"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 700 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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1,015 Replies to “"Productivity" Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)”

  1. I sometimes skip over your emails but this post caught my attention. I think it’s great that you pushed yourself to post this. You are helping to normalize the every day roller coaster of being alive and being human, entrepreneur or not. No need to pathologize, you seem seem normal to me… Whatever normal is anyway.

    Thanks for being transparent.

  2. Hi Tim,

    Fresh post. It’s always good to see that you are human after all, so to say. Some days I feel like I am too lazy and unorganised to achieve even a bit of what all the “grand entrepreneurs” are doing. Sometimes it feels, exactly as you say, that leading entrepreneurs are somehow superhuman with superpowers, but in reality they’re people pretty much like everyone else. However still heroes in their own ways, because they were brave to do what they’re doing.

    I also found the best euphemism ever in your post, which I will use. Thanks, very useful, haha

  3. This is why this guy is my idol. Really, really hit the nail on the head.

    Thanks so much for this post, Tim. I really needed to read this at this particular moment.

    Gonna do you proud, sir!

  4. Great article; thanks for posting it. It’s nice to see how the “successful” people make things happen (and especially to see that they have inertia and how they overcome it).

  5. All of man’s trouble stems from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone with himself. -Blaise Pascal

    Tall order and often frustrating. Thanks for the post and I agree with some of the other writers it is nice to know that sometimes it is even hard to be Tim Ferris.

    Might I suggest Open Mind Open Heart by Father Thomas Keating a book on Contemplative Pray. This great mind has been meeting with others such as the Dali Lama and prominent Guru’s since the early 1970’s. Quite a journey into the deep silence of the soul.

    As an experiment I challenge you to attend the 10 day silent retreat in Snowmass Colorado based on Thomas Keating’s work. An electronic and silent holiday that will change your heart and mind.

    As for the birthday party, I have named that feeling the “slumber party effect” . It can happen on holidays, vacations and family visits. During these events, it is the wonderful surrounding of love, fun, and blessing brought by a crazy mix of humanity that makes me remember that the world can be a graceful, loving, kind place. The “effect” part is when I am humbled by the leaving of all these wonderful souls and must re-enter the space of me. Sometimes distraction is a good thing. Happy Belated Birthday-Glad you celebrated with joy!

    Tanya

  6. Great post Tim!

    Any time I feel like I’m off course I re-read “The Richest Man In Babylon” by George S. Clason. Something about this book always re-ignites my drive.

    Can’t wait to see your new show!

    -Jeremiah

  7. I like reading your blog, but this post was something special. You are really brave sharing such personal details with all readers. Applause and thank you for that. This made me feel so much closer to you as a person (though I still do believe you have superpowers and you will not convince me otherwise ;))

    Meditation that I am using and helps a lot is Silva Method and some other products from MindValley. Been trying to continuously meditate too (was successful for a month or so, before extended Halloween in New Orleans… )

    And when I feel down, I try to get myself back with bigger picture motivation. Does not work all the time, but when it does, it feels good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbJ8dp4zK7A

    Smiles,

    A.

  8. I hope this will help. I read jt just before reading your post.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”

    Tim your teachings are in my opinion, some of the best in history. You have no interest in power or money. You simply wish to become better and show others the way. But don’t ever feel as though you owe this to the world. If cutting your work load by 90% or selling everything and moving away from it all would make you happier, then maybe a mini retirement is in order to see if you prefer that life. I would desperately miss your contribution to the world, but I don’t want to see your contribution at the expense of your happiness and wellbeing. I just want to make sure you are not making the mistake I was for years. And that is living the life that you think you want or “should” want , rather than living the life that brings you true happiness despite everything else.

    1. Thanks for posting that, I feel like that man in the arena often. Its a struggle to me, like many, to do what I believe counts aka helping myself and others to live more pleasurable lives.

  9. Tim, thanks for the post, at present I am in the process of making a transition in my career and it’s nice to know that the feelings that I go through are nothing “abnormal”. At times we look for inspiration in others, and it is uplifting to know that you are not infallible, that we can relate to what you have and are going through. I congratulate you on exposing this side of yourself. By knowing that you are “human” after all and knowing that it is smart/hard work and perseverance that takes you on your adventures and not your “super-human” strength. Once again, bravo on putting yourself out there. p.s. If you are ever in Montreal, drop a note, we’ll grab a great Smoked-Meat … regards … Alfidio

  10. Brave. Truth.

    Wow, this hits home. I’ve been in professional depression lately. Reaching out to my trusted “Yoda’s” / Jedi masters has helped.

    And, I believe awareness of being on a roller coaster is most helpful. 🙂 “what the heck?! why am I going up and down and fast and slow and I can’t control it?! Oooohhhh, I’m on a roller coaster! Ok, buckle up, hold on, lean into the curves, and keep your head up so your neck doesnt snap.”

    Thank you for the one big thing at a time strategy. At the j-o-b, after 2 – 3 hour meetings where we tackle something challenging I need a break. I hate it when everyone else slogs back to their computers to eat crap in front of them or not at all. I take a shameless break. Then I can take on something else.

  11. This is a really good post – awesome tips. It’s good to know others feel this way at times, too, when it comes to the blogging business. Making a list of 3-5 things is great practice – I lay out the 3 most important things I have to do on a white board and knock them out pretty easily that way. Doing things in sets of 3’s really make the work load seem easier.

  12. Really great post. Tim I really enjoyed a post you did a long time ago “Things I loved and learned in (sorry cant remember the year) Are you planning to do one of these again? All the best

  13. Thank you so much for sharing that. I actually cried while reading it.

    I’ve been feeling like my life been stuck in your 1st list for the past 3 years…

    Can’t wait to try your technique!

    Best of luck to you and many thanks

  14. Without getting too personal since I have a few colleagues who read this blog, I need to at least express gratitude given your words have deeply echoed the current season of my life. In the past week especially, I have massively fought the habit of being too hard on myself, so I thank you for deciding against your original decision of writing this post. It has given me permission to breathe a bit more soundly.

  15. This post gave me chills, thanks Tim.

    Despite reading mountains of books on the topic, I’ve struggled with self-management for as long as I remember. Throughout hs/college, I somehow got by just by virtue of my intellect… but now as an entrepreneur, I’m facing the reality that my bullshit habits are really holding me back.

    I would often find myself feeling guilty about my procrastination which leads to depression-related beliefs like ‘I can’t even get X done… I just spend Y hrs doing basically NOTHING.. –> I’m never going to be successful like [insert someone I look up to –ahem, Tim Ferriss–here]’ which of course just perpetuates the vicious cycle of avoidance/ depression. Ugh.

    Seeing that you’ve dealt with something similar, have found a way to manage it and still become a Boss gives me hope. Definitely going to experiment with incorporating your strategies here into my morning routine, and will try to return to this post when I’m feeling shitty about my lack of progress.

    I’ve also been experimenting with consistent meditation to help with returning my focus and resisting distractions, but results haven’t been as dramatic as I’d hoped — is there any form of meditation you recommend?

  16. Tim,

    Allow me to ask you (as well as others here in the ’round’):

    Do you believe in an “Infinite Intelligence”* and if so, do you believe that this Infinite Intelligence has a plan for all of us? If you feel this is not appropriate to answer, let me ask you differently: If there were an Infinite Intelligence that has a plan for all of us (for reasons of this question, let’s simply take this as a given), what do you think is the plan for you?

    My intention is not to judge you based on your answer, I am definitely not the ‘most enlightend person’ either, but simply to find out what you think about this aspect, as it is something I have been pondering about as well lately. I strongly feel it ties in well with your post, also considering the fact that you have started to meditate.

    Best regards,

    David

    *aka God but not as the God claimed by the main religions but the *one* first cause of all things of which, by definition, there can be only one.

  17. Great post, glad to see you are human after all! I’m definitely guilty of making huge to-do lists, then only doing 1-2 of the least important things on them throughout the day. I’m going to try the approach you suggested.

    As for caffeine, I find it a win/lose situation. I’m way more alert and productive with caffeine, but each day I’ll up the dosage a bit until I notice my brain starts to become a jumble. I’ll then detox for a few days and restart the cycle. I need to figure out a better way to do this, maybe something more cyclic. maybe I’ll try alternating between coffee and tea week to week.

  18. I spat my eat out at this: Realized — once again — that manic-depressive symptoms are just part of entrepreneurship.

    Heh, thanks. Wish I had all the positives you listed to go with that one, though. Thanks for being real.

  19. You also posted a quote awhile back by Cato.

    “Seeing the lightest and gayest purple was then most in fashion, he would always wear that which was the nearest black; and he would often go out of doors, after his morning meal, without either shoes or tunic; not that he sought vain-glory from such novelties, but he would accustom himself to be ashamed only of what deserves shame, and to despise all other sorts of disgrace.”

    Walking the walk. Well done!

    1. This is real solid.

      When we were in high school, my older brother always used to do outlandish stuff like this. He’d cop some flack but would stick to his guns anyway. I always admired him for that; he is a real countercultural, visionary type dude.

      It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I hit 25 I came to realize what he was actually doing there. The sneaky bast**d! All the while I had steadily been accumulatng societal cruft! Since that time it has been a steady process of breaking down, right through to outright rejecting “common”, fallacious notions of, like, everything from “success”, work, beauty/fashion etc. And then everything in between!

      Sure, take a shower every now and then and all that so you’re not carrying around funk of the unwanted variety but also realize it won’t hurt you to PURPOSELY wear some rageddy stuff out in a high vis area in public from time to time. It’s actually quite a liberating experience. And as you mention really not embarrassing at all once you free yourself from certain societal/mainstream shackles.

      +1

  20. Hi Tim,

    This came at a great time. This morning I sat back and decided to detach from my busy work schedule and take a personal day to start my adventure into meditation. I too suffer from manic depressive episodes due to my nature of saying “yes” to to many people and constantly adding to my list of responsibilities. Being pulled in so many directions is a burden I bring on myself and seeing how someone labeled as an efficiency guru such as yourself also still suffers helps to realize it most likely isn’t me but a factor of conditioning and environment.

    Your checklist is helpful and I think the emphasis really needs to be put on doing this at the very beginning of your day and dedicating to 2 key items. The rest can be worked on after they have been handled.

    I thank you for the write up and great content you provide.

    Cole

  21. My own process (also commented on Pat Flynn’s site) is below. Some of the tactics are similar to some of those you mentioned, but for me, the important elements are (a) not giving yourself too much to do, (b) having a concrete reward, and (c) forcing yourself to work quickly and efficiently.

    It works like magic for me, no matter what my motivation level is or how overwhelmed I feel.

    3 steps:

    1. Define a concrete reward, e.g. a movie I want to watch at the end of my work.

    2. Define exactly what I want to get done: A limited number of important tasks with concrete results (e.g. an entire blog post, a design element finished, a certain number of emails answered).

    3. Give myself only 3 hours for the work (e.g. “movie starts at 7:00?), and lay out exactly in what order I’ll get my work tasks done before then.

    If I finish the tasks within the 3 hours, I get to watch the movie. (If I don’t, but I still get a lot done, I might watch it anyway.)

    This creates both urgency to have concrete results AND excitement toward accomplishing those things. The 3-hour timeframe works pretty well for me, as a balance between accomplishment and feasibility when I’m not very motivated by anything but the light at the end of the short tunnel I’m creating.

  22. Hey Tim,

    This post has motivated me to write in a second comment that I was to afraid to send earlier.

    Over the past few months, I have been researching, experimenting and trying to calculate what true happiness consists of. Just recently ( these past 4 days ) I believe I have discovered it, at least for myself. I am in absolute tranquility and have not had a single negative thought in 4 days. I am not entirely sure how I landed here so now it is time to dissect it and hopefully come up with a formula to bring others here.

    The thing that I have been afraid to do is ask you for your opinion on the subject. I feel I have some really good data and observations, but whenever I thought of trying to send in my findings to you, thoughts of inferiority crept in and prevented me from doing so. This blog post really showed me that you are a man with insecurities, flaws and problems just like me and that you might be able to benefit as much from these studies as I have.

    I would love the opportunity to show you what I have come up with. If you have any interest at all, please let me know and I will email a summarized version of what I have found to your VA and you can take a few minutes to look over it and see if your think it is worth perusing.

    Best of luck to you and please keep us updated with how things are going.

  23. Hi Tim-

    Unrelated to this post but I was trying to find out how your ultra marathon went. I’m training for my 3rd ironman – after a 7 year break and having kids- and interested how prepared you felt mentally and physically without the longer workouts? I train with a 12 week build / high intensity phase but only after putting in about 3 months of base / long low workouts. I don’t see how I could cut that base out and even finish let alone podium. You also mentioned total immersion and was wondering what you thought about the shaw method of swimming. I’ve taken both clinics and am faster swimming shaw but no one ever talks about it- why did you do TI?

    Thanks a lot

    Anne

  24. Jesus. Thank you. I am so very good at self-destructive habits and utterly neurotic, maladjusted coping strategies that it can be very hard for me to get through the lows. Reading this was like reading about myself. I really, really appreciate you sharing this with the world. I have 47 days to write a couple novellas and a novel. Completely doable… if I can focus. I’m going to give this method a shot tomorrow (can’t today because, well, there’s this childcare thing I have to do instead) and I hope it will help. Actually, just reading this and knowing there are other strategies besides “work myself half to death three minutes from the deadline” is really valuable and has already boosted my productivity today. 🙂 Thank you for sharing. It means a lot.

  25. I get it Tim.

    In the author, speaker, consultant, “guru” business, we are selling a fictional superhero character, whether we want to or not.

    We never sell lies, but we highlight the exceptional moments and don’t necessarily volunteer the lesser ones. People need heroes, role-models, etc. to motivate them to reach higher levels.

    If sharing the extraordinary moments helps inspire others to reach their own new highs, then you’ve done something great, even if you don’t share every time you have a headache, bad day, insecure moment, etc. That does not make you less authentic.

    That said, every superhero has his weakness. The greatest Superhero of all time had his personal battle with kryptonite. It was necessary in order for the audience to connect with him. No superhero can be without weaknesses.

    Someone once told me, if you’re not a little insecure before clicking publish for each post, it isn’t your best work.

    Great post Tim. Thanks for sharing.

  26. I can’t thank you enough for posting this.

    I’m very happy to see that I’m not the only one who goes thru this motivation struggle between hitting the home runs.

  27. Never thought about the manic-depressive symptoms an entrepreneur faces, I identify myself with it. Great unexpected read!

  28. Tim, based on what you wrote, I think you need Ying to balance out the Yang.

    My suggestion: look into getting a japanese / asian girlfriend.

    It’s not a coincidence that so many entrepreneurs have japanese / asian significant others.

    People from those cultures (generally speaking) are more understanding to entrepreneurs’ workloads.

    Anyhow, keep up the good work, looking forward to December & the new TV show!

  29. Tim,

    I’m amazed (and inspired) by all of your experiences and hacking. I understand the need to go over the top to make people react, even though it bothers me sometimes.

    I’m glad to have read this post of yours today. It shows there’s some growth happening in how you reflect on things around you and that you’re willing to show your vulnerability. It can only make you stronger as a person, inspiring more readers and making you more human.

    Thank you,

    – Vincent

    PS: Montreal is a great city 🙂

  30. Hey Tim,

    Wow bro! There’s a new book in all this: The Four-Hour Mindset: Grappling with the Entrepreneurial/Creative Self.

    No matter how I slice it, my life seems like three steps forward and two steps back–in the best of times. But a reality check from one of my heroes (which you are because your first book snapped me out of a 47-year daze) saying this is normal is VERY encouraging. Thank you.

    Warmest regards,

    Brian

  31. Thanks so much for this Tim. This post inspires me. Also would love more information on topical DHEA. Any articles or studies to read?

  32. I believe that the best solution is to learn to love to be alone, if we really find how we will probably stop doing 95% of the things that we do.

  33. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for the example of “transparent honesty” which we all need if we are going to be in our integrity which is the real secret to success and happiness.

  34. Thank you sir for the candid post. Your writing continues to inspire me. Here are two related quotes for your collection (warning: I might have gotten these quotes from you in the first place, hard to remember!)

    Zen saying:

    “Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.

    After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.”

    And in that spirit:

    “The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” -Albert Camus

  35. Thanks for this blog. I found it encouraging. For while you have some talents that not all of us do, and also have had the benefit of some advantages that not all of us do, it shows that you are normal/neurotic like the rest of us. So thank you for that!

    Thanks also for the tips. I would say they are food for thought, but am changing that to food for action!

    Thanks again! Rob

  36. Thanks Tim. I have been struggling lately to get back into a groove and be able to even block out an hour. I think I am doing too much and don’t know what the ONE thing is. This article helps me clear my mind and make sure that I am answering YES to either of those questions.

  37. Thanks Tim! I was feeling a bit guilty about two mental health days away from my new job where I am bored and have beocome an extreme procrastinator. It’s good to know I’m not alone and I am ‘normal’. 🙂

    I appreciate the list of resources included by all. I have much reading to do!

  38. Tim,

    While reading this post I could feel a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders.

    Thanks for setting the record straight. You have earned even more of my trust.

  39. What a relief to read you are also a hit the snooze button until it becomes absurd!! Totally relate. I am just now coming out of a funk. When you are there it is just a ride on the downward slope until something shakes me and I have a moment or give to myself some deep self-care and I release the downward fall and stabilize. Seems to be a constant that I embrace as part of the creative process – working with my imagination and the ability to connect with big ideas. Love this POST!! Thank you for sharing deeply. Can’t wait to see the television show in December..

    MC

  40. Thank you, Tim. Very important post on the insights that we all share the human-ness of struggling and achieving constantly.

  41. Tim,

    This post was an eye opener. This one hit it home.

    As a commuting college student with two jobs, the days can be overwhelming. It is all to easy to act “busy” and not focus on the important uncomfortable things. This content will be part of my daily thang

    Thanks for throwing your self out there and telling it like it is.

    -Hunter

  42. Thank you for sharing Tim Ferris! If you were indeed a superhero, you’d be my kind – strong but vulnerable, fierce, funny, always giving. You make it easy to walk alongside you on the road to betterment, instead of 10 paces behind feeling like we’ll never catch up – ever. Sounds like all we need to do to catch up is take one item on our list and block out the time to make it so.

    Just when I thought I couldn’t like you more – I just did. Easy one on my list.

    Mahalo for the aloha!

  43. Such an honest and open post – thanks for letting me into your life. In many respects it is like looking in a mirror! So much going on “upstairs” and a constant battle to organise it

    I seem to be living in reverse with the older I get the more risks I am taking – what can possibly be the logic of starting two business at the age of 57 after working in univerisities all my life. The answer is I have found my secret weird guy and I am reveling in the role! If only I can keep to the plan!

  44. Hi Tim,

    Every single entrepreneur out there reading this post is thanking you BIG time for exposing yourself. By doing so you help us all realize that even you, our ‘superhuman’ entrepreneur ‘superhero’, goes through the exact same emotions and roller coaster ride.

    Thank you so much for being brave, open, and honest enough to share this. This was incredibly timely for me.

    P.S. If there’s one thing I took away from this, it’s that ‘success’ and that lifestyle so many of us are after is truly not a destination, it’s a ‘feeling’. Whether I’m Arman Assadi or Tim Ferriss, it’s feeling a certain way here and now that determines true success.

    Pura Vida 🙂

    -Arman

  45. Thanks for posting this. Really came at the right time. Despite quitting a job I hate and working on a new exciting business venture and finishing a book I’ve been talking about for years, I woke up today feeling like I didn’t want to get out of bed. I made myself go to the gym for thirty minutes which helped slightly but not much. Glad to see that everyone has those days. Thanks Tim.

  46. Wow! It’s nice to know you’re human like the rest of us. It reminds me how I idolized Bruce Lee growing up and then I read an article about how chaotic his lifestyle had become shortly before his death.

    It’s a pretty controversial article that detailed how he was under so much stress that he stopped practicing many of his philosophies he’d expressed years earlier and found that eating hasheesh was the only way to calm himself down. It’s a good read and it reminds me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things but must remember they are still human. Keep being awesome, man!

    ps – you can read the pdf of the article here https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/7845992/learning/Bruce%20Lee/Penthouse%20Magazine%20Article%20(1983).pdf

  47. Wow, Tim. Thank you so much. I applaud your courage to publish this and the difference your bravery will make for so many as well as yourself. Bravo.

  48. I just turned 35 and recently (last couple months) have been experiencing manic highs and lows (self-diag as bipolar I’m guessing). The first one was zen-like, spiritual, untouchable. Then I felt the low of the low. The sway of the swing was overwhelming, and now it’s starting to stabilize. Last week was my low (great timing when I have work events and people to deal with). Today I’m back on a high. So like all the comments, this posting is perfect timing. I need to take some time to really learn about my “abilities” and new personality(ies). Luckily my wife is TF with a vagina and is ultra supportive. She found this vid to be helpful: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

    Time to get shit done…Thanks Tim!

  49. Tim,

    I have been struggling with this same type of manic-depressive neurotic non-sense for years.

    I too am guilty of busy work to rationalize away the important “must-do” tasks.

    A quote that I recently found has helped me regain focus and direction in my life.

    “I am the master of my fate,

    I am the captain of my soul.” – “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley

    Typically, when I start exhibiting the self-defeating busy work and rationalizations; I change surroundings, sit down, say this to myself a couple of times and write in my journal for 1 hour (exactly). This process has helped with self-talk and productivity immensely. I look at it as having a small business meeting with my brain.

    Anyway, I found your article very helpful and you’ve given me some new ideas to try and implement in my own “far from normal day”

    Thanks!

  50. “Realized — once again — that manic-depressive symptoms are just part of entrepreneurship.”

    This is good to hear from you Tim. At least I know there is one other like me.

  51. Thanks Tim for the very personal post and for the continuous inspiration you provide.

    May I say that as a Montrealer, Montreal would be very lucky to have you as one of its citizens. Glad to hear things are going well for you and congrats on the dream home!

    Ganbatte!

  52. Hi Tim,

    I just saw a video of you being interviewed by Bryan Elliott , host of ‘Behind the Brand’. After listening to you talk, I knew your inspiring, low-key enthusiasm was what I needed. Thanks for being so vulnerable about your challenges. I stumble and fumble my way through things at times, but I am learning to stop being so critical of my faults. You are an inspiration, a regular guy who gets it! I am looking forward to reading your books and your blog. Now, when I have a dilemma, I’ll ask myself WWTFD. Thanks so much for caring and sharing your thoughts.

  53. Great post Tim! Much like many of the people here, it has struck a real chord with me. I have been thinking about this for a while. The only addition that I would make is regarding the issue of sleep. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. I don’t just mean being unconcious for 8 hours; but being in that deep state of REM sleep for most of that time (sleeping tablets DO NOT HELP!!). When you can enhance that period of time overnight, when you wake up you feel more refreshed, focussed and have more ability to conquer the world. It is all related to cortisol production that mainly occurs overnight. The more that we have in the morning the better we feel. The less that we have, the more we need to compensate with caffeine, red bull etc…

    Just as a brief ‘mini hack’, I do swear by 5HTP. It is very safe and can be bought over the counter. It does help regulate serotonin and melatonin levels overnight without any addictive issues or respiratory dysfunction. I do find that when I take my 5HTP, my wake up is ‘cleaner’ and I am more focussed! There are obviously many ‘lifestyle’ changes that work extremely well such as the meditation, but this is just a thought about what works for me.

    That said, once again; great post Tim.

    Thanks.

    Vikram.

  54. Thank you, Tim!

    Especially for reminding me that an emotional roller-coaster is just part of the entrepreneurship. I’ll always remember the first days of me being euphoric about my business, and my mentor telling me “Hold on to these feeling. There will be days you’ll regret being born”.

    Anyway, thanks for opening up and sharing, it is very helpful and inspiring.

  55. My best way to “trick” myself into getting that one important task done is to start the work day with it before doing anything else. And especially without checking email before I tackle the task.

    If, on the other hand, I start the workday by checking email, the day has gone to hell. Sure, I get a lot of stuff done, but it’s always the less important stuff.

    The sad truth is that I know this, and yet sticking to “no email before spending a few hours on my focus project” is a daily struggle. At this point, I am super good if I do it two days out of 7…

    sigh

  56. Thank you so much for this. It is so helpful.

    I’m noticing a fabulous trend of successful entrepreneurs sharing how they truly feel a lot of the time instead of pretending everything is always rosy.

    I think it is a huge contribution anytime someone like yourself speaks candidly.

  57. I took 10 minutes out of watching Family Guy in the bath to read this, glad I did.

    Tim, you’re a mental. Keep it up!

  58. Thank you for the honesty and vulnerability. It’s so refreshing to see that part of you.

    My question for you is: did anything shift in your patterns or mood just by posting this publicly?

    Michael

  59. Hey Tim,

    Would you be able to go more in depth on items 3, 8, and 9?

    I did a 10 day meditation course, but haven’t been able to keep up the habit since. I’m curious to learn more about how you transformed your bloodwork and added 20 lbs?

  60. Hey Tim, you’ve always been one of my role models since I first read your book about 2 years after turning 19 and entering the crazy world of startups. This post has only made me respect you more, it’s good to be human!

  61. Thanks for this sincerely honest post Tim!! (yes double explanation marks)

    I saw you at a convention a couple of years back and have been reading your books and posts ever since. This has post has had the biggest impact on me out of all the fine advice you have offered! MASSIVE.

    I really thought you had some type of superhuman genetic make up. Your rediculously honest post has made me feel that maybe all of us have some of that superhuman genetic makeup and I am officially going out to take life by the balls as of today:)

  62. Wow accidently got subscribbed to this post and I can’t get unsubscribbed. To many emails! This is not the low info diet I wanted! MAKE IT STOP TIM!!!

  63. Thank you for sharing.

    I hate this time of year when the days get shorter and shorter – Fall sucks. At least I now kind of recognize it, though.

    One thing that helps me when I get in a funk is to blabber on to someone I don’t know very well about something relatively private. I later sort of regret that I opened my mouth as some sort of weakness, but that somehow kind of causes me to try to be stronger / re-focus going forward – I’m not exactly sure why it works (any psychologists want to comment, here?).

    Actually, maybe that’s how you used this blog just now, neh?

    -Tim-

  64. Blocking two or three hours to concentrate on just one thing is an idea way to improve your productivity, but I don’t think that this is feasible for people who already have full agendas at work, and other tasks to tend to at home. In addition, most breakthrough activities can take hundreds of hours. I’d rather go for breaking complex activities into pieces as small as you can handle without bringing your normal life in disarray.

  65. Thanx for appearing more human, more like us all ! This makes you only better and allows me to relate to you even more !

    Keep being who you are !

  66. I often use the 80% strategy — the most important projects get pushed out of view because they seem too big. Just get it to 80% and find people to help take it to the next level. Progress, not perfection.

  67. Hey Tim,

    Amazing… How much response this post got! It shows that peeling off the “SUPER TIM” costume, and giving us a glimpse of the human being underneath it resonates with everyone 🙂

    Cheers, Beca

  68. Hi Tim,

    Thank you soooo much for this post. The honesty and the insight. The tools to help me go forward and stay there more often. Perfect timing. To be honest, this post would have been perfect timing many times! in my last month.

    Please know that what you do does help change peoples lives for the better, in a real way.

    This is such an important post and I would not be surprised if it turns out to be one of your most popular. Ironic, given the struggle it took to post it!

    Best regards,

    Chris

  69. I found this post to be very helpful an very well timed! I had a physical on Friday morning and the doctor was concerned about my blood pressure. It’s nothing major, but I’m confronting my high stress level in a more realistic way than ever before. Honestly Tim, hearing that you struggle with stress like this helps a lot. Of course it’s not good to see anyone struggling, but it helps me feel more human to know I’m not alone.

    My coping method may sound super corny, but it totally helps. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed by my day job, start up, managing financial pressures, or contemplating starting a family, I put on Moneyball. There is something about the way Brad Pitt deals with the most grave circumstances with such a profoundly cavalier attitude. This seems to be a through line of all of his roles, but it hits especially close to home for me in Moneyball. This movie just reminds me that life is really not that big of a deal, so we might as well be bold and go for it.

    When things get frustrating, it’s time to pause and think about how doing things completely differently can potentially change our reality forever. The scene where Billy Beane is talking to Scott Hatteberg about switching from catcher to first baseman for the first time in his career with zero experience gets me teared up every time. Not only is he embracing an out of the box and seemingly idiotic idea, but he’s also presenting it as if it were the most casual, low stakes decision in the world. We need to approach more situations like this because life is about relaxing, going for it, and loving life along the way.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. Just struck a cord. Have a good one all.

  70. One of your best blog posts, hands down.

    I love the honesty. It’s refreshing to hear in the a world where successful people are expected to be “perfect” and constantly at the top of their game. Amazing job on the accomplishments!

  71. Can we get more info on the topical DHEA? I’m seeing direct DHEA results in estrogen conversion but 7-keto DHEA seems to be OK? I probably won’t purchase either way, but I’d hate to see someone go buy the wrong stuff because you passingly mentioned results in a blog post 🙂

  72. Thanks for the frank and honest approach. I think everyone knows that they are responsible to clean up their own crap, but it is refreshing to hear it from someone who has risked not being part of the 9-5 crowd and dared to be different “weird”

  73. It’s inspiring to see that the “Super-Human” is quite human after all, therefore if he can do it, I can do it.

  74. Great and courageous post, TIm,

    Gave me moments of recognition from beginning to end.

    And I love your 8-stop mechanism for breaking the pattern. Inspiring stuff.

    Have you tried Ingrid Bacci’s Art of Effortless Living. An inspiring analysis of how to centre life on breathing/inspiration. A great framework for making meditation the heart of daily life.

    Best, Louis