Get your smell and taste back, live longer, save money, have a better immune system, stop wearing a repulsive smell wherever you go, stop having tobacco crumbs in your pockets, stop being a bad influence for young people that look up to you, stop numbing your feelings - it should be a no-brainer!

Especially if you've ever considered quitting but have never taken the step. It gives you a certain degree of confidence to know that you can control your own actions in life. For me, getting my full range of emotions back was also an awesome feeling.

tville på grillen

I started smoking at 18 when I was an emo kid. I did it for about six years before giving it up. When I decided to quit I skimmed through Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking and he really shows you how simple it is, but if you want to save your cash I'll sum up the book: just stop smoking. Don't light another cigarette. Done 😉

Yeah, that's simple, not nessecarily enjoyable. Some things are worth reading up on though, just to be prepared and know what to expect, for example: it takes up to three weeks to get rid of the physical addiction, during which you'll feel quite bad - but after the first few (worst) days you'll hopefully start to see the light in the end of the tunnel. So after 2-3 weeks you won't have any "real" addiction cravings - if you feel like smoking after that, it's just the habit speaking or your brain making associations, for example if you're used to smoking while having your after-meal coffee.

Make sure you time your quitting to some three weeks that aren't your most important though. I had severe trouble sleeping the first couple of nights - never got into deep sleep, woke up every 15 minutes, sweating.  That was really tougher than I had expected, but it's so worth it once you get through it though... saves money, health AND you get your emotions back if you're feeling numb. And your smell and taste, and so on... you already know it, on a factual level, but you don't know the width of it.

When I dropped smoking I lit my last cigarette in the evening before sleep one day. Then I went about three days before having to go to work, and as my work included driving back then I actually had a couple of draws from another last cigarette just before work that day, just to be able to concentrate and drive safely. Already on the third or fourth day it tasted quite bad though. After those first few days it was easier. I gave myself some candy as a treat every other day the first week.

Flu-like symptoms are very common after a couple of weeks, and I had this as well. This is your throat getting used to fresh air 😉 Have no fear.

In my social environment smoking was VERY common, and people would start to wonder why I didn't smoke like usual - be ready for questions, teasing, and sometimes even people secretly wishing you will fail quitting just so they can feel better.

It's all about identity. If you stop seeing yourself as a smoker, you're on the right track. It's easy to say no to joining a friend for a cigarette because you simply don't smoke. Also learn to watch out during trigger moments such as after a meal, with the morning coffee, when drinking and so on.

That's my five cents, now go check out a timeline on what happens in your body when you quit! Keep this around for motivation if you decide to quit: benefits timetable at whyquit.com. Then you'll just have to live with the fact that putting a cigarette in someones mouth to make them look a little bit cooler is still widely used in movies, and will continue to be for a long time!

Choose life.

I first heard about this concept from watching this video on London Real with Daniel Priestley. At first it just sounded like yet another flashy term without much meaning, but a while after watching the video I realized the implications of what he was talking about.

There are a few more videos like this one and this one where he is talking about the same concept (probably on a marketing tour for his book) in a few different settings, and you can watch them all if you want a more in depth understanding - but to get the main idea, one is enough.

You may have a hard time seeing yourself as a "key person of influence". Maybe it feels weird to assume a certain significance in an industry if you're only just starting out.

But the benefits of being this kind of person should be obvious - being someone who knows all the important people, someone who people go to when they have any concerns related to your area.

Thinking about these concepts should help both to MOTIVATE you to aim for this kind of position within your industry, and to GUIDE you by making it clear what kind of person you need to become and what you need to spend your time on in order to make it happen.

I'm doing this in a micro-scale level within the music industry - not only do I run my independent label, I also play in a band and run a music review website, and also take any chances I get to do consultant work or collaborate with other companies in the industry. I also occasionally help the artists on my label with technical-artistic tasks like audio mastering or creating artwork, or by referring them to people I know that can do a great job in these areas.

Though I'm not yet aspiring to call myself a key person within the Swedish music industry at a national or international level, you can clearly see how all of the above involves a lot of other people - and I'm getting to know new people all the time, from venues, live event companies, PR firms, labels, bands and so on. The amount of content on my label and music review site keeps growing. Note how Priestley compares building assets with building income.

And for each of the above things I spend time on, all the other areas benefit as well.

In his book, Priestley proposes a "five step process" for becoming a key person of influence, where the five steps are Pitch, Publish, Productize, Profile and Partnerships. In my eyes, grasping the overall concept is more valuable than focusing on the details of the process he suggests.

The Key Person of Influence concepts overlaps slightly with Seth Godin's "linchpin" concept - they both talk about how to get into and maintain the right position within an industry or business, where KPI focuses more on the industry scale, and vice versa. Linchpin is a must read for anyone who is the least ambitious in any field - it talks a bit more about personal concerns than the other works of Seth Godin, and is one of his most motivating and inspiring ones.

Alright, I hope you'll be able to apply this kind of thinking to your particular situation. Talk to you later!
// J

2

Check out this very interesting TEDx talk on brain plasticity:

Especially note that he says (around 11 minutes in) that animals that were exposed to a maze during the day were still processing it in their brain when sleeping at night! This really illustrates the importance of good sleep to internalize what you've learned during the day.

Some examples I can think of where new neuropathways are key to improving: playing an instrument, learning a language or anything that require precision movements from your body. Of course many, many more situations. Be sure to get proper sleep not to waste your time spent learning!

The second main takeaway is that physical exercise can improve the creation of new brain cells. This is a great motivation for staying active, and a part of the explanation for why people who are in an "upward spiral" in life generally are people who are physically active.

1

To have the ability to be really sharp, focused and effective at times, you also need to put aside some time to relax and recharge once in a while. If you do this proactively, you will have much more control of your life than if you neglect it and become forced to relax at your body's whim because you get burned out or overly tired and need to take naps or get ill more often than necessary.

In addition, the human brain is not designed for the vast amounts of information, multitasking, decisions and notification-induced dopamine rushes it has to deal with every day in the so-called modern world.

Regularly "defragmenting" your mind can get your brain back to firing on all cylinders, and give you a huge improvement in focus, self-control, motivation and energy levels.

Spend time in nature

Being in a natural environment is much more soothing than spending time in urban environments. Don't make it harder than it is! The important thing is just to get out and get some fresh air, some blood flow and hopefully some silence. Turn off your phone or leave it at home!

If you really need a break, consider going on a longer vacation - go hiking, fishing or whatever you like - but again, if this sounds too ambitious, just being in a more natural environment will do wonders for your stress levels.

Destress and recharge by hiking

If you're stuck in the city, take a walk anyway. It's still relaxing and you tend to get a better overview of your situation.

Declutter your schedule

If you're overwhelmed by your schedule or to do-list, cut out or postpone the least important stuff. Keep the tasks related to meeting deadlines or of similar importance. You should already have a clear picture of what is the relative priority of all your tasks - that is a key to productivity.

It's very easy to fall into the trap of thinking you're doing something important or that you're being productive just because you're busy all the time. That's not necessarily the case.

Chances are you know what tasks you really should be doing - those who have the most obviously high leverage to get you closer to your goals - but you're procrastrinating from these with less important things that feel easier or less frightening.

For anything you've unwillingly accepted to do for someone else - take the lesson that you need to learn to say no the next time, and if possible, cancel the appointment.

Cutting out the unneccesary items in your schedule like this is very likely to help you see that the most important things actually are doable. This lets you relax and frees up some time so you can de-stress and catch up.

Meditation / Deep breathing

You also may or may not be interested in meditation - I can only recommend it and hope you give it a chance. Regular meditation is known to for example lower high blood pressure, lower average cortisol levels (which is a key point - your stress level decreases), and increases serotonin production which is good for your mood.

Read The Relaxation Response to get a really deep understanding of the benefits of meditation and a perspective on how it has been used throughout history in both religious and non-religious contexts.

Personally I find that 20 minutes a day is a good compromise between how much time to spend compared to the benefits. In the beginning it may be hard to sit still for 20 minutes though, so start with 3-5 minutes and then work your way up.

How do you do it? You can check out some youtube videos or download some phone app that guides you if you want to. I simply sit in a comfortable position, looking straight ahead or having my eyes closed, while breathing in and out, making sure to take deep breaths, breathing slowly through my nose, trying not to follow any thoughts that come into my head. When breathing out, you can repeat a short mantra or sound - this can help you "return" from any thoughts that may have arised. It's simple as this.

Many people try it once or twice and think they are strange or special because they can't stop their thoughts, but of course nobody can, it's just a matter of continuing to repeat your mantra or sound while breathing out, and after a while you will notice that thoughts get less and less frequent, and that you have an easier time letting them pass without following them.

That is also the reason why I find 20 minutes good - somewhere around 10-14 minutes is usually such a turning point, and after that you will want to spend a few minutes being in that calm, clear state of very few thoughts. Then this feeling stays with you for a while after your meditation - sometimes several hours or longer - and if you do it long-term, you will notice how you increase your "default" calmness level. Try it for yourself if you like doing it in the morning to get into a nice mood for the day, or in the evening to calm down before bed, or both, or something else...

This is how Seinfield does it! Just a note about the term he uses - "Transcendental meditation" - if you google it you are likely to find sites suggesting you spend A LOT of money on courses. That is not necessary to practice meditation.

He's really spot on about how when you sleep, you're moving around in bed in a chaotic manner... when you meditate, you really really recharge.

Even if you're not interested in trying meditation, spend a moment to reflect on the soothing effects of taking a deep breath. You can read more about deep breathing here.

Gratitude journaling

Take a few minutes to write down three things you are grateful for. Doing this regularly will make you notice the positive things in your life more! Just make sure not to do it so often that you do it mechanically, just writing the same things over and over.

Preferably also combine it with writing down things you are happy or proud that you did today. Browsing the pages of what you've written before will give you a nice sense of accomplishment and make you trust in your ability to handle any difficult situation.

The above mentioned tips are just a few examples of tools you can use to de-stress and recharge. If you have any good ones, let me know!

university

As some of you might know, I'm studying for two more years while growing my business ideas on the side. This term I'm also working as a TA for the younger students, and today we had the first real supervision session.

The subject was Java programming, and the room was full. A lot of questions, but good ones. The first year students seem to be doing fine.

Working as a TA will both give me some nice experience in teaching and communicating, as well as allow me to invest some more money into marketing my record label. It also expands my network as I get to know much more people.

Formal education is often questioned nowadays. I really don't expect that having a grade from a university will open the doors to heaven in any way. I simply see these years as a good opportunity to experiment with a few business ideas, while also learning. In my country, attending university is free, and you get a student loan with very good terms.

To make the best of it, you have to be very proactive with learning though, and really focus on what is valuable. Spend time on the courses you resonate with, and just do minimum effort in the other ones.

For example, I have one progamming course in a programming language that is not widely used, but has a specific target audience of certain companies solving a particular kind of task. This year I will have the opportunity to take a certification test for free. People with this certification get job offers directly on LinkedIn - so this is a clear example of someting of concrete value I can take from my years at the university.

So overall, I don't care much about grades or things like that (certifications within usable areas are a different thing). I focus on learning what I think will be useful skills. Whenever there is an opportunity to chose a subject or path within a course, I choose something that is relevant to my overall goals in life.

For me, the benefits makes it an easy decision for me right now - but if I had to pay for university, I would probably feel differently about it. Nothing says I won't leave either, if I'm given a great job opportunity or some of my business ideas take off. We'll see!

 

I watched this video today on his blog and thought I'd share it - Mike provides some really solid advice on marketing here, he uses books as an example but most of the information can be applied to anything.

He touches on both long-term concepts such as networking, branding and positioning as well as concrete action steps. Further he also mentions how to think about the size of your brand or product and how it affects who to collaborate with and how.

This video resonates well with me because he specifically talks about how he imagines his readers and potential customers being somewhat like himself - and as he doesn't like sales funnels (who does?), he doesn't force his customers into them.

As I am from Sweden, where many concepts that are popular in the US such as sales funnels, automated email and long sales pages are way too over the top salesy, I have a much easier time listening to this kind of down to earth advice compared to a lot of "marketing gurus". Check it out!

Exercise for energy and focus

I'm assuming a large chunk of my readers are spending some time sitting by desks and computers, whether you are for example an entrepreneur, white-collar worker or a student - and you all know that a sedentary lifestyle is not ideal for your health, energy, or focus.

The most obvious way to try to compensate for this is by working out, and here I'll expand on that. Other complimentary options include using variable height or stand up desks - and don't forget to take breaks and get up and move around a bit, at least every hour!

Also consider the possibility of walking or taking your bike to work if possible. You don't have to do it every single day. A Danish study from 2012 found that kids who cycled or walked to school, rather than traveling by car or public transportation, performed measurably better on tasks such as solving puzzles, and that the effects lasted for up to four hours after they got to school!

Getting that physical activity also had a larger influence on their ability to focus than their breakfast had. The importance of not being physically inactive cannot be overstated. Some benefits of exercise will also contribute to your well-being in a more indirect way, such as making you sleep better -  which in turn improves your energy, mood and focus.

I exercise 2-3 times a week, where one of the sessions is a high intensity interval session, and the other ones are weight lifting.

Rookies, watch out

If you are new to working out, to the gym or to any particular exercise, take it really easy in the beginning. This is for two reasons - one is that it takes some time for your body to adapt, before you know how to execute exercises properly and what weights to use. The second reason is that it's really hard to get a new habit going in life if you have your goals set too high - many people find themselves promising each new year to start going to the gym, and they actually go there for a couple of weeks, but then gradually find more and more excuses not to go, and once they don't go because of this or that, chances of building a solid habit are drastically reduced.

To build the habit, ALWAYS set aside the time, for example 40 minutes - and if you're feeling ill or really tired, just put on your regular workout clothes but take a walk instead of running or weightlifting. 

HIIT over long-form cardio

Because classic cardio such as running in sessions exceeding 20 minutes are known to increase cortisol levels and put a lot of stress on your body, it can contribute to burnout and fatigue. So if you have any symptoms of low energy levels, I would recommend you avoid doing long-form cardio.

Some people have no problems with it though, so you've got to see what works for you. The reason I specifically bring up the topic of burnout, is that some of my article content is adapted from a previous blog I ran about brain fog and related subjects such as burnout and chronic fatigue. I have personal experience of doing too much running (even when doing it only 4-5 times a month), and had to reduce the amount to allow my body to recover properly - which felt counterintuitive, since it feels like you're "automatically" healthy if you're a regular runner.

Personally, I think everyone can benefit from being a bit restrictive with long cardio sessions. High intensity training (HIIT) may be an alternative to get the benefits while minimizing the drawbacks. High intensity training also has the benefits of increasing testosterone and growth hormones.

An example for a HIIT session may look like this: 5 minutes of warmup (slow running), then 10 interval pairs of 30 seconds fast, 30 seconds slow, then 5 minutes of cooldown (also slow).

Be aware though that the high intensity means increased risk for injury, so you should not do HIIT if you are new to or out of shape for the activity (such as running).

Modern research shows that all the well-known benefits of cardio exercise are present in strength training as well. See this video for more information - do note that he talks about specific terms for the training, but it's not far fetched that we soon will see even more research with similar results even with less specific terms for the strength training.

Weight lifting

I definitely recommend you stick to something simple like Starting Strength. Basic compund exercises like bench press, squats and deadlifts go a long way - just make sure you don't add too much weight too early.

Consider hiring a personal trainer or consult the staff at your gym just to make sure you do the movements correctly, then keep doing them for several weeks (to get each movement into a habit of your body and brain) before you gradually start increasing the weights.

Keep track of your progress and how much weight you use in each exercise. Ideally you'll also want to be consistent with other factors such as how long pauses you have between sets.

Adapt your food intake

If you're just exercising a couple of times to stay sharp and keep your immune system in shape, you don't have to over-analyze what you eat. On the other hand if you want to gain weight from your training, you may need to eat more (depending on how your eating habits are right now).

To increase energy intake, look at healthy fat sources like grass-fed butter, coconut oil and avocado. Protein intake is also important, altough my personal impression is that its importance is generally overstated. The important thing is that you do eat some protein, you don't have to try to eat 150+ grams of it every single day if it doesn't feel natural to you.

If instead you want to lose weight, I'd generally recommend reducing your intake of carboydrates, especially from sugar, wheat and dairy. These are generic recommendations though, that apply to the majority of people based on average lifestyles. Don't be afraid to experiment and see what works for you.

Read more about food in my post about healthy food that boosts energy.

Why do I include sections on weight gain and loss in an article about how exercise affects energy and focus? Because it's all related: your body, your immune system,  your confidence, your brain and its willpower. There are feedback loops everywhere.

If you think about this, you'll find people around you are often either in a positive spiral - heading in the right direction in life - or a negative spiral. Those who are in upward spirals probably have their bodies improving in the direction they want.

A quick word on gender differences

If I'm allowed to generalize wildly for a second, a lot of women want to lose weight while men are interested in that as well as gaining weight and putting on some muscle. I would definitely recommend women to be open to weight lifting or strength training - you don't have to do it really really heavy. Just increasing your muscle mass by a number of percent will increase your body's baseline energy need, which will most certainly make it easier for you to lose weight and/or stay at a lighter weight.

Many women object to this by saying they want to look feminine and not muscular, but I can assure you that you don't just wake up one day looking like a female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger just by going to the gym a couple of times a week.

Final notes

To sum up, it's obvious that any way you can be physically active will make you more focused when you need to sit down and concentrate. Don't make it more complicated than it is - just a short walk will help.

If you chose to exercise regularly, you'll see benefits in your overall energy levels, your immune system will improve and you'll be able to concentrate and sleep better.

Finally, don't underestimate the effect of longer walks - they can do wonders for tidying up in your mind!

Stay sharp, talk to you soon
// J

Fight Club Moment

This post may be a bit on the technical and personal side. Read if you wish.

I recently got the idea of installing an SSD into my stationary computer to speed it up a little, since I'm a serious tabaholic which makes my computer a bit tired at times because of the swapping.

So I decided to buy one and realized I needed a way to fit my Windows installation onto a smaller partition. I really wanted to keep my Windows installation because of all the software configured. I got the brilliant idea of shrinking my current partition, gradually moving things to a different partition and then copying the system partition onto the new SSD disk.

After two iterations of gradually shrinking like this (using a GParted live cd), the system wouldn't boot. Then I made things worse by aborting the chkdsk process (in short, I didn't realize it was rebuilding the file index tree - at the moment I thought I may have accidentially moved the beginning of the disk, making chkdsk think all files were misaligned). Now chkdsk won't run. The partition is corrupt.

So currently I'm writing this on my laptop, while downloading a new Windows 10 install CD (thank you Dreamspark).

In short, I was just too eager. I have a couple of music recording projects and some business related data on the disk that are at risk of getting lost now. I'll try to use some recovery software from the new system.

If I had thought through this properly, I would have either realized I could probably just copy the folders I needed to the new drive with preserved permissions with some live CD, or I could have just made a backup of the most recent data I didn't want to lose (I have good backups of most other, personal stuff). I could also have waited to see if any data migration software was delivered with the new drive.

The weird thing is that at the same time I'm actually hurt at the risk of losing a great version of a recorded song (that was just about finished, and I have an export of the nearly finished version, but you know how it's nice to be able to put in that final touch), another part of me has a strange vibe about being excited about the brand new start.

On some level, it's also really refreshing to just have less things to care about, whether it's physical stuff or files on a hard drive.

It reminds me of the Fight Club situation where the unnamed main character unknowingly (or his split personality - it's actually not depicted how it takes place) sets his apartment on fire. Such a bittersweet taste. Sad goodbye, but refreshing.

Anyway, I can only hope that I'll be able to recover some of the most important files. Otherwise I'll have to accept my recorded version of the song as final, as a message from the universe, I guess.

Hope I didn't drag you down by writing from a bit of a sentimental headspace! Just wanted to share the crazy Fight Clubish feeling.

Natural sleep at night

We all know that the amount of sleep you get affects your energy and productivity. However, the quality of your sleep is also important, and there are ways to improve it. Let's explore a few changes and habits you can try that will let your body recharge better while sleeping.

Sleep in a dark room

I mean really dark. Pitch black. This means you'll sleep deeper and better. Make sure you have proper curtains or blinds that really shut out the light and that fits well with your windows. Note how a lot of modern electronic equipment, such as internet routers have LED lights that shine or pulse at all times. I recommend using duct tape to cover these, and if you're ambitious, also to cover up any gaps under doors or similar where light comes trough.

Modern research shows that not getting quality sleep in real darkness actually can make cancer worse, while sleeping in real darkness can be beneficial for recovery: Total darkness during the night is a key to success of breast cancer therapy. This is one clear sign of how important this is, and it isn't far-fetched to assume that other areas of your health can be affected by sleeping habits and environment.

If you can't achieve pitch black darkness, for example when travelling, use an eye mask - just be aware that the first times you use it, you may try to pull it of in your sleep, until you're accustomed to it!

Dim the lights near bedtime

A couple of hours before going to bed at night, make sure not to expose yourself to too much "blue light", such as the artificial fluorescent light that comes from monitors or TVs, or bright white LED lights. This can lower the production of melatonin and affect your circadian rhythm so you have a harder time falling asleep or reaching deep sleep the way you should. So minimize time by computer screens or watching TV before bed, and make sure to dim the lights or switch to more yellow or reddish low-frequency lights. I use a red LED strip similar to this one.

If you're a night owl

Night owlKnowing that blue lights affect your melatonin production and your bodys circadian rhythm, here is how to use it to your advantage if you are a night person like me - when you wake up, try to be in blue light as much as possible, so your body really knows that it's morning! This makes the body wake up properly and then when the night comes, you'll be more likely to feel naturally tired. Go outside for a while as soon as possible after you wake up.

In the winter when it's still dark in the mornings, I use a bright daylight bulb (such as this one) on a timer that I synchronize with my wake up alarm, so it starts shining about 30 minutes before it's time to wake up. This helps the body realize it's morning. If you live closer to the equator than me, maybe the winter is not as dark, and you won't need a daylight bulb.

Sleep in silence

Of course this is obvious, but take a moment to reflect on whether you can improve your sleeping environment when it comes to noise. There are two types of background noise - static type noises and more varying, less predictable noise such as the sounds that traffic can cause.

If you have lots of city or traffic noise going on, it may even be better to have static noise masking it so you don't wake up or sleep worse because of sudden sounds. You can check for white noise machines or apps if you need to mask these sounds, or just leave some fans turned on. Of course earplugs always work, but they aren't always comfortable.

If you live in a quiet area, which of course is better, it will be wise to also try to minimize all the static sounds - are there any machines, fans, air conditioners, fans etc running that you can turn off or run at a lower intensity during the night?

And of course put your phone on airplane or at least silent mode.

Have an infrastructure for epic ideas

Keep a notebook and pen by your bed. This means that when you are trying to fall asleep and great ideas or worries for the next day enter your mind, you can easily just jot down a note about it and let it go. Without this, maybe you have to either 1. get up to make a note or 2. try to make it stick in your mind until the next day - both of which will inevitably delay falling asleep.

Unwind before going to bed

If you have a hard time unwinding before bedtime, I can recommend reading (not from a screen!) or doing meditation. If meditation seems complicated, I can assure you it doesn't have to be. I will do a longer post about meditation later.

The end of the day is also a good time to do any journaling, reflect on your goals or visualize. I have a gratefulness journal that i fill in most days - often I write down a few things I'm grateful for in the morning, and write what I did well that day in the evening. It's really good for your appreciation of life and your confidence to be able to go back a few pages and realize how much you actually achieve.

Aiming for an A? Read this as well

if you want to be extra ambitious about this, another tip is to try to match your wake up time to when you are in light sleep. If you wake up during deep sleep you may feel heavy, almost hung-over, for half the day or more. If you have a job that makes you wake up the same time every day, this may not be a problem for you because your body is well-adjusted to the time you get up, but if your routines vary, this may be something to look into.

So how do you do it? Most people sleep in cycles of about 1,5 hours, which makes it suitable to aim for either 6, 7.5 or 9 hours of sleep per night. For example, sleeping 6 hours may actually leave you feeling better than sleeping 6.5 hours! (That said, I think you should definitely aim for at least 7.5 hours of sleep per night). There are apps for both Android (example: Sleepbot) and iPhone (example: Sleep Cycle) that tries to track your sleep cycle by you placing your smartphone on your bed, and then wakes you up at the right spot, as close as possible to your target wake up time that you are in light sleep.

Final notes

I only recommend natural ways to improve sleep here. This is aimed at people with no known medical condition in this area. If you have serious issues, consult a medical doctor - hopefully someone who doesn't prescribe anything addictive for you without strong reason.

I live in Sweden, where actually even melatonin requires a prescription - if you live in a country where you can get it without a prescription, you may want to consider that. It can be bought from Amazon. Melatonin is a natural substance in the body, but the levels in your body may be a bit off because of reasons discussed above - therefore supplementing with it at the right time such as a couple of hours before going to bed may help your body keep it's circadian rhythm straight.

Finally, how you eat also affects your sleep - check out my main article about food. If you eat bad food, your body will need much more time and energy to digest it, which happens partially during sleep. So if you often find yourself tired even after sleeping for 8 hours, I would recommend you read that article as well.

Now good night, and sleep tight!
// J

James and Claudia AltucherYes, I'm stealing the title from the book James Altucher co-wrote with his wife - in the last couple of months I've been in a period of great productivity, having massive amounts of business opportunities flowing into my life just based on my ability to say no, and I recently stumbled upon James Altucher and his interview on London Real, so I thought I'd make a quick reference to that title. The subject of no relates to so many areas that are important for someone who values their time, energy and willpower and who wants to be productive and focus on the right things. It's a matter of integrity and choosing the life you want, instead of life just being a ride where you're a helpless passenger.

No to what?

I think you generally already know what you should be saying no to, but maybe you feel bad saying no to other people, or you lack the self-dicipline to say no to things that are bad for you. But let me take a few examples of what I have said no to, and how it has helped me.

- No to hanging out with people you don't resonate with or going to social events you know beforehand that you won't enjoy. Ok, sometimes you have to challenge your comfort zone and try something new even though it can make you slightly uncomfortable, but a lot of times it's not about your comfort zone - its just that you could spend the time and energy on things that are ten times more likely to contribute to your life and overall goals in a positive way. If you instead go out socializing when you really feel like it, you'll be much more charismatic, and overall you'll feel the change in integrity and confidence of not wasting energy swimming against the current of what you want in life.

- No to things that mess up your schedule, habits and routines. Sometimes you've got to be flexible and able to mix things up a bit to get some new inspiration in life, but in 9 times out of 10, choosing to continuously chip away at your routines is what makes you reach your goals (see my post on productivity tips for how I structure reccuring weekly tasks). Being easily distracted from your day to day grind is what makes you get average results instead of outstanding results when it comes to reaching your goals either professionally or personally.

Have a clear idea of what kind of integrity you will need to be able to choose your own progress instead of things that seem fun in the moment - ideally decide upfront which things are negotiable or not on your schedule well before any situation comes up where you have to decide whether to stick to your routines or do something else.

Note that this and the last point does not necessarily mean to be less social - only that your social life should ideally fit well with your routines. You can actually get a large part of your social life scheduled - it may sound a bit "aspie" at first thought, until you realize that a lot of people engage in get-togethers that are actually scheduled weekly, without maybe thinking about it: all kinds of team sports training, band or choir practices and so on.

- No to junk food, possibly also to alcohol if you want to be at your sharpest - a night of drinking can directly make you less productive for 1-3 days, but when you stop drinking for a longer period you will also be more energetic overall, and your immune system will thank you.

Take a second to think about the difference between good food and junk food: good food will make your brain sharp so you can make good decisions on what to do and what to eat, while junk food will mess with your dopamine system and ability to make good decisions. This is an example of positive vs negative spirals in life. When you start looking for it, you can really identify which people are in an upward spiral, and those who are in a downward spiral.

- No to wasting time on streaming episode after episode of TV series instead of interesting podcasts, interviews and presentations. There's nothing inherently wrong with fiction TV, but it's incredibly easy to get hooked and to just want to keep watching the next and the next episode - that's what all the creators involved in making the shows aim for - and especially when using a streaming or on demand service where the content is seemingly limitless. If you instead fill your time with as much inspiring content from interesting people as possible, you'll feel the increase in motivation to go back to work! Listening to interviews, podcasts, presentations and lectures, you obviously learn a lot of new stuff - but in my eyes the biggest return is this inspiration and motivation you get from listening to intelligent people who have passion for what they do and talk about. Often you can let those play in the background while working on something (just make sure you don't get too distracted). Listening to non-fiction audiobooks is also great for learning and inspiration.

- No to wasting time on the negative sides of social media such as pointless political discussions that lead nowhere except to you having wasted lots of time and energy. If you do use social media, I recommend unfollowing any people that are stuck in chronic complaining mode or who always post polarizing political content. It's ok to discuss concrete, possibly local, tangible political issues, or issues related to your particular field, but 99 cases out of 100 are these never-ending ideological discussions where everybody already knows all the arguments of both sides but still keeps flaming each other forever - totally pointless.

This is so internalized for me that I didn't think about it until I was about to hit the publish button for this post. For about two years I've been unfollowing any negative people, and it's really important for me. You've got to conciously choose which energy to have in your life, the same way you wouldn't invite people over repeatedly if they continuously made you feel less positive or energetic.

- No to the constant static of things that come up and want to disrupt your flow, whether it's email prompting you to take certain actions or certain menial tasks that "should be done" - if they aren't important to your goals, learn to either 1. handle them as effectively as possible, 2. to skip them entirely, or 3. to accept them as they are, in their inharmonic state, for a while as you have more important tasks at hand. Limiting and batching email checking is a really common exampe you've probably heard of already. But the same principle can be applied to a lot of things - and later I'll write a more in-depth post on how to prioritize your time.

So how do you say no to other people?

Distinguish between your closest friends and your acquaintances (family relations vary a lot so judge for yourself on that one). If a close friend needs your time or help because of temporary problems, be there for them - only if they continuously need your help and never give anything back, it may be a good idea to choose to spend less time with them.

Realize that if someone wants you to do something and you say no, it's their problem. You don't always have to give an explanation. Depending on your personality, you may feel better trying to come up with some kind of excuse - but if the other person tries to find ways around the excuse, you'll have to extend the excuse or come up with a new one - it's just a matter of time before you feel like a liar. "No, I can't" can be enough, or any honest reason that cannot be "circumvented" by the other part, such as "I am sorry, I have to prioritize other things right now".

At the very least, you can always ask for more time to think things over. If someone is urging you to come up with a committing answer right now, stay calm and ask for time so you can make a balanced decision instead of a hurried one.

For more tips on how to say no to other people, please see the book mentioned at the top of this article or read this blog post at zenhabits.net.

How do you say no for yourself?

Have a clear vision of the benefits in health, progression, finance, confidence and so on that will come from doing what you know is right. Stay on target. Enjoy the feeling of having full control and responsibility of your life when making good decisions and sticking to them.

Also learn to identify your weak points. If you usually make bad decisions for example when hungry or tired, learn to step back when catching yourself being hungry or tired and about to make a decision, and solve the underlying reason for why you might be tempted to make a bad choise.

When not to say no

Taking the above too far, there is a risk of getting stuck in a habit of saying no to LIFE ITSELF with the excuse that you're "working on your business", which makes it impossible to attract or build a life where there's room for any kind of relaxing or partying because you allow no space for it to exist.

So by all means carry out the steps necessary right now to grow your business or improve yourself, but don't lose sight of the end goal and it's associated lifestyle. If you always see it as distant you'll never be ready to grasp it when it's within reach. In that sense, saying no to anything that may disrupt your progress slightly but still is a part of your overarching desired lifestyle can be a sign of a scarcity mentality.

To stay balanced, I would recommend periods of immersion vs maintenance - so in some periods you work really really hard in a certain area, then you allow some space for recharging, reflecting on your progress and re-evaluating your goals, where you don't need to put as much work in - you're just keeping things afloat. You can do this to cycle what is in your main focus at different times depending on your needs, for example focusing mainly on business for a couple of months followed by focusing hard on exercising and socializing for a couple of months, while spending just enough time on your business to keep it afloat. This way its easy to motivate to yourself and others that you'll be a bit busy for an intense period, knowing that you will soon switch to different priorities.

Sometimes of course it makes sense to work hard on some new business idea for several years, but just make sure to not get stuck in it unless that's your desired lifestyle. Ideally you're really passionate about your idea and willing to work really long hours day after day, thrilled to wake up each morning - but then that should be a part of your vision (and there's nothing wrong with that), don't dilude yourself that soon you'll be spending half the time on a sunny beach drinking umbrella cocktails if that's not the type of person you are.

Summary

Stay strong, say no to too much bad habits, bad food, negative influences and negative people that suck the life energy out of you and you'll dramatically improve your chances of living up to your potential - but don't take it as an excuse not to experience life.

Hope you liked the post, talk to you soon
// J