Evaluating your latest timehack

Lately, I have been contemplating the idea of getting myself one of those fancy Apple watches, since my brain tells me that it might be able to add value to my life.

Since I identify as a man who enjoys the benefits of “simple living” or minimalism, you can imagine how the thought of getting such a superfluous item has been a source of internal conflict for me.

I am torn on the subject, because I am also a productivity enthusiast, and in this regard, I get immensely excited every time recognize an opportunity to save time. Even if we are talking about a few seconds here and there on a continual basis.

In the case of the Apple watch, I envision how I could save a few seconds whenever somebody texted me, and I would be able to tell whether or not to respond, by just looking at my wrist, as opposed digging up my smartphone from a tightly fitted pair of jeans.

Another case example would be, whenever I want to shot off the Philips Hue lights in my apartment. It would be a few seconds faster to do it by tapping my wrist, rather than unlocking my phone, and do it from there.

As I said, the potential wins in time I could enjoy from getting the watch would only be minuscule. But seen through an accumulative lens, a few seconds gained every day, quickly amounts to hours on a yearly basis – at least, this I how I rationalized getting it at first glance.

But then I thought deeper about it

If we seriously want to do the calculation of whether the acquisition of a time hack is worth it, we have to include all possible variables that might be related to time and energy.

In the example of the watch, we need to factor in the initial time investment we have to make, just to actually get the watch. Here, I am talking about the required money that you will have to work for and earn, plus the time it takes to go out and actually buy it.

Doing my regular job, it might take my around 30 hours of work, just to accumulated enough funds to match the retail price. Add the about 30 minutes it would take me to order it on the internet, and decide on the design.

Further, we need to imagine how much of my time it will take on a continual basis. For instance, the watch has to be recharged every night, and this will probably cost me something in time.

Lastly, we have to think about, for how long this gadget will be functional and able to provide me with the gains in time. I estimate that such an advanced watch would probably last me around 3 years.

 

We are then ready to make the final calculation

We guess that the watch:

– Costs 30,5 hours (1.830 minutes) to acquire

– Takes about 5 seconds of my time every day

– Gives me around 15 seconds in time every day

– Lasts for 3 years (1.095 days)

 

In total, the watch costs me:

5*1095+1830 = 7.305 minutes

 

And in total, wins me:

15*1095 = 16.425 minutes

 

And I thereby get a surplus in time of: 9.120 minutes, or 152 hours (during 3 years).

About 50 hours a year. Not bad actually!

 

Of course, all variables in this calculation are completely pulled out of my ***.

I am only presenting this method, to give you an idea about how to think of potential time hacks.

It even gives you a way of comparing difference hacks, to make it easier to decide on your next investment.

To be honest, making this rough calculation was kind of an eye-opener for myself, and now I have to think even deeper about whether to get myself a new watch or not 🙂

Book review: Deep Work

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An easy to read book with an almost too obvious message: to be able to concentrate is good.

But fortunately for the book, the implications goes much deeper than just this simple fact.

According to Cal Newport, we live in an era where the concentrated and focused man is a dying breed – a paradox considering that we are supposedly living in a “knowledge economy”.

On one side of the equation, our ability to do focused work is being impaired by our modern and hyper-connected environment littered with Twitter notifications, FaceTime calls and easy-to-read news on countless websites. On the other hand, people who can work with complex problems in an exponentially accelerating, technological reality, are best suited to keep up with the rapid development – at least if you believe the author.

If nothing else; if the focused human really is a dying breed, he will always be able to call himself unique, if he possesses the skill that many have lost.

 

I now give you my 3 favorite take aways from the book:

  • Remember to take time off. If we buy the premise that we really can be more effective / creative when we practice the “deep-work method”, we must also realize that we need breaks. According to the author, we cannot expect more than 4 hours of quality work from ourselves during any given day, and if we want to do this on several consecutive days, we will have to recharge in between.
  • Try  a “productivity-meditation“. The author suggests that we try to show mindfulness towards the disruptive behavior that we potentially suffer from. Therefore, one can try to observe the inner urge to check Twitter when being in the middle of something important – possibly, closing the eyes, breathe, return to the work, and keep in mind that Twitter will always be available once the deep work session is done.
  • Choose your social media platforms with care. Cal Newport argues beautifully, that we should not join every possible social network, that we can generate a like on. It is simply important that we make a deliberate calculation of the time we may spend on the various tools, and whether they are worth it in the long run. Social media should only be regarded as tools, and therefore only be taken out of the toolbox once they solve a fitting problem. The time you could have gained from not maintaining your Facebook page has to be accounted for, to calculate the opportunity costs.

As I said, the main point of the book is very obvious, yet it has had a tangible impact on how I do my work now, and it, therefore has my recommendation.

Going to buy the book?

get-it-here

Noise Cancelling Headphones – Like Having a Superpower

On this very blog of mine, I identify as being a minimalist/frugal person. Because of this fact, I always feel like I need to justify it, every time I advise the readers to break open their wallets.

In my opinion, the purpose of being a minimalist is not to spend no money whatsoever. The main idea is to realize, that most of what consumer culture has to offer, is total garbage, and that we should always be very skeptical, whenever someone is trying to sell us something.

However, in some cases, we simply run into products or offers, that are truly worth it, because they add value in a meaningful way to our lives. In those cases, I believe that it is exactly the job of the minimalist to shine some light on these objects, to make the market easier to navigate for everybody else.

Recently, I acquired a product that falls into this category. After considering it for a very long time, I finally took the leap and bought the in-ear, noise cancelling headphones from BOSE.

As I said, it took me a long time to actually do it, since they were fairly expensive, but I always had the suspicion that they might be worth it. They are by no means, an essential product that everyone should own, but they are a really nice luxury to have if one can afford them.

Their main feature, obviously, is the noise-cancelling function. With them, you get a button, that you can press at any time, in case you want to shut out all low-level noise around you. This is truly powerful whenever you find yourself in a train, airplane or even open office, and want to be able to concentrate. I also find that you get a lot less fatigued from sitting on an airplane, when you are able to shut out the constant humming that goes on in the background during the entire trip. If you want to take a walk down the street and be alone with your thoughts in a noisy city, they are great for that too.

They do not make you completely deaf. They just filter out all low-level background noise, and still allow you to hear, what the person next to you is saying. This also makes them reasonably safe to wear in public/traffic.

I say that they are like having a new superpower, although a minor one, because they allow you to concentrate and have some peace, a little bit better than everyone around you – whenever you click the button.

They are great headphones in the classic sense too, and I use them for podcasts and music every day. However, the sound quality aspect is not something I obsess so much about. All I can say is that they are very good in my uninformed opinion.

To be honest, it is a minus that you have to charge the headphones separately every other day with a micro USB cable. But since you can do this, every time you sit in front of a laptop, it is a minor detail in my view.

To sum up: the headphones have my very strong recommendation.

Thanks for reading!

A Case For Not Checking

I remember a few years ago, when the general concept of “social media” was synonymous with “Facebook”. At that point, Twitter hadn’t blown up yet, and there was no Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp or what have you.

Those were simpler times…. 🙂

Nowadays, we constantly need to keep up with an ocean of apps, where friends can reach us, news can be delivered to us and stock portfolios can be checked.

In reality, this means you can always feel certain, that somewhere on your smartphone, there is a bit of information that was just updated and that it still hasn’t reached your eyeballs yet.

This further means, that there is always a new little reward/dopamine/adrenaline rush to be had, every time you want it. You just need to check for it.

Now, is there anything wrong with this? Little rewards here and there throughout the day sounds lovely, doesn’t it? WRONG!

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff recently, and come to the conclusion, that it both kills our productivity and happiness in the long run. And let me explain why.

 

Checking kills your productivity

Remember in school, when you had a report due the next day, how suddenly you felt the urge to clean your room? Obviously, this was just basic procrastination, but what it specifically did, was give you an easy feeling of accomplishment, instead of going through the drudgery of actually completing the report.

Later on, you found yourself writing the report at 3 AM, when the time pressure had become so immense, that you no longer had a choice but to write.

The final result would be stress, lower quality of work and a longer time to finish.

Today, instead of cleaning your room, you can just choose to manically check stuff on your computer or smartphone, whenever you want to procrastinate and feel rewarded.

This gives you a falls sense of accomplishment by completing something, that was totally unimportant.  As a result, the big and meaningful rewards will only be delayed due to the many premature rewards.

 

Kills your happiness

The second part of my argument is just an extension of the first.

I believe, that true happiness in life is partially comprised of some sense of meaningful accomplishment.

That means, if all you aim for, is the small and meaningless rewards, like checking your Facebook account, you won’t improve your long-term quality of life, compared to finishing bigger and tougher projects.

 

How to?

I have now made the case, that we should try and stop checking our smartphones several times a day, because it distracts us from the truly important. This will also enable us to stay more present throughout the day.

But how? Below, I suggest a few tips on how to start making this change. It is a tough habit to cultivate in the beginning, just like anything else, and it won’t come overnight. But the following tips have worked for me so far:

 

Be mindful. Try and see, if you can notice the urge to check, before you actually do it. Most times, it is totally automatic, so it would be best to stop yourself and ask, why you need to check whatever you want to check.

Are you sure, that it cannot wait? I’m sure that it can.

Delete non-essential apps from your phone. This point is self-explanatory, but decide what is non-essential, and what is necessary for your day to day life. Also, think about what can be checked on the computer instead, with lesser frequency.

Decrease the number of platforms for communication. As I said earlier, people can reach each other in too many ways nowadays. Which ones do you use (email, SMS, Facebook, Slack, Snapchat, iMessage)? Are there any of them, you can opt out of, in order to simplify your life, and maintain focus?

Set fixed times for checking. Of course, some things do need to be checked sometimes. Therefore, it can be useful to create artificial boundaries, to keep the checking under control. For instance, tell yourself, that you can check X every morning, and then that’s it for the day.

 

That’s it guys, I hope you liked the post, and that it will help you staying more focused in your day to day life.

 

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For further readings on the idea of staying more focused, check out:

–        The One Thing

–        The Power of Less

–        Essentialism

How To Build An Archive of Interesting Studies

If you are a guy or gal like me, who’s passion it is, to gather interesting information, synthesize it and talk/write about it later on, you know how valuable it is, to have your most important information accessible and right at hand at any moment.

Talking about and referencing information from multiple places such as books, blogs and studies can be difficult to organize and manage efficiently, so I have tried to come up with a solution for that. Læs mere How To Build An Archive of Interesting Studies

Are You Taking Too Much In?

This article is supposed to work as a good tip for you, if you are anything like me, and just as well as a reminder for myself.

I love to consume a lot of different information: blog posts, podcasts, books and documentaries. I tell myself, it’s good for my brain and for my future to be wiser. My biggest problem is, that I honestly enjoy it more, to put information into my head, than I do to put something out. Most of the time, I rather just read books all day, and never talk to anyone about it. I guess you could call me introvert.

Læs mere Are You Taking Too Much In?

The Great Benefits of an Old School Notebook

On a recent episode of the Less Doing Podcast (#100), there was a great segment in the end, where a group of health and productivity experts gave their best tips for being more effective in life.

A guy named Stephen Robbins talked about how his best advice for productivity was getting a beautiful notebook. More specifically a notebook from Moleskine.

Being the big productivity nut, that I am, I had to try it. So I went out and bought one for myself.

I have now had a few weeks to get familiar with my notebook, and I would therefore like to tell you why I love it so much as well.

 

It’s physical/it’s a ritual

I want to emphasize what I just said. It is my notebook.

It is like an extension of my own brain, that I carry around with me everywhere I go. It turns in to something very private, and you don’t feel “complete” if you walk out the door without it.

Your brain is a very fluid thing. It changes constantly, comes up with new ideas and then suddenly forgets them again. A notebook is a physical thing, you can use it to capture those fluid thoughts. Once they are written down, they don’t go away again.

At some point, you also begin to make the subconscious connection between opening up the notebook physically, and opening up your brain for new ideas. It becomes a ritual.

 

Great for idea lists

I am reading this great book by James Altucher right now: Choose Yourself

In it, he talks about how you can become an “idea machine”, that comes up with new ideas for great businesses and ways to change the world.

He prescribes making idea lists every day. Lists of 10 ideas, that doesn’t have to be good at all – they just have to be ideas. The logic is, after a year of doing this, you should have about 3600 ideas, and you can at least expect a few of them to be good.

To me, coming up with idea lists like that, is infinitely better done in hand, than in an Evernote document. You get to reflect over them again, when you eventually put all the best ones in to Evernote later, when you want to make them searchable. But when making the first draft, you should just write them down.

 

Adds another layer of creative possibility

What if you are writing about an idea, and then quickly want to do a drawing for the concept? Good luck doing that on your computer (quickly)!

Let’s say you get a new idea for structuring your website. Are you going to write with words, what it is going to look like? Most certainly not.

 

Better for structuring and editing

Before writing this article, I quickly wrote out the structure in hand. One advantage of doing it like that, is that you can see the whole picture on your page. Often times, when you do it on your computer, you need to scroll up and down to see everything, and you quickly loose the sense of the full picture.

When you start to edit and changing the original structure, you are still able to see your first draft, because you can’t delete anything. On a computer, you most likely delete everything you originally wrote, when you change something. This makes it hard to go back and see, if something from the original structure was actually better.

Again, when editing, you can also quickly make drawings like arrows and other symbols.

 

Remember more

Some months ago, a study came out saying, students where better able to remember stuff, if they wrote it down in hand, instead of typing it on a computer.

Maybe, it is because it takes longer, and you get to reflect on the concept for a longer time.

Maybe, it is because it requires more and different muscles to write with a pen, and the memory get stored better because of the greater physical engagement.

Maybe, it is because writing in hand resembles making a drawing/making art much more than writing on a computer, and the human brain is much better at remembering pictures than written sentences.

Maybe, it is a little bit of everything – I don’t know.

 

Anyway, as you can hear – I like walking around with a notebook in my bag a lot. Maybe you will too.

Thanks for reading!

5 recipes for biohacking multitaskers

You may already know, that it isn’t really possible to multitask in the traditional sense.

What people normally understand as true multitasking, will always be rapid switching between tasks, and since it costs you time to switch between tasks, you will never going to be efficient in it.

However, one type of multitasking is possible, and that is when you combine a high-focus task with a low-focus task(s).
An example of this, could be driving your car (high focus), while listening to music (low focus).

Aligned with this way of thinking, I have underneath created 5 multitasking recipes for biohacking, that enables you to boost your health in more than one way at a time, in order to maximize efficiency.
Happy hacking:

1. Do cold thermogenesis and brain training

Cold thermogenesis means to expose your body to cold temperatures, as this results in you having to reheat, which causes a “hormetic stress respons”, less inflammation and an increase in metabolisme.

You can easily do CT by taking a cold shower, but since that makes multitasking difficult, a Cool Fat Burner Vest, may be even more optimal.
By wearing this ice vest, you can also do brain training simultaneously with programs such as Lumosity or Dual-N-Back, in order to enhance your IQ and mental abilities.

You may even find, that you are better able to do your brain training, while being cold. I, a least, have found that being cold gives me a boost.

2. Sleep and learn

It sounds like it almost can’t be true, but a study has actually found, that we can be productive, while sleeping.
At least, in this study it was shown, that students studying the dutch language, was able to score higher in a word recall test, when they had been played back some of the words learned from earlier that day, during sleeping.
So while you get some of the optimized sleep, that I often talk about here on the blog, you can actually also learn something in the meantime.
Let’s say you are learning a new language, and you have been listening, to a language learning podcast earlier that day. When you go to sleep, you can actually rehearse the words, by playing them once again, right when you black out and go to sleep.

However, this method isn’t adviced in periodes of high stress or sleep deprivation, as this might have a reducing effect on your sleep quality.

3. Hang out in a sauna, while stretching and follow a breathing pattern

(I actually came up with the idea for this blog post, while sitting in a sauna today).

Sauna’s are great. They have been shown, to increase metabolisme, cognitive function and recovery, and it is pretty “low focus” to sit in them.

That is why you can easily work on your flexibility/range of motion, while sitting there, and if there is something that goes together with stretching – it is breathing.

Work for example on stretching you hip flexors, by doing the cobra pose, while doing the box breathing pattern – breath in 4 secs, hold 4 secs, breath out 4 secs, hold 4 secs.

4. Do yoga while wearing a training mask

You can do yoga by yourself in order to enhance flexibility/range of motion, state of mind and decrease stress.
But you can actually also add another layer to this, by using the altitude training mask, that is going to allow you to enhance your cardiovascular capabilities, or simultaneously “grow a third lung”, as the manufacturer calls it.

You can even take this method to another level further by doing it in your backyard, while being in the sun.
This is also going to give you the grounding effect from touching the earth, while your skin synthesizes Vitamin D at the same time.

5. Listen to podcast while doing HRV Training and wearing compression gear

I have found, that you can actually do some form of meditation, while, for instance, listening and learning something from podcasts.

With the Emwave2 from the heart math institute, you are able to train your HRV, by getting into a state of coherence (making the light turn green), and thereby de-stressing, and recover.
All you have to do, is focus on your breathing pattern, your heart area, and try to think of stuff you are grateful for, while listening to your favorite podcast.

Furthermore, you can enhance this experience by wearing compression gear, on for example your legs, that is going to increase blood flow to you legs, and enhance recovery after training.

Thanks for reading!

 

Eliminate all unnecessary clicks from your life

I have before made the point on this blog, that there is no time hack, optimization or automation you should not do or set in place  – no matter how little time it saves you every day, because when these things starts to accumulate, it’s going to make a big difference in the end.

When all of your systems are set in place, you will be able to do everything faster, worry less about all the things you should remember and you will also be more likely to do what you should do, when it takes less steps for you to accomplish it, in moments of laziness.

Læs mere Eliminate all unnecessary clicks from your life