Your Algo vs. The Social Algo

This past week I went live with Khe from Radreads via Makerpad (we hosted a workshop) to learn about building your “Digital Brain” and managing your productivity using Notion.

You can rewatch it here: https://app.livestorm.co/p/dea0350d-a35d-4688-b7ee-8691bf9de6c5

I’ve spoken about the “PARA” method before, as well as this balance between consumption and production.

While this workshop focused on staying productive using Notion made me have a broader realization about something all knowledge workers must focus on.

That idea is that unless you have a strong personal algorithm (a process for how you set priorities, consume and filter information), you will get swept away by the broader social algorithm – that of email, slack, twitter, etc.


A personal algorithm, if done right, surfaces the most important priorities and information on a regular basis.

It’s a method for having what matters bubble up to the top of your mind as frequently as possible.

A personal algorithm could be setting your 3 most important tasks of the day.

Or it could be setting New Years Resolutions.

But, as we know, so often we fail at this.

The reason we have the “5 Regrets of the Dying” is because it’s the list of things that people succumbed to allowing to fall to the bottom of the stack of priorities instead of the top.


The problem is that we have competing algorithms which are seeking to divert our attention.

After all, advertising is about the companies priorities, not your priorities. It’s about taking your precious attention and nudging you to focus it elsewhere.

On occasion, this is helpful – but that occasion is only when your priorities and problems are in line with the solution you’re being sold. Otherwise it’s diversion.

Unless you have a strong method for continually seeing your priorities, you will get lost in someone elses.

And it seems like today we need an almost hourly reminder. Because looking at our priorities and keeping them is hard.

And in some ways, giving up control to the algorithm is an easier way to live. It is a path of least resistance. And our dopamine plays a role in hooking us into diversion as frequently as every 5 or 15 minutes (the times we pick up our phone to check x social network).

What I learned from Khe today was that you can build your own algorithm with intention.

You can use it to filter and rank information.

And more importantly, you can set Cues for yourself.

Cues Remind You About Your Priorities.


A Cue is a reminder.

It’s like a mantra.

It brings you back to what you are wanting to focus on. A Cue could be a sticky note on your computer. But, being that our minds live in the digital realm, we similarly need these Cues in our digital domains.

But if you care about your attention. If you care about your time. If you believe you can set your own priorities, instead of going with the flow and following the priorities of others, you need to have a system, an algorithm that can hold your priorities. Like a boulder in the stream, to make sure you’re holding on to what matters.

This Holiday, and new year, I’m thinking about how to continually hold onto what matters.

It’s your Algo vs. the Social Algo.

xx David