Thursday, August 14

✔ How I implemented Slow Carb Diet, lost 8kg/17lbs in 2 months - tips and tricks for beginners

Wow, I'm overwhelmed how many of my friends started to ask me about my diet/fitness transformation earlier this year. I lost more than 10% of my body weight, I'm very fit and people started to notice... and they want the same! I think it's great. This article is for anyone who wants to lose weight without feeling hungry (and no counting calories!) and who is capable of spending 2 months for that. Here's how I did it:

Slow Carb Diet results

Why Slow-carb diet - why is it different?

I heard about this diet a while ago but the word "diet" discouraged me to give it a try. I didn't want to count calories or feel hungry. Then I read the book Why we get fat and realized, I could give up carbohydrates and still eat until full... and lose weight! Well, I decided to give it a try.

Sidenote: On the photo "before" I'm about 74kg, on the photo "after" I'm about 66kg. You can still see the difference (my face, neck, etc..) but I have to admit that three years ago I weighted up to 80kg! So I'm about 14kg/30lbs lighter total than my last record :-)

Anyway, I read the book and learned about the slow-carb-diet on the Internet and in the 4-hour body book by Tim Ferriss and his blog post on Gizmodo and knew where to start. I liked that this diet lets me have a feast every 6 days and eat whatever I liked (more on that later) so I wouldn't feel like I'm really missing out on life. I was on the diet from mid-January to mid-March this year and not only have I stayed lean but I also lost additional 2kg after my diet ended. Here are my best tips and tricks:

Tuesday, August 12

✔ Interview with Crystal Paine "Money Saving Mom" for the Productive! Magazine No. 22

Today we're launching the summer (July/August) issue of our Productive! Magazine. You can browse it free or get our free Android, iPad or iPhone apps. Thank you!

Crystal Paine tells the story behind her which is one of the top personal finance blogs in the US with over 1.5 million visitors per month. She also explains why intentional money-spending and setting strict money-related rules is worth investing the time and how to compromise with your partner or spouse when it comes to managing your home budget.

Question: Are you a saver or a spender? Are you trying to "marry" your personality with the way your beloved is?

Please post your comments below, thanks!

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Monday, August 11

✔ Next Actions and Holidays: How vacation planning apps can teach you to get organized...

We're half way through the Summer and I'm going on a vacation next week so today I'm going to write about "next actions" and holidays... inspired by my step 3 of my "10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity Video Course". Let's start with your actual next action: planning your holiday :)

Next Actions and Holidays

The holiday should be an inspiration for work

I go on holidays because I want to relax, recharge my batteries and get inspired... I want to have some rest from everyday routine in order to get back to it later with more motivation and power. To make it possible, the apps that help me have a good time and not forget about anything should make me reflect on the work-related tasks. Here's how they work for me:

Friday, August 8

✔ It's all about passion! - Introduction [part 1]

Note: This is an excerpt from my book "It's all about passion" which I wrote and shared as a gift to my readers and my Nozbe customers on my 35th birthday. You can get the entire digital ebook (PDF, Mobi or ePub) for free or buy from Amazon (all proceeds go to charity).

I will be publishing the entire book as a series of blog posts over the next weeks here every Friday, so you can read it bit by bit (I know you might be too busy to read an entire book at once). I'm also doing it to be able to "talk to you" about each chapter in the comments section below, so make sure to post your feedback, questions and your passion-related stories in the comments. Thank you for your passion!

"It's all about passion!"

The 7 types of passion I discovered over 7 years of running my productivity startup

It's all about passion - cover

Introduction: My first passionate startup, Part 1

"People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you're doing. It's totally true. The reason is, because it's so hard and if you don't, any rational person would give up. It's really hard. And you have to do it over a sustained period of time. So if you don't love it, if you're not having fun doing it, you don't really love it, you're gonna give up.

It happens to most people actually. If you look at the ones that ended up being successful in the eyes of society and the ones that didn't, often times the ones that were successful loved what they did so they could persevere when it got really tough. The ones that didn't love it, quit. Because they're sane, right? Who would want to put up with this stuff if you don't love it. So it's a lot of hard work and it's a lot of worrying constantly and if you don't love it you're gonna fail. So you gotta love it and you gotta have passion."

  • Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple

New college, new passion-seeking adventure...

The fall of 2000 in Germany was chilly, but it wasn’t unbearable. I showed up a few weeks before the new college year started to get to know my new school, new dorm and new city. There I was, a day-long drive away from my home town in Poland, excited to be able to continue my management studies abroad. Just this summer, right before the big move, I finally earned enough money to buy my first laptop computer - a 266 MHz Pentium II Compaq Armada. With my all-new PC, a German dictionary and lots of hopes and dreams, I was ready to start my new adventure and learn new things at this foreign university.

When I settled in my student dormitory and connected my laptop to the local University network, I was literally blown away by the speed of the Internet. Being used to a dial-up modem at home, it was like entering a different league. The applications I immediately downloaded and started using were the Opera browser (the fastest browser on earth at that point), Napster (free music!) and ICQ (to chat with fellow students as well as friends and family back home).

How do I find my passion? My calling? My raison de vivre?

You see, at high school I was miserable because most of my friends knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives (they wanted to become doctors, lawyers, teachers... you get the idea) and I had no clue. Even worse - I was a very good student - I basically had grades A at everything - but I wasn't "great" at anything. I was just a very good all-arounder. It may sound cool now, but it wasn't helping me decide what I wanted to do with my life.

Wednesday, August 6

✔ Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard - Gadget Review - Productive! Show #77

Do you work on the iPad and need to type longer texts sometimes? Watch my short presentation of Logitech Ultrathin keyboard that I have bought recently. It has some new features that will surely help you work effectively and comfortably.

Question: Which is your favorite tablet keyboard?

Please post your comments below, thanks!

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Monday, August 4

✔ Teleworking in Nozbe - why we all work from home, from anywhere, without any office...

Every year I'm posting pictures and videos of my home office. If you feel nostalgic, feel free to check it out: 2008, 2009, 2010 (video), 2011, 2012 and 2013. Why home office? Well, because my home office is indeed my only real office. Even when running a company of over a dozen of full time people.

Teleworking in Nozbe - why we all work from home, from anywhere, without any office

I always wanted to work from anywhere...

Back in the day when I was in college I was amazed how much I could get done together with my friend. We built a web app together in early 2000s. He was living and studying in Poland and I just moved to study in Germany. There was no Skype back then, no Github, he was on a dial-up connection... it was crazy, yet we built something (you can read more about it in my book "It's all about passion").

I was so amazed by it that I wrote my master thesis on virtual companies and teleworking in 2003... and the main premise of it was:

"work is not a place to go, it's a thing that you do".

Now I'm running a successful company called Nozbe and we all work from home. I'm living my dream... and here's how we're doing it:

Wednesday, July 30

✔ Why I'm working only on my iPad? Quick, pecha-kucha, 6min explanation by yours truly - Productive! Show #76

Why go iPadOnly? Three reasons and three benefits. As you know, I am the co-author of the "#iPadOnly" book where together with Augusto Pinaud I promote a new work-style. In this video I'd like to show you, in the simplest possible way, why, a couple years ago, I decided to switch my Mac Book Air to iPad and make it my number one working tool. See what are the consequences and benefits of that decision.

iPadOnly book

Question: What is stopping you from going #iPadOnly?

Please post your comments below, thanks!

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Wednesday, July 16

✔ Productivity gadget review: Sugru - go fix something - Productive! Show #75

One of my friends suggested I tried it out to fix some things around the house. I couldn't believe how great it worked. I've used Sugru for many things now and keep coming with new ideas... it's an amazing product and enables you to be creative, productive and fix things before you decide to throw them away.

Question: Have you ever tried Sugru? What have you fixed with it?

Please post your comments below, thanks!

Check it out:


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Tuesday, July 15

✔ Want to build your digital productivity system? Start with these three apps: Evernote, Dropbox and Nozbe (duh!)

Very often I get emails asking for productivity advice and a question that keeps on showing up is this: Which apps should I install first to start building my productivity system? Where should I start?

I particularly liked an email I got from a very senior Nozbe user. It was a long email but the key points were these:

I’m 81, near no tech; extreme difficulty organizing/ordering my life; drawn years ago to Covey’s 7-Habits philosophy/approach as well as that of “Holistic Management”; BUT never successful at implementing, more than anything because of chronically being in a ‘crisis’ mode... Which systems would you advise my tudor and me to most carefully consider along with yours? And do you think/feel that one as limited as I indicate could learn and work with Nozbe as well or Better than others?... I will much appreciate your counsel. I already appreciate the manner in which you present Nozbe and yourself!! - Don

Wow, I must say I was impressed by this email and by the fact a person in their 80's is still thinking about really getting organized in a new, digital way, I was impressed and humbled they were asking me for advice.

Which apps to install and set up first? Great question. Let me answer with this blog post:

Michael's top productivity apps

As I mention in my 10-steps productivity course, I'd go with these basic three apps:

And learn them very well. They work really great together and with our new Nozbe 2.0 coming this summer will work even better. Here's how I'd go about it:

Wednesday, July 9

✔ Weekly Read, Episode 1 (interesting things I read and wanted to share with you)

This week, I read some stuff that I would like to share with you. These are mostly news and productivity related articles that you might find useful, inspiring or helpful when reviewing your methods, tools and attitude.

Side note: *Yes, I do share stuff on my Link blog and Twitter but sometimes I think the most interesting things deserve a longer blog post. Let me know if this format works for you.

1. Music at work: productivity help or hindrance?

An article by James Tonn published in Productive! Magazine no. 20. This astonishing and informative piece of writing relates to a question I often asked myself: "does listening to music at work help or hinder productivity?". I won't tell you the answer in order not to spoil you the fun of learning it yourself. What's important though is our limbic system - a complex set of brain structures that lies on both sides of the thalamus, right under the cerebrum and is primarily responsible for our emotional life and memorizing.

"Music is powerful in how it influences us — it is designed to do so — and hearing a person singing, aggressively triggers the limbic system." - writes James who did the thorough scientific research and the interview with neuroscientist before writing the article.

The science behind the music will blew your mind the same as it did to James Tonn and myself :)

2. How to keep your brain fit and productive

This is a summary of a couple of articles that we published on Productive! Magazine's Facebook fanpage - I hope you will find it useful:

Don't multitask

Multitasking can actually reduce productivity by up to 40%. To get the most from your brain, do one thing at a time and give it all of your focus. Once completed to your satisfaction, you can move to the next thing. You can accomplish much more with good quality rather than doing things half-baked but satisfactory.

Sleep well

Even small amounts of sleep debt have a significant impact strength, cardio capacity, mood and overall energy levels. And mental performance all decline steadily as sleep debt increases.

Take naps

Nap is a strategic recovery to catchup with your sleep debt and it helps boost productivity and mental performance. Most of people have a dip in alertness in the mid-afternoon and thus our natural rhythms are then at their lowest which is the best time to take a nap. That's why in some countries they have siestas at this time.

When taking a nap remember to set your alarm clock to no longer than 25 minutes. Most people can take a nap between 15-25 minutes before they hit the deep sleep phase. It’s important to wake before your hit deep sleep or else you wake up feeling tired.

Speak foreign languages

Intensive study of foreign languages stimulates the growth of the hippocampus in your brain, causes changes in its other structures and helps in preventing Alzheimer's disease.

Play word games

Alone or with a group. Such games engage and boost memory, creativity, cognition, and language skills.

Write things down with a pen

The physical act of writing with your hand engages the right (= creative) hemisphere of your brain and allows expression of thoughts that your left brain (the analytical half) may not consider.

Exercise not only your brain but also your body

Increasing blood flow and energy level that come from physical exercises will make you feel better and your brain work better.


3. Stress can be responsible for short-term memory loss later on

A new study from University of Iowa reveals that having high levels of cortisol — a natural hormone in our body whose levels surge when we are stressed — can lead to memory lapses as we age.

In this study, the UI researchers linked elevated amounts of cortisol to the gradual loss of synapses in the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain that houses short-term memory. Synapses are the connections that help us process, store, and recall information. And when we get older, repeated and long-term exposure to cortisol can cause them to shrink and disappear.

"Stress hormones are one mechanism that we believe leads to weathering of the brain," says Jason Radley, assistant professor in psychology at the UI and corresponding author on the paper.

My advice: Start learning to be a cortisol-buster today :) Here are some tips:

  • Forgive yourself for every mistake you’ve ever made.
  • Forgive others for their offenses against you.
  • Stop obsessing over things you can’t control.
  • Only add to your “to do” list after crossing 2 things off.
  • Find reasons to laugh out loud several times a day.
  • Exercise every single day.

For more tips check out the Advanced Life Skills article

4. Are you sure you apply the Pareto's 80-20 rule at work?

Everyone knows what is the Pareto rule but not many people takes time to apply it in their everyday activities and planning. That's peculiar since 80-20 rule is one of the keys to productivity.

Try this 5-step sequence to make certain you do:

  1. Start with the end. What is the outcome you want?
  2. When you’re clear about that, break it down into the actions you need to take to get there.
  3. Do the actions in the most accurate order you can. (Learn how to prioritize work).
  4. Keep asking "What’s the next relevant action step to take?"
  5. Repeat until complete.

That's it for this week. Let me know if this format works for you in the comments below. Thank you!