How to Be Really Fucking Productive Whenever You Want

I feel like a big bag of shit today. Last night I drank right after sports and I think when that happens my body gets extra dehydrated. The water I need is replaced by beer and so I wake up with angry little alcohol molecules all throughout my system (and probably a reduced ability to excrete them via breathing/pissing due to my lowered overall body hydration).

But I’m still going to dominate work today, and here’s why:

I Have Magic Headphones

Yep. Magic fucking headphones. According to Olympic coach Todd Herman, creating a secret identity or alter ego can unlock peak performance in elite athletes and everyday Joes. Think back to being a kid, and pretending to be a superhero (or an animal, or whatever). Kids have this natural ability to step into another identity and behave how they imagine that other being would behave. It’s pretty awesome. But we stop make-believing when we grow up, and we think we get better at stuff by “taking it seriously”.

Apparently that’s not true.

It would seem that Todd has created some freakishly dominant athletes by encouraging them to go back to creating alter-egos. These athletes have ways of getting into character just like kids do. A name, such as Batman works. As soon as you become Batman, Batman is on the hook to deliver, not you. And we all know Batman fucking delivers! Ideally, there will be some token item associated with the change. Todd has a special set of “business glasses” that he puts on to become his superhero of business. He takes them off to be with his family, because who he is in business isn’t who he is at home. But when those glasses are on, he’s only the Todd that dominates whatever he’s working on.

Todd talks about a Tennis player who thought Wonder Woman was the epitome of badassery, so she decided she’d be Wonder Woman when she competed. She connected the identity of Wonder Woman with wearing an actual Wonder Woman bracelet.

wonder woman

So for me, it’s headphones. I have a set of those big studio headphones that completely engulf your head and blast epic sound right through your skull. When I put those on, smash a coffee and hit play on something like this, work happens really fucking hard.

I make sure I only have the headphones on when I’m working. I take them off if I stray into a YouTube session or Facebook tunnel. That way I’m physically signalling (and training myself) to respond to the headphones with only epic productivity.

That’s how I get into the zone for work. It’s different for every identity I have. For frisbee, I become the super-hero version of me by taking my shoes off. I play barefoot, and almost nobody else does in my city. So when those shoes come off, it’s time for me to play like a god damn animal. Funny thing is, when I play with shoes because it’s too cold for bare feet, I’m not quite the same. There was a game where this happened and a few points in I took my shoes off. What followed was my equivalent to Clark Kent taking off his shirt and revealing the Superman spandex beneath. Without shoes, I feel like a force of nature, and I play like one.

What are Your Alter Egos?

This is where you get to reflect on what alter-egos you step into, maybe without knowing it. How can you reinforce them with a physical item? Or an action, like taking your shoes off. If you don’t have an alter-ego, is there a super-human version of yourself you could create? What would that person wear? Try it and let me know how it goes!

For the full talk with Todd Herman and his take on becoming super-heroes, check out his episode on the Tony Robbins podcast.

 

The Broken Shovel

Unkie Gomie and I broke a shovel transplanting a tree a few weeks ago, and I was going to throw the shovel out and buy a new one.

Then I changed my mind, manned up, and decided I’d fix it instead.

This involved doing a bunch of things I love doing, like cutting and carving:

And burning (to get the old handle out of the shovel blade):

And drilling and fitting and hammering (had to drill a narrow pilot hole to make sure the nail hit the pre-existing hole on the other side of the shovel collar):

And grinding and filing (so I didn’t have a nail sticking out, which looked awesome but would have posed a serious hand-stabbing problem):

Result: a badass fucking shovel that escaped the landfill and is ready for another decade of abuse! Same blade, same handle (6in shorter) + a nail to hold the blade in place. The nail was pulled out of the floor joists in my basement where the previous homeowner had been hanging tools (I hope).

Fixing this shovel was one of the funnest projects I’ve had in a long while. There’s something wrong with me because I don’t get an appetite for this type of work. I don’t know I miss it. Then I do it, and it’s like I’m a crack addict, totally focused and inspired. Fully in the zone. Hours melt away and I don’t notice. Then I’m finished and I feel like all is well with the world, and my life couldn’t get any better. Just from fixing a shovel.

I don’t get it. But I like it.

 

Retirement Progress Report 1

nail figures

I’m currently stuffing my face with a bagel slathered in butter and dunked in baked butternut squash soup. I’m drinking cold homo milk fresh from the fridge. My legs are sore from having just played hours of ultimate frisbee. My mind is silent. It was in programming mode today building this javascript calculator and now it seems happy to be idle. Lia, Isla and I biked to Little Lake and fed the ducks, played, and sang the ABCs dozens of times. Today was damn near exactly what I’d like every day to be.

Thinking about that, I catch myself not appreciating the day for what it was. Recently I’ve caught onto Mustachianism and become infatuated with saving more aggressively for retirement (defined as the point I no longer have to work but for sure will keep working on certain things). This mindset is problematic in that it has me preoccupied thinking about the future more than ever before. This is good if it gets me to invest instead of wasting money on dumb things, it’s bad if it clouds my ability to see the moment I’m in. There’s a lingering fear that if I stop thinking about it, I’ll backslide into old habits and not change my behaviour at all.

Overall I’ve got it pretty good. I enjoy my work, mostly, and I’m already living how I’d like to be living. So why save for retirement at all? Why not just keep doing what I’m doing if it’s enjoyable?

The answer, for me, is about a core principle that I wrote as a note to myself late one night in Hawaii:

Always move toward greater freedom and happiness.

More net worth means more freedom. Debt is the opposite (unless it’s “asset” debt). The happiness part is in my head.

I think of saving for retirement as a very difficult challenge presenting a massive payoff. I played around with this compound interest calculator to figure out where my current rate of saving was going to land me in 14 years. I currently buy $200 of Mutual Funds every month. That puts me at $62,000 by the time I’m 45 years old. Not horrible but not retireable either. Further tinkering with the compound interest calculator indicates that Lia and I will need to sock closer to $20k annually if we’re to hit our retirement goals. It’s just doable on our current income, but we’ll have to be much more intentional about our spending than we’ve ever been before. Sushi once a month instead of once a week. Not buying a bunch of drinks at the bar on a random weeknight. Not buying expensive toys whenever I want.

The only question left is: Which do I value more? Being in a position to retire 20 years early or grabbing sushi/drinks/toys every time I get the urge? I really hope it’s the retirement option.

I’ve heard there’s a lot of power behind making goals public, and providing measurable evidence of one’s progress or lack thereof. And it’s probably true because I’m really second-guessing whether to proceed with this or not. In kicks the Neil Gaiman quote I really love:

The moment that you feel, just possibly, you are 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 is the moment, you might be starting to get it right.

Remembering that quote always makes me man up and take the risk.

So here it is, in black and white for everyone to see: our progress toward retirement. I’ll post an update quarterly, with actual figures. This holds me accountable to at least two other people, Kyle and Tyler, both of whom I know read these blog posts religiously.

And the numbers are…

Rainy Day Savings: $3,436

TFSA: $2,631 

Mortgage: $169,878

Our first priority is to save $20k in a savings account for “rainy day” situations/seriously slow times at Butter/etc. Once this $20k layer of fat is in place we’ll be able to invest in mutual funds with the confidence that we won’t need to sell them prematurely out of a sudden need for cash. For those of you interested in tracking our progress, “rainy day” money is what we’re currently trying to save up.

After that, you’ll be able to track the growth of our mutual fund holdings because they’ll be getting all spillover once the “rainy day” account hits $20k.

I’ll report back on this again in July!

Who the Fuck is Mr. Money Moustache?

I’m currently in love with Mr. Money Moustache. Thanks Daniel Gomez if you’re reading this. Anyone interested in retiring earlier than they ever thought possible and living really well should get their eyes all up in his shit. Here’s an excellent blog post by Mr. Money Moustache to get you started: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from-zero-to-hero-in-one-blog-post/

Lia and I have just reworked our budget in order to divert much more of our cash into indexed mutual funds. Our goal is to live on 40% of what we earn and invest 60%. With this somewhat aggressive model in place we could be in a position to live off the dividends of our investments in 15 years. Now, our lifestyle is also much more frugal than most, but hey, we’re stoked about it! And yes, we did just spend 3 months in Hawaii blowing all of our savings… so maybe this is also a major subconscious backlash to that.

Not Being A Professional

I caught myself not doing things because I wasn’t going to take it through to the point where I’d be able to make money doing it. The thought would be something like, “I feel like playing guitar right now” then another thought would say “Well, why? Are you going to play professionally? Are you going to be a musician?” and then I’d say “no” and not play.

The same thing was happening with art. I’d studied art in school in the belief that I’d end up creating art professionally. When that didn’t happen, I stopped making art. The “Why do this if it won’t pay me money?” question was silently cock-blocking my creativity.

But really, not getting paid for something is a very good thing. It means nobody gets to have any god damn say in what you’re doing. The moment you sell your shit, you are accountable to the person buying it. What lovely freedom resides in not having to give a fuck about anyone else but yourself when you do the things you love doing.

Here is a drawing that I loved doing:

life drawing 1

It’s good to be a professional when making money, building strong relationships, and delivering on whatever you said you’d do.

I think it’s bad to be a professional when exploring yourself creatively. I think creativity is a place for immaturity and childishness where no promises are made or kept, no consequences or expectations exist, and above all you get to do whatever the fuck you want to do.

Here’s another set of drawings that felt god damn awesome:

I don’t know about y’all – but I feel really good when I make stuff. Writing, snow forts, decks, bread, it doesn’t matter. The making seems to matter more than what I make. And by that logic, when I stop is irrelevant. I don’t have any pressure to finish what I’m doing. There’s no need to do a “good job”. There’s just the need to be “doing”.

I don’t know if creation is inherently important for all humans, but I suspect it is. Maybe it’s like eating and shitting. We take so much in, but what comes out?

I’ve deleted Clash of Clans and Pokemon and Chess from my phone. Those games were fun in the moment, but the moment they ended I had nothing to show for my time and energy. I’ve replaced time on my phone with time with dough or a pencil or a saw in my hand. The stuff I make accumulates. It’s real. It would be awesome to leave behind a lifetime of sketchbooks, pottery, songs, stories, photos. Every hour spend watching Netflix is an hour I could have also been painting. And ya, down time is important too. Shutting down the creative machine is, for me at least, necessary in order for the batteries to recharge. But it’s always harder to power it back up again, which is why it’s that much more necessary.

In the cardboardy wisdom of @dankosaurus:

The start of many things to #make. #cardboard #typography #sansserif #letter

A post shared by DANKO (@dankosaurus) on

 

Note to Self: Re: Self

This is an excerpt from my travel journal, relatively sure the date on the entry is Sept 11/2009:

Note to self: re: self: I float through despair when I am uncertain about something important. It robs me of my confidence and the issue, whatever it may be, weighs down heavily upon me day and night. I am happiest when things are clear and I know what I’m doing. I feel powerful when I believe in something and can work towards it. I feel useless and helpless, depressed and frustrated when I have no golden destiny to work toward realizing. So think hard, make choices by the heart, believe in them, believe in yourself, and step into the ring.

Why Men Should Leave The Seat Up

Men should leave the toilet seat up

At home the toilet seat stays down. Things can’t fall in, and Lia doesn’t like to touch the seat. Makes her feel gross.

But shared public washrooms got me thinking.

I want to be as courteous as possible for the next person, so sometimes when I’m feeling all do-goody I get a wad of TP and sop up all the piss covering the seat, lift the seat, piss in the bowl, and return the seat to the down position. It might seem like this is absolutely the kindest possible thing to do for women everywhere, but it isn’t and I’ll tell you why. The “Clean Seat Down” policy benefits the next person if she happens to be a woman, or a guy that needs to shit, but there’s third person who fucks everything up. If the next person’s a man needing to pee, there’s a good chance he’s not going to lift the perfectly clean seat. He’s going to enter the scenario with the best intentions possible, telling himself he has perfect aim and fully planning to leave the seat spotless. But alas, nobody’s aim is perfect all the time. Even a dude with really good aim is going to get a few tiny, piss-mist (or piss-missed) splatters on the seat which, unto itself doesn’t seem like a flagrant breach of public dual-sex bathroom etiquette. Piss mist is easy on the conscience. Lots of guys leave piss mist without a second thought. “Hey,” he thinks, “at least I’m not that asshole that pisses all over the seat.” He zips up and walks away feeling pretty good about himself. But really, he IS the asshole that fucked everything up.

Here’s how: The piss-mister puts the next pisser in a pickle. If the next pisser is a lady, she’s got to wipe up those little piss speckles, or hover. If the next pisser is a guy, he’s going to spy those few speckles of missed piss and go, “Hey! This seat’s all ready been peed on! I’m not lifting this seat and touching that gross piss.” So he pees, probably pretty carelessly, and from there things just get horrible. Guy after guy visit the stall with decreasing give a fuck about where their streams end up.

I’ve been there. If I show up and the seat’s a write off, I’m not at all careful about aiming. The damage is done. Total mob-mentality and diffusion of responsibility. I’m guilty. But I want to change. That’s why I’ve given this so much thought.

And all that thinking about public toilet seats lead to this epiphany: It’s better to leave the seat up.

I just checked with Lia and she said if she finds the seat up, she uses her foot to lower it. This is way better than Lia having to wipe up piss, or hover over a pissy seat.

And, if the seat’s clean when I show up, I don’t even have to touch it. I can lift it with my foot pretty easily.

Now that I’ve written this post I’ll probably also use a handful of toilet paper to wipe the pissed-on-seat before lifting it and leaving it. Just to be able to feel like a hero to all of womanity.

Did this post bring public bathroom horror stories to mind? Leave them in the comments!

 

 

Why Do I Drink?

Why do I drink?

I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to really think about it, so here’s a quick list of my reasons for drinking, off the top of my head:

  • It’s fun
  • Everyone else does
  • Why not?

This is more of an exploration of my own thoughts than anything else. At some point, back in high school, I began drinking at parties. It was very much a coming of age thing, as well as a social thing. Not everyone drank, and it felt good to be a part of the group that did. College was essentially the same story. My friends and I “knew how to party” and that felt like a good social space to exist in. I definitely don’t regret any of my younger, stupider years.

The problem is now I’m old(er). I’m a father. My hangovers are brutal. After my bachelor party, I wasn’t back to my normal self for 4 days.

I’ve never been the type of person to do a “cleanse”. I don’t believe in that shit. Either do something full-time or don’t. The accomplishment of not drinking for a month doesn’t substantiate any gains in my mind. There’s no permanent change, just an intermission in the shit show.

I much more like the idea of the “One or None” drinking pattern. I don’t know if I could do it, but I like to think that life would be better if I took it on. One or None is just like it sounds. You have one drink, or none. All you’re guarding against is the landslide of one leading to 10 without that being a choice that was ever made.

I won’t be thinking of this as if I’m doing it for a month. I will think of it as if I’m doing it forever. This is now my way of drinking. Either I have a single drink, or I don’t. And of course I can cheat. A litre of beer is still just one beer if the cup’s big enough. But I have to drink it before it gets warm. Sadly, this will still prevent me from drinking as much as I currently do. And also I may very well decide that I hate life without drinking and go back to how I was before. But I don’t think I will.

Being a dad makes other things more important than partying. Morning things. Like being able to keep your eyes open at 8am on a Saturday while your daughter hits you in the face with a fly swatter. I personally feel like triple the bag of shit when I’m hungover and trying to be there for my kid. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers quit all substances right after he had his first child, and now I get it. I just don’t think it’s realistic for me personally to quit drinking altogether. I still fucking love drinking.

Here are 4 benefits in taking the One or None approach:

  1. You still get to fly under the radar in most drinking situations. Having only one beer isn’t going to rustle anyone’s feathers and result in you having to defend your reasoning in front of an angry mob of drunks. Unless you’re somehow the first male to get bum-pregnant, it’s socially impossible for a guy to get away with drinking water at a party.
  2. Sometimes you just need a drink, and you still get to have one.
  3. No more worrying about whether you’re good to drive or not. I will admit that I’ve flirted with this line and I’m not proud of it.
  4. This should have been point #1: NO MORE FUCKING HANGOVERS. My wife says the best she’s ever felt was the year she stopped drinking while pregnant and into breastfeeding newborn Isla. I haven’t been anywhere close to that sober in my adult life. I’m curious to see what it’s like.

I’m Putting On My Big Boy Pants

It’s finally happening, I’m putting on my Big Boy Pants and doing the work that I’ve been putting off because it’s intimidating because I know it’s important and I’ll fucking love it.

As far as I can tell, the game we should be playing right now is the content creation game (content = blog posts, photos, videos). It’s one of those small things we can start doing now to really help our future selves. It’s like investing a small amount of money every month for retirement, only better. I think it goes something like this:

Creating LOTS of content leads to creating GOOD content.

Creating GOOD content leads to people LIKING your content.

People LIKING your content leads to a BIGGER audience.

A BIGGER audience leads to MONETIZATION potential.

I want to build an audience and increase the money I make through the internet. Right now I make $200/month from straight up Google Ads on my YouTube videos, and another $800/month from slightly fancier affiliate links in the same videos.

This is what it’s going to look like when I put on my Big Boy Pants:

I’m going to write, podcast, and shoot video about whatever I want.

This is absolutely the wrong way to build an audience. The common wisdom is to choose a niche, something that has a narrow focus and can be dominated by hammering away at that one thing. The niche method is proven to work, and if you want to know more about the right way to build an audience online, have a look at Pat Flynn’s material. He makes a shitload of money through his podcast/blog and he is also not an asshole.

The problem is I don’t know what one thing to create content around, so I’m going to do it backwards. I’ll write broadly and see what trend emerges. My goal is to be as honest as possible, so you can be right inside my brain with no filter. Adopting a rigid truthfulness is difficult but worth it in the long run – have a listen to Lying by Sam Harris if you need convincing.

So here’s my blog on doing it wrong and hoping it will correct course somewhere during the journey.