Category : Life Hacks

Life Hacks

Be 1.01% Better Each Day - To Create Extraordinary Results in Your Life

Life Lessons Tim Denning

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

I am a big believer in small improvements.

Big improvements are a fantasy. They rarely happen.

  • You don’t wake up one day and magically fall in love — you work on yourself instead.
  • You don’t magically win the lottery and become a millionaire — you invest tiny amounts of money over time into real assets.
  • You don’t instantly become a good writer after publishing one blog post — you publish 100+ blog posts online and find your voice and an audience.
  • You don’t lose 100 KGs in 14 days — you change your diet, eat more plant-based food, start walking, then you level-up and go to the gym to do a workout.
  • You don’t start a money-making business overnight — you start a tiny business and work on it for a few hours after your day job. Over time, you find the problem you’re going to solve, build an audience, and eventually charge your first customer money.

Here’s the mathematics behind the formula that I found on Twitter (not sure who created the idea — message me if you know).

Image Credit: IvanOnTech via Twitter

The concept is simple. You can do nothing and be in the same place in a year’s time. Or you can be 1.01% better each day. The secret isn’t to be exact with calculating your results or working out how much effort you put in.

1.01% better each day is a mindset.

You build the habit

The mindset of 1.01% better each day is helpful, but without a habit it’s just self-help masturbation.

Your results come from what you do consistently. Habits automate the tasks that lead to results. Your habits act like a mental trigger. When a dog sees a bone it instinctively chases it.

When your mind has formed a habit it instinctively knows it’s time to do the work. A habit destroys the need for willpower. Let’s be honest for a second: who the heck feels like doing work?

If you do, you might be related to an Instagram startup hustler. If you’re a basic bitch like me, you rarely feel like working. That’s why you need habits to defeat yourself.

Habits save you from yourself.

Grow your habit by 1.01% each day

Okay, you’ve got the habit. *Does Borat voice* “High-five!”

Now you build on the habit by utilizing the 1.01% better per day mindset. That may sound unclear. Let’s make it dead simple with a question:

What tiny improvement can you make towards your goal today?

It’s all in the language. The key is to use words that won’t overwhelm you, which is why I chose the word tiny. You can do tiny. You probably can’t stomach huge right now, given everything going on in the world. I feel you sister. I love tiny. Tiny helped me make $300K as a writer. Tiny can do extraordinary things for you too.

The next best action is adequate. The mistake I made when growing my writing habit was I tried to overthink the next step. I was drunk on huge actions, rather than committed to “any action.” Any action is good.

Taking action helps you uncover the next step.

My favorite next action is a conversation. I learn so much from conversations with other people, and more often than not, they lead me to the next step. If you don’t know what action to take next, schedule a few Zoom calls. Choose people to talk with who already have achieved what you’re trying to achieve — or are close.

Your results compound

“Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.” — Elbert Einstein

The compounding effect doesn’t solely apply to investing and your money. You can compound your results with the 1.01% better per day mindset too.

The start of the journey towards a goal is painfully slow. It almost looks like you’re not making any progress at all. Then, after a few months, your goal gets easier. The bad news: it took me years, not months.

When I had a goal to write my dreams into reality through blogging, nothing happened in months. It took me years. I posted dumb blog post after dumb blog post. I was a 4 AM early rising asshole. Thankfully, I kept writing.

The results remained low for a long time. The reason my results were poor was because I hadn’t mastered the skill of writing. If I could actually write in the beginning, then my growth trajectory would have been faster. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay attention in English class. I dicked around and threw paper planes at the teacher. She’s the one laughing now.

There came a point where everything changed. The results crept up on me. My writing went from being read by nobody to getting shared with a wider audience. It wasn’t because of the content. It was because of the consistent effort I was putting into the habit of writing.

Many fellow writers now describe my results as extraordinary. I’m embarrassed when they say that because I don’t think they are. I think I’m nothing more than consistent, thanks to the 1.01% mindset.

How you measure your day, motivates you for tomorrow

When the goal of your effort is tiny, it’s straightforward to hit your target.

The 1.01% better mindset makes you feel good about your work. It feels achievable as a measurement of your output in a day, so you keep intuitively doing it. It’s hard to hate a simple concept that works.

At the end of each day, before I go to bed, I ask myself: “Was my work 1.01% better than yesterday?” The answer is yes.

As long as I learned one thing, I am 1.01% better than yesterday.

Why couldn’t you measure your day like this? You can be 1.01% better today and measure your results with a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

Ditch the big boy thinking. Throwaway transformations, the desire to get-rich-quick, fast results, growth hacking and thinking of your life as being created by a handful of events. Your life isn’t created by a handful of events.

Your life is created by the tiny actions you take each day that go unnoticed by the people around you.

Make your daily activities into a system using the power of habit. Think about your effort in terms of 1.01% better each day.

Tiny effort can take your life to extraordinary places.

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Life Hacks

Give Yourself Permission *Not* to Finish a Book to Become Smarter

Tim Denning On Reading

Photo by Kaushal Moradiya from Pexels

I used to chain myself to a book until completion.

Reading a book was a marathon. Once I started, I couldn’t put the damn book down. To spend $15 on a kindle book and not finish it was a crime against humanity. It was wastage. And financial minimalists don’t waste anything. It’s bad luck.

Then I heard Tim Ferriss explain on a episode of his podcast how there are only so many books you can read in a lifetime.

If you sit down and calculate how many years of your life are left based on the average age humans live to, then multiple those years by the rough number of books you currently read annually, you’ll be shocked.

Bottom line: the number of books you get to read in your lifetime is pretty small.

I was devastated to learn how many books I had left until the end of my life. It’s not that many in the grand scheme of things.

It’s kind of frightening when you measure your life based on the number of books you have left. But it doesn’t have to be.

Finishing a Non-Fiction Book Is Mediocrity

I used to be obsessed with finishing a book. The challenge is most books you read take hours and hours to complete. If the books sucks, why would you keep giving away your time to it? It makes zero sense.

Part of the reason is the dollars you spend. I would spend $15 and then chase the author down the street until I felt like I had recouped the cost.

If a book didn’t give me what I was looking for at the start, I’d keep reading it, hopelessly expecting to fall in love with it in a later chapter. I was hopelessly romantic about books.

By accident, I stopped finishing books.

I accepted the fact it was okay to buy a book and read a little, before never reading any more. The only book sin I wouldn’t allow myself to commit was to buy a book and never read any of it.

My rule was this: If I read a few pages then that was my purchase paid for.

The start of a non-fiction book is usually the best bit. It’s where you learn about the one big idea of the book. It’s where the author and publisher have to get your attention and hook you.

After the beginning, the rest of the book, for the most part, is filler.

When you look at books as one chapter with one big idea, and not much else, you approach reading differently.

It turns out my approach to reading is shared by a few others. Silicon Valley Investor, Naval Ravikant, spoke on a podcast recently about he doesn’t finish books anymore.

He says “I let go of the guilt of needing to finish books.”

Podcaster, Tim Ferriss, reports having a similar philosophy towards reading. “Give books a chance to fail or persist.” Economist, Tyler Cowen, thinks finishing books is strange too.

Another way to read quickly is to cut bait on the losers. I start ten or so books for every one I finish. I don’t mind disliking a book, and I never regret having picked it up and started it. I am ruthless in my discards.

The founder of billion-dollar fintech startup, Stripe, Patrick Collison says, “I maybe start half the books I get, and I probably finish a third of the books I start. And that works out to finishing 1–2 books per week.”

You limit your potential when you limit the number of books that can positively affect your life.

Finish the books you can’t put down, and let the rest of the books you encounter come and go as required.

Most books will never change your life.

Try a Four Minute Book

Nik Goke click baited us with the name of his website, Four Minute Books — except it’s for real. The concept is actually powerful.

If the 4-minute version doesn’t grab you by the curly ones, the full-length book sure as hell won’t. I started using Nik’s site long before I had ever read a word he wrote. The idea was just too tempting. I used Four Minute Books to grasp the key concepts.

This helped me look smart in front of people who thought I’d read some of the books I was quoting. What they didn’t know was, as a writer, I was quoting books I’d only ever read four minutes of.

A Bad Book Will Make You Watch Netflix Instead

The co-founder of tech investment firm Andreessen Horowitz, Marc Andreessen, provides a different perspective to finishing books.

He finds the problem of feeling obligated to finish a book is it kills your reading motivation. An unhelpful book causes you to “stall out on reading in general,” says Marc.

If you treat reading books as a linear process it’s easy to get stuck on a book you don’t really like, and then avoid reading it until you build up enough willpower to go back to it. Marc says this phenomenon makes him want to stop reading, and go and watch tv. “Before you know it, you’ve stopped reading for a month and you’re asking ‘what have I done?!’”

The same happens to me. A bad read stops my book flow. The only way for me to get back to reading again is to quit the book that broke my process, and start a new one that makes me want to keep reading.

One bad book can force me off reading books for a month.

Think of Chapters in Books like Blog Posts

Marc Andreessen’s partner at his firm, Chris Dixon, provides another game-changing idea for reading books.

Chris thinks of a book like an entire blog. The chapters of a book are individual blog posts.

“I’m not gonna read every post in the blog either, right? I’m only gonna read interesting ones.”

Once you’ve read the good blog posts of the book you can just throw the rest of the book away. It’s rare you find a book that has more than two good blog posts in it. If you do, maybe that’s the book you want to read until the end.

Steal Your Friend’s Kindle Highlights of the Book

Another cheat-code for reading is to ring up your friend Drew. We all have a Drew in our lives. The guy has read everything under the sun. He’s a polymath. He should have been on Big Bang Theory. He should be friends with Genius Turner who really is a genius (no jokes).

Why not get a copy of your friends’ highlights of the book you’re going to read?

I often find the best bits of a book are in someone else’s highlights. Start with the highlights and then decide if you want to invest your precious time and energy into reading more of the book.

A Few Books to Inspire You

All this book talk has got me frothing at the mouth. Let me save you even more time and share a few books you’ll love, and that I’ve actually finished. Remember to be ruthless if you start reading them and don’t agree with me.

  • Stealing Fire, by Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler
  • Hell Yes Or No, by Derek Sivers
  • The Third Door, by Alex Banayan
  • Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
  • Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
  • The Obstacle Is The Way, by Ryan Holiday
  • The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
  • Start With Why, by Simon Sinek
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, by Sarah Knight
  • Choose Yourself, by James Altucher

Final Thought

Reading can make you a lot smarter. You can read about other people’s experiences and borrow their strategies. You can learn ideas that might just change your life.

The trouble is you only have so much ‘book time’ in your life.

So the answer, according to many of the people mentioned in this article and my own experience, is to finish fewer books. Let go of your darlings. Read what moves you. Discard books that make you feel nothing.

Give a book a 1–2 chapters chance to get you going. Otherwise, dump their ass, break up, don’t say sorry and move onto the next book.

Romanticizing about finishing books is holding you back from becoming smarter and discovering those 1–2 books you’ve waited your entire life to find and devour.

Your life is too short to finish every book.

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Life Hacks

The Imperfect Morning Routine I’ve Used to Write 10,000+ Words per Day, Twice a Week

Tim Denning Morning Motivation

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

A gorgeous morning routine isn’t something I have.

My morning routine doesn’t make for a good story on Forbes. Tim Ferriss would chase me down the street with a Texas Chainsaw if he knew about my morning routine.

My morning routine is full of imperfections, screw-ups, and breaks most productivity gurus’ rules. Who needs productivity gurus anyway? Seneca wannabes? Nope.

This morning routine helps me write 10,000+ words twice a week, on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can use elements of my routine for your own. Or you can grab the whole thing.

Whether you want to be a writer, entrepreneur, 9-5 worker (like me), or the next man/woman to beat a Guinness World Record, I’m sure there’s some good stuff in my morning routine for you.

If nothing else, this morning routine will help you wake up from your own and allow you to try a new routine out.

I Use a Loud Alarm Clock That Will Probably Give Me a Heart Attack

You’re not supposed to use loud wake up sounds, says science. It puts you into fight or flight mode.

You’re supposed to wake up peacefully like Madonna. You’re supposed to sleep on a golden pillow full of duck feathers. You’re supposed to wake up gracefully and have the morning sun shine through your curtains and make you look young again. This moment is supposed to be even better with a selfie of you holding a mug with a motivational quote on it.

My alarm clock is more hardcore than guns and roses.

It’s one of the standard bell sounds you get on a new iPhone (a phone that would have Steve Jobs rolling in his grave if he saw all the new complexity).

Without this abrasive alarm sound I’d never wake up. I used to hate my life. I drank many of the good years away. This meant morning routines were not possible, because my hangover from the night before replaced them.

The loud alarm helped me win again.

What really helped me was placing my phone on the other side of the bedroom in aeroplane mode.

Since trying this strategy, I’ve never looked back. It’s worked for six years straight now, without once screwing me over and making me sleep in. I estimate I’ve gained about two hours per day of time back, multiplied by 365, multiplied by 6 years, because I don’t sleep in anymore.

(Total time saved: 2 Hours per day x 365 x 6 years = 262,800 minutes… or 4380 hours)

Do this: be hardcore with an abrasive alarm and place it on the other side of your bedroom.

I Break Every Rule and Check My Email First

Yep, I break every rule. I find looking at my emails while still half asleep makes me more ruthless with deleting the noise in my inbox.

It sounds like this in case you’re wondering: “What are you looking at?” *Spoken in a drunk person’s voice*

Productivity experts say email is the devil. I say that from time to time too. But I love email in the morning. My favorite emails come from Todd Brison.

Todd treats the email subject line like the headline of a blog post he has written for James Altucher to evaluate and turn into a New York Times Best Selling Book. (Wait, James and New York have a thing. Forget I said anything.)

Why not check email first thing? Emails help me think about my to-do list. Emails contain good news. Emails contain opportunities to earn a living. If you ignore your email, you probably ignore your life too.

Email is only terrible if you use it like an amateur. Use email like a pro and it’s not so bad.

Email doesn’t ruin your morning routine; only you can do that.

I Drink Water Without the Lemon

The glorious productivity gods preach water with lemon first thing in the morning. I tried it.

My dentist yelled at me and left me with a nasty bill. He said “all the lemon water is messing up your teeth and decaying your gum lines.” I could have got fancy and bought a straw. But a morning routine hack layered with another morning routine hack is just too much. This isn’t the morning routine olympics where you’re trying to make your life difficult to win a gold medal of broken dreams.

Maybe you don’t need all the lemon water alkalizing hacks.

The First Three Hours Don’t Make or Break Me

My best hours are 8 AM to 11 AM. Everybody is different. As a music producer earlier in my career, my best hours were after 10 PM.

It takes your body time to wake up in the morning. You may not be most effective right after you wake up. That’s okay. Don’t let stoic wisdom force you to live your life 100% their way.

I Do My Work in the Morning on My Computer

Doing anything on the small screen of a phone is a pain in the butt.

One of my biggest morning routine hacks is not using my phone to do pretty much anything. I use my phone to send text messages (old school) and answer phone calls that are sent to me from mobile phone towers.

The phone is the least effective device in my productivity arsenal. I need a full-size keyboard with real keys to feel safe and sound.

I’d write one-hundred words a day, not 10,000+, if I was forced to write on the tiny ass screen of my con job productivity myth of a phone-piece-of-shit.

I Meditate On and Off

Meditation does make you calm.

The thing is, sometimes I want to be pissed off. Sometimes I don’t want to sit quietly with an app and create a perfect morning routine. There are periods of my life when I’ve meditated consistently in the morning and periods when I haven’t. Habits can help you change your life. Habits can also rob you of a lot of joy if you don’t know why you do them, or you don’t love them.

I don’t always love mediation. Sometimes sitting quietly in a room is the last thing I want to do because I have words inside of me that I’m dying to release out of my mind as soon as possible.

Meditate if you want. Or don’t.

Not meditating doesn’t make you a bad person. You can live your life without meditation if you want. You do you sunshine.

I Don’t Do Cold Showers

It’s freezing cold in Melbourne (where I live) already. Why the heck would I want to ruin a good shower with freezing cold water?

I have tried this hack multiple times in my life and failed. I like warm showers. Why?

Warm showers put me in a flow state.

Warm showers are where I do my best thinking. Warm showers are where I come up with the writing ideas I need to write 10,000+ words in a day. Without warm showers, I’d be screwed. Cold showers might be good for your body. But so is doing the best work of your life, thanks to clear shower thinking.

Your best work can happen in the shower. You can write ideas on the wall of your shower with liquid chalk so you don’t forget them.

Bulletproof Coffee Destroys My Morning

Bulletproof coffee is too hardcore.

I drink normal instant coffee two days a week, on writing days only. Coffee helps me get into a flow state. But drinking coffee every day turns me into an anxious skinny dude who is in too much of a hurry.

Coffee loses its magic if you rely on it every day to get you going, and keep you going.

There’s some conventional morning routine stuff I do. Here goes.

I DO Wake up at 6 AM

I used to wake up at 4 AM — not anymore.

I realized 4 AM is for single people who don’t have partners. Most partners won’t want to wake up at 4 AM with you because they probably like to sleep and live a semi-normal, non-productivity obsessed life.

Still, waking up early has enormous benefits. 6 AM works for me. It’s early enough to get stuff done. But late enough that my girlfriend doesn’t want to leave me for a sleep-in man.

I DO Go to Bed and Wake up at the Same Time Every Day

Routine has been good for me. My body naturally knows, after so many years of going to bed and waking up at the same time, what time it is.

I go to bed at 10 PM and wake up at 6 AM like it’s a religion. If I have to decide when to go to bed, then I will be guided by my willpower and off a cliff.

Decide when you want to sleep and when you want to wake up so you can remove a major decision from your day. Your life can be better with less decisions to make.

I DO Listen to Music on Repeat in the Morning

Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress (a website creation platform that runs more than half the blogs on the internet), says he listens to one song on repeat to get into flow. Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday also use this tactic.

I borrowed this hack from Matt, too, for my mornings. I play movie soundtrack playlists in the morning. Music played on repeat in the morning puts you in a trance. A trance-like state can help you win your morning and get your most important tasks done.

Music on repeat silences your mind, it blocks distractions, and helps you focus. Focus is how you achieve a ridiculous goal like writing 10,000+ words in a day.

One Thing I Might Add to My Morning Routine

I haven’t got a fully optimized morning routine yet. It’s always a work in progress. I’ve always hated journaling in Morning Pages like a lot of self-help folks love doing — and brag about doing.

Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey published a book called “Greenlights.” The book is the result of over 30 years of journaling every day in the morning. When things go wrong in his life, or right, he looks back at his journal to see what might explain it.

Matt uses his journal like a self-help book he wrote himself of his best tips, because he knows he’ll forget the small things that helped him achieve his big goals.

I hate journaling, but after listening to McConaughey, I’m considering adding the habit to my morning routine.

Your morning routine doesn’t need to mimic a navy seals. You can go non-hardcore in the morning and still live a fulfilling life. Many morning routines I’ve read are just not practical for a writer like me. Perhaps you feel the same way.

The one hack I’ve used consistently in my imperfect morning routine is to have a reason to wake up.

Every morning, I have given myself a reason to wake up and make the most of the day. It took me 30+ years to realize the reason I wake up is to serve people, by writing about experiences and topics that have made a difference in my life. This reason to wake up has made writing so much easier.

If you want to win the morning, have an empowering reason to wake up.

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Life Hacks

The Art of Not Responding to Email

Tim Denning productivity advice.

Photo by Douglas Bagg on Unsplash

There is a new trend: not responding to emails.

You used to ignore email only from strangers. Now you ignore emails from your mother. So what’s up with this new trend?

I am finding more and more that people who would happily reply to my email three years ago and who are some of my closest friends have stopped responding to my emails. You know the head fake? They still respond to some of my emails, just not all, anymore.

This is why email has changed and it will help you communicate like a pro.

Email is a full-time job in this modern era.

I get over a hundred emails a day just for work. A guy that runs the learning department at my work the other day said “your annual KPIs are in the platform and we’ve emailed you three times to warn you.”

I didn’t open the emails he was talking about. I went back and found the emails after thirty minutes of searching and they were an incoherent mess.

I replied back: “The answers aren’t in the email. Maybe the emails could be written with the ‘cheatsheet’ approach. Meaning, the email is designed to deliver the important message that your KPIs could be destroyed for the year if you miss this one critical point.”

I then went on to explain how many emails a day I get. I told him “it’s either the customer, or email. I choose the customer.”

My default response is to delete almost every work email. If it’s a critical email then the universe will normally let me know somehow.

Email can be your full-time job if you choose to open every message and respond to everyone.

Email costs you time, which costs you money.

“Time is money” is the most cliche advice in human history. We all know it deep down, yet email blinds us from the truth.

Every email I respond to is another story I’m not writing that can help a lot more than one person. The firehose of personal email has become so great that it may make sense in a year or two not to have an email address.

Imagine that: a world with no email address.

I’m contemplating living in a world without email. I may even go old school and get all my bills delivered by mail again so I can escape email for a while and see if my personal world collapses.

Time isn’t something to be taken for granted. On your final day alive, will you sit on your deathbed and regret all the emails you didn’t respond to? I doubt it. Maybe life without email could help you save time which you can use to make more money.

Maybe life without email could make you a millionaire.

Overwhelm makes email a tedious task.

Try dealing with a global health crisis, an upside down world of finance, and a business environment so soft you could cut through it like warm butter.

Understanding email philosophy is key to my 9–5 job. It’s my job as a salesperson to reach people who are impossible to contact. This means I need to think like an email warrior who’s ready to go into battle and slice sh*t up with my words.

Sending emails in the last twelve months has been an eye-opener. When I eventually reach people by phone who ignore my emails I conduct a mini-interview.

“So Bob, what’s email like for you this year?”

The answer typically goes like this:

“I’m overworked. I’m tired. I’m working until very late. I have a lot more meetings now that work from home is my new work life. If I open the news my level of hope evaporates after reading 2.2 stories.”

When you’re overwhelmed the last thing you want to do is reply to email.

Keeping up with the email Kardashians is difficult when you’re not sure what the world will look like in a few months.

You don’t know what to say in the email.

Many emails are so complex you need a detective to decipher what the hell is being said. I read emails, a lot, that take me several reads.

By the end of reading the email I feel stupid. I’m unsure what to say. When this happens all I can do is think to myself “I’ll respond later” which means never. My conversations with people about email revealed a similar trend.

Not knowing what to say in an email is a common reason not to reply. If you’re writing emails then make it easy to understand the one point of your email. (And for the love of the almighty don’t try and get across multiple points. Start with your strongest point and see if you get a reply, first.)

If you’re an email opener like me, then don’t make it your problem when the email doesn’t make sense.

If you don’t know how to reply to an email, say nothing at all. You’re not an email translator.

The email has an ask of your time.

Emails are how people ask for your time.

Email scares you because the asks of your time start to add up. “Be on my podcast for 30 minutes” after 10 emails just like it, starts to add up to your entire Sunday afternoon being stolen away from you. You deserve to play on the swings on Sunday. Or walk your cute puppy.

Emails that ask for time are the most common form to be ignored. You can send an email that doesn’t ask for a person’s time and see if you get a response. If you do, perhaps then you could ask for a few minutes.

Treat email like life. It’s a relationship. Build a relationship before expecting someone to give you their time.

There are too many channels.

Email is just one channel for communication. Let’s look at the number of communication channels in my life for perspective.

  • 2 x Slack groups for writing.
  • WhatsApp for work. WhatsApp for personal.
  • Signal for extended family.
  • WeChat for in-laws.
  • Facebook Messenger for high school friends.
  • LinkedIn for business.
  • Telegram for LinkedIn friends.
  • Work phone calls. Personal phone calls. (Two different phones.)
  • 3 x personal emails — public, private, and a gmail to make Google work.
  • 1 x work email address.
  • Work SMS. Personal SMS.

Are you exhausted yet? There is a channel for every type of person I interact with. All channels have notifications that want to dominate my life with their little red bubbles of urgency goodness.

So when you send an email, think about how many other channels that same person has to maintain. Even minimalists have at least one email address and a form of direct message on social media.

First emails rarely get followed up.

Here’s some stats for you:

Out of all the emails I’ve received in the last 12 months, with asks attached to them, only three people bothered to send a second email to follow up.

The response to your email is found in your second, third, and fourth follow-ups. This took me ten years in sales to learn.

No reply is easier than typing.

Think about how easy life is with email when you don’t reply.

The reason not replying to email is a huge trend is because to type a response takes time and energy. It’s easier to open an email, smile, and then close it again without ever typing a word.

The key is to write an email so good that it commands a reply.

6 Quick Tips for Writing Email like a Pro

  • Get to the freaking point.
  • Don’t go beyond three paragraphs. Aim to have each paragraph contain no more than three sentences.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the person you want to open your email.
  • Be humble.
  • Be confident in what you’re saying.
  • Don’t apologize or say sorry for taking up someone’s time. It sounds weak.

Many people you interact with are subtly not replying to emails as an art form and not even realizing it. Not replying to emails didn’t become trendy because Justin Bieber made it fashionable in a pop song.

Not replying to email has become a survival mechanism.

If people are not replying to your emails there are plenty of reasons why. Understand why your email didn’t get a response and then get creative. The most creative way to get a response to an email is to get somebody who knows the person you’re trying to reach to do an introduction. Another tactic I use is to put in the subject line “Keanu Reeves suggested I reach out.”

Obviously, you can replace Keanu’s name with a mutual connection so it has relevance. (Lying about your fake friendship with Keanu won’t help you communicate like a pro.)

You get a response to your emails when you understand the context of the person you’re emailing. It’s not about you and your email.

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Life Hacks

Treat Each Area of Your Life like an MVP to Achieve Your Goals Faster

Tim Denning advice for how to live a better life

Photo by Girl With Red Hat on Unsplash

MVPs work for business. Why couldn’t they work for your life?

The brilliance of MVPs is the philosophy behind them: build something, release a tiny piece of it, and see what happens. Why build the whole idea when you have no clue if it even matters?

I had an idea for an online course a few years ago. I released the course and not many people bought it. Then a year after I partnered with a friend and released another online course. That one flopped too and I gave everybody’s money back. One dude cracked it at me, but it was all over with one email.

I then decided to release another course this year. This time I did one thing differently: I crowdsourced a person to work with. They were nicknamed in different circles “the A/B King.” Their testing approach to life was too tempting to avoid.

“ So dude, you want to test an idea for an online course? This isn’t my first time.”

A week later we asked people what their problems were (not what course they would buy). Then we put up a sales page with a course outline that took 30 minutes to write and addressed the exact problems from the survey. We literally copy and pasted bits and pieces from the questions we asked and the responses we collected.

The MVP of the course got released and it did better than expected. We quickly got together and put the course together. Nobody has an issue with waiting 2 weeks to get the product. We didn’t release all the lessons either.

We drip-fed the lessons to the students so we could get more feedback in realtime. The highlight? People loved the dog sitting next to my co-teacher. People also loved it when I went blank while filming the course.

I was then at home doing my 9–5 work. Something hit me: everything I do is an MVP. What if you treat every area of your life like an MVP?

Your life is a series of experiments.

When you have an idea you don’t know right away whether it has any value. An MVP is an experiment.

The point of the philosophy is you test ideas, release them, and get feedback before you’re finished. If you build up one area of your life and then take the time to look back, you might be shocked. The outcome you think you’ll get is rarely the one that’s delivered. You might think this is bad. It’s not.

Getting the outcome you didn’t ask for can lead to beautiful results.

I never intended to be a writer until a random person asked me to write, and I transcribed podcast episodes that were too crap to publish on iTunes. Writing was an experiment.

The first blog post was an MVP. After several blog posts on different topics, I settled for personal development, and later, entrepreneurship and personal finance. Experiments are best when they’re tiny.

The goal isn’t to get what you think you want. It’s to test an idea and see where it leads.

Getting started unlocks momentum.

Treating different areas of your life like an MVP helps you build momentum. You get focused on starting, releasing, and re-developing rather than getting stuck in thought.

Thoughts only have power when they turn into something.

A thought kept in your head that has value is selfish. Release it and see what happens. Most of your thoughts will go nowhere. A few thoughts will go somewhere and change how you view your life.

MVP = action-first thinking.

Don’t go all-in. Go in just far enough.

An MVP approach to your life is about going far enough to measure a result, as opposed to going all-in and struggling to get out again.

If you want to change your line of work you can experiment with doing it for free as an MVP. If you want to fall in love then you can treat a new relationship as an MVP. If you want to travel the world, but have never left your hometown, then you can travel a short distance first to see if you like it.

When I was terribly afraid of flying I treated the fear like an MVP. I flew one hour to Sydney first to see what would happen. Then I flew to the Gold Coast to see if anything changed. Then I left the country and flew to New Zealand. Then I went all the way to China, and even rural China.

Before I knew it my hypothesis about my fear of flying was validated: it was incorrect. If I’d flown straight from Melbourne to China then everything would have collapsed. I needed the MVPs in-between to validate my goal.

Far enough is good enough until you have tested your idea as an MVP and received feedback.

Your life as an MVP vs MLP.

Silicon valley had to ruin MVP. They created MLP: Minimum Loveable Product. MVP means you tolerate the result. MLP means you seek passion immediately from the first version.

I find MVP easier to utilize. If I demand passion from an outcome right away, I usually set expectations that are way too high and end up disappointed. Tolerating an idea is a more helpful way to start.

If you can live with an idea, you can learn to love it over time as you keep working towards your goal.

If you demand idea sex on the first date you’ll probably walk away completely shot to pieces.

It pays not to be romantic when you experiment with your life. Test out ideas and see where they lead. Like my online course, your first attempt will probably be terrible. It’s the subsequent attempts that lead you towards your goal. The beauty of an MVP is the surprise results you get.

Your life is more spontaneous and interesting when you treat each area of your life as a Minimum Viable Product you’re seeking to release, gain feedback, and re-release, over and over.

Thinking about your life like a software engineer building an app can be a useful way to detach from seeking perfection.

Each area of your life is never complete, and that’s spectacular.

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Life Hacks

This Is What Causes Energy Leaks in Your Life

High energy mindset

Photo by Kyle Cleveland on Unsplash

I was like a leaky tea strainer. Energy would come in and leak out through tiny holes in my life. Then I was introduced to the idea of energy.

Everything in your life is either giving you energy or taking it away.

When you look at your life through this simplistic lens your energy levels start to make sense. Influencers full of broken dreams want to sell you a new exercise routine or a new diet to fix your energy levels.

What if your energy levels were mostly affected by something other than exercise and diet?

When you stop the energy leaks, your life changes.

  • More energy allows you to create, rather than consume.
  • More energy allows you to put in more effort.
  • More energy allows you to discover hidden passions.
  • More energy allows you to view the world differently.
  • More energy helps improve your relationships with people.

If there is one thing you want more of in your life it’s the scarce resource of energy. That’s right: energy isn’t infinite.

Every day you get a finite amount of energy to spend. How you choose to spend the currency that is energy is up to you.

If you spend your energy poorly and get into energy debt, then it can suck the life out of you. You can appear alive and act as though you’re lifeless.

These are the areas I’ve found that leak energy from my life. They will help you find your own energy leaks.

Anger Is the Biggest Energy Leak

I used to get angry at people for no reason. You could pass me on the freeway and I’d get angry at you for driving faster than me. You could be ahead of me at the supermarket and I’d blame you for slowing my day down. You could call my workplace up on the phone and have a disability, and I’d be angry at you for not having full eyesight or hearing.

Having low energy made me act like a terrible human being.

It took me years to work out I was angry at everything. Worst of all, I was angry at myself. I later realized I was angry at myself because I had a severe mental illness. It was controlling my life and I couldn’t get it under control. So I chose anger rather than fixing the root cause of the problem.

Anger is showing up a lot in the world right now. People are angry at politicians. People are angry at the economy. People are angry at each other. People are angry at huge corporations. People are angry about the stock market and the lies it conceals.

All that anger does nothing. It builds up inside of us and gets spewed out on Twitter for people to retweet.

Anger doesn’t solve problems.

You use up so much energy by being angry. Spend a day being full of outrage. Notice how tired you are at the end of the day. This tiredness is being blamed on diet and exercise. It’s really because of all the anger you’ve been addicted to feasting on.

  • Solution 1: Convert anger to passion or hard work that is helpful.
  • Solution 2: Sleep on your anger — anger dissipates with sleep.
  • Solution 3: Choose non-reactivity rather than anger.

Unnecessary Complexity

Yesterday I tried to figure out how to build a website instead of engage a web developer. I got stuck in the complexity of javascript and editing WordPress templates. I chose complexity when there was a simple solution.

Complexity is tempting. Complexity is how you can avoid doing the real work and get distracted by a task, process or activity that has nothing to do with your goals. It takes a lot of energy to understand something complex. Ask yourself “do I need this complex thing in my life?”

Remove the layers of complexity in your life.

Use complexity when you absolutely must, not as your default option.

A Lack of Empathy

How you treat people affects your energy levels.

Thinking you’re right and everybody else is wrong — or worse, stupid — drains your energy. When you empathize, you accept that people are going to be wrong and so will you. You see yourself in other people — therefore, stopping yourself from shaming them in your head when they screw up (and they will, guaranteed).

It takes a lot of energy to assume you’re the almighty powerful one and everybody else is plain stupid or can’t hear the brilliance in your thoughts.

Empathy is feeling what other people feel so you will prevent yourself wasting your energy on shaming them and focus on getting to a solution through the understanding and acceptance of their imperfection.

Constant Noisy Environments

Social media is the nosiest environment of all. Spend a day in a Facebook Group full of social media gurus and you’ll see how noisy it can be.

These groups are full of people who complain and blame all day long that their social media dreams aren’t coming true. And the ones that have hit their 1M follower dream keep coming back to the group wondering why their life still feels empty.

It’s easy to signup for an online echo chamber of negativity.

If you live in this echo chamber for long enough then you start to hear the same thoughts and ideas over and over and think they must be right, and everybody else is wrong.

Solution 1: Time alone

Time alone is how you escape the noise. Dare to sit alone in your bedroom and listen to yourself breathe in and out. Damn it’s subtle, yet life-changing.

Solution 2: Embrace the quietness

There are many quiet places. Spend a day in quietness. Go to a rainforest or take a day trip to see a waterfall.

Let nature be the noise, and you be the witness.

An Obsession for Success

Being addicted to the desire to be a high-achiever can suck your energy away too. Tim Ferriss spent years as a high achiever. He created a viral podcast and wrote best-selling book, after best-selling book.

He realized that this obsession for success was a coping mechanism to avoid the pain of the sexual abuse he endured through his childhood.

It’s nice to aim high. It’s fun to have huge goals. It’s great to find success. The trouble is if all you ever do is chase success you’ll deplete your energy reserves. Life is about so much more than the attainment of success.

Chasing success can cover up the problems in your life and blind you from seeing the tiny things that give meaning, fulfillment and enjoyment to your existence.

Solution: Have periods where you don’t chase success. Put your goals on hold, regularly (you can always come back to them).

Question why you want success so badly in the first place. Is success really the be-all and end-all? Or is it your family, your legacy, your ability to help others, or enjoying time to relax?

*Not* Working on Yourself Blinds You

You leak energy when you refuse to work on yourself. Little things that upset you or destroy your focus will find their way into your life.

Learning about yourself helps you see again. Working on yourself is how you find out what is missing. The energy leaks are everywhere in your life and you create them. Working on yourself helps you spot the energy leaks.

  • Solution 1: Have a conversation with yourself through writing.
  • Solution 2: Build relationships with people who don’t tell you what you want to hear all the time.
  • Solution 3: Read books on psychology to understand how you think. What you think about is where you spend energy so it’s worth understanding.

Point All the Energy You Find at a More Useful Target

When you find the energy leaks in your life you stop them from depleting your energy reserves. The best part about the whole process is you now have more energy to spend each day.

People ask me where I get the energy to write tens of thousands of words online every week. The answer is this:

I get the energy to write from all the places that used to leak energy.

I now take the energy I’ve rescued from all the energy leaks and put it into words. Those words then help people find ways to take action.

Your regained energy can compound into higher levels of energy for others. This energy then flows back into your life in the form of meaning and fulfillment.

By finding energy losses, converting them into energy for other people, and getting back meaning in your life as an outcome, you discover the energy needed to operate at higher levels of consciousness.

Higher states of consciousness produced through plugging your own energy leaks can help you think on a totally different level.

Fight your energy leaks and win back your untapped potential.

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