I’m jumping on the band-wagon of “the year is over, let’s look back” for once this year because 2015 was one of the most fundamentally formative years of my life. I looked at every facet of my existence with 200% zoom and dragged a lot of the clutter from my desktop kicking and screaming into the recycle bin. Here’s what I learned along with the tools that were instrumental in helping me affect change on every level.
Routine, focus, and communication
Benjamin Franklin once said that
“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”
This is completely true, because that person has their shit together. That involves having a routine compiled of daily and weekly tasks that are at the forefront of your mind every morning, and knowing that you’ll have the same or similar tasks tomorrow so you’re allowed to switch off at whatever time it is that you complete the day’s tasks (switching off is soooooo important).
Asana – Move Work Forward (free)
Asana is my entire life. Create repeating tasks at any interval (daily stuff like update company social media platforms) to weekly tasks (like vacuum the house). I even assign myself tasks years in advance, like to remember birthdays. Great for separating personal and company tasks as well. If it’s not in Asana, I don’t do it. Simple. [link]
Sunrise – the best calendar app (free)
Speaking of doing and not doing, this is the best calendar out there because it syncs with everything. Of course like all good things it’s just been acquired by Microsoft and will stop being supported this year but they’ll slap a new name on it and re-release it as something else… like Sunset or something ridiculous. [link]
Slack – Be Less busy (free)
There’s a reason this company is a now a unicorn, because it speaks to the AOL / IRC generation (the people who all run or own their own companies now) with a simple chat interface that integrates again with everything (some kind of integration trend is going on… and I love it). [link]
Startup pages – Open, do, close (free)
Whatever browser you use, make sure you have your startup pages configured so that when you sit down and double-click open your internet browser all the websites listed above (and more) open automatically. Go from one to the other – left to right, do the stuff on that tab, close them one by one, close the browser, then go play in the sunshine.
Health, happiness and purpose
Deciding to live my life with a single purpose is the most important thing I’ve ever done. It took me a long time to realise that no one single mentor, teacher, guru, or swami is going to come out of the woodwork one fateful day and say to me
“I know what’s happening inside that head of yours… here’s your purpose, you are now my protege!”
If that does happen, whoever that person is undoubtedly wants something from you (nice example below for you Seinfeld fans out there).
Instead, I’ve taken little bits of purpose and information from all the people I met and from the things I read. After spending pretty much all of my twenties searching, I finally asked myself
“Who knows what I want more than me?”
Finally I chose to move forward with the single-minded goal of living a long life… being happy. That’s it. I look at everything I do and ask myself, will this make me live longer or shorter, and will it make me happy in the near or distant future? It’s tough
at times all the time, but through all my experimentation, it’s obvious that health comes first and happiness follows.
Your greatest possession is your body, and all the money in the world isn’t going to stop you dying painfully in a hospital bed if you’ve treated your body with neglect for years and years. Harsh I know, but I’ve seen old age at it’s worst (a terrible thing) and I’ve seen it at it’s best (yes please!).
Codyapp – Fitness is better with friends (paid)
I was never a fitness nut, but after working for so many years in-front of a screen I developed back and hip pain. Instead of just ‘dealing with it’, I looked around for a ‘cure’. I started stretching (not even working out) once every two or three weeks, then once a week, then gradually, everyday. And like above, I needed a routine and luckily found Cody which provides me with not only that, but an awesome community of like-minded people. I’ve been pain-free for over two years now, and can weirdly do some pretty crazy stuff I never thought possible. [link]
Lifesum – Healthy living, simplified (paid)
Look at this app as a purely educational exercise in health management. When I decided to ‘get healthy’ I had no idea what calories were, or how much I should be eating, and of what. It seemed insanely overwhelming. So I jumped on the quantified self train and started tracking all the stuff. This was the only app that stuck and I used it everyday for about 6 months. In that time I formed eating habits that stick with me to this day (I no longer need the app) and went from a bacon-loving, Belgium beer guzzling, E number intaker to a pescetarian, 30 day on / 30 day off moderate beer sipping yoga teacher in training. It all starts with education! [link]
Day One – A simple and elegant journal (paid)
Routine is incredibly important, and taking time everyday to reflect on the past so you can move forward and live in the present is something I found to be super freeing. I know that sounds like some super hippy shit, but it works, and Day One is the best, quickest journal app I’ve found that motivates you to actually do something with each day… even if it’s just taking a picture to include in your summary. [link]
Technology is awesome… and using tech to help you get happy and relax is literally my job, but there’s all sorts of things you can do that have no wires or batteries to seriously improve your overall life. Here’s a few that I do;
- Eat one meal a day not in-front of a screen (seriously, chew that shit)
- Spend 10 minutes a day in the sunshine (you need that vitamin D)
- Buy a skateboard or roller-skates (childish things never stop being fun)
- See your friends at least once a week (and just screw around)
- Don’t have anymore than 3-4 projects going at once (juggling is crazy hard)
- Spend more money on less good food (enough of this plastic and sugar)
- Educate someone on something you’re passionate about (you’ll learn stuff too)
- Set long-term goals to look forward to (run that half marathon in May)
If you’re all like
“wow… thanks Travis…”
…that’s cool – I’ve been there! Everyone is at a different point in their own journey, and we’ll go where we want.
So no matter where you are, I wish you a year full of health & happiness 🙂
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