A Directory of Advice That Works

Below are 256 ways to be a Better Human.

One of the goals of the Better Humans publication is to develop a comprehensive collection of well-tested advice for every self-improvement topic. That might take us years, or even decades.

For now, here are our best 256+ articles, along with some commentary about how the articles could work for you.

I’ve tried to give my commentary from the perspective of a habit designer. That’s my expertise. Big results come from long-term changes.

Each of these articles was edited by either myself or Terrie Schweitzer. We bring different personal experience (more endurance sports for me, more Zen for her), but we primarily draw from the same experience of running a habit tracker and a habit coaching platform over at Coach.me. This isn’t a content marketing blog for Coach.me, but we often use our experiences there as the test kitchen for finding advice that works.



GOALS & HABITS

* Goal Setting
* Habits & Behavior Design
* Emotional Rewiring

Before you work on getting stronger, more efficient, or more charismatic, ask yourself: “to what end?”

Your answer becomes your guiding mission. Then, set out to master habit-building as a skill. Once you do those two things, you can set out to tackle your dreams.

I’m a little bit prickly about people who don’t have an end in mind — and it’s not just readers who fall into this trap. Many gurus publish masterful works of productivity or fat loss, but seemingly don’t have anyone in their life who loves them (or vice versa). What has being thin and rich gotten them, then? Not much (IMO).

So, I don’t want you to fall into that trap of thinking that activity is the same as accomplishment.

But I also don’t want you to fall into analysis paralysis of whether your goal is good enough. The Goal Setting section below is meant to land you in a healthy middle ground.

After that, there’s a section on habit building and habit breaking. You can’t go anywhere without the ability to create consistency in your life.

The concluding section is about Emotional Rewiring. All of us are of two minds: one emotional, and one rational. This is best explained in the Kahneman book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. Your rational mind is easy to convince — just gather research and facts.

However, your emotional mind must be rewired emotionally. This is the province of the wu wu, like magic crystals, mantras, etc. These interventions are irrational, and coming to grips with that was a big turning point in my own understanding of what works. As a science-loving rationalist, I go through these hokey seeming (to me) and sometimes metaphysical exercises with my own pragmatic mantra: “This is a useful mental construct.”


Goal Setting

These are broken down by scope. Most people at least consider New Year’s Resolutions. But also you should consider your life goals (and then regularly reconsider them), your annual goals (maybe re-evaluating mid-year), and then your weekly and daily goals.

New Year’s Resolutions:

Looking at the big picture of your entire life:

Looking at your year:

Looking at your week:

Looking at your day:

What to do when you fail to achieve a goal:




PRODUCTIVITY

* Productivity Tactics
* Cure Technology Distraction
* Cure Procrastination
* Use Your Tech Tools More Productively
* Office Design for Productivity & Creativity

Please tell me you read the goal-setting section. Otherwise, productive just means busy, and there’s no value in that. To what end do you care about productivity?

My own goals for productivity include things like having a positive impact and making money. But they also include goals like being able to say on Saturday, “I didn’t work on productivity all week just to have to work on the weekend.”



Cure Technology Distraction

This section has a lot of articles because technology distraction is so pervasive. You basically have to go device-by-device and service-by-service until they’re set up to allow you time to focus.

The most important rule is that technology should be your tool, not your boss. I’m partial to my own article as a starting point. It’s a 75-minute read, which should signal that it’s thorough. But I also hope readers see the length and clue into how much work they have ahead of them to reclaim their lives.

For Android owners, try this article:

Given that my iPhone-specific tutorial is so long and extreme, you should also consider the following shorter tactics:

A lot of tech distraction comes down to social media apps. The articles below have you either change their settings or give them up entirely.

Our computers have the same distractions as our phones. But so far, we just have this one article:

Sometimes the technology distraction has a real human being behind it:


Cure Procrastination

The roots of procrastination start in the emotional centers of our brain. Normally, we won’t even notice the subconscious emotions that trigger it. Thankfully, there are a number of tested tactics to reduce and maybe even cure procrastination.

This series starts with the world’s leading researcher in procrastination, followed by applied tactics from top coaches, and then ends with a science fiction piece about what would happen if we could design a device that would apply these tactics for us.



Office Design for Productivity & Creativity

A four-part series from an architect who specializes in applying scientific research on productivity, creativity, and flow. All by Donald M. Rattner, AIA.


HEALTH

* Diet & Fat Loss
* Exercise
* Sleep
* Give Up Caffeine
* Give Up Alcohol

Diet & Fat Loss

My position is that you should be focused on manipulating your body to burn fat. This is a very different focus than calorie-counting and is based on the scientific explanations of Dr. Jason Fung (and our own experience running diet studies and supporting fat loss coaches).

To manipulate your body to be in fat-burning mode, most people will have two options: reduce carbs or increase fasting time.

Try both at once if you want to burn fat quickly, but also know that for long-term health you should be looking for a permanent change. In our experience as behavior designers, the 16:8 intermittent fasting option — where you skip breakfast everyday — is a much easier permanent lifestyle change than avoiding carbs for the rest of your life.

There are a couple of caveats. We haven’t covered diet changes for people with significant pre-existing health issues. If this is you, trust your doctor, not us. Also, many women have told us anecdotally that they experience low carb and fasting differently than it is described by men. I feel like this is a blind spot in our coverage, and I’m sorry.

Last, a huge amount of diet writing comes with a heavy dose of fat shaming. We’ve tried to avoid that, but if you have arrived here feeling like you’ve been fat-shamed in the past, please read Ragen Chastain’s piece about Leaving Toxic Diet Culture Behind.

Intermittent fasting:

We don’t have an intro to fasting article yet. If we did, it would be focused on eating windows. That form of fasting is commonly called 16:8 and refers to an 8-hour eating window: say, noon to 8pm. You do all of your eating in that window, and then fast for the remaining 16 hours.

Low Carb:

There are a lot of variants of Low Carb that are mostly on the spectrum of how aggressively you will avoid carbs. Keto is the most aggressive. Tim Ferriss’ Slow Carb uses a weekly cheat day to make the diet change easier to follow.

Skills:

The importance of these articles is in the behavior change. It’s easy to know how you should eat, but much harder to follow through. Hopefully, these skills will help.

Case studies:

Fasting vs. caloric restriction:

So many people are unhelpfully locked into caloric restriction as the way they view fat loss, so here are some ways of looking at it. The TL;DR is that yes, you do end up in a caloric deficit with any fat loss, but that’s a side effect that you can ignore and instead focus on hormonal manipulation.



Sleep

Sleep is the ultimate brain training and health habit. You get more done when you’re rested and so it’s almost always worth the trade-off of giving yourself a full night of rest.

Of course, getting to sleep and staying asleep isn’t always easy:

Your morning routine:

Tracking:



Give Up Alcohol

A lot of people develop unhealthy habits around alcohol that turn into a drag on their health, their sleep, and their productivity. Here are some ways to turn those habits around.




Cognitive Bias

A huge part of mindfulness is overcoming the many ways your mind tricks you into believing things that aren’t true.

Start with these two articles. The first gives you the breadth of cognitive biases and the second gives you a skill that will let you spot when you are wrong and change your mind:

The remaining articles are ways to spot and overcome biases, and to build mental habits for thinking more clearly and rationally:


Anxiety & Anger

The boss who gave me my first promotion was enthusiastically cynical and gave me this great advice: “You are going to love everything about being a manager, except for the people.” People trigger our emotions and we need to learn how to deal with that:

Then, on top of the feelings other people pull out of us, we also carry an incredible amount of self-created fear, anxiety, and stress. Here are ways to manage and overcome that:

Then, sometimes it’s your friend or relative that needs your help:


BUSINESS

* Business & Career Advice
* Business Networking
* Email Habits
* Writing
* Public Speaking

Business & Career Advice

My view is often guided by the framing of the business world as a competition between hubris and competence. We come down on the side of helping people succeed through extreme competence.

Getting a new job or promotion:

How to be more influential:

Management:

Play to your strengths:

Entrepreneurship:


Business Networking

My take here is that the advice breaks down a bit between personality types. A lot of introverts feel like they need to be better networkers, and so they’re looking for explicit strategies.

If you self-identify as an introvert, you probably want to start with these three articles:

For all networkers, there are two additional basic skills:

For advanced networkers, here’s how to tweak your approach to be even more successful:


Email Habits

If you want to be a more efficient emailer, start with this article, which has been tested through hundreds of one-on-one coaching experiences:

After that, try these three skill upgrades:



Public Speaking

One great article on how to prepare based on TED experiences:

Then two articles on how to overcome your anxiety: