Why Quitting Social Media Is a Mistake (And What To Do Instead)

sunset

I put the ice cold beer to my lips. The glass left a wet circle on the oak table. I smiled at my mother, the deep orange sunset was reflected in her sunglasses.

Then my hand reached for my phone.

I took a picture of the sunset.

Then I opened Snapchat and took another one. Then I took one with the beer in the foreground. Delete. Then I took a selfie. Delete. Then I thought maybe a short video might do the occasion more justice. And I should probably use a geo-tag to show everyone I’m in Uruguay. I wanted my message to be clear: “This is not a just another sunset. This is a Uruguayan sunset.”

Although I was not sure if I should have my mother in the video. Maybe I would seem more interesting if I shared the sunset and beer alone. And the fact that Im in Uruguay, of course. A true adventurer.

But what if I appear lonely? Just me and a beer and a sunset. What a loser. Or will it intrigue people?

Maybe it’s kind of cool to share that I am sharing this moment with my mother. Ten years ago it would have been social suicide to share such a thing. But now I’m older. When does it become cool to hang out with your parents? Does it ever?

I decided to snap a photo of the cat sleeping by the pool.

And then, finally, I decided to stop the madness.

How Social Media Kills You

Social media seems harmless. Just a few minutes here and there. It’s not, though.

Here is why.

A) You Loose Presence

Ever found yourself zoning out while listening to a friend over coffee? Maybe they spoke about something that wasn’t very interesting.

We can’t blame our friends though, it’s hard to compete with the dopamine you get from checking your phone.

It might not seem like a big deal. Zoning out for a bit. Checking a few Instagram photos while the friend is getting to the point.

But, you can’t live a good life without being present. You can’t enjoy food without being present. You can’t smell the rain without being present. You cant have a meaningful conversation without being present.

I’ve been using my cellphone 100 times a day for long periods of time. That is not the behavior of a present person, nor of a particularly happy one.

And the habit of constantly consuming dopamine snacks has more negative effects.

B) You Can’t Do Deep Work

When do you pick up your phone?

Only when it rings or pings?

More often?

If you’re like me, you check your phone much more. I check my phone every time I’m bored. Not super bored. Like, one-second-bored.

  • I get bored when my computer is starting up.
  • I get bored while the teabag sits in the hot water.
  • I get bored when I walk from my desk to the kitchen.
  • I get bored during the second between waking up and hitting the snooze button.
  • I get bored while watching shows.
  • I get bored while reading books.
  • I get bored out of my mind trying to write this.

And I check my phone every time.

If you stimulate the brain every time you encounter something that is boring you start a habit. An addiction.

Deep Work is the name of a book by Cal Newport. Deep work can only occur from long uninterrupted periods of time.

Your brain wants a small reward to keep on going. Just a fast look at the inbox. Just a peek to see if there are any red notifications who wants my attention.

To do deep work we must learn to be bored.

C) You Fill Your Brain With Crap

Using the phone a few minutes here and there adds up.

According to an article in business Insider we spend 50 minutes a day on Facebook (Including Instagram and Messenger).

Another article states that Snapchat users spend 30 minutes a day on their app.

That means that Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Messenger costs about 80 minutes a day.

Extrapolating from the rule that 90% of everything is crap: We are consuming 36 hours of crap every month.

A common objection to this is “But I only use social media in-between activities”.

That is, while waiting for the elevator, commuting and so forth.

For me, however, the problem is the total amount of garbage that I consume. I don’t want to spend more time reading click-bates on Facebook than reading good books.

I think it’s reasonable to ask ourselves how these 36 hours compare to other activities in our every day life.

How does it compare to how many hours of reading you are doing? And hours of talking to friends? Hours of playing?

How does these 36 hours contribute to getting you closer to what you want in life?

Why Not Stop All Social Media?

I’ve spent the past 815 words bashing social media like it’s the devil. The ultimate evil. So, how come I’m not advocating we all should burn our smartphones, move to the deep forest, buy typewriters and start sending letters all over the place?

A) You can’t

There are many people promoting that we all should stop using social media. No Facebook, no Snapchat no Instagram. Ever.

Google returns 188 000 000 results for the search “how stop social media”.

With that said, how many people do you know that don’t use any social media?

How many of them are under 70 years old?

Trying to quit social media is probably not a bad idea. But it’s an awful strategy.

Trying to quit is basically going to war against the tens of thousands of engineers and behavior scientists at Google, Facebook and Snapchat.

The apps, sites and even phones are carefully designed to HOOK us. And there are powerful network effects:

Even if you manage to quit you will soon have friends telling you “You have to RSVP to my event on facebook” and “I told you I was going to be late on Snapchat!”.

These companies have millions of sales people. Everyone you know work for them. Their job is to make you open that app and start consuming your feed.

Because of this, It’s not realistic nor optimal to quit social media.

B) Promotion

Even though I’m skeptical towards social media, there are quite a few people using it (I’m not holding my breath for this article to change that fact).

For example, Facebook has 1,72 BILLION active users.

The reach, combined with the relatively low costs makes social media one of the most effective channels to acquire users, readers and customers.

graf
Channels for getting readers to my blog.
graf2
Channels for getting users to a site a run.

Just starting out, the social media channels are invaluable for me.

 C) Talking to people you like

According to Global Web Index and Wersm the reason most people are on social media is to “stay in touch with friends”.

There is no easier way to check in on your friends than social media.

Social media gives a unique possibility of “light networking”. You don’t have to formulate anything. Just click “like” and you’ve been social. You’ve “kept in touch”.

While these interactions might be shallow, maybe they are better than nothing?

And maybe they can be the start of more intimate relationships?

 

How Should You Use Social Media?

So the conclusion is that social media sometimes suck and sometimes don’t.

Now, what can we do with that information?

The way to optimize social media usage must then be to minimize the parts that suck and maximize the parts that are good.

I suggest to do this in 3 steps.

A) Be Proactive (Not Reactive)

Stop mindlessly browsing feeds. Remove notifications from your phone. Take control over your time and how you use your apps. Decide who you want to have in your life and reach out to them.

B) Automate/outsource

It’s easy to  get stuck in the feed while writing to someone, sharing a post or writing an update.

There are useful tools to automatically share a blog post, for example, on all your social media channels.

Another option is to use a service like fiverr or odesk and find someone who can do this for you.

C) Uninstall, uninstall, uninstall.

Remove all of the apps that you use reactivate. I’ve uninstalled Snapchat, Facebook and LinkedIn.

I kept Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram. Those are the ones I find easy to use on my own terms.

Conclusion

I’ve felt disgusted with the amount of time and energy I’ve spent on my phone the last year.

I want to “cultivate empty space as a way of life for the creative process“, as Joshua Waitzkin puts it.

I want to spend more time on things that are beautiful and interesting. And less time feeling bad for not climbing mountains.

And maybe next year I’ll be able to take a damn photo of a sunset. Or a beer. Or both. Or maybe just the cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Can’t Afford To Do Great Work

Do you think that it’s better to do a good job than a bad job?

If you do, that’s a problem.

It’s a problem because it’s not true.

You win at school if get an A in every course. That is how the system works. You are supposed to put a lot of time into everything. Things you love and things you hate.

We are taught to “Make an effort” and “Do your best”. All the freaking time.

That’s really bad advice.

“Do your worst!” – Now that is what I call advice.

You should ask yourself “What is the worst I can do? (And still be OK)”.

The reason behind this is that most things does not matter.

There are probably a few things in your life that you care about. And a lot of things you don’t care about.

I’m convinced that the best way to live a good life is to do more of the things you like and less of the things you dislike. (Did I just blow your mind?)

I advocate erasing things that we don’t like from our lives. However, that is not always possible.

Here is a simple rule for the things you dislike in your calendar:

If you can’t delete it, make sure to suck at it. 

Still not convinced that you should start being awful?

No problem, I got three more arguments for you right here.

 

Why You Must Do Bad Work

First, let me define “Bad Work”.

Bad Work is equal to putting in the least amount of time in order to accomplish a task.

Here we go, 3 reasons why you have to teach yourself to do Bad Work.

  1. Get more time for things you want to do

There are probably things you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to start a business on the side, write a book or spend more time with your cats.

Learn the art of bad work. Bad work gives you time.

In fact, you will find yourself wondering what to do with all the time.

2) Slap your inner perfectionist (And learn to ship)

It’s always hard to share things. Perfection is paralyzing.

I want to edit these blog posts at least 10 more times before publishing.

I want to add five more features to my website before I launch it.

Whenever I start thinking I should spend a bit more time to perfect something I think about what Reid Hoffman famously said about launching a business:

“If you are not ashamed about your Beta you launch to late”

The reason is that 90% of everything is crap. But you never know which part, as sci-fi writer Theodore Sturgeon famously said.

Other people will tell you what is crap and what works.

You can’t know if you’re busy making something “perfect”.

Then suddenly 10 years have passed before you realize you work on crap.

3) Practice being uncomfortable

While writing this article I had to do a presentation. It was mandatory but completely uninteresting. I knew I would pass if I did A presentation.

Still, I found myself doing a bit too much research, working with the slides and practicing.

I’m a big believer in practicing what you preach. So I stopped my research. In fact I made the slides uglier.

slide5
Now this is one ugly slide (Why I did a presentation on pea soup in Spanish to finish my first semester in a Master in Computer Science is another story).

Then I did not practice what I was going to say. I just showed up.

It saved me at least two hours.

It’s really uncomfortable to give a presentation without being prepared. It makes me anxious, which means that it’s good for me. 

Why is it hard to do bad work?

A misconception about bad work is that it’s easier to do than good work.

This is not true either.

People always do what’s easiest, we take the path of least resistance. And a lot of people do “great work” – ALL THE TIME.

Here is why.

A) We are taught to

In average we spend about 10 years in school. This is 10 years of being told to do your best all the time.

10 years is a long time. It’s hard to unlearn something you’ve been told every week for 10 years.

B) Group Pressure

Everyone will notice that you did not put in as much work as you could have done.

Other people will give better presentations, hand in better papers and say smarter things at the meeting.

You might not get that extra pat on the shoulder from the teacher. Someone else will get a smile and a nod from the boss.

And all along, you know it could have been you – AND IT HURTS.

C) It’s A Skill

It’s not easy to do bad work.

We must practice. Bad work has two basic components:

  1. Defining the task
  2. 80/20 analysis

Instead of jumping in, invest some time into understanding the task really well. You should know EXACTLY what is expected.

Second, you perform a so called 80/20 analysis.

That is, answer the question “What 20% will yield 80% of the results?”.

For example, I know I would pass the presentation if it was 10 minutes and I made some power point slides. That’s it.

But what about my personal brand?

There is a ton of articles on how to build a “personal brand.”

Most of these articles does not recommend giving an awful presentation about pea soup in front of 30 people.

Giving a bad presentation probably has a short term negative impact on your “personal brand” (although, how do you even measure that?).

BUT, you will be able to spend more time on what you love.

Then you will be happy and successful. Then you can tell people who have a problem with your “personal brand” to fu@$ off.

Do This Now

  1. Look at your calendar
  2. Write down one thing you don’t want to do but have to do
  3. Figure out the minimum input possible.
  4. Do Bad Work
  5. Move on and spend a few extra hours with someone you like. Or watch Westworld. Or make some pea soup from scratch, whatever you want.

 

8 Things I Learned From Ramit Sethi

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with the article. I just find Japanese (?) architecture impressive and soothing.

Do you want to become a best selling author, get a 6-pack or make $5-million in 7 days?

Then keep on reading.

 

I’ve been follwing Ramit Sethi for over a year. He sends me a lot of email. I searched for “Ramit” in my inbox and found more than 500 emails.

 

Is it possible to send that much email without being a spammer?

 

I think it is and it’s simple, but not easy.

 

The key is to ALWAYS deliver value. Ramit always shares an anecdote, a lesson learned or a joke. He also sells his courses like a mthr-fer, but that’s okay.

 

Below are 8 things I’ve learned from Ramit the past year.

 

1) Negotiation

You can negotiate anything. Your phone bill, your mortgage and the price of your clothes. Negotiation is a science, or according to some – An art.

The most important part of negotiating is having the guts to do it. If  you try negotiating you’re already ahead of 80% of the people.

Remember that negotiation is a skill. It’s something you can practice and become better at.

To become better at negotiation follow these 2 steps.

  1. Start negotiating – Go down to a local farmers market and try to negotiate the price of a cheap shirt or an apple. Don’t be rude, have fun with it.
  2. Become incrementally better – Read the book Influence, read James blog post and browse Ramits tactical tips. Then repeat step 1.

 

  1. BONUS CHALLENGE: Next time you go to a coffee shop, ask for 10% off. Don’t give a reason. Don’t be rude. Just say “could I have 10% off?”. If they ask you why tell them “I just would like to pay 10% less”.

    2) Say no to customers

    Ramit does not accept any customers with credit card debt. According to him it costs him hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

     

    He also charges premium prices, excluding a lot of potential customers. His rhetoric sounds something like this:

     

    “Look, this is not for everyone. If you are serious and what to commit and have astounding results, go ahead. Otherwise, feel free to browse my free content”.
     
    There are a couple of reasons why this counter intuative advice makes sense.

     

    Scarcity – It makes the product (in this case an online course) feel more exklusive.
    Credability – If he can afford to turn down customers he must be really good!
    Integrity – Ramit has a background as a personal finance blogger. Putting people deeper in the hole does probably not converge with his values.

     

    3) Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do

    I was at a meeting with a great salesman when I was 21. He was older than me. Maybe 26. Me and my friends were trying to start a company and wanted to sell our services to him.

     

    I was in the middle of a nervous rambling about our idea when he reached inside his jacket and braought out a pen (This was pre Wolf Of Wallstreet).

     

    Then he taught me a lesson.

     

    “Is this a pen you think you would want to buy?” He interrupted me.

     

    “What? Umm, yeah sure.”

     

    “Then give me $2.” (Actually he asked for 20 Swedish kronor)

     

    I did not want to give him my money. We were both quite.

     

    After a while he smiled and took back the pen.

     

    There is always a discrepancy between what we say and what we do, what we want and what we say we want. Watching what people do does often give you more valuable data than asking them.  

    4) The Power of copywriting

    Copywriting is an underestimated super power in the online marketing sphere. The reasons copywriting is so powerful are threefold.

     

    1) Scale – If you are a great telemarketer you can call 20-30 people an hour. If you are a great copywriter you can reach, well, a lot more people.
    2) Wide applications – Copywriting can be used as a swiss multi-tool. Coywriting is the tool to use if you want to increase email signups, email opens, email clicks, sales. comments, recommendations and responses on OKcupid.
    3) Returns over time – If you invest in better copywriting the effect lasts for years. See the example below.

100 000 visitors/ month + 0.5% increase by better copy

1% sign up -> 1000 signups/month -> 12000 signups/year
1,5% sign up -> 1500 signups/month -> 18000 signups/year.
 

 

5) How to write MOUTHWATERING copy

Did your mouth fill up with saliva? Maybe it’s just me.

 

Anyway, you don’t have to be a good writer to be a great copywriter. These are two different skills. There are copy-writing frameworks you can use to go from clueless to a copywriting PRO.

 

Three fast tips:
1) Find the voice of the customer – Use words and phrases your targeted customers use. Go out and find these words.
2) Be specific – Make your copy as concrete as possible. Example: “I’ll help you become more efficent” vs. “Want to spend more time with your kids? I’ll help you save 5 hours a week.”.
3) Don’t talk about yourself – Don’t talk about your features. Don’t talk about your story. Not until you have talked about the customer.

 

I cover these points to a greater extent in this post.

6) Online courses are a powerful business model

With all the free material that is out there, can you really make money selling online courses?
Well, Ramit can. He can make 5 MILLION in one week.

7) Create An Email List

Ramit often says that his biggest mistake was to not create his email list earlier. There are a number of reasons for this.
  • Reach all your subscribers You own your email list. You decide who the emails go to. Most social media sites have algorithms that filter the content for the users. In some cases you might just reach 10% or less of your followers.
  • Easy to track – There are great tools for using and tracking email. I like mailchimp.
  • Timeless technology – Email has been around for 50 years. To signup to social media sites you need an email address. It will be around for quite some time.

    8) Don’t sell cheap products

    The hell-zone is products in the $1-$50 segment. Customers are price sensitive and generally has a higher probability of asking for refunds. You also need super high volumes to make it work financially.

     

    Summary and Next step

So the 8 things I’ve learned from mr. Sethi are:

  • Negotiation
  • Say no to customers
  • Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do.
  • The power of copywriting
  • How to write MOUTHWATERING copy
  • Online courses are a powerful business model
  • Build an email list
  • Don’t sell cheap products

What can you do with this today?

Pick the topic that interests you the most. Then write down 3 ways you can use the knowledge in your life or business.

Then email me your ideas at hello@mannelarsson.com 🙂

How To Start A New Project And Not Risk Anything

When I was 9 years old I used to cheat when I played battleships against my grandmother.

I would put my forehead against my palm and pretend to think really hard. If you do it with a specific angle you can kind of see through your arm. I leaned sideways to see her side of the board, seemingly staring on my own wrist, and sunk her ships one by one.

She had no chance. I was ruthless. I knew I would win every time.

I had discovered The Power of Cheating.

However, when I grew older I learned that there are two problems with cheating 1) It does not always work. 2) You can get caught.

In my continuous pursuit of shortcuts to success I finally found a way to accomplish the same results without cheating.

I found the answer in a blog post by Scott Adam:

The Power Of A System.


Every project has a risk of failure.

  • Starting a business – No customers
  • Launching a podcast – No downloads
  • Starting a blog – No readers

The risk can be financial, timely or social. Or all three. Nobody wants to waste time, loose money or be embarrassed.

So we shy away from trying new things. We’re stuck in our cubicles. Or in the 21th century version, open-space offices. We never go from idea to product. From sketch to painting. The novel is stuck in your head, not on the pages.

This is a waste. All it takes to guarantee success for a project is to solve a simple equation (You don’t even need to know math):

Certain Wins From Project – Cost Of Project > 0

In other words, how can we stack the deck so we get a Royal Flush, no matter who deals?

The nature of the equation tells us that there are two ways of making a project successful.

  1. Maximize the wins from the project
  2. Minimize the costs of the project.

Now, let me show you how to do both.

Maximizing wins

Making sure to have positive outcomes of the project can be done in 3 steps.

  1. Define variables for the project
  2. Design A System
  3. List your wins

1) Define variables

For any given task there are things that are

  • A) Controllable
  • B) Partially Controllable
  • C) Uncontrollable.

For example, this blog has the following variables:

Things I can control

  • How much time I spend writing
  • How I sharing my writing
  • Topics of my writing

Things I can partially control 

  • Number of readers
  • Number of subscribers
  • Number of interaction (likes, comments, emails, shares)
  • If I get published on other sites
  • Amount of feedback from readers

Things I can’t control

  • What other people write about
  • Trends
  • Social media algorithms

The variables that are 100% controllable are the foundation of The System.

As you can see, the partially controllable variables are in most cases a result from the controllable variables. For example, it’s reasonable to guess that if I write a lot my writing will get better. Also, If I write a lot and approach other blogs in a smart way they are more likely to publish my work.

Look at the uncontrollable variables. Now don’t. That was the last time they took up space in your mind. Never ever worry about the things you can’t control. 

Let me repeat that. Never worry about variables you cannot control.

It’s not easy, but Meditation helps. 

 

2) Design your system

The System is the engine of the project. The System generates the success. We can set up The System in 2 easy steps.

  1. Controllable variables The System must be based on the controllable variables. In my case the controllable variables are how often I write, what I write about and how I share my writing.
  2. Define a timeline The project should be viewed as an experiment. Set a timeline for the experiment.

Thus, The System for mannelarsson.com is

Write every day, share every week. For 2 months.

The system should be simple and not too ambitious. The most important thing is to make sure you can commit to the system. I heard somewhere that “A good plan that is executed today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”. 

Another example is The Tim Ferriss Show which started as an experiment. Tim committed to record and release 6 episodes. He knew he would improve the art of asking questions and remove verbal tics (The Ummms and Eeehs). Today he has over 80 million downloads. 

3) Identify your wins

Look at the variables you can control. Then answer the question:

What positive outcomes can I guarantee from this project?

As in, what skills, network or experience can I make sure to obtain?

In my case, no matter how many visitors, likes, subscribers or comments I get on this blog, I will still have the following four wins.

A) Become a better writer

If I commit to writing every day I will become a better writer. Which can be considered a “meta skill” that can be applied to any field. This win alone is, for me, worth the “cost” of my experiment.

“If you add being a great communicator to any field, you’re instantly in the top 20%” – Tim Ferriss

B) Learning valuable and interesting things

To write blog posts I need to learn things I can share. If I commit to write consistently I’ll have to consume high quality content – Books and podcasts instead of social media. I need to train my mind to search for anecdotes and insights.

C) Changing habits

I started this blog by doing a 30 day experiment. I realized how hard it is to start a new daily habit. I managed to finish the experiment because of my “public” commitment of doing so. Accountability is key for changing habits.

D) Caring less about what other people think

My finger hovered over the touch pad for a good 20 seconds. I was going to press “post”. Then I went to the bathroom instead.

I came back and re-read the three sentences I had written on Facebook. Finally I took a deep breath, whispered “Fuck it” and clicked the button.

BOOM. I had shared my first blog post. Scared as hell about what people would think.

Just a couple of weeks later I share posts every week without thinking about it.

Yes, I know, I know – I’m such a stud.

As you can see, the wins are not “Being published on site X” or “Having X number of readers”. Process, Process, Process. Not goals.

Minimizing costs

Now you know what you can control, you know what you’re going to do and you know what (minimum) results you’ll get.

What can go wrong?

A lot, actually.

If you don’t manage the cost of the project.

I did not quit school, take a big loan and move to Paris (Or wherever you move to write a blog) to start this blog.

There are some easy techniques you can use to save a ton of time and money before jumping in to the project.

MVP

MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a popular concept in the startup-sphere. To create an MVP, simplify your project as much as possible. Let me show you some examples:

Online business –  Say you wanted to start a site that automatically matches sellers with a real estate agent based on an advances algorithm. Then the MVP would be:

Set up a google docs where people who wants to sell their apartment can answer 10 questions. Share the link on social media. When you get your first answer, call real estate agents and say you have a customer for them. You can try it over a weekend, real estate agents work all the time.

No algorithm, no domain, no hosting, no developers.

Interview Podcast – Don’t worry about equipment, producing and A-list guests. Get on Skype with someone you already know. Use free software to record the session. Send the file to some friends.

Blog – Set up a WordPress blog and start writing. Don’t bother with finding the perfect theme, plugins and domain. You can worry about that stuff later. Or start writing on Medium.

 

Summary and next step

1) Think about a project you’ve wanted to start for ages.

  • Side business
  • Launch a podcast
  • Start blogging
  • Try a new marketing channel for your business
  • Launch a new product

2) List your controllable variables. What can you control 100%?

3) Make a system. For example “Write every day, share every week. For 2 months.”

4) Define certain wins. What positive outcomes are you positive will come from the project?

5) Simplify your project. Make a MVP and start today.

Next time you start something, go through this list.

Then let me know how it went at hello@mannelarsson.com.

15 Unexpected Results From Daily Practice

I was half naked on the cold plastic floor, shivering.

Lonely, scared and more sick than I’ve ever been in my life I thought to myself “At least I have a roof. And a toilet.”

I was very grateful for the toilet.

But it’s hard to be grateful. We’re not programmed for that sort of behavior.

If you are a grateful caveman you walk around with a stupid smile on your face instead of killing mammoths. Then a tiger eats you and you die. (Please don’t email me and tell me that cavemen, mammoths and tigers never co-existed)

All of us are stupid cavemen and cave-women. That is why we must practice being grateful.

And that is what I’ve been doing the past 30 days, along with some other things. If you want to know exactly what I’ve been doing, read my previous post.

Cool things that happened the last 30 days:

  • I increased my happiness from 4.1 – 4.8 on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire
  • I increased my dead lift with 15kg
  • I increased my bench press with 5kg
  • I published my first 4 blog posts
  • I shared my posts in a group on facebook (Was scared but did it anyway)
  • I shared posts on linkedIn (Was scared but did it anyway)
  • I took the first step to starting on my first book
  • I wrote down 300 ideas
  • Three people have contacted me and told me they like my blog
  • My french room-mate said “Manne, you look so HAPPY!!” when I randomly met her walking down the street.
  • I had dinner at an amazing secret restaurant
  • I took the first step to launching a new IT-product
  • Got my first email-subscribers that I don’t know personally (yet)
  • I’ve come up with new ways to make money on an old business idea
  • I’ve scored at least three complementary hotel nights in Buenos Aires

These are just the tangible things. I also feel happier. I feel more energetic. I feel more creative. I feel more confident.

Below I go into some details about the three biggest improvements.

Happiness

happiness
This is a picture of my happiness. The x-axis is supposed to be 1-30 but I hate Excel and she hates me.

 

Like I said, I do feel happier. I feel more at peace. I don’t dwell in the past or obsess about the future as much.

The index I’ve used is not perfect. Every step of my “scientific” method can be criticized. The graph does not prove anything. Happiness is hard to define etc.

But the daily practice seem to make me a better person. All I can say is that it worked for me and that it might, or  not, work for you.

Ideas

I’ve been writing down 10 ideas every day for 30 days. I’ve been giving birth to 300 idea babies. It hurt and they mostly came out weird and ugly. But I love those little bastards.

Four idea-lists I made

  • 10 things I learned from Ramit Sethi
  • 10 scenes for a hidden-camera show
  • 10 ideas to improve the SEO of a site I’m building
  • 10 thirty-day challenges I can do

If you want to see any of the lists, shoot me an email at hello@mannelarsson.com and I’ll send it to you.

Writing down ideas creates energy for the brain. My brain is becoming an idea machine.

And if I find myself in an elevator with a TV-producer I can now pitch a hidden camera show.

James says that it takes 6 months to become an idea machine. I’m excited to see the effects of doing this for more than 30 days

Meditation

It’s hard to meditate. I don’t follow my breath. Instead I think about weird things. But then I come back to the present and don’t judge myself. Just like Tara tells me to.

And then I become happy.

Sometimes I did meditations for 2 minutes. Sometimes for 25. Sometimes I walked down the street and observed my thoughts.

Closing thoughts

I have a saying:

“Anything that makes me grateful while throwing my guts up stays in my life.”

Feel free to Tweet that.

I will continue with my daily practice. I can already see positive changes in my life. I’m excited to what will happen if I continue to do it every day for six months. And then a year.

If you want to follow my journey, sign up below and I’ll show you what happens when you do something every day for year.

 

 

How to go from good to great in 10 minutes

Do what you are great at. Become the best in the world at something.
That advice makes sense and I hate it.

 

What if you’re not great at anything?

I have friends who knew they wanted to become doctors when they were five years old. Other friends started coding when they where nine. One friend was always best in the soccer team and now plays professionally.

I don’t have an amazing talent.

I was not best at selling cookies for the football team. I did not win talent shows. I was comfortably average. Most people are. That’s the way it works. Ask any statistician. A few of us are great and some are awful. We are trapped inside the Bell Curve.

 

rsz_bell

Breaking out of the Bell Curve

I know I’ll never be one of the best programmers in the world. But I learned how to build a website by myself. I know I’ll never be a famous guitarist. But I know a few songs and solos. I won’t write the best book ever written, but I’m quite sure that I can write a book.

 

Does this mean that I’m doomed to forever trample water in the pool mediocrity? Or rather, in several different pools of mediocrity?

 

Maybe. But I don’t think so.

 

The reason I don’t think so is because smart people told me otherwise in a podcast.

“If you are okay at one thing, and okay at another thing. You are probably one of the best in the world at the combination of those two things.” – James Altucher
Maybe it is possible and even smart to invent things to be great at. You can do so in two easy steps. First, make list of ten things you are good at. Then randomly mix 2-3 of the things to make new categories.
Like this:

Step 1: Things I’m good at

  • changing habits
  • writing
  • coding
  • copy writing
  • coming up with ideas
  • communication
  • marketing
  • math
  • drawing
  • listening

Step 2: Things I could be great at

writing + changing habits
I’m good at starting new habits and dropping old ones. Most people are not. It’s hard to change habits. And I like writing. I could probably become great at writing about habits I’m testing and changing. I don’t think a lot of other people want to or can do it.
 
Coding + Communication
I know a bit of web development. And I’ve got quite a bit of experience in sales, marketing and communication. I might be great at being a solo entrepreneur.

 

Listening + Marketing + Coming up with ideas
Maybe I can become top 5% in the world in interviewing people in a podcast about ideas. Who knows.

Next steps

If you feel stuck and need inspiration, make a list of ten things you are good at. Then mix them in different combinations. Maybe you’ll find your new passion, project or business. Either way you’ll have a list of things you are good at. That’s not too bad. You could show it to someone you like. Maybe they’ll like you more.
 
 

10X productivity in 3 simple steps

 

For 6 months I had been a full time engineering student, managing an early stage company while trying to get another startup off the ground.

I felt like I was drowning. I could never beat my to-do list. It was like the Hydra from Hercules, for every thing I crossed off two more would pop up.
 

My mind was spinning every night before I got to sleep. When I met my girlfriend all I though about was email. I got annoyed when she told me about her day. I felt guilty for not replying to friends. I got frustrated when people I LOVED called me just to chat. I was so busy. I had become a selfish douche bag.

 Something – many things – had to change.

And they did. 

 

The solution – What did I change?

I started managing my time. I set up a system to manage my time in an easy and effective way. The system consists of three simple steps. 
 

I ) List your tasks

Monday morning: Make a list of your tasks for the week. Don’t prioritize yet. Just list all of them. Everything that gives you stress. In my case I would divide the tasks for our different categories: Company 1, Company 2 and School.

Tasks company 1
  • Answer customer support emails
  • Random coffee meeting
Tasks company 2
  • Pay bills
  • Meeting with potential partner
  • Accounting

Tasks University

  • Home work

 II) Urgency and Importance schema

Writing down the anxiety drivers can be helpful in itself. Now, draw what management consultants call a 2-by-2 matrix on a paper or white board. Two intersecting lines that is. One axis symbolizes urgency. As in When is the deadline for the task? The other is importance. As in How bad would it be to miss this?

 

Bild2
Don’t worry about exactly where to place the items. Try to get the relationships between them right. It will get easier with practice.

Top Right – Urgent and important

This is the golden square. These are the only tasks to do this week. You do these and you’re all good.

Bottom Right – Urgent but not important

It’s easy to confuse urgency for importance. Don’t be scared to cancel stuff. Just because something is urgent does not mean it’s important. Don’t do the random coffee.

Top Left – Important but not urgent

There are things that have to be done. But not this week and not this day. Forget about them for now.

 Bottom Left – Neither important nor urgent

These items probably shouldn’t make their way into you to-do list. But it can be tough to say no. I used to have a bunch of items in my calendar that really had no business being there.
Bild4
Erase everything that is not in the top right corner.  The original list of six items have been reduced by 50%.
In the next step I will show you how to CLEAR your to-do list in record time. 
 

 

III) Pomodoro technique

Time to start executing on the new list. Don’t freak out if the previous steps took some time. You will get it back 10X, at the very least. 
 

Set a timer for 25 minutes and start working. For the 25 minutes turn of everything you don’t need for the task. No email, no facebook, no texts and no phone calls. After 25 minutes, take a five minute break. Stand up, stretch, go to the toilet. Whatever you want. For five minutes. Then back to the task.

Try keeping track of how many sprints you can do in a day. It will change your perception of time and productivity.

Closing thoughts and next steps

These are the exact tactics and tools I used to get out of time debt and overwhelm. It helped me sleep better and laugh more. I stopped checking email on nights and weekends. And I got more done than I ever thought was possible.

Now it’s your turn. Try these three steps and report your results in the comments.