Ideas for how to live a good life.

Read the latest

Schedule every damn minute

When I woke up this morning, I knew exactly what to do:

  • Drink two glasses of water with my fish oil and multivitamin
  • GMB Elements workout
  • Mckenzie back exercises
  • Shower
  • Catch train (07.53)
  • etc. (you get the idea)

I knew exactly what to do because I sat down the night before and made a plan.

It started by looking at my google calendar. I wanted to know what hard commitments I had first.

Then, I made 3 lists:

  • big things (actions in areas of my life that are important to me at the moment)
  • small things (admin type stuff)
  • people (friends, family etc.)

If I knew when I wanted to do something, I made a note next to it (early, am, pm, eve or a specific time).

After making the lists, I realised I had too much (this happens quite a lot). So, I removed a few things, until I was left with what felt like a realistic number of things for a day.

OK, time to get specific. On the top line of a moleskin notepad page, I wrote the number 5. I continued this down to the bottom line of the page, ending at 22 (a new number every other line). Each line represents 30 mins – starting at 05.00 and ending at 22.00

Then, I started to block out time, and write specific things in those blocks.

For example, I blocked out the four lines that represent the two hour block 08.00 AM to 10.00AM with:

Catch train – 07.53
Write (on train)

After I finished, I had a well thought out and specific plan for the next day in front of me. Every damn minute scheduled. It had a nice balance – a good mix of big things that are important to me, smaller admin type things and people I need to connect with. I try and aim for that mix most days.

And that’s why when I woke up this morning, I knew exactly what to do. I didn’t have to waste an ounce of energy thinking about it. I just got started on the plan.

Discipline equals freedom

Jocko Willink popularised the saying ‘Discipline equals freedom’.

It’s a bit hard to get your head around at first – because on the surface, it’s counter-intuitive. But, when you know what it feels like to start the day in a prepared and intentional way, you start to understand what it means.

When you start the day like this, you start off on the right foot. There are no decisions to make. You start doing important things. and get an early wind of productivity. It’s incredible how that builds a momentum which carries through into the rest of the day. You spend more time on things that are important. There’s less reaction. You get more done. You’re in control. You’re happier.

Contrast that to how it feels to start the day in an unprepared way. You tend to start the day off with immediate decisions. You feel rushed and get dragged into things that feel urgent, but aren’t important (or at least, there are probably better and more important things to do). That builds its own kind of momentum and it sets a the tone for the day. You’re reactive. You’re sometimes left wondering what you really achieved that day. You’re probably not at your happiest.

You might think, it’s just one day. Can it really make such a big difference to attack it with intention and discipline? I think so.

Here’s the thing about discipline, habits and small steps – there’s often a compounding nature to them. And this delivers massive results over the long-term. This is true both personally and professionally.

It might not seem like a big deal to work out a few times a week. But, over a number of years, you end up with a decent level of health and fitness which makes a huge difference to your life. You’re less likely to get a chronic disease, you’re more likely to be active, you’re more likely to be a part of your children’s, and their children’s lives etc.).

Think of two people in similar professional roles. Imagine one arrives on time and just jumps into a simple to do list, whatever’s in the calendar or pops up. Now, imagine the other one attacks it with a well thought out, intentional and detailed plan. It might not seem like a big deal at the end of the day. But over a year, several years, or an entire career, the difference will be gigantic. In fact, it might be one of the easiest ways to gain a competitive advantage at work.

I would go as far to say that taking the time to plan your day is the single, biggest thing you can do to have a better life and career.

You might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about establishing a direction for your life. Or anything about planning at a weekly level. Whilst these are both super important and impactful (and I do them), they’re not in the same league as a proper plan for the day.

In most cases, I would advise learning how to plan your day first, before doing the bigger thinking. This is because most of us have a general sense of what’s important to us if we take a few minutes to think about it. Looking after yourself and doing meaningful and focused work. Connecting with people you love etc. That gets you at least half the way there. From there, the bigger picture stuff just directs your actions.

So, yeah. I think planning your day is kind of a big deal 😉

Note: In case you’re wondering, I didn’t mention much about my work. That’s because I tend to think about my work and career as a contained area of my life. I have a separate planning process for planning my work day (which is quite similar).

Get my newest articles in your inbox

Receive an email when I publish a new article (usually 1 or 2 a month). I also share a summary of outstanding content I stumble across (usually about once per month).

Sign up now and you’ll receive a collection of my most popular articles, aswell as a comprehensive guide on how to plan a kick-ass week.


5 things I love (#3)

I put a lot of effort into curating my social media feeds, to discover great content. By great, I mean things that might spark an idea, and have potential to have a big impact on my life.

Below are five things I’ve read, listened to, or watched recently – that I think are really special.

Read more

5 things I love #2

I put a lot of effort into curating my social media feeds, to discover great content. By great, I mean things that might spark an idea, and have potential to have a big impact on my life.

Below are five things I’ve read, listened to, or watched recently – that I think are really special.

Read more

5 things I love #1

I put a lot of effort into curating my social media feeds, so I can discover great content. By great, I mean things that might spark an idea, and have the potential to have a big impact on my life.

Below are five things I’ve read, listened to, or watched recently that I think are really special:

Read more

I went for lunch, and all I did was eat lunch – it was hard and weird

lunch

I wonder about myself at times. Ella already thinks I’m weird, and shit like this really doesn’t help.

So, I’m walking to this restaurant by myself. And I’m thinking — I wonder if I can go in and just eat lunch. No phone, no kindle, no nothing. Just me and my lunch.

I decide to do it. I walk in and ask for a table for one. The waitress shows me to my table and I sit down.

Read more

Three reasons morning routines don’t work (and how to stick to one you love)

Waking early and making good use of the early hours is the biggest life hack there is — no exception. It’s a competitive advantage that almost feels like you’re cheating. You’re getting stuff done whilst most other people are sleeping like babies!

But, it can be hard to find one you like doing and will stick to (these are linked).

In my experience, there are three things that are at the root of not sticking to a morning routine…

Read more

How to learn something new, faster (with an example)

Goddamn double unders. They are a bitch to learn.

I’ve spent the last couple of months working on them. Most of the time I could only get 2 or 3 reps (repetitions) before the rope hit my leg.

I sometimes got up to 10 – but it was a fluke occurrence. I couldn’t repeat it consistently. And then I’m back to 2 or 3 reps again. It was frustrating.

I watched loads of videos. I recorded myself, looking for holes in my technique. But, I couldn’t seem to make a break through.

Read more

You know a wise man once said nothin’ at all

You know a wise man once said nothin’ at all – Drake

 

Most of what I write about usually comes to me in one of two ways.

Sometimes I randomly start thinking about a topic. I then start to notice a bunch of related things that enforce or help shape my thinking on it. And then I write it up (which also helps further shape my thinking on it).

However sometimes it works the other way. I notice a bunch of related things over time and I start to think about it more. I gradually realise the importance of it and develop a view on it. And then I write it up.

This post is no different.

Read more

How to be less busy, and have more impact

Focus

I’ve been through a major shift in how I plan my days and get things done over the last few years.

I used to think a good day was getting as many things done as possible. I felt productive as I ploughed through my lists. But now I realise, I was actually just busy. I could get lots of things done, but my impact was inconsistent.

A better way of putting it is, I didn’t get the return on investment for the amount of time I put in, or the number of things I completed.

Read more

Focus and productivity is only half the battle

I’m fascinated with the topic of productivity. For me, it boils down to two things — being able to focus (identify and work on the right things), and then, actually getting things done.

It’s why I think and write alot about goals and the best way to set vision and areas of focus — that’s the ‘identify and work on the right things’ bit. I also geek out on habits, routines and planning frameworks — that’s the ‘getting things done’ bit.

This stuff is important. If you’re not deeply connected to who you want to be and where you want your life to go, you’re more likely to flap around and work on the wrong things. And if you don’t have self discipline and a system for planning, your productivity will suffer.

So, that stuff is super important. But, I realised recently that it’s only part of the battle. And without the other part, you’ll be severely limited and frustrated. The other part might even be more important.

The other part is mindset.

Read more

My favourite life changing books

I read a great article recently — If It’s Important, Learn It Repeatedly. It makes a good case for going back and re-reading important books.

So, I went back and read Deep Work by Cal Newport. It’s one of my favorite books and it was even better the second time round. It gave me a renewed enthusiasm for doing deep work and some fresh ideas for how to go about it.

It got me thinking, what other books could I go back and read again?

Read more

High risk investing & cryptocurrency

Whenever anyone asks me for advice about investing, I always give the same response:

Invest in indexes. Contribute regularly, hold for the long term and rarely check.

Then I point them towards two bits of reading — JL Collins Stock Series and Warren Buffett’s $1 million bet. These do a great job of outlining the above approach, with some proof that it actually works.

I’m now convinced it’s worth having a small percentage at a higher risk. And as usual, Barry Avraam is the person responsible for getting me to take more risk. Fred Wilson’s writing on AVC also helped. Crypto Asset Allocation and Diversification (aka How To Survive A Crash) are two posts that have been particularly helpful.

Read more

How I think about everything in life

As we get older (and hopefully wiser), our thinking about the important things in life changes. We learn new things. We have amazing, good, bad and awful experiences. We try things that work and don’t work. We slowly build informed opinions and beliefs from all of this.

I’ve noticed that in the first 35 years of life, my thinking on certain things has changed a lot. As I’ve got closer to 40, things are starting to settle. I’ve had a few epiphany / mid life type movements. These have either solidified how I think about something, or significantly changed my thinking — probably for the rest of my life.

Read more

How to plan a killer week

Get more done, spend more time on what really matters and be happier. It sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t.

Planning the week ahead could be the one, single biggest thing you can do to get more done — and be happier. It’s usually the difference between a bad, or an awesome week.

Read more

7 things to look for in a dream job

I made a tough decision towards the end of last year — I changed my work situation. What made it tough was, it was a good job, at a good company. It ticked most of the boxes.

All jobs have their ups and downs. I tend to find I go through periods of about 8-10 weeks when things feel really good. The work is engaging and challenging, and the results are there. And then I will hit a couple of weeks where I feel low. Everything feels like a bit of a slog. Sometimes it’s an unexpected miss or a problem. Sometimes, it’s just a case of burnout. But, I soon come out of it and get myself back into a good stretch.

Around the middle of last year, I found the good periods were getting shorter and the slogs were getting longer. It forced me to do some thinking and exploring around what is important for me at work.

Read more

Can technology free us from technology?

Freedom

I’ve been using Freedom for the last couple of weeks, with interesting results.

Freedom is an app that helps you control distractions by blocking the internet, apps and websites — or any combination of those. You can start a freedom session whenever you like, or schedule a session for the future. It supports recurring sessions too. You have complete control over how long you want sessions to be, and what distractions you want to block.

Read more

Why you need to become a morning person

I’ve written about morning routines, quite frankly, more than anyone should. That’s because I believe waking up early is about the most life changing thing you can do.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of the people I consider successful and happy, get up early and follow some type of morning routine. I challenge you to think about this too. Look at well known people, colleagues and friends. I bet you come to the same conclusion.

Read more

The power of broad focuses

Recently I read ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto’ by Michael Pollan. Here’s how it starts:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give the game away right here at the beginning of a whole book devoted to the subject, and I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a couple hundred more pages or so. I’ll try to resist, but will go ahead and add a few more details to flesh out the recommendations.

I love how Michael Pollan simplified a complex topic (and a whole book) down to 7 words:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

It’s beautiful. Those 7 words have stuck with me since — and as a result, have helped influence my eating.

Read more

Two years without a smartphone

Two years ago, I ditched my iPhone 6 for a Nokia 130.

It was an extreme decision, but it felt the only thing left to do. I was tired of being constantly connected. I couldn’t find a way to break the addiction of compulsively checking things.

It took a couple of weeks for the urges to go away —  but go away they did. And once they did, life got better. I’m not tempted to go back one bit. It’s been life changing.

Recently I reflected on some of the benefits from living without a smartphone….

Read more

Being self critical: My biggest strength and weakness

It took a recent crossfit session to remind me of my biggest strength, but also my biggest weakness — being self critical.

We had to pick two movements that we hated and sucked at. I went with thrusters and kipping pull ups. We practiced them throughout the session and used them in the workout at the end.

6 thrusters, followed by 6 kipping pull ups — repeated for as many reps as possible in 20 mins.

Pretty tough. I found the movements awkward throughout. As I was driving home after the workout, here’s what played through my head…

Read more

When No One is Looking

This is embarrassing, but here it goes. I have a massive man crush on Mat Fraser.

It started when I watched Fittest on Earth 2015. Mat placed second and stood out as an incredible athlete. He made a few mistakes and wasn’t quite the all rounder Ben Smith was.

Recently I watched Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness (Crossfit Games 2016). Mat blew through the competition (including Ben Smith) to finish first. It was awesome to see Mat dominate the competition, including beating last years winner. But, I figured, sometimes it happens like that. You see the same thing with football teams. No matter the odds, sometimes you get an upset. Maybe he should have won in 2015? Or maybe 2016 was a fluke?

Read more

Get in touch

I love hearing from people. Just fill the form out below and I'll get back to you shortly!

P.S If you're on Twitter, hit me up.