and author Baratunde Thurston was burned out. That year, he started a company, visited 34 cities, toured hard for his book (one week, he hit seven cities in five states across three time zones), worked for the Obama presidential election campaign, and more.

He decided to take off 25 days for a digital cleansing, starting December 14th 2012. In this journal-like article he talks about how he planned for it, how it went, the benefits of the slow pace, and what happened after he reentered the Matrix.

If you want a “how to disappear from your internet life” guide, this is a good place to learn what to expect.

I’m guessing December’s not the best month to experiment with a digital detox, since it’s the busiest month of the year, but perhaps you can give it a try after the winter holidays. By then, you’ll be so tired from all the noise, that a temporary break from the internet (or maybe just parts of it, such as social media channels) will surely boost your creativity and improve your decision-making.

P.S. if you do decide to have a one-month digital detox, don’t worry, you won’t be automatically unsubscribed from this newsletter 😛 you’d need to stop reading it for more than one month. But please do let me know how your experiment went.

2. Pieter Levels: In a world of outrage, mute words

Maker Pieter Levels (founder of Nomad List) talks about how the media entertains us and wants us to be outraged, why not only it’s not beneficial to anyone to read some news, but its utility is actually negative. By keeping us hooked into reading all kinds of stories, we become distracted and loose our capability to focus on the important work.

He also comes with a solution: he muted certain political keywords from his social feeds and talks about how it worked out.

3. Harvard Business Review: Japanese-Style Entrepreneurship: An Interview with Softbank’S CEO, Masayoshi Son

This is probably one of the most revealing interviews I’ve read this year… and it was published in 1992!

Masayoshi Son, the richest man in Japan, founder and CEO of SoftBank, talks about the early days of his company and how people thought he was either crazy or stupid.

In 1980, when he came back from America, where he studied computer science and majored in economics, he spent one year and a half doing research. ONE YEAR AND A HALF!

He thought about 40 different businesses that he could start, made business plans and spent all his time thinking about it. Although he had no income, he bought books, read and studied all kinds of materials that could prepare him for the next 50 years. (yeah, that’s right, 50 years – do you know anyone else who planned in advance for 50 years…?)

4. Ryan Holiday: Advice to a Young Man Hoping to Go Somewhere (Or Get Something From Someone Successful)

More than a decade ago, Ryan Holiday dropped out of school and accepted a job offer that was everything he ever wanted. If you’re a young person who’s just starting out in a new field, or if you want to hire someone who fits the description, this article’s for you (or for you to forward 😛 ). It’s filled with practical advice on how to set yourself apart.


Enough brain tools for one week. I’ll be back on Friday, with a book recommendation.

Til then, here’s another pic of our learners notebook 😀 it was taken by Virginia Bordaș, founder of a tech translations service company called Atelierul de Traduceri, and also one of our Patreons. Thanks to everyone who supports our work! ?


– Cristina

The text above was sent in December 2018 to our newsletter subscribers. If you enjoyed it, subscribe here.

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