You Should Do Hill Sprints

I’ve been doing a lot of hill sprints in preparation for this year’s “Fit and Fearless” race to the top of Brimstone Hill, one of the highest points in St. Kitts.

Let me just say… hill sprints are no joke.

They’re hard. They get your heart rate up more than any flat sprint. They build serious power and speed that translate directly to your other runs. And yeah, if you’re trying to get shredded, they burn a metric fuck-ton of calories.

Not to mention the fact that hill sprints, while extremely intense, are a lower-impact exercise for your joints. (Be careful coming back down, though.)

Find a hill. Run to the top. Then do it again. And again. And again.

You can thank me later.

The Power Of Deadlines

Imagine you’re leaving for a long trip one month from now.

If you’re like most people, on the morning of departure you’ll still be scrambling to finish packing and get everything ready.

But if someone put a gun to your head and told you to pack everything you need in the next five minutes, could you do it?

Of course you could. And that is the power of deadlines.

Work is like a gas—it expands to fill its container. You can make it a lot smaller by simply putting it in a smaller container.

So if you have a particular task that needs to be done in a week, it’ll probably take you the entire week to get it done. But if you impose a strict deadline and limit yourself to two hours…

Well, you’ll get it done in two hours.

Back in school, whenever I had a paper or project due, I would put it off until I had just enough time to reasonably get it done, and then for those last two hours or so I would be insanely productive—because I knew I had to finish the paper on time. There was no alternative.

Sound familiar?

By imposing your own deadlines, you can force yourself into that same state of urgency where you’re productive because you have to be.

Of course, there is a limit to this. You can’t just set a deadline for a huge task and magically get it done in five minutes—you have to be somewhat realistic.

With that said, there is value in limiting the time you can spend on certain things because it forces you to act. You don’t have the option of goofing off or watching cat videos because you only have so much time to work.

Just Get Started

Here’s the situation:

You have some important tasks on your to-do list.

You know they need to get done, and you know that doing them is the key to achieving your goals.

…and yet there you sit, on the couch, watching TV, or doing whatever it is that you do to distract yourself, instead of doing the work.

Why?

We all sometimes fall into the classic trap where we sit and wait for inspiration to strike, rather than getting down to business. The solution is almost deceptively simple:

Just get started.

I know what you’re thinking. You want to know how to do the work, and my advice is to… just get started? What kind of help is that? I could’ve just told you to do the work by doing the work.

Except they’re not the same.

When I say “just get started,” I’m talking about the actual physical action of moving over to your desk (or wherever you need to be), and beginning the task at hand.

You don’t have to do the whole thing. Just do a tiny bit.

Once you’ve done that tiny bit, you’ll likely find that momentum takes over and carries you to the finish line.

People often think of action as a result of motivation. In reality, the opposite is true: motivation is a result of action.

The more you do, the more motivated you will be to do more. As you watch your progress play out in front of you, you’ll get psyched up to keep pushing forward.

But if you’re just sitting there like a lump, what do you think is going to motivate you? You may actually become less motivated because all you’ll see is a lack of progress.

Just get started.

Use every bit of willpower you have to take those first few steps. Don’t think about your work as a gigantic, unmanageable process. Just focus on the one or two steps that are directly in front of you, and use momentum to carry you beyond that.

Respectful UX

Something that isn’t often discussed in conversations about UX is an implied respect for the user.

Do you ever land on a web page that contains information you need, only to leave out of frustration with the experience?

Maybe the ads were overwhelming. Maybe they shoved a bunch of opt-in offers down your throat. Maybe the author rambled for ten paragraphs instead of getting to the damn point.

All of these things show a lack of respect for the user. It’s a way of saying, Our performance metrics are more important to us than you or your time.

It’s okay to have ads. It’s okay to sell stuff. But when those things compromise the user experience, they also compromise your brand image and longevity.

Here are some ideas to provide a more respectful user experience:

  • Keep advertising tasteful and minimal.
  • Don’t autoplay audio or video—especially in third-party ads.
  • Cool it with the aggressive popups. If you’re going to use popups, time them in such a way that they don’t interrupt me while I’m consuming your content. Exit-intent popups are fine.
  • I don’t want your stupid push notifications. The only scenario where these prompts are okay is if I explicitly ask you to send me notifications. Here’s an easy fix: add a “Get Notifications” button to your site to trigger the request. Those who actually want them will click.
  • Don’t divide your content into pages just to increase page views and ad impressions. You’re wasting my life just to make a few extra pennies.
  • Don’t ramble for multiple paragraphs just to inflate your word count or keyword density. It’s okay to provide background, but please get to the point and solve the reader’s problem ASAP.
  • Keep your promises. Don’t lure people in with clickbait titles and then underdeliver with shitty content.
  • Give your users more than one way to contact you. A contact form can be convenient, but you should also have an email address and maybe even a phone number.

Every great relationship is built on a foundation of respect.

Do you respect your users?

“The Secret Of Happiness Is Something To Do”

This morning I came across this John Burroughs quote, and it really stuck with me: “The secret of happiness is something to do.”

I really believe this.

You don’t become happy by freeing yourself of responsibilities. Everyone needs a purpose in life, and doing nothing is the quickest way to lose sight of that.

I love progress. I love doing. I have a very low tolerance for stagnation.

When I keep myself busy with things that matter to me, happiness is my default state.

Introducing Output Radio

I’m excited to announce the launch of Output Radio, a fun side project I’ve been working on lately.

Output Radio is a free, fully-licensed Internet radio station playing low-distraction electronic and alternative music to help you focus and get your work done.

I wanted to produce something that I would use myself, and I’ve found myself using it daily as part of my regular workflow.

If you think you might enjoy it as well, I’d love for you to tune in.

AirPods Corrosion: They Don’t Play Well With Sweat

I’ve had my AirPods for more than a year at this point. I consider them one of the coolest gadgets I’ve ever owned, and arguably the most revolutionary Apple product since the iPhone.

In many ways, they’re also great for fitness. They sound good, there are no wires to get in the way, and I can do everything from weightlifting to sprints and burpees without worrying about losing them.

But over the last few months I’ve encountered a problem.

I work out at least five times a week, and I’m usually dripping with sweat by the time I’m finished. And while I wipe down my AirPods regularly, I’ve noticed some green corrosion appearing at the base of both earbuds.

It’s not just unsightly—it has also begun to interfere with charging, and it has rendered the microphone effectively useless.

Others have experienced this issue as well.

To be fair, Apple never claimed these things were waterproof, or even sweat-proof—and indeed, water damage is not covered by the warranty.

But if you’re using your AirPods for working out, beware: they don’t respond well to long-term, repeated sweat exposure. Keep them clean and dry!