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


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

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1,022 Replies to “"Productivity" Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)”

  1. “Used gentlemanly (ahem) websites to “relax” during the day when I clearly have urgent and important shit to do.”

    Haha! I remember a standup comedian saying- “I don’t go to cafes to write because I want coffee or inspiration or any of that shit. I write in cafes because it would be socially inappropriate to go “ah, fuck it” and start masturbating to internet porn.”

  2. Awesome post. I feel like I relate to this on many levels.

    Sometimes the low comes right after a huge “success”, sometimes I freeze because of a fear of “failure” and at times I’ve held myself back because my friends don’t seem inclined to follow and I feel like I’ll separate myself from them if I continue in the direction I’m heading.

    I’ve spent a full year on 2 occasions sabotaging myself because of such a mindset but each time pulled through and carried on.

    I’m no superhero and if there are those that view me that way they are surely a small group.

    For me focusing on the spiritual helps ground me. Helping others grounds me. Seeing that others struggle so much more than I do and trying to be of service to them hrlps me. Focusing my energy on something that doesn’t involve making money as a measure of success for periods of time frees my mind up so that when I do need to work at making money I enjoy the process more helps me. Focusing on relationships as a source of inspiration both to and from helps me.

    I also find focus to be the key and 2 or 3 hours is probably the way I do best.

    Thank you so much Tim. I’ve enjoyed this post and much more from you.

    You mention in 4HWW to reach out yo someone that seems unreachable and I’ve always thought it would be cool to reach out to you.

    Please feel free to email me aince you now have my email. 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve accomplished a lot of things and have a lot of drive, but recently found myself overwhelmed and being too hard on myself because I wasn’t doing enough productive things. I admire you so much, Tim Ferriss, you’ve made me realize a lot of things and your lifestyle inspires me to improve my own lifestyle. To read how you also do a lot of “shit” and isn’t productive all day, means everything. I guess the “you are not alone” experience is very powerful.

    I love the little guide to productivity you’ve posted here. I immediately recognized it as a good solution for me, so thank you for sharing and remind me what I somehow knew in the back of my head, but have forgot in my state of being overwhelmed. This will help me get better quickly! Love your blog and books. Thanks

  4. I feel like you are describing me so accurately. Thank you for sharing. I really appreciate your self deprecating honesty. Entrepreneurship is a bunch of manic depressive highs and lows and learning to keep going in the face of fear. We have to remember that tomorrow we can do something great, No matter what happened yesterday.

    Maintaining morning routine that gets you to do your best work in a focused way for two hours on one thing in the morning is so key. I am learning to fiercely to protect that time for my sense of accomplishment and to calm the manic moments.

  5. Hi Tim,

    Could you do a post on your experiences with meditation & cheatsheet for the techniques you use? I’ve read & listened to a lot of your stuff, meditation seems to be a very productive habit you & many successful ppl promote. There’s just so much information out there about various types of meditation/techniques, you’re great at making things concise and filtering out the noise.

    Thanks for your consideration.

  6. “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.”

    This is, by far, the best quote I have ever heard in regards to people who focus on just being busy.

  7. This post was, quite literally, the highlight of this day for me. Thank you for your insight, and thanks for making me guffaw in the office. I truly appreciate it.

  8. Wow, this post really hit home. I heard you on Dave Asprey’s podcast the other day, and have been checking out your stuff since. I’m 40 minutes into your first podcast, and I’m already excited to listen to the rest.

    I’ve definitely snoozed for hours at a time to avoid dealing with stress, and something close to those tips is what always helps me break out of that sort of funk.

    Anyways, can’t wait to read/listen to more of your stuff!


  9. Thank you for this post and the podcast. I just left my job after 20 years and am having a hard time navigating. This helped lay out a great ritual to get started in the morning. Knowing you go through the same trials as the rest of us gives me a great deal of hope.

    I’ve read every post and book you’ve written; never followed one piece of hard advice. Time for a change.

    Thank you again. Ever Forward!

  10. What is your rationale for the topical DHEA? Would you be able to dive into that a bit more?

    Everything else looks like great advice. Beginning to apply now!

  11. Tim,

    Your transparency is very inspiring here, because some of us do at times (,me leading the charge) believe you to be super human!

  12. My life has changed! . . . not because of this post–I’ve begun a road to entrepreneurship and taken my future in my own hands. That’s how I’ve changed.

    This post, though, has made all the difference in knowing that Tim struggles with some of the VERY THINGS that plague me–and there’s a solution!

    I really want Tim to know how much this post has meant to me. Thank you, Tim!!

  13. You having that problem too. The day ends so fast, at the end of the day, you say wow, I have not been productive today, I will do better next day, the next day came the same think. It is so hard to stay focus on the internet marketing business.

  14. Awesome post! I really appreciate how open and honest you are. While reading this it helps me to realize how much we are all a like emotionally and that the struggles within ones self are usually the real obstacles. I was thinking about my day as I was reading and I have some big to-dos that have been on my list for days now. Anytime I’ve been up earlier than I needed to be and made my to-do list in the past and then went about my day I’ve always felt ahead of the day and better able to stay on task. Reading this I realize though that my lists have been too long and the items that I let create the anxiety and procrastination aren’t given the priority needed. I think I will create 2 lists…one with the 3-5 bigger priority items and then my day to day to do list…I have an insurance agency and so it’s more of a reminder type list for my day to day items.

    Anyone out there with a similar business with a lot of tedious items that get in your way of production that could give any advice about leveraging other resources to be able to focus on the items that build your business and bring in the cash flow would be appreciated. I don’t have a lot of money…I was thinking of some different outsourcing options like the Philippines through Odesk. Any suggestions would be appreciated!!

    Thanks again Tim!


  15. Great read as always and you crack me up! Enjoy your articles and point of view on life. I’ve been following you since 1999 when you wrote a fitness article in

    Dans Papers:Bridgehampton NY. With much trepidation but following my husband track to his hometown of Amagansett, I

    We relocated my family from RESTON VIRGINIA to EAST HAMPTON NY. I asked you then if I could possibly make it as a personal trainer in the HAMPTONS…we moved in 2000. Your answer: “you can make it anywhere; it’s all about the marketing and your message.” Flash forward…I finally opened my own fitness studio specializing in TRX suspension training on Newtown Lane in East Hampton—amid the explosion of Soul Cycle, Barry’s Boot Camp, the latest and greatest NYC fitness crazes…is it scary? You bet. But I love what I do, I have an amazing tribe of people that have been with me since I moved here and new people every day. Will I make it? Probably with all the hard work, tenacious work ethic and a lot of luck that people continue to want to work out with me. Bottom line…it’s all in the marketing of why I’m different, not like any of the other 250 trainers and continually share the message. I’m passionate about helping people and educating the masses that one has to keep moving in life. Does it scare the crap out of me to be so exposed? Definitely. But wanted to thank you for being so blunt and honest back then! It’s in the marketing. And today I received your email and though. Tim Ferris. I should let him know that I finally did what I always wanted to and have my own place. So. Thank you Tim. Come visit next time you’re in the HAMPTONS. I would love to host a book signing for you! Cheers, Linda

  16. Thank you for your honesty and incredibly effective advice. I struggle and burden shared is always lighter. Thanks Tim!

  17. Truly honest and inspiring. It’s good to see that even someone as successful as you have trouble. That you, too are human. It makes your accomplishment shine brighter ! And keeps me motivated to always fight. Thank you Tim

  18. I love you right now. I’m breaking down as much as I’m coming into my own at the moment. Fuck ya, you posted that article. Fuck. Ya.

  19. It just can not be more true about putting the top things down that make you anxious the most! They do not seem urgent to be moved to tomorrows ToDo list but they would make the biggest difference. Soooo true!

  20. THANK YOU!! I have been on the roller-coaster for the last week and have been feeling really shitty about it. You just gave me permission to be nuts! THANK YOU!!!!

  21. Tim, you are one of my favorite people. We have different lifestyles, priorities, possibly morals – but I love reading your work and I love the way your brain processes this life. From 4HWW to your free gift of 4HChef (THANK YOU! SO EXCITED!) your being on this planet has enabled my existence to expand. Big thanks.

  22. I hadn’t read this in awhile, and it really hit home this time. Thanks for the post and for exposing yourself as being a normal guy who has the same issues we all deal with at one point or another. The advice is great, and I’ve been putting it to use the last few days. Looking forward to future emails, and being kept up to date on new blog posts!

  23. Thank you Tim.

    This is exactly what I’m going through at the moment and with all the tips/tactics/processes – It’s just nice to know that it’s normal.

    Most Gratefully,


  24. Thank you very much for your honesty…I am deeply encouraged by this. My problem is I am a mum to a three year old, recovering from ME/CFS, a lazy but compulsive ‘busy head’, underachieving dreamer! Ha ha…seems impossible to carve any time out at all but I am staying sane by doing ‘bits and bobs’. I’ve found ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen superb for getting it all out of my head, which is why I couldn’t focus on anything for more than a few weeks (hours!) and I just love this positive movement of creative functionalism (!?)

    You forward thinking positive Americans have a lot to teach us dour Brits! Ha ha!! 😉

  25. I’ve read a few of your books and several of your posts, and I am coming to believe that you are one of the most human humans I know of. I read something by you a few days ago and came away with the (somewhat nonsensical) feeling that you’re the only one alive, and the rest of us are just non-player characters. I don’t actually believe that – it was just a momentary reaction, but I feel like you’re doing it right, with that full-fledged curiosity that must be what distinguished us from the other primates. You’re an inspiration, and your honesty here only adds to it. Punting the ego to some degree has got to be a milestone in personal development. Thanks for the example. I don’t know you (though an ex-roommate met you at a party in SF, apparently, so we shared a city), but I’m sure as hell glad you’re on the planet.

  26. Loved the post Tim. Thanks for being such a down to earth author/entrepreneur/….. Your blog and work is pure inspiration

  27. Well, what u said its true. Help me understand here, what you mean is that erase laziness n focus on to doing let’s to do things in a day…. So how does one, if in a depressing situation and many problems have arised…. How do you handle such a situation

  28. Tim, I honor and thank you for your transparency in this post. Personally, I am one of those who struggles with daily analysis paralysis, and I am well aware that I judge myself way too harshly, usually by some unrealistic, projected scale of worth that lives only in my mind. Blessings!

  29. Tim,

    This is the first of your posts that I’ve been able to connect with.

    Everything you bulleted there, that’s me.

    -I get tearful at the most ridiculous of things sometimes though I’m an expert at preventing myself from actually crying

    -I regularly feel like I do not want to face the world and lock myself in a dark room. Sometimes for days on end.

    -I am naturally very pessimistic which is painful

    -Gentlemanly websites? snap.

    -My daily caffeine intake is occasionally so high I’m sometimes found running around my house screaming at nothingness at 4am when I should be sleeping (this isn’t voluntary and doesn’t happen when I’m off the stuff)

    -I wear the same 5 pieces of clothing despite having a huge wardrobe full of things to wear

    Sometimes I feel certifiably insane.

    Right now I’m writing this and have burst into tears thinking “WTF is wrong with me”

    Despite my feelings of inferiority people often tell me they consider me an achiever. They think they want to be like me.

    I seem to derive zero confidence from anything I achieve. Yet there’s always the next thing I’m looking to go after.

    other times I’m the happiest, most productive and motivated person ever.

    It’s weird.

    I guess I just wanted to let you know that this post connected with me. There is (although selfishly) some comfort in this post knowing I’m not the only one.

    Not sure if you’ll read this but thank you. I appreciate the courage it took for you to publish this.

  30. I like the photo of the squirrel; there are some like that in Chester (Cheshire) and Freshfields (near Southport, in Lancashire). You obviously have a good aura for it to have trusted you so! Nice pic.

  31. This is the first post I’ve written on the blog and the second time I’ve come across this article.

    Over the last month I’ve lost about 10 kilos, started learning french and tripled my food cutting speed from ripping through the 4hb and the first few pages of 4hc. The fact that it all reads like it reads like the journal of a kid with ADHD who’s figured out how to fit skill-learning into his attention span rather than his attention span around learning means that I often struggle to put them down.

    Despite that, I would still consider this post the most valuable thing I’ve read between the books and the blog. Between the skills acquisition are the bouts of anxiety that make me question whether I can accomplish anything.

    Learning 45 digits of pi in 20 minutes, while both impressive and practically useless, makes me look at the other seemingly impossible tasks in my life – sometimes big, sometimes just getting out of bed – and shows me that I have the potential to do it.

    And knowing that it isn’t about always moving, but about planning the smartest move for when you do finally make it.

    Thanks dude, this means a lot.

  32. Tim,

    Thank you for opening yourself up so honestly about your own challenges with getting things accomplished. I really like what you say about choosing just 1 thing to do and blocking off 2-3 hours when avoidance sets in. I too struggle with this and so next time I find myself there I will use your strategy.

  33. Wow… you literally just described my world… or at least the feelings and self-depricating actions (or lack there off)that show themselves quiet often… thank you… as if one knows he/she is not rhe only one having experiences that make one feel crazy or at least that that state of crazy is being shared…

  34. Only just starting discovering your work and I am glad I have. Seeing so many similarities, it’s nice to know there is someone out there experiencing the same dichotomous life. I am a “high achiever”- scholarships at school, doctor, friends always wonder how I “do it all”. I like making lists and checking things off for order and structure in my life. Privately, there are times where I can’t get out of bed for seemingly unknown reasons and that snooze gets hit countless times; but I would be all life and positivity in front of others that same day. I’m not faking anything, its just that these two realities exist simultaneously for me. My blood work came back with sky high histamine levels and I apparently have classic histadelia. Just need to dig my heels in and power through the nauseating treatment.

  35. I think we all go through ups and downs in life, and after raising 4 children and now divorcing, I find it difficult to get out of bed on the weekends. I work fulltime, report in at 6:00 am Monday through Friday, but weekends it’s whatever. I try to break the cycle by scheduling an early session with my trainer or filling the day with visiting family and friends.

  36. Yes it helped.

    And one of the quotes that helped me through some tough days was one unit’s slogan during my military days, which is, “adapt or perish.” Doesn’t work so well nowadays though…

  37. Thank you for letting yourself be seen. I’ve been hurtling toward the bottom of one of those nebulous “success” fueled spirals for a while and was starting to think I was going crazy. In actuality I’ve just been avoiding the two things I know I have to and some level actually want to do. Thank you again!

    Ps. This is the first comment I have ever left on any message board ever, so there’s that too.

  38. In the last 3 months I’ve …..Thanks for the laugh. Read it out loud to my husband. Thoroughly enjoyed that. Very relatable!

  39. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability Tim.

    Your constant willingness to hit publish when you least want to helped me grow in my own life. It’s thanks to I’ve been able to face the community bad mouthing me and do what matters most.

    Funny enough, most of the bad mouthing was just in my head.

    So thanks again for being so honest.

  40. Hi Tim, I see so much of myself in this post, its scary. But this have given me a hope, that I one day can accomplish, what I set out to do. I guess taking just one step ad a time and not worrying about other stuff its the lesson here, but I think the not worring part is the hardest and the part that needs most practice. Thanks for the boost

  41. Hi Tim,

    Such a relevant and helpful article, thanks very much. I think it applies to ALMOST all people in the world (except guys like my boss who is an absolute workaholic who’s working whenever I’m sleeping and working whenever I’m working).

    Anyway, I thought I’d reply to your request at the end.

    Every now and again I find myself in an absolute slump that’s usually accompanied by crazy anxiety (you know the kind?). So when I cognitively realize that this is happening I make a point to stop whatever I’m doing and spend about half an hour doing the following:

    1. I spend 5-10min doing a relaxation exercise or meditation. Get the mind totally clear. I almost go into a state of self-hypnosis.

    2. I then (still in “meditation mode”) make a list in my head of every single thing that I think may be causing anxiety (, stress, or are just crawling around in the back of my head.

    3. I get up and write all those “head-crawlers” down on a piece of paper. There are usually about 8. (No wonder my mind is exploding)

    4. I then write down what I’m supposed to do about all of them. (This usually also gives clarity about how serious (or usually non-serious) they actually are.

    * At this point I already start to feel a lot more relaxed and the inspiration starts coming back.

    5. I make a point of doing the one most important thing on Step4’s to-do list. Only after that most important one is complete am I allowed to think about the others again. (usually I end up crushing most of them within the next 2 days anyway)

    All the best,


  42. Thanks for sharing that. Much needed.

    It always helps to know more about successful people’s days in detail. And getting up early, figuring out which your most important tasks are and starting to work on one right away is key.

  43. Would you please write a post detailing your experience adding roughly 20 pounds of muscle after learning the pain and joy of high-rep front squats (and topical DHEA, courtesy of Patrick Arnold).

  44. Wow, great article. I’d add an additional perspective. When our body is underfed or has built-up toxicity it can easily show symptoms such as increased irritability, neurotic OCD behavior and existential angst. The same is true for the soul, if it isn’t heard, or has built-up and unresolved thoughts, feelings, what ifs, it can easily show up to us with symptoms like mania and depression. The soul can’t be heard in a performance driven (conditionally-loving) space. If it continues to be ignored, distracted from, caffeinated, numbed out because as you said there is no room for it in the image of the super hero (entrepreneur), then shit, we become fragmented. Thanks for sharing, it was very encouraging.

  45. Excellent stuff. Needed to be said. One strategy I’ve recently adopted that’s been helpful for me is to write down one thing I’d like to get done in the day as soon as I wake up. Can be as simple as “email so-and-so and say thank you” or “study Mandarin for 20 minutes”. I use it both as a morning trigger to get myself out of bed and to try to tap into the clarity of the subconscious as I’m coming out of a deep sleep.

  46. Excellent advice. I recently started a new strategy upon waking where I write down the first thought of a simple task that comes to mind in the morning. It could be as basic as writing an email to someone to say “Thank you” or studying Mandarin for 20 minutes.

    For me, it works as a trigger to my mind that it’s morning and time to get out of bed. Additionally, it’s a way to tap into the clarity of the subconscious mind just upon waking. Complete the simple task as a way to get the engine running for the day, and things seem to go a lot easier.

  47. Hi Tim,

    I use the sandwich technique to get those nasty chores/tasks done; something I like to do, check, something I don’t like to do, check and then something I am really looking forward to doing. While I am doing the nasty, I keep thinking that the sooner I take care of this business the sooner I will get my reward. Kind of like training a rat, right?


  48. Dear Tim, I am thankful for share your knoledge and experience with us. I realized that you have never spoke about God. In my case, the confidence of God love me and he accept me (Mistakes included) has given to this process the meaning its need. The meaning I was searching for. Thanks you again, and please forgiven my inexpert english. Best wish. AE

  49. I am so glad I found your work Tim! Started with the 4-hour body but now that I am planning on moving from employee to entrepreneur EVERYTHING is relevant. Thank you so much for opening up your mind and your heart to all of us!

  50. Always enjoy reading all of your work. Catching up on your favorite must reads now. You have seriously changed my life for the better. Constantly learning from you. Traveling to an exotic island to do some surfing and serious studying, my income has started to grow using your techniques.

    You are a great teacher to say the very least

  51. Thanks so much for your post… perfect timing for me…..even if I’ve read this over a year after it was written……:-)

  52. It feels so great that one of the guys I admire most has the same issues like everyone else.

    And he even provides a solution! I am so thankful for that!

  53. Bahahaha! I frikkin LOVE this post! One of my way too many goals this month is to sort my life out by mapping out the first hour of my day as you repeatedly suggest (or maybe I just hear it a lot because I need to). This morning I fell back into my default first hour of day pattern: snooze button and negative self talk. Not so team TF, right? I did okay with forgiving myself once I got up, but this post just cleansed my inner guilt ridden child from every last shred of shame. We’re all human. It’s all a process. There is joy to be had in being a fuck up when we all stop being so secret about it.

    Thanks for being a fuck up, Tim Ferriss.

  54. Honestly Tim, thank you so much. This is exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve passed this on to a few friends and they’ve all agreed you’ve done us a huge favour.

    Thank you.

  55. Thank you so much.

    It is so refreshing to see some ”real” stuff to someone’s day. The Morgan Sherlock production was really great and inspiring, it made me happy, but this is valuable because it’s real.

    Thanks. 🙂

    Annemarie (25), The Netherlands

  56. Thank you, Tim. I find myself struggling with some of the challenges you’ve shared in this post. I appreciate and trust the humility that it takes for you to tell the world your personal challenges and it makes me more confident to try some of the suggestions or ideas that you throw out there.

    Kind Regards, man. I’m off to check out the other references and resources in this article now.

    -Scott Cates

  57. Dude, You Rock!

    That out of the way, yes, I did indeed find it helpful. My wife has kicked me towards your writings, and I freely admit she’s far wiser than I (I’m the Clever one! 🙂 , especially in finding that perfect thing for me to see or read about or suchlike. I am currently reading your 4-hour chef (in addition to “Before Happiness” & Frank Herbert’s “God Emperor of Dune”… I love e-books.) and I find the Meta Section to be entertaining as well as instructive.

    Thing I love about Self-Improvement is that there’s always something else to improve upon… Any You… Ya spin tales like tops, and they lead places that give the mind room to stretch.

    Anyhoo, Thank you.

  58. I love this post. I keep coming back to it. Do you have any tips for cutting coffee?

    Also The Glitch Mob podcast was epic! I think your following in these smaller subcultures is bigger than you know.

    Thanks for all you do!


  59. Again the wisdom from the 4-hr man inspires me! Thanks Tim. What hit me between the eyes is this: “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.”

  60. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for posting this. I recognise the ‘dysfunctional shit’ yet unfortunetally mot the productive side of things, ha ha. I want to do too much so end up paralysed. just started on ‘the 4 hour chef’ whilst being halfway through ‘Body, een lijfboek’, yes, Dutch title ’cause that reads just a tad faster. Hope to land in a solution for pitting things off… If that doesn’t happen, they’re still an enjoyable and highly informative works. 🙂

    1. ‘Mot’… that WOULD be great to recognize. Obviously..: ‘Not.’ ‘Pitting’… I sound like Monty Python. And this tiny note gives me the opportunity to check “notifications”… Too fast for my own good. It happens. (A lot)

  61. Lovely and as always well expressed. One of the things I’ve always loved about your style Tim is your frank honesty. Its charming, refreshing and its real. I don’t consider myself a type ‘A’ personality but I get 3x more stuff done in a week than 90% of the people in the world, mostly because I’m consistent 80% of the time. I finally figured out I need a 20% margin for doing nothing. I also contextualized ‘doing nothing’ as a thing in my schedule. I plan for ‘do nothing’ not vacation, that’s different, I have do nothing blocked in my schedule. It is as my sister says, ‘a big rock’ that I put in my scheduling jar along with exercise and gardening.

    Thanks for being manic, fun,human and sharing it with people you will never meet. It makes a HUGE difference =)

  62. What do you do when you write your 700th daily to-do list that rarely gets actually realized and then you find this beautiful blog post, feeling inspired, pick the one most important task of the day (to sign up for a woodworking class I’ve wanted to take for two years) and find that is is unattainable? As in the class was booked solid. Why did that make me want to beat myself up relentlessly.

    It may seem like nothing but man I have been battling myself for years now. I am an ENFP personality type if that means anything to you… basically an extroverted “idea(s) person” with little to no organization or follow through…on top of that, battling depression for the last year.

    I’m intensely creative and find passion in surrounding my-self with driven,diverse, random people…people I haven’t been surrounded by in two years since my move to Boston. They are here…of course…but I haven’t found “my people/group” yet.

    I dropped out of college after a year because I couldn’t narrow my focus and I felt my energy being drained. Worked for a corporation for three years and quit and moved to Boston to become a real estate agent when I got sick of sitting behind a desk.

    I guess I’m leaving this giant bumbling post to see who else is out there…. I know that Tim himself has a full email box…so, yeah.

    Also, was able to type this up in a minute but can’t seem the write the e-mails I should be writing…

    1. Hi Rachel,

      You might find this link helpful on ENFP’s


      I’ve come to realise that I too am an ENFP and I too have spent years beating myself up about not chasing my dreams. I would have had the exact same reaction regarding the full word workshop and it being full.

      My suggestion, what helps me, take small, small steps each day or half week that helps you to move forward on a goal. E.g the word workshop – find a YouTube channel, podcast, blog on this subject and just start.

      I often overthink everything and never get started. Just start, it’s an amazing feeling and begins to build momentum for you. You feel a sense of productivity and achievement. Here in lies an issue for us types – emotion. It’s our engine and dictates whether our head had a good or bad day. Take a step back and reflect on what makes you tick – what really makes you happy and what actions/feelings that get you anxious or frustrated and begin to take real action to recognise when you are having a good or bad day and what for you to that point.

      E.g. Did you get little sleep, eat garbage and fuel up on caffeine the next morning? Yeah? Ok so in my case I’ll be tired, highly irritable and have zero focus. Nothing will get done but recognising that, helps me to reset ( a little) and get at least one action done for the day. Then I feel content. Might not have achieved all I wanted that day but I got something done.

      Or – I went for a swim this morning, ate well the night before, don’t feel bloated or agitated now. Oh, I’ve got 3 things done today. Awesome! Plus I had less caffeine so my blood pressure is lower and I’m less scatty and more focused.

      It’s tough, I empathise with you. Not surprising as I too am the same personality type. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses and remember you are an amazing individual with the opportunity to do anything you want. Just take small steps. Oh and write it down – I never bloody write any plan down but when I do – it’s like putting the engine into gear and zooming down the road hitting all my goals that day.

      1) write it down

      2) small actionable step

      3) repeat 1&2

      4) less caffine

      5) eat better

      6) get to bed an hour earlier – even just to read a book and switch off.

      7) get up an hour earlier. It’s beautiful at 5am and take a reflective walk.

      8) most of all and should be at the top , remeber to give yourself space to breathe, reflect and congratulate yourself on making it this far on this crazy planet. You are an awesome individual with unique talents and gifts. It’s your responsibility to share all of them with us here on this planet before your time runs out. You can do it, take small actionable steps and keep a positive mindset.

      9) please go find and listen to the following people on YouTube and various other awesome places : Les Brown, Eric Thomas, Tim Ferris, Andy Frisella, Gary Vaynerchuck. These are my 5 and I’ll add others as I go who are no garbage, true people who just want to make a difference to all of us here and help us out. Give it a go.

      All the best,

      Alex, UK

  63. Something that helped me come out of depression was thoughts from literature of Pandit Sri Ram Sharma Acharya. I didn’t took any medicine for depression. One day by a matter of chance I found his thoughts on a facebook page. I started reading his thoughts on daily basis and experienced a betterment in my mental state everyday. You can find his thoughts and literature here- http://quotes.awgp.org/chintan.php?qType=1&lng_id=2

  64. I must have read over “the one rule” 6 or 7 times… I kind of experienced a simplicity glitch in my brain matrix. “What you do is more important than how you do everything else, and doing something well does not make it important.” Using no extraneous words, Tim, you managed to embody the message read between the lines of your blog, in one sentence. You are an artist at reaching people, no matter where any may be stuck spinning. You packed a lot of truth in there, my friend.

  65. Sometimes the solution is there and we just don’t see it. These thoughts have helped me become more gracious and forgiving to myself:

    “What makes you think you shouldn’t have the problems you’re having?”


    ‘The more we try to force (ourselves) into a mode of operation that is antithetical to its natural processes, the more likely that it will reach a point of imbalance from which it cannot recover.’

    These two quotes are from Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch and he just puts into words what maybe many feel but cannot rightly express. Perhaps it is our expectations or beliefs that our ‘off’ not our implementation. I am a lifelong procrastinator. I accept it as my process of doing important things and too often, unimportant ones. Since it is only by recognizing an issue that we can begin to understand it…Sometimes it is my way of having some control when I feel pushed to do things I don’t want to by myself or others. This is not a problem unless it interferes with what I should be doing to stay true to myself. When I can recognize my first reaction to delay and ask, “do I really need to this thing or am I just stalling?” seems to help.

    Sometimes you just need a mental or physical break. It’s exhausting to be ‘on’ 24/7. Maybe it’s a way of our bodies and brains recognizing when we need a break. Procrastination and depression (please note context, I’m not truly grouping these together) can be a message that you aren’t doing things right for you; an opportunity to regroup and finds those things again. Similar to getting sick: often people say your immune system was overwhelmed by whatever virus or bacteria are the ’cause’ of your sickness. Perhaps we have it backwards. Maybe your immune system became depressed because of poor physical or mental condition allowing the sickness to manifest. Sometimes it is our body’s only way of slowing us down.

    Dream big. Accomplish your dreams. Keep growing. But recognize your natural processes Of doing, learning, growing up….and stay true to yourself.

  66. Tim

    I am a close to 60 year old woman with a fabulous life that I love. I enjoy learning stuff about anything and everything . I am so enthusiastic most of the time, but then like you every now and then, it is just hard to get motivated and I feel guilty for feeling like that when I have so much. I really loved your blog, and appreciated you opening up the way you did. I have printed out your blog to read again the next time I am feeling like this.

    I am a Tim Ferris tragic (if there is such a thing!) I have all your books, listen and relisten to your podcasts, watch your shows. You have opened my mind to the possibility of doing so more with my life. The thing I admire about you the most is that you have always come across as so real and ordinary, and I mean that in the best possible way, and this blog just proves it.

    I cannot imagine how many people you have inspired and helped over the years.

    thank you so much

  67. Thank you. Today I really really really needed to hear something like this… All my love to people like you who light the path for those of us following your steps. Thanks for the guidance. Much love and appreaciation.

  68. Tim you should totally come to Iceland, I’m sure you would love the experience. Although I would not recommend moving here until you check this place out in person first, just think thats better if you decide to move to any country!

    Anyways hope to see you here 🙂

  69. Thank you for sharing this. It is a relief to hear this from one of my heros. I am in the process of starting my first business and have been plagued with self doubt. You really have no idea how bad I needed this right now.

  70. One book that’s really helped me a few times over the past 10 years when I find myself in a rut (of self-doubt) is What To Say When You Talk To Yourself by Shad Helmstetter. Really good for helping you set a consistently better path for yourself mentally to better each day. I can’t recommend it and gift it enough to my friends. It’s helped me reframe so much of my thinking in a way that isn’t fleeting.

  71. Hey Tim – I realise this is an older post, but saw it on Facebook recently. As someone struggling with depression at the moment, who spends every five minutes wanting to shut up shop and run away (have so far applied for jobs in Hong Kong, NYC and Singapore whilst constantly contemplating my actually goal to move to LA early next year), find lying in bed my escape and regularly wonder how i’m going to get through the day, or sometimes the next five minutes, struggling to find joy in the things I normally love, reading your post was a wee bit of a life line. Just to hear someone express some of what I’m going through, is a lift. I know my situation and how I feel won’t last, it won’t be forever and I have a ridiculous amount to be incredibly grateful for. On the upside I’ve also started meditating which is a wonderful mini-escape each day, am starting with a new therapist, am getting great results with my strength training and hitting new PBs in deadlifts and the like and also managing to be super productive with my business I’m building. Just looking forward to smiling while I do all of this. Thanks for sharing Tim, hope things are going really well for you in every aspect of your life.

  72. Thank you for sharing Tim.

    100% relate to this.

    I often find my best days are when I’ve had zero caffeine because I went for a swim or run first thing in the morning for at least 30-60 minutes. Getting the blood flowing with cardio exercise is better than any number of coffee breaks.

    I also share your frustration and sense of hopelessness when I too have a list as long as my arm and nothing, nothing at all gets done because I don’t focus and knuckle down.

    Thanks again. I love the Podcast, I find that format is best for getting info into my brain. Love your work and all you do for us. Please continue and keep sharing.


    Alex, UK