It was August 2017 as I wrote these words in my notebook. I was sitting in my quiet room in an old guesthouse in the small town of Zao Onsen, overlooking the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture.
I was on holiday, a slow trip on local trains through rural Japan. I thought it might be nice to get a break from fast-paced Tokyo for a few days, explore Japan a bit more, and get a fresh perspective. It wasn’t an attempt to escape, I didn’t feel like there was anything I wanted or needed to escape from. I thought everything was…
“I’m a fast learner.”
— Every candidate I ever interviewed for a job
It’s a statement that is so ubiquitous in resumes and job interviews that it has almost entirely lost any meaning.
Everyone seems to be a self-proclaimed “fast learner.”
But we know something is fishy when most people claim to be above average at something, just like in the often-cited example of 73% of US drivers thinking they are better than average drivers.
Part of the reason so many people are claiming to be fast learners might be a manifestation of the Dunning-Kruger effect, a genuine tendency to…
Imagine an elite athlete showing up to a key competition, completely exhausted from back-to-back performances in the previous days and pulling an all-nighter to work out in the gym the previous night in order to “prepare.”
This athlete would certainly get crushed by competitors, and reprimanded by the team and the coaches.
Yet for professionals in most other fields — from doctors, lawyers, and consultants to leaders, entrepreneurs, and creatives — this seems to be almost the norm, and in far too many cases even something to brag about.
I recently saw a room on the social media app Clubhouse…
Most of us are becoming increasingly aware of how critical rest and time off are for our mental health, our overall wellbeing, and even our professional performance.
Many of us have come face-to-face with the negative consequences of not getting enough detachment, and we’re aware of the danger. Yet actually disconnecting and taking time off seems to be more and more difficult.
We just can’t shake the guilt that we associate with not constantly working. It’s been too deeply ingrained in our culture and our psyche.
My business partner John Fitch and I recently collaborated with Deloitte’s chief well-being officer…
I tried a ten-week program of resonance breathing to see if it would make a measurable impact on my anxiety. With the combination of hard data and more subjective analysis of the results, I would go as far as to say that the sense of anxiety I experienced last year is now completely gone again, and that the resonance breathing practice played a role in this.
2020 was a stressful and anxious year for many of us, and I’m certainly no exception to this.
Besides the pandemic, I also published a book, which at times made me feel like a…
I’ve been trying to quantify, understand, and improve my sleep for many years now, and in the following, I want to share with you my longest and most in-depth self-study yet.
So let’s take a look at what effects caffeine, alcohol, and exercise have had on my sleep.
I started this analysis in mid-2018 when I wrote about the results of tracking and modeling my blood caffeine concentration for a month.
Towards the end of 2018, I shared the results of a more detailed experiment, covering around three months of sleep and related data and attempting to find correlations.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Frequent reflection and a strong self-awareness are common amongst many of the world’s top performers. And few methods of introspection are simpler or more powerful than taking pen and paper and writing down your thoughts and feelings.
From morning pages to reflection prompts, the techniques for journaling are numerous and can help us gain much needed calm, clarity, and growth.
Rather than add another theoretical exercise to your arsenal of journaling techniques, I want to give you a concrete example of how a single journaling session brought me clarity in a…
“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.” — Jhumpa Lahiri
With actual travel being a bit of an issue in 2020, books have become even more of a medium to journey into distant lands and enter the minds of brilliant thinkers past and present.
Personally, books have always been a central part of my life. But this year, this relationship got taken to another level.
“That is the principal point: with what kind of activity is man to occupy his leisure?”
Athens, Greece, around 330 BC. Aristotle is hard at work at the Lyceum, the location of the Peripatetic school of philosophy he founded. He is deep in thought and discussion about logic, metaphysics, mathematics, biology, botany, ethics, and politics.
But what we might today classify as knowledge work, was largely leisure to Aristotle.
And not just any form of leisure. It was noble leisure.
A kind of leisure that — very different from zoning out in front of Netflix or endlessly swiping…
Close your eyes for a moment and think of the most productive days you had in the recent past.
What did they look like? Where were you? What did you do? And why did it make you feel productive?
Personally, I had three of my most productive days in a long time last month, and my guess is that they didn’t look the way you just imagined yours.
Tuesday of that particular week was a public holiday here in Japan, and I took Monday and Wednesday off to give myself a nice three-day break in addition to the weekend.