March 10, 2014
Today, my friend Ari Meisel is going to teach us how to be more productive – particularly by optimizing, automating and outsourcing everything in your life.
You may remember Ari from the podcast episode “How To Biohack Your Workouts, Your Diet & Your Life To Get More Done In Less Time.” Like me, Ari is a father of twin boys, he's incredibly busy, he writes books such as “Less Doing, More Living“, he runs companies, he creates online virtual health conferences, and he somehow still finds the time to enjoy life and hang out with his friends and family.
Also like me, Ari believes that no matter how technologically efficient you become, if you aren’t sleeping well, not eating right, and carrying too much stress, then there is a limit to how successful you will ever be able to become. For that reason Ari always combines your health and wellness with productivity and life-hacking to ultimately result in the stress free process of less doing and more living.
So let's delve into Ari's top 10 tips for optimizing, automating and outsourcing everything in your life…
1) Optimize, Automate, and Outsource
No matter what the problem is there is a three step process I apply – and that is to 1) optimize; 2) automate; then 3) outsource. It’s very important to approach challenges in that order because if you try to jump straight to outsourcing, you won’t actually make the task more efficient and eventually the machine will stop running.
When it comes to optimizing, you have to identify what the problem really is, break it down to it’s most bite size and manageable chunks, and identify obvious inefficiencies. Automation is about setting it and forgetting it; creating systems that you set up once and they just run without your intervention. Finally, if there is anything left over at that point (and often times there isn’t) that’s when you look at outsourcing to specialists or generalists.
It is this framework that forms the basis of getting more done in less time.
So what tools can you use for this process? For outsourcing, I recommend everyone try working with a virtual assistant at some point. Now that that you can work with one through FancyHands or TaskRabbit for as little as $25 per month there’s no reason not to try. It’s an education process for you in terms of learning to effectively relay and delegate tasks, and that skill will carry over to your other work.
2) Track Everything
Do you remember what you had for breakfast this morning? I should hope so.
What about the number of emails you sent last Tuesday? A little tougher, I imagine.
So many things happen to you every day. You have responsibilities, things to do, things to read, people to speak to, places to go, and it’s really easy to lose track of everything. The problem is that many people end up living their lives on autopilot and they become spectators rather than players. Self awareness is a fading trait that we need to cultivate in order to optimize the processes that we go through on a regular basis.
So how can you accomplish this? Programs like RescueTime let you see how much time you spend on email or excel or Facebook, and will show you the most productive hours of the day and the activities you perform most often.
With a wearable device like the Basis watch you can also get incredibly accurate fitness, sleep and even stress data. Companies like WellnessFX and DirectLabs let you test your own blood and monitor the progress of various blood markers. On a grander scale, iDoneThis.com sends you an email at the end of each day asking you what you got done. You reply, and after using it for a few days and eventually weeks or months, it will remind you of things you accomplished in the past. It’s a mental unload and gratitude journal all in one.
3) Manage Stress
The genesis of less doing and more living was my desire to mitigate the negative effects stress was having on my illness and life, in this case due to Crohn’s Disease. By freeing up my time I was able to free up my mind and do the things I wanted to do. The best biohack I know of when it comes to stress is Heart Rate Variability training.
For example, starting out with a $5 app called Azumio Stress Doctor, you can get immediate feedback and see the results of actively calming your mind and even breathing properly. Breath control is also an amazing secret weapon we have at our disposal. Simply taking a few moments to really focus on your breath and at a minimum, equalizing your inhaling with your exhaling can immediately take you out of a nervous, frenetic, or out of control state.
Don’t afraid to experiment in your life and business. For everything from outsourcing something to a person half way around the world, to a new kind of nutritional supplement, to a physical activity you’ve never tried, you have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to figure out what your limits are. If you never experiment, you’ll never know what your full potential is.
Furthermore, if you put yourself through a difficult challenge, it gives you ammunition next time you find yourself between a rock and hard place to say “I’ve been through worse.” Sign up for a Spartan Race or take a Krav Maga class, you’ll learn something about yourself.
5) Hack Your Environment
It goes without saying that biohacking your body can be fun and rewarding but you can hack your environment as well. Try a standing workstation or treadmill desk. Play around with different kinds of lighting to relax or increase productivity. Certain sounds and even aromatherapy can elicit changes in your mood that you can use to your advantage. Get into the regular mindset or noticing opportunities to make things more efficient, and more effective.
6) Eat A Lot Of Fat
Good fats like olive oil, avocados, grass fed butter, grass fed beef, wild caught fish, coconut oil, and raw nuts and seeds provide fuel for your mind and body like no other. These foods help fight inflammation while providing you with more sustained energy and mental clarity. The best part from an efficiency standpoint is that the meals tend to be very fast to prepare, and if you become “fat adapted” you can typically skip a meal without batting an eyelid at the person across from you chowing down on a bagel.
7) Never Stop Learning
My definition of success is whether or not I am better today, in ANY way then I was yesterday. A lot of that “getting better” comes from learning and absorbing as much information as possible. For example, I interviewed an incredibly diverse group of people for my Entheos Virtual Conference and all of them made me say “WOW!” in one way or another.
Opening your mind and allowing information to flow in, while of course having a filing system in place to process all that information will ultimately make your a better parent, spouse, sibling, friend, business person, and member of society. For example, I use Feedly to read over 100 blog posts every day – and when I feel like learning a new subject Brainscape allows me to hack learning and digest new information in a way that makes it stick.
8) Sleep Well
Sleep is crucial for enhancing productivity and optimizing your life.
For example, you can enhance melatonin release and avoid blue light waves on your eyes at night before going to bed by wearing a pair of blue blocking sunglasses (I like the $8 Wayfarers from Amazon) to avoid the deleterious effects that blue light has on your ability to produce melatonin.
You can also check out an advanced LED lighting system like the Philips Hue – which lets you pick any color of the rainbow, and then make sure to expose yourself to red light in the morning and more red light at night to help regulate your circadian rhythm.
You can track your sleep with the Basis watch or a simple iPhone app such as Sleep Cycle to figure out what your sleep cycle looks like, allowing to time your sleep and wake up at the lightest point in the cycle.
Finally, keep your room around 68 degrees and avoid eating too close to bedtime. These are simple things that make a big difference.
9) Create Customized Solutions
There is rarely a true “one size fits all” answer to any question. But fortunately, we can customize just about anything these days.
For example, you can get custom made meal replacement bars from Youbars, custom vitamin packs from Vitamins on Demand, even custom clothes from any number of retailers, including Le Tote (for $10 off use TOTES10). If you visit Elance.com, the worlds largest outsourcing marketplace, you can find a programmer or graphic designer to create exactly what you need with the precise features you desire. Companies such as Shapeways provide on demand 3D printing services so you can create that perfect one-of-a-kind holder (e.g. for your blue blocking sunglasses).
Your diet is no different. If some diet has a special name, then it’s probably not made for you, but for the general population. Sure – that diet might be a good place to start, but you need to experiment with customized diet solutions for your unique situation and truly find out what works for you.
10) Do What You Love
In the end, all of this stuff we do is actually supposed to make us happier – and making time to do those things is an investment in yourself, your growth and ultimately the health and happiness of your family and your community.
So never feel guilty about treating yourself to a massage, taking a woodworking class, or reading a book – even though they may not make you money or directly help you become more successful. I’m personally a huge fan of the Five Minute Journal, which provides easy structure to your morning and evening notes and helps you realize both the things you are grateful for and also how you can be better every day.
In an ideal situation, when you begin to incorporate as many of these tips as possible, you will spend less time actually working and the majority of your time on play, happiness, rest, recuperation, and self-improvement. If you want to live a long time and feel really fantastic doing it, then setting up these systems now is the way to accomplish that goal.
Ben Greenfield here again. Ari really only scratched the surface on hacking your productivity and optimizing your life.
So if you want more targeted information delivered in audio, video and .pdf format, I'd highly recommend you join Ari and over 20 other experts (including me) in a virtual conference, where we teach you how to maximize productivity in your job, your relationships, your fitness, your brain function, your parenting, your academics, your fun – everything.
The virtual conference is called “The Art of Less Doing and More Living” , and takes place from March 27th to March 30th. You can attend any of the sessions during those four days for completely free – including my session, in which Ari and I delve into how to hack your productivity and enhance fitness while still being able to spend time with your family, your friends, your kids, your hobbies and have a productive life outside of just “working out”.
So click here to go and register for “The Art of Less Doing and More Living” now. I'm very picky-choosy about which virtual conferences I promote, but this is definitely one I recommend, as Ari always puts out non-run-of-the-mill, extremely helpful information, and tapped into some very good experts for this one.
In the meantime, leave your questions, comments and feedback about how to be more productive below, and I promise to reply!