Zen, Tea, and the Art of Life Management

This is a Zen-focused panel featuring Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, Susan O’Connell of San Francisco Zen Center, and yours truly.

The content starts at tea, moves to daily rituals, and spans many topics related to good living and productive living, which are not always the same thing. It also answers the question: is Tim Ferriss really as organized as you think he is? Short answer: no, and that should make you happy.

Reader Steven Luibrand pointed out an important omission in the video:

Unfortunately the best question asked at the entire Zen and Tea event (IMHO) didn’t make it on the video, so for those readers not fortunate enough to be there, it’s transcribed (read: liberally paraphrased) below:

Q: If you could give everyone here a “homework assignment” so to speak, something to do that would dramatically impact their life, what would it be?

Jesse: “Walk around with your phone turned off. Unplug. I like to spend time unplugged, and its like being in another world. Going down Market St. watching all the people on their iPhones and crackberries makes me feel like I just dropped out of the Matrix.”

Susan: “Earlier Tim mentioned that doing something five times consecutively is the magic number that forms a habit. My assignment is: for the next five days, just sit. Set a timer for five minutes, and just sit. Don’t try to meditate, don’t try to do anything. Just sit.”

Tim: “Earlier I mentioned long dinners, but I won’t count that…

[Take long dinners with >3 friends at least once per week. This is happiness alchemy.]

… everyone here probably uses some form of digital calendar. Put in an event that repeats every Tuesday that says “PLAN WEEKEND.” Then come Saturday you have plans, so no gadgets. Leave the computer off, and get outside.”

Leo: “Do one thing at a time. Just one thing. In other words: Single-Task.”

QOD: Do you have a helpful morning or pre-bed ritual? If so, please share in the comments.


Odds and Ends: Signed 4HB Copies

Thank you all so much for the amazing response to The 4-Hour Body announcement! Just a quick note, as a few people have asked: the only signed copies were those sold via BN.com, which are now sold-out. None of the Amazon copies are signed at this point. If that means you need to cancel orders, I completely understand and apologize for any confusion. Thank you again!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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229 Replies to “Zen, Tea, and the Art of Life Management”

  1. Pre-bed I always create a to do list for the next day and the morning starts with 15 mins-an hour of exercise and then breaking into the to do list 🙂

    1. I’ve been trying to get myself in morning workout mode.. that never seems to work the way I plan.. I always end up just doing light yoga and stretching, because I’m so accustomed to nightly workouts that in the morning that’s the last thing I want to do… hmm i admire your discipline

      1. but to answer the blog, my morning routine consists of stretching every morning for a couple of minutes. I make an organic hemp protein shake with a banana and fat-free milk, or two eggs with only one yolk and some pita bread.. and then I’ll usually hop in the shower, mix up the hot and cold to keep things interesting.. and then I’ll usually get ready for whatever adventures i have planned

  2. Pre-bed is reading of fiction (thanks to your tips on sleep-hacking). Waking up involves a shower that ends James-Bond style with freezing cold water – to get my heart rate up, and to (as I’ve heard from a retired Navy Seal, sorry can’t remember his name) “cut a tough groove in my brain”.

    That’ll wake you up in the morning!


    – Josh

  3. Great vid! Cool to see you guys together. I start my morning by glancing a what I call a morning “cascade” … different levels of encouragement or top level task reminders that I must read through to help refresh my goals and bring some center to my day. They are structured like a venn diagram.

  4. Morning for sure…

    Early rise

    Cup of oats mixed with protein and berries

    Hit the gym like it’s going out of style

    Cup of coffee–yep after the gym

    Boom ! a new day begins!

  5. Great vid! Cool to see you guys together. I start my morning by glancing a what I call a morning “cascade” … different levels of encouragement or top level task reminders that I must read through to help refresh my goals and bring some center to my day. They are structured like a ven diagram.

  6. My morning Ritual is the same 7 days a week 365 days a year…yoga and meditation. No fancy studio or anything, just me and my yoga mat on the floor n my room. In my experience, there is no better way than to start the day at 5 am along with my spiritual practices. Sets the tone for an awesome day

    I also find that immediatley following my meditation is a great time to write.


  7. Neat to see you guys together!

    Mornings I have a raw protein bar and 16 ounces of clean water. Of course brushing my teeth, washing up, etc goes without saying.

    I have a hard time sleeping at night so I usually listen to relaxation music off YouTube for 10-20 minutes trying to drift into sleep.

    Looking forward to seeing what everyone else post.



  8. Interesting comment you made about achievement and gratitude. I tend to find the most pleasure in life when I’m “going 100 miles an hour and hit milestones” to then only be disappointed or bored after reaching the goal. Perhaps it’s common to miss out on the ride with only the destination in view.

    Will suggest any books on this topic.

  9. Woot!

    It was great hearing you in person (i.e. Tim is not an avatar of accomplishment but a REAL human being who drinks a LOT of water!)

    Leo’s sardonic sense of humor was sheer delight as well.

    I noticed sometimes you run out of breath as you speak and your voice has a tendency to crack.

    It has to do with allowing your larynx to rise (e.g. – Patrick Stewart’s booming, resonant voice is due in large part to a low laryngeal position) and insufficient breath support. You’re already such a fantastic public speaker and I’d love to see you take it to the next level!

    If you ever decide to hack opera singing and want to get a really commanding speaking voice, I’m at your disposal.

    Best Wishes and keep inspiring us!

    Vic Dorfman

    p.s. if this falls into the obnoxious unsolicited advice category, plz delete 😉

  10. Pre-bed I read textsfromlastnight.com It’s dumb and hilarious which is perfect for quieting down the brain.  Comedy seems to help me sleep as it gets a good vibe going.  Nothing is worse than having a mental argument while your trying to sleep.

    Other stuff – humidifier for breathing and quiet white noise, water on the night stand, and if I’m feeling super beat up, foam roll the IT band and thoracic spine.

  11. Tim – you are a machine! Clogging up my RSS feeder with your blog posts 😉 Have you finally found your creativity button and started churning out blog posts or is it all promotion for the new book?

    Whatever the case I feel a huge sense of enjoyment, bliss, inspiration, awe and wonder reading your shizzle and I soak it up in whatever form in whatever place. I read and re-read most your stuff till the point at which I could recite it.

    Please keep it going – hard and heavy!


    1. Thanks, Glenn! Just did a few videos recently. Those are easy to post and don’t require much writing 🙂

  12. In the morning:Get tea water to boil while computer boots. Have first cup of tea coold down while shaving etc. Drink put of tea while getting ready for the day. Meditate.

  13. Pre bed

    Drink as much beer as possible.


    Take dog for a walk. Drink tea. Eat eggs. Sulk. Go to work.

    I could drink more beer if I could cut out the work.

  14. Night ritual – closing my eyes when I hit the pillow and imagine one of my dreamlines – goregous girlfriend.

    Morning ritual – wake up 11am, eat Tim’s “3 min breakfast”, write down 4/5 things on to do list, turn off digital distractions, listen to music, relax, begin day (..or something like that)

  15. Morning, just get the blood moving. A few minutes of jumping jacks, 40 push ups, a few pull ups. It takes a scant 4-5 minutes, then a glass of water and some mixture of meat and fruit/vegetables.

  16. Nightly ritual – Brush my 4 yr olds Dinosaur teeth after a round of “Go Dino Go!!” Try to get the other 6 kids in Bed. Hopefully stay awake for 2 min of pillow talk with my amazing wife.

    Morning ritual – Work in progress.

    Tomorrow listen to this vid (hopefully) before work.

    Try to avoid the coke and chocolate pie on the way to work.

  17. hi

    my habits:

    4am i wake up and walk with my dog.4:30 i came back and go to run

    5am i breath ….sudarshan kriya and meditate 1 hour….

    6am i work with silva method i focus in one exercise .

    7am i drink 4 glasses of water.

    7:30 take a bath

    8:10 or 8:30 go to work.

  18. If I am on the ball, I do about an hour and a half to 3 hours of meditation with some intensive pranayama in the morning.

    When I go to bed or wake up, though, I always repeat an affirmation of a certain virtue I am trying to develop. Like if I am trying to overcome laziness I will repeat “I have an Iron Will.” over and over until I feel certain that it is true, then I drift into sleep, or just kinda sit in that surety as I fully wake up.

    I have overcome quite a few major bad habits with this and a few other methods. I learned it under the name of “Auto-Suggestion” but that is a translation of a translation, so might not be befitting.

  19. Depend on both to help the day go smoother and more enjoyable. 🙂 Keep up the doable and useful info Tim!

  20. My morning ritual includes making green tea or coffee to get my day started. My evening ritual includes playing poker for about 30 minutes on my iPhone a few nights a week before falling asleep. I’m glad that Susan was there because tea with a group of guys is… not manly. Leo doesn’t back up his site and site name enough, talking about not wanting to commercialize it… well that’s what he did so he should embrace it. Why not? The site has been helpful, he put a lot of work into it, and he’s now enjoying a location independent career. I agree with that fear helps with procrastination, and you should live to what you feel your fullest potential is. You guys touched on some great subjects.

  21. Shaved heads! It’s like the blue man group, cool stuff.

    Tim, I noticed you stare at whoever’s talking very intently, very present.. but sometimes you barely move, have you ever gotten a comment about it?

    The art of listening is a lost art, nothing more insulting than having a conversation and the other person is “listening” while on their blackberry.

  22. Haha, mine seams unambitious compared to some others:

    1. Wake up, Watch an episode of Dr. Who, or some other exciting thing.

    —this makes me excited enough to start the day: make breakfast, get dressed, get to work, turn on brain (I’m a grad student)

    The day

    -Look at calendar, determine fun event happening at night

    -work until fun event

    -attend fun event

    -Go back to work?

  23. Having Tim and Leo at the same tea house in SF talking life management is pretty epic! Just watched the whole thing. I think I might try an almond milk shake manana.

    Excellent piece!


  24. Good discussion. Regarding what was said about discipline, I think that Stephen Covey summarized when he said: “It is easy to say ‘no’ when there is a deeper ‘yes!’ burning inside.”

    Both before and after sleep, I think of things for which I am thankful. I find that gratitude helps me to adjust my perspective about the relative severity of the problems that I encounter on any given day.

    Finally, Tim, I am happy to learn that you wake up after 10am and do your best work after midnight. My circadian rhythms are similar. I have found that adhering to such a schedule is acceptable for musicians and artists, but it doesn’t fit well into a corporate world that is full of “larks.” I have encountered more than a few people who equate anything other than matutinal beginnings with laziness, dysfunction or intolerance. I’m glad to hear you publicly admit and embrace a nocturnal lifestyle.

  25. My morning ritual often starts with hitting the snooze button way too many times, making coffee (from a French Press coffee maker with coarse ground coffee. Makes a way better cup!) as well as a grain (like toast, a bagel or english muffin).

    I get a lot of stomach pain from all the acid in the coffee, though. Even if I just have one cup.

    I would love to do something like yoga or running in the morning but my body is most productive between 9am and 12pm so I don’t have time!

    Thanks for the post, Tim. Real cool stuff.

  26. So glad I can watch the whole thing. I missed a few minutes here and there because of issues with uStream.

    Do you have any of your art on the web? Have you checked out Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for the iPad yet?

    1. Thank you for the inspiration Tim!

      My morning and evening rituals:


      Drink Cup of Hot Water

      30 Minutes to Thrive (Tony Robbins – Get the Edge)

      Breath-walking, Incantation, Gratitude, Visualization, Celebration

      Drink Wheat Grass

      Yoga (Ashtanga – First Series)


      Clean up my room entirely

      Write a journal

      Pranayama (Yogic Breathing)

  27. Morning: workout/mediate/rebound/listen to Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes while getting ready!

    Evening: Always write in my gratitude journal. I make a list of at least 10 things that I am grateful for from that day:-)!

    Like now…I am grateful for watching this video!

  28. Hey Tim,

    I saw the vid couple of days ago, and I must say it is very great to see the new “successful” people do not wear ties (but green shirts instead), do not eat kaviar (but grass instead apparently), do not drink champagne (but tea, and lots of it ;-)), and are not focussed on work, but on life.

    For me this is the sign the world is changing a bit, and it is giving me a good feeling. My blog is all about that. If you feel the need to write a guest post, I will see what I can do for you.

    Now you are on the base, keep on being an example!


  29. I do all of my best thinking, learning, and creating between 11 pm and 4 am. That’s when my mind works the best. I’ve never tried to become a morning person because I’ve never had a reason to.

    I wonder why I’m so brilliant late at night. Perhaps it’s because the trivialities of the day are over, the sun is down, and I do not expect to be interrupted by the world in any way. I go off into my own world once all the ties to my daily reality have been cut. Oh, look… it’s 2:02 am right now, and I’m having a blast! I’m watching educational videos, listening to music, and about to write a few thousand words.

    I love the videos here. I read a lot, too, but watching videos is a great way for me to absorb information. I can move around and be more free. I can multitask a lot easier. Watching and listening is like opening up and expanding while reading is like zooming in and focusing. Both are good. It’s hard to pace or to play guitar while reading, though… Thanks for the post!

  30. Can I just say how much you’ve transformed my life! One thing out of many, is that I found out about InventRight through your book and I’m now finally getting somewhere with my inventions and it’s all because of YOU! You ROCK! Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!

  31. I write down my goal, workout, then play guitar for a few hours

    This was a really great video. I noticed that I was trying to do 8 other things wile watching it. I really need to work on doing ONE THING AT A TIME. Thats gonna be my thing for the next 5-10 days. thanks!

    p.s. i pre ordered the new book, Ice baths??? lol, cant wait to read about it

  32. Hey Tim,

    Last thing at night I enjoy reading an inspiring or spirtual book. It helps me make sure I have happy dreams!

    Recently I picked up my copy of Zen in the Martial Arts. Last night I read about how to value my time in a chapter called ‘Do Not Disturb’. It inspired me to write this article http://thewondertechnique.com/spending-time-or-wasting-time/

    To me this is an excellent book with bit sized reminders of how to live life for martial artists and non-martial artists. I recommend it.

    Have you read it Tim?


  33. Hey Tim!

    My most helpful pre-bed or morning (tried both) ritual is:

    Free Writing!

    Just sit down in in the favorite reading space, grab writing tools (laptop, paper, whatever you like), and start to write. At least 3 pages.

    Just write what is going through your head, don’t hesitate to write bullshit and do not edit. Just let your mind flow out into writing.

    In the evening this helps to get your head worry free and get closure on thoughts that haunt your mind. Whats written down does not come up into your mind again so easily.

    And in the morning this can be very motivating to lay out the coming day, or dive into your sub-conscience by writing down dreams and feelings right after waking up.

    In the beginning it might seem a bit waste of time. Writing 3 pages? That takes at least 1 or 2 hours!?

    But if you write really free, without going back, just don’t ever stop to write until the 3 pages are full.. you get it done in under 15 minutes.

    Very helpful to me and many other people. The Website 750words makes a game out of this with achievements and challenges for staying in the habit http://750words.com/

  34. i make blueberry and almond smoothie, after that is just meditation for 10 minutes to calm my thought, after that i read for like 1-2 hours. AllThat’s done before opening any Email account or other work related stuff.


    @ Tim, is the QA Call a group call, or is it personal 1on1 calls?

  35. Mornings:

    Wake up. Start reading RSS feeds, check email but don’t respond, check blog stats for interesting events. Roll a cigarette while bleary eyes adjust. Start eating some light fruit.

    Take notes on anything interesting in RSS, dump any thoughts that I might’ve had from dreams into my notes file. If necessary, expand into a rough draft blog post.

    Set meat cooking. Get into the real day, now that I’m alert.

    Open org-mode agenda file. Scan generated agenda for day’s scheduled events. Check google calendar. Then scan for top priority habits. Begin executing them.

    I begin with my A level habit checklist. First I start pandora or else the Instant Einstein sbagen binaural with river sounds overlay. Then I check whether I need to rearrange the habit checklist due to some unusual feature of the day. Then I take a 5-10 minute motivational/relaxation break and check out Stumblupon’s excellent collection of scantily clad females. Then I take a walk and do a customized meditation sequence of koans important to my identity and way of being in life. I usually walk to the grocery store to buy fresh fruit, live fish, and meat for the day’s food. After coming back, I pray, work out, clean and cook. Then I start up my syntopical reading pdf, any apps and tools I need open, and make sure my notes file is datestamped. Then I enter my vital stats on optimismonline. Then I sort any new tasks in my agenda.org inbox into their appropriate project trees. Then I transcribe any voice recorder notes into my notes.org file. Then I commit my org files delta to my github repository using git-cola. Then I briefly brainstorm and prioritize my tasks by importance and uncomfortableness, using the org-mode generated task agenda view. Then I execute my remaining A habits and then A priority tasks. Then I move into B priority habits and then B tasks.

    At any time during all this that I have a thought or generate a task, I drop everything to write it down or capture it in my voice recorder.


    I’m trying to adapt to polyphasic sleep so I don’t really have predictable evenings. That said, I use a meditation sequence to deepen sleep. I often watch a movie suggested by Tastekid and found using letmewatchthis and watched on megavideo if I need some down time. I use a proxy service and switch proxies so I don’t have to buy a megavideo subscription.

  36. I just figured it out: you’re Batman.

    Yup, it suddenly clicked when I heard you profess your love for comics. Just look at the common lines: rich, heavily involved in training and martial arts, collects cool Japanese art/artifacts, speaks multiple languages… it’s clear. Maybe you could discuss some of your crime-fighting in the next Random episode?

    In any regard, I’m a new fan on of the blog (esp. the Random shows).

  37. Morning ritual:

    Put big headphones and dance like a lunatic – it helps to wake up, celebrate the day and be in a good mood! 😛

    Then 5-10 minutes of Focus Intensity Training, bath… and of for the critical tasks.

    At night: Qi gong, meditation, gratitude journal and reading something inspiring.

    Btw: When will be a Portuguese version of 4HB?

    Um abraço

  38. Thanks Tim, if I’m honest I skipped through the video listening just to your bits and some of Leos points. Tim how can you enjoy the car scene in Casino Royale?!!? A little part of me dies everytime I watch that beautiful DBS totalled… He should have just run her over instead of trying to avoid her! 😀

    I have two points that others may find useful. The first relates to gratitude for what you have and the second relates to getting important things done:

    Firstly, Tim mentioned a gratitude/appreciation list which I’d highly recommend to anybody caught in the loop of always thinking about what they want in the future. I made an effort to start thinking about things I was grateful for in my life and I soon realised that everything you are, everything you own, every relationship you have and every thought and idea that flashes through your mind is PRECISELY what makes you who you are. Collectively, they represent you and it is for that very reason that you should take some time to appreciate yourself and what you already have. This process also makes you happy and provides you with motivation to strive to meet your other life goals.

    Secondly, I find that my most productive days happen when I have a clear vision of what needs to be accomplished. I call this working proactively rather than reactively. Therefore, prior to going to sleep, I review all of my action steps/to do notes for current projects (I use the Action Method, as outlined in ‘Making Ideas Happen’ by Scott Belsky – An excellent summary of his observations of what makes top business people productive). Then I create a list of things that I want to do/must do the following day. Next to each item, I use a dot system to indicate how important the completion of that thing is.

    This system ensures that you always have an idea of what needs to be done. You can also physically see your own progress on a given project, which is both motivational and enjoyable.

    Good post Tim, I’m enjoying the increased frequency of your posts.


  39. At your suggestion in the “sleep hacking” post, I started standing under a cold shower for a few minutes every night before I go to bed. Didn’t want to go the full monty with the ice bags. It cut my time to fall asleep by 75%. Pumped about the 4HB because I’m sure you’ll go into more detail about temperature manipulation.

  40. i get waked up by my cousin , eat , shower, take my bag and go to university // i get prepared all the necessary things in the evening .. pretty handy

  41. I read about science — usually astronomy — just before turning the lights out at night. It makes me use my brain, and it also helps clear out any of the thought patterns about work or stressing events I had during the day.

    I think I get to sleep faster and I have better dreams, dreams that allow me to sleep more deeply.

  42. Tim, a good ritual before bed is listening to some Ekhart Tolle (preferably live session) It will chill you out for sure. Definitely recommend him to anyone who is interested in furthering their practice of zen.

  43. I wake up every single morning, seven days a week, no matter where I am in the world and I upload pictures on [facebook]

    I have never looked for a follower, but i think because of my passion it literally grows every single day.

    Its pictures that move me, make me feel something. I do this every day and it is the most wonderful beginning to a day!

  44. Thanks Tim, I really enjoy all your stuff. Can’t wait for your new book! I don’t really have any morning or evening rituals right now. I use to have some morning rituals of exercise, meditation, and reading. I am going to start some rituals right away, thanks for the motivation to get back into doing that again! I know I need to start improving my skills of life management.

  45. Mornings: I always cook something in the morning, I feel that it gets my brain moving and also stimulates my appetite. Nothing special here, but I think it’s also instinctual for humans to engage in this routine(or hunt, but I don’t have happy deer running outside).

    Pre-bed ritual: Going to the gym at night gives back some energy I need in order to keep studying for school. I wind down by watching one episode of The Daily Show. It’s funny, informative, and short. I always fall asleep immediately after.

  46. @ Tim,

    Just curious from Panama – are you going to have another site and blog dedicated to your new book…or piggy back on this site?

    Also, around March of 2010 – a free practical guide to legal expatriation was posted on Zero Hedge…and it sited you quite a bit and generated a lot of buzz since its a step by step guide from someone who did it.

    Posted here for reference.


    It sounds a lot like your writing…any insight?

    Taylor White

    P.S. – I am still holding you to your comment about you traveling to Panama more than Costa Rica when I posted about Neils book “How To Be Jason Bourne…”. Its probably time for a short information detox before your big marketing push for the book, eh?

    “Pretty, pretty, fren!”

  47. The only thing my ritual has in common with Tim’s, is Casino Royale! 😉 But I’m working on the rest!

  48. Tim

    Morning ritual has become 1 or 2 hour long talks in the morning with my girlfriend as we lye in bed and figure out our day. Where we are going both as individuals and as a couple. Time well spent to talks and reflect or our journey together.

    Starting to take time and meditate first thing or some chi kung standing meditation works well too. Energizes the body to clear the mind and it can be done in five minutes intervals through out the day.



  49. @Marcel What’s the recipe for the smoothie? We usually do a frozen berry mix but your combo sounds awesome.

    (sorry to bypass the Q Tim!)


    1. Hey,

      its mostly frozen blueberrys+Banana+almond milk, in case i dont have any almond milk around i use organic almond butter. for the extra ingredients i add 1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon and 1 spoon flaxseed oil.

      Bon Appetit.

  50. I do not keep a gratitude journal, but I would love to start.

    I just wanted to tell everyone that if I were to make an entry right now, my gratitude would be for the Tim, and especially the community that surrounds his blog. All of your comments have been just as inspiring and helpful as the content itself.

    Its really cool to see how a variety of different people put this stuff into action in real life, and prove that it can work for many different lifestyles and personality types.

    So thanks everyone!

  51. Morning ritual : enjoy a cup of tea in bed brought by kind husband who gets up earlier than me (usually).

    Then: put on running clothes and go out for a run, rain or shine, dark or light.

    Then get ready and go to work in the normal way, only feeling extra-energised. At first I had to force myself into my running gear and out of the door, but now it’s become a habit, and once I’m out I feel fine, and I feel so much better for the rest of the day.

  52. In the morning, I wake up on first alarm. I have three set just because my obsessive compulsive desires tend to manifest themselves in these ways. I suppose my mental state doesn’t allow me to take the chance of Sprint’s satellite crashing down to earth, or flaming into oblivion in outer space.

    The stove is turned on shortly after, where I lightly oil it and let it preheat for about 5 minutes. During this time I pour a bowl of oats and let them soak in some water. As everything simmers for consumption, I do a light dynamic stretching routine to open up the hip complex so I can move without feeling like I’m in a full body cast. One I complete this, I go back and crack my four eggs and put my oats in the microwave. I return to stretching while watching Sports Center. After about 5 more minutes my eggs are topped with cayenne pepper and a cheese. On lucky days I’ll find some feta cheese left over from a previous meal and combine it with cheddar. I’m pretty sure this is better any sexual encounter, but I suppose that is what a five year relationship will give you.

    Shortly after I finish eating, I will work on my book for 10-15 minutes and catch up with my latest online communities. Then it’s dressing for work and out the door.

    My pre-bed ritual consists of a little myofasical release a la PVC pipe (foam rollers are for children). Again, more dynamic stretching and hip work. I then turn the TV on, to a channel that preferably isn’t sending out light flashes more extreme than a strip club. I will read for about 10 minutes. After, I put on my sunglasses like I’m some sort of James Bond, only nestled under covers. Gangster, I know. I watch whatever is on (I’ve found Sports Center to also be key here). It’s important to avoid any show that you will want to keep watching, like a movie of some sorts. I don’t want to be laying and bed and worrying about Frodo on his trip to destroy the ring, even though I’ve seen the movie and read the book (numerous times). It usually will take no longer than 10 minutes at this point before I feel like I will fall asleep. One quick mention that I forgot is that the TV must be only at a notch or two of volume. Voices must be muffled and preferably unable to be understood. We don’t want to process audio at this point, but a little white noise is good. A fan is an excellent choice here as well.

    Turn the TV off, take the sunglasses off, turn over, and turn the page for another day.

  53. Tim … just started reading your blog (love it) because my coach said your book changed the way he works.

    Enjoy watching this video, wrote down a number of things you said and shared them with others via twitter and facebook. I laughed at one thing in the video … your type A personality shines through, because your cups are lined up in straight row and the others aren’t 🙂

    1. Buahahaha… I’m busted. Yep, I’m somewhat obsessed with straight lines and symmetry. Pure American Psycho.

  54. Morning rituals? Well,if I am up before hitting the snooze button at least 2-3 times, I make time for prayers, yoga and meditations/daily positive mantras….but in most cases, I it usually goes like this….

    Step 1-bolt out of bed, realizing how late I am and start with hot shower using shampoo designed for the type of hair day I am having, e.g. extra volume, frizzy, straight etc…then, deep conditioner while shaving of legs, armpits and any other area if needed, pumice stone for my feet and scrubs/washes for everywhere else…

    Step 2-after shower, on to my miracle creams, primers, moisturizers and concealers to camouflage any dark circles, zits, sun spots, etc…then grooming of brows, curling of eyelashes, applying of mascara, and a brush of a bit of blush to achieve that flushed (I had great sex last night) glow…

    Step 3-Hair-mousing, spraying, scrunching or straightening always depending on weather…

    Step 4-lingerie-deciding between push up, miracle bra or natural….then choosing to go lace thongs or full granny panties depending on outfit and/or mood, time of month etc…

    Step 4-repeatedly say “I have nothing to wear” about 10x before I actually decide on that perfect outfit that won’t reveal the extra dessert I had the night before, or make me look too slutty, too naive or too corporate in front of my boss…then complete it all with a pair of designer pumps which I paid an obscene amount for, that aren’t at all that comfortable but somehow make my ankles look thinner than they really are, and a pair of hoop earrings that will hopefully distract from that double chin that has started to form! Ohhh and after all this, do I care if no guy notices me??no, because at the end of the day…I am still da BOMB! but thats just my own 2 ‘zents’:)

  55. My first thing in the morning and last thing at night favorite ritual is to repeat my affirmation to set the tone for my day and my dream time.

  56. Nightly routine: I relax and spend a few minutes visualizing my goals and desires. With emotion and feeling. I drift off to sleep from the happy place.

    Morning routine: I pick up where I left off at night. I love spending a few minutes in bed setting my intentions for the day. Imagining and feeling my desires as if they have already happened.

  57. My morning ritual is tea and meditation as well as hypnosis techniques. It is the one time when it is quiet and I can ask and listen to what any higher consciousness is willing to convey. I find it helpful to journal before going to bed so that what is on my mind has a resting place and does not prevent me from sleeping.

  58. Tim,

    I haven’t watched all of it yet. Just watched the part where you talked about watching Casino Royale. It’s really nice to know about your daily routine.

    On a different note: Will you please consider posting your videos on youtube always? Vimeo is too much for slow internet connections.



  59. This was a great talk – really gave me some interesting insights for a productivity idea I have.

    Unfortunatley, I don’t have a strict routine every day. Except for going to the gym. Nothing methodical every morning.

    Guess I need to work on that.

  60. Tim, great video. I’d love to hear sometime about the changes brought on by success and fame. You mentioned before that “fake friends” began to inundate you. How has the realization of your dreams affected your outlook on life?

    Lots of people are driven by an insatiable desire to succeed, to prove all the naysayers wrong, to be at the top. When they finally reach that peak, they experience a short-lived period of euphoria. Immediately afterwards, however, they feel profoundly underwhelmed and lapse into depression, asking themselves, “Is there all there is?” Does any of this resonate with you? I’d imagine that your foundation in Stoicism has shielded you in some way.

  61. Before sleep every night, I lie down, place my hands over my heart, and breathe deeply 3 or 4 times until I feel relaxed and at peace. I imagine that my entire body is filled with brilliant, white light, and they I say aloud: “As I am entering this new segment of my life experience, it is my intent to see that which I am wanting to see. I am now falling into blissful, sweet slumber where my body will revitalize and heal itself, thereby achieving perfect health. I ask my spirit guides to come to me and assist in this healing. In the still of the night, while the world around me sleeps, may the Source smile upon me and bring me eternal peace. Blessings upon one and all. I know that all will be cared for and their needs be fulfilled, whatever those might be. I instill within me great harmony in thought and word and deed. Thank you for another wonderful day.”

    This never fails to lead to very restful sleep for me, and I awaken refreshed and feeling wonderful. I’ve been saying the same thing to myself for about 10 years, and it never fails to work.

  62. I try to book-end the day by connecting with my wife.

    Favorite morning ritual: grind coffee beans by hand with mortar and pestle for morning coffee with coconut milk, then wake up my wife. I always take morning coffee with my wife to check in.

    End of workday ritual: get an herbal tea and stroll the bookstore with wife. Book browsing stimulates conversation. Topics usually range from workday stuff to future plans.

  63. Dear Tim Ferris Esquire,

    The perfection of the morning ritual is currently one of my biggest foci.

    Evening I grab a tall pint of water before bed.

    Pass out sound asleep

    4.5 hours of sleep wake up

    Pint of water, Coffee, 4 eggs, and protein shake with vitamins (cottage cheese or non hydrolyzed yogurt also options).

    Get out the door within 40 minutes to work with piece of fruit and/or homemade protein bar, or get to something constructive on my priorities list at home within 40 minutes.

    If I am groggy in the morning which happens on occasion, I’ll typically crank the David Guetta tunes and/or exercise to get the blood moving.

    Hope that helps peeps.

  64. 5:30am. I set my alarm 15 minutes before I have to get my life going to wake up with my girlfriend and cuddle. Especially as it’s getting colder, this is totally f##king wonderful. Still sleep-dumb, super warm, best, most comfortable time to cuddle, bar none.

    5:55am. French press Zabar’s house blend (mail order to seattle) & dash of soy & tbspn of unsweetened cocoa

    6:15am. 2 Grain&Flax-Fed Eggs w/ Hot Sauce. Tomatoes, collard greens, peas, broccoli, spinach, some veggie. 4 grams fish oil & CoQ-10

    6:30am. Girlfriend is out the door. I bike to the gym, run 3 mi or bike 10 mi.

    7:15am. Long, hot shower. Totally just hang out in there. I think best in the shower, driving, and working out.

    7:30am. Google news. Catch up on chess on my iPhone with strangers all across the world.

    7:45am. Out the door to run my startup.


    I have absolutely no nighttime ritual. Fortunately I’m finding eating ~10 g of Fish oil per day and cutting caffeine has helped me get tired at the end of the day and fall asleep/sleep MUCH easier/faster/better.

  65. Already in bed, closing my eyes one moment before sleeping, I think about a positive or joyfull moment of the day.

    In the morning, as soon as the alarm goes off, I take a deep breath and then I think about a joyfull moment (often it involves our daughter) and then I jump out of the bed.



  66. Hey Tim,

    Great talk. You caught my interest with that MUSASHI book. It seems there are a few stories (the book of five rings, lone samurai WilliamScott Wilson, Musashi Eiji Yoshikawa). Which do you recommend.



  67. Unfortunately the best question asked at the entire Zen and Tea event (IMHO) didn’t make it on the video, so for those readers not fortunate enough to be there, it’s transcribed (read: liberally paraphrased) below:

    Q: If you could give everyone here a “homework assignment” so to speak, something to do that would dramatically impact their life, what would it be?

    Jesse: “Walk around with your phone turned off. Unplug. I like to spend time unplugged, and its like being in another world. Going down Market St. watching all the people on their iPhones and crackberries makes me feel like I just dropped out of the Matrix.”

    Susan: “Earlier Tim mentioned that doing something five times consecutively is the magic number that forms a habit. My assignment is: for the next five days, just sit. Set a timer for five minutes, and just sit. Don’t try to meditate, don’t try to do anything. Just sit.”

    Tim: “Earlier I mentioned long dinners, but I won’t count that…

    [Take long dinners with >3 friends at least once per week. This is happiness alchemy.]

    … everyone here probably uses some form of digital calendar. Put in an event that repeats every Tuesday that says “PLAN WEEKEND.” Then come Saturday you have plans, so no gadgets. Leave the computer off, and get outside.”

    Leo: “Do one thing at a time. Just one thing. In other words: Single-Task.”


    I do a “Morning Success Ritual” as follows:

    1. Wake up to my Zen Alarm Clock [http://www.now-zen.com/]

    2. Allow a 10 minute “on ramp” and 10 minute “off ramp.” These serve to buffer your time so you never get rushed.

    3. Brush. Immediately drink 0.5L of Water

    4. 5-15 Minutes of Yoga and Calisthenics (read: Burpees!!!!)

    5. Shower (optional) then…

    6. Meditate for 10-20 minutes.

    7. Breakfast: Almond milk + Ezekial Cereal + Kashi Golean Fiber&Protein + Hemp seeds (not paleo, but they are the only healthy breakfast cereals)

    8. Immediately perform the highest impact task of the day (read: most uncomfortable)

    Tim – It was an honor meeting you after the event. You’ve come a long way since that black-belt magazine ad!!! =)

    I hope our paths cross again soon.

    Rock on brother.

    1. Steve, it was great to meet you. And thank you for pointing out this omission. I’ll drop into the post.

      Muay Thai forever! Well, probably more for you than for me. I’m too short. Eat too many knees to the head 🙂


  68. I think organization is often over thought. Pick your most common, important, hopefully revenue generating task and dissect it. Start with the organization of one important item and move on from there. Thats how I’ve been able to improve my ‘life management’ over the past few months. It’s not always easy to stay focused but it is possible.

  69. I havent even read all of these responses, but am so excited to. I just decided to create a morning and evening routine a few days ago, so how perfect that the universe has found me reading this article!! Some of the things I have included are starting my day with telling myself 5 postive things and visualizing a great day, planning my day, exersice…to end I recap my day and tell myself what positive things happened, what I needed to learn and do better tommorrow and ending with a speed prayer to let go of all the negative things that linger. In only a few days what a difference it has made. Can’t wait to see how this compounds in time!!

  70. Morning ritual – Listen to recordings of birds chirping (for real)

    There is something gently invigorating about bird calls in the morning. It tells your brain that the rest of nature is getting up, so you might want to as well.

    Evening ritual –

    empty the mind on to paper,

    live your day mentally in reverse to unload (write that down too),

    plan the next day,

    stretch the body,

    listen to recordings of the ocean or the rain.

    These sounds will put you to sleep in a very pleasant fashion.

    These two points in your day offer major leverage for anything else you might want to change or shift.



  71. Hi Tim

    Morning ritual – pot of tea, quiet time gazing out at the rainforest mountainside across from my home (I live in Cairns, tropical Australia)

    Thanks for The 4-hour Week, just come across it and it fills the gaps in my “how am I going to pull this off” plan for my start-up publishing company and life as a cookbook writer. Getting stuck into your recommendations, and feeling great about the direction they’re giving me around some sticking points I’ve had in my plans.

    My cookbook will be released in November and I’ve managed the whole process on a shoestring thanks to the incredible amount of support that has come my way.

    My take on why I’ve had so much support – I love what I’m doing, there is an umet market for what I’m doing, my work benefits a whole stack of other businesses/players, I’m deeply passionate about my work, have put everything on the line (happily, without reservation or regret) to make it happen…AND

    I only connect with and work with people who say “YES”. No “maybe” energy, and certainly no “no” energy. Life is too short, and too challenging as a start-up to have ambivalent people in my zone.

    That’s my zen tip! Flow like water, that’s the yes energy. Funnily enough I have a recipe on my website which is also in the book “Zen and the art of scones”…

    warm regards


  72. Every night before I go to bed I try to think of somebody who made me happy that day and send them some gratitude. It helps me to let go of the tension of the day and end my day on a positive note, fortunate to be surrounded by awesome people who teach and support me.

  73. I use the first hour to 90 min of every day by taking a nice, brisk walk with my dog, then I come home and lovingly feed him, make a little coffee and something to eat while I ready something that enriches my soul.

    Then I move into my day in a calm, relaxed and reflective state.

  74. Hi Tim!

    Do you intend to sell a (brazillian) portuguese version of your book, the 4-hour body?? I’ve alredy bought the portuguese version of the 4-hour workweek and it was awsome!

    Hugs from Brazil 😉

  75. Wow, the only way the still frame from the video could get more liberal is if there was a “Hope” poster in the back.

  76. Before Bed – Take a hot shower.

    Then hit the foam roller focusing especially on calves, outside thigh, inside thigh, front of the thigh, usually take a lacrosse ball to the glutes, then a quick foam roll to the T-Spine, maybe lacrosse ball to pecs, rotator cuff and lats. No more than 5 minutes, focusing on whatever feels the most tense. The most tense is usually a result of what (if any) exercise I happened to do the previous day.

    Then I go through a few static stretches for no more than 10 minutes, focusing on areas that were tense. Areas that will need attention on almost all men – Calves, Hip Flexors, Adductors, Glutes, T-Spine and Pecs (maybe other shoulder work but that’s getting a little too detailed)

    If you are not relaxed and ready for bed after all that; seek help.

    Now I’m ready for a quick read before I nod off.

    In the morning – Mobility Drills and Dynamic Stretching to Applicable Areas

    Cooking Therapy (something egg based typically)

    Fresh Ground Coffee or Green Tea

    Smile for the camera.

  77. Great lecture Tim, helps me feel good about this break I`m taking

    Can you put a link or at least spell out the name and author of your Buddhist Japanese sword fighting book?



  78. Ah, pre bed is pretty simple. Just the usual getting into jammies (essentially a cami and Thai wrap pants), brush teeth, remove contacts, etc. Check my computer one last time, turn on my sleep music and make sure my music alarm is on, then sleep.

    I’m trying to get in the habit of reading before bed, or when I wake up. Not sure which will be a better time, since I am often on Skype at night talking with Australian friends in a completely different time zone.

    In the morning, I wake (of course), eat either a protein/nutrition bar or Greek yogurt with some kind of organic granola or muesli or even oats while checking up on my online business/email/twitter/bank accounts.

    Shower (4 days out of the week)

    Then I pack my shoulder bag for the day, which is mainly food and leave for school!

  79. Oh, I also drink a quart of water each evening with my supper. I find that helps a lot to keep me hydrated and not wake in the middle of the night with an uncomfortably dry throat.

  80. @DenaStern , the 2nd best blogger to Tim F 😉 you are the person who makes people happy each day… I’m grateful for you …. xo