Greetings from 🇫🇷 La Réunion – a little piece of France in the Indian Ocean. I’m here — and in neighboring Mauritius (Country #120 :D) — for a whole week of hiking, beaches and relaxation.

I haven’t taken a whole week off since Easter (!) and the “switch off” can’t come at a better time. Denmark’s warmest, sunniest and longest summer is now giving way to cold, wind and rain. Time to get moving.

→ If you also would like to travel as much as I do, my new book can help you. In the book, I go through how you too can have the time and money to travel a lot more than you do now 💪

Updated Thoughts on High Performance / Productivity

This month, I want to loop back to high performance / productivity. I’ve a bunch of new material to share.

If you’re new in the list, I’ve a lot of people asking me questions such as:

  • How do you manage to write books, travel so much, launch your own business, and more while you still work and progress on a “normal” job?
  • How can you actually follow through on your projects — be it learning all Japanese Kanji in four months, or work out every morning for a year?

I don’t think I’m special, nor that I’m “that good”, or anything like that. I do have, though, a very structured system of routines and habits that I’ve followed consistently for around a decade now.

I wrote about the whole thing in my first book. I you haven’t seen it, go check it out.

This time, I want to build on that model with some new material:

1) Tracking Habits — the “Lights” System.

In 2018, I started tracking my habits and routines using Sebastian Marshall’s “Lights” Spreadsheet.

This has been an absolute winner. I love that simple spreadsheet, and have, via Lights, — for the first time in years of trying — managed to get habit “compliance tracking” to stick.

The sheet looks like this:

What I Like:

    • List All Habits. In one sheet, you can see all your daily habits (mine above, for reference) — this, on the left. They all carry the same weight.

    • Simple Yes/No. For each habit and each day, you mark them as Yes (complete) or No (incomplete). You’ve the option for “Half” — but it’s just symbolical, as it counts as a “no”.

    • Day Score. You get a “score” in percentage for the day — 70%+ is strong, under that is weak.

    • Super Easy. You can use the (speedy) Google Sheets app on your phone to keep track on the go.

I can notice the uptick in my habit consistency because of Lights — and was pretty consistent already (!). It really works.

My Angle:

    • 25 Habits Tops. I don’t have more, and no less. I’ve, though, bundled some — e.g. doing my morning journal and affirmation lists counts as just one habit.

    • It Should Be Hard. I average 70-80% for most days, and with peaks of 90% and (grasp) days as low as 40%. I haven’t managed — not even once — to get to 100%.

    • Updated Every Month. I’ve kept the “core” of the Lights the same for the whole year, but made many changes throughout. This by setting project-specific Lights (e.g. write my book for two hours), or by making some experiments (e.g. creating 5 new Anki cards in Danish).

    • Weekends Off. (It’s good to relax, especially once you’ve habit consistency ;))

Last — Because I’m a selfish nut, I’ve tried to come up with my own and a “better” sheet and system for months, but couldn’t (at least, not yet!). I dig this one.

Morning Routines – Update #721

I’m still in love with my Morning Routine (– thank you Eben Pagan.) I read more books, try new experiments, and add new tools as Lights, but the one cornerstone of my productivity is still my humble morning routine. This is it right now:

If there’s any one positive change I would recommend anyone, it would be to start a morning routine — and use it to make you stronger physically, emotionally and mentally. This is my life’s biggest lever. Note:

    • Consistency Is King. I do all of the above every weekday morning. I’ve been consistent with this for around ten years, but especially so in 2018. Compliments to Lights.

    • Put the Things That Otherwise You Wouldn’t Do. If I add something to the morning routine, I all but guarantee I get it done — e.g. I “tried” to add some specific (very boring, too) knee exercises to my gym routine for months, but only became consistent when the exercises got “promoted” to a full independent item in the Lights list. I do them every single day now.

    • Extend to Midday. In 2018, I’ve “extended” the momentum of the morning routine all the way to lunch time. Now, at work, I almost never fail to do a full 60-60-30 for my most important task, for example.

    • Defend The Time. I know the morning is my “peak time” and I protect it religiously. I reject most morning meetings — and it’s not a hard argument if you can show your manager the quantity and quality of your “peak time” output.

    • Take Breaks and Disconnect. I don’t use internet (in any way) or watch TV until 8.30am. This helps me avoid getting “triggered” and helps me stay focused in the moment. Then, for the rest of the morning I only check social media, etc. at the breaks outlined in the 60-60-30 plan.

    • Do What Matters. In the morning, I work on the tasks — be it personal or work-related — that will matter most. This is, not the most urgent, nor flashy points — the most important. The “lead dominos” and major levers.

If you don’t have a morning routine yet, do start with one. I’ve more detailed explanations, guidelines and ideas in my first book.

Productivity – Future Ideas & What I’m Looking Into

For October through December, I’m taking a break from big, ambitious projects. Instead, I’m looking into:

– Artificial Constraints.  I had a busy last couple of months at work, and feel I could’ve been more effective. So, I thought, what if I — for any arbitrary reason — couldn’t work at all after 4pm — no exceptions. How could I keep my performance, yet work roughly 1-2 hours less every day?

This is just a thought. But I’ll be experimenting with:

    1. Narrowing my focus
    2. Learning to delegate better
    3. Simplifying the way I work

I’m not talking about lowering quality here. I want the same (or better) quality output, just in less time — and maybe with less steps in between.

In the same way that I cut a lot of words and pages when editing a book, I would like to do the same with the way I work — both for my personal projects and in my corporate career. Let’s see 🤔

– If I Get The Extra Time – What For

As noted above, I’ve decided not to take any “serious” new project for the next three months. I won’t write new books, create new online products, nor get involved in any new language learning marathon. Instead, I would like to:

    • Be More Social. I’ve been lousy on this front for more than a year — so I’ll ramp up my coffee-meetings and Skype calls. No agenda/objectives.

    • “Passionate Learning”. I would like to block a couple of hours each day to spend time learning things I want to because I’m passionate about (or randomly interested), and not because it would be “useful”. Perhaps, then, I take a couple of weeks to get the basics of Latin, and another week reading everything about steppe complex recurve bows. Let’s see.

Last on Productivity –– If you’re wondering, to write this email, I took:

  • ~30 mins in the afternoon, to sketch topics/thoughts.
  • One 60-60-30 — so, literally under two hours of writing, in a cold (but sunny) morning in Minsk.

Last Words &  Out of Social Media

I’ve been a bit off social media lately — that’s why no Instagram or Facebook posts of Minsk, Reunion, etc. I might post something soon, but don’t know. If you don’t follow me yet, you can do so here and here.

Travel-wise, I’m still investigating about Kuwait and Algeria. If I add both, then I can end the year with #125 countries visited. Not sure yet.

If you liked this email, or have any feedback/ideas, reach out to me — just reply to this email.

Do forward the email to friends you think might enjoy it as well 🎌