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

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Sometimes, life seems upside-down.

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

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

– Neil Gaiman

University of the Arts Commencement Speech

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

Reality Check

A few months ago, I had a birthday party.

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

I was afraid of being alone.

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

But…why am I telling you this?…

The Dangerous Myths of “Successful” People

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

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

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

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

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

In the last 3 months, I’ve:

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

Seems pretty dysfunctional, right?

But, in the last 8 weeks, I’ve also:

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

The Point

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

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

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

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

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

4) For each item, ask yourself:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations! That’s it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And you are not alone.

And If You Struggle…

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

The Prescription for Self-Doubt (Video)

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

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

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


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


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

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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1,003 Replies to “"Productivity" Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)”

  1. Tim, In my view this is your most important post ever. Thank you for the look behind the curtain. It’s heartening to know that someone whom I admire deals with the same issues I do. EMPOWERING! -TD

  2. One of the best articles yet and that’s why from my point of view.

    Over the last few years and in an effort to succeed with my newly founded company I made sure to consume whatever content i came across which I thought would help enhance my entrepreneurial skills. The irony was that reading more got me depressed, especially when you consider how ideal, heroic and polished are the stories published by business magazines. That led me to the realization that whatever worked for my “heros” doesn’t necessarily work for me and that i have to figure out thing for myself away from thinking of such stories/publications as reference points.

    I stillknow its a long way towards my goals in life but I in peace with the idea of taking it one step at a time.

  3. I loved relating to this post, specifically, because I am currently hiding in my bedroom at this very minute.

    Acceptance is such a key theme in life. Accepting how you are and then working with it to get the best of yourself to shine.

    Thanks for this honesty, I so often feel the same.

  4. Tim,

    Thanks for recently Tweeting this article. I am truly greatful. I have been struggling with the same cycles recently. Knowing that Tim Ferris struggles like I do makes me feel a whole lot more normal and relieved. I certainly have been overestimating the world and underestimating myself. Thanks for the perspective shift.

    Charles

  5. Thank you for this. I’ve been following your posts for about 5 years now and they are posts like these that keep me following. That you for your honesty. Showing your weaknesses as well as your triumphs is truly helpful to allow us all to understand that both are normal.

  6. I am just joining your party here Tim…this is a great post! I see a lot of similarities in my life from what you have described. Except my successes I think are on a much smaller scale but I am okay with it. Thanks for this post from almost 2 years ago!

  7. I have to comment on this one. For the last month or so I have been feeling very much like I am “losing at the game of life”, and it has progressively gotten worse. I never comment on blog posts (as often as I read yours) for fear that I will just get lost in the ether of the world of comments and opinions that is the internet. I pretty much feel like I’m just talking to myself, but outwardly to the public. Its also why I have a fear of writing and posting what I write.

    This post came at a much needed time in my life. The simplicity and vulnerability within is not only refreshing, it was relieving to know I wasn’t alone. Thank you Tim, for this insightful and relatable post.

    Freddy

  8. This is SUCH a great, honest and inspirational post. THANK YOU. I give my self such a hard time for chunks of non productive time. Sometimes I can spend a couple of hours not doing too much – but thinking for myself.

    … So long as I get one major thing in for the day maybe I won’t feel guilty about the inward journaling and contemplation I engage in. Its also nice to know we all go though struggles, good and bad days.

    I don’t have many people I look up to in the world – but Tim Ferris you are one of them. So the vulnerability and honesty in this article means all the more.

    Ahhh .. If only everyone could fly their freak flag- the world would be a more colourful, joyful space.. and imagine the creativity that could come from the non-judgement of ourselves and in others?

  9. Tim,

    I have come back to read this post several times now in the past few months. Each time I read few of the comments below, I take a sigh of relief. It’s good to know that there isn’t any special sauce to become superhuman. I’m reminded that I’m not alone in the struggle against my own ” weird, neurotic, chaotic and unfocused” mind. Thanks man. 😐

  10. Thank you Tim you insane MF, I cried through this post….damn it. But it was cathartic. When I first started listening/reading your podcast/books/shit I thought you were way to fucking crazy for me to deal with. Hmmm, crap..Im beginning to GET you and in turn GET myself.

  11. I am getting ready for presenting a workshop on time to Think at a technology conference called Learning2 and came across this article while writing my intro speech.such synchronicity! Begin and continue or Do More come to mind.it has chamged my life as a single mom to wake up earlier so i can have a coffee and write 3 morning pages! Thanks for the courage to speak your truth!! I will quote you on Thursday, if your ears burn [Moderator: handle removed] on twitter

  12. Dear Tim,

    Wow, what a post! Perhaps or perhaps not, you remember me? I had requested many years ago now a signed copy of 4 Hour Workweek as it was beacon of hope for mein the midst of illness with Lyme (30 years of it now) and some hope of financial recovery. You kindly fulfilled this wish, and….I still have on my todo list to mail you a thank you gift of a print of some artwork, and I am mightlily ashamed of this. Disaster and survial and constant questing for healing have taken forefront, and please know how grateful I am/was for that gesture. going ot post ofices and creaitng packages remains super hard for me for some weird brain reason, and…well…there really is no excuse, and someday it will get to you! (although I actually think it may not be to your liking, and you will have to re-gift it! but when you see the print, you will understand why it is “the one” I had to send you from my work, based on its content).

    I had lost track of your blog as my brain fizzled even worse as I continued my struggles with healng Lyme, whic h iam still in the midst of, all thes eyears later, for a variety of factors, many financial, having lost my home and partner and any semblance of stability. and now recent mold exposures. LOL, I am looking at my typing. Ahem, it’s quite evident in my typing. Going to try to slow down here.

    ok, well, first, I was so very sorry to hear that you actually did contract an acute case of Lyme. Perhaps you might also remember me writing “please, oh please, Tim Ferris, please hack Lyme for all of us!” I was sad/shocked to hear the task had in fact become yours, although I suspected you might already be carrying it from your family history of Parkinsons/Alzheimers. I sent info to your assistant long ago, not sure if you got it.

    A couple things you might like to check out, that I have not been able to do. Dr. Amy Yasko’s work with methylation, and the Patricia Kane protocol. In particular, I know a man who at last made it through the years of rain (and endless high-end integrative treatment with the likes of many of Dave Asprey’s interviewees!) via the PK protocol, in a clinic in Germany, who got his gut healed up and all remaining Lyme symptoms cleared up…..until he had a new bite scare (he lives in Hamptoms), went on Doxy again, and blew his gut. so, he’s back on PK now. I am curious to watch your work with ketosis. My ex is trying to get me up on it wit hthe synthetics, but am now dealing with family issues, so can’t handle the system disruption. Basically, that’s been my issue, I am so destabliized by the illness, attendant life meltdown, that I cannot cope with what happens when I treat, or for that matter, at this point, even handle supplement ordering/taking, etc. as I am down to DIY. Personally, my current focus is thus pure qigong, going back to that as it helped enormously. Doing Zhineng Qigong. I now also have a wish that yo uand Dave Asprey would undertake biohacking the world of qigong, as i have spent the last couple years travling through several schools of it, and man, what a wild ride with incredibly divergetn techniques (ther eare thousands of them) and approaches. Hmmm…perhaps of other intetrst to you, I now know of several people who have achieved what seems to be almost full helaing from Lyme, Lupus, MS via a technqiue called FasterEFT developed by Robert Smith. It does indeed seem way “faster” than traidtional EFT, as he is a bit of ahacker himself, and goes at the issue of trauma, subconsicous holdings very directly, focusing on cogntiive process, rathe than the energy itself. Interesting……

    Well, wow, that post again. Thank yo ufor such candor. While reading it, I thought: my god, this must have been in the middle of his Lyme episode. It sure sounded like a Lymie kind of epoch! Not sure of the dates of your infection….. God bless you for all you do, Tom, and this big open heart of yours.

    Very best wishes,

    elizabeth

  13. Oh man Tim, I really needed this today. Life has knocked me down so many times that I have been feeling uber-stressed and losing my drive to… well keep driving on to pursue my dreams. I’ve been trying to build my life up for years and some days ( some weeks/months) really bury me into a frenzy of self-doubt and dismay. I feel like I should settle for whatever I can get in life and be happy in accomplishing very little. But there is something inside me that makes me seek out articles like this one, and videos like that of Nick Vujicic. And now, even in my deep financial, business and other crisis, I feel like I can find a way to get out of it… somehow. So onward I go to crunch some numbers and figure out my next best steps.

    Just wanted to say thanks Tim. Thanks for taking the time and initiative to get yourself out there.

  14. After listening to Don Henley’s new album and finally watching “History of the Eagles” last night, I went to bed thinking “I’ll never be like that guy…can’t even relate to that level of talent.” Funny thing happened after reading your article, I don’t believe that now. Might have to remind myself again, though… Thank you, Tim!

  15. I can’t thank you enough for this post. I close friend passed away last week, and I had finally been making progress on a 10+ year ABD stall-out. Your vunerability pulled me out…I could feel that too-familiar pull of depression, self-loathing powerlessness. Getting the one thing done really helps the overwhelm of perfectionism.

  16. Great article. Trying accomplish too much in one day actually makes the day less productive. I’m starting to use blocks of time to get work done and I’ve been more productive than ever. I’ve also been using the Pomodoro method, which has helped me a lot.

  17. Thanks for sharing this Tim. It is great to know that ‘successful’ people don’t live the ‘perfect’ life because that makes it seem so much more realistic that I can be a success too.

    It’s such a shame that depression remains a taboo subject and admitting to suffering from it at any level is frowned upon, both at work and among friends.

    I found an interesting approach to Mind Management last year – Steve Peters a psychologist devised a great and simple way to ‘cope’and actually improve how you can become more successful. Be interested to know your thoughts on The Chimp Paradox if you get chance to check it out.

    Cheers

    Fiona

  18. Really appreciate your honesty here, especially today. I have 2 struggling startups right now, and the economic climate can be bleak at times, but realizing emotions aren’t necessarily reflective of reality helps to disconnect, like your guest Jocko was saying. You’re doing incredible work for working entrepreneurs, and you’re a needed voice in the chaos. Thanks Tim,

  19. As always I feel better knowing this side of people. The fact you’re human makes you 10x cooler in my book bro. I’ve gotten started (again) in creating my muse based income stream and find it somehow comforting that this….never gets any easier. I was always be the damn super awkward INTP dweeb. Hooray.

    BTW I just listened to your podcast with Tony Robbins and thought it was epic how many curse words you guys shared considering the image I had for him (and you actually) was this crazy optimistic guy who would tell you curse words “clutter your inner voice” or something like that. Keep sharing, I’m f**king inspired.

  20. This is great Tim! Thank you. I’ve been struggling with depression for not too long, but it seems like it suddenly pounced on me when I got laid off from my Job at NBC studios. These will definitely help. I’m going to start this first thing tomorrow.

    My Contribution: When I watch Seinfeld I suddenly can’t remember my depression. It feels like I went back to high school, and was in my parents room watching Kramer. It seems funnier. I highly recommend it, plus it’s always encouraging to see such a simple successful idea last this far and still make millions. I think why Seinfeld as apposed to other shows like Friends, Or Mad about You, is that there is no strings pulling at your heart. It’s just funny. I can only name a few comedy ANYTHINGS that is pure comedy no love don’t stuff. It works for me. Really well. Thank you Tim for all you put out there.

  21. I truly appreciate that you’ve shared such personal information. I struggle with anxiety and can definitely relate to self-defeating avoidance behaviors. I’m going to put your steps into action tomorrow first thing.

  22. I think you’re absolutely awesome! How do you come up with the motivation alone, not to mention the brilliant ideas? I read your book, 4 Hour Work Week, and it has been with me a long time. Thank you. 😀

  23. So needed to hear this! Thank you so much – I’m in my first year of new biz bringing innovation to gov and NGO’s for social change. It’s been tough and I’ve felt manic yet not accomplishing a lot.

    I loooove your list especially the 3 hour block to complete a task. This is brilliant, made my day 😍

  24. I just realized… that I’ve been following you/your posts for nearly a decade now. Time flies! Anywho, thanks for your honest posts, as always, and your ‘life hacks’! Been applying some of them… for almost ten years…!

  25. Hi Tim, I’m reading this 3 years after the November 3, 2013 posted date, but I learned lot from your words of advice/wisdom. Timeless. To be honest I almost panicked when I read the first part of “The last 3 months” I started to feel like I did when the movie with a pregnant Arnold Schwarzenegger was released (I didn’t watch it 🙂 Dug my heels in, read on until “In the last 8 weeks” section… I recommit to making one of my life’s goal to meet you in person.

  26. Tim

    Big props to you for sharing some of your pain with us and remedies to help all of us. Keep it coming most appreciated

  27. I realize this post is a couple of years old now, but I’ve just found it as I’m just realizing exactly how damaging my chronic and probably pathological procrastination is and has become both personally and professionally.

    Incredibly helpful knowing that I’m not the only one who does and that it’s not insurmountable.

  28. I really liked it, thank you for sharing yourself with us. My two favorite parts 1. ” I’m not even a consistent “normal” 2.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.

    Just when my mind was thinking how busy i am, i was like, Damn, he got me! I to go to the to-do list for 20 regroups a day, the other things i do to fill the time are top secret, ha!

  29. Oh man thanks for your honesty here, Tim. I think as more and more people are striking out for themselves it’s so useful to have the grit of what it’s like visible as well as the glory. We’re not alone.

    Also I’ve found that, despite recommendations to the contrary, if I can get up and immediately bust out a couple of hours of my scariest stuff (on the computer) then by like 9am I’ve done it and haven’t had a chance to psych myself out. If I can do it even before coffee, well that’s a gold-star day right there 😉

  30. Wow Tim, nice post! I recently started listening to your podcast, and in the meantime learned to harness Trello to a) make notes on the pieces of wisdom from your guests, and b) keep oversight of all the things in my head. Of course, most of it is clutter, and tips like these help to keep focus. Let’s see how it works!

  31. Wow… and to think you wrote this 3 years ago. Seriously, I can relate to EVERYTHING (except sleeping in), but just about everything you wrote here. I’m struggling with productivity hard-core right now, because of many neurotic reasons which makes me just “fritter my days with shit.” — Especially since I’m applying so much pressure on myself for starting my dream business, but have nooooo idea where to begin. It’s just inspiring (and relieving) to see where you are now even though you were experiencing all of this 3 years ago. I don’t know how you’ve mastered this productivity today (I’m sure with more research on you I’ll find out)… but this… just… WOW… THANK YOU!

  32. Glad you shared this again. I’m new to your podcast, books, etc. and would not have otherwise seen this. I write a lot of to do lists, I’m now gonna try your method. Thanks.

  33. Thanks Tim, this advice is so relevant.

    I used to struggle with putting a block of time aside (preferring to put in five minutes here, five minutes there) until I discovered an app called Forest. You set a time limit and plant an animated seed. If you don’t touch your phone for that time, the seed grows. If you can’t resist checking email/Facebook /other time wasters, the plant shrivels up and dies and its depleted roots stay in your forest. It sounds like a silly motivation, but it’s been remarkable for me!

  34. Hi Tim,

    One of the best article i have seen recently, that make me think that Truthiness, self alignment and spending time on important thing (There should be a word for this? 🙂 are the key to effectiveness and happiness.

    Thank you for making my day,

    Renaud

  35. I’m impressed and thanks so much for your helpful tips. I had no idea I adopted a new way of laziness by being “too busy”… But it makes so much sense!! WOW ☺️

  36. “when you are ready the teacher will appear”. I had read this post before but it wasn’t relevant enough at the time to be meaningful. It is now. Im a start up founder and feel like im drowning in busyness. Thanks so much for this Tim.

  37. I actually just sent you a guest pitch post that relates to this…. 😉

    I definitely click with your thoughts on focus. I have to be able to commit myself to what I’m doing 100%. I think this is a no-brainer given the function of the brain (like the pun?), but I absolutely need to be able to give my all to the task I’m doing. Otherwise I get irritated and my productivity dives downward. Knowing this about myself, I aim to indulge in it rather than thinking I need to learn how to cope. Productive is productive, and this is how I do my best work, so I see this approach to be the obvious way to go. But I don’t mind being a stubborn crochity old woman. 😀

  38. I’ve never felt closer to you, and by proxy any one of the “super heroes” I look up to. Your honest bullet list from the last three month may be the finest piece of content I’ve yet read from you. Thank you for everything, and keep being an awesome human being!

  39. TIM you are one of the most exciting personality on the planet 🌍, Every time I read or listen to you, learn something. Thanks for keeping me enlightened.

  40. Thanks Tim, I heard a lot about your work from other people I follow, Altucher, Mike Dillard and it’s been more than helpful. Currently as an employee, I’ve increased my productivity at least two fold and lowered stress since starting the 4 hour work week. If I keep practicing these methods I will find it in myself to go out and be the entrepreneur I want to be!

  41. It’s hard to extend the depth of gratitude that I want to extend to you. So I am probably also going to have to take the time to write you a letter.

    There is an infallibility about heroes that encapsulates their condition, in the mind, as unattainable. But we forget that every hero was a human. Horatio Nelson used to masturbate, so did Ben Franklin and George Washington. They were also caught being naughty by their mothers, Shakespeare once was taught english and Malcom Gladwell has bad hair days. Their greatness, in the end, is intertwined with real frank humanity.

    But in a day when every startup article is about the next 19 year old gazillionaire, and you look back on your life asking yourself where you went wrong, not wanting to deal with the reality that work is hard and that life is harder. On days like those, it’s good to be reminded that he, as well as everyone else, is just human. We’re all muddling through doing our best to make good of the cards we are dealt, to build great things, and to be happy.

    So thank you Tim, for being so human.

  42. Wow! Wow! Wow! Thank you for sharing your life and your insights. I thought it was just me. I am struggling with staying on this roller coaster called living. I so appreciate your courage to speak about the other side of the coin. As an observer some entrepreneurs make it look so easy. I am like Tony Robbins striving towards joy, gratitude and fulfillment everyday. But some days I just want to stay in bed because I get tired of pushing the boulder up the hill. Thank you so much!!

  43. Thank you for sharing. One thing that helps me (although this is slightly contradictory since this post is so validating), is the idea to reevaluate my relationship with praise and validation.

  44. Thank you. So many times. Thank you. I am a old-er student, mom to grade schoolers, and wife. I quit a great paying job to go back to school to teach. The only real option is online school. This is terrible for me! I often feel like I’m failing. If I get the dishes done, its a good day (I’m pretty sure if I called FEMA they would send relief workers at this point). Thank you for the encouragement. Thank you for making me feel less like a failure and more like a human. I’m going to start your suggestions and I’m going to finish school. Probably one class at a time… but I will finish it. And then hire a housekeeper.

  45. Thank you, thank you ,thank you for this Tim. It was truly wonderful to read and to realize that I am not the only erratic, inconsistent, high/low, sometimes completely certain that I am a fraud, serial entrepreneur out here. Good to be known.

  46. Holy shit this is gold! I remember requesting you to do/cover something on how you are still human without realising this was already done! Thank you TF. If not for your podcasts I prolly would have gone into chronic depression this year! My best helps so far through your podcasts have been Derek Sivers, Ramit Sethi, James Altucher, Tony Robbins, Naval Raj, etc etc. So thanks a ton Tim!

  47. Wow great, honest post. I can relate to so many things. Thanks for sharing Tim.

    I have two self-defeating habits. The first one is leaving everything super close to the final deadline. The problem with this one is that even though the habit causes me some anxiety, it also inspires a lot of creativity and efficiency. Although I would love to be a person who is on top of everything weeks/days in advance, the more time I have have the more I waste it on mindless procrastination.

    My second issue is this internal need for things that I do to be perfect – and sometimes I set myself ridiculous standards. This really increases my fear of failure and makes it difficult to start a new project when it seems mega complex and overwhelming.

  48. Tim there are several beautiful things about this post in addition to your honesty.

    1) you let other ‘productive people’ (whatever the hell that means) know they they are not alone in their individual quirks. I refuse to call individuality traits neurosis. Who gives a damn about clinical diagnosis!

    2) You demonstrate that being successful doesn’t equate to being perfect. For me, as long as I keep moving in a direction and don’t quit I will get it done. Of course it helps if I’m interested in what I’m doing but we all have times when we have to do things to finish the job or tasks. I always think of Bruce Springsteen in these moments. He was asked what song writing was like. He said something like, it’s moments of inspiration followed by days when it feels like homework.

    3) You clearly dem ok nitrate that life has its own rhythm and it isn’t steady like a heartbeat. The rhythm of living has different beats and tempos. And really would we want everything to be consistent all the time? Frankly that would bore me to death.

    Keep up the great posts

    Warm regards

    A fan crazier than you =)

  49. Thank you for the post, Tim! Incredibly inspiring. I am totally the same way.

    Self-learning is a good think also!

    1. environment I work in better (silent, other than a noisy cafe, but full of people, not to feel alone)-for me its a Library or a coworking center.

    2. time of the day. I am an early bird but my mind activates at 12 pm and I try to plan my day accordingly.

    3. commitments. I plan my meetings early in the morning and that gives me energy.

    Good luck everyone in this fun and crazy lifetime struggle. : )

  50. Hey thanks for sharing, I find u super inspiring, your twitter account is motivating, and provides so many tools for dealing with negative thought patterns and just the mundane of being human. U r the fucking man

    Thanks bud

    Signed a cool guy with a good life

  51. Thanks for sharing this, you motivated me a lot to go for efficacy and think better of myself.

    Concerning downspiral: I have this problem when waking up too late. Hard bad habit, but I’ll get it!

  52. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Having just read your “four hour work week”, I was

    a) extremely impressed at your brilliance

    b) concerned that I might be considering a radical change of fiscal-direction on the advice of a system-exploiting narcissist.

    Your post here has given me complete reassurance that you are in fact just as “nomally-mad” (to borrow a term from the incredible Ruby Wax) as myself.

    Something I heard recently that resonated for me: (it’s probably from a TED talk… ) we don’t connect with “perfect”, we connect with people who make themselves vulnerable… as both you and Mr Gaiman so astutely pointed out.

    Anyhow: I was just looking around your site for some tips as to how to become a bestselling author from the ground up. Having taken up yoga recently, I’ve rapidly come to the conclusion that the world would be a far more human-friendly place if more people practiced yoga and mediation… I figure if I can make a living whilst doing something of service to the rest of humanity, now THAT would be a money-generating project I could embrace with integrity!

    Keep up the good work: remember, compassion for others is learnt when we practice self-compassion.

    Sending some love from glorious New Zealand,

    Rebecca

  53. That “last three months” list is so like me it’s a little scary. Hopefully, I can get to the point were the “last 8 weeks” list is also like me ha

  54. For the past four years I’ve been extremely self-conscious and depressed because of certain parts of my body. I didn’t go to any high school dances and avoided interaction with girls, yet, I’m a completely normal guy, interested in sports and politics among other things. I’m 19 now, and my self-esteem seems to be getting better based off of the newer conclusions (more acceptance) I’ve come to about these certain body parts. Since my low times were sometimes reallllly low, I have a feeling this could just be a new manic state, and that my depression has elevated to bipolar depression. If things go way south again I’ll have to get a counselor. My depression has felt like the biggest secret ill ever have and it’s been tough to keep it to only myself the past 4 years, especially since it’s exhausting and consumes so much of my thoughts. I can’t imagine going through a day without thinking of its sources, and to think some people do in fact do that… seems wild. Like a utopian life. I know you said “don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself”, but i’m certain that many people do live without constant insecurity which seems unimaginable to me. If I focused on my interests rather than my problems I feel like I could be well accomplished or passionate about something. Instead, I’ve slept, lagged around, and worried about the things that I don’t like about myself… for four years. This is the first time I’ve ever even written about my depression. Anyway… how can I determine whether or not I’m in a manic state or turning a corner? I don’t feel all that excited, but instead more at ease, and an easier ability focusing on daily tasks. But this feeling has only been here for a few days now.

    Looking for some advice

    (Ps, I relate to a lot of the things you felt in your manic depression such as wanting to relocate to different places, except im leaving for college next year, so you can imagine what that’s like).

    Brian.

  55. I don’t know, man. I see this post and these comments are from, like, 3-4 years ago, so I am not sure if you or your PA people are even reading this stuff. Anyway…

    First… thank you for what you do and for being who you are. For better or worse it was you who helped me get to where I am now (physically speaking-more on that in a minute). The details are my problem, but I do thank you and I am grateful for all of the work you do. All you can do is provide the inspiration. It is up to me to do something with it, righ? Such action (coupled with sustained focus) has not historically been my strongsuit. I am currently 44. Getting pretty worn down, but I am at least getting out of bed every day. Mostly.

    Second… Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!!!

    I’m just a bit stuck and I keep looking for my way out. I was living in Seattle and my life simply was not working. So I sold off everything that did not fit in a suitcase, let my apartment go, and 2 weeks ago I hopped a plane to Bangkok. So here I am. The problem is I have enough funds to sustain me for a little while… but that time (and funds) slowly evaporates as time passes. As they say, “no matter where you go, there you are.” So I am in SE Asia where I should probably be enjoying hanging out in shorts and flip-flops 24-7 (that was part of the plan), but mostly I sit in my Airbnb hunched over my MacBook trying to figure out how the fuck to keep from becoming homeless. So much for paradise. Lol!

    At any rate, it is some consolation that even someone who has their shit together on many levels (more so than myself) still has some similar struggles. But then that is the single greatest reason for your success, I think. You are just so damned relatable. 🙂

    Well Tim, I don’t know if you re-posted this blog entry because you are in a current state of personal crisis… but if so I hope you are able to see yourself through it quickly. What you do really does matter to a lot of people. 🙂

  56. Thanks so much Tim! It is so soothing to know ‘successful’ people go through this – as well 🙂 Thanks for sharing. We live in an era where people tend to ‘edit’ their lives beautifully on social media and it’s hard to find out if and where they struggle. I’ve experienced the same issues for years and was literally busy 24/7 without accomplishing much, specially when working for myself, as I do perform much better when I’m working for others…That means we usually do not take ourselves as seriously as we take others I guess. The idea of doing one of the things we’re constantly postponing which haunt us daily for months or years is key!

  57. I’m having one of those days today. I’m in a scary spot. About to take a big financial risk and try to make my dreamline start to happen (4HWW). My best friend — thank God I finally have a best friend in my life after 42 years on Earth — reminded me that “fear wins or freedom wins” (Brendon Burchard), that we must practice couraging (Brené Brown), and some other self-helpy stuff we’ve read together. Being vulnerable enough to tell him today that I’m scared? It’s the only way anyone could know that I am. Otherwise, I’d be just my supposed fearless independent self, silently petrified that I’ll fail and be destitute. Thank you for sharing this, Tim. I admire you. I’m inspired by your teachings. And I truly to hope we can be friends some day. Warm Regards, Amy (Instagram > amypaper)

  58. Tim, thank you so much for this!

    I was literally laying in bed under a stormy day in Puerto Rico (I decided to be here after I read 4-hr work week btw) not wanting to get anything done. After reading your blog, I realized these were things that troubled me. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone. I appreciate all you do. I think I’ll get out of bed and get that one thing done (or I can do it on my phone in bed 😇).

    Cheers!

    Kabbyo

  59. Hi Tim! The specific term for what you were describing with your footnote is ‘procrastibating’. I thought you’d enjoy the vocab. 🙂 Love the post!

  60. This was great! Thank you Tim. You are don’t need to be a superhero, Tim Ferriss is fine – please keep it up 🙂

  61. I work in an industry where it seems the best are super human or ‘lucky’, this has given me a real grasp on what it means to be able to be human whilst being amazing at what you do. So thank you.

    See you at the top.

  62. Tim, like your Podcast with Jocko (when you revealed what life has been like for Tim the person), this must have been incredibly challenging, especially when the world wants to tell you you are a superstar.

    I want to take this opportunity to thank you and tell you that your Podcast helps me every week and I cheer every little bit of personal disclosure from you because I see the journey you are on.

    I remember telling a psychologist many years ago that I couldn’t be honest with the members of my 12 step programs because they would judge me, thinking they would say, first it was gambling, then alcohol and now depression (in actual fact I understand it was depression first, then the other two).

    He challenged me to be honest and said maybe my truth would help others who were scared to speak up for fear of alienation.

    I have had near 18 years of speaking my truth. I know it has had a meaningful impact on many people who are grateful. I have suffered depression as long as I can remember (I am 45 now), I have medicated for over 10 year, I have had years of great counselling, I haven’t gambled for almost 18 years, haven’t drank for near 16 years, I work had on my health, I fill my brain with great learnings from yourself and others. I run my business most days are ok. The bouts happen as you have described but I am far advanced from the alternate me, ready to take my life.

    I do all this because I need too (and now want to). My 3 kids, partner friends and family love me and I love them. I am here and all the while knowing it is a very fine line and lots of effort that keeps me well. it is just what I have to do.

    When you are young and you run a bit and think you are fit. Then you join a sporting club and you realise you need to work harder, then a gym and meet fitter people and need to work harder again, then martial arts or alike and harder again. Maybe semi pro or even professional sports shows your work ethic needs to be through the roof. My wellbeing takes the work of an professional athlete, not the occasional run. I do this work when I can and when I am down I am just waiting for the time to pass until I am renewed.

    I am sharing this in thanks for your courage and in extreme gratitude for you Podcast that continues to give.

    Thank you and I wish you well.

  63. Such a great post – thank you for being so open and vulnerable Tim. Knowing this really helps when you feel you are the one who can’t do shit despite all previous achievements you had while others seem to be able to accomplish things “naturally” and with much less effort..

  64. Hi Tim,

    Thanks so much for all that you do. Like many I appreciate the sincerity of this post.

    I know you are an avid reader and wanted to mention a book that you might enjoy. You may have already read it, but if not it could be another tool for your tool kit. It is calked “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza.

    Thanks again!

    Wishing you peace,

    Cheratien

  65. I needed this on many levels. This makes my day seem much less daunting, and it’s encouraging to know that I can feel this way and still be successful!