Issue 8

Welcome to a previous issue of The Journal. To get the latest issue delivered to your inbox, once a month, sign up for the newsletter here.


I hope this electronic mail finds you well. I’ve been traveling like a mofo over the last few weeks (LA, France, Portland). Really excited to stay in NYC for the next month and get back to my healthy habits. I’m 6-months out from my 40th birthday and it’s time to get in the best shape of my life.

The Journal podcast is back. It was my honor to sit down w/ Jesse Lawler, founder of theSmart Drug Smarts podcast. We go down the rabbit hole discussing all things brain enhancement. Jesse was also gracious enough to do a guest post in this edition, see his “Sight Fasting” article below.

Listen here: iTunes, Web, RSS

Enjoy the issue,
Kevin

This 100 year old to-do list hack still works

The picture above is that of Ivy Lee. Back in 1918, Lee was tapped to help Charles M. Schwab increase the productivity of his workers. Lee developed a simple productivity system that accomplished that.

“The Ivy Lee Method:

  1. At the end of each workday, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

The strategy sounded simple, but Schwab and his executive team at Bethlehem Steel gave it a try. After three months, Schwab was so delighted with the progress his company had made that he called Lee into his office and wrote him a check for $25,000. A $25,000 check written in 1918 is the equivalent of a $400,000 check in 2015.”

I’ve personally been using this method for a couple weeks now and love it.

Full story here (Fast Company, 4 min read)

Will going blind be the new black?

This is a guest post by Jesse Lawler, this month’s podcast guest and host of the Smart Drug Smarts podcast.

Sometime in the next six months, I’ll be going blind.

Now before you worry — don’t. It will be voluntary blindness, only lasting for a week or so. Then again, maybe you should worry, because this will be the awkward first phase of blindness. I won’t be moving gracefully with a white cane, dignity and know-how; instead, I’ll be stubbing my toes and possibly my face on objects — all in the pursuit of gaming my own neuroplasticity.

We all know that “you only use 10% of your brain” line is total baloney, right?

In case they caught you with that whopper, consider this: Blind people wind up with other super-senses to compensate, right? But how does this happen? It happens because the brain doesn’t want to see its neurological firepower sitting idle.

As for why I’m choosing to go blind (short-term), I recently discovered the work of Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD. Pascual-Leone has shown that the speed at which the brain recruits unused areas of the sensory cortex to process “extra-modal stimuli” (e.g. hearing instead of vision) is startlingly fast. I’d always assumed that to experience the super-hearing of a blind person, you’d have to commit to a lifetime of blindness. It turns out I was wrong.

Blindness might even allow for weekend warriors.

Dr. Pascual-Leone has shown that in as little as two days of total darkness normal sighted volunteers began redeploying areas of their visual cortex to process sound and touch. (This required full blackout masks, so not a single photon could hit the retina.) It turns out that humans can even echo-locate. Yes, like bats. We can’t do it quite as well as bats, admittedly — but still a whole lot better than I’d thought we could, which was “not at all.”

Since learning all of this, I’m eager to try out some visual cortex redeployment on myself. And if several days blindfolded is the price of admission, that’s a price I’ll gladly pay.

(I should point out that the super-senses aren’t permanent; they fade away within 12–24 hours after the blindfold comes off. But the taste of dark chocolate doesn’t linger in your mouth after a few minutes, either — and that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth eating.)


Kevin’s thoughts: Anything that makes us uncomfortable often causes us to grow. Not only would this be a fun hack to activate new senses and brain connections, but I’d imagine give us a deeper appreciation for our own eyesight and compassion for those that don’t have theirs. I’m going to find a weekend and try this for 48 hours.

Just finished reading: The Art of Presence

I first read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now many years ago, and it changed the way I think about (and live out) my daily reality. In that book, Tolle shows us how easy it is to ruminate over the past, or take issue with the future. Living outside of the “now” or “present moment” can cause us intense stress and unhappiness. If you haven’t read The Power of Now, start there.

In his latest audiobook “The Art of Presence” (an audio recording of his retreat), Tolle guides you through seven hours of insights that allow “presence to naturally arise” in you.

I just finished the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Tolle is often very funny and his faint buddha-like laugh hints at how deep he understands and relates to these issues.

The Art of Presence (Audible — $34.28)

App of the month: Soon

“You HAVE to watch Stranger Things, it’s sooo good.”
“Mr. Robot really gets the computer hacking stuff right,definitely check it out.”
“Kevin, you have to get caught up, go home tonight and watch The Night Of.”

The above quotes are actual recommendations from my friends. It seems every week or two someone is recommending a new TV series, book, bar, band, etc. often over a beer or two.

These recommendations sometimes go into my notepad, but often get acknowledged and then forgotten.

Enter: Soon. Soon is your everyday bucket list, an app that tracks all the things you’d like to get around to doing, someday…soon.

This is my Soon “TV Series” List:

By the way, I just finished watching “Stranger Things,” highly-highly recommend.

Soon (FREE — iOS)

Monthly wisdom

“People look to time in expectation that it will eventually make them happy, but you cannot find true happiness by looking toward the future.”
~Eckhart Tolle

See you next month, be well.

Kevin


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