"Productivity" Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)

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Sometimes, life seems upside-down.

I originally wrote this post months ago, but I’ve been too self-conscious to publish it until now. This quote convinced me to put on my big girl pants:

“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

– Neil Gaiman

University of the Arts Commencement Speech

So, here goes, and I hope it helps at least a few of you.

Reality Check

A few months ago, I had a birthday party.

A dozen friends and I gathered for several days of wonderful sun, beach, and catching up. On the last day, I didn’t get up until 11:30am, knowing full well that the last remaining friends were leaving at 12 noon.

I was afraid of being alone.

Like a child, I hid my head under the covers (literally) and hit snooze until reality couldn’t be postponed any further.

But…why am I telling you this?…

The Dangerous Myths of “Successful” People

We all like to appear “successful” (a nebulous term at best) and the media like to portray standouts as superheroes.

Sometimes, these dramatic stories of overcoming the odds are inspiring. More often, they lead to an unhealthy knee-jerk conclusion:

“Well… maybe they [entrepreneur/artist/creator painted as superhero] can do it, but I’m just a normal guy/girl…”

This post is intended to give a behind-the-scenes look at my own life. Though I’ve occasionally done profiles like A Day In The Life with Morgan Spurlock’s crew, I rarely let journalists follow me for a “normal” day. Why?

I’m no superhero. I’m not even a consistent “normal.”

In the last 3 months, I’ve:

  • Cried while watching Rudy.
  • Repeatedly hit Snooze for 1-3 HOURS past my planned wake time, because I simply didn’t want to face the day.
  • Considered giving everything away and moving to Montreal, Seville, or Iceland. Location varies based on what I’m escaping.
  • Seen a therapist for the first time, as I was convinced that I was doomed to life-long pessimism.
  • Used gentlemanly (ahem) websites to “relax” during the day when I clearly have urgent and important shit to do. 1
  • Taken my daily caffeine intake (read: self-medication) so high that my “resting” pulse was 120+ beats per minute. 8-10 cups of coffee per day minimum.
  • Worn the same pair of jeans for a week straight just to have a much-needed constant during weeks of chaos.

Seems pretty dysfunctional, right?

But, in the last 8 weeks, I’ve also:

  • Increased my passive income 20%+.
  • Bought my dream house.
  • Meditated twice per day for 20 minutes per session, without fail. This marks the first time I’ve been able to meditate consistently.
  • I’ve cut my caffeine intake to next-to-nothing (in the last 4 weeks): usually pu-erh tea in the morning and green tea in the afternoon. I’ve had no more than 1 cup of coffee per week. More on this in a later post.
  • With your help, raised $100,000+ for charity:water for my birthday. (Thanks to John Park for bringing the thunder!)
  • Raised $250,000 in 53 minutes for a start-up called Shyp.
  • Signed one of the most exciting business deals of my last 10 years.
  • Added roughy 20 pounds of muscle after learning the pain and joy of high-rep front squats (and topical DHEA, courtesy of Patrick Arnold).
  • Transformed my blood work.
  • Realized — once again — that manic-depressive symptoms are just part of entrepreneurship.
  • Come to feel closer to all my immediate family members.

The Point

Most “superheroes” are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.

Personally, I suck at efficiency (doing things quickly). Here’s my coping mechanism and 8-step process for maximizing efficacy (doing the right things):

1) Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. E-mail is the mind killer.

2) Make a cup of tea (I like pu-erh) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.

3) Write down the 3-5 things — and no more — that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually = most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.

4) For each item, ask yourself:

– “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”

– “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”

5) Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.

6) Block out at least 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.

7) TO BE CLEAR: Block out at least 2-3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work.

8) If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do.

Congratulations! That’s it.

This is the only way I can create big outcomes despite my never-ending impulse to procrastinate, nap, and otherwise fritter away my days with bullshit. If I have 10 important things to do in a day, it’s 100% certain nothing important will get done that day. On the other hand, I can usually handle 1 must-do item and block out my lesser behaviors for 2-3 hours a day.

It doesn’t take much to seem superhuman and appear “successful” to nearly everyone around you. In fact, you just need one rule: What you do is more important than how you do everything else, and doing something well does not make it important.

If you consistently feel the counterproductive need for volume and doing lots of stuff, put these on a Post-it note:

  • Being busy is a form of laziness–lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
  • Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.

And when — despite your best efforts — you feel like you’re losing at the game of life, remember: Even the best of the best feel this way sometimes. When I’m in the pit of despair, I recall what iconic writer Kurt Vonnegut said about his process: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.

And you are not alone.

And If You Struggle…

If you occasionally struggle like me, these resources and articles might help you rebound:

The Prescription for Self-Doubt (Video)

Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression: Making the Rollercoaster Work for You

Two Root Causes of My Recent Depression (by Brad Feld, one of my favorite start-up investors)

Did you find this post helpful? Please let me know, and if you have any particular strategies or quotes that help get you out of funks, please share in the comments!


Note from the editor: For more productivity advice, check out the following videos on YouTube from Tim:


  1. Any guy who insists he’s never done this should not be trusted. 

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 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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1,001 Replies to “"Productivity" Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)”

  1. Great to read such honesty. It definitely breaks down certain myths and serves as inspiration to forge ahead through moments of madness. Great quote you laid out: Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.

  2. Hi Tim, I have been really struggling with productivity recently. I’ve been very demotivated at work, while at the same time I am also desperate for a promotion.

    I’ve been wasting a lot of time, looking at websites that I should not be on at work, to the point that I could even lose my job if people found out.

    Thanks to your post, I actually feel normal. Like I’m not the only one. If someone who I look up to as much as I do you, suffers fairly similar issues then while I might not get 3 number one best-selling books written, I might at least get some important projects completed at work this week and become a lot more productive.

    I plan to read something productive, interesting or challenging using the Kindle Cloudreader app during some short mini-breaks, rather than waste time reading the news, or looking at provocative massage adverts…

  3. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. (Particularly the personal stuff – it is shocking and comforting to hear that about you.)

    For avoiding funks:

    – meditate every am for 10 to 20 min (undecided between NSR and a simple mindfulness practice)

    – exercise for at least 20 min each am

    – drink bulletproof coffee (Google it)

    – use the pomodoro method

    For getting out:

    – meditate briefly

    – dance briefly

    – journal

  4. Dear Tim,

    You are a very big inspiration for me for quite a long time – your wisdom boosted the realisation of my dreams many times – but this article and it’s honesty concerning true mankind nailed it like never before…

    …i think, if we all could face us in such honesty (with all our bipolar, dark-bright, optimistic-pessismistic parts) we could automatically defuse a big part of our self-destructive behaviour – we would loose the need to look at “what others have” and “what we lack” – resulting in more lived authentic self-love…while kowing that there are only one kind of heroes – those of everyday…

  5. What a brilliant and thoroughly useful post. One thing I want to add – perhaps it is a form of meditation – personalised afirmations are a good way to beat back all the neurosis and negative self-talk. At least that has worked for me.

  6. Tim,

    I have been following you blog for a few months now, I think his is the best blog you have posted so far. You mentioned crying with the movie Rudy that really got me. It happens to be one if my favorite movies!! Anyways, I really identified with honesty and your accomplishments. I’m a lot like you. The difference is that I have not “made it” yet but I am on my way. I became very successful very quickly in the sport of Figure a few years ago becoming a professional inspire of people telling that I was crazy and that I was dreaming and of course get I accomplished all the things I set out to do they called me “lucky”. I have a bit of celebrity status still in the fitness community and I want to take advantage of that. I still look amazing spite of my 43 years of age and for just having my 2nd child. I m working full time and still manage to get up at 4:30am to meditate and workout most days. I feel that I can inspire many women and that I have what it takes but I sometimes self sabotage my dreams and have a lot of self doubt. I really can identify with your post. Thank you soooo much for your candid and inspiring post. This is exactly what I needed. Doing my first health and fitness seminar in Chile this December. I want to bring health and fitness to the place I was born. Chile needs someone like me to see health and fitness in a new light. Thanks again.

    Paola Almerico

    IFBB Pro Figure Competitor.

  7. Wow!

    First, thank you for these words – really!

    The funny thing is that whenever I feel like I am fu#+ing arround doing unimportant stuff just to avoid the tasks lying ahead of me I read your blog or quotes of in books to get motivated again and to remind myself that I want to get something done that matters! It is something like “what would Tim Ferriss do” and I can get my ass up again and try to achieve something that matters to me. I always wondered how you do stuff “this guy is a freak (positive means)!” – now with this post ist makes me having even more respect for you, your work and the things you share!

    To line myself up to the others in the comments – if you want to escape for a while and Germany might be your destination – be my guest!

    Sincerely

    Sascha

  8. by the way – for meditating I use the service of Andy Puddicombe´s website “Headspace.com” – take10 and the other “journeys” are awesome and only after five days of meditating for 10 minutes each day I can feel a big difference!

  9. “If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do.

    Congratulations! That’s it.

    This is the only way I can create big outcomes despite my never-ending impulse to procrastinate, nap, and otherwise fritter away my days with bullshit.”

    I could have never phrase it better…:)

    Thanks for this post and have a great day,

    Mario

  10. Great post. It’s comforting to read that someone so inspiring is relatable too.

    A suggestion on replacing coffee– I’ve grown fond of rooibos tea which is a great caffeine-free substitute for my own coffee addiction. In fact there is a company I discovered in Australia called Red Espresso (they have a site) that markets it as an espresso alternative. It’s good stuff.

  11. Great post Tim. I´ve had a shitty, lazy, negativity filled month which I am leaving behind. This is inspiring, getting to know the loser in you haha! And it´s cool that you are meditating daily, It´s life-changing. Thanks!

  12. Wow, I needed this. Everyone is human – especially the people we look up to and admire.

    It takes away any excuses you may have that you can’t do something because of X issue!

  13. Hi Tim,

    Really reassuring post! I’m glad I’m not the only one. I stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine for October (prior to my 32nd birthday) and felt fantastic. This month I’m laying off the “gentlemanly” websites (with an accountability friend) as I find that can be the ultimate procrastination!

  14. Tim, thanks for that. At the risk of sounding like a cheeseball: super inspirational, brave and real…and an instant mood changer. I think I now might feel ready to crawl out of my own multi-month varietal of panicked entrepreneurial self-loathing & paralysis. Thanks for your help.

    Best, Jesse

  15. Great post – couldn’t have been easy to publish!

    Knowing what is important is probably one of the hardest things to know, at least for me. I’m approaching a major shift in my life…the end of college. And I feel like whatever I will do next will determine where the rest of my life will go. There is a lot of uncertainty here and right now it’s hard to realize what will be important to me in the future.

  16. Hi Tim, nice post. Why are you limiting coffee? Are you avoiding all caffeine or just coffee? It seems you still take tea and yerba mate. I am curious about that new post.

  17. When you write “doing something well does not make it important” it reminds me of what I often tell people.

    Just because you are good at something does not mean you should do it. I give the example of me being a kick-ass fast food worker when I was 16. Just because I was good at it did not make it a career choice long term.

  18. Hi Tim,

    Great courage to you to share, I believe our willingness to to show what we are really like creates real friendships and destroys fake friendships.

    As always, as you under lined, it is important to focus in our actions on what is really making a difference. Clarity comes when you we ask ourselves ” if this was my last day what would I being doing?” and expand from there.

    Enjoy a great day and super success to you with the TV show,

    David

  19. Thanks Tim!! I’ve dealt with my own issues and I’ve interviewed others with on EntrepreneurialDepression.com including Brad Feld and Ben Huh. Always good to know I’m not alone and get some helpful tips to keep going.

  20. This is one of your best posts so far. Congrats! 🙂

    I long suspected you were manic-depressive, maybe I was right.

    You do look like a superhero at times. This puts things in a perspective. Your achievements are still hopelessly high for the average reader, I guess 🙂

  21. So good to read other people have experienced the same things I have. I’ve just completed my PhD in psychology/neuroscience. I found myself struggling with all of these things. There were so many times I procrastinated entire days away, that I continuously put off the most important parts of my thesis. My girlfriend and I discuss these things in terms of “negative affect” – things that when you consider, you immediately turn away from and look for other things to do. It is one reason I am so grateful for Tim’s SCD rules, which simplified any food decision I had to make and alleviated food-related negative affects.

    I came across Tim’s work midway at the start of my final year. At the time, I was seriously considering giving up my doctorate and finding a job. If it hadn’t been for Tim’s advice and tips on things such as making to-do lists, setting achievable goals, deconstructing, etc I’m not sure I would have completed my thesis, and I’m certain I wouldn’t have done so without an additional year.

    So, maybe next time you’re feeling blue Tim, you can reflect on how huge an impact you have had on other people’s lives! I’m not talking money or muses, rather goals and dreams.

  22. Great post Tim!

    One thing that helps me with self-doubt and depression is waking up everyday and naming 3 things I am thankful for. It can be the most profound, introspective thing or something as simple as a beautiful day. Shifting my perspective from one of scarcity and wanting to one of abundance and gratitude has an amazingly calming effect.

    DB

  23. I think this post is just great. There’s too much press

    ure out there to keep up with the big successful people! Being honest and show that this superheroes are still human, allow the rest of us to let out a sigh of relief and keep pushing forward.

    Thanks.

  24. Thank you Tim for sharing with honesty as usual.

    I am following your 1-8 list – I love hearing what you actually do to complete your tasks. I knew you where human – or at least a sentient being suffering at times like all of us 🙂 When times get difficult I close my eyes and remind myself how much I love life – just thinking of love and the thoughts it emotes changes my perspective on negative moments – OK it’s time for 3 hours recording music (seems I am most afraid of doing what I think I am best at.)

  25. For someone who’s been going a little crazy lately and still recovering form a bad bout of depression, thank you for this article tim, it means a lot.

    Alex

  26. Focusing like a laser for the 2-3 hour block on one “must do” each day along with passing off non critical work to a VA has led to being able to see an additional client each day and a dramatic increase in income! Thanks for the tips Tim!

  27. “You are better than you think” – Second time I’ve heard this. First was 6 years ago when I was playing futsal in Christchurch, NZ. The ref coached futsal and football in the Christchurch and greater Canterbury region. He told me “You are better than you think. Back yourself.” I know he was talking about futsal, my skills on the ball and in the net but I’ve taken it into my life in general.

    I’m now the happy, if procrastinating, owner of a fledgling business that’s growing spectacularly well and that I have grand plans for in the next year.

  28. Incredible post Tim! Your best post maybe. I can really, really identify and it totally put me at ease to know that as successful as you are that you do these things (well some of them anyway, ha ha!) too. I totally feel less crazy, and less alone now. I’m not doomed to mediocrity & failure. Makes me want to get out of bed & face my very busy day… And I am. Thank you!

  29. Love this post. At a conference recently someone made a comment about you that said something like “Tim is engineered” – meaning everything you do and show the public is carefully crafted, well planned, most efficient. No one can argue with your results, but it’s nice to see a big of the real you behind the gloss, and I do think it will work in your favor by getting people to feel more connected to you as a real person.

  30. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, Tim!

    Especially when surrounded by people who have a more structured approach to life, it is important to be reminded that it is OK to not live life like them.

    A quote that sometimes helps me come out of my dark hole is this: “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative”

    Also, it is OK – and important – to just let go sometimes.

    Although I had a task to do yesterday evening, I decided to spend the time listening to some wonderful music instead. Guess what happened? For the first time in a week, my stress dissolved. What is more, I got into that ecstatic state of appreciating and loving the world and myself. And for the first time in the last two months, I really felt like creating something.

    Sometimes I think people use the word “procrastination” too much. Just because you’re not in the flow of productivity does not mean you’re not in the flow of life.

  31. Thanks Tim, that was very validating and encouraging.

    Also, great to have a such a personal post after what feels like a high percentage of guest writers recently.

  32. Thanks for the post!

    On a less serious note I have to admit that I was half expecting to land on fourhourworkweek.com/pr0n when I clicked on footnote 1…

  33. Your willingness to “disclose” is a genuine gift, Tim – thank you. Heroism ain’t always what it’s cracked up to be, is it? And your openness simply makes you greater (more heroic!) than if you revealed only the surface stuff.

  34. This post is crazy, on so many levels. Epic stuff!

    It is clearly powerful for many people, look at the honesty pouring out in the comments, amazing stuff guys and girls.

    Tim, the fact that your willing to believe in your strengths more than your weaknesses is a simple opportunity for others to test out the same concept in their own life. I’m talking in the 3rd person here but I am absolutely coming from a place of experience and feeling, this post had a profound effect on me, I completely relate.

    The the truly powerful moment was in the comments. That gentle reminder, the best cure for entrepreneurial manic depression, the knowledge that there are other people feeling the pain (and confusing side effects) of playing full out as well. This message is more than just words (or a blog post), its real, raw, revealing, right, has to be shared.

    Tim, thanks mate.

    Keep being epic!

  35. Great post Tim! It couldn’t have come at a better time, as I just started my first blog with my name on it and was feeling bashful for putting myself out there. Being naked in front of the world is the price one must pay for providing true and thoughtful information that people can relate to. Thank you.

  36. Cue all of us all around the world relieved that we’re not alone. Great tips!

    My mechanisms are:

    – rise before the sun, no email until 1 important job is done

    – 1 to 3 important tasks in a day, beyond that and I do nothing at all

    – meditate & yoga, daily

    – piss about on google talk in the evening to a colleague who is also an entrepreneur, for sanity, ideas, and support

    As much as we like to think we can do everything alone, it’s a lie. I bet you’re glad you shared this now!

  37. This is exactly how I feel. I’ve been very good at working hard and doing a lot of things at once but now I’m just really down and want to be lazy and not do a shit, for the exact same reason you wrote about: Too much stuff to do/going on so I’m going in overload mode and shut it off and play video games and ignore it instead.

    I feel I just want to throw it all away and not do anything at all but feel good now with this post and will try do ONE thing only for 2 hours and see how I can handle that 😉

    Thanks man!

  38. The Superman story hits home. I am a successful business owner for the past 20 yrs and have accomplished things that only people can dream of.

    But that doesn’t stop me from getting manic and procrastinating when a new project is just not happening. Then I dig in focus using guided imagery or my own psycho-cybernetics or what ever else I can find that can inspire me . When rejection comes along which is normal in life & business , I just look at it as getting me one step closer to success. After reading 4 Hr work week and 4 hr Body, (which I think I got from EO as promotional mailing to members in NY ) I knew I could push myself to newer heights, and chose to start a business producing hydrolyzed protein in a drink formula. I researched a lab and became partners with the owner and chemist and starting producing concentrated nutritionals drinks with no funny additives( colors, preservatives, artificial sweeteners ect) and we created a great line got some fitness gurus and celebrities to use our product. But with my 20 yrs experience in getting consumer products to retails, I could not sell the product to US retailers.

    This got me really down, but them I decided to just focus on a bigger market and started producing the made in USA products for China, the dept. of commerce was helpful and we created sales teams in 10 provinces.

    While it takes forever to get through their red tape of importation, I am excited that we can do business there.

    The point is to broaden your thinking and if something is not working in your backyard find another place that it will.

    I took mental fortitude to stay the course and made it work and anyone can.

    ps. I was inspired towards this business with the need for protein within the first 30 minutes of waking and hated the gritty thick shakes

  39. Tim,

    I almost felt you were writing this personally to me telling me its okay to feel the way you felt. At the same time, you gave excellent tips to realize and overcome the syndrome.

    I always felt burdened thinking I was the only one who feels like that and “successful” people like you are immune from it. I’m now not looking to be “successful” but want to do what I want to do.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Prashant

  40. Focusing on what matters, and not on trying to be as productive as possible, this is something Covey tried to teach in the book “7 habits of highly effective people”.

    I work in the productivity industry, and too many apps try to make you tick as many checkboxes as possible. It is good to recognize there is no need to constantly do, as long as you manage to do the right things.

  41. Hi Tim,

    Thank you so much for this post. Might have been better a few months ago when I was in my lowest with my startup, studies and life, but still is great right now. I am recently starting to get back on building great habits so I can become the “superhero” to achieve greatness. This post got me thinking a lot and has taken a lot of pressure on how I should work and live. Now I have quite a positive posture with what I’m doing. Thanks!

    Stefan

  42. The 19th century German poet Theodor Storm understood this very well – here is a rough translation of his quatrain:

    All day I have been issuing orders and the urge which leads so many people astray nearly did so to me. I felt the small stupid pleasure of “finishing things off” and “getting things done”.

    …especially things which don’t really matter

  43. THIS IS the BEST post you’ve ever written Tim.

    I anticipate this level of honesty will create some backlash for you and knowing that you knew that when hitting “publish” on this post only gives me a huge amount of respect for you.

    I’m sure you’ve heard it… but I take solace in that Dr. Seuss quote:

    “Those that mind don’t matter, and those that matter don’t mind”.

    This is a really timely post for me and given me strength.

    You’re an incredible guy Tim with an incredible contribution to make, I hope that you never lose sight of that as too many of us would have too much to lose if you did.

  44. In a time of facebook, tweeter and what not, when everyone out there is doing self promotion, publicizing there top-model pictures and crest strip smiles… it is so refreshing to see that there are still normal people out there.

    This to me, is what a real super-man is all about.

    The ones who are brave enough to take their masks out, and show that you are a super achiever, not because of damn luck or genetics, but in spite of all the bumps on your way.

    You’ve always had my respect Tim, but you manage to grow it with every new post.

    Best.

  45. Thank you for sharing this Tim. It’s nice to know one of my super heroes is human after all.

    Just a quick note – something that really increases my productivity is having something to look forward to. It could mean playing with my kids at the beach, going to a movie, or whatever. Having a light at the end of the tunnel really helps me want to get there faster.

  46. Tim, your post is so on time. I’ve found that keeping the Critical-Stuff-That-Has-To-Be-Done-Today-List down to 3 items with #4 being a bonus keeps me moving forward. Of course, I keeping forgetting this for some strange reason and create this long lists that totally immobilize me (my brand of procrastination) but thanks for getting back on track. Have a great productive day!

  47. I have the uncanny ability to pile on more work on top of a mountain of work I already have to do. I’m still a student, so on top of school work, part time work, girlfriend, fitness blog, working out, I recently included local networking events, seminars and attempting National Novel Writing Month…

    Personally, I call this self-diagnosed ADHD. I’ve read 4HWW and the principles in that book got me started on all this wonderful stuff. It helped me pinpoint the important things in my to-do list and pick them off one by one.

    I think it’s time I revisit the principles. Do one thing well instead of many things half-assed.

    Thanks for the post Tim. I’m finally understanding that successful people are people too, as lame as that may seem. So it makes it much easier for people like me to try, fail and maybe one day succeed.

  48. Geez, Tim, you hit an awful lot of my own personal nails on the head with your comments. After waking up this morning and before reaching for my iphone to read my emails in bed I was thinking of all the things I could do – some I need to do – and the fact that I have all the ability in me to do every one. The urge, which seemed so darn urgent years ago, just, well, wasn’t there. (Man this bed is nice and warm and comfortable). I sold my businesses 8 years ago and sort of retired for what was to be ‘a little while’, have traveled, played, laughed and cried with great friends and mostly wonderful family. Goals, which were so important for most of my life, seem, um, less important or, at the very least, don’t exert the pressure they used to. A pressure which, undeniably, brought me successes beyond what I dreamed of as a young man from a poor background. Sure, there’s more to do, or more correctly, stuff I should do starting with revamping some of the stuff inside, but this bed, this life, my life, is comfortable and I don’t have to do anything if I don’t want to. But my thoughts, nagging thoughts, before I reached for the phone from under my covers were that I should begin on my mental list of things – exercise, better food, meditation more than once a week, contacting friends I haven’t made time for in a while, etc, etc – and then I read your comments and I’ve been lying here thinking about them for a while and realizing procrastination can be a real mind killer. Your comments couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s cold here in the northland with winter about to pounce on us and the natural inclination, physically and mentally, is to hibernate, slow down, stay in my comfotable warm bed. But you got me thinking (darn it) and I suppose I’ll get up now and start my walk again. Thank you, Sir, for the inspiration.

  49. Great article! Thank you for writing this; a great thing to read on a chilly Monday morning. 🙂

    One technique that’s worked well for me in the past is to do push-ups to failure. Not as exercise but to bring your physical body to complete exhaustion, and in those last several reps, your mind completely clears. As you finish the last rep, and lay panting, the first thing that comes to mind is what you need to confront and resolve.

  50. Wow. Best blog ever. Thanks so much! I’ve been in a pause with blogs for 2 months, feeling caught in between wanting to say more, and being scared to do so.

    Funny Montreal is on your escape list. I’m just moving back TO Montreal -California was my escape. It’s about time I wake up to that truth. I’m scared, up-and-down and doing more snoozing than ever these days.

    I’ve also been connecting much more with family, but the backlash of ‘when the hell are you going to be normal’ related thoughts were sending me down negative town in no time.

    Seriously awesome Tim, thanks for daring. Crazy, genius, and real. And if it’s what you desire, may you find the peace that weaves it all together. Best of success with the new show!

  51. Hey Tim – I’ve been reading your stuff since the beginning and this post surprised me a bit. It surprised me because I didn’t think we were that much alike! However, all those awesome things you have accomplished in the past 8 weeks makes my accomplishments look like kindergarden.

    The thing about transparency and vulnerability is that it seems to attack confidence and I can figure out how to overcome that. Do you feel that pity coming back when you open up to someone? Like “poor guy, he has some issues…” Then, it’s a quick retreat into the veneer.

    Thanks for opening up.

  52. When I feel crappy and hopeless I usually take a warm bath with a cup magnesium sulphate (that’s Epsom Salt but I mainly use it for the magnesium).. It leaves me feeling rested and refreshed.. Showers are sometimes too much

  53. Hey Tim,

    I don’t believe in normal and yet this post made me feel (almost) normal, thanks.

    I recently heard a huge debate on the radio about how long people wear their jeans for before they wash them and it turns out some people never wash them. One guy did an experiment and tested the bacteria on his jeans before wearing them for something like 60 days and then tested them again and found no difference in the bacteria levels.

    Personally I often wear my jeans for a week but I never ever iron them, that would be totally wrong.

    I find that lists can trigger down days and have learnt not to write them if I can help it.

  54. Congrats on getting the meditation in, Tim. It’s an anchor in the storm. This post might be my favourite of yours. Thank you for writing it. Clearly, with only a cursory scan of the comments here, people are starved for this kind of truth and honesty. I’m grateful to share the planet with you and all your courageous, vulnerable ways of being in the world.

  55. Tim,

    I’ve been a long-time reader, and now a first-time commenter. I just wanted to say “thank you” for this.

    It is true then – we are not alone – and you’ve proven that with this article.

    Thank you.

    Cheers,

    Kyle

  56. Hey Tim, i notice I often feel at the pits of despair and plagued by similar negative behaviors and self doubt 1 or 2 days after being in the gym. Low energy brings out the gremlins in me for sure.

    I try using the minimum dose approach to my works outs. But i can’t help it sometimes. Like doing a 20mins interval run after deadlifting or squating 180kg. Leaves me really tired and i start to enter that negative mind state the day after. I start feeling more positive end of day 2 and 3 of recovery.

    Anyway thanks for sharing this post. At least I can now consider another reason for my depression rather than blaming my parents or past mistakes for my lack of success.

  57. Tim-

    I really loved reading this post. It takes a lot of bravery to be completely honest. I was always told i revealed to much about myself or that i was too honest. After reading your post i realized how much I actually don’t reveal-except to my closest friends. You revealed all to strangers with the intent of helping and that you did. I am familiar with Leo Babauta’s MITs but have failed to be consistent at them. Growing up i was not taught to discriminate between what the important tasks are versus things that just keep you busy (another form of procrastination) and perhaps were important to other people but not to you. Using the approach of time blocking to knock off one task for the day is doable and i am going to work on that. It always helps to know that geniuses struggle too. They have their ups and downs. The key difference being they don’t let their struggles determine their “successful” outcomes. Sometimes it does help to know that you are not in it alone and that you can overcome your own doubts/fears/insecurities.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Sincerely,

    Lisa

  58. Hi Tim, I just wanted to say: thank you for this this post, it could not have come at a better time. Your honesty is greatly appreciated and inspirational.

    Good luck with the new show!

    – Andrew

  59. Hello Tim,

    Also “superheroes” are people after all, so nothing to feel strange about here.

    Do you still walk around throwing a tennis ball on the ground? I remember something from a post or so quite some time in the past, where you wrote something like that this is the best therapy against depression (I think it was depression), way better than Prozac etc.

    I think the time might have come now that you give running a chance, Tim. I haven’t been following your latest progress when it comes to running after you wrote an important chapter about it in T4HB, but it seems to me you never followed through with that. Too bad, because I truly believe that running is one more way of getting over whatever kind of blues/funk/… even more so, if one has the chance to run in nature (forest, mountain,…). There’s something that creates a profoundly deep connection with one’s inner-self when it comes to a human being running in nature. Heck, it’s basically like meditation, just a more physically active form of it.

    I know I have been nagging you about running every once in a while after T4HB (in Berlin or here), but do give it a try, Tim.

    I had the feeling that also back then in Berlin (must be 2 or probably 3 years now when you went to see Prof. Faltin) some of your articles expressed some kind of ‘funk’ that seemed to have been going on within you. But maybe I just interpreted that wrongly.

    Anyway… as several other people have stated before me here and on many, many different occasions:

    You, Tim, have been a tremendous, tremendous influence in many people’s lives (including mine). It’s enough for several human beings’ lives. If this isn’t enough for the time when the ‘big buzzer goes off’ then I don’t know… 🙂 But I can see that being a “superhero” takes its toll, especially if one achieves so much in such a relatively young age. What else is/has to come? How can one top that?

    I know I don’t have any right to give you any sort of ‘advice’ but if I may do so: have faith, Tim, that things will – in the end – be always all right, IF you believe they will be. And do start running… 🙂

    Best regards from Greece,

    David

    PS: Although I am missing the definition of the expressions “gentlemanly sites” and “relax” I can confidently say that if it is what I think it is then I have never opened them to “relax”… 😉

  60. Thanks to Jason Moore for sharing your blog with me. I connected with all you wrote & it gave me a 2nd wind to get going!

  61. This manic-depressive symptom sounds a-lot like symptoms of PTSD or something similar. I got a small case of Combat PTSD. 🙂 25 yrs old

    This information is GOLD for the mind of a combat vet like me because we are perceived as a dysfunctional group already. Many individuals from the popular society group or the wannabe pro problem solver group around me attempt to provide me with advice on how to cope with symptoms you talk of but little do THEY know that they themselves are in need of applying the same advice in their field of life. When this process is happening it seems to put me in a position where I once again feel as an outsider and start to believe in my mind that I really am dysfunctional and broken. Then I come to an ugly conclusion in my own mental mind and tell myself that since no one really knows how to answer my call for help, I revert to do what I am trained to do and that is eliminate the problem any means possible but since we are a small few, a good healthy process (the one above I think) to eliminate the problem never comes across to us and we find suicide as an option that starts to seem more appealing then the advice that the whole popular society group is giving.

    I am hoping to win your mentorship so I can show other vets that there is an ELITE civilian group out there with tips and tricks applicable to help the ELITE military group get over our own walls in life. Not everyone signs up to be a soldier but everyone on this planet is a soldier in life battling for tomorrow.

    Thank You.

    1. The US Military’s suicide rate grew a startling 15 percent in 2012. The Pentagon, which has put great effort into lowering military suicide rates, has acknowledged that battle casualties are no longer the primary reason for soldiers’ deaths. (JUST TO SHOW HOW EASY THE OPTION OF SUICIDE IS FOR US ).

      Thank you for all the help you have given me and continue to give.

      Sincerely,

      F-bomb Specialist. A.S.

    2. You are an elite specimen of the species specialist Sandoval. Rock on. I always wondered how guys who have faced the scariest stuff possible just don’t conquer everything after surviving death or the certainly elevated odds of it. My favorite fridge magnet says “what would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?” This blog is the elite bro. Thanks for sharing.

  62. Tim,

    Thank you for sharing, I can totally relate to this. I’ve been struggling with college and starting my own business for 3 years now. Have to drink lots of caffeine everyday because I don’t get much sleep. Stress is increasing from day to day. Should I prioritize schoolwork or starting my business (currently working on an app)? Please give me some tips.

    Marv

  63. Tim,

    Thank you for this post. Please know that even though it may have been difficult for you to publish it, it personally means a lot to me. I appreciate your transparency and though I don’t personally know you, you have positively impacted my life in several ways, and in turn I positively impact all those in my life. Thank you.

  64. I knew you weren’t perfect…I just knew it.

    **Some people will get a lift from 5-HTP, especially in higher doses and particularly in winter. Pulled me out of a long funk once, black clouds lifted in a matter of hours, felt like magic.

  65. Thank you for having the courage to post this, my friend–your wit, wisdom, and human-ness have inspired and bolstered more flagging spirits than you can possibly imagine 🙂

  66. Good stuff.

    I’ve actually found that coffee doesn’t increase my productivity, it just increases my anxiety and prevents me from sitting still and actually focusing on a task.

  67. This is a very important post, Tim. I think all of us hide the things we dislike most about ourselves so we can come off looking good to other people, while we secretly berate ourselves for our negative traits. Knowing that other people are the same is a great comfort so thank you for your courage and honesty.

    My nemesis is procrastination. I feel it is a lack of discipline and a sign of laziness. I constantly do things that are not #1 on my list, knowing full well that I am self-sabotaging. And the more I do it, the worse I feel. What helps? On really bad days when I’m so overwhelmed that I don’t even feel like starting anything, I remember the tip I read somewhere that the best thing to do when you’re feeling down and overwhelmed is to take action, any action. That works. But I need a better strategy for normal days. In fact my main focus right now is to learn how to focus better.

    I think I may have stumbled onto a guide that will work for me. It’s a great, free, downloadable, online book called “Focus” by Leo Babauta (author of “The Power of Less”). The section called “The Power of Rituals” resonated for me, so I plan to read the whole thing.

    Meanwhile, I’m VERY interested to know how you make time to meditate twice a day? I’ve been trying to figure out how to do that for ages. If I do it in the morning or night, when I’m in bed, I fall asleep. And once I’m up, I never want to sit down and relax. Any advice?

  68. This is a really great perspective. Being motivated and staying on task is one of the hardest things for me and then it makes me feel guilty because I feel like I’m being irresponsible. That guilt is what drives me down. I like your tactics though and I’m going to try it out. This post also came at a time when I was deliberating between going to class or spendingymtime getting organized at home so that it doesn’t stress me out later. Decision made. My one task for the day is to get organized. Thanks again for making successful people seem like human beings.

  69. It takes a brave man to admit he “relaxes” on certain gentlemanly websites. I wouldn’t know anything about that but I have read about it on the internet ;^)

  70. Tim,

    First off, who the heck doesn’t cry while watching Rudy? I am getting teary thinking about it right now!

    Thanks for being real and sharing all the bad, as well as all the good. You rock man!

  71. could you comment on this please or some links?

    “Added roughy 20 pounds of muscle after learning the pain and joy of high-rep front squats (and topical DHEA, courtesy of Patrick Arnold).”

  72. Thanks Tim. I’m just starting out and look at so many of you all like you’re easily (and now unfairly) past these problems. Thanks for your transparency. If I struggle I’m not alone. Peace and all the best.

  73. Thanks for sharing a personal behind the scenes look at the downs. I think too many of us (yes myself included) all “facebook-ize” our life and only share the ups. We close off during the downs.

    We all have ups and downs. When we think of others, we usually only compare ourselves to the ups. We rarely compare downs.

  74. Great post, Tim! Writing about this is bold and brave, so lots of kudos for that.

    I also think that besides being courageous, it’s smart of you to be so honest. Lots of people want to believe that “very successful” people are perfect/superheroes, because it lets them off the hook to try to accomplish similar great things. By making yourself vulnerable, you take that excuse away from them, which furthers your missions of helping everyone achieve more.

    As a side note, it’s been proven that we tend to have a special liking for flawed characters/people, because that make them more like us: it’s easier to connect with them. So you now seem even more likeable! 😉

    Parting though on productivity: while it’s impressive to tally accomplishments over a short period of time (8 weeks), I suspect some of these achievements are the product of many more weeks (or months) of efforts. In other terms, many many days where getting started was hard but where your efforts were necessary to get to these ultimate results. I think those many grinding days should get some of the credit for these achievements! When it’s hard to get out of bed or do the right thing, think about a future time where you’ll be able to wow everyone by announcing your new grandiose accomplishment. Can’t wait to see what it is!

    -Thierry

  75. Thank you for this! This describes pretty much to a T what I have been struggling with the past 5 months. Manic-depressiveness, depression, struggle getting out of bed, feeling like anything in my life is consistent, struggling getting out of bed to go anywhere except work, self-consciousness about my body and my life, the list goes on…that being said, I just moved to NYC 5 months ago to the day, so it makes sense that I’ve been coping with the changes of living in a big city. I like to pretend I’m ok, and I am some days, but more often than not I am trying to hide my fear and anxieties, and have been using less than healthful and sustainable ways to cope with this fear and anxiety. Thank you so much for your honesty, for your tips, and for getting on your big girl pants to post this. So glad to know I am NOT alone. 🙂

  76. Hi Tim,

    Take a lot of guts to say all that. I respect your transparency.

    Mastering this life without clarity & working towards the next life will always leave a void in your life.

    I’d welcome you to discover Islam, read translation of the Quran as a complete way life.

    Take care friend & keep up the good work,

    Ahmed