Principles and mental models from the Internet

April 23, 2022 · 4 mins read

This is a collection of principles and mental models I find useful or interesting. I might not 100% adhere to all of them and it serves mostly as a written document I can revisit to remind myself of those concepts.

Personal development:


  • Strong opinions, loosely held.
  • It’s your professional obligation to push back on unreasonable expectations. Your bosses may not like it at first, but they will respect you for it. Source
  • If you do the same thing as everyone else, you’re going to be average.
  • Everything is a system. Think in systems.
  • Heuristics Are OK: Heuristics (“mental shortcuts”) are have two sides you have to balance between:
    • a bad thing (base of cognitive biases)
    • a good thing (pattern matching, base of “gut feeling” in experts, aka tacit knowledge)

Time management:

  • Saying yes to something means saying no to something else
  • Doing something good but not essential is saying no to doing something essential
  • If you’re doing the right things, it doesn’t matter how much time you spend on them. Podcast: How to Master Essentialism
  • “Don’t be a donkey” aka Buridan’s ass. You can have everything, if you do one thing at a time.
  • Other People’s Problems (OPP): Recognize them when they hit your inbox and ignore them.



It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas. Obviously those two modes of thought are in some tension. But if you are able to exercise only one of these modes, which ever one it is, you’re in deep trouble. If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, maybe once in a hundred cases, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress. On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones. If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all.

  • Consume books and art that stood the test of time.
  • Thinking from first principles.


  • When arguing, always consider the best version of the opposing argument (steel man argument):

The most powerful way to avoid using bad arguments and to discourage their use by others is to follow the principle of charity and to argue against the strongest and most persuasive version of their grounds.


Creative work: