Not Overthinking

Not Overthinking

By Ali & Taimur Abdaal

The weekly podcast about happiness, creativity, and the human condition. It's us, Ali and Taimur Abdaal, occasionally joined by guests, talking about things to help us think, do, and be better. Things like social interaction, lifestyle design, mental models... Things that are hard to examine, but important to explore. And hopefully, things that make for a fun and interesting chat every week. We'd love for you to join us.


Reimagining our relationship with 'Work', ft. Paul Millerd

We're joined this week by Paul Millerd, who's spent a lot of time thinking, reading, and writing about 'work'. We talk about the current culture of 'work-ism', the history of work and how we ended up here, the assumptions that our culture makes about work, and how to reimagine our relationship with 'work' to live happier lives.
09/08/201h 43m

Friendships and Relationships ft. Valentin and Cliff

In this episode we chat to Valentin Perez and Cliff Weitzman about friendships, relationships, and the our ideas of the good life.
02/08/201h 2m

The Abusive Relationships of Productivity YouTubers

In this episode, we discuss one of Taimur's new fledgling theories about the nefarious parasocial relationships that exist between 'productivity' content creators and their audience. We try and figure out other areas in which this applies, and explore why Ali felt the need to unfollow the various instagram models he'd been previously enamoured with.
26/07/201h 16m

68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice - Part 3

This is the third and final part of our "68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice" series, where we go through an excellent blog post by Kevin Kelly, offering his life advice after turning 68.
19/07/2045m 41s

How to Understand Things

In this episode, we discuss Nabeel Qureshi's recent blog post "How to Understand Things". We go through the post's main points, and talk about our own experiences of learning and understanding things, from school to university to today.
12/07/201h 27m

Envy and The Elephant in the Brain

This episode is mostly a discussion of Robin Hanson's "The Elephant in the Brain", a book about the 'hidden motives in everyday lives'. We also go on a long tangent about envy, and our personal experience of it over the years.
05/07/201h 33m

How To Convince Your Friend To Start A Blog

In this episode, we explore we often fail to convince our friends to start having an online presence, and what a better approach might be. Possibly applicable to general "convincing" tasks as well.
28/06/2058m 50s

68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice - Part 2

In this episode, we continue our exploration of Kevin Kelly’s 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice.
22/06/201h 0m

Responses to our 'racism' episode

In this episode we discuss some of the responses we received to last week's episode ("Racism, Black Lives Matter, and Figuring Stuff Out"), from hate mail to not-hate mail. Ali also unveils his life plan for the next few years, and Taimur goes on a bit of a rant about "legibility".
14/06/201h 15m

Racism, Social Justice, and Figuring Stuff Out

This week we talk about the Black Lives Matter movement, social justice, and how our towards these issues have changed over the past few years. Please interpret charitably.
07/06/201h 25m

Thinking as Children

We talk about Eric Weinstein’s recent podcast episode with his son, which sparks a discussion about how both of our thinking developed as kids and adults and why we should take kids more seriously.
31/05/2050m 2s

68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice

This week, we dig into Kevin Kelly's recent blog post "68 bits of unsolicited advice". We go through the list and talk about a bunch of the advices (?) that resonate with us.
24/05/2058m 6s

Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships

This episode is Part 3 of 3 in our Transactional Analysis series (make sure you listen to the last 2 episodes before this one!). We dig into many of the different social games that people play: "If It Weren't For You", "Why Don't You — Yes, But", "Courtroom", "Uproar", "Blemish", and a few others.
17/05/201h 10m

Life Positions & Games - Transactional Analysis Part 2

In this episode, we continue our discussion about Transactional Analysis. We recap the Parent, Adult and Child zones of thinking that we mentioned last week, and move on to talking about the 4 different Life Positions and the Games People Play.
10/05/201h 8m

The Parent, The Adult and The Child - A Discussion of Transactional Analysis

In this episode, we discuss transactional analysis. Taimur talks us through the ideas behind the theory, and how your internal mind can be split up into three parts - the Parent, Adult, and Child with examples taken from the book I'm Ok, You're Ok by Thomas Harris. Enjoy.
03/05/201h 6m

Money, Stories, and Old People

In this episode, we talk about a few different things — how to think about giving money to those in need, whether it's helpful to view our lives as stories, and how Taimur has been trying to develop more empathy with old people.
26/04/201h 0m

Vision, Leadership and Winning the Lottery - An open-ended discussion

In this episode we take a ramble through a number of topics from statistics to value propositions to what we'd do if we won the lottery to Animal Crossing. Enjoy!
19/04/2059m 7s

The Principles of Productivity

In this episode, we talk about Ali's favourite thing - productivity - much to Taimur's joy! Or, more precisely, we talk through the structure and some of the key points from Ali's upcoming Skillshare class on productivity including Parkinson's law, the Pareto principle amongst other myths, laws and principles...
12/04/201h 1m

Taimur Teaches Maths - The Flaw of Averages

In this episode, Taimur gives us a maths lesson. We learn about why it's bad to rely on 'averages' when making plans, and about how we can make better decisions by accounting for uncertainty. Sorry for the poor audio quality — Taimur had some technical difficulties this week.
05/04/2048m 47s

Note-taking and quarantining

In this episode, we mostly talk about note-taking — reasons to do it, and different systems and apps to facilitate it. We also talk about how quarantine life is going so far, and how we're trying to make the most of it.
29/03/201h 6m

Not Overthinking: Coronavirus Edition

This week we talk about the only thing there is to talk about right now — the Coronavirus crisis. We look back over the past few weeks to see how our thinking about the virus has changed, and we try and figure out how to get ourselves to emotionally care about things that are distant from us.
22/03/2052m 28s

How would you spend your time if you knew you'd die in 2 years?

This week we tackle the conundrum of "how would you spend your time if you knew you'd die in 2 years?" We discuss some of the different ways of framing and thinking about this question, and to what extent it can help figure out what we're doing with our lives.
15/03/2050m 44s

Low Optionality and Adult Friendships

This week we talk about a few topics that Taimur's been noticing more and more — low social optionality (applied to adult friendships), the plight of kids in society, and treating your personal life like a business. We also touch on the ideology of social media lynch mobs/"haters".
08/03/2036m 26s

40 Concepts for Understanding the World - Tweet Discussion

This week we talk about @G_S_Bhogal's Twitter megathread of "40 powerful concepts for understanding the world". A whirlwind tour of a bunch of mental models that you may or may not have come across before.
01/03/2059m 41s

Motivation, Complaining and Conversationality - A Critique of the Podcast

This episode features Calum, a junior doctor working in Scotland who spent 6 years in medical school living with Ali. Calum has listened to every episode of the podcast so far, and shares some critique about the format, the vibe and some specifics about motivation, complaining and conversationality. Enjoy!
23/02/2057m 12s

Margin, Dinner Parties and The Art of Gathering

In this episode, we continue to discuss the difficulties with recording a podcast each week, which turns into a conversation about margin & keeping afloat vs optimising for the long term. We then talk about a dinner party that Taimur hosted, which turns into a discussion about The Art of Gathering, a book that explores these issues in much greater detail. Enjoy!
16/02/2045m 19s

Book Discussion: The Wright Brothers

In this episode, we summarise "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough. It's a biography of Wilbur and Orville Wright, best known for inventing the airplane. It contains timeless themes relevant to any and all forms of human endeavour, so in addition to being an amazing story about a turning point for the human race, there's a lot we can learn from it.
02/02/201h 9m

Does travel really broaden our horizons?

In this episode (recorded on a car journey, sorry for the audio quality), we discuss the extent to which travelling, and living in different countries for extended time periods, actually broadens our horizons. Our guest Suhail talks about his experiences moving to the UK from Pakistan, and then Suhail and Taimur discuss the ways in which living in the USA has (or hasn't) broadened their own life perspectives.
26/01/2044m 49s

Book Discussion - The Courage to be Disliked

In this episode, we summarise "The Courage to be Disliked" by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi. It's one of the very few books that Taimur's actually read, and the concepts it presents are provocative and go against a lot of the dominant narratives of the current cultural milieu.
19/01/2054m 9s

Words that changed our lives

In this episode, we each talk about 3 words/phrases that have changed the way we think about things and see the world. We touch on Taimur's new addiction to David Dobrik's vlogs, and Ali doesn't stop going on about a magic convention that he attended this weekend.
12/01/2052m 39s

"Lad" Culture - An Insider's Perspective

In this episode, we have a guest appearance from Jake, a junior doctor and recovering "lad". We discuss the meaning of being a "lad", the experience from inside the group and the feelings of those of us who feel implicitly excluded from boisterous, alcohol-heavy group dynamics.
05/01/201h 2m

2019: The Not Overthinking Review

In (by far) our longest episode yet, we look back on 2019. First, we go through the Not Overthinking catalogue — we talk about the episodes that stood out to us (both good and bad!) and our key takeaways from each. Then, we reflect on how 2019 went for us personally — we each dig into 3 areas of personal growth that we had this year.
29/12/191h 28m

Social Interactions - Comfort, Messaging and Life Enjoyment

In this episode, we discuss our favourite topic - Social Interaction - from the lenses of (1) comfort, (2) etiquettes of messaging and (3) the pinnacle of the human condition. We wonder about the value of a minimalist messaging policy, and try and figure out why we find it easier to get on with non-white people.
22/12/1948m 33s

How to get rich (without getting lucky) - Tweet Discussion

In this episode, we discuss a Tweetstorm entitled "How to get rich (without getting lucky)" by Naval Ravikant. We touch on (1) wealth vs money, (2) financial freedom, (3) long-term thinking, (4) leverage, and (5) becoming the best in the world at what you do.
15/12/191h 10m

External appearances vs internal experiences

In this episode we talk about the external appearances of different lifestyles and how they differ from the internal experience of living them. We also dig into Ali's mindset when it comes to YouTube and business, and whether it's best to always be thinking about creating economic value. Honestly, we talk about quite a few different things in this episode without much of an overarching theme. Oh well!
08/12/1950m 8s

Inner Rings - The Desire to Fit In

In this episode, we discuss our desire to fit in, to be part of the 'cool kids' group, to be part of what CS Lewis calls "The Inner Ring". We share some instances in our own life when we've succumbed to this desire, and discuss whether it's ever acceptable to be exclusivist in our circles.
01/12/1952m 1s

Intentional Socialising

In this episode we talk about how we socialise — the different types of social events we take part in, and how we take part in them. We talk about how we, for the most part, leave our social life down to chance, and we try and find ways to be more intentional about how we socialise.
17/11/1955m 9s

Being Weird

In this episode we talk about 'being weird'. We explore the merits of being weird, the different ways in which people can be weird, and some of our personal experiences.
10/11/1946m 31s

Conflict and Communication - The Roommate Relationship ft. Molly

In this episode, Taimur acts as a relationship therapist and digs into the (strictly platonic, for the record) relationship between Ali and his roommate Molly. We discuss our feelings about living with one another, things about Ali that wind Molly up, causes of conflict in the relationship, tips for effectively communicating grievances and a wholesome segment where we discuss the things we've learned from each other.
03/11/1959m 14s

Treating your personal life like a business

In this episode we talk about a new theory of Taimur's — that we should treat our personal lives more like businesses, and treat our businesses more personally. We explore two aspects of "business thinking" in particular — valuing time + comparing options in terms of ROI (return on investing), and thinking in terms of systems — and how to apply them in our lives. We try and figure out why it generally feels weird to have systems for personal things.
20/10/1945m 46s

Small Talk & Social Awkwardness

In this episode, Ali tells us about a party(!) he recently attended, and how he approached the social interactions there. We talk about how we approach conversations with new people, whether it's okay to talk about "work" at social events, and, of course, the idea of "small talk".
13/10/1943m 54s

Small talk

In this episode, Ali tells us how he approached social interaction at a dinner party he recently attended. We dig into the process of meeting someone new for the first time, and naturally, we get talking about "small talk".
06/10/1946m 18s

Book Discussion: "The Magic of Thinking Big"

In this episode, we try a brand new format! We go through Ali's Kindle highlights, from 4 years ago, from the book "The Magic of Thinking Big". We end up talking about mental restraints, making good conversation, setting goals, and a smattering of other topics.
29/09/1948m 28s

Will a new iPhone make us happier?

In this episode, we try to formulate an algorithm for buying new tech. We try to figure out when it's worth upgrading our iPhones, and how to think about new purchases in terms of their contribution to our overall happiness. We come up with several new mental models for thinking about consumerism, and reference the concepts of measure, diminishing returns and hedonic adaptation.
22/09/1954m 26s

Invisible Shackles & Life Scripts

As we grow, we're subconsciously exposed to various 'life scripts' that can have a profound effect on the way we lead our lives, without any conscious control on our own part. In this episode, we discuss some of the invisible shackles that bind us, and how to 'break free' from default modes of thinking to carve our own path through life.
15/09/1948m 28s

What do we want from this podcast?

In this episode, we reflect on what we've been doing for the past 6 months with this podcast. We talk about why we took a break last week, whether we should have an episode every week vs every 2 weeks, and how we should judge the quality of our episodes.
08/09/1939m 36s

What's it like to be internet-famous? Ft. Sara Dietschy

This week we're joined by a very special guest — Sara Dietschy, tech and creativity Youtuber and podcaster (links in the full show notes). In this episode, Taimur interviews Sara and Ali about being "internet famous" and how they feel about it — getting recognised in public, doing meetups, and everything else. Huge thank you to Sara for joining us this week!
25/08/1949m 25s

Is being negative ever acceptable?

In this episode, we discuss whether negativity is ever okay. Taimur discusses why he didn't like an Ed Sheeran concert we attended, and we try and figure out whether expressing negative views about stuff / complaining about stuff is ever justified, and if so, to what extent. We invent an acronym NDA (neutral, dispassionate analysis) and Taimur comes up with Vibe Theory as a way of helping us make decisions about this stuff.
18/08/1936m 38s

Birds, Supersonic Jets, Internet Businesses and Trophy Hunting

Taimur and Ali feature as guests on the Episode Party podcast. Along with hosts Jack and Freddie, we discuss an episode of (1) The Casual Birder, (2) Indie Hackers, (3) Should This Exist, and (4) Radiolab. We share our thoughts on each of these episodes, and discuss some of the ways in which they changed our thinking.
11/08/191h 8m

How do we make friends?

In this episode, we discuss the various strategies we use to make friends. We start at primary school (aged 4) and examine how our tactics for making friends changed over time to the present day. We lament the difficulty of making friends and of showing vulnerability, and we realise that Taimur was always desperate to be cool while Ali was just always really weird.
04/08/1946m 46s

Procrastination, Money-making, Rejection etc - Answering your Questions

This episode is a Life Advice Q&A that Taimur and Ali did as part of Ali's 300,000 YouTube subscriber milestone video. We answer questions about startups, procrastination, motivation, productivity, money-making, rejection, investments, imposter syndrome and hair loss.
28/07/1925m 36s

Startups, Coding and Making Money Online - An Interview with Taimur

In this episode, Ali interviews Taimur about his life. We discuss how he learned to code, how he made money online by selling psychic readings, and how he uses Twitter to explore fame and fortune.
21/07/1939m 33s

How should we give advice?

In this episode we talk about whether we should give advice to others, and if so, how to go about it. Do we have a moral imperative to offer advice to our friends if we think they're doing the wrong thing? Or should we simply 'let it be'?
14/07/1946m 45s

Is ambition a virtue?

In this episode, we tackle the issue of ambition. What does it mean to be ambitious? Why do so many of us look for 'ambition' in a spouse? Why are some activities considered inherently more 'ambitious' than others?
07/07/1933m 54s

Why do we seek permission?

In this episode, we address a question from a listener. She wants to become a content creator but is concerned that because she isn't 'qualified', no one will care what she has to say. This turns into a discussion about how society is wired to implicitly convince us that we need permission before we can do stuff. We discuss 'The Myth of the Expert' and 'The Curse of the Expert', and offer some advice for anyone who's ever struggled with imposter syndrome.
30/06/1938m 6s

Ali's Journey on YouTube [Inbetweenasode]

This 'inbetweenasode' is an interview that Ali did on the Social Colours podcast: 'Journey of a Creator'. They talk about how he got started with YouTube, the strategy behind growing his channel, and his inspirations along the way. They also share some thoughts about the motivation and consistency it takes to keep a YouTube channel alive and growing. Enjoy!
23/06/1950m 25s

What does it mean to be authentic?

This week we talk about authenticity — "keeping it real". Taimur tries, with difficulty, to explain why he thinks there's something deeper to authenticity than what everyone already knows and feels: that it's nice to have authentic interactions with other people. We talk about the different situations in which we behave authentically to varying degrees, the characteristics of certain interactions that make them feel authentic, and, of course, some hacks to making interactions more authentic. We have a lot of difficulty defining what it means to be "authentic", and we don't quite reach the profound insight that Taimur was hoping to get to, but this is probably something we'll revisit in a future episode.
16/06/1958m 52s

How to deal with Rejection

This week we talk about rejection. We dig into a rejection that Taimur recently faced, and then explore the various rejections we've both faced in our lives — how we felt about them, what we took from them, and how we can improve the way we handle rejection. Among other things, Ali takes us on a tour of his life's romantic rejections, and Taimur regrets not putting himself out there enough to be able to give a romantic rejection tour.
09/06/1936m 18s

How much of our behaviour is status-seeking?

In this episode, we discuss the concept of social status, and wonder to what extent the signalling of status contributes to our own behaviours. We talk about how our schoolboy days were defined by status games, and think about how we might work to minimise our psyche’s reliance on social capital.
02/06/1946m 6s

How can we get into the habit of reading?

This week we discuss the challenges of developing a reading habit. Taimur shares his struggles with starting books and never finishing them, lamenting the small role of reading in his life. Ali offers some advice on how to read more regularly, and we share some book recommendations for listeners. Enjoy!
26/05/1937m 27s

Why do we struggle with motivation?

This episode is all about motivation. We start by introducing our ideal state of 'motivation is a myth' and the idea that discipline is all we *should* need to get stuff done. But then having recognised this, we spend the rest of the episode discussing both high-level strategy and low-level hacks for motivating ourselves to get stuff done.
19/05/1938m 25s

What makes an awkward silence?

In this episode, we talk about awkward silences, why we think they happen, how we can stop them happening and whether we should stop them happening at all. We try and understand why we're more comfortable with some people than others, and why car journeys and sleepovers are a great source of deep conversation and human connection.
12/05/1950m 21s

Time management, motivation, productivity etc [Inbetweenasode]

In this Inbetweenasode, Ali answers various questions relating to motivation, productivity, time management and that sort of stuff. It's a bit cheeky because we didn't record a proper episode, but given the need for consistency, we thought we'd repurpose one of his old YouTube videos (50k Q&A) to get a podcast episode out this week. Enjoy!
05/05/1923m 6s

How should we take advice?

We all love getting advice from our audience, our mentors, our seniors, our listeners. In this episode, we discuss some of the feedback we've got about the podcast so far and wonder to what extent we should change things up based on advice. We then generalise this to general life - how should we take advice effectively without over-correcting our internal models based on individual pieces of advice?
28/04/1932m 39s

Why do we love our jobs?

This is the first episode that features a guest! Paul Tern, a Cambridge-grad junior doctor who works in London, joins the discussion about why we love our jobs. We start off with some meandering around the history of the 'I want to enjoy my job' mentality, and then share our personal experiences and philosophies about what it means to have fun at work.
21/04/1940m 59s

Why should you invest in a good kitchen bin?

In this episode, we explore "Measure" — a mental model for spending time and money more effectively. Based on this framework, we conclude that everyone should get a good kitchen bin and a voice coach, and that Ali probably shouldn't get a Tesla.
14/04/1942m 6s

Why do we struggle with consistency?

In this episode we discuss how consistency in almost every domain is a super power, and come to a few conclusions about what helps us be more consistent with things like morning routines, gym workouts and writing practices.
07/04/1937m 23s

Why do we hate networking events?

In this episode, we discuss why we hate networking events but love group holidays, and we try and figure out how to better connect with our fellow human beings.
31/03/1950m 2s

Why are we scared to put ourselves out there?

In this episode, we discuss why we were (once) scared to put ourselves out there and how we overcame that fear. Send us your thoughts —!
24/03/1943m 48s

Why do we like to be correct?

In this pilot episode of Not Overthinking, we discuss our reasons for starting the podcast, and then have a chat about why we feel the urge to be correct in everyday conversation.
17/03/1940m 1s
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