3 Things I Learned About Productivity from the Perfect Day Method (+Giveaway!)

Written by Marisol Dahl

As a freelancer, I often feel like I have the best of both worlds. I get to work with amazingly talented people and companies who are doing important and impactful work. But I also get a certain level of freedom in terms of how I work—how many hours I work, where I work, how I schedule my days, and when to take vacation time.

But that’s not to say that freelancing is easy or is the “perfect” situation for everyone.

There have been many mornings where I wake up and have a plan for the day: a few client calls, time blocked out to do certain things, some admin stuff in the afternoon. But then it all goes out the door when the emails come flooding in: new (more pressing) assignments, mini-emergencies, the occasional anxious phone call.

Suddenly I have a million new things screaming for my attention. And I know it’s not just freelancers who deal with this work craziness! :)

The fact is we are working in increasingly interruptive environments.

Pierre Khawand, work and productivity expert and founder and CEO of People-OnTheGo, notes that these interruptions are invasive to our lives and our results:

“We are overloaded with too many e-mails, too much social media, too many competing and changing priorities, too many interruptions. Worse, we are led to believe that we need to keep up, to speedup in order to succeed in the modern workplace. As a result, our minds are overwhelmed and scattered. Studies show that work in an interruptive environment, whether or not those interruptions are related to our work, increases the experience of stress, frustration, time pressure, and effort to get work done." —Pierre Khawand

These interruptions come in all forms—from digital communications and people knocking on your office door, to random thoughts and emotional needs. I was amazed to hear Khawand and his team recently developed a new time management method that takes into account these interruptive demands of the modern working world.

The Perfect 15-Minute Day Method

In his new book The Perfect 15-Minute Day: Managing Your Time, Thoughts, and Emotions, Khawand walks through a time management method that requires only a journal and a timer. It’s based on doing work within 15-minute focus bursts—enough time to get a good chunk of work done, but not long enough that we get lost in a time warp!

Check out the video below for a closer look at how it works:


I took the Perfect Day Method (PDM) for a test drive in July, and I was amazed at the results. This method goes beyond just helping you get more stuff done.

3 Things I Learned About Productivity from Using the Perfect Day Method:

1. There is power in 15-minute increments.

How many times do you look at the clock and see another 15 or 20 minutes have slipped by without having made progress? While it feels like such a short time block, deciding to focus on something for 15 minutes is such an easy commitment that lowers the barrier of entry into a task. There’s no pressure to complete the task—just to focus on it. You’ll be surprised how being more mindful of your short time blocks really add up in the end!

2. It is important to have a system in place for thought overload.

“The skill of intercepting a thought, before we act on it, needs to be learned and practiced.” —Pierre Khawand

When we set out on a work project, we often find ourselves managing tasks, subtasks, new developments, and other related to-dos along the way. The Perfect Day Method has a designated space for all of these things that we must remember to do— so that we can free up short-term memory, never forget about all the little details, and renew our focus on the task at hand.

3. Productivity means leaving room for the unexpected.

When was the last time your day went exactly as planned? We can set all the intentions, goals, and appointments we want, but the fact is our days develop organically. Our work affects and is affected by the work of other people, life events, and even environmental conditions. With the Perfect Day Method, you don’t have to map out every little thing; the system is tailored to let your day grow organically.

Book Giveaway

We’re excited to announce that five lucky Life After College readers will receive a copy of The Perfect 15-Minute Day Journal!

To enter to win, please answer the following question in the comments by Friday, August 19. We will pick 5 winners via and email to let you know! Good luck!

Comment to Be Entered to Win: 
What is your best productivity tip?

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol graduated Yale in 2015 as a Sociology and Education Studies major. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and brand strategy. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

Winning the rental game

Written by Davis Nguyen  A year ago, I wrote about how my roommates and I were able to get rents that were less than half average in a newly renovated home in a safe, quiet neighborhood in San Francisco, the most expensive major city in the United States.

This month, one of our roommates is moving out and I was tasked with finding her replacement. And when you have a spare room that is below market price, people flock to you. Within the first day, we had more than 11 requesting applications, and I’d only told a handful of friends that we were looking to fill a vacancy.

Now that I am on the side to who gets to rent a place, I want to share two practices I’ve seen increase people’s odds of being offered a contract and one I wish more people did. Together these three tactics will help you secure a contract in a high demand area even if you are new to a city.

1. Do your research on the people you’ll be living with

Most people don’t know much about the people they will be living with. They are just so worried about securing a room. Doing some research upfront will set you apart. One applicant we had, found that two of us were both management consultants and asked us about tips for making the most of her first year in the field (she was also starting a job in management consulting for a different company).

As Dale Carnegie wrote in his seminal work, “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than in two years of trying to get people interested in you.” With LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google you can do so much when it comes to learning about your roommates. Become interested in them.

2. Think creatively about the unique value that you bring

When interviewing, think about what can you do for the other people, not only what they can do for you. Our original roommate beat out almost 30 other applicants because she was so good at doing this. Despite being away from San Francisco when she initially interviewed, she did a convincing job telling us why we would benefit from having her as a roommate.

She offered to bring her couches cross-country so we would have a hang out area and she shared with us her irrational distaste of dirty bathrooms (meaning she would clean the bathrooms). While other parts of her application stood out, her willingness to think about how having her (or not have her) would influence our living environment brought her over the top.

Do you cook? Do you have a car? Do you have a projector? Think about what “add-on” you can offer for your roommates. By thinking about these “add-on” you’ll show you want to be part of their community.

3. Address your landlord/roommates concerns

This one I wish more people did. When people are reading applications looking for sub-lets, they have concerns: will you pay your rent on time? Will you be a positive energy in the house? Will you bring unwanted guests over?

As an applicant, if you can address these concerns, you’ve almost won them over. They aren’t impressed by what college you went to, where you work, or what talent you have if you can’t address their basic concerns.

If you take the time to put these tactics into practice during your next rental search, you’ll be miles ahead of other applicants. Go the extra mile because it is never crowded up there.

About Davis


Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

90+ Tech Tools to Help Manage Your Life

Two weeks ago, I shared 10 must-have tech tools I can't live without  -- then asked for your best tips, and man did you deliver! I'm excited to share the full slew of suggestions, with a few more of my own that I snuck in below. But first . . .

Contest Winners

Huge congrats to Jennifer (baxlala) who won the HP Laptop, and to Chelsey, Ellen and Cassie who each won copies of Julie's book! Enormous thanks to all of you who left comments for the thoughtful contributions. On that note and without further ado . . .

90+ Tech Tools to Help Manage Your Life

Tracking To Do's and Getting Things Done

  • Tania - ToDoist "such a clean and simple website (and a browser app too!) where you can input any kinds of tasks you have and their deadline, and then you can check them off whenever you are done." Katie Smith says " I love that you can have categories and sub- categories. Perfect tool to handle work projects, personal lists, and even 'one day' items."
  • Tmoobc - Astrid - "I use it to set reminders for pretty much everything."
  • Clear for iPhone - "the future of to-do lists" - described as having a beautiful interface with simple swiping (though I don't actually have an iPhone)
  • Amanda Leighty - Cheddar - "great list making app."
  • RachaelGKing - Wunderlist "is integral to my organization process. It syncs on desktop, mobile and iPad, and you can make as many lists as you want and mark things off when they're done."
  • Don Harper - Taskwarrior "to handle my scheduling for the day and the tasks."
  • Jamie C - Excel Pivot Tables " I can cram so much information into lists, tables, and charts- and I love being able to tweak it all so that it looks nice too!"

"Smart Notebook" Apps

  • Blake - WorkFlowy "has changed my life. I have always been a 'list guy' and it make lists for everything. I just leave workflowy open all day and jot down notes and task to do. It really has helped me keep all my ideas in one place. I love it! Rebecca seconds that" EllenQ says "It's clear, intuitive, and most similar to the pen and paper method I was using, but with all of the advantages of digital. I'm using it in conjunction with the Pomodoro technique."
  • CamMi suggests - Evernote: "I have it sync with my social network, RSS reader, email...i can save important notes anytime. It is the source for my twitter feed." Rachael uses it for "keeping track of goals, recipes, to do lists, and fun quotes!" Jennbizzle says she can "easily sync it between all my devices!" Hayley loves Evernote "especially for taking photos of written notes and scrawls and then filing them away to reduce clutter in my purse (and to make sure I can find them again!" Tom "definitely my go-to app for remembering everything!" Abby Butts says " It has everything I need for work, family, and home. I love that I can drop it into Evernote and find it when I need it later."
  • Lindsay Hunt also suggests the Clearly Chrome extension that "integrates with Evernote and makes it easy to save websites or blog posts you come across to Evernote."
  • Chelsey - OneNote is "an awesome tool for keeping research and all of my random ideas organized. It's available as an IPhone app and you can log into your account online so you can access your "notebook" from any computer."
  • MiriamCrystal - Scrapbook for Mac "it's a clipboard tool that allows you to store hundreds of snippets at once. Takes copying and pasting to a whole new level."
  • Raghav - Springpad - from their website: "save anything to Springpad from anywhere."
  • Renee - ColorNote "Every time I have an idea for a blog, I don't need to search for pen or paper and no worries about the only copy being on your phone since it syncs to your Google. So even if you change phones, you still have your lists."


  • TripIt - I don't know how I left this off my last list! Essential travel app for managing upcoming trips all in one place. If you use gmail, it will automatically pull hotel and flight itineraries from your inbox into TripIt. Also tracks your travel stats -- so far this year I'm up to 14 trips across 8 countries, 27 cities and 62,000 miles. Crazy!
  • HotelTonight - an awesome up-and-comer app that The Man and I tested while traveling (thanks to Chelsea Rustrum for the suggestion!) -- it allows you to check unused hotel inventory from 12pm on the day you want to stay. Super fun way for fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants'ers to get an awesome hotel reservation at bargain prices in just a few easy clicks - from the convenience of your phone.
  • Jennifer Howard - Saving Grace: a "packing app so I know I'm not missing anything when I travel (can you tell I like to track things and make lists?)."

Communication and Calendar Tools

  • From Inc. Magazine's "Say Goodbye to Your Junk Email" article - - works with gmail, shows a list of ALL lists you are subscribed to and allows you to mass unsubscribe (yay!) and SaneBox - prioritizes email (sounds a lot like gmail's priority inbox).
  • Lezbehonest - The Email Game " it helps me get back to a manageable inbox."
  • Captio - an app that enables you to "email yourself with one quick tap."
  • Matthew - Gmail Labs Undo Send"One helpful setting in Gmail: under settings you can turn on the option to "undo send" and then set a time frame. Those first 20 seconds after I hit send I normally think of one final question, or remember that I wanted to attach 2 files and not just the one. So I can just hit "undo" and fix my omission."
  • Emily Outlook "I use categories obsessively so I can sort contacts by sales rep, services purchased, follow up schedule. I use the journals to track different types of interactions over time. And of course the follow up feature is great. I can sort my e-mail every which way but Sunday, and use message rules so I don't even have to manually do most of the sorting/flagging."
  • suki Rapportive  ...shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox "Super useful." James Ryan Moreau says "Rapportive is my favorite of all the plugins that I use. I love being able to connect an email address with a face and social media account."
  • Google Voice - being a total Google fangirl, I'm slapping myself on the wrist for not mentioning this last time too. If you switch over completely to a Google Voice phone number you can use all kinds of crazy features -- but if you're attached to your digits, have no fear -- it can still transcribe voicemails (often with great inaccurate hilarity) and send them to your email inbox.
  • Brittany - Google Calendar "I love that it emails you reminders when an appointment is coming up. It works especially for me when I have writing deadlines." Carl says both Google Calendar & Google Docs "have become a huge part of keeping me organized and on track. These tools help me to plan, organize, connect with people, and so much more. I would definitely miss them if they were gone.
  • Joy - iCal... keep track of your schedules, appointments, birthdays, reminders, and other important events.
  • Pam - Doodle "for organizing people's schedules that I can't see (via scheduling on Outlook, etc). It makes it much easier to find a common time everyone can do something instead of e-mail back and forth on potential dates."
  • Lauren Rutlin - gChat "while it has the reputation of being a distraction for socializing during work, it has been a lifesaver for me in terms of collaborations. I would never be able to touch base with those in other time zones and with wildly varied schedules without it. Nothing is as easy as checking in for a few minutes when you're already checking your email."

Photos, Docs & Videos

  • Ali - Dropbox - "Don't know what I'd do without Dropbox! And Carl says "Rather than have to search through email attachments and files on my computer, it's so simple to just upload and download them from organized folders on Dropbox." Stacy says "It's such a quick and easy way to share pretty much any kind of file between computers and other devices."
  • Rachel and Taylor - Picasa and Instagram for photo editing. Emmy suggests the Instagram App because "it allows me to take creative photos" and the Twitter App "I can keep everyone back home updated on how I am doing and what I am doing and vice versa."
  • Steph Diaz - Scrivener - "Best application to write long papers on and you can organize every section of the paper on it too!"
  • Emily Smith says Google Apps for Education "literally revolutionized my pre-k student assessment efficiency and productivity"

Keeping Online Reading Organized

  • AN - InstapaperTrezlen - iGoogle "organizes my RSSs, gmail, news and calendar in one place"
  • Seatn - Read Later ...allows you to mark a link to read later, and close the tab.
  • Pulse - great for tablet devices, organizes a variety of websites into a magazine-like format. I tend to prefer Google Reader for keeping up with blogs, but this is nice if you want to browse casually across a variety of subjects.
  • Melissa - Calibre - "An absolute MUST for anyone who uses an ereading device. It allows you to store all of your books in one place and easy-connect them to your device. I am a long-time ebook reader (since 2004), so the number of books to keep track of is just insane without Calibre. Couldn't live without it!"
  • Chitownchica - Pocket "I can clean out emails and read everything that needs reading when I have time to sit down."

Productivity Timers, Procrastination Busters and Break Encouragers

  • Briana - Pomodoro Technique ...a way to get the most out of time management. "I'd never accomplish anything without it!"
  • BellaRenee - - "I'm a huge fan of - it's a productivity timer based on the pomodoro technique. Basically, the idea is your brain works best in 25 minute intervals with five minute breaks, so it's a web-based timer for exactly that. After each 25 minute interval, you can jot down what you got done in that work period. It's amazing how productive you can be!"
  • Alex Marcy  - Hover Zoom extension: "It makes it feel less terrible when I am procrastinating on reddit and I don't have to actually click all of the links.
  • Connie Liao - Stay Focused extension "to remain on task."
  • Tamara Epps - Workrave: "I spend a lot of my day on my computer and it reminds me to take breaks from staring at the screen."

Managing Projects

  • Cat Trello - from their website: "Your entire project in a single glance." Sean says "if you're managing a small team of people I've found Trello to be the absolute best free tool for collaboration."
  • Jana - Asana and SmartSheet "Love those!" ...task management for teams. Manage projects and collaborate online. Amanda Leighty says "Asana is more of task-management system.
  • Jennie Blake (great name!) suggests FreeMind: "A mind-mapping program. I've just switched it up and downloaded "Freeplane" as well to compare the two--but the ability to draw connections between projects, goals, and events really keeps me focused!"
  • Don Harper - GitHub... ideal for the collaborative development of software.
  • Sean - Trello - "If you're managing a small team of people I've found Trello to be the absolute best free tool for collaboration. I actually found it to be even more useful than other paid solutions like Basecamp." Meghan L. is looking forward to their related project, "Super excited for the app to come out. It's a way to track your goals and dreams."

Business Owners & Webmasters

  • Much like OutrightFreshBooks helps small business-owners "invoice, track time and manage expenses on the go."
  • Derek - Unbounce, unbounce, unbounce. "Invaluable landing page tool to mock up pages/mini sites in minutes instead of days and without any coding."
  • Adam suggests Squarespace for creating gorgeous websites in a flash, as well as Behance's awesome WYSIWYG portfolio builder, ProSite. (SeedProd's Coming Soon Pro is a great WordPress Plug-in if you just need to quickly prop something up; includes MailChimp and AWeber integration to capture email addresses).

Social Networking

  • MarkMario - TweetLanes "one of the best android twitter apps."
  • Elan - Buffer "For personal Tweeting and FBing, it is a lifesaver."...schedules updates across multiple platforms, automatically paces updates throughout the day. Check-out the related app, Timely, which also allows you to schedule tweets.
  • Sean - Smartr "import contacts from Facebook, Google +, etc. to your phone."
  • Kristen - IFTTT "automate some of my Internet-related processes. Bonus: it almost feels like I'm learning basic programming when I create a 'recipe'!"
  • Becky L - Hootsuite "It's so advantageous to be able to schedule twitter and Facebook when I'm out of the office, but when people are on their social media the most." Stephanie Halligan says "It's allowed me to manage my social media outputs from afar and helps keep me from browsing and stalking folks on Facebook and Twitter for hours. Type your message, schedule to all your accounts, close window. Simple." Jess Green says "I'm especially loving their new Hootlet browser extension, it makes it so easy to share articles I come across!"

Money Management

  • Diana Clark - Slice... the simplest ways to track your orders, save money and manage your purchase receipts. "An app that's fantastic if you do a lot of online shopping."
  • Chelsey - Mint "great for seeing how much money I really spend on coffee :)" Jess says "instead of logging into several accounts, I can just log into one! Also it sends me reminders on when bills are due." Alternatively, Doube A says Quicken "helps me keep my finances in check!"
  • Becky L  also recommends CreditKarma - "For personal use I LOVE and I've been going through a makeover of my finances and these two sites are irreplaceable. I also love a good excel spreadsheet and I'm still one of those people who uses a paper planner."

Recipes and Grocery Lists

  • Jennifer Howard - Shopper "for staying on top of my shopping lists and always having them when I need them."
  • SR - Yummly - "I also like to keep productive in the kitchen. It's tricky to cook for one and for that I like to use so I can find recipes based on the ingredients I have in the house. That ways, Im not overbuying groceries, and not wasting food/money. Productivity of another kind indeed!"
  • Brooke - My Recipe Box for iPad: "It's a great way to store all my recipes in one place instead of having the written on scrap paper."

Efficiency, Extensions and other Random-but-Cool Apps

  • Jana Quicksilver (for Mac) - from their site: "Perform common, every-day tasks rapidly and without thought."
  • Miriam - TextExpander "saves you from having to type the same thing over and over again. Just specify a keyboard shortcut."
  • SwiftKey3 - "Type faster and smarter" with a smart-phone typing assistant that learns about you the more you type.
  • Stefanie - Pin It (Google Chrome) "so easy to use, all I have to do is right click and hit the pin it button, and boom! it's on my Pinterest! It's awesome!"
  • liveintensely - Get Human - "For all of us busy people who just don't have the time to wait on the phone for customer support or work our way through the maze of support robots to get to a real person - is there. You simply pick the business you are trying to get in contact with, enter your phone number, and get human calls you when they've connected to a representative. (I got in contact with a real person at the LA DMV - true story)"
  • Jennifer  and Jeremy Orr swear by MapMyRun. Jeremy says, "I know it's not a productivity tool, but planning, scheduling, and mapping my runs keeps me productive, motivated, and on task in other areas of my life."

Password Managers

  • Rachel - RoboForm - password manager.
  • Jon - Keeper "stores all my passwords plus has cloud backup. Its a great piece of software if you are always forgetting passwords and account logins like me!"
  • JR Johnstone - LastPass: "I could not live without lastpass. It makes it so much easier for me to generate passwords and remember all of the different logins that I have."

. . . And Peace of Mind

  • Julie says Simply Being  is "a lovely meditation app; I find if I meditate a little, then I'm actually more productive."
  • Amanda Leighty - Bloom is "also an amazing app. It's more for personal goals and setting reminders for things that are important for you and a better life balance."
  • Wayk App - "a revolutionary new alarm clock" -- check out their site for the full list of features . . . everything from a "softer" wake-up to a daily agenda at your fingertips.

And we'll end on a great suggestion from Joyheart, who says "Best productivity tool ---> getting enough sleep." :)

Although list is pretty comprehensive . . . I know it will never be complete. If we missed any of your favorites, please share in the comments for future visitors to this post! 

10 Tech Tools I Can't Live Without + HP Laptop Giveaway!

Update: be sure to check-out the follow-up post to this one: 90+ Tech Tools to Help You Manage Your Life. We've officially entered the lull of summer...or at least in the blogosphere. Check out Jonathan Fields' list of 10 Things to Do When Your Audience Goes on Vacation (even if you're not a blogger) for some fun ways to pass the time :)

I just wrapped up a 6-day road trip from St. Louis to Southern CA -- it's a beautiful way to see the country and I'll be sharing a few more yoga pictures on the blog soon! Next up is a family vacation to Mexico for a little unplugged fun-in-the-sun before returning to my love, the big ol' apple.

Today I'm excited because I'm sharing my must-have tech tools (How I Stay Organized is still one of my all-time most popular posts) AND I get to give away a laptop to one of you as a thank you for being such an incredible community!

I was hesitant when HP first approached me since I try not to do anything too advertise-y on this blog, but after a little hemming and hawing I realized I would be silly not to say yes. I am grateful for the opportunity to get one of you set-up with a new laptop, and rather than just having a random "I want one!" list of comments, I'd love to start a conversation around tech and productivity tools that will be beneficial for all of us. I'm sharing some of my favorites to kick things off, and watch the video below for more details on how to enter!

10 Tech Tools I Can't Live Without

  1. Google Calendar - an absolute must for staying on top of your schedule. A few tips: for important events set an email reminder, for recurring events (like scheduling yoga classes) use a different color, and for sharing an event with others, check "Guests can: modify events" on the right-hand side of the edit window for that event. You can also share your entire calendar with others by editing the calendar settings.
  2. - "scheduling made easy" - eliminates email back and forth by allowing others to see available windows that you set in advance (automatically syncs with Google Calendar to block off busy times). Additional tip: meetings tend to spill into all available hours the same way emails do -- use Tungle to select 1-2 blocks of times for calls and stick to them unless there's a special exception. You can also use Google Calendar's appointment scheduling feature for this purpose.
  3. - simple online "week at a glance" to-do list -- great for mapping out a busy week and checking off tasks by day. You can also move tasks around from day-to-day, which is helpful. I use for more project-based task tracking.
  4. - a long-time favorite for tracking personal finances (the Weekly Summary emails and spending trend pie-charts are my favorite features). Bonus: check out the Life After College Roadmap poster we put together earlier this year - you can also buy a copy for a recent grad in your life.
  5. Outright - tracks business expenses by importing from all of your accounts (including PayPal and Google Wallet) just like Mint . . . and it's free!
  6. Evernote - awesome for syncing notes, ideas and links across all devices (tablet, phone, computer, etc). I like this better than Google docs for instant editing for shorter ideas/notes, then Google Docs for full development.
  7. Google Docs (now referred to as Drive) - a must-use for collaboration and all document creation as far as I'm concerned! I use Google Docs for absolutely everything -- ideas, brainstorming, project planning, etc. Sign-up for the Inside Scoop newsletter to get access to my full library of 25+ templates to help organize your life.
  8. Gmail's Priority Inbox feature - use this in conjunction with Gmail's superstars feature, with different stars denoting different types of email and priority. For example: I use a yellow star for important emails that I want to get to that day or week, exclamation emails to mark highly important, time sensitive or overdue for a reply, then I use the blue stars for emails that involve scheduling.
  9. Boomerang for Gmail - can delay send on outgoing emails or set emails to leave your inbox and come back at a future date. This feature is great for following-up with people, or getting a long-term email to do out of your way.
  10. Rapportive for Gmail - social spying at it's finest! Shows someone's latest updates on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to the righthand side of a message they've sent. Also helps you make sure you're connected with the people you want to be, and shows a photo of the person you are corresponding with (helpful if you've never met them in person).

The Dirt: About the HP Envy 4

For those of you who want to learn more about the goods before you throw your hat into the ring, here are some feature descriptions from the promotional materials:

The HP Envy 4 Ultrabook is thin and light, with up to 8.2 hours of battery life and a soft-touch base that makes it easy to grab and go.

  • Beats Audio™:Designed to deliver the best sounding, richest audio available on a PC with extra amplification possible through a built-in subwoofer.
  • HP TrueVision HD Webcam: Always look your best, even in low light.
  • Speaking of low light – the ENVY’s backlit keyboard means you can keep working and playing in dimly lit rooms or red-eye flights.

Unleash your creativity on a 500 GB hard drive that can hold 116,000 photos, 105,000 tracks or 210 HD movies. Tons of video memory let you experience incredible gaming and multimedia without slowing down. 

The HP ENVY Ultrabook™ is loaded with the ports, including HDMI , USB, RJ-45, and a headphone jack, encased in a sleek, .78 inches thin and under 4 lb design.

How to Enter

Tell us about one of your favorite productivity tools, apps or browser extensions in the comments by Friday, September 7. I will select a winner via and announce on the blog the following week, with a round-up of all your amazing tips!

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead, and a fantastic Labor Day holiday for those of you in the states!

2011: Calling All Dreamers

I feel like I'm on mile 23 of a marathon with the book coming out in less than three months (!!) and now is the time to turn on the burners -- put every minute that I'm not at Google to strategic use. It's a really exciting, motivating feeling to see the finish line up ahead . . . and much to the chagrin of well-meaning great friends hoping to drag me out of the house, nothing will break my focus at this point. I'm also not big on expensive parties or fighting for taxi cabs, so I planned on spending this New Years Eve alone in my condo, working on projects that energize me and that would help set the tone for an uber-creative 2011. Projects that get me so fired up that they don't even feel like work.

I mentioned this casually to a few friends -- New Years orphans who were ambivalent about their existing plans -- and before I knew it, I had four fabulous women in for the count.

Why am I telling you this? Because I have big plans for us in 2011.

Yes, YOU.

Even if you don't nerd-out on New Years Eve like us, I want you to think about a big dream that you might be tiptoeing around, and I want you to join me in 2011 by setting up your own "creative day of greatness." If our New Years bonanza goes well, I plan on hosting many more throughout the year (even virtually).

But you don't have to wait for me, of course. Pick a date and commit to starting that big, hairy, scary project that is crying out for your love and attention. I know you might be afraid, or self-conscious, or unsure if this is the right time or if you have the right idea or if you're the right person to pursue it.

Do it anyway.

Not that you even need it, but I hearby grant you the permission to start even without perfect conditions or all the pieces in place.

Arranging a creative genius day or night also requires properly setting the stage. What would make it the most fabulous, soul-stirring experience EVER? My friend Julie and I brainstormed for tonight and came up with what we think is a great list.

The "Marathon Day of Creative New Years Genius" will entail:

  • Morning yoga session (delivered by moi) for anyone who's here early -- we're planning on starting the festivities around 11:00 a.m.
  • Writing "sprints" throughout the day on our biggest ideas. We'll try a system where we work for 40 minutes, then chat, share, brainstorm and collaborate for 20 minutes - off and on throughout the day. We'll also set a few goals at the outset about what would be most thrilling to accomplish.
  • Piles of magazines & a flip chart to do vision-boarding
  • Doing other cool things like taking symbolic action on something that scares us; emailing an author we really respect (hi Martha Beck!)
  • Fire in the fireplace, great music playing in the background
  • Favorite foods potluck -- pasta, pizza, chips/salsa, green-bean casserole, cupcakes & macaroons -- to name a few
  • Prosecco for midnight; we may very well also put on fancy dresses and throw a dance party for the countdown. Good times!

How about you - what would your IDEAL Creative Day of Genius entail?

By the way, I'm serious. I want you to pick a dream of yours - even just a corner of it - and commit to it. Schedule your jump-start session alone or with friends, and start bringing your big ideas to life. Then send me an email to let me know how it goes!

No matter what you find yourself doing tonight, have an amazing time. Cheers -- to dreaming, scheming and greatness for all of us in 2011! :)


1:1 Big Goal Brainstorming / Coaching / Genius Hours:

If you are hoping to take your first steps toward a big dream in 2011 and you want some extra accountability and support, get in touch with me. Right now I'm offering sample coaching sessions at 50% off - $50 for 45 minutes of bringing out your inner genius.

I want us all to dream BIG in 2011, and I would love nothing more than to help you start taking baby steps toward your biggest goals. As your coach, I'll help you do big-picture visioning, uncover your values, set specific goals, knock out limiting beliefs or barriers to action, and brainstorm ways to make substantial progress -- all supported by assignments for you to work on between sessions. Nothing gets me more fired up than working with you on making your biggest dreams a reality. Learn more here.

Looking for another great way to kick-off 2011?

Join me for a free 60-minute career strategy webinar with People On-the-Go during the second week of January (hint: one of my first e-books in the making!). Here's a brief description:

The Ladder is Out -- How to Manage Your Career in the Age of the App The era of climbing the ladder as a method of managing your career is out. We are now in the age of the app - everything you need is at your fingertips, fully customizable to your unique career dreams and aspirations. Rather than follow a linear path, learn how to explore, experiment and build a strong foundation that suits your dynamic talents and goals. [Read more and sign-up]

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Big love and hugs to all of you :)

Eat. Sleep. Yoga. Part Two: Re-Entry.

Rainbow from White Lotus Re-entering the "real world" after 16-days of actual rainbows and sunshine in Santa Barbara was a major shock to my system, as I alluded to in Part 1:

"I’ve been working harder every day but feeling like I am falling farther and farther behind. I’ve felt exhausted to the core; disappointed and helpless as I watched (mortified and even ashamed at) how quickly the clarity and calm from White Lotus escaped me."

On the first day back I could already feel anxiety pulsing through every vein. My breath was short and I ran around like a maniac all day re-arranging a room in my house (more below) as an avoidance tactic to delay diving into the massive amount of work that had piled up while I was gone.

Ganga and Tracy taught us to breathe - that breath is life - and to treat our whole day as our yoga - but I quickly spiraled into a nervous, compulsive, frenzied state. I wanted so badly to carry that zen, relaxed, peaceful yogini-self with me into my normal life. I wanted to change the way I work and commit to habits that would sustain me over the long-term, especially as I prepare to launch and promote my book next year.

Double Rainbow from White Lotus

By my second day back I was feeling semi totally panicked about how much I had on my plate. I felt like I was sinking faster by the minute in productivity quicksand. Every day I woke up earlier to start working, but every day I ended farther behind. Balancing a full plate at work, the final-final-final edits of my book and drama over the cover (it goes to press any day now) was wearing on me. Without my full emotional faculties, every text message, phone call, email request and social commitment that piled up felt increasingly suffocating.

By last Friday, I was a total wreck. A hot, hot mess. Case in point: I made myself my first coffee in a loooong time so that I could survive the afternoon slump, then ended up spilling it all over the table five minutes before starting to deliver a three-hour training, eyes still red and puffy from crying hysterically that morning as I was getting dressed for work. Feeling guilty but in survival mode, I regretfully cancelled all weekend plans (again) so I could try to get my life in order (again).

I'm not trying to be dramatic - I know that people have it so much worse than I do. I am ridiculously lucky to have the problems I have (and the unwavering support of my friends and blogger BFF Elisa). At the same time, I am determined to start solving these problems for myself and others who get overwhelmed by the big shoes they are trying to fill.

"Our culture has an excess of doing and a poverty of being" - Ganga White

People often tell me to stop doing so much, to slow down, or to go easy on myself. It sounds so easy. But that doesn't change the number of deadlines at work or with the book, or the number of email requests in my inbox. If I knew how to change the situation, I would. But somehow I keep ending up back here.

Here is my pattern (which may be blindingly obvious to long-time blog readers):

  1. Work too hard for too long.
  2. Get overwhelmed and resentful.
  3. Feel as though I've lost myself.
  4. Fall out of sleep and exercise habits that keep me happy and healthy.
  5. Get sick and/or break down.
  6. Force myself to slow down.
  7. Feel guilty about not being able to keep up with all friends in all corners of the world.
  8. Gremlin tells me soon I won't even have friends (or blog readers) if I keep complaining about feeling overwhelmed and ditching everyone to go into "emergency mode." (Gremlin also kicks in to tell me not to publish this post because it's too Debbie Downer).
  9. Promise to change.
  10. Try my very best to actually change and put myself first...
  11. Fall back into old habits.
  12. Feel like I'm lacking the magic sanity-management skillset that others seem to have.
  13. Repeat steps 1-12.

I feel compelled to quote Ganga's wise words once more. This is what I would like to strive for instead of the pattern above:

White Lotus from a pond on-siteSit under the stars with a quiet mind and no goal. Be attentive to all things in life. Honor yourself. Laugh at yourself. Listen to the voice of your own body. Carry joy and light on your path. Listen to the wise, but always question. Truth and love are simple and ever present. —Ganga White, Yoga Beyond Belief: Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice

Even though the first week back was rough, all was not lost.

Here are some positive changes I have made:

  • I've gone coffee free (in an effort to get my natural energy back) - I've only had coffee once in two months (to give me a boost for my 5-hour drive back from Santa Barbara). I started cold turkey when I did the Clean Program cleanse about a month ago, and have been really focusing on letting my body return to it's natural energy rhythms. It feels great - I can already tell I am way less tired in the afternoons.
  • I have been eating mostly vegetarian, and significantly reduced my dairy intake. This change was inspired by White Lotus where we ate delicious vegetarian meals every day and watched Food, Inc. (an incredibly powerful and shocking movie from Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation). I also recently read and was encouraged by Michael Pollan's Food Rules: An Eater's Manual. His core principle: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Pollan has two other great books worth checking out: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and The Omnivore's Dilemma.
  • On my first day back, I gave away my TV (for free!) - I knew it was now or never -- and was curious to see if I could survive without a TV...another seemingly impossible feat. I figure without TV I will be more likely to read, write and think -- all things I could definitely use more of. If I were smarter I would have waited until after football season, but hey -- this might also encourage me to actually leave the house!
  • Taught my first (private) yoga class - I am excited about finishing my certification, which means teaching 20 group classes and 5 private sessions (I'll gladly take volunteers if you're in the area!). I successfully fumbled through teaching my first class last weekend, and I know it will only get easier from here. I also really want to make time for my own yoga practice every day - even if it's only 10 minutes. Now if only I could figure out what my recurring dream/nightmare about teaching an unruly yoga class means (twice now I've dreamed about teaching a class that rebels and stops paying attention to me).
  • Created an "essential self" sanctuary - this is the change I am most excited about. While at training I found myself longing for a dedicated yoga space. In an "aha moment" I realized that I've used my dining room about once in the last year. I never cook and I never work at the table, so it seems ridiculous to have a whole corner of my house go unused 99% of the time. So on my first day back I spent the whole day re-decorating to create a yoga/reading room with books, magazines, candles and all kinds of zen paraphernalia. I also bought a gratitude journal to keep in there -- before leaving the room, I make a point to write something in it.

BEFORE (the dining room I never used) . . . and AFTER (the yoga zen room!):

BEFORE: The dining room I never used.After - The Yoga Zen Room!

All of the great art on the wall is my dad's - online portfolio here.


My friend Julie is writing a book on this very subject - navigating work in a 24/7 world. We would both love to hear from you:

What is your biggest challenge in managing your work in the global, digital age? What related problem/s would you want help solving?