Weekly Learnings Roundup (April 23, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

How to Tell a True Tale: Neil Gaiman on What Makes a Great Personal Story by Maria Popova

I was recently listening to an episode on Waking Up with Sam Harris featuring Noah Yuval Harari a professor at Oxford University and the author of the book Sapiens (which I highly recommend for anyone remotely interested in human history). He explained that throughout human history we have always been moved and galvanized by stories. In fact, its one of the only differences between humans and chimpanzees; we can organize and take action around stories we tell each other. We tell stories about nations, religions, political systems, etc. to help us organize and make sense of the world.

Storytelling is core to who we are as human beings. So knowing how to tell a story is a critical human skill. Neil Gaiman, an author and master storyteller, shares in the post above on what makes a great story with honesty and vulnerability being a couple of key ingredients in any great story.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.

— Jiddu Krishnamurti

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Nurture your everyday silences.

I recently spent 2.5 weeks in Japan on vacation and one of the biggest benefits that came out of the time was the opportunity to get away from the “noise” of my day-to-day here at home. There’s obviously “noise” that comes with daily responsibilities at work and at home but what I also mean is the “noise” created through the podcasts, videos, audiobooks, radio, etc. that fill the silent moments of our day-to-day. I really enjoy listening to podcasts but it started becoming a habit where if I found any silent moment, I’d reach for my phone and start a podcast episode. Moments of quietness and silence were very limited.

But after going away for a couple of weeks and getting out of the regular routine, I was able to realize how important those periods of silence were. Instead of trying to “optimize” every moment of my day by plugging into a podcast or audiobook, I realized the value that silence has in bringing calm and various ideas together. So I’m going to be committing to creating more moments of silence during the day. Instead of playing a podcast episode while I’m showering or cooking, I’m going to shower or cook in silence. Focus on what activity at a time and give my brain the space to do its thing.

Featured image by Startup Stock Photos.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (April 16, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness. by Billy Baker

Whether you’re a middle-age man or not, this is a really good reminder of the importance of close friendships. According to research, women can maintain friendships over the phone but men need to do something together to maintain a friendship. The author suggests a standing, weekly get together for guys to do something – anything – to keep their friendships strong. Good advice.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi (translated by Stephen F. Kaufman)

I read this book by one of Japan’s most important samurai warriors while I was traveling in Japan recently. Broken into five parts – the books of Water, Fire, Earth, Water, and No-thing – Musashi breaks down his philosophy on martial art and how to apply it in our day-to-day. The circumstances between samurai life five hundred years ago and today are stark (i.e. life and death literally meant life and death) but there are certain things like the commitment to your craft and finding any way to get the job done still ring true today. It’s a book that I plan on revisiting on a yearly basis moving forward.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

The power of self-talk.

I’ve been reading a book called You Can Change Your Life by Tim Laurence. It’s a book about a process called “The Hoffman Process” which helps individuals overcome emotional challenges from their childhoods. The thesis is that most – if not all – of our emotional challenges as adults come from what we observed and experienced as children.

Without getting into too much detail, one of the key insights the book shares is about the importance of finding fulfillment in what they call the “Quadrinity” which consists of your Emotions, Intellect, Spirit, and Body. A disconnect between any part of the Quadrinity can result in a disruption or frustration in our lives.

To me, one of the biggest insights was the importance of creating the space for self-talk between my Emotional self and my Intellectual self. I generally operate out of my Intellectual self more than my Emotional self but what I realized is that I’m often repressing important emotions that need to be expressed (or at least acknowledged!) So I took some time this week to just sit down and let my Emotional and Intellectual selves talk to each other in my head. It was like any other back-and-forth conversation but it was extremely refreshing to be able to see both sides talking to each other.

If you tend to live more in the Emotional self or Intellectual self, I recommend letting them come together for a conversation at some point. You might be surprised what comes out of it.

Product or service I’m loving —

hipmunk.com

If you’re looking for flights, check out hipmunk.com for low-cost airfare. I recently came back from a trip to Japan with my girlfriend and we were able to find a direct flight from Vancouver to Tokyo for $722.94 CAD. (Albeit we did book about 6 months in advance). The website has a really easy-to-use tool to find the lowest fair by switching dates and adjusting the “agony” level if you’re okay with going on a longer flight.

Featured image by James Pond.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation 2.0

Last year I wrote “A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation” and it was – and still remains – the most popular post I’ve written on my blog. In an effort to update some of the resources and learnings, I’ve updated this post and created version 2.0. For additional resources on meditation, check out this conversation I had with meditation teacher, Mary Meckley. We cover topics including the benefits of meditation, recommendations for beginners, techniques, and much more.

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. 
If you are anxious, you are living in the future. 
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
– Lao Tzu

I started to meditate about 4 years ago and it’s become an important part of my daily ritual. I must admit, however, that it wasn’t easy getting started and it still isn’t the most natural thing for me to do. It’s taken some experimentation with what works for me and adapting a meditation practice around that. Your meditation practice might look completely different from mine – and that’s okay. The important part is that you put in the time to meditate to create the space for silence and calm during your busy day.

I’ll take you through a bit of my journey with meditation and the process and tools that have worked for me so far. If you already believe in the positive effects of meditation, you can skip Part I and just go right into the techniques and resources that I’ve been using. Either way, Part I will be helpful in helping you understand the why behind meditation.

So let’s begin!

Part I: Why Meditate?

There are a lot of reasons why it’s beneficial to meditate and in no particular order here are some of the benefits I’ve experienced and heard others experience.

  • Helps you move into the present;
  • Brings about peace and calm in your mind;
  • Builds your perspective and compassion for others;
  • Helps you feel like you’re in greater control of your day;
  • Helps you detach yourself from situations and outcomes;
  • Slows down your day;
  • Allows you to cut through the busywork and focus on doing what matters most;
  • Creates silence during our noisy, busy days.

In The Tim Ferriss Show the majority of top performers (80%+) Tim has interviewed have some sort of meditation practice, and his podcast has some incredible guests including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins, Sam Harris, Chase Jarvis, and many others. To me, there seems to be a trend with meditation and mindfulness that helps people be there best.

I know some of the benefits above might sound “woo woo” but there’s growing scientific evidence that meditation not only reduces stress, it also changes your brain. According to a study done in conjunction at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, long-term meditators had more gray matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and executive decision-making. As we get older, the frontal cortex shrinks, and mindfulness practices like meditation can help slow this process down.

As you’re getting started, the important part is how meditation affects you personally. If you get even a modicum of peace and calm from a 5-minute meditation, maybe it’s worth it for you? After all, 5-minutes is not a bad tradeoff for that kind of feeling.

Part II: How to get started

I initially struggled to get my meditation practice going. When I first experimented with meditation, I picked up a meditation book, read it, and listened to the accompanying CD with guided 20-minute meditations. I found the experience to be extremely difficult – especially sitting in silence for 20 straight minutes. I began to dislike meditation after realizing I wasn’t particularly good at it.

In retrospect, I think I tried to do too much too soon. In my opinion, a 15-20 minute meditation is too long for a beginner to do on their own especially without a meditation teacher to guide them along the way. The key is to start small with a 1 or 2 minute meditation. This way you get a small “hit” of that calm, rewarding feeling to get you going.

The “calm” feeling could be different for you. It might not be a feeling of calm but rather a feeling of inspiration and excitement. It could be a feeling of understanding and love. Try to remember that positive, rewarding feeling so that it brings you back your next meditation session.

Rain Wilson (from The Office fame) shared in an interview that meditation for him is like watching the ticker symbol of a stock market go by. The symbols are your thoughts and they just scroll past you. You’re not attached to the thoughts, you just observe them and let them by. I think that’s a pretty good analogy. (You might want to use clouds in the sky if ticker symbols make you anxious).

The important part is realizing that meditation is not about eliminating all your thoughts and getting into a “blank” mindset. It’s about recognizing the thoughts as they appear and keeping yourself detached from them.

So here are a few tips to help you start to meditate and I’ll break them down for you in a bit more detail below:

Start with just 2 minutes.

Meditation is just like any sport or exercise in that the more “reps” that you put in, the better you get at it. You wouldn’t run a marathon on your very first run, right? So it makes sense to not make your first meditation session a marathon session.

Start with something small – like, very small. Start with a 2-minute meditation and see if you’re able to handle that. From there, up the timing to 5-10-15 minutes. But take it really slowly. Don’t rush yourself. It’s one of those things where you won’t just be able to “will” your way to doing more. Mary Meckley, meditation teacher at Sip and Om, suggests that you meditate just to the point that you can go a little bit longer so you can come back the next day excited to pickup where you left off.

Let’s make meditation fun by making it simple and easy to start.

Learn simple techniques to get you going. (e.g. box breathing technique)

I learned a simple breathing technique called the “box-breathing technique” from Ben Greenfield at a conference in 2015. The technique is simple but surprisingly hard to master. Basically, you slowly breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breathe for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, and hold (your empty lungs) for a count of 4. Then repeat. This technique allows you to oxygenate your body while allowing you to focus on your breath – not your distracting thoughts – during your meditation.

If you find yourself having difficulty concentrating, this is a good technique to practice. If you find that 4 seconds is a bit too long to hold your breathe, try 2 or 3 seconds. I recommend trying it once or twice during your first meditation.

Discover what time of day you are best able to meditate.

I’ve experimented with all sorts of times during the day but early mornings and evenings seem to be the best time for me. For you, it might be different. Try experimenting with a 2-minute meditation at different times during the day to see which one delivers the greatest benefits. When I used to work in the corporate world, I would find time to do a quick 5-minute meditation over lunch which created some calm in an otherwise busy environment. It was super helpful in helping me reset and get ready for the second half of the day.

Part III: My favourite resources

There is a ton of great resources available to get started with your meditation practice. Books, apps, podcasts, and so much more provide resources that you can often tap into for free. Out of all the resources that I’ve experimented with, here are a handful that have allowed me to cultivate my meditation practice.

Calm

For beginners, Calm is a good app to start with. It’s got a clean and beautiful interface and comes with a number of calming background sounds. What I like the most about Calm is that you can use their timed meditations for free. If you’re just starting out, I recommend using Calm to do a 2-minute timed meditation everyday. That way you’re not spending any money and you’re getting to benefit of trialing meditation for yourself.

If you really like the app it’s got a ton of great additional guided meditations – including a new daily meditation – that you can use to further establish your meditation practice.

Sip and Om

Once you’ve established your meditation practice and you can meditate up to 10-15 minutes with relative focus and calm, I recommend checking out Sip and Om. It’s the resource I’m using for my daily meditations.

This subscription-based service provides a new meditation everyday. Each week is a different theme and each day utilizes a different technique to get you deeper into your meditation. I’ve had the pleasure of talking with Mary Meckley who runs Sip and Om if you’re curious to learn more about how this meditation service came to be. You can check out their free 2-week trial to see if this might be the right fit for you.

The Daily Meditation Podcast

If you can’t afford the monthly subscription, Mary does do a free podcast called the The Daily Meditation Podcast where you can listen to Mary explain a new technique everyday. It doesn’t give you the full meditation but you can get a sense of the techniques that are out there. The podcast episodes are shorter so you can even use it for your daily meditations as you’re getting started.

HeadSpace

Another notable app is called HeadSpace. I’ve tried HeadSpace in the past and they’ve got a great beginner program called the Take-10 which provides 10 short meditations with helpful video explanations to get you started.

The good news is current meditation apps are constantly updating and innovating to make meditation more accessible and new apps are being created as more people begin to meditate!

Final thoughts…

I hope this gets you started with your meditation practice. It’s a powerful practice to cultivate which impact so many different aspects of your life. Just make sure to be kind to yourself. Your first few weeks or months of meditating won’t be easy. I still struggle to convince myself that it’s worth the time to meditate especially when I’m in the midst of a busy day. But those just might be the days where you need to meditate the most.

Good luck! And feel free to post your personal experiences with meditation. I’d love to hear from you.


Featured image by Isabell Winter.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (March 12, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

How to Use Philosophy as a Personal Operating System: From Seneca to Musashi by Tim Ferriss

There’s a lot covered in this article. I particularly like Ferriss’s take on Stoicism as an “offensive” philosophy. If you’re able to prepare your mind for the obstacles that you’ll inevitably face, you’re much better able to face and overcome them. His thoughts on “what if I did the opposite?” when learning the best practices in skill building and measurable objectives are also very valuable.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

Jocko Podcast – Episode 5 – Corrective Measures, Workouts, Diet, Marcinko, and Rollins

I mentioned the Jocko podcast in the January 15 roundup and I’ve been chipping away at the first few episodes. There’s few podcasts out there that offer as much value and knowledge as this one. The episodes are usually quite dense and heavy, and this one is no different. Jocko shares his experience on failures of leadership he’s seen in the past and what he viewed as the shortfalls of those leaders along with his corrective measures.

My key takeaways from this episode:

  1. Failure in leadership usually begins and ends with ego. Check it at the door. If you have insecurities, it’ll show in your leadership. Work on yourself so you can deal with your own ego and insecurities.
  2. Leadership means you’re responsible for the well-being and (potentially) livelihood of other people. Take extreme accountability with your actions.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Take hold of your own life. See that the whole existence is celebrating. These trees are not serious, these birds are not serious. The rivers and the oceans are wild, and everywhere there is fun, everywhere there is joy and delight. Watch existence, listen to the existence and become part of it.

— Osho

Indian spiritual teacher

Productivity tip of the week —

Plan out your next day’s key tasks the day before.

You’ve likely heard that productive people plan out their day the day before. They look at the tasks and projects they were able to accomplish during the day and set a goal for the ONE key task that needs to get done the next day.

Personally, I’ve always had a hard time doing this. By the end of the day I’m usually exhausted and the last thing I want to do is plan what I should be doing the next day. That being said, having used a new Productivity Planner over the past month, I’ve really come to see the value in this 5-minute practice. I have much more clarity and purpose as I get started the next day just by doing this at the end of everyday.

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A couple of pages from my productivity planner.

Product or service I’m loving —

Cyxus anti blue-light filter glasses

My friend Matt Tod gifted me this pair of glasses and it’s been a fantastic addition to my evening wind-down routine. These glasses remove 90-99% of blue light that’s emitted from our computers, phones, and even light around the house. Blue light in the evening can harm your sleep by tricking your body into thinking it’s still day time. By using these relatively inexpensive glasses (they go for about $20-$30 a pair) you’re much likelier to feel sleepier at night. I wear mine about 2 hours before my bed time for good sleep hygiene.

Featured image by klausdie.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (March 5, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

The Top 10 Fiction Books for Non-Fiction Addicts by Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss put together a great list of fiction books to checkout if you’re non-fiction fiend like him. I really enjoy reading fiction before going to bed as it usually puts me in a more relaxed and creative mood. I’m looking forward to getting through some of the books in this list.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Find meaning. Distinguish melancholy from sadness. Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park, spring at its most spectacular moment, flowers and smells and outstanding poetical imagery smoothly transferring you into another world. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter. Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but “steal” some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.

— Albert Camus

a French philosopher, author, and journalist.

Productivity tip of the week —

Experiment with your most productive hours and block them off.

I’ve recently been obsessed with the concept of sleep chronotypes and the unique sleeping patterns that we all have. Sleep patterns dictate not only when our bodies prefer to sleep but also when we find ourselves at the most productive during the day. When I took the quiz, I discovered that I’m a “bear” which means that my body naturally wakes up around 7am and is ready to go to bed around 10:30 to 11pm.

The biggest revelation from this was finding out my body’s most naturally productive hours lie between 10am to 2pm. I’ve always had a hunch about this but never really thought about how valuable this time really is. So something I’m working on over the coming weeks is to try to block off that time for focused project work instead of meetings or phone calls which I can push to later in the day.

Product or service I’m loving —

Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change

This tool has been a huge addition to my productivity arsenal. At the start of every week, I list out all of the most important tasks and projects that I need to complete. In addition, it asks me how many Pomodoros (i.e. 25-minute increments) it will take to complete the task. The idea behind it is to help me plan out each day and determine the ONE most important task or project I need to complete. The concept is simple but extremely powerful, and I feel a lot more focused and productive when I get my ONE task done during the work day.

Featured image via Pixabay by Wokandapix.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (February 28, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

The Power of Buying Less by Buying Better by Elizabeth Cline

Did you know that Americans buy on average 64 items of clothing and more than seven pair of shoes per year? “Fast fashion” brands like H&M are making it cheaper for us to purchase clothing resulting in overflowing closets and clothing that often last less than 12-24 months. I’m a big fan of the idea of quality over quantity. Not only is it better for our wallets and closets but also for the environment. There are some really cool new online businesses that are going along this route. Some of these newcomers include Zady, Cuyana, Of a Kind, and Everlane. I’m particularly interested in getting a 10 Year Hoodie from Flint and Tinder.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

When the mind is at peace,

the world too is at peace.

Nothing real, nothing absent.

Not holding on to reality,

not getting stuck in the void,

you are neither holy nor wise, just

an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.

— Layman P’ang

a celebrated Chinese Buddhist

Productivity tip of the week —

Batch cook weekly meals on the weekend.

Food preparation is one of the most important yet most undervalued activities that we do during the day. Regularly cooking healthy meals at home can have a huge impact on your health and wallet. Since January, I started batch-cooking my meals for the week on the weekend. With a grocery delivery service like Mama Earth I have my produce for the week and all I need to do is pickup the protein and find the right recipe to prep my meals. Given my body’s preference for a ketogenic diet, I like to use the Bulletproof Cookbook and 4-Hour Chef as my go-to cookbooks. Having my fridge stocked with meals for the week helps me avoid eating out and ensures I can eat clean as consistently as I can.

Product or service I’m loving —

Inbox by Gmail

Gmail has been experimenting with a new version of it’s popular email client for at least a couple of years now. Inbox by Gmail is it’s newest version and it’s now light years ahead of Gmail. For starters, I love the built-in snooze function, bundling of emails that can be set to showup at a certain time, and majority of the keyboard shortcuts in Gmail that have been carried over for Inbox. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend playing around with it – it wont affect your Gmail service.

Featured image via Unsplash by Jordan Sanchez.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

A conversation with meditation teacher, Mary Meckley.

This conversation features Mary Meckley from Sip and Om. I was really happy and honoured to get Mary onto a call with me as she has been my meditation teacher for the last couple of years. I first started following Mary after we met at a productivity conference in New York City and learned about her Daily Meditation Podcast. Everyday she would record a brand new meditation to share with her listeners and her calm and soothing style of meditation really helped take my meditation habit to another level.

In this hour-long conversation, Mary and I talk about a variety of topics including how she got started with meditation, the benefits of meditation, recommendations for beginners, breakdown of various techniques, tips for consistency, and so much more. We even do an impromptu meditation from 41:00 to 44:45 into the conversation.

If you’re interested, Mary runs a membership community at Sip and Om with full guided meditations, monthly support calls, and a private Facebook for her meditation community. If you’re interested in meditating or are looking for support/help in improving your meditations, this might be a great resource. You can try a 2-week trial here. You can also access some of her free, unguided meditations on her Daily Meditation Podcast.

Connect with Mary:

Twitter: @SipandOm

Resources from the interview:

Daily Meditation Podcast
Sip and Om
Tulsi tea
Mate tea

Year 30: Q1 Review

Quarterly reviews are my attempt to take a moment to stop and reflect on the past three months. I’ll review the data that I collected from my sleep, morning routine, daily questions, health, and productivity to see if there are any trends that emerge.

We spend so much of our lives “doing” and spend so little on reflection. Imagine a sports team that loses a game and spends only a couple minutes looking at the game tape. Imagine an architect that sees her masterpiece come to life but doesn’t spend time reflecting on what went well, what she would do differently next time, etc.

This is my attempt to build in a little bit of reflection so I can make the next quarter even more productive and valuable. The reason why I chose a boat in open water is because the quarterly reviews are a perfect opportunity to see how far we’ve come and where we want to navigate to next.

One quick caveat to this quarterly review. Some of the data – specifically around sleep – had only been collected for January so it doesn’t fully reflect the entire quarter. I’ll point that out along the way.

Sleep

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The data above only reflects my January statistics since I was collecting this data in November and December.

I’m particularly proud of my weekday average wake-up time. Since the start of the year I’ve been focused on getting up at 6:00 AM. Last year, I experimented with waking up whenever I naturally woke up and found that I often slept more than I really needed to. While I can’t say waking up at 6:00 AM has me jumping out of bed, I feel good being able to get through my morning routine before I get started with work around 9:00 AM.

I’m sure I can continue to tweak this sleep schedule. Particularly as I learn more about the science of sleep and discover what works best for my particular chronotype. (I’m a “bear” chronotype).

Morning Routine

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November and December were rough months for me when it came to my morning routine. The success rate for all of these habits would be closer to 50% if I didn’t have a very strong January. The activity that had the lowest success rate was Research/Writing. Morning is a difficult time for me to focus on writing or researching for my blog. With only 15-minute windows for each activity, it’s hard to really get anything meaningful done in that time. So it may be worth re-considering when I focus on this habit. Perhaps a 25-minute time period (i.e. a pomodoro) in the evening might be better? Something worth considering.

On the other hand, Workout was my most successful morning habit. Since January my morning workout has consisted of 25 kettlebell swings. It’s a decent workout but there’s probably some more that I can do. I know I can experiment with more swings or maybe upgrade to a heavier kettlebell. Something to keep an eye on as a very high success rate might be an indicator that the habit is too easy for me to do.

For the next quarter, I’d like to push the success rate for all of these activities to above 70%. With a goal at that rate I can see better trends on what activities need a little bit more tweaking or overhauling altogether.

Daily Questions

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The Daily Questions are a concept I’ve borrowed from Marshall Goldsmith. The concept is simple – ask yourself a number questions to see if you gave your best effort in accomplishing your priorities. All the questions start with the phrase “Did I do my best to…” The scores above are between 1 to 4 with 4 being the highest score.

It’s a little difficult to read too much into these questions here as some of them I didn’t start tracking until January and I also tweaked a little with the definition of success with some of these. But what it is helpful for is to see some trends in January.

As you can see, investing in my physical and emotional health ranked highly in January while investing in my friendships and relationship with my girlfriend were 2-3 points lower. I don’t want to make too much of this as it’s still early days but it may require more effort in investing time into my relationships.

Am I spending more time on my work or personal growth over relationships? That’s possible since the relative score for those are a little higher. But, it could also mean that my scoring criteria for “investing” in my relationships is higher. It might mean I need to establish better criteria on what a 4 out 4 day looks like for building friendships or developing my relationship with Carly. The other challenge here too is that everyday isn’t going to be a “home run” day so how do I account for those other days when I’m just going about my business as usual?

I don’t have the answers to these at the moment but just something to start thinking about…

Health

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These are some completely new stats that I started tracking last quarter and I’m really excited about it. In particular, I’m excited to dig deeper into my resting heart rate (beats per minute) data. Overall, my resting heart rate was 62.06.

A normal resting heart rate for adults is between 60 to 100 bpm. If you’re an athlete, you may even have a resting heart rate closer to 40 bpm. Either way, I’m happy with where I’m at. I would like to aim for a sub 60 bpm as I continue to improve my fitness with my capoeira classes and refined morning workout routine.

The really interesting part is when I eat poorly or I drink alcohol, I notice that my resting heart rate jumps 2-3 bpm. Ever more reason for me to stay away from refined sugar and alcohol on a regular basis.

The other focus I have within my health goals is to improve my capoeira skills and flexibility. From years of ignoring stretching (and likely genetics) my body has become extremely stiff. So practicing capoeira helps out significantly but I also need to add on a layer stretching on my own time to see real improvements. My goal is within the next 3-5 years to be able to do a full split. It’s a distant, distant, distant dream right now but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Productivity

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This is one of the categories that I think is really helpful. The data comes from RescueTime which is an application that collects data from my online and offline activities. With so much data pouring through everyday it gives me a good idea on what my productivity baselines are.

My average Productivity Pulse is around 77. So anything over that in a workday is good to aim for. The difference between Total Work Time and Productive Time is interesting too. Although I may work an average of 6.2 hours per day, my productive time is 4.57 hours per day. That means that there are certain activities or hours that really drive the productivity of my day. So making sure I take advantage of that time is crucial in making sure I get the most out of my day.

In Q2, I’ve been experimenting with a new tool called The Productivity Planner that helps me map out the most important task to get done everyday and use the Pomodoro Method to get it done. It’s already paid big dividends for me and I’m excited to see what the aggregate impact for Q2 will look like.

Learnings from Q1

  1. Continue to track consistently in Q2. Leverage the law of large numbers to identify baselines and trends.
  2. Monitor my 6:00 AM wake-up routine closely. See if I continue to get the best version out of myself with an early wake-up time.
  3. Experiment with a different time for my research/writing for my blog. Evening writing could work out better.
  4. Think about what a 4 out of 4 day looks like for investing in my friendships and relationship with Carly. What about days when nothing “special” happens?
  5. Look closer at my productivity time on RescueTime. Do the criterias look good? Should they be updated based on my activity?

To-do list for Q2

  1. Continue to implement the Productivity Planner for better strategizing and planning my workdays.
  2. Create a criteria for what a 4 out of 4 day looks like for each of the Daily Questions.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (February 19, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

The Tail End by Tim Urban via Wait But Why

Believe it or not we’re at the tail end of many of the things that we cherish in our lives. If you’re 30 years or older, you’re likely in the last 5% of the total time you’ll be spending with your parents. Or if you’re in your 50s, you may only have a 7 to 10 more FIFA World Cups or presidential elections that you’ll see in your lifetime. Check out the article for some great visualization on your life and the precious time remaining for all of us. It motivates me to do more and serve others in a positive way.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

Becoming an extraordinary leader | General McChrystal and Chris Fussell on shared consciousness, empowering employees, and building a cohesive team on The Tony Robbins Podcast

This is a great podcast episode for anyone who works on a team. General McChrystal explains how he had to make pivots in his military strategy to keep up with a highly flexible and agile enemy and compares it to the type of challenges today’s businesses face. The shift from command-and-control to a more relationship-based and empowered style of operations changed the game for the military at that time. General McChrystal provides his lessons on operating in an increasingly complex world.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Just try to feel your own weight, in your own seat, in your own feet. Okay? So if you can feel that weight in your body, if you can come back into the most personal identification, a very personal identification, which is: I am. This is me now. Here I am, right now. This is me now. Then you don’t feel like you have to leave and be over there, or look over there. You don’t feel like you have to rush off and be somewhere.

— Bill Murray

an American actor, comedian, and writer

Productivity tip of the week —

Discover your sleep chronotype

I’ve been hearing a lot about Dr. Michael J. Breus’s book, The Power of When, as a helpful resource in understanding sleep and what your optimal sleep and waking hours look like. The free quiz above lets you learn which sleep chronotype you most align with broken into four types of animals – dolphin, lion, bear, and wolf. I ended up getting “bear” and it makes sense to me. My sleep cycles align closely with sunlight and my optimal work times tend to be in the morning between 9am to 11am. Knowing your sleep chronotype can help you identify your most productive hours and make sure they’re blocked off for the most important work (or the ONE thing!) that you need to get done that day.

Product or service I’m loving —

Hario Cafeor Stainless Steel Coffee Dripper

I’ve been using paper filters for my coffee brewing process for the last 3-4 months but I recently switched to this new dripper by Hario. And, I have to say, it’s made a huge difference in the quality and taste of the coffee. Paper filters used to absorb the valuable coffee oils but Hario’s meshed dripper lets all the oily goodness through. It also doesn’t require me to buy more paper filters which simplifies my coffee-making process and saves the environment. Definitely worth the investment if you’re brewing coffee with a dripper!

Featured image via Unsplash by Christina Gottardi.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (February 12, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

How to Become a ‘Superager’ by Lisa Feldman Barrett

A quick read on the latest in neuroscience and the secret to becoming a “superager”. They key to maintaining your mental acuity? Do something really difficult – mentally or physically.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

An incredible series that I basically consumed within a few days. I was too young to remember or even understand the impacts of the “Trial of the Century” but this series does a great job cataloguing both sides of the events. It serves as a great reminder of where American race relations were only 20 years ago and where we still are today. Fantastic performances by John Travolta, Sarah Paulson, and Courtney B. Vance in this star-studded series.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

There will always be an infinity of things to do. We can never get our life or our business or our kitchen running exactly the way we want it to run. No matter how we envision it, it can’t be that way. Life is not predetermined to the point that we can get to some stage and then see how it all works. What happens is that we have a better and better understanding of things, we have more and more clarity and ability to deal with things as they arise. But they keep arising, endlessly. The empty sky is always creating new clouds. The pot is always boiling.

— Kōshō Uchiyama

a Sōtō priest and origami master

Productivity tip of the week —

Setup blackout conditions in your bedroom.

Creating blackout conditions in your bedroom is really important for high-quality sleep. Ideally, you can setup some type of blackout curtains but if you’re like me and you already have built-in curtains, you can use a sleep mask to create blackout conditions. Your eyes and even your skin can absorb ambient light from outside to disrupt your sleep so blackout curtains or a high-quality sleep mask can really help. Another quick tip is to make sure your phone or tablet is kept outside your bedroom so you don’t get the blue light from the screens affecting your sleep.

Product or service I’m loving —

40 Blinks Sleep Mask by Bucky

This is my favourite sleep mask. The contoured cups for each eye allows for your eyes to blink which makes it really comfortable to wear. I definitely bring this when I’m traveling and wear it at home to make sure the ambient light from the street doesn’t disrupt my sleep.

Featured image via LUM3N by Snufkin.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.