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10 Tips on "Doing Less, Living More" from Bridgehampton Productivity Expert


In 2006, Ari Meisel of Bridgehampton was diagnosed with Crohn's diseases and found himself taking dozens of pills and medications just to get through the day.

He decided to tackle his health holistically—by changing his lifestyle and alleviating external stressors caused by work, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. He took up yoga and eventually became strong enough to do CrossFit training and run a 2011 Ironman in France.

Meisel no longer takes any medications for his Crohn’s, is symptom free and has been declared free of all traces of the “incurable” disease. Along the way Meisel became the father of three children, became an expert in productivity and time management and wrote a book.

The book, “Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier," is available on Amazon. “ Patch spoke with Meisel on Friday after he delivered a talk on his methodology for conquering stress and living a healthy and exceptionally productive life at The Parrish Art Museum.

He put together a list of ten things he thinks are most useful for busy people looking to streamline their workflow and become less stressed and more productive. Here’s his list of ten things. An 11th might be Move to Bridgehampton: “We are outdoors people as are my kids. Being here allows us to space to breathe, think, and live. We absolutely love it.” 

The Top 10 Big Ideas

1. Optimize, Automate, and Outsource

No matter what the problem is there is a three-step process I apply and that is to optimize, automate, then outsource. It’s very important to approach challenges in that order because if you try to jump to outsourcing, you won’t make the task more efficient and eventually the machine will stop running. When it comes to optimizing, you have to identify what the problem really is, break it down to it’s most bite size and manageable chunks, and identify obvious inefficiencies. Automation is about setting it and forgetting it; creating systems that you setup once and they just run without your intervention. Finally, if there is anything left over at that point, and often times there isn’t, that’s when we look at outsourcing to specialists or generalists.

2. The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule is century old model for resource allocation. I use it as a reminder to constantly be tracking everything I do and nowadays it’s so easy to do that. Whether it’s tracking the number of steps we’ve taken with a Basis tracker or the number of emails we sent using RescueTime, the calories consumed with Thryve, and your level of sleep quality with Sleep Cycle, we can track all of these things. Once we measure them we can begin the process of optimizing. But more importantly, we start to reclaim some level of self awareness that has been lost due to the information overload most of us experience everyday. Awareness clears the decks for progress. It also helps us determine the difference between the essential and the optional in all domains of life so you can filter out the noise and focus on what is really important.

3. What Did You Get Done Today?

Awareness of our days and our actions is so powerful and actually very easy to achieve. All of the self-tracking will help accomplish that but there is one very simple action you can do at the end of the day that will supercharge your efforts. iDoneThis.com is a free web service that sends you an email each evening and asks the question “What did you get done today?” All you do is respond to the email with what you accomplished that day. That 30-second braindump will provide an incredible psychological benefit and help you focus on the positive. What makes the service so special is that the email also contains your entries from days, weeks, or even months past to remind you of the great stuff you’ve gotten done before. The effect is incredible.

4. Build the Manual of You

Every one of us goes through some kind of process on a regular basis, everything from paying bills and writing proposals, to making lunch and doing the laundry. Unfortunately, most people get into an autopilot mode that makes them completely unaware of the steps required to complete those tasks and we miss huge opportunities to make those processes more efficient or get them out of our hands completely. If you stop and review on a very granular level the steps required to complete those tasks, you should immediately see areas where you can eliminate or combine steps. Then you look at how parts might be automated, and finally if you are lucky, there may be a way to outsource it completely. You can take a 27-step process that has all sorts of complications and fail points to a 9 step process so error proof that it could be accomplished by anyone, without explanation.

5. Creating the External Brain

We cannot multitask, and we definitely can’t hold on to every little idea that enters our minds throughout the day. You need to get these ideas out of your head as quickly as possible. The best tool for that is Evernote. You can take notes in pretty much any form, from text to photos to voice recordings. The key is to overuse it. You don’t need to know if an idea is good or bad or relevant or will ever be relevant, just get it out of your head and into Evernote. Then it’s safe, and searchable and will come back to you when you actually need it. You need to get your ideas into a single file line so that they can flow out of your head because for 9 “bad” ideas you get out, the 10th one might be brilliance, either because those 9 ideas added up to a good one or because they simply got out of the way of that great idea.

6. Stop Stressing About Email

A big part of the stress of email is wondering if you got back to someone you were supposed to and then if you did, wondering if they got back to you. It’s a vicious cycle that causes people to think about their email constantly. Enter FollowUp.cc, one the greatest productivity tools every created. The next time you write an email, you simple bcc any time period you want @followup.cc. So for instance you may write to someone and then bcc 3days@followup.cc, after three days that email will be back in your inbox as a reminder and it will include a snooze functionality, so you can do one of three actions. Delete it because the person got back to you and this serves as a reminder of something you accomplished and it’s no longer relevant. Deal with it now because it’s the right time to FollowUp or perform some other action, or defer it, using the snooze function, to a time that would be better for you to deal with it. The best part is that once you start using the service, you get into a mode so when you hit the send button on an email, within 5 seconds you’ve completely forgotten about it and don’t have to think about it again until FollowUp brings it to your attention.

7. Get Rid of Your To Do List

No matter what the problem is there is a three-step process I apply and that is to optimize, automate, then outsource. It’s very important to approach challenges in that order because if you try to jump to outsourcing, you won’t make the task more efficient and eventually the machine will stop running. When it comes to optimizing, you have to identify what the problem really is, break it down to it’s most bite size and manageable chunks, and identify obvious inefficiencies. Automation is about setting it and forgetting it; creating systems that you setup once and they just run without your intervention. Finally, if there is anything left over at that point, and often times there isn’t, that’s when we look at outsourcing to specialists or generalists.

To do lists are inefficient and will kill your productivity. All they do is serve to remind you of everything you are NOT getting done. Instead of worrying about prioritizing, just work on your timing. Every task has a timing associated with it, whether its a time that it needs to be started, checked on, or finished. You’re unique biorhythms determine the best times for you to do different things like creative writing or busy work. The goal is to have the things present themselves to you at the time when you can actually deal with them. Remember followup.cc?

8. Be A Fatty

Eat lots and lots of good fats in your diet like avocados, pastured egg yolks, and grass fed butter. When you turn your body into a fat burning machine you'll have more sustained energy, greater mental clarity, and feel amazing.

9. Sleep Like a Champ

Getting better sleep can be as easy as adjusting your environment. Blue lights make our body think it's time to be awake and melatonin production goes down. Avoiding iPads, iPhones, TV for an hour or more before bed may sound crazy so instead just throw on a pair of blue blocking sunglasses, you'll sleep better the first night.

10. Bio hack Your Stress

Everything comes back to stress and while the whole system of Less Doing is meant to help you mitigate that stress, sometimes you need a little technological help. Heart Rate Variability is the natural change in rhythm that our heart beats take from beat to beat. They go up in response to stress and down to relax. By bringing awareness to the way our nervous system responds to various stressors, learning breath control to maintain coherence, and training that ability, we can gain incredible control over our stress response.

 



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