I only recommend the best resources here which, of course, includes my own stuff. I synthesize and condense everything I’ve learned from both science and experience, so you don’t have to spend your time searching the whole Internet to find what’s useful.
What I can tell you is that I’ve read a lot of books, consumed courses, and thrown out what’s high friction (or impractical) just to put out the content I’m making.
- The 20 Rules of Knowledge Formulation by Dr. Piotr Wozniak. This is really important — if you don’t see an Anki guide recommending this, chances are they don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to creating better flashcards. That being said, I also have a condensed guide to create effective SRS prompts using only 3 principles. (See here)
- 13 Flashcard Do’s and Don’ts. This quick reference will show you 13 examples and anti-examples so you can create memorable Anki flashcards you can answer in under 10 seconds.
Books I recommend
I have a short list since I prefer going deeper, but these are the books that will probably in my “family curriculum” for generations.
- Make it Stick → super condensed version of evidence based study tactics, though I’m not saying that everything in there is practical
- The Toyota Way (by Liker) or Lean Thinking (by Womack) → made me view efficiency in a different light, and of course how Toyota achieves max efficiency while maintaining effectiveness. When you apply it to your own productive pursuits then you’ll see that it’s not just the immediate cost/profit that you should be dealing with. It’s almost always something “unseen”
- Switch by Chip and Dan Heath → the most accessible book I’ve read on understanding behavior change. Atomic Habits is good and it gives a framework for behavior change, but IMO this gives you a higher-level framework to think about behavior change.
- Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows → Oh boy, my engineering heart pounds for this. But it’s really for everyone. It gives you an entire mental model that you can’t unsee for the rest of your life, that helps you make predictions and make better decisions given a system. THIS SHOULD BE IN EVERYONE’S BOOKSHELF.
- Thinking, Fast and Slow (first few chapters, I think) → it’s a bit boring and dry, but the first chapters encapsulate a model of thinking about cognitive biases: we are biased to believe in what’s cognitively easier. Call it a cognitive extension of “least resistance principle”
- Deep Work → for the arguments for allocating deep work into your life. There’s just a lot of benefits we’re missing out without having some kind of “depth” daily, even for just half an hour. Sometimes I re-read the book just for pleasure because I find it inspiring. It’s a classic work, in my opinion.
- The Compound Effect → I just found this in my mother’s bookshelf, and wow it inspired me to think about my results as an accumulation of my past self’s seemingly inconsequential efforts. Skipping 1 workout may not be a big deal, but the attitude and other unseen causal factors that led to skipping that workout is reinforced. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated with myself when I look back and realize that my life could’ve become way better had I just done the little things. (saving a little money, for example. or simply avoiding to do ego lifting)
- The ONE Thing → it’s a book on productivity, but it surely ingrained the idea of “leverage” in me. That’s what led me to taking notes, to learning Zettelkasten for 2 years, to find out how I can accomplish many things in a single (but harder) effort. Now apply this to non-writing stuff and damn you can get a lot of things done. And there’s no fancy productivity apps, too — just your brain.
Books I haven’t finished yet but are liking so far:
- Flow by Csikszentmihalyi → how the pursuit of sensual pleasure that stems from primal desires make you susceptible to external control; psychological intention and activity (or psychic energy as in psyche/mind, not floating objects stuff) as the bringers of optimal experience and true happiness. Ties very well to avoiding charlatans and living a happier life.
- Antifragile → you’ve probably heard of it, but I just love how Taleb thinks about risk and has filled a 500+ page book filled with insight after insight rather than a bunch of boring stories. Probably not for everyone, but I can tell you how my thinking of risk has changed significantly just by reading around 1/4 of it (and I also recommend reading the via negativa part)
Other Useful Resources Relevant to Effective Spaced Repetition
- Spaced Repetition for Efficient Learning by Gwern
- Augmenting Long-Term Memory by Michael Nielsen
- How to Write Good Prompts by Andy Matuschak
For medical students: