Not-To-Do Lists, Drugs, and Other Productivity Tricks

This is a short post of things you may have missed.

First, three short (<15 minutes) podcasts I recently published:

The 9 Habits to Stop Now — The Not-To-Do List (iTunes or stream below)

Episode 9: The 9 Habits to Stop Now -- The Not-To-Do List

Drugs and the Meaning of Life (iTunes or stream below)

Episode 11: Drugs and the Meaning of Life

Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me) (iTunes or stream below)

Not-To-Do Lists, Drugs, and Other Productivity Tricks

Second, I’ve put up about a dozen highlights from other episodes — 1-3-minute clips on my YouTube page. If you enjoy them, I’ll put up more, so let me know in the comments!

Here are a few to start with:

Third, below are some podcasts with friends.  I had a blast on all of them, and all of them are different:

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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86 Replies to “Not-To-Do Lists, Drugs, and Other Productivity Tricks”

  1. Tim– The essay from Sam Harris was fascinating, but he leaves us all hanging with this:

    “I believe that psychedelics may be indispensable for some people—especially those who, like me, initially need convincing that profound changes in consciousness are possible. After that, it seems wise to find ways of practicing that do not present the same risks. Happily, such methods are widely available.”

    So… What are the other methods that are “widely available”?

    1. Meditation is one.

      Harris mentioned on a Rogan podcast that he has touched the same spots that are comparable to MDMA. I have personally had the experience along with of the clarity moments with difficult issues that psychedelics give you. Even the days of ‘after glow’ that makes what was once a difficult action (cutting off relationships or habits) simply done.

  2. Definitely love this. Have all the books, been a fan for years! One thing I will say is while I do appreciate you uploaded these podcast here, I wish that they were more readily available with Google Play and Android phones. I really dont use Apple, but I use Google Play everyday and to have a similar, singular playlist available on one of those platforms would be cool. Otherwise, everything is cool!

    1. I’m getting all the episodes through Stitcher on my Android devices before they are published on the blog 😀

  3. Really, really impressed with these podcasts. The kind of thing I had been wanting from other podcasts but wasn’t really getting. The inbetweenersodes are my favourite, but I do enjoy the longer shows too. I really like the fact that none of the shows feel like the guests are only there to force a product down our throats Tim.

    I think you are kicking ass with this podcast experiment!

  4. As a recently diagnosed Bipolar (Manic-Depressive) I loved ep 13 because it hit home. Check out Tim on Grumpy Old Geeks as well. Was a really fun chat.

  5. I love the 9 habits. So simple but so easy to forget. Finally just took the leap to full time entrepreneurship and it’s easy to get lost working all the time.

    Thanks Tim!

  6. Just listened to the one of psychedelics. Very profound essay. I concur that there should be more research into their medicinal benefit – particularly for treatment of depression and related conditions and also that it is absurd to criminalize their usage.

    My only comment would be if you are ever inclined to try them *always* and I mean *always* have an ‘anchor’ – a trustworthy friend who will look after you during your trip.

  7. Tim – I have to say that I love the in-between-i-sodes. I have read these articles on your blog; however hearing you read them and naturally emphasizing the important points is awesome. Thank you for the different perspectives and great thoughts!

  8. Tim, the short-form podcasts are very useful and impactful.

    I keep them in my audio library for when I feel overwhelmed, confused, or feel like my efforts are wasted; for my own 80/20’s, priorities and operating system.

    For example, the last one has had a significant, lasting effect on my last few days, helping me focus on what’s important, rather than what just feels urgent, and ignoring what I feel compelled to do because of expectations of others.

    I.e. short form = more practical for managing your own day.

    “What is required is not a lot words, but effectual ones.” ~ Seneca

  9. Tim: Keep the episodes of the T. Ferriss show coming! Great links to the other podcasts that you were on. You mentioned in a couple of podcasts that Dr. Roberts had a leathal aneurism, yet his blog says it was from a heart attack. Do you have any updated thoughts on this, and is there anything that you think needs to be added or subtracted from the slow carb diet because of this unfortunate news? Also, do you think that those of us who are not super humans can do anything to be more resilient like the special forces, top hedge fund managers, and yourself? Or, on the other hand, are people who have anxiety and panic attacks stuck with taking drugs like benzos, and becoming so addicted that they can’t get off when they find meditation or whatnot?

    1. I wasn’t sure of the cause and had a hypothesis. If it was a heart attack, then so it was. Sad, no matter what.

  10. RE: The 9 Habits to Stop Now:

    # Define a clear agenda for any meeting/call:

    The clear agenda tactic has allowed me to avoid 90% of calls (unnecessary calls) and do them via email fast and the rest make them efficient / brief calls.

    Thanks Tim, this is one of your many gems.

  11. If there are transcripts for any of these, please let me know. I don’t hear well so I can’t follow the audio

    1. Will do, Burton. I have the transcripts for a few. Hoping to get them all up when I have a more dedicated podcast page or site. Thanks for your patience!

    2. Burton, the not to do list is in the back of 4hww extended edition. The productivity tricks has a blog post by the same name.


  12. The speed at which you’re able to pump these out is amazing. Take note here people and see the master shine 😉

    Good work Timmy! You’re doing inspiring work my man.

    Take care!

  13. Tim, you are awesome as always.

    As for the podcasts, I believe 1 – 1.5 hours are too long

    I prefer your short podcasts, like the productivity one, this one is great

    short, interesting and to the point

      1. I prefer 2 + hours, especially on my long drive to work. I can’t wait for another extended interview.

      2. I love both. This one on productivity is just the right length for getting some extra steps in on the treadmill, but the longer ones allow for that meditative deep-dive into a subject.

  14. Does anyone have any experience with using compression clothing with sitting at a desk? I sit for long periods and I am concerned about the health impacts of that.

  15. Hi, Tim… Thanks for your constant research of life. I have enjoyed your Not-to -do tips. And some of the podcasts are harder to understand for a non-native English listener like me. Are there some transcripts of your podcasts to read. For a example drugs and the meaning of life…

  16. Thank you Tim. As a follower of you from finding your original book in the store I sincerely appreciate this. I have often seen you as a “superhero” and not understood your process. I’m bipolar myself and your episode 13 not only gave me insight into your ability to be successful but it also gave me confidence because of your willingness to be vulnerable.

  17. On Productivity Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)

    …Brutally, refreshingly, inspiringly honest. Especially love the admission of procrasturbation!

  18. Someone in RBT posted this, and so I listened out of curiosity (meditation is my jam) and just had to respond.

    re: Episode 13: “Don’t freak out, just gently come back to that one to-do item.” Yes! Super powers = noticing, coming back gently, repeat as necessary.

    And love, “Being busy is a form of laziness.” I’m in SF where being busy is a competitive sport. Only there’s no prize, and the cost to play just isn’t worth it. So many people don’t notice this until they hit the wall.

    +1 for meditation. It’s been crazy for changing my perspective = choices = world.

  19. Tim, thank you so much for creating these short 15 minute podcasts of your past blog posts! I don’t prioritize reading, and so if I can’t listen to something, then the chances are slim that I’ll be consuming it. Great move! Please do more. 🙂

  20. Hi Tim,

    I always appreciate almost everything you post. It´s always fun too read, listening to or watch and it keeps me inspired for all the things I do. I started to listening to your podcast in the morning while driving to work…makes my day so please keep posting 😉

    One question, I signed up to the exclusive updates above a couple of weeks ago but did not receive anything yet… Is there any known problem I could solve or should I just sign up again?

    Thx, Sascha

  21. Hey Tim,

    Really loved your thoughts on productivity. I’ve been running a startup for about 4 months now, and many of my days working have been filled with bullshit frittery trying to do ten things at once. Had a sugggestion/question: would you ever consider a guest in-betweedasode? For example, I have been a follower of Kelly Starrett since mobilityWOD was free; but I think him laying out his most actionable bits would be really beneficial to people who have never heard of him. I say this because I am now a huge Rhonda Patrick fan because of your latest episode, but am unsure as to what 20% of her work could produce 80% of results. As always, great post.

  22. I loved the not-to-do list! It’s a great way to feel less burdened and stressed while also increasing productivity. My additional “not-to-do” would be leaving the computer on after I finish a task. It’s so easy to leave it on 24/7, and even easier to start browsing and stay on for the whole day.

  23. I found your tips for the neurotic essay very powerful, both in terms of insight and practical ideas and from hearing that you go through moments of frustration and time wasting. As someone who other people see as being very productive, I find myself wasting far more time than I want, and frittering away hours, days and even weeks in apparently useless ways.

    One of my tricks is to learn to understand my ebb and flow of motivation and energy. I no longer fight it when I’m not in a productive state, I simply let it be, listen to what my body and brain need and I know that there will come another wave of energy, creativity and motivation in the not too distant future. Ride the highs when they come, let the lows pass by as painlessly as possible, but don’t beat yourself up for wasting days or even weeks. Those times may be as important as the hyper-productive times.

  24. Please, as a care giver and disabled, transcripts would be easier to follow and refer to in adapting new pattern of thinking.

    Like this

  25. Loved the Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me) – I’m often misunderstood and people often question my methods of doing things. More often than not, the people questioning me are those who have chosen a more “stable” and “normal” life. Thank you for lifting the veil and showing me that I’m perfectly normal for an entrepreneur/genius/artist. You’re definitely my kind of crazy 🙂 Saludos Tim.

  26. You create the best titles ever. It’s truly a gift. It takes a lot of courage, saying something to get people’s attention and make ’em laugh. Love the “to-do list” paired with drugs, awesome. I love your book, it’s really changing my life.

  27. I appreciate your suggestions on efficiency. You offer a number of great suggestions for business owners to save time and increase productivity. I have a tip I would like to share with you and your readers.

    Like you, I am a fan of listening to audiobooks or podcasts when I am in the car. I stumbled on a way to consume twice as much audio during my commute! Itunes has a feature that increases playback speed by as much as 100% (which would be twice as fast.)

    Admittedly, it does sound a little odd at first. I would recommend starting at 50% and start getting used to it. Increase the speed gradually and, before you know it, you will be listening to twice as many books in the same amount of time.

  28. I LOVE your work, but I HATE iTunes. Anyway you can also put your podcasts on YouTube or other non-iTunes platform? Thanks!

  29. Great show, keep it up! I enjoy the longer episodes as well as the mini 15-20 minute ones. I think having diverse guests on is key. Experts from different areas to impart wisdom to the average joe that he can use in his life. I think that keeps podcast listeners, including me, coming back for more.

  30. According by Davidson on year 2008, “Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness.” Stress people can do this kind of habit. They say it distress when you are stress. When reading this article, it really motivates me to do this kind of meditation.

  31. Great productivity hints!

    BTW Can you remind me which was the website Tim mentioned in 4HWW where you can bid for and offer projects. I cannot find it in my edition anymore. Or was it just mentioned in the blog? I was something like Thanks for reminding me.

  32. Tim, I thought “Productivity Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)” was such a courageous and honest post. I loved the candor and getting a peak behind the curtain. Thanks for posting it and all the other great content you consistently deliver.

  33. Great and informative as always with Tim, I just wish the podcasts were also available in form of text as reading seems faster then listening.

  34. For the time poor….

    Do not answer phone calls from unrecognised numbers

    Do not send email first thing in the morning or last thing at night

    Do not agree to meetings or calls with no agenda or end time

    Do not let people ramble.

    Do not check email constantly. Batch and check at set times.

    Do not over-communicate with low-profit high-maintenance customers

    Do not work more to fix overwhelm. Prioritise.

    Do not carry a “digital leash” 24/7. Take a day off.

    Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships should.

  35. I just watched your video on how to professionally peel a hard boiled egg. Impressive, but I saw no reminder to be sure to wash the peeled egg before serving to others! Do most restaurant chefs peel this way? Thanks

  36. #10…(or #1, in my opinion) of things not to do. Conversational texting! This piggybacks on the ‘phone in the car’ idea.

    In terms of a distraction, conversational texting is the biggest distraction we have in life today. In friendships, business, and relationships, texting should be used judiciously…as an electronic post it note. If any more than 2 back/forth texts would be sent, a phone call is more appropriate. Otherwise, there is a ‘too many applications open’ effect when having several conversations and trying to focus on daily tasks at hand. Friends and colleagues are all informed that I don’t operate on the ‘electronic leash’. My clients have become much more accountable from this policy as well.

    Here is an email I sent to a girl on why I don’t text in the first few months of a relationship (this applies in business and friendship as well):

    If you study sales/communication, 95+% of communication is non-verbal. The remainder (</= 5%) is verbal (our verbiage, anything written). Texting is a limited form of verbal communication. Since it is very limited, of the remaining 5%, you're getting only a small % of that (think a post it note of info versus an email or a letter). So, if we compare texting to face to face contact (both verbal and non), texting is only about 1-2% of face to face. Therefore, texting is an extremely ineffective way of communicating with someone who cannot intuitively know your 'non-verbal' cues (anyone you've just met). A phone call, even if short, is far superior.

    Thanks, Tim. Love your stuff, man. Keep it up!

  37. I love you, Tim!!

    When are you going to start a personals section or dating site for your single followers to find each other?


  38. Really enjoyed the short in-between episodes. Would be great to have bullet point summaries for those too (esp Ep.06 and Ep.09)… I would love to be able to remind myself of your points without having to go back and listen to the whole thing again (just to save time – listening to them is a great experience). If the points haven’t been transcribed let me know and I’d be happy to do it.

  39. I really enjoyed what you had to say on this podcast. I am actually a therapist and I use a technique called Percussive Suggestion Technique on my clients, which is a 10 minute audio track that basically removes whatever unwanted emotion you are feeling towards anything – whether a bad memory, a particular task, person or whatever. I specialize in helping suicidal people and those suffering PTSD and almost without fail (no matter what other therapy they have been through), just 10 or 20 minutes of this technique can undo years of trauma at the thought of whatever was bothering a person…powerful stuff!

    The reason I mention it here is because it is actually free to download and use (and is in use by self helpers all over the world). I used it to remove anxiety I felt about leaving work (after reading the 4hww) and it literally just disappeared. It can easily be used to remove any anxiety a person feels about a carrying out a task, about making a decision and anything else that you feel an emotional block towards, allowing you make decisions and take action easily and with clarity.

    If you or any of your readers want the ultimate psychological life hack I can’t recommend highly enough downloading it for free. Just google it and you will find multiple places where you can download it for free. Enjoy!

  40. I would add to the list: cap your “social media time” (Facebook, Twitter, whatever) to once a day, 30 min period.

  41. Timmy,

    Thanks again for challenging yourself with this podcast. I think you, and all of us listeners, are growing, and building, more character everyday by expanding the adjacent possible with this incredible medium you have made for the world.

    I would be lost without your advice.

    and there are not enough thank yous in the world for that.


  42. Today Nov 17th, our first child was born 11:24am Paris time and 18 minutes later he was already stop crying listening to my combination of your episodes 6, 9, 13, 19 and the new 44 (which is fantastic as all these in between episodes are).

    So now you have your youngest fan, an 18 minutes boy named “Adrian”.

    Cheers 😉

    P.S. This 44th episode deserves its own post. And is perfectly combined with episodes 6, 9, 13 and 19. Sorry I add this comment here.

  43. Hi TIm and others,

    I was listening to your openhearted episode 13. First of all, congrats on overcoming your internal struggle to bring this out. I think it creates guidance for other peoples self realization. I always notice that by non judgmental sharing of these internal demons they become funny little harmless creatures 🙂

    I am reaching out to you and others who read this blog because I want to share with you a book, and the person behind it, who I think can give you that final piece of information that will lead you to the place of peacefulness that I see you looking for by, for instance, your meditation and the NOBNOM challenge.

    When I was about 21 I was advised the book “the power of now” by Eckhart Tolle. Did you or any readers happen to come across this book already? It is the one source I always get back to when I am feeling self doubt, anxiety, depression etc. With his clear description of the “mind” the “ego” and the “pain body” Eckhart helps you realize what the nature of those entities are and helps you to become conscious about them so that they become harmless. Just what you said you found when you did regular meditations: your thoughts loose some of their importance, they will not drag you along so easily.

    Last I will leave a great short video of Eckhart about feeling upset:

    This will get you out of that place in 14 minutes 😉

    p.s. It would be great to have Eckhart on you TV show. I know he also was at google a while ago which led to an interesting conversation:

  44. Hey there! Tim, I love your mini-essays on the podcast!! Keep them coming. I find them very insightful, honest, and useful. As I result I often come here to get transcripts so I can print some of the gems out to remind me to use them. I have a less than stellar memory. I cannot seem to find transcripts for these. Specifically, this one: Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me) . Is there a transcript somewhere that I am missing? Please help! I

  45. For those of you who are more visual learners or just want a quick reference guide to the eight steps to productivity and bullet points afterward:

    1. Wake up at least one hour before you have to be at a computer.

    2. Make a cup of tea and sit down with pen and paper.

    3. Write down the three to five things (no more) that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable.

    3a. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, ad infinitum.

    3b. Most important usually equals most uncomfortable

    3c. Preferably use post-its or other constrained space

    4. For each of these items, ask yourself, “if this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day? Would moving this forward make all the other to-dos unimportant or easier to knock off later”

    5. Look at items answered yes to (maybe one or two items).

    6. Block out two or three hours to work on ONE of them. Let other stuff slide. It will all be there tomorrow.


    8. If you get distracted or start procrastinating don’t freak out and downward spiral, just gently come back to your one item

    8a. Meditating regularly will help with 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

  46. Following up on your No To Do Lists. I signed up for a service called Daily Glam that picks out what I should wear the next day. Plus they help me look my best according to my body shape. Here is a video of me demonstrating the service 😀 Thanks for reading!

  47. Gosh – thank you so much for your honesty in episode 13! It is only now that I had this lightbulb moment, that the world of super productivity and mindful use of time and the world of hitting that snooze button again, and needing an hour to get my make up done (just because I don’t want to face what I need to do afterwards) are not galaxies apart – but that embracing the first world is useful in order to get away with the other.

  48. Re: “Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic,

    Serendipitous podcast,

    Concentrated on one thing today and avoided

    quite a situation just in time..

    Thank you!

  49. Amazing work Tim!

    And yes, meditation is certainly the best way to recharge and reconnect with ourselves, zen trend or not, it is quite effective!

  50. Finally found Ep 11!

    Tim, absolutely loving your podcasts – which I’m sure you hear a lot of, as you should!

    Was introduced to this and just started listening from the beginning last week. I feel my life is changing already. I have been sharing your episodes and I will buy the book soon. 🙂

    Really like the shorts and how REAL you are in Ep 13 “Productivity”. You describe so well how I feel. In fact this, instead of an episode of GOT, is my go-to procrastination. Better for the soul and subconscious 🙂

    How powerful are our minds right?

    If you do read this, here’s a quote I like:

    Even pessimists can hold their heads up high.

    Excited for the rest of the episodes – will “challenge” myself to listen to all of them and catch-up to you. (It won’t be a challenge – it’s too fun)

  51. Hi Tim–Do you have a few screenshots of your Evernote page(s)? My screenshot would consist of 2 notebooks (1 “Read” and 1 “Work”). Much appreciated some guidance/reference.