“Mind” Tricks for the Obsessive, Manic and Curious (Like Me)

One of my favorite authors and entrepreneurs, Tim Ferriss, wrote a popular post called “ ‘Productivity’ Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)” last year. It’s one of my favorites, and I wrote this after being inspired by his article.


A few weeks ago, I was scrolling down through my Facebook feed.

Skimming through the posts, quotes and photos, I noticed how negative my thoughts were becoming. The longer I skimmed, the more negative they were: rolling my eyes at comments, feeling jealous/envious of others or comparing my life, business, body or adventures to theirs in some way.

I was being bitchy and critical.

Like a kid, I was nit-picking on others in order to feel better about myself.

Why am I telling you this?

The Vicious Traps of “Looking Good”

We all like to “look good” to the world. We want to portray our best sides: we want others to see us as being successful, beautiful, happy, etc.

The easier it gets to share information and post public updates, the easier it becomes to put others on a pedestal and put ourselves down, or vice versa. It’s all based on an imagined perspective created from orchestrated personas in an intangible reality.

Personally, I find it all too easy to get sucked down a self-defeating rabbit hole if I’m not watching out for it. It’s especially easy if I’m tired or stressed. When I don’t create systems for taking care of my state of mind and well-being, I get on a fast spiral downward. Which leads to all sorts of things like depression, binging and other forms of neurosis.

I’ve learned that, because I have an animal brain and an ego that’s ready to react and default to old habits, I need to put systems in place to manage myself. A system is a strategic method or an organized set of principles. By being “systematic” about it, I lean into logic to get me through the tethers of emotional spinning.

One of my most powerful systems is the one I use to start my day. When I’m in a healthy state, I stick to this religiously. If this routine starts to get interrupted and I drop it, I know I’m starting to spiral into Unproductive Land.

My morning system is set up to give me balance mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

With this foundation, my esteem is higher, I’m more productive, I’m less attached to things I can’t control and I am a better person. I like myself more, I like others more.

Here’s my coping method and 7-step morning system for managing myself to get where I want to go:

1. Wake up early enough that you have time to take care of your body/mind/spirit BEFORE you have to answer to email, phone calls, kids, etc. Give yourself an hour or two to do whatever you need to feel “good” before you make yourself available to the world.

2. Make yourself a cup of tea/coffee/water and get a piece of paper and pen (not a keyboard or gadget).

3. Write down the top 3-5 things that are on your mind, good or bad…but especially those things making you anxious or uneasy.

4. For each thing listed, ask yourself:
If this does NOT get handled today, would I still be satisfied with my day?

5. For each one you answer “yes” to, cross it out.

6. Next, for each thing left, ask yourself:
If this DOES get handled today, would it make all the other things on the list easier to manage or take care of?

7. If you answer “yes” to any one item, make time in your day to get that thing handled. Do whatever it takes to block out time to focus on that ONE thing.  If you answer “yes” to more than one, prioritize the one that will make the MOST impact and focus on that. The key is to pick ONE. If you answer “no” to all of them, move on to the next step.

8. If you answer “no” to all of them, ask yourself:
Do I have the power to control the outcome of any one of these?

If no, cross it out.
If yes, pick the one that is the MOST bothersome. Do whatever it takes to block out time in your day to focus on that ONE thing.

9. Move your body. It can be a 15-minute stroll, a 10-minute stretch session, a 5-minute dance break, an hour long hardcore workout. Connect to your body. It’s the vehicle that allows you to experience the sensations of the world.

10. Drink water.

11. Finally, take time to become present. Meditate, do breathing exercises, pray, whatever makes sense to you to center yourself.  Whether you take 60 seconds or 30 minutes, be intentional about it.

This is the best way I’ve found to create the success, happiness and richness I want in my life. It’s also the only way I can keep myself reeled in despite my impulses to procrastinate, worry or otherwise  fill my days with bullshit. It’s how I make goals, stay focused, travel the world and feel good inside and out.

It’s kept me going when I’ve felt like shit, been extremely overwhelmed or felt challenged.

As Tim Ferriss said, “Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think. And you’re not alone.”

If you occasionally struggle like me, these articles and resources might be helpful:

The Prescription for Self-Doubt (Video)
Depression: How You Label Determines How You Feel
How to be the LUCKIEST GUY ON THE PLANET in 4 Easy Steps

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