"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. Wow, what timing. I read this after making my first “mental health” appointment with my doctor….good to know manic-depressive tendencies and hyper-entrepreneurship run in the family 🙂

  2. “The five minute journal” (received it by subscribing to Tims Quarterly) is a perfect solution for writing part. This journal is the real shit. Everyone should have one!

  3. Wow! Thank you! That is so me (except I tend to online shop instead of looking at ‘those websites’ that guys frequent)

    I suddenly don’t feel like I am such a failure, and will implement the suggested strategies to start things happening. I guess it comes down to big rocks and little rocks!

  4. Hi Tim

    I have been following you for the last few years since 2008 I think. We have learned lots about you and appreciate all the advice you give. So, here is some from me for you and it works for me and and most people.

    In life you need three things:

    Something to do

    Someone to love and

    Something to look forward to.

    There is a lot of pressure on you but take comfort from your close friends.

    G

    PS: A long way from the Hungarian farm house in Perth Australia – phew!

  5. Excellent views!

    Often thought life was upside down. Over 30 years now but don’t talk about it much in case people think i’m nuts. But more people seem to be getting this now! Which is great!

    Totally agree with the ‘being busy’ stuff being unhelpful.

  6. God bless you Mr. Ferriss. (Full disclosure: I’m an “non-practicing” atheist who isn’t religious, but if had a gun to my head would choose buddhism with a hint of Pastafarianism)

  7. Meditation seems to be a popular answer that I completely agree with. I’ve used a bit of meditation to keep my head straight and think I’ll post a blog series on TM.

    As for those that can’t seem to stick to it. Don’t start with 20 minutes. Start small! Sit by yourself for a few minutes. Work from there once you start to see benefits.

  8. Tim, this was a wonderful post, its great to read something like this having had a lecture from my room-mate just recently about my self defeating thought’s and figuring I was in a minority.

    Thankyou!

  9. Thanks man!! There is nothing more empowering to me than to know to know that we all can be &$#%-ups and still accomplish what we set out to do.

  10. Tim –

    I have been an admirer and fan of your work since the early days of 4HWW and I have to say, this is the most personally meaningful post I have read on your blog. That is not to say that you don’t give great content consistently, you absolutely do. I am just saying that letting the veil down and showing your humanity in this particular way meant a lot to me. It makes me feel like I can actually get off my @$$ and do something meaningful.

    Thank you sir…

  11. “It’s what you do, not how you do it.”

    This is such a great point. Often times I find myself procrastinating on publishing a blog post because I don’t feel it is complete. So I sacrifice consistency with my readers to make me feel better, even though a bit more editing will only improve the piece at most 5%. The main ideas are already there.

  12. Given that we had the time change yesterday, none of us should balk at ‘getting up an hour earlier,’ right? Right.

    Great points and thank you for telling me what I needed to hear today!

  13. Tim,

    Very brave of you to post about this. As someone who goes through the exact same thing, it’s nice to know that other people get through it (especially someone whom I respect so much).

    I’m going to take your advice and implement it in my own life too.

    -Corey

  14. 1- Amazing post. Nothing helps the mind better than hearing that successful people have down days too.

    2- how much did you still cut from it before hitting “publish”? 😉

    3- Montreal is a fantastic city, in all 4 seasons. Dynamic, safe, multicultural city with open minded people.

    Not being ‘yet’ successful, i tied a simple piece of string (meat, cooking string) around my wrist to remember to always push toward my life goal (living a crazy, fullfilled life doing whatever i want whenever i want, learning, etc while making at least XX $ per year without having to work XX hours).

    And it works really well: each time i’m procrastinating, i see the string and think about what i could REALLY be doing instead (travelling, having an amazing loft in Montreal, having 60 hrs per week to learn about anything i want and do anything (cooking, dancing, presentation, business, surfing, etc)).

    Have a clear, measurable goal: my goal is to make x$ per month automated, by my next birthday. I’ll cut the string on the top of a mountain i climbed in Hawaii that i thought was freaking amazing as a reward for my work and pushing outside my comfort zone.

    As soon as i accomplish a goal, then i set another one. I also printed the quote from your book: “doing the unrealistic is easier than the realistic”.

    Never settle for lesss than extraordinary, since we live only once.

    1. … and just to add a last thing, the great & wise Tyler Durden said:

      “It’s only when we’ve lost everything that we’re ready to do anything”.

      Maybe starting anew would be the greatest thing for you. I know it that for me, i,ve done it a few time (sell everything, start anew) and it is a fantastic life rejuvenator. It’s like being reborn. But for many people, it’s scary as hell since you don’t want to give out “stuff”.

      One simple experiment to know if you’d like it, is take a long todo list you have laying around or on a computer, and throw it away. Delete, don’t keep. It is crazy how relieving it feels and how good you are after.

  15. Thanks for that, Tim! Really! It’s great to see that my hero has a kryptonite, too. 🙂

    My recent story:

    I’m living a freaking emotional roller coaster right now. Just failed with one company (My first startup) and jumped straight to another. I’m having trouble waking up and doing my exercises… Had trouble sleeping and a serious lack of discipline. On the last month, all those stuff happened to me:

    -A rebellious kid messed my car with poop and pee. (For no reason)

    -One guy has stolen my smartphone last weekend (Those stuff are really expensive in Brazil and I don’t have much money).

    -I’ve hit my car.

    Despite all those stuff, my girlfriend has been really helpful and supportive. I’m trying to focus on meditation, looking for a more profound meaning for my life and trying to live in the moment. Anxiety has made me really sad sometimes, but when I look to the stuff I’ve already accomplished I feel really grateful and that is the best feeling. It’s not about looking how far you are from your goals, it’s about looking how much you’ve already accomplished since the beginning without losing sight from the real deal: Your family, friends and yourself. My favorite quotes:

    “Live with an open heart, even if it hurts” – David Deida

    “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” – Buddha

    “You’re not your fucking khakis” – Tyler Durden

    🙂

  16. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for the awesome post. I find that when the weather changes things just get a little gloomy, for me personally. As for the jean thing, I also find wearing the same jeans multiple days in a row, just easy to fall into. My wife usually forces me change them 3 or 4 days in. Otherwise I could easily wear them for a week.

    Also, I find that the days that I’m on edge, 2-3 sticks of celery and 30 mins does wonders. Helps me focus and get back on track.

    Again, thanks for the awesome post Tim!

  17. This article comes at the right time for me. I was feeling quite down about my own adventure (I am writing a book) and it was one of those days where I thought maybe today would be a good day to step back from it. Not wanting to give in to this feeling of self-doubt, I decided to write down a thought or two and it turned into so much more. I am no where near done. But a few things fell into place for me and the structure of what I am writing. Your article reminded me that “success” as well as honesty is self-defined. Only you can decide how you view yourself and we are often our own worse enemy. Thank you for all you do for yourself as well as all you do for others.

  18. Dear Tim,

    I’m a successful (symphony orchestra) musician working on a website aimed at sharing my knowledge with aspiring players. I want to “get out there” on the internet and make myself accessible to more people, but my fear is that I can’t live up to a public persona (I feel introverted much of the time.) The solution, I think, is to keep my style informal and direct, and even, to share some of my real struggles with my future fans–much as you did in this post. Reading it last night was much needed confirmation.

    This is my first time to post, so I want to say how much I LOVE ALL 3 BOOKS–I started reading them in January (in reverse order) and have been moving forward on big goals ever since! The sense of fun and adventure in the process has been key. When I get derailed, I look for something small I can do that can bring me back to that “fun” state.

    –Aralee

  19. I just wanted to thank you for this. I’m a struggling writer living with little to no money. Your books are a good insight on ways of life and other unique endeavors, and the tools inside have allowed me live life in a way I never would have thought possible, it opened windows I thought were latched shut. Your a great man. In a totally non-creepy way, hopefully I’ll get the chance to meet you someday. Until then, I’ll plug away with the words. Thank you Tim.

  20. Tim- Awesome post! I have suffered many/all of the emotions and behaviors you candidly talk about in this post. I am glad I am not alone.

    I will recommend one book that has helped me alot. It’s called the Power of Full Engagement/ Jim Lehrer, and was recommended to me by my doctor when I was going through a funk a few years back.

  21. Doing the Jesuit Examen everyday helped me out of the biggest funk I’ve ever been in. Now that things are going pretty well, I’m doing it again and it feels good, and definitely works better when things are going my way. It is basically writing down three things at the end of the day for which you are grateful and saying a prayer for guidance.

  22. Great honest post Tim and very helpful.

    We are all vulnerable sometimes and that is OK.

    I will definitely try your tips to deal with my procrastination which is causing me a lot of anxiety.

    Here are the words that help me to move on when I feel that I don’t have anything left in me.

    “Tirednes shows lack of will for progress. When you feel tired or fatigued that is lack of will for progress. Fire is always burning in you” (Mirra Alfassa)

    Thanks for your wisdom Tim. Big hug to you

  23. Tim, I am so thankful for this post. It made it click for me that I need to do what matters to me, not lots of filler crap. And as crappy as it might sound, it’s nice to know that someone I look up to has shitty days, too. I’m writing a book and it can get overwhelming at times (as you very likely know), but I think that your technique to block out specific time will be a boon. And again, just knowing that I’m not alone in my struggles (and knowing that a titan like you struggles) gives me the fortitude to keep going. I appreciate that and I have appreciated you for years. So thank you. Keep up the good work.

  24. Tim, thank you for this post and keeping it real. Even for us “little guys” who aren’t doing even half the things you’re doing, there’s this need for heroes and superheroes.

    I moved abroad again last year and have been traveling, writing, photographing, filming and editing, and fighting across 8 countries in the pursuit of making good art, making a difference, and making good memories from these adventures. All I did was do what I set out to do and volunteer (now work), used my creative skills, and find a way to make myself useful anywhere I went with a few set tools in the professional kit (and personal, too). It’s, you know: things you’ve taught in your works as well.

    A lot of people back stateside think I’m some sort of superhero or special–all I did was follow a simple template (mostly yours) that seriously, if people are able to follow, follow-through, and commit to it, well, they wouldn’t feel intimidated.

    I guess the real challenge here is that people see the aftermath more than the struggle, and when they look at the struggle themselves, they don’t have the patience or the grit to continue on.

    I just refer people to your book and articles (and a few others by Derek and crew). Seriously, we’re all human, and I guess we forget to tell ourselves it’s okay to want things and get them. This is another article I will be sharing to let friends know there are still challenges.

    A Zen master once said “When you reach the top of the mountain, keep climbing.” See you on the way there, Tim.

  25. “Every positive change–every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness–involves a rite of passage. Each time we ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception.” –Dan Millman, “No Ordinary Moments”

    Just read this quote and thought it was appropriate. I think you’re leveling up again, Tim.

    Thanks for sharing this. Always an inspiration, even through the tough times.

  26. Makes me feel better, oddly enough, to hear that someone like you also has bad days or struggles or might sometimes feels like just being a good dad would be all I could do well – let alone try to make a great website! Thanks for this note. Will be checking out the links.

  27. Damn Tim,

    Super Venerable…but I loved it!!!

    I struggle with the same things almost daily and tell myself over and over again why I am not good enough.

    Sincerely thank you for posting this. This makes me feel like a ‘normal’ entrepreneur….and I guarantee I will wake up easier tomorrow morning and hopefully many more mornings to come because of this post….cheers bro

  28. To show your weaknesses means to be strong. I’ve been having a hard time now, sometimes even have suicidal thoughts. When I finished reading the article I cried. Thank you Tim.

  29. The Eyes of Tim Ferriss will see this. !! My spelling is terrible, but that wont stop me. Hello Tim, my name is Vincent age 25 from long island NY, thankyou for taking the time to personally read this. I have much respect for you and your accomplishments, when I discovered you, I said to myself. “shit”…this guy has taken things ive thought about and truly developed them into works of art. an uncomfortable feeling came over me. Now ive read your bio and you’ve been exploring and going after things since an early age, going to japan and IV leauge, all sorts of accomplishments. The titel of your post is what caught my eye, thankyou for sharing your vunerability. I appreciate it very much. My life has differed from yours in several ways, much of my life has been coping with my own mind. in childhood I was diagnosed with ADHD, Touretts, OCD, Panic disorder, and “A-typical” mood disorder, which I later self diagnosed myself with Bipolar type 2, althought its still not typical. Im usually in a more hypo-manic state…caffine and alchole are both terrible for mood stability …everytime I mess around with them, I become depressed. Ive taken it upon myself in the last year to Bio-Hack myself. Accept I was starting with a “broken Computer” …..in reality my computer isn’t broken at all..its just designed for a different century. I cant possibly explain my whole life, or what I intend to do. but lets just say, I will be the Tony Robbins/Tim Ferriss of Mental illness. I was hesistant to send this…it may not even reach you. I am bearly at the beginning of my journey..as I have just become stable enough to actually carry out goal oriented behavior. Your very left brained i would say, incredibly logical…I am much more intuition guided, and have raw explosive creativity, I am abel to trigor controlled manias for the purpose of creative super storms…..anyway…this was a rant..perhaps not the best way of trying to contact you…but i was pleased with your honesty and felt the need to at least reach out..no matter how far along you are on your journey….I see you have a good heart…oneday I intend to not only meet you, but work with you on a project. congradulations on your new tv show, that’s such an amazing accomplishement and you should be very proud. -Vincent

  30. A very heartfelt post. It is humbling to imagine that even those who reach a level of fame that includes a greater number of fans than could be met in a lifetime can fear being lonely. Truly we are far more limited by our own thoughts than the barriers of life.

  31. Tim, thank you I really appreciate this post! I agree that it is easy for many of us (myself included) to put unrealistic expectations on ourselves as well as negative self judgment based on comparisons to those seemingly ‘totally got it sussed successful’ people.

    Just reading this I feel a weight is lifted:) Fantastic insights and strategies, thanks.

  32. Thank you. Now I don’t feel so blobby, although today I clearly was. Which brings me to my first get out-of-the-funk strategy: Indulge it. Just run with it, and get it out of your system.

    Today for me that meant wandering down to Little Italy for a nice meatball sandwich and an ice-cold Coke. (I’ve been on a super-strict, mostly fish-&-vegetable diet for over a month.) My server came to check on me and found me wiping the corners of my mouth from the last delicious bite. When she brought the check, I inquired about the cannoli. By the time she got to the part about “miniature chocolate chips,” I smiled and said nicely, “Why don’t you bring me one.” Man, I almost cried. It was that good.

    I won’t bore you with how I spent more time afterward wandering around the office-supply store, looking for the perfect autograph pen for my first book, than I did writing the second manuscript, which is due next month. But I did. Ask me if I have any regrets.

    Here’s the thing: The work will get done – it always does. It’s like a cat: No matter which way you drop the thing, it’s going to land on its feet.

    My second funk-breakout strategy: music. Specifically, Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” which always works its Pavlovian magic. Ironically, the song that just came on afterward: “You Haven’t Done Nothing.”

    Maybe not. But God is good, and tomorrow is a brand new day. BTW, Tim, I find your human frailties much more endearing than your mighty deeds and adventures. Thank you so much for sharing both.

  33. thanks for this! Not sure why i immediately thought of this quote, but here it is…

    “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman

    my fav

  34. Tim,

    I had a blood test last time I saw a therapist. Turned out my vitamin D was half of what it should be (already using supplements). Might be something to look into, as apparently it has major contributions to mood swings.

    Also, I personally find the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible good to review at these times.

  35. Thanks Tim.

    I love the honesty and the message of this post. It’s so easy to get sucked in the superhero-story …

    Motivated me to get back to business! Back to the core of what I need to do!

  36. You’re a special kind of strange superhero Mr Ferriss! So glad there’s one like you in this world… keeps us mortals going, striving for more and with posts like this, not feeling so lame or lacking superhero powers…

  37. Good morning Tim,

    Could you please give us a some more information on “Added roughly 20 pounds of muscle after learning the pain and joy of high-rep front squats”

    Cheers

    James

  38. In a similar vein, I find Jack Zufelt’s ‘Core Desire’ Questions very helpful:

    “To discover YOUR Core Desires you must pay very close attention to the TRUE feelings you experience as you ask yourself two basic questions.

    The first question gets you started (but the first answer people give is rarely accurate):

    “What would I like to have that I don’t currently have?”

    The second question is the drill:

    “If I had that what would that give me that I don’t have?”

    Keep asking yourself that after each answer until you hit pay dirt.”

  39. Great post! I recognize my self painfully well. I will absolutely try to practice the idea of selecting one major thing to do per day and just get it done directly in the first few hours.

  40. Here I was, thinking I was some kind of crazy person with something wrong with me…. Glad you’ve opened up in this post, set my mind at ease and allowed a new level of productivity before, unlike ever before!

    Thanks Tim!

    Elliott.

  41. Hi Tim,

    thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know exactly what you are speeking of!

    I found some ways to cope with automated thinking. I am sure when you wake up at 3 a.m. and something is going round in your mind you don’t do this on purpose. It is just automated thinking.

    There is one great clip about it 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw?

    As I grew up with a lot but often changing social contacts I can easyly adopt to differnet people, scan their person, read their mind and so on. But there is security missing and deep contact in my life as for me as child nothing really lasted.

    To cope with this and get on with enough energy it needs rituals and I have found three simple steps that help me.

    1. The first thing I tell myself when I wake up is: “Hey you are a wonderful person! I really love you”

    2. I sit at the edge of my bed and tell myself: “Me at full counciousnes, I don’t here voices inside my head ;-), will go free of coice, only today, to work and give the best I can.”

    This stopped me from thinking like o no – again this crappy company, I have to, need the f***king mony, get up you ……

    3. Before I get outside, I climb upon a chair, and stand there like a Samurai. Just let thoughts flow for 2 Minutes. This is a lifetime Task. Not more than 2 Minutes because it get’s to difficult to do it every day. The Chair because it is just getting you away from the world, and some might say crazy but it really helps and sometimes there are great now ideas coming to my mind at this moment.

    Take Care,

    Ecki

    1. I friggin’ LOVE your #3!!! I am absolutely going to start doing that. I think doing something intentionally odd and out of context helps maintain perspective.

      Favorite quote when I get in a funk:

      “Energy and interest are cyclical” – Tim Ferris. Like someone said above, this enables me to embrace my funk and enjoy it, then get motivated to make my list and kill it later.

      My #1 habit:

      I get up early EVERY morning before everyone else in my house (3 kids) and read my Bible and/or pray for ~20 minutes. This is my form of meditation and helps me maintain perspective. Defining my core principles and making sure my values and actions are based around those principles.

      Tim – thank you very much for your honesty. I, and others, hold you in high regard. This post only increases my respect for your obvious self-awareness and intellect.

      Reminds me of the Alchemist…

  42. Tim,

    Thank you for your honest post. I do a bit of coaching with some people who have gotten into a rut of feeling as though they just want to give it all up. Yet the best response that I have seen is for them to do something like your fund raising that helps people in some really challenging life circumstances get access to basics like water and food. It can really help if you get out of yourself and focus on how no matter how perfect or imperfect you are you can help change the lives of others through sharing, giving, social business and enterprise…

    Nice to hear someone talk so openly about how they are human too! it is easy for people who have reached amazing goals to forget that it is OK to be human… ‘we are already naked’, that is just who we are.

    Very refreshing post Tim.

    Cheers,

    Scott F Duncan

  43. When I’m feeling particularity unproductive or unmotivated I fall back on the good old pencil and paper for a TODO list. Of course, that alone doesn’t guarantee stuff will actually get done. Coupled with the Pomodoro Technique, however, and shit gets done.

    Thanks for putting out such an honest post. Nobody’s a super human, we’re all human in our own ways.

  44. Tim, this is one of your best posts. Vulnerability is truly part of being superhuman.

    One question: I keep coming across studies and meta-studies about the benefits of coffee. You seem to be the only person (that I read) steering away from it. Why? Also, read a recent article about the daily routine of history’s most creative minds. The one thing they had in common? Coffee. Thoughts?

    One of my favorite quotes to get me on track/ be a better person- “Today, strive to be the person your dog thinks you are” 🙂

  45. Tim,

    I tried your eight-point programme for sorting out the procrastination. Produced instant results, and five targets for the next five days.

    Thanks again for sharing. Makes a big difference.

    Louis

  46. Reality is always full of mud. In stories everything moves perfectly. People like stories, and we like to tell stories. So any amount of honesty is a really good thing.

  47. 4-Hour Body says to eat breakfast 30-60 mins after waking. But I take thyroid meds that must be taken on empty stomach, and cannot eat or drink for one hour. Will this affect the effectiveness of this regimen?

  48. Tim,

    Terrific post, thanks for the open honesty.

    I used to think I could do it all myself, that if I reached out to others I was being ‘weak’ because this didn’t match the part of my identity that I had built on my high-profile job and very high 6-figure salary. Realising that 1) sometimes we all need a little help, and 2) that it’s ok to ask for it no matter who you are or what expectations/perceptions others project onto you, was a big game-changer for me.

    Oh, and Timothy? No more ‘fapping’ please… http://yourbrainonporn.com/

    Feel free to remove this link if not appropriate for your comment register…I have no affiliation with the site, just thought it might be of interest…

  49. Thanks for sharing this. I’d like to make to recommendations.

    1. If you enjoy green tea you should try the green tea for Darjeeling from the Boston Tea Campaign.

    2. I discovered the tea by reading ‘Brains versus Capital’ of Guenter Faltin. In his book on entrepreneurship he almost uses the same words as you did above.

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

    Has a hardcover it’s a little hard to get, but the eBook is available in all major outlets.

  50. I highly appreciate this honest, authentic and practical input. Especially in my current struggle with my own venture…

    As I don’t have a solution yet, I will now try your steps!

  51. Really raw and amazing post, Tim! You don’t need to visit other sites when feeling low. Just watch those China videos you posted earlier. 🙂

    Once I heard a Buddhist monk say that when your mind is full of opinions and speculations, you can’t see the light of wisdom & for that you need to empty your mind. We must learn to empty our minds, only after this there can be awakening. This technique really works for me especially before meditation. Never advice a depressed man to practice Meditation.

    These days people are lot more into Yoga and Meditation without understanding the importance of the art of relaxation and breathing.

  52. Wow what a great article, as a fellow out of the box thinker, I struggle with staying on task as I seem to get bored. My daughter who is a fellow Princeton alumni class of 2008 is an avid fan and I thank you as she has read your books and they have really helped her tremendously. She is following her dream of “no regrets” as she has been learning a new sport after college and has qualified in that sport for olympic trials in January.

  53. Tim,

    Great great post!

    I think we often feel overwhelmed not only because of the things we “have” to do, but because we feel as we shouldn’t feel that way because “we should know better”

    So you make a clear point on saying that along with the great progress there are some things and issues we will always encounter!

    Thanks again, I just created a post about your adive on my site (in spanish)

    Nelson

  54. One of the most valuable articles you’ve ever written – hats off to you for sharing, sir! In all honesty, you’ve just gone up in my estimations considerably.

    I strongly recommend Stephen Pressfield’s “The War of Art”, as have a couple of other people, to anyone having trouble beginning, although of course reading the book is just another form of procrastination! Pressfield rhapsodises lyrically on the subject of Resistance (yes, with a capital “R”), which rears its ugly head any time you try to do something significant. Just being able to recognise its myriad forms makes you better equipped to fight them, including its most insidious form, in my opinion: rational Resistance, when you have a really *good* reason not to do something important.

    As for starting things, a good approach is to anything to get going. If it’s a piece of writing, how about one sentence (it doesn’t have to be the first)? Or one word, even? Brainstorm until it starts to flow.

    That’s connected to another point, which is that I find it usually takes a lot of *input* before I can produce any *output*. If you’re stuck trying to write something “cold”, you probably haven’t fed your unconscious enough material to work with. So brainstorm, research, read pieces of writing similar to the one you want to produce, and eventually your unconscious will start throwing up sentences whether you like it or not.

    Good luck to everyone trying to do something difficult!

    B

    1. Hey Tim, my new favorite post of yours! Can you give more info on this sentence PLEASE!!

      Added roughy 20 pounds of muscle after learning the pain and joy of high-rep front squats (and topical DHEA, courtesy of Patrick Arnold). Specifially what topical DHEA did you use and what are the high rep front squats you did?

  55. Thank you so much for sharing Very courageous of you! FINALLY someone tells it like it is. I also feel that successful people should talk more about their failures because they have all had several of them. It would make others seem more capable, more “human” if you will. So very important that you have written this post, I have no doubt that most of us can relate, but were afraid to share. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!

  56. Beautiful article. Brutally honest, and probably more indicative of the human condition than we’d like to accept. It’s amazing our compulsion for lying to keep face. If we started living more honestly (like Tim’s article) perhaps we’d work harder for well being, and less for GDP.

    For what it’s worth, I manage to rise above by acknowledging that at this point, we humans haven’t quite got good-living together. That always takes the edge off the isolation.

    It’s difficult to categorically improve your well being, if the rest of the human race is on a broken treadmill.

    But we’re moving on slowly. Slowly but surely.

  57. Confession: You’re one of those guys that I look up to (ahem) compare myself to. While I know there is no real comparison, I sometimes find myself asking WWTD when faced with certain decisions.

    Even after meeting you a handful of times, you still had a superhero shine. ‘This dude is super cool and clearly has life figured out – with pie charts and everything!’

    I sincerely want to thank you for this post. My napping away the day to avoid whatever big hairy, scary I’m hiding from is definitely one of my most human battles (we won’t even get into the crying).

    So thank you for letting us all know that there is a Clark Kent to your Superman.

  58. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank YOU, Mr. Ferriss!

    This brutally honest depiction of your average day was a complete bulls eye of how I have felt each and every day since I started my own company in June this year. I even snoozed for 2 hours this morning! This gave me SO much energy and faith in myself that I just can’t thank you enough.

    Warm regards from a 4HB/4HC and soon to be 4HWW apprentice from Sweden.

  59. Falls right in line with the book “Daring Greatly” By Brene Brown. Which is an incredible read if you haven’t already. Your post reminds us all that we are all human and that it is ok to be vulnerable. Kudos to you Tim for sharing.

  60. My first time commenting, because I want to (uncomfortably) say how grateful I am for this post of yours. By far the most useful and the most immediate impact on me you have had, and one of the best posts by any author I have read.

    Not every piece applies, but most of the socially dirty ones do, and every word has value and helps me put perspective on my own challenges.

    Thank you.

    Ari

  61. Keep posts like these coming! I do have one question, though – why is crying from watching one of the most inspirational movies of all time considered dysfunctional? That means the movie did its job and moved you. Isn’t that the goal of a movie like that? Isn’t that a good thing? 🙂

  62. This post is by far one of your best yet, and I have been reading since the very beginning!

    The quote you used and the openness of your post echo the sentiments of Brene Brown; if you haven’t watched her TED talks or read her books, you should!

  63. I was impressed that you were able to meditate twice a day consistently. How did you do that as well as complete your one important thing for the day? Or was that your one important thing until you got it down, and then you pressed on with the next thing on your list?

    If one is fighting depression, how do you find the energy to even get up, let alone an hour early?

    This is a great piece and tells me I’m not alone in my struggles, which is always good. Thanks mucho!

  64. Thanks for the post on your issues, nice to know you are also human. I find for me the best thing to get me out of a funk is spend face to face time with someone that needs my help & time. It is easy to give people stuff, but my time is the most valuable thing I have to give. Going to be of service to another person gets me out of myself and my self-centered fear and procrastination.

  65. Thank you.

    I have a killer product validated by phenomenal testing with a reasonable total potential market of ten million sales.

    I have been procrastinating in my office for five months.

    Part of my internal dialogue has been, “you don’t have what it takes to do this project – Tim Ferris would never be fu*#ing around like this.”

    Tomorrow is the next day. 10:00 – 2:00 NBW.

    Thank you.

  66. Tim, this post really resonated with myself – thank you.

    As someone who has only just last week started seeing someone to help with my own dark moments and thoughts , this is so helpful to know that other successful people have their own challenges .

    It shows great courage on your part to share this and inspires me to work through my own challenges – looking forward to hearing you speak at your upcoming Sydney event with The Growth Faculty

    Thank you again for sharing

  67. Procrastination is a habit. But habits can be changed. So can this one.

    You wrote in 4HWW that in first grade, you refused to learn the alphabet. You seem to have a strong will, which is great. However, you can´t willpower your way out of a procrastination habit.

    You actually found the partial antidote, namely defining the one thing that would be satisfying to do if you did it today. Or in general, defining what would satisfy you the most.

    Here´s something I advise my clients. When you feel you´re procrastinating and it makes you feel bad, the best thing you can do, is manipulate your environment. It should be small, casual and not something you want to get done (very important). For example, re-arrange the plants, open all doors. Notice how this makes you feel. If I read your post correctly, and your problem is similar to that of my clients, this will be an antidote.

    Try it out for yourself and please let me know if it worked for you.

  68. Thanks for this genuine and vulnerable post, Tim. I needed to hear this. Will be reading it more than once too. Keep being awesome!

  69. You’ve described my daily habits to a t, minus the caffeine intake. Nootropics are my vice.

    Working at home has been a wonderful experience in many ways, but man does it suck sometimes. I think turning off work mode is my biggest challenge of all.

  70. Great post. I facebooked it along with the paragraph about so-called superheroes doing great things in spite of self-defeating habits and self-talk.

    I have great things in me. I know it. They’re coming, even if I’m 50-something.

    Thank you for laying yourself out there.

  71. “Transformed my blood work.

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

    What do you mean by blood work?

    Does manic-depressive enable to work more efficiently with more focus?

    1. “Does manic-depressive enable to work more efficiently with more focus?”

      Way to focus on the positive Ed. Silver lining action 🙂

      I like me my manic phases, the depressive side not so much. Although now I might just use it to load up on good Ted talks… Staying away from the news has been a miraculous thing for me and the way I feel day to day as an aside. Thanks be to Tim

  72. Just reread this for the third time. Blog post of the year. Later we will look back at this full frontal post as the the “high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.” Let’s hope you keep riding this brave wave for a long time though. Superman has gone full frontal and neutralized all of our fears and personal insecurities and have by doing so empowered us! Now that is REAL transparency!

  73. Hey Tim,

    This is an awesome post and I’m finishing up my undergrad soon so this is just what I needed to hear! Thanks for your humility as well! Also I’m curious why the switch to pu-erh tea?

    Matt

  74. Terrific post, one of your best imho.

    Made me feel good, not so hard on myself about my many many lapses from “optimum”

  75. Tim,

    You’ll like a lecture by Alison Armstrong from understandmen.com on the 7 stages of men. It sounds like you may be entering the tunnel, you are at the beginning of the age (mid-30’s?). But have no fear, in time you will come out a King! 🙂

    Thank you for your authenticity. You are 100% male, and I encourage you to embrace being, femininity, yin in your singledom. Crying at Rudy is a start.

    I appreciate your blog very much.

    With Grace,

    Hannah

  76. This helps me:

    “One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt.”

    -Alan Watts, Psychotherapy East and West (unconditionally recommended)

  77. Oh, holy shit! You just described my life!! I have spikes of tremendous accomplishments and feats of genius like accomplishment, followed by “oh maybe I’m not as cool as I was last week.” Thank God I have learned to come to grips with these ebbs and flows, it’s just a relief to hear you say that it happens to you too. Sometimes I push for perfection, and this is a good reminder that perfection is over-rated . Thanks Tim!

  78. Great post, Tim. Thanks for airing that out with all of us readers. I’ve felt everything you’ve mentioned above and it makes me feel good about where I’m at, where I’m going and helps me feel confident I’ll make it there. Your stuff always inspires and motivates. Plus I’ll be incorporating front squats into my leg day tomorrow.

    Thanks,