Be Unrealistic

baby lifting

When I started World Massage Conference seven years ago, I enlisted a couple of equally naive friends to help me and insisted that we make this the biggest event ever in the history of massage. There was no such thing as a virtual conference at that point. I looked for models, but no one had done anything like this… in any industry. We did six days of live streaming broadcasts, from early morning to late at night, to a profession of low tech practitioners at a time when live streaming broadcasting was still in its infancy.

I don’t remember the exact number, but we must of had 8,000 paid registrants from around the world at that first event.

In retrospect, as with many things I’ve done, it didn’t make sense. It was a crazy thing to do. I was naive and neither my partners or I had any idea what we were getting ourselves into. The first day of broadcasting was chaos and we were just praying that things wouldn’t explode when we pressed the buttons to get started.

But we accomplished an incredible feat bringing dozens of the top massage experts from around the world into people’s living rooms. And seven years later it still remains the largest event in the history of massage every year with more than double the registrations of our first year. We accomplished so much simply because we were completely unrealistic!

So the next time you do not feel competent enough to try something new, simply ask yourself if that belief has ever helped you. If not get rid of it and get a new belief because at the end of the day an unrealistic vision that pushes you to new levels of achievement is far better than a realistic one that makes you feel impotent and incapable of making changes in the world around you.

What’s one crazy thing would you like to do, but have never taken action on because you’ve been too realistic?

 

Adopt a “Minimal Choice” Lifestyle

eric eating lunchThis is another Tim Ferris habit that I’ve practiced for years. Here’s the lowdown…

We live in a society where there are almost a limitless number of choices. For example, if I want to pick up yogurt at the local grocery store, I see a refrigerator section that is no less than 25 feet long with every type of yogurt imaginable making every possible claim for benefit, each container screaming for my attention. If I were to really consider my options for yogurt buying, I would be in the grocery store for hours.

Some resources are renewable, but other resources, like attention, aren’t. The incredible number of available choices and options we have consume our attention, minimize our appreciation and leave us overwhelmed.

So my habits to combat this are:

  1. Minimize my need to make choices
  2. Make fast decisions

Does it matter that I make a wrong choice? If the result is non-fatal, then no, it doesn’t really matter.

So for example to minimize my need to make choices, I always have a bowl of cereal and a coffee for breakfast and a peanut butter and banana or a peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch. I don’t need to waste my attention thinking about what I’m going to eat. Dinner is the important meal for me and I cook a great meal every single night of the week. I’ll throw my attention into that meal that I eat with my son or friends.

As an example of making fast decisions: The person who books my hotels and flights spends ages comparing locations, prices, amenities, etc. It would probably take me about 1/10th of the time to do it myself. In Canada, I have only two airlines to choose from and they’re pretty much the same. Two equally priced hotels are really not going to be that different. I’m not going to take a half hour to read about their amenities and look at the pictures. I’ll rather spend that half hour lounging by the pool when I get there.

So here are several exercises you can try this week to get you into the habit of preserving your attention in the face of options:

1. When someone asks you to make a decision that is non-life threatening, for example, where to eat or where to meet, stop debating in your head. Make a decision immediately. And by immediately, I mean immediately. Just say the first thing that comes into your head. Get the decision made within ten seconds. If the person drags you into a choice game, pass off the choice responsibility to them. You don’t need to play their game.

Your friend asks, “Where do you want to meet for coffee?”

You say within seconds, “We’ll meet at Aroma Cafe, the one near Eglinton Avenue. Does 2 pm work for you?”

Your friend says, “I’m bringing Johnny to speech therapy around 1 o’clock, so I’m not sure that will work. Maybe we should meet in the morning or maybe later in the day.”

You pass off the choice responsibility by saying, “No problem. Figure out a time that works for you and send me a text by this evening. I’ll make myself available.”

You’re done. You’ve saved yourself and your friend 15 minutes of needless negotiation and you can move onto more meaningful conversation or activities.

2. If you get an email that requires action that you can do in less than two minutes, decide what needs to be done and do it immediately. Don’t go onto the next email and come back to it later, don’t mark it for follow up, just take care of it and get it out of the way.

3. Plan your meals at the beginning of the week and make sure you have groceries on hand to make them. Or do like I do and eat exactly the same thing for “non-critical”, non-social meals.

Are there ways you save your attention by minimizing choices? Do you have a food plan you want to share for the week. Post your comments below or on the Facebook group.

Vomit Your Brain Onto Paper

thought vomit with textI call it “thought vomit”.

My mind is very active and I’m sure yours is too. I have all these thoughts that roll around in my head. And if I listen to my thoughts, I find that they are often the same things going around and around and around like a “thought carousel”.

All these ideas and thoughts that are spinning in my head make it difficult to focus and give attention to the things I need to get done now.

I’ve found that the easiest way to clear my mind is to simply throw the ideas down on paper. I don’t worry about organizing the ideas or whether they make sense or whether they have any value. I just get them out of my body as quickly as possible as thought vomit.

Once they’re out I feel so much better. My mind is so much clearer and I can once again focus more sharply on the task at hand.

I have dozens and dozens of thought vomit notebooks. Sometimes there are some ideas that are worth pursuing. These ideas may turn into a business concept, a marketing initiative, a course, or maybe a blog post. Sometimes it’s all just a bunch of nonsense, but in any case it frees my mind to be productive.

Listen to your own mind. Do you hear the same things repeating themselves over and over? Do you feel too distracted to really focus on the work at hand? Then grab a piece of paper. Set aside 15 minutes (timer optional) and just get it all out on paper and see what that does for you.

Tell me about the experience in the comments below or in the Facebook Group set up for this challenge.

Show Your Vices Who’s Boss

show vices who is boss

spacerWe all have bad habits. They may not be really horrible, but every time you do them you feel guilty. You know you shouldn’t do them and yet you continue to do them. Even worse is the fact that you ruminate endlessly over them. It’s a constant self-reminder of how weak and pathetic you are. It’s all so exhausting.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can feel more energetic just by showing your vices who’s boss by putting them aside for a bit.

Last month I gave up alcohol, but just for the month. I don’t have a drinking problem, but I like a glass of wine with most meals and I like a nightcap with my girlfriend at the end of a productive day.

The alcohol makes me a little sluggish and I wasn’t waking feeling completely rested. As well, two drinks is about 300 empty calories per day. That’s the equivalent of about 2 ½ pounds of fat over the month that I have to exercise off.

So I just made a commitment to not drink for the month of August. Did I miss it? Hell ya! I love to have a beer on a hot summer day, but honestly it was no great sacrifice.

Now that September is here I’m drinking again, but I got out of the habit, so I’m just drinking occasionally instead of every day. In fact in these first 12 days of the month I’ve only had three glasses of wine.

I feel more rested, I lost a little belly fat, but even more than that I’m in control. I’m the boss!! That’s right. I showed my vice who was boss.

So here’s my challenge to you: Give up one vice for the rest of this month. You only have 18 days before the end of the month. That’s no time at all.

For September I’ve decided to give up ice cream, cookies and chocolate – my “go to” desserts and snacks. I had cravings for the first week (especially for chocolate) while new habits kicked in, but now I don’t even think about it and I feel good about myself.

Choose a vice that is not serving you well, whether that is sitting in front of the TV in the evenings (are you still doing that!), drinking one too many drinks each week, indulging in sodas daily, eating take out every day, staying up too late, or whatever you consider a vice.

Just give it the boot. Show it who’s boss for the next 18 days. You’ll be glad you did.

So what do you think? Are you up to that challenge? What vice are you giving up for the rest of September? Post comments below or in the Facebook group.

PS Remember that September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

 

Why Limit When You Can Upgrade?

2014-08-27_14-17-57

spacerYesterday, we talked about limiting refined sugars. But if “limiting” anything just seems like a bad idea to you, then think of upgrading instead.

If you are going to eat chips, then eat them with some salsa or some hummus so that you’re getting better nutrition and a little fiber.

Throwing a pack of instant noodles on the stove because it’s quick?Then throw in a handful of spinach or romaine, any leftover protein you have in the fridge, a half cup of frozen corn or peas, etc. You get the idea.

noodle upgrade

Here are some noodle ideas: Upgrade your noodles.

If you need a sugary drink, why not have a fruit smoothy instead of a soda.

Having a bowl of cereal in the morning? Then add a handful of berries or chopped fruit. It tastes better and it’s better for you.

And upgrades don’t just apply to food. Instead of taking a quick shower in the morning, why not take an extra five minutes for a quick tub soak with some aromatherapy oils?

I’m sure you do some upgrades like these already. What are some of the food upgrades you do already? What are some non-food upgrades you do? Share them below or on the Facebook group.

Limit Your Sugar… But Not Too Much

sugary stuff

spacerSugar gives you a quick boost and a faster crash. The more you can avoid refined sugars the more energy you’ll have.

How fun is it to go sugar free?

No fun at all.

So don’t go all sugar free. Just take little steps to reduce the amount you consume.

  • Do you get a Big Gulp soda mid-afternoon? Downsize to a small. Or if a small seems like too much of a sacrifice, downsize to a medium.
  • Don’t keep a tub of ice cream in the freezer. If you are feeling the need for a cold treat, take a walk to the gelato shop down the street and get a single scoop.
  • Don’t pull a bag of cookies out of the cupboard  and start eating from the bag. Walk over with a small plate, take two cookies and walk away.
  • Make a commitment to eat a piece of fruit instead of a dessert once per week.

You get the idea: If you sacrifice too much you become cranky and have no friends and that just makes you want to eat more chocolate. So every time you would normally have something sweet to eat, find a way to do with just a little bit less, but not too much less.

For the month of September I’ve committed to not eating ice cream, cookies or chocolate. Yes, I know chocolate is a health food, but it’s usually wrapped around sugary candy bars.

Am I giving up sugar? No way! I’m going to put a little sugar in my coffee. I’m going to eat sweetened yogurt. I may even eat some gummy bears. But as we discussed yesterday, giving up ice cream, cookies and chocolate bars for one month is the smallest palatable step I’m willing to take.

And you know what? I’m ten days into it and I don’t even miss what used to be a daily habit.

What will your strategy be for reducing the amount of refined sugar you eat? Post your comments below or on the Facebook group.

Break It Down Until It’s Eatable

spacer

One of the biggest issues in getting things done is that we see them as these big jobs, projects or tasks that are overwhelming, so instead of actually doing anything we just get all angsty and just put it off.

That thing, whatever it is, not only doesn’t get done, but it just becomes a bigger thing, either in reality or in our minds.

So how do you tackle those big projects?

How did this man eat an airplane? (Yes, he really ate the Cessna 150 airplane.)

One bite at a time.

eat a plane

That’s the secret. You just break things down and find the smallest possible piece that you can tackle.

Let’s say you want to meditate. Does 30 minutes seem too long? How about 15? Still too long? How about 10? Five? You can do five? Boom! Done. Do five minutes. You’ll likely find that it seems too short and will try a longer timeframe the next go around.

For me, cleaning my house used to seem overwhelming, especially as a single parent with a young boy. So to break it down I just made a commitment to do one thing every time I moved from one room to another. Going from the bathroom to my office: Pick up a truck and put it in the toy box. Going from the bedroom to the kitchen: Grab my son’s dirty glass and put it in the dishwasher. Leaving the bathroom: Take a cloth and wipe the floor quickly. Going from the kitchen to dining room: Take a cloth and wipe the table.

It’s become such a habit that I basically spend very little dedicated time on housework anymore. My house is tidy and clean (mostly). And on the weekends I do a Pomodoro with my son to get the sweeping, vacuuming and dusting done.

Yesterday, when we looked at exercising, I suggested that if you do the littlest bit possible – if exercise isn’t something you love. Don’t see it as a big commitment. Little drips will fill a tub over time. The impact of doing something… even a little at a time… can be huge!

After writing yesterday’s post I decided to work at being able to do 100 push ups and 25 pull ups in seven weeks. To do the sets for each only takes five minutes. I can do anything in five minutes. And in seven weeks I’ll be able to do 25 pull ups. I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to do that many.

So pick just one thing you’ve been putting off because it seems impossible or overwhelming. What’s that one thing that’s been sitting over your head? What’s the smallest task you can do on that thing? Do it before the end of the day, then at the end of your day post what you’ve done in the comments section below or in the Facebook group.

What Are Your Big Rocks? (A Little Story)

big rocks

An expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget.

As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”

Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”

He said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”

By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered.

“Good!” he replied.

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted.

Once again he said, “Good.”

This time he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. He looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things in it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

What are the ‘big rocks’ in your life? Your children; your loved ones; your education; your dreams; a worthy cause; teaching or mentoring others; doing things that you love; time for yourself; your health; your significant other.

Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all.

And that’s really what the 30-Day Productivity Challenge is all about. It’s not about doing lots of work. It’s about doing your work efficiently so you can focus on the big rocks. Here’s my definition of productive…

productive2

If you spend too much time on the little stuff (the gravel, the sand) then you’ll fill your life with activities and things that don’t really matter, and you’ll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big, important stuff (the big rocks).

So, think about this short story, ask yourself: “What are the ‘big rocks’ in my life?” Then, put those in your jar first.

If you’re not signed up for September’s 30-Day Productivity Challenge, you can do so for free here: 

What’s a Pomodoro and Why Would You Do One?

Pomodoro

spacer

I came across this technique when doing a Google search to find out how to do an Ignite presentation. You can get the details here:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cH-z5kmVhzU

In the past when I had to do large tasks or tasks that I didn’t really want to do, I’d find all kinds of ways of procrastinating or finding distractions to pull me away. Now I do a Pomodoro.

I set a timer for 25 minutes and make a commitment to focus entirely on that task. Then when the timer goes off I reward myself with a five minute break to do whatever I want, whether that’s going on Facebook, having a snack or doing some stretching.

Knowing that there is a time limit makes the task finite and doable. If I want to continue that task, I’ll do another Pomodoro and will continue like that until it’s done.

Now I do it for everything and I even do it with my boy. Instead of asking him to clean his room and hope it happens, I set a timer for 25 minutes and tell him he has to keep finding things to clean or organize in his room until the buzzer goes off. It’s an achievable task and instead of an overwhelming concept of cleaning; it’s a short job (and almost a fun challenge) that has a specific end point. It gets done.

Over this next week, when you find yourself procrastinating, do a Pomodoro and then come back here to let me know how that works for you.

Schedule Your Social Media Time

3 social media 1

spacer

We are addicted to social media. We can’t help but respond to those little red notifications.

In fact, about half of all 18-34 year olds check Facebook first thing in the morning and 28% check Facebook on their mobile phones before they even get out of bed!

Ask yourself, “How much does being on Facebook really add to the quality of my life?”

If you are truly honest you’ll have to agree that the time you spend on social media is largely a time suck.

Use this calculator to determine approximately how much time you’ve wasted on Facebook. Be honest about how much time you spend each day:

http://time.com/6107/how-much-time-have-you-wasted-on-facebook/

(You can probably quadruple your results to get a more accurate number.)

So today’s tip is this:

  1. Stop all Facebook notifications to your phone and email
  2. Schedule no more than 30 minutes to putz around in Facebook. Actually schedule it in your appointment book. Do not log into Facebook at any other time than those 30 minutes despite how much anxiety you feel. Believe it or not the world will not implode. Life will go on as usual.

That’s it.

Share what that experience is like going without Facebook. Were you anxious? Were you able to commit to just your scheduled time? How did you spend that time that was normally wasted? What excuses did you come up with to justify being on Facebook outside of your schedule time?

Share your thoughts below or in the Facebook Group set up for this challenge.