Why the to-do list is dead, life advice from Hunter S. Thompson, and the beauty of an async life

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

Insight 1: The To-Do List is Dead

How many tasks are on your to-do list right now?

Do you have “organize to-do list” or “find a better to-do list system” on your to-do list? Meta, I know.

I used to drown in never-ending lists in Notion, Google Calendar reminders, Post-it notes, and the latest “super efficient” system that takes days to learn before you eventually realize it’s too complicated to be useful.

Then I decided to scrap everything and start from scratch with a Needle Movers List.

Here’s a quick dive into what it is and how you can use it to get more done without the overwhelm.

Insight 2: Life Advice from Hunter S. Thompson

22 year-olds aren’t known for giving great life advice, but a letter written in 1958 by a 22 year-old Hunter S. Thompson proves otherwise.

Although he wrote it to his friend Hume Logan 64 years ago, it’s just as relevant today.

Here are a few of my favorite bits:

“The tragedy of life is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man…Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.”

“To put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.”

“In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires— including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.”

“To let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life—the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.”

And one I like so much I made it pretty:

Insight 3: Embrace an Async Life

One of the most common questions I get is some version of, How can I be more productive?

While most people keep trying to find the “latest productivity hack,” Pieter Levels has taken a different approach to ruthlessly eliminate distractions.

He’s embraced the power of async living and made himself unreachable.


Because life is short.

“Prioritizing responding to DMs from strangers if my girlfriend is sitting next to me and wants a hug, or my friend wants to go for a walk, or I haven’t called my parents in a week, or there’s a critical bug on my sites. It’d be stupid to.”

Think of how much time we waste in traffic, back-to-back meetings that should’ve been emails, and constantly refreshing our precious notification bell.

And the worst part? The longer we allow these to eat away at our time, the longer we miss out on what matters most in life.

“I’d start skipping the gym, skipping going for walks, skipping sex, and not being able to do deep work anymore. My health, relationships and work would slowly start falling apart. I know this as it’s happened loads of time before. This schedule works for me and I don’t want or need to change it.”

By optimizing for async work, Levels avoids all this.

Living async gives you the freedom to live in sync with the things and people who matter most.

Check out his full article if you want a deeper dive into why async is worth figuring out.

Question for the Week

Striving to be better is important, but so is stopping to reflect on the progress we’ve made.

What are 3 wins from the last week?

No win is too big or too small to count.

Let me know!

Share Your Insights

Know someone who’d love this content? Share it with them!

My goal is to help entrepreneurs be more intentional with how they live, work, and create.

So if you enjoy Building Blocks, I’ll be forever grateful if you help me spread these insights by sharing this issue with other entrepreneurs.

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Let me know what you think and what you’d like to see in future issues. I’m always working to making Building Blocks more valuable for you.

Until next time—memento mori,

Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Executive Coach


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