Relax Like A Pro: 5 Steps to Hacking Your Sleep

I once went almost five days without sleep in 1996 just to see 1) if I could make a week (I couldn’t), and 2) what the side-effects would be.

I was a new neuroscience major at Princeton at the time and hoped to do research with famed serotonin pioneer, Barry Jacobs.

Hallucinations cut my sleep deprivation trial short, but I’ve continued to experiment with sleep optimization and variation as a means of improving performance.

Here are a few effective techniques and hacks I’ve picked up over the last five years from sources ranging from biochemistry PhDs to biologists at Stanford University… Continue reading “Relax Like A Pro: 5 Steps to Hacking Your Sleep”

10 Computer Shortcuts: Obvious to Techies but Unknown to the Rest (Plus: New World Record)

I’ll cover my head in shame: I only discovered keyboard shortcuts about a year ago. There, I said it.

Here are a few shortcuts that take out excessive mouse use and — cumulatively over thousands of computer movements per week — save hours and hours.

There a million and one “shortcuts,” but learning them all takes forever. The headache savers below are those I use almost every time I touch a computer. Though self-evident to most techies, I hope a few Luddites like me will find them a revelation. If using a Mac, use the Cmd key instead of Ctrl… Continue reading “10 Computer Shortcuts: Obvious to Techies but Unknown to the Rest (Plus: New World Record)”

Depression: How You Label Determines How You Feel

This post was not planned.

But… I have lost two close friends from both high school and college to suicide, and Heath Ledger’s unexpected death, which shows all the signs of suicide, saddened me on a profound level. It just shouldn’t happen.

To paraphrase Dan Sullivan: the problem isn’t the problem. It’s how you think about the problem that’s the problem.

Here are three concepts that I and others have found useful for preventing the inevitable ups and downs from becoming self-destructive thinking and behavior:

1. Depression is just one phase of a natural biorhythm and thus both transient and needed… Continue reading “Depression: How You Label Determines How You Feel”

The Holy Grail: How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check Email Again

What if you never had to check e-mail again?

If you could hire someone else to be spend countless hours in your inbox instead of you?

This isn’t pure fantasy. For the last 12 months, I’ve experimented with removing myself from the inbox entirely by training other people to behave like me. Not to imitate me, but to think like me.

Here’s the upshot: I get more than 1,000 e-mail a day from various accounts. Rather than spending 6-8 hours per day checking e-mail, which I used to do, I can skip reading e-mail altogether for days or even weeks at a time… all with 4-10 minutes a night… Continue reading “The Holy Grail: How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check Email Again”

How to Lose 30 Pounds in 24 Hours: The Definitive Guide to Cutting Weight

- AFFLICTION WEIGH-IN RESULTS AND PHOTOS - MMA WEEKLY - Mixed Martial Arts & UFC News, Photos, Rankings & more

For thousands of athletes, cutting weight is a critical science. Heavyweights are an exception. (Photo: MMAWeekly)

Gaining 34 pounds of lean mass in 28 days? Impossible, or so claim the skeptics.

Losing 20+ pounds of fat in one month without exercise? Impossible, or so claim the skeptics.

So let’s add another item to the list of impossibles: I have lost more than 20 pounds in less than 24 hours on more than a dozen occasions.

The most extreme example was 33 lbs. — from 185 lbs. to 152 lbs. — in less than 20 hours, which produced a rather unpleasant 120 beat-per-minute resting pulse while attempting to sleep.

In 1999, I was a gold medalist at the Sanshou (Chinese kickboxing) national championships in the 165-lb. weight class (here is a video sample of Sanshou). This is perhaps the most controversial accomplishment in the 4HWW, as I make it clear:

I arrived the on-site at 187 lbs., weighed in at 165 lbs., and stepped on the platform to compete the next morning weighing 193 lbs.

This post will explain exactly how it’s done — the techniques, the “drugs”, the science — and include excerpts from a series of articles I wrote for Powerlifting USA in 2004 called “The New Technology of Water”. Even if you have no need to cut weight, after reading this, you will know more about organ function and hydration than 99% of all athletes in the world… Continue reading “How to Lose 30 Pounds in 24 Hours: The Definitive Guide to Cutting Weight”

5 Boundary-Setting Tips for the Work Obsessed

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Anne Zelenka, who serves as Editor at Large for Web Worker Daily.]

If you are so passionate about your work that you border on obsessed, you might find it near impossible to turn work off.

This is especially so in the web age, when you can stay connected no matter where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re doing. What do you do when suggestions like “work only during certain hours” and “don’t check email on evenings and weekends” just don’t seem to be enough?

Here are five more powerful tricks for keeping work in its place… Continue reading “5 Boundary-Setting Tips for the Work Obsessed”

Surfing the World Wide Couch: The Benefits of Urban Camping (Plus: Sweaty Tango)


Dogs get it. (Photo: Fran-cis-ca)

The last time I landed in London, I crashed with a friend on his sister’s floor. It rocked.

In between watching games of the rugby world cup, we drank great wine as kiwis and whinging POMs “took the piss” out of me for hours on end.

It was cheaper than a hotel, of course, but that’s not why I did it.

I wanted the comforting and fun experience of “home” through someone else’s culture and life. Even the Four Seasons, as much as I like it, can’t provide this.

Fortunately, you don’t need a friend in every country to experience “home” around the world. There are thousands of couch surfers and so-called “urban camping” hosts who are eagerly waiting to give you a taste of their cultures and private homes for free. From the New York TimesContinue reading “Surfing the World Wide Couch: The Benefits of Urban Camping (Plus: Sweaty Tango)”

When "Keeping in Touch" Hurts vs. Helps You (Plus: Win a Virtual Assistant for 2008)

Contacting would-be VIP mentors is something most people have trouble with. The question isn’t just “how do I contact them?” but also “how should I communicate with them once I do?” I teach students how to reach the unreachables in my guest lectures at Princeton, and here is my response to a recent e-mail about the latter.

Dear Mr. Ferriss,

Hi. I took the first step towards gaining a mentor by calling [important Chairman], and he said I can call him whenever I had any more questions. I was wondering how frequently you contact your mentors. I don’t want to contact him so frequently that it consumes his time, but I don’t want him to forget about me either.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


[A blog reader]

My response… Continue reading “When "Keeping in Touch" Hurts vs. Helps You (Plus: Win a Virtual Assistant for 2008)”

10 Steps to Become an Email Ninja

Photo courtesy of R’eyes

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Leo Babauta, who writes about simplicity and productivity on his blog, Zen Habits.

I don’t know about you, but I get dozens — if not hundreds — of emails a day.

Unlike most people, however, I’m able to process through them, respond quickly, and get my inbox empty in 20 minutes (checking perhaps 2-3 times a day).

In fact, I respond so quickly, and empty my inbox so quickly, that friends have called me an “email ninja”.

Let’s look at some simple strategies for being able to get your inbox to done in as little time as possible… Continue reading “10 Steps to Become an Email Ninja”

Bad News: Higher Income = Less Leisure Time?

There may be no such thing as too much money, but there is certainly such a thing as too little time.

How does one of my best friends make several $100,000 USD per year as an investment banker but have less than two hours per month for his dream car, which sits gathering dust in his garage?

Let’s look at the numbers…


…when you compare modern Americans to their 1965 counterparts—people with the same family size, age, and education—the [leisure time] gains are still on the order of 4 to 8 hours a week, or something like seven extra weeks of leisure per year.

But not for everyone. About 10 percent of us are stuck in 1965, leisurewise. At the opposite extreme, 10 percent of us have gained a staggering 14 hours a week or more. (Once again, your gains are measured in comparison to a person who, in 1965, had the same characteristics that you have today.) By and large, the biggest leisure gains have gone precisely to those with the most stagnant incomes—that is, the least skilled and the least educated. And conversely, the smallest leisure gains have been concentrated among the most educated, the same group that’s had the biggest gains in income.

Aguiar and Hurst can’t explain fully that rising inequality, just as nobody can explain fully the rising inequality in income. But there are, I think, two important morals here.

First, man does not live by bread alone. Our happiness depends partly on our incomes, but also on the time we spend with our friends, our hobbies, and our favorite TV shows. So, it’s a good exercise in perspective to remember that by and large, the big winners in the income derby have been the small winners in the leisure derby, and vice versa.

Second, a certain class of pundits and politicians are quick to see any increase in income inequality as a problem that needs fixing—usually through some form of redistributive taxation. Applying the same philosophy to leisure, you could conclude that something must be done to reverse the trends of the past 40 years—say, by rounding up all those folks with extra time on their hands and putting them to (unpaid) work in the kitchens of their “less fortunate” neighbors. If you think it’s OK to redistribute income but repellent to redistribute leisure, you might want to ask yourself what—if anything—is the fundamental difference.

From economist Steven Landsburg

Related Links:

The Karmic Capitalist: Should I Wait Until I’m Rich to Give Back?

Wealthier Than Thou: Is it enough to be rich, or must others be poor?

Chapter 2 – Rules That Change the Rules: Everything Popular is Wrong

Mail Your Child to Sri Lanka or Hire Indian Pimps: Extreme Personal Outsourcing

Odds and Ends:

Tim Ferriss one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Business People of 2007

USA Today Cites 4HWW in #2 Trend for 2008

Tim interviewed in Japan’s Nikkan Gendai