Check out my bestselling book on habits, Superhuman by Habit. .
When I asked for blog posts at my last Budapest event, one person asked how I spend my time on airplanes. At first I didn't think I had all that much to say about it, but as I thought about it I realized that airplane time is actually quite critical, especially when you travel a lot and have a lot of airplane time.
My overriding top priority on airplanes is to manage my sleep schedule. If I max out productivity on an airplane but then have jet lag for several days later on, that use of time on the plane was actually a major mistake. So even if I don't get anything done on a long flight other than adjust my sleep schedule, I'm happy.
If you've read my anti-jetlag strategy, you know that the crux of it is to compress all discomfort into the travel day so that I can seamlessly transition between two different time zones. What that means, more often than not, is that I'm exhausted when I get on the plane and my only job is to stay up for a few hours before I go to sleep.
For that reason, I usually watch TV shows or listen to fun podcasts. I tend to hoard shows that I like and save them for flights. That lets me keep more of my productive time when I'm not on airplanes, and then when I'm tired and on a flight, I can use those shows to burn through flight hours.
The common view of luxury, consisting of fancy hotels, expensive clothing, and jewelry is an odd one to me. Those things are luxurious in that they are certainly not necessities, but it often doesn't seem like they are doing the person indulging in them much good. On the other hand, with a little bit of creativity one can find luxuries that actually matter. They may not be necessary, but they bring a lot of joy or benefit.
My favorite luxury is having a private gym inside our apartment. We put rubber down in one of the empty bedrooms, I bought a commercial grade weight-stack workout machine, a compact squat rack, a barbell and weights, adjustable dumbbells, a bench, and a big TV and sound system. I spent less than $2000 on the equipment and we sacrificed a room, but now I can work out any time I want in any clothes (no shoes!) while watching a random cooking show on Netflix at high volume.
Having my own gym reduces the hassle of working out by about 50-70%. No changing, commuting, waiting for machines, driving back, etc. I just walk downstairs, do my thing, take a shower, and get back to work. I didn't have my own gym for most of my life and I was just fine, but boy do I appreciate having it now.
I bought an LTE card for my laptop and I pay an extra $25 a month for service to it. Some months I don't use it, most months I rarely do. But when wifi isn't working somewhere or I forgot to get the wifi password from a friend, having that LTE card is the ultimate luxury. I could just tether off my phone of course, but then I have to make sure tethering is on and I have enough batteries and all that. Again, a luxury.
I was a little bit nervous the night before I held my first Superhuman event in Las Vegas. People had paid a fair amount of money and had traveled long distances for an event, but I hadn't planned anything. It was very important to me that everyone have an amazing time at the event. Still, I restrained myself from trying to plan out what I would say.
The few times I'd go to a conference or workshop that was carefully scripted, I was disappointed. If you already know what you're going to say and don't intend on having an interactive experience with the audience, you may as well just put it up on video.
This is how I do almost everything, and have been doing it for years. I don't think that it is the right strategy for everyone and I am very aware that it has weaknesses, but it works great for me and I wouldn't do it any other way.
My basic premise is this: I want to develop my skills and mind to the point that I can execute at a high level at a moment's notice, even if I'm doing something that I don't normally do. I focus on root skills that are broadly applicable rather than specific one-time-use skills or plans.
One very common thing I work on with coaching clients is social skills. Through that work I've seen a lot of common patterns and have come to use a three layer model to think about and discuss how people are interacting with the people around them. If all three layers are in good shape, you will have a great social life. If even one is missing or lacking, so will be your social life.
The first layer is who you are at your core. This is important for many reasons, but in this context it's important because any relationship with any depth will eventually expose your true self, so it better be something good or you will be doomed to surface level friendships and will find yourself spending most time with acquaintances.
I saw this problem a lot in the pickup community. Many people would fix the outer layers so they would get dates and have girls around them, but they were totally unable to have relationships because they hadn't worked on themselves enough.
The traits you should have at your core could be up for debate, but I think most people would agree that integrity, compassion, and a good moral compass would be included here. If you don't have these traits, you'd be well served to figure out how to cultivate them, though the path to that goal may be a long one.
As I've written before http://tynan.com/trendy, I'm generally early on a lot of different things from nomadic travel to online gambling. Being early to things is valuable, but it is also equally valuable to realize when something is over and to leave early. This skill is actually easier than finding new things because it involves just evaluating existing phenomena rather than searching for them.
One good example is college. I dropped out almost twenty years ago and believed then that it was going to be worth it for fewer and fewer people. These days the number of people for whom school represents a terrible value is larger than ever. Without major changes, that number will continue to increase (keep in mind that it is obviously still a great value for some people, so I'm not trying to say it's wrong for everyone).
Another example is San Francisco. I used to love that city to death and wonder why everyone wasn't scrambling to figure out how to live there. Four years ago I felt like it was past its prime and cut my ties (except for with my amazing friends there). I saw a survey recently that showed that most people in San Francisco don't want to live there anymore.
I think a lot about the interplay between perception, reality, and trajectory. Las Vegas has a very bad perception (all partying and glitz), and excellent reality (highest quality of life per dollar in any US city), and a promising trajectory. San Francisco has an excellent perception, a pretty rough reality, and a frightening trajectory.
I'll never forget asking my grandmother what her favorite decade was. She was in her eighties at the time and had had a really good life overall, but would occasionally make comments about how she hopes the world is moving in the right direction because it sure seems...
Her answer came quickly and without reservation. Now was the best, she said. I figured that she would surely say the seventies or eighties, as her family struggled before that but had a comfortable life by then. I asked what made now so good.
She said that she had more wisdom than ever, more life experiences, and the biggest family. She didn't seem all that concerned with aging and health problems and also didn't seem to mind that most of her life was behind her.
I was never particularly preoccupied with aging before then, but hearing her response erased any lingering concerns I had. My life had certainly gotten better with each of the three decades I'd lived, and someone I trust and respect told me that the same would continue to happen.
The more I work on various aspects of my and other peoples' lives, the more obvious it is that friction is one of one's biggest enemies. The best way I can define friction is to contrast it with regular challenges that we might encounter. A challenge is something that comes up in your path that, once you push through it, teaches you something or makes you better. Friction is something something that gets in your way but leaves you no better off once you move past it. Challenges may tire you out, but they leave you motivated. Friction slowly wears at you and saps your enthusiasm.
I talk a lot about automating things, and the reason that I do so is because automation is one of the biggest ways to reduce friction. When I first started setting up automated processes I questioned whether or not they'd actually be worth the up-front time investment. Now that I've done dozens of them I've come to realize that they've always been worth it for me as well as for my coaching clients who have automated away their friction.
One of the things I like about reducing friction is that it forces you to focus on important tasks. The path between you and your work is clear and unimpeded. When there's a lot of friction in your life it's easy to focus on that friction, even if you aren't doing anything to resolve it.
A good example of reduced friction is my daily routine in Las Vegas (which, by the way, is the lowest friction city in which I've spent any real amount of time).
This post isn't suggesting that you should solo scuba dive. Scuba diving has risks and I don't know anything about you.
Part of why I always buy properties with my friends is so that we can take advantage of the things that are easy to do in each location but hard to do in other places I might be. Scuba diving is one of those things in Hawaii.
Before my very first scuba dive in recent years (I had been certified there 20 years prior), I bought my own equipment. It costs around $35 to rent, but I bought a full setup for $600, meaning that the investment would pay off after 18 dives, a number I've already exceeded after having the place for just over half a year.
For the first few dives I went with friends, and then I went to the main dive site on a tour with the local divemaster. After that I asked if he thought I could handle the dive solo, and he said yes. Since then at least half of my dives have been solo.
One of my worries in blogging is that people will get the impression that I am always at 100%, ready to be my absolute best and live up to the principles I write about. I think I'm there a lot of the time, but I have my slow and unmotivated days just like everyone else.
Sometimes I wake up and read reddit for an hour before I even look at anything productive. Sometimes I take a look at my todo list and just can't muster the energy to do any of it. Sometimes I gut through it even though I really don't feel like it.
One big thing I've learned through this process is that you can't always start with your most important task of the day. On a good day it's easy and the optimal way to run, but on a bad day the mere presence of a big important task can be enough to make one want to take the day off.
A much better strategy I've found is to just work my way up the ladder.
When I was first learning about marketing (I never got very far with it), one of the things I remember reading was how important studies are. If you can share a study that supports your point, it becomes immediately more compelling. The same is true of writing books. When I wrote my habit book, several people told me that I should dig through studies, find some that supported my points, and then include them.
I don't find studies compelling at all, and generally disregard them when it comes to making decisions. There are three main reasons why I do this.
First, it is a lot easier to prove correlation than causation. For example, a study could probably show that people who buy Rolls Royces live longer than those that don't. The argument could be put forth that riding in such a fine automobile is so good for the soul that the owner gets to live longer, but it is probably just the case that if you have the money for a Rolls Royce, you also have the money for good health care. The "one glass of wine a day" argument could also fall into the category. Could it be that regular wine drinkers who don't overindulge are just people with reasonable restraint and better financial means than average? Probably.
People who write studies are actually usually pretty careful to note correlation vs. causation, but media outlets show no such restraint. That's why you see all sorts of magazine articles that say things like, "Could eating broccoli once a week make you live for an extra year?".