Saturday, December 31, 2016

Free Trial Subscription - Life Upgrades Part 2

If you've completed Part 1 of the Free Trial Subscription - Life Upgrades, it's now time to start getting organized for the month, or even the year, ahead.

It's time to start putting your tasks into your calendar. If you have a planner or calendar program already, I suggest having it close by so you can see whether any events you already have scheduled will conflict or derail particular tasks, and schedule around those. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed with these Task Trials. Now you can start the process of upgrading your life!

Step 3 - How to Organize the Year Ahead, plus Baseline Tasks

Looking over your list, choose one task from each category to do in the coming month: Physical Well-Being, Mental Well-Being, Inner World and Outer World. I plan to choose these just a month in advance, and re-evaluate as needed for the following month based on my Weekly Reflections and interests. If you want to do six months or the whole year, go for it, but in my experience, Future Me is not as stoked about all the things I'm scheduling for her to do, so you may, at some point, have to revisit both your tasks and your reasons for doing them.

For January, my weekly challenges are as follows.

Week One (P) - Run One Mile Per Day
Week Two (I) - Pomodoro Technique
Week Three (M) - Daily Affirmations
Week Four (O) - Be Complaint Free (read my previous post on this here)

These are in no particular order. I realize I have some extra time off because of the holidays so running will be easier the first week of January, and thus, easier to stick to in the beginning, so you may want to look at your calendar to see when each task will be easiest to manage for your month.

My next recommendation is to use technology to help with Task Management and Scheduling. I've created a recurring task on Saturday mornings for Reflections on the Week (Learn more in Part 3) and to prepare for the next week's task. This may include picking up a book, purchasing particular food, scheduling time for a particular task, booking a meeting, etc. For my Daily Affirmations, I'll need to figure out what those will be so I'm ready to go on Sunday morning. If I'm scheduling a certain time for a task, I'll set an alarm in my phone as a daily reminder.

If you prefer, you can buy or print out a calendar with the weekly tasks written on whichever day starts your week, or if you think your tasks may change, use Sticky-notes in different colors for each category to map out the year, with the option of swapping weekly tasks around as needed. (I've provided a link to a Google Doc with a 2017 Calendar you can Make A Copy of and use for this challenge.)

Bonus - Baseline Tasks

Baseline tasks are activities that I am going to do daily regardless of the weekly task. The two that spring to mind are in part because I created a habit of them in the past and found they have added to my life in a way that means I don't want to skip over them while committing to other "Life Upgrades." You may have a few similar tasks that you can re-commit to as part of this process. They will anchor your efforts and should support the other goals and your quality of life.

10 minutes of movement/exercise per day - The first Baseline Task is doing at least 10 minutes of movement/exercise per day. This might not seem like a lot, but I find by just setting a goal of 10 minutes, I usually end up doing more, and the quality of life benefits are too valuable to pass up. Since only one week each month is fully dedicated to "Physical Well Being" this Baseline Task is a given. Back to Scott Adams' insight, he recommends doing a level of exercise that insures you don't feel discouraged from wanting to workout again the next day due to exhaustion or soreness, which can derail your willpower to workout. Additionally, sometimes just setting a timer to get moving, knowing you can stop when it goes off creates enough momentum to lead to a bit more movement, a few more sets. This will help increase your endurance and you'll get used to including exercise in your schedule, making the whole process easier.

Going offline at 9 pm - The second Baseline Task is turning off my phone and laptop at 9 pm. The science behind disconnecting is huge (improved sleep, better posture, more focus) but I haven't completely separated myself from gadgetland yet, and I hope to use the coming year's tasks to thrive more offline. For now, I have an alarm on my phone that goes off at 9 pm, after which I put my phone in Airplane Mode and start to wind down for the night. This provides time to meditate, read, tidy my home, take care of my skin and teeth, journal, lay out clothes, write down tasks for the next day, have some tea, or just be disconnected for a bit.

I hope you'll consider signing up for this Free Trial Subscription of Life Upgrades. You can renew every week for all of time with no cost or obligation, and everything you receive is yours to keep.


Part 3 will include How to do Weekly Reflections and A/B Testing, plus Rewards/Motivators (Posting on 1/1)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Free Trial Subscription - Life Upgrades Part 1

What I'd like to attempt in 2017 is to develop a system by which one starts a new task, habit or way of thinking each week, evaluates its efficacy and whether its addition is a gain or loss to their quality of life, and then adopt it or let it go and try something else. The point of all of this is not to reach certain set-in-stone goals of pounds lost, money saved, connections made, but instead, just a series of life upgrades that help enhance every area of your life in unique-to-you ways.

My chosen weekly tasks are things that caught my eye from different authors and thought leaders, and which seemed like they might make me happier, healthier, smarter. Since I can't possibly know how happy, healthy or smart I can ever be, and because my personal experience shows that there isn't a final goal in those areas, I can punctuate my life with "free, no obligation trials" to see which of the ideas of all the gurus, nutritionists, self-helpers and business leaders work for my life and which ones don't. Learning what doesn't work is just as useful as knowing what does.

This is the time of year when people often start, and quit, their New Year's resolutions. My hope is that I can circumvent the usual pitfalls of the resolution process to find a system that enhances all the areas of our lives with little reliance on the willpower that often runs out before we've reached a certain goal.

Step One - Write Down Everything You Think Would Make Your Life Better

To help figure out your year of challenges, create a list by thinking of all the things you'd like to do, believe would add to you life, or have read about but haven't implemented. You can add to this list as the year commences, but this gives you a great place to see what experts have said and what you're personally drawn to trying. I wrote all of mine down on paper, and then proceeded to the next step, categorization.

Step Two - Be Well Rounded in Your Pursuits

So as not to over-tax yourself in any one way (All Physical Well-Being by Going Raw Vegan, while trying Power Yoga and Morning Cold Showers +++), plan to divide the tasks up into a four week rotation which will feature activities that will enhance different areas of your life. In Scott Adams' book "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big" he talks about the importance of having a talent stack, meaning you can do fairly well in a variety of areas, (public speaking, marketing, video editing and fitness, for example) which will create opportunities to do well in any number of fields. Adams states "One of the most powerful systems I have seen involves layering one modest skill on top of another until the effect is something special… When you learn to see the world in terms of systems, not goals, everything comes into focus."

By varying the different tasks you choose to focus on in the coming year, you will...

1) Have time to expand or develop the other areas while you tinker with a new one
2) Create variety which our brains very much enjoy
3) Develop your own talent stack

The Four Areas of Life that I created tasks or challenges for are as follows:

Physical Well Being (P) - This includes exercise, nutrition, skin and hair care, physical challenges, etc.

Mental Well Being (M) - This includes spiritual development, brain training exercises, gratitude, focus, self-control, mindset, anything that goes internal that is strictly for you and your own experience.

Inner World (I) - These are the tasks you develop to better equip you for the outside world such as stress management, continued education, skill development, managing your finances and future, and language learning.

Outer World (O) - These are tasks that interact with others including your relationships with partners, family, friends, colleagues, how you present yourself and your home, how you communicate and network, and how you curate your environment.

Through all of my reading, I could have a weekly task for each of these categories. For now, I'll stick to them being a priority for one week per month, while I adapt to the others. Since my willpower gets a special New Year's boost, I'm going to start with some tougher challenges early.

Taking the list from Step One, I went through and wrote a P, M, I or O next to them, to create the list below. Some of your tasks may fall into a couple of categories, so tinker with them in a way that you don't feel will overwhelm one particular category if they're done close together.

Here's my list. Some of these you may want to try, others you might think are not valuable to you. Create a list of things that excite and challenge you. I've included hyperlinks on a few so you can learn more about them, while others are self-explanatory.


Cold Showers
Run 1 Mile Per Day
Dry Brushing
Go to Bed Early
Spend Time Daily in the Sun/Outdoors
Intermittent Fasting
No Heat Hairstyles
Avoiding bread/pasta/rice/potatoes
Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Eat Mindfully
Eye Exercises


Positive Mental Attitude
Express Gratitude
Single Tasking
Read Philosophy and Spiritual Books
Practice a Daily Hour of Silence
Speak Less

Inner World

Budget/Save X Amount
No Credit Cards, Pay with Cash Only
Mind/Memory Games
Public Speaking Course
Learn Video Editing
No Internet
Wake Up Early Daily
Read Non-Fiction and Biographies
Create Task Lists
Try Nootropics
Pomodoro Technique
Practice Spanish

Outer World

Don't Complain (Previous post here)
Tidy Daily
Make a New Recipe
Coordinate a Group Outing
Say Yes to Social Invitations
Find a Networking Opportunity
Master the Art of Conversation

As an added component for your own personal understanding, you can rank them in terms of ease and/or interest, and toggle months to feature a range of really exciting ones, those you can do easily, and those you're reluctant to do or know will be more difficult.

I suggest not being too legalistic about this. If you realize a task you have slated no longer serves you, change it, but don't skip that category. Additionally, if a future task excites you and you want to add it now while attempting some other task, that's fine but they can't replace each other. There's no penalty for any of this, but the intention is for these to improve your world enough that you decide to incorporate more of them because they make your life better. Again, life upgrades!


Part 2 will include How to Organize the Year Ahead, plus Baseline Tasks (Posting on 12/31)

Part 3 will include Weekly Reflections and A/B Testing, plus Rewards/Motivators (Posting on 1/1)