The Life Challenge
Just Get Through The Day: With some tips from Tim Ferris

Just Get Through The Day: With some tips from Tim Ferris

One of my friends introduced me to the Four Hour Work Week Podcast by Tim Ferris, and I quickly became obsessed with it. Tim deconstructs world class performers through interviewing and gets down to the nitty gritty of what makes them successful. His podcasts offer helpful tidbits that anyone can grasp and apply to their life. Not to mention the podcasts are often very entertaining!

The other week I noticed Tim posted a blog called “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide,” and I decided to give it a read. Working in the recovery world is typically a very rewarding job, but sometimes the disease wins and unfortunately we deal with suicide. No situation is easier to comprehend than the other, but unfortunately it’s a reality of our world.

I am fortunate in the fact that I have not personally struggled with mental or addiction problems, however I think we can all relate to having a rough day or a rough stretch of time. Life throws challenges at us often and whether we want to admit it or not, sometimes they get the best of us. At the end of the blog, Tim lists out some tips on how to just “get through the day.” Not only was I surprised as to how simple they were, but I also thought they were useful and practical for anyone.

Here are Tim Ferris’s:  “Coping Mechanisms for Making it Through the Day:”


1) Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. E-mail is the mind killer.


2) Make a cup of tea (I like pu-erh like this) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.


3) Write down the 3-5 things — and no more — that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually = most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.


4) For each item, ask yourself:

– “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
– “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”


5) Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.


6) Block out at 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.


7) TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2-3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work.


8) If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do.


9) Physically MOVE for at least 20 minutes each day. Go for a long walk, lift weights, take a free online yoga class (YouTube), anything. Ideally, get outside. I was once asked by friend for advice on overcoming debilitating stress. The answer I repeated over and over again was: “Remember to EXERCISE daily. That is 80% of the battle.”


10) Follow a diet that prevents wild blood sugar swings. This means avoiding grains and refined carbohydrates most of the time. I follow the slow-carb diet with one cheat day per week and have done so for 10+ years.  Paleo also works great. Don’t forget to eat plenty of fat. High protein and low fat can give you low-grade symptoms of rabbit starvation.


11) Schedule at least one group dinner with friends per week.  Get it on the calendar no later than 5pm on Monday.  Ideal to have at least three people, but two is still great medicine.


12) Take a minute each day to call or email someone to express gratitude of some type. Consider someone you haven’t spoken with in a long time.  It can be a one-line text or a 5-second voicemail.

Congratulations! That’s it.

Those are the rules I use, and they help steer the ship in the right direction.

Routines are the only way I can feel “successful” despite my never-ending impulse to procrastinate, hit snooze, nap, and otherwise fritter away my days with bullshit. If I have 10 “important” things to do in a day, I’ll feel overwhelmed, and it’s 100% certain nothing important will get done that day. On the other hand, I can usually handle 1 must-do item and block out my lesser behaviors for 2-3 hours a day.

And when — despite your best efforts — you feel like you’re losing at the game of life, never forget: Even the best of the best feel this way sometimes. When I’m in the pit of despair with new book projects, I recall what iconic writer Kurt Vonnegut said about his process: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”


If doing all of this seems overwhelming, not to worry, just pick a few that are easy to get started. We all go through hard times. In the end…don’t let the challenge get the best of you!


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Link to Tim Ferris Website: