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My Parenting Interview; and Everything Else You Ever Wanted To Know About Leo Babauta

I always feel a bit embarrassed when someone asks to interview me — I’d rather be the one asking the questions. Being interviewed is a bit like being naked in public: you’re really exposing yourself, more than you normally would to total strangers.

That said, ParentWonder.com just interviewed me about being a parent, in case you’re interested:

Leo Babauta on Parenting and Family

And for those who didn’t catch them the first time around, I thought I’d share some past interviews with me. As someone who’s done interviews of other people all my life, it’s a bit weird — the first time I was interviewed was earlier this year, by Nneka of Balanced Life Center. Read more »

Reader Success Stories: Getting Productive, and a Clean Desk

Today we start a new series of Reader Success Stories on different habit and life changes. I’ve received emails from many people who’ve been inspired by Zen Habits, and have made many positive changes in their lives. Instead of only sharing my success stories, I thought it would be inspiring to see how others have changed their lives.

Today we hear from two people: someone who became more organized and productive, and another who cleared his desk. Others have started waking earlier, exercising, simplifying their lives. We’ll hear from them later (there’s no schedule as of right now). They all have great stories to share!

Thanks to all the readers who sent in their success stories. Read more »

How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

This is a guest post by Mehdi, author of StrongLifts.com. Every Friday is Health Tip Day at Zen Habits.

After my previous post 7 Ways to Build the Exercise Habit, Leo asked me to write an 8-week program to build muscle and lose fat.

However, I believe that to have long-term success, the plan must become your lifestyle. It must become a habit.

Therefore this article is not an 8-week program. It’s a list of simple ways to build muscle and lose fat. Tips that worked for me and my readers. And guess what: you will be able to build muscle and lose fat in 8 weeks using these tips. Read more »

How to Give Kind Criticism, and Avoid Being Critical

Photo by timsamoff

Every Thursday is Happiness Day on Zen Habits.

Can you give someone criticism without hurting their feelings or making them angry? Can you do it kindly?

I think that’s a difficult proposition for most people, but in truth it’s possible to give criticism with kindness and have a decent chance of having the person take it constructively.

Last week, it seems that my post on How to Accept Criticism with Grace and Appreciation struck a chord with many people. It seems that most of us have a hard time accepting criticism without getting hurt or angry or defensive … and just as many of us have a hard time giving criticism without making others hurt or angry or defensive. Read more »

Escaping the Cubicle and Getting Off the Corporate Treadmill

Photo by janusz l

This is a guest post from Mark Hayward of the Culebra Blog. Every Wednesday is Simplicity Day on Zen Habits.

Many people at one point or another dream about quitting their job and escaping the cubicle forever. I must confess to feeling claustrophobic many times during my tenure in the American corporate workforce.

Like most dreams and goals escaping the cubicle can be accomplished but you must be willing to alter your mindset and change the way you have been to taught to evaluate success. You must also realize that if you try to remove yourself from the business environment (even if it is to start your own business) people’s perceptions about you are undoubtedly going to change. Read more »

10 Lessons to Teach Your Kids About Money

Photo by Iadnlins

Every Tuesday is Finance & Family Day at Zen Habits.

I’m only now learning habits that I wish I had when I was entering adulthood. I think I’m not alone here, but if I had these habits when I was young, I’d be pretty well off now.

Because of that, I plan to teach my kids about money, to give them the value of money, to teach them skills and habits that will get them off to a good start, and to have them learn by doing, and from my example. Read more »

Join the Zen Habits October Challenge!

It’s a day late, but I’ve started the October Challenge on the Zen Habits forums. The purpose of these monthly challenges is to form a new habit in 30 days by doing them daily and reporting to the group of fellow challengers.

If you report daily, it actually works. I can attest to it, as can past challengers.

Go there to sign up!

The only rules:

1. Choose only 1 habit. You might want to do more than 1, but it’s pretty difficult.
2. Make it easy — you want to be able to accomplish it. Don’t make it too challenging.
3. Report daily, or as often as you can. Accountability is what makes this work.

That said, I’m going to try to participate this month. I didn’t do it the last couple of months, but I have a new challenge for myself:

Stick to my meal plan each day (I’ve created a 2000-calorie meal plan) except a couple cheat meals a week … and continue my daily habit of exercise.

What’s your challenge! Sign up everyone!

6 Rules for Dealing With Habits vs. Tasks

Photo by paulworthington

Every Monday is Productivity & Organization Day at Zen Habits.

If you’ve been working on a simplified to-do list, you may have your tasks whittled down to the essential. But what about the daily and weekly things you need to do every day: exercise, cleaning, errands, making a to-do list … as those are things you need to do, do they go on your to-do list?

How do you deal with habits on your to-do list? Read more »

I’m OK; Hope You Are Too

I’ve had a couple of emails like this today:

I read tonight that a quake of magnitude 7 or so struck near Guam, and
I was concerned about you and yours.  I’m hoping all is well!

For your loyal readers, a quick update would be much appreciated :}

I did feel the earthquake, and it was fairly strong, but no damage. I’m perfectly fine, and I appreciate the concern! You guys are so nice.

And I hope you and yours are doing well too, wherever you are.

How to Use Mini-Meditations to Relax and Find Focus

Photo by elle_rigby

This is a guest post from Brian Tanaka of DevYou. Every Friday is Health Tip Day at Zen Habits.

It’s often hard to be as focused as we’d like to be. Many things in our hectic lives interrupt our concentration and erode focus. Think: cell phones, instant messaging, email, and co-workers vying for our time and energy.

Fortunately, there are ways to counteract these forces and bring better, more relaxed focus to our activities. One way is to use “mini-meditations.”

Mini-meditations boost focus and calm your mind throughout the day. They require no fancy preparation or techniques, and you can do them anywhere in less than a minute — so they’re ideal mindfulness exercises whether you’re at home in a quiet room or in the midst of a busy day at work. Read more »

How to Accept Criticism with Grace and Appreciation

Photo by Zara-Jay

Every Thursday is Happiness Day on Zen Habits.

Every day, I get emails and comments that are amazingly positive and encouraging, and in truth these messages are the very thing that sustains my blogging. However, I also get negative comments now and then: criticism of my writing, and not nice criticism either.

How do you deal with criticism? I think the first reaction for most of us is to defend ourselves, or worse yet to lash back.

And yet, while criticism can be taken as hurtful and demoralizing, it can also be viewed in a positive way: it is honesty, and it can spur us to do better. It’s an opportunity to improve. Read more »

Simple Living Simplified: 10 Things You Can Do Today to Simplify Your Life

Photo by striatic

Every Wednesday is Simplicity Day on Zen Habits.

Simplifying can sometimes be overwhelming. The amount of stuff you have in your life and the amount of things you have to do can be too big a mountain to tackle.

But you don’t have to simplify it all at once. Do one thing at a time, and take small steps. You’ll get there, and have fun doing it.

In fact, you can do little but important things today to start living the simple life.
I was criticized a few weeks ago when I published the Simple Living Manifesto: 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life, because many people felt the list was too long. I heard this point, and this post is my response: just the 10 most important things. Read more »

Mastering Productivity: How to Be More Effective With Your Time

Photo by harvest_japan*

This is a guest post by Lodewijk van den Broek of How to be an Original and is part of the Mastering Productivity series.

Time is a special resource. A lot of people say it is a scarce resource, but most people don’t recognize this. The fact that most of us have many years ahead of us, doesn’t give the feeling of scarcity now does it?

But time is special in a sense that it can not be recaptured once it has passed. If it has passed it is gone, and our unknown remaining supply will only reduce further. So we better make good use of our time and make it as productive as can be. But what is productive time? Productivity is effectiveness and efficiency combined, so let’s dive into those aspects. Read more »

Haiku Productivity: Limit Your Work Week

Photo by Mike9Alive

Every Monday is Productivity & Organization Day at Zen Habits.

What if you only worked 4 days a week? Or 5 days of 3 hours a week? Or whatever hours you decided?

Last week I talked about the fine art of limiting yourself in my new Haiku Productivity system. This week, let’s see how Haiku Productivity could be used to allow you to work less, be more effective, and free up more time for yourself.

I know, it sounds nice but unrealistic. But it doesn’t have to be, if you really want to control your work life. It depends on what you’re willing to do. Read more »

4 Simple Steps to Start the Exercise Habit

Photo by mikebaird

Every Friday is Health Tip Day at Zen Habits.

I have to admit that I have my ups and downs with the exercise habit.

So I know that it’s not the easiest habit for most people, and most people’s experiences consist of starting and stopping and starting again. Which is fine — don’t beat yourself up about it. The important thing is starting again.

I’ve written before about how to build the exercise habit (and even have a guest post on it), but today I thought I’d revisit the topic for those who still have trouble. Read more »

My Gadgetless Life: Leo Interviewed on Bloggers Cribs

I thought you guys might enjoy this interview with me regarding my technology:

Bloggers Cribs: Leo Babauta

And here’s a couple of articles I wrote elsewhere in the last couple of days:

Less is More: 10 Ways to Simplify Your Freelance Life

Get Organized: Keep All Your Info in One Place

Reader Submissions: Looking for Zen Habits Success Stories

Recently I had some readers saying that they’d like to read more about how others have successfully adopted habits, such as exercise, eating healthy, getting organized, waking early, simplifying, clean-as-you-go, etc.

Of course, I’ve written a bit about how I’ve done these things, but many of you are also successful … even more so in many cases. I’d love to hear from you!

I plan to run a series (maybe once a week) of success stories on different habits, and would like to get emails from some of you who are willing to share your success tips with our readers and have your name and photo published. Read more »

Minimalist Fun: The 100 Things Challenge

Photo by Zach Klein

Every Wednesday is Simplicity Day on Zen Habits.

Could you cut your personal possessions down to 100 things?

Last week, in my Haiku Productivity post, I mentioned blogger Dave Bruno’s 100 thing challenge. It’s actually a challenge that I’ve seen in years past on other forums (see the rucksack guy’s 101 things - with photos), but Dave’s version is that he’s trying to cut his personal possessions down to 100 items.

Things not included: Read more »

Put Your Spending into Reverse Gear

Photo by pinkbelt

This is a guest post from Anne Truitt Zelenka of Web Worker Daily and a new food blog, The Everyday Cafe. Every Tuesday is Finance & Family Day at Zen Habits.

You don’t have to feel deprived when you spend less money. In fact, you can decrease your spending while being just about as happy as you are now. You just need to put your spending — and your hedonic treadmill — into reverse gear.

Spending more and more but never feeling any happier
Over time most people will raise their expectations as their income increases, resulting in little long-term change in happiness from income increases — that’s the so-called hedonic treadmill. “Hedonic” means “of or relating to happiness and pleasure” and a treadmill, well … you know what that is. You run and run and run and never get anywhere. Increases in income can be like that: your overall level of happiness doesn’t ever progress because you just get used to the new way of life. Read more »

Engineer Life: Set Up Habit Changes So It’s Hard to Fail

Photo by chicadecasa

In his excellent ebook about changing habits, blogging friend Scott Young described the process of forming habits as walking home through fresh snow. The first person to go through the snow has to forge a path through the snow, and it’s difficult … but others will follow in that path and it gets easier and easier.

Forming a habit is a matter of forging that initial path until it’s harder not to take the path. Who wants to forge a new path through the snow?

But let’s take that concept a little further: what if you engineered it so that even the initial person forging through the snow would rather take that path than another, because it would be harder not to take the path. Read more »