The Helpful Habits Podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej Bernardyn and welcome to The Helpful Habits. I am a business trainer, expert in developing habits, and the author of a board game The Land of Habits.

In this podcast I will show you how good routines can transform any aspect of your life -  your health, finances, relationships, work, and business. 

To achieve this you don’t need to meditate in the Himalayas for a couple of years or become a cult member. Instead of massive leaps, we will use small steps. Seemingly insignificant shifts that in time lead to spectacular results. Like a tiny snowball that can cause an avalanche… but of positive changes.

In The Helpful Habits I will talk about matters that are both important and practical in a listener-friendly way. Instead of scientific gibberish or philosophical jargon I will use a simple, easy-to-understand language with a lot of stories from my life, analogies, and metaphors.

In each episode I will present at least 1 helpful habit. You will learn why it is essential and how this habit can improve the quality of your life. What’s more, you will learn how to step-by-step make it a part of you that is your second, better nature.

From time to time I will invite special guests and trick them to confess which habits greatly contributed to their success. Because of that you will use their experience and avoid painful mistakes.

You can listen to The Helpful Habits on Youtube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and all the good podcasting apps.

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The Last One #15. The Habit of Implementation

Best knowledge, tools, and equipment are worth nothing if you don't implement them. That is why in this episode, we will talk about how to put significant new ideas into practice with 5 simple steps: capturing, selecting, planning, using, and evaluating.

Episode Transcript

You don't have conditions to listen to the podcast? Maybe you prefer to read instead of listening, or you want to find an interesting piece of information quickly? No problem! Click HERE to read the full episode transcript.

#14. The Habit of Productivity

In this episode, the CEO and Chief Product Officer from Nozbe will tell you how you can achieve more by working less. We will explore topics like: meetings, emails, notification, essentialism, team collaboration and communication and many others!

Episode Transcript

You don't have conditions to listen to the podcast? Maybe you prefer to read instead of listening, or you want to find an interesting piece of information quickly? No problem! Click below to expand the episode transcript.

Transcript of episode 14. The Habit of Productivity


What does it mean to be productive? Is it about crossing out from your TO-DO list as many tasks as possible every day? Handling multiple projects or tasks at once? Or thinking more about the quality than quantity of your work? Working on things that matter and have a long-lasting impact? 

In this episode, we will answer all of these questions and even more. Let’s talk about the habit of … productivity.

And for the first time in this podcast, I will do it with the help of 2 experts. Michał and Rafał, the CEO and chief product officer from Nozbe will share many interesting observations and tips with you.

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on


Hi Michał. Hi Rafał. Thank you for accepting the invitation to my podcast.


Hey, thanks for having us.


Can you introduce yourself? Tell our listeners who you are and what you do professionally?


Okay, so Rafał is the chief product officer of Nozbe, a company I founded, and he's been working with me it for the last nine years. And that's Rafał. Now Rafał introduce me.


Okay, so that was Michael, my CEO and founder of Nozbe, the company I work for. And yeah, Michael has been running his no office company for the last 15 plus years and he is now for running this company completely remotely. And yeah, he's a big fan of Getting Things Done methodology. And he is the iPad only guy. For more than ten years now. He's doing most of his work only on his iPad.


 As far as I know, you are also fellow podcasters. Please tell us what your podcast is about.


Yeah, we have a podcast about working remotely. That's No Office Podcast. We currently have it on hold because we decided to focus on different marketing activities for now, but maybe we will come back to podcasting, we'll see about the results of our current marketing activities.


Plenty of episodes are waiting still, so if you don't know this one, you can go and you hear a lot of useful insights. Okay. Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism, advises us to do less but better. Is this approach close to your view on productivity?


I'm a big fan of Greg McKeown. I love his podcast. Speaking of podcast, he has a great podcast, so you should subscribe to Greg's podcast. Totally. And I have this habit of rereading Essentialism, his book every year, every year around Christmas and around New Year's. So this year I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to reread it again because doing less but better is very important in your focus, in your productivity and your output, but it's a very difficult habit to master.




Yeah, I totally agree. We actually, in our company, try to work that way in product development. We try to do less but better. For example, when we implement a new feature, we always decide how much appetite we have for this feature to be implemented, and it is our constraint. For example, we want to spend four days on feature X, and after four days it should work in our internal version of Nozbe. And then after that, we just decide if we want to invest more time in it. So we try to structure our work in the smallest pieces possible. So it's kind of similar to less but better because each piece we've got more information, we learn more about the problem so we can make better decisions.


From the user experience, I can also tell that I would strongly prefer to have two functions that work perfectly then have ten functions with a lot of bugs, right? So it can be beneficial to both sides, this approach.


But not only that, Andrzej. The thing is that speaking of productivity, it's better to have fewer features and just execute them well. And not only about the bugs, but about also like we have this constant struggle and back and forth between our customers and ourselves that, you know, our customers but does knows we have this feature this feature this feature, this feature and this report and all that and this chart. And I'm like, yeah. No. So in Nozbe, for example, tasks is the main thing. It's about tasks and a bit about your tasks and about your team's tasks. And in many products, tasks is just one of the features of the whole productivity suite. Right. And we explain to these customers, especially to the entrepreneurs and CEOs of these companies, that the key is will your people use all these features? Not really. So just focus. So that's why Nozbe is more limited in that sense, but hopefully better executed. That's what we think. But the idea is it's more limited in features because we want the whole team to use all these features. We don't want just the CEO to use all the features and then the other team users using barely the product or feeling that the product is just too complex and too overwhelming to actually for daily use. And we want not to be daily usable.


Yes, we can be very busy but not productive and we can use a lot of features in some app, but don't do anything meaningful with it.


Exactly. Exactly. So that's the thing. I think the whole theme of this conversation today will be around this, around focus, around really focusing on key features, focusing on key habits, and focusing on the way you really can create impact.


When I conduct trainings, in many cases, at least one of the participants is very skeptical. And when I present some methods, he responds: You know Andrzej, it sounds really nice, but in reality I cannot do less because my boss tells me to do everything. Or if this person is an entrepreneur, he would say, I would love to less work, but I have a mortgage to pay, I need to feed my family. So this is why I have to work more. So how would you respond to these objections?


Oh, man. Yeah. Again, please do what I do. Read Essentialism book after Christmas. Like that's the first step. So if you're this kind of entrepreneur, read the Essentialism. But second thing is: Really? Really? You have to do all these things. Maybe you should just stop and think what you really have to do. In Nozbe we have this concept of mighty Fridays. Every Friday we do our weekly review and I'm a fan of Getting Things Done and weekly review and. So every Friday we do our weekly review and the rest of the Friday is actually for us to decide what to do, not on the current NASB affairs. So maybe you should start doing Fridays like this. This way on a Friday you would do your weekly review and as this busy entrepreneur you would think do I really have to do all these things? Maybe I can delegate that, maybe I don't have to do that. Maybe when I'm doing that it doesn't bring me any impact. Maybe posting on Facebook these things really doesn't bring me any customers. Like you need time to think. And I think very often this is the problem of productive people who want to optimize everything and people who are very busy is that they don't schedule time to think.


Very nice habit to have time to think and to review. Rafał do you want to add something?


Yeah, I would add that in our time you are probably the knowledge worker. So you work with your brain. It's not physical work that is simple to do and your brain is your tool that requires some rest, not only sleep, but rest from thinking about stuff you work on. And without that long term you will be burnt out from your work if you work too much.


Great. I think that behind this objection is this way of thinking that if I do more tasks, I will have better results. And it isn't necessarily the case, right? Sometimes doing less but better will provide you these results and you will have enough money to pay the mortgage, to feed the family and also feel better at the same time.


So one of the again going back to Greg McKeown book, one of the issues he raises is that before you decide what to do, you have to discern, you have to do the research. So you have to spend time on thinking and weighing all these options and then decide. And too often busy entrepreneurs, busy productive people, they just want to make a decision now I want to decide now. And very often, as we know with Rafał, with our discussions, the first decision might not be actually the good one, it might be your first hunch, which sometimes is great, but sometimes it just leans you towards like what you already know. So this way you never grow because you just lean on what you already know and instead of actually researching the whole thing. And that's why very often with Rafał, we fight. Like we have quarrels all the time because he pushes me and I push him to just really step out of the thing we know and just do more research, just spend a little more time to just make sure that you have explored all the options and not just went with the easy.


Yeah, that's true. And the funny thing is that often after a couple of days thinking about the problem, we change our minds. And sometimes happens that for example, Michael had idea how to solve some problem and our developer Leon had another idea, a different solution for the same problem. And after discussion, they both change their mind. So they switch with ideas.


Very often, when we decide on features in Nozbe and how to approach these features, it's very often that like, you know, I show up for the meeting and I'm like, I want this have done this way and this way. This is the way to go. This is the way to go. You won't convince me otherwise. And at the end of the meeting, I'm like, no, no, no, I was completely wrong. So it's really you need time. You need time, you need space to think, and you need to explore options. And also you need partners to be fighting with. So I think this is something we haven't mentioned. Like, it's really important to have really constructive fights, to really constructively quarrel. Because you don't quarrel against a person, you quarrel against an idea. So it's not personal. It's really about the idea. And when we come both, we both want I mean, I was the chief of product. I'm the CEO. We both want Nozbe to succeed. We want Nozbe to be the best product ever. So our motivation is good. But the way to get there, we should be fighting because we shouldn't be just agreeing on everything and just doing everything the easy way.


And Rafał can show you some things that aren't necessary that you do, and vice versa. Right? And we can go through this eliminating process of task with people's help with this different perspective than ours.


Rafał is very annoying because he always shows me the edge cases. Like Rafał, look, this vision would work so well like this and this, and Michael and Rafał was like, yeah, but what happens if this happens? And what happens? Come on Rafał. Don't spoil it for me. It was really nice.


Nice collaboration you have. Okay, let's move on to this topic. What is the main difference between a productive and unproductive person? And I would like to analyze it on two levels. One level is mindset level: beliefs, assumptions that we have. And the second level is day to day actions. So what are the key differences there?


So, just speaking of mindset, I'm just right now reading a book called Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck, and I recommend this book of mindset. It basically gives you a history of two mindsets. Of course, the growth mindset and the fixed mindset, but in a very repetitive way, with lots of repetitive examples, which is really good because this idea of growth mindset, of this humility to admit that you need to learn more. It's really hard to swallow for us because very often we just put labels on ourselves. So basically, from my point of view, I'm a bad CEO.




No, because I failed in this and this and this. So I'm a bad CEO. That's it. So, for example, if something didn't work for Nozbe, I can say I'm a bad CEO. Instead, I should be saying, OK, I felt at this. It means I need to learn here and I need to get conclusions from this, and I need to grow as the CEO because my company needs me. And right now I failed, so I better learn something.


But because of this failure, you can be a better CEO now.


Exactly. But I have to admit that I can be a better CEO instead of just saying I'm a failure.


And that's what we call experience.


So how this mindset, maybe growth mindset, fixed mindset is connected to productivity.


I mean, action moves action. So very often you just have to start small with something, with any concept. And then after that, you learn from it and you improve it. Which is what we do, as Rafał mentioned, in our product. Like, we start with the simple version of the feature, and then we improve to a better version of the feature based on what we've learned, instead of just trying to do it perfectly from get go, which is really hard and basically impossible.


So perfectionism, right. This is also something connected to be productive or not. If I try to do it perfectly for the first time, I can spend many hours on that and I won't be productive at all because of that.


Yes, and you won't ship anything. You won't provide value. And that's why it's important to start with something in our company. For example, right now we are launching a revolutionary feature that you will be able to set a task for everyone in the world. But don't tell anyone, it's very secret. So anyway, this revolutionary feature is coming, and one of our developers is in charge of this feature. We call him feature owner. Okay. This is my pet feature. I really love it. And I was the person who really wanted this feature badly. And I had discussion about this and I said, this feature can be improved with this and this and this and this and this. I told him all that and I told him, yes, I tell you that. But it's you who's the feature owner. So you decide if my feedback is useful now or maybe we should do it later. Like you decide when to ship the first version of feature to test it. We already shipped the feature, the initial version, to first testers, and we already got feedback, which is great. And it was his decision. He decided, no, no. All these things, Michael, you're saying are very nice to have, but I'm going to write them down. We're going to write them down and work on them and I'm going to be fixing these things in the while I think we are ready to ship. And this is really important to decide. Okay, I'll just try the first step. The first step is good enough. And I think there's good enough threshold it's very important for practice people to start really with a good enough version, which is good enough, really is crappy, but it's okay, I would say. Okayish, then, good enough.


Great. There is a quote from the inventor of LinkedIn that if your first product, you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you was working too much for the first time, you should release it earlier. This is the same idea. So now let's go to this level of behaviors. Please imagine that I have a friend, his name is Mateusz, and I'm taking a camera and this camera is following him for the whole day of his work. What kind of behaviors will show you that Mateusz is or isn't productive or how much productive he is?


Well, I would say that how many times does Mateusz switch between tasks? Or how many times he grabs his phone to check notifications or Facebook, or answering a call, etcetera.


I would say completely something completely different than Rafał. Notifications. Notifications. Notifications. Exactly what Rafał just said. So I think notifications are the killer because if you have too many notifications, if Mateusz has notifications on all these things, or some of these things, like the only notifications we have in our team and individually set, but most of us is we have notifications on Nozbe, on the tasks that are important to us. And we have notifications in Slack on direct messages only and not anything else, just direct messages. For example, in email, I have notifications for my wife because she emails me. So well, I have that, but nobody else. So I don't open email because somebody emails me something. Right. So it's really important to really manage notifications well.


So what kind of habits can we set to protect ourselves from the distractions and notifications? What is your recommendation here?


Yeah, first of all, I would start with not having your phone on your desk while you work in front of your computer because it's just too easy to grab and check something. Even if you don't grab it, you're still consuming your mental energy to stop yourself from grabbing a phone.


Fighting this temptation.


Yeah, fighting this temptation and it just uses energy of your brain, which you could use to produce work.


Okay, so after I start working, I hide my smartphone behind the screen of my laptop, in the drawer, in the backpack. Great recommendation. What else can we do? Because we have also notification on our computer Teams is attacking us, Messenger, WhatsApp? Many other apps. So how we can prevent this from distracting us?


I mean, there really there is like an application, I think, on the map called Cold Turkey and it just destroys like it completely shuts off so many things. But yeah, again, you have to manage notifications to make sure that you don't have them. You can have profiles of enabling them at some point in time and disabling them. But for me, I would say the key word would be to consciously do things so if you decide now I'm going to spend half an hour on Facebook, you consciously open Facebook, you scroll, then you finish your Facebook session and then you're done. For example, I have the 15 minutes time limit on social media on my phone, and after the 15 minutes are up, I have a time limit thing and it says your time limit for social media is done. And then I know, okay, I just wasted or invested 15 minutes of my time in social media. I'm done. For today or for now, let's get back to work. Anyway, all these things that help us make the decision easier would be great.


So having clear rules.


Yes. Again, the same thing with email. You say, I'm going to check my email, let's say at 09:00, although you should check it a bit later. But anyway, let's say 10:00 and then at 14:00, right at 02:00 p.m.. This way you consciously open email and you process the email. Like you go through the email and you decide, I'm going to have half an hour for email or an hour for email, whatever, but you have time for that. So this way you don't be consumed by it and you're not checking it every time and you're not switching your focus and anything like that. So basically, consciously deciding what you do instead of letting the smartphone decide for you because smartphone doesn't have your good intentions in the heart.


That is true. We can learn more about it with a document Social Dilemma. Then we can see that we are the product and they think about their profits. And now let's think what other bad habits stop us from being productive? We have one segment about notifications. Now we have some clear rules of what we can do about them, but we have more bad habits connected with productivity. Even I have them. I work on this topic for many years, but I still have some. So in your opinion, your clients struggle the most with what kind of bad habits?


Too many meetings.


Oh man. We have a quarterly or every four months we have one on one meetings with everyone on our team. So like our director reports, talk to people I talked to, that my director report, and we talk about things. And my favorite piece of feedback recently from our developers, from our engineers was, why do you like working in Nozbe so much? Like, what's the best about working at Nozbe? And he's like and they're all like, everybody leaves me alone. There are no stupid meetings. The developers only meet on Monday for like 15 minutes to just say hi and just say how their week went and what they are planning for this week and that's it. And then hardly any one of them has a meeting. So maybe once a month they have a meeting somewhere, but that's it. So the rest of the week they just work, they just engineer because they are freaking engineers. And the only way they can receive feedback is through tasks in Nozbe and through comments. So they interact with us asynchronously which is what we call it. So they write a comment, they get their comments back and whatever in the tasks. So this way they know what they have to work on, but they can choose to respond to comment when they want to, and they can have hours of uninterrupted time where they can be in their flow and just create code. In many companies it's so funny in many companies who also have engineers, the managers have asked me, Michael, what do you do to motivate them? I'm like, cancel their meetings. This is what you do to motivate them. Don't make them. Don't make developers who are very often also introverts, so they don't really like being on the meetings. And they think and they are very intelligent, so they think it's just a freaking waste of time. So they're like, why are you why do you have me on that meeting? I don't want to be on that meeting. Just don't. Cancel their meetings. And there will be so much productive.


Yes. And it's not only that it's wasted time for a person to be on the meeting, but it's also very exhausting for that type of people to be even on video call. Me personally, for example, after, if the meeting is longer than 1 hour, I need to go out and take a walk to relax, because after such a meeting, I cannot focus on working on something creative.


So we waste not only time for the meeting, but also the time that we need to regenerate ourselves after. Double waste.


Yeah, energy and time plus time after that.


So let's do top three. We have notification as one problem meeting as a second, maybe just one more bad habit that we need to change.


Yeah, I think Michael, his point here in our show notes is thinking that habits and structure is boring and uninspiring.


Yeah, I love my structure, man. I love it so much. And I remember I came from a holiday. So you just caught me, as you know, right after my holiday vacation, one week vacation. And I came back on Sunday. And on Monday I had the meeting with Rafał and with my directors. And after that I was so unproductive because I didn't know where to start. I didn't know what to do. It was like one day after vacation and I didn't have the time after vacation to just relax and get back into the mood and everything. So my Monday was really bad. But then on Monday evening, I was like, no, I need to get back to my structure. So then on Tuesday, I had my structure back. I had my coffee in the morning after I had my daily journal. After my journal, I had my marketing meeting. After my marketing meeting, I had my deep work session and I produced lots of great ideas and then I wrote something back and then I replied to all the comments. And then when I had all this structured exactly as I was supposed to have it, my day went just beautifully. And I was like, yeah, that's what I was missing on Monday. On Monday I just had no structure at all. And that's why I just didn't know where to go. That's why I think the key is that we should have the structure. And the structure is not boring because the structure gives you the space and the time to do your things and that's why it's so important. So this structure is not boring. It's actually creative. It enables you to be creative because you know what to expect and you know how much time you have for each of the things. And building this habit of creating the structure and adopting the structure to yourself, to you, is key because then you can have a productive day and productive week, because one of the things I really like is to have this idea of ideal week. So how my ideal week would look like if I had the ideal week, when would I do which thing? So when I have the meetings, when I have my sport, when would I have my deep work session, when would I have my feedback session, when would I have all these things? And of course, you never have an ideal week, but if you at least have an idea for an ideal week, you can be close to it. You can have better and worse weeks, but it's going to be still very close to the ideal one. Instead of just having a crappy week of just not knowing what to do.


And doing things at random, this is, I believe, a very bad habit. And this structure can really help us. I am a creature of habits. My discipline is my freedom. Because I have all these tiny things, I feel more safe, I know what to do, I don't feel less spontaneous about it. Right. So habits can really serve us well.


I really like what you said there. My discipline is my freedom. I love it. Very cool.


Okay, so let's talk about working with people because we have a different set of habits, different productivity qualities there. Which communication or collaboration habits are essential from your perspective? One we already covered meetings. There are better forms of communication. What else can be important?


Yeah, exactly. So no meetings, but majority of your communication should be done asynchronously via text and transparently. Transparently. So you can always add more people to this communication when needed, so you don't have to. For example, we discussed something with Michael in some task in Nozbe and it is transparent, it is visible to the whole team. So at any point we can ask other people to give their feedback. We don't have to onboard them on the idea because everything is written down and they can just read it.


So don't hold the information to yourself. Be transparent about it. Put it in the cloud or in the Nozbe where everybody can see it.


Yes, writing stuff down before you ask for feedback.


So what Rafał basically wants to say is, don't use email internally. Ever. If you're emailing your teammates, you're doing it wrong. Just don't do it. There are so many ways to do it. Of course you can use team chats like Slack and other things like that, or you can and better, we think you could use tools like Nozbe and other tools where you can share comments in the task. So this way it's very like the context is real. So when there is a task and you comment on the task, you all know what you're talking about. We're talking about only this task, and there is no sideways, no side notes about any different tasks. Or if you are, you can quote it, but everything is relevant to the task when you're using email. People are very productive in email because they can write about many things in one email, but then everybody is confused. I replied to this here and then to that there, and then I forgot about that. So I sent another email to reply to the other thing and I forgot to CC Rafał about this. Okay, man, so it's crazy.


And attachment.


Oh man, I forgot to do that attachment completely. So that's the thing. Don't use email internally at all. Like no, no. And that's why I'm so happy about this new feature that we can actually send tasks to people, because this way we can collaborate with people who don't have a Nozbe account in a task. And this way we have it in Nozbe and they have a very simple link when they can interact with us without sending us emails. So we take them from email again. So email is bad, so you can quote me on that, you can hate me for that, but I'm telling you, email is the wrong thing. It's like when Steve Jobs once said that if you're holding the phone, you're holding the phone wrong if you lose the signal. So if you're using email, you're doing it wrong. Just don't. So I think that's the key that you shouldn't be using email, and that's the important thing. But second, what Rafał said, transparent communication is so much better because you can mention people in the comments to a task. But in our case, we see that you don't even have to mention them. They are actually joining the task very often without being asked. They give feedback anyway because they see it's interesting task, or they know something about it, so they just add their comments. So very often happens is that we discuss about the task with Rafał and suddenly somebody with expertise joins with a comment and we're like, duh, Okay, that was easy. So that's it. Otherwise we would have to email the whole team or I don't know, ask who knows something about that or whatever. We don't have to do that. Like somebody just joined the discussion who knew, gave us an answer and we're like OK, we're good.


I really love this very simple recommendation. No meetings, no internal emails, transparent communication and we have a recipe for success.


Exactly. I'm telling you this works.


Okay, let's work on a reallife example. I am a business owner who works on many projects simultaneously. In some cases, for sure too many projects. Do you recommend focusing time and energy just on one project until it is finished or there is some way to handle multiple projects at once?


Well, from my experience I like to have like two, three, maybe four projects at once. But let's say two of them should be more challenging, more difficult, and other two should be not so difficult. But I can do it with more ease. So for example, as Michael said, you never have idea all week. For example, today I didn't sleep well today. So today I don't tackle my most challenging tasks, I just focus on those that I can easily do with low level energy. So this is always a very good idea to have this backup project that you can jump on it many times when you switch your focus to this


Side project


easier task or side project, your brain produces idea how to solve some problem in this more important project. Plus it is very easy productivity boost. If you don't feel productive, just do something on your TO-DO list that is really easy and short task and then check it off as done.


Great. I know this as an incubational break. So we don't think about the problem actively, but on subconscious level our mind is solving it and then we have this AHA moment and we know what to do.


Exactly. Yeah, I mean for me, for example, I really like this quote from the book "The One Thing". And the quote goes like the question is it's called the focusing question and it's called like what's the one thing that I can do now such that everything else becomes easier or unnecessary. So if there is anything that you can do to improve something like permanently and I ask myself in my journal every day this question so very often, sometimes it's a big thing and sometimes it's a small thing and this is what I do. I'm just in the morning when I do my journaling, I have this question and I'm answering it and this is for me kind of this also guiding started I have to solve this thing today and then if I do this thing today, it's already been a good day, everything else is a bonus. And I think what I'm also trying to say is that we productive people, aspiring productive people, we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves. Like we should know when we are done for the day, when we have a good day anyway, right? And treat all these other small things that we also accomplished as kind of a bonus. And not just because the TO-DO list will never be done, the whole list will never be. You will always have great ideas and you will always have tasks to do. So it's important to know that. What is a good day for you? You're done for the day list. So what needs to happen to have a good day? Or like, what's this one thing? That if you do it, move it today, everything else is easier or necessary.


Great way of thinking. When I conduct trainings, I'm trying to show my participants that I'm not perfect. I have many problems, I struggle with the same problems that they have. So what is the hardest part for you of being productive and how you deal with it?


For me, the hardest thing is to relax, to shut down of the work. Because in the long term, as I said before, it's very important because you can very easily after like couple of months working too much, you can feel overburdened the long term it's not productive. And I'm the tech nerd and I'm the chief product officer in the tech product company. So it's really challenging to use technology for leisure but not find analogies to my current work and thinking about problems I have to solve in Nozbe. So what I try to do, I try to schedule every day some time to relax without any technology, without any screens, no listening to podcasts, for example. I'm now switching to reading paper books because it's not on the screen and it's not connected to the world. So yeah, that's the hardest part for me and that's how I try to deal with it.


What about you, Michael?


Yeah, I can say that I'm recovering people pleaser. I want to satisfy everyone and please everyone and it's really hard. And I think this is also a problem because you are kind of always trying to say yes to everything and you shouldn't. You know, in my mind, whenever I say no to something, I feel like I'm this egoistic person that thinks only about themselves. But again, in the Essentialism book that we mentioned, the good thing was that when you say yes to something, you should think that you're saying no to something else. You have to really again evaluate what you're saying yes to and what you're saying no to. So I think this yeah, people pleasing is very hard and you have to learn and you have to learn to be assertive without being...


Aggressive. That's the key distinction, right? Because if you are aggressive, you are thinking only about yourself. If you are assertive, you are trying to combine your interests with your partner interests.


Exactly. And look at it. And you have to really kind of remind yourself to think like this, you know, think, okay, so what's the best thing for both of us here? You know, instead of just, okay, I'll help you. I'll do it now, you know, stop and think about it.


Great. In each episode of my podcast, I present specific habits worth developing to improve particular aspect of our life. I do it in a form after trigger, I'll immediately do the behavior; thanks to that, I get the reward. For example, after I brush my teeth, I will immediately grab a book and read a few pages. Thanks to that, I'll feel inspired. What habits can you recommend that will help our listeners to be more productive? What can be the trigger, what can be the behavior, and what kind of reward?


Well, we already mentioned one. For example, that after I when I started the work, I immediately hide my smartphone from my view.


That's true. That's the great one. And thanks to that, I can focus. I don't have this temptation to grab it. But what else can we do? Let's try to do a short list of good productivity habits.


So what I've also mentioned is the journaling. So I really like my journaling. I journal twice a day, mornings and evenings. So in the morning it's like I have my ritual that after I have my coffee, I immediately, or not immediately, but almost immediately do the journal. And that way I feel like I'm in control of my day because I let my thoughts out to the journal. And on the other hand, I have reviewed my day because this is part of my journaling process. I review my day and plan for the day. That's why I know I have this interview with you today and all that stuff, and I can prepare and, you know, prepare when I can work on things and to be able to be prepared for this interview. So this way I'm not kind of surprised you call me at 15 minutes before the interview. Michael - the interview. Interview! Questions! What's going on? Right? So I'm in control. So for me, this habit of journaling is being in control. And also in the evenings, I have this kind of trigger. When I put my girls to bed, my daughters, I have three daughters. And when I put my girls to bed, I do the evening journal. And when I do the evening journal, part of it is seeing what's on calendar for tomorrow. And this way I can see. So I have to do the interview. Okay, so again, we talk about this, that if you review your tasks for tomorrow, the day before, you kind of primed for it. You're ready for it, like you're not surprised and your mind is subconsciously sometimes working on these things already. So that's why I have this ritual also in the evenings to have this small journaling session when I sum up my day and preview my day for tomorrow. This way I can just also relax and just disconnect.


I see a great benefits of thinking ahead what I want to achieve tomorrow. But there is also some kind of risk that this evening I won't spend it fully with my wife. I will be thinking about this tasks. So what can we do to prevent it from happening?


Yes, in my case my experience has been different. My experience has been that because I know what's coming tomorrow, I'm kind of calmer and I know I have the time tomorrow to deal with it. So it's not like for me because I won't be surprised. I'm okay, but I don't answer the journaling, I don't go to my notes and start reviewing all these notes and all that stuff. So no, I just plan it and put my phone away. So that's the idea. So for me this hasn't been an issue, but maybe for some people it might, you know.


Yeah, that's a very important point that everyone is a different human being. And some habits that works for us may not work for others, or may work for them only for some time because people change. So you just have to test, try to try new habits and verify if they work. And after you adopt some habits, then after some time verify if they still work.


And also a good tip, I think, especially for tech nerds listening to this. So if you want to try some new tech and do something for productivity, the external triggers are very good. So for example, I have this idea that normally every day between 12:00 so noon and 02:00 I have my kind of deep work session. So 2 hours of deep work session. So what happens is that exactly 12:00 the lights turn on in my office. This way they kind of trigger me. Oh, it's already twelve. Okay. I have to focus on so it's kind of an external trigger to do something. So if you're a tech nerd, get some simple light switch that you can program and just program it. So this way you know that from this time the external factor is telling you you should work on that, you should focus on that. And this has helped me sometimes I was busy with something and I wasn't paying attention to time. And then I get the light, I'm like so I have to finish this and then I should focus on the other thing because now is the time for that. So again it's going to trigger also externally with technology can be done great.


So just two short questions at the end, if our listeners would like to learn more about productivity, where they should look, what books or other source materials you can recommend?


So something we haven't mentioned is that I'm open source writing a book about remotely running a company. It's called No office. So  at it's a free book you can just read right now. As I write it, and it's almost complete. So it's a rough draft right now at this moment, but I would recommend it because every chapter is like a different essay. So there is a chapter on meetings, there's a chapter on not using email. Like all these chapters I have there with examples of how we do it in Nozbe, of how we do it in our team. And again, these are things that we have been doing for many, many years now. So it's not something I just discovered and I woke up and I wrote it down. So it's something that we have tried and improved and improved. So,, I recommend you reading it. You can read the chapter at a time or whatever. It's free. And I'm going to be finishing the book at some point, maybe next year. This is rough draft that you can just use at your own will.


Great. So I will put it in the description of this episode, link to it and how our listeners can contact you. What page should they go or on which platform should they send a message to you?


Well, first of all, they should check out our product, Nozbe, so, and they can learn about our philosophy there, about our product. And I think the best platform to message us is, I think Twitter. We both still use Twitter, so I'm @sobolowy on Twitter. And Michael is @MSliwinski.


So, just to mention, Nozbe is a freemium product. There's a free version. So you can try not be for free completely with your team members, so to see if you like it and if you want to change some habits there.


Thank you Michael. Thank you, Rafał, for a wonderful conversation. I wish you all the good luck today.


Thank you so much, man.


Thank you, Andrzej.

Final words

I hope this conversation was as interesting for you as it was for me. As a bonus, let me introduce you to the habit of implementation. Every time I learn something new, I’ll IMMEDIATELY ask myself: What are the 3 most important conclusions for me? What will I change in the way I work with the newly gained knowledge? 

This time in, my Top 3 are:

1. Emails are best for external communication. When I want to give information to my coworkers, it is much better to use a different communication channel like Slack or Nozbe.

2. Notifications are killing our productivity. We must protect our focus and carefully decide which notification we want to get.

3. Schedule time to think and review. Without it, it will be extremely hard to know your priorities and stick to them. 

Which insights from this talk were most valuable to you? How will you use them in your work? I recommend pausing for a moment and thinking about it. 

May the power of habits be with you and till next time!

#13. The Habit of Self-Care

In this episode, I will tell you how you can care a better care of yourself with the help of 5 habits: (1) Going to bed early, (2) Making tomorrow easier, (3) Regular breaks, (4) Self-empathy, (5) Connecting with others.

Episode Transcript

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Transcript of episode 13. The Habit of Self-Care


We often are so focused on achieving goals and results that we forget about ourselves. We treat our bodies like a machine and our minds like a piece of software. We exploit them ruthlessly until they ultimately crush. Hospitalization, depression, and burnout can be a consequence of this predatory strategy. 

That is why I want to convince you to treat yourself more gently. Your body is much more than a means of transport to your head. Taking care of your needs is not a self-centered endeavor or a waste of time. It is treating yourself with the respect you deserve.

Let’s find out how to do it! Today we will be talking about the habit of … self-care.

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Why is it so essential?

Even machines to function correctly need regular maintenance. Our human body is much more fragile. A saw won’t lose its teeth because of periodontitis. A car will not get a fever because a coronavirus has attacked it. A laptop will not deteriorate its performance because someone said unpleasant words to it. I personally checked that last one!

That is why we need to be more tender to ourselves. Not just once per year on holidays or a weekend in a spa. Every day we should take good care of ourselves. These 5 habits will help you with that!


When I was a teenager, I treated sleep as an annoying duty. Something that I have to do, but I consider it a colossal waste of time. There were so many more exciting activities! Now that I have doubled my age, my perspective made a U-turn. Sleep is no longer an unnecessary addition to my day, but its foundation. I can build my vitality, effectiveness, and concrete results on it. Without it, everything collapses like a house from cards.

But even having this knowledge didn't stop me for many years from binge-watching the new season of my favorite TV show that was released in one big chunk. Or from playing Civ 6 until two o'clock in the morning. Entertainment was my reward after working hard for the whole day or week, and I thought I deserved it. However, the older I got, the more transparent the price of burning the midnight oil became to me. Yes, I earned spending time in a fun way after work. But what I deserved even more, was well-being and vitality connected with a good night's sleep. I started to compare how much value I get from activities between 10 and 12 pm and what I can do between 6 and 8 am. The difference was huge in favor of the latter option. At night I was playing, watching, or reading, only half aware of what I was doing. I was running on fumes, not able to fully appreciate and enjoy fun activities. In the morning, it was just the opposite. My battery was fully charged, and I could do everything faster, better, and remember more from it. 

Sitting up till late at night is like taking a loan with high interest from the mob. You get the money here and now and can spend it as you wish. But later on, sad gentlemen will come to your home to collect the debt. In retrospect, you will strongly regret taking this loan.

On the other hand, going to bed early is like making a deposit in your bank account. It will make tomorrow much more manageable. When problems pop up like popcorn in a pan, you'll be able to use this asset. 

Each day we face a decision: we can make our evening a little more enjoyable at the expense of tomorrow or refrain from sitting until late at night to make the next day so much better. I strongly recommend the latter option. Every time I choose it, today's me is grateful to yesterday's me. Every time I choose the former, today's me is cursing the stupidity of yesterday's me and paying a painful price for it.

AFTER I hear the alarm clock at 10:00 pm, I'll IMMEDIATELY go to the bathroom, take a shower, brush my teeth and go to sleep. THANKS TO THAT I'll enjoy the softness of my pillow and sheet.

Making tomorrow easier

Going to sleep early isn't the only present we can give to our future selves. On the contrary, our options are numerous, limited only by our imagination. Think about all the decisions you need to make or all the tasks you need to perform in the morning. Instead of doing everything in a rush tomorrow, you can do it calmly tonight:

a) ironing shirts, cleaning shoes, or simply preparing a pile of clothes for you or your children

b) preparing breakfast for you or your loved ones

c) cleaning all the dishes and pots to enjoy a clean kitchen in the morning

d) finding keys to your car and apartment and putting them into the jacket you will use

e) filling the coffee container so that you can make coffee in the morning by just hitting one button

f) packing your briefcase or laptop bag with all the equipment and documents you will need the next day

g) shaving if your face doesn't have to be smooth like a baby from diapers, add

h) putting items into your car (if you have a lot to take) or transferring child seats from one car (your spouse's) to another (yours) or vice versa

Like in the habit of going to sleep early, you can use your least valuable time (in the evening, when you are deployed from energy) and save precious time in the morning. Because of that, you can sleep longer, do your morning routine (meditation, praying, journaling, drinking coffee), or enjoy the beginning of the day without rushing and screaming, "where the hell are the keys!". 

AFTER I hear the alarm clock at 9:00 pm, I’ll IMMEDIATELY finish what I have been doing so far and do a few things to make my morning easier. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be glad that I can sleep longer.

Regular breaks

Sitting in front of a computer for many hours is killing us softly. We hurt our spine by sitting in the wrong posture. Our work is less and less productive with every passing minute. We can lose ourselves in doing the task, only to find, by walking away from the desk, that it was all pointless and must be done entirely differently. 

Regular breaks can prevent all of these hardships from happening. All you have to do is install an app on your laptop that will tell you after 60 minutes of work: “Hey buddy! It’s time to get up and rest for a moment!”. If you are using a Mac, I recommend Time Out. It will force you to chill every hour by blacking out the screen. Another option, available for Windows and Mac users, is an extension to Chrome Browser called Break Timer. You set this app and decide how often you want to get up and how long your breaks should take. And this is all you need. 

During the breaks, you can drink a few sips of water or refill your glass if it’s empty. You can open the window and invite fresh air into your room or go for a short walk outdoors. Another option is to do simple exercises like bends or jumping jacks, make tea or coffee, or talk to a coworker who is also on break. 

It’s one small step in your daily schedule but a giant leap in taking care of yourself. You can develop this habit like this:

AFTER I see the full-screen pop-up from my app guardian, I’ll IMMEDIATELY stand up from my chair and take a break. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel much better.


So far, we have concentrated mainly on our bodies. Now it's time to think about our emotional well-being. Criticism effectively spoils our mood and undermines our confidence. Every day we can encounter rude people that will loudly disapprove of our behavior, looks, or words. But in many cases, the harshest critic is .. ourselves. We are more brutal toward our behavior than we could ever be toward our children's, friends', or even coworkers.' We often feel no mercy and no empathy when we make a mistake. We ruthlessly drag ourselves through the mud, using the worst possible invectives: stupid, moron, idiot, dimwit, imbecile, or dumbbell. Why? What is the point of insulting ourselves? Is it just self-destructive behavior? Not necessarily. We usually do it with the hope that thanks to such a harsh reaction, we will remember this lesson for a long time and not make a similar mistake in the future. But this strategy isn't just painful and depressing - it is also counter-productive. 

Please imagine that instead of working, I am playing my favorite computer games, like Civ 6 or Legends of Runettera. After a two-hour session, I take a break and feel pretty guilty about it. The more intensively I will criticize myself, the worse I will feel. The worse I will feel, the higher the chance I will seek consolation. What activity enables me to forget about the world and my problems? Playing games! My intention with self-criticism was to prevent me from playing more, but what I accomplished was just the opposite. 

What should I do instead? Showing self-empathy and forgiving myself for making mistakes will be a much better strategy. I admit the mistake and create a plan to make up for it. Since I didn't drag myself through the mud, I didn't lose faith in myself or make myself feel terrible. Because of that, I don't need to cheer myself up with more games. I treated myself with respect, and now I can behave as an adult. 

Self-criticism makes you feel terrible and pushes you toward more destructive behavior. It's a lose-lose strategy. On the other hand, self-empathy makes you feel better and encourages you to improve your behavior. It's a win-win. That is why I strongly recommend developing the following habit:

AFTER I do something I am not proud of, I'll IMMEDIATELY show myself self-empathy and create a plan to fix it. THANKS TO THAT I'll be glad that everything is going in the right direction.

Connecting with others

Loneliness is one of the biggest problems in the modern world. We can live in a crowded city, have plenty of people around us at work or even spouse and children, and still feel lonely. 

Loneliness affects our bodies and minds. It is associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, stress, and problems with sleep. At the physical level, it increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and many more illnesses.

That is why setting aside time to connect with people you care about is one of the best strategies to take care of yourself. We should look for a high-quality time together. Sitting in the same room while you and your loved one look at two different smartphones don't count. You need to interact with your friend or family member. Talk, laugh, play a game, cook, or sing together. Physical touch like hugging or handling hands will further enhance the bonding effect. 

Discuss with your significant others how they like to spend their free time and find something exciting for both of you. Then you need to find a moment every day, week, or month to do something fun together. It could be something small like a short play with your kid. Every day I undergo a magical transformation into a horse, picking up my baby girl Aurora on my back, then dropping her safely onto the bed. Her laugh is the best possible reward for me. Every evening, when all of our 4 kids fall asleep, I spend time with my wife, watching a TV show we both enjoy, playing a game, or just talking while hugging each other. 

Every Wednesday, you can invite a different friend to lunch, catch up with them and enjoy their company. Every last Saturday of the month, you can host a party with board games, movies, or physical activities outdoors. Let's see a few habit-developing sentences that can help you with that.

AFTER I take a break while working at home, I'll IMMEDIATELY play with my child. THANKS TO THAT I'll enjoy our time together.

AFTER I eat supper with my spouse, I'll IMMEDIATELY suggest a fun activity for both of us. THANKS TO THAT I'll experience delightful moments in great company.

AFTER I finish working on Tuesday, I'll IMMEDIATELY call one of my friends to invite them to lunch the next day. THANKS TO THAT I'll be glad that we can catch up and exchange ideas.

Final words

When we were children, it was our parents' job to take care of us. As adults, we should take full responsibility for how we feel. Nobody even loved ones, will do it for us on a regular basis. Give your tomorrow self a present by going to bed early and preparing needed items in advance. Take frequent breaks, show yourself empathy, and spend time with people you adore. If you do all that, the quality of your life will increase significantly. 

May the power of habits be with you and till next time!

The Last One #12. The Habit of Eliminating

In this episode, I will tell you how you can free your mind, schedule and apartment from harmful clutter with the help of 5 habits: (1) Save only the best, (2) One thing in, one thing out, (3) Review of commitments, (4) Replacing activities, (5) Your Happy Place.

Episode Transcript

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Transcript of episode 12. The Habit of Eliminating


The more, the merrier. You cannot have too much of a good thing. Plenty is no plague. In English, we have numerous proverbs telling us that having a lot of something is much better than having only a little. But nowadays, we often face the opposite problem. We have too much. Too much stuff in our apartments, too many tasks on our agendas, and too much thought in our minds. Plenty of options to choose from can indeed be a plague, causing analysis paralysis.

That is why I want to encourage you today to embrace a minimalist lifestyle. To do less but better. To collect things and use tools that have high value, not the ones that maybe someday will come in handy. Like in balloons, you need to cut sandbags tied to the basket in order to take off; we need to get rid of ballast in our lives to reach a higher level.

Let’s find out how to do it! Today we will be talking about the habit of … eliminating.

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Why is it so essential?

Let's start with what minimalism is and the difference in thinking between a minimalist and a maximalist.

Maximalists believe that if something may bring a small benefit, it is worth having it in your apartment, phone, or life. Even if the chance of using it is not very likely and the possible gain is limited.

Minimalists take the opposite approach. As Cal Newport describes it in Digital Minimalism: "They carefully select the tools to obtain enormous and clear benefits. They are cautious about low-value activities that may take their time and attention and ultimately do more harm than good. They don't mind missing out on something small. They are much more concerned about the neglect of significant matters which they know for sure have a good effect on their lives. "

For the majority of my life, I was a classic maximalist. I had 50 different T-shirts in my closet because, as I claimed: It is better to have than not to have. Now I know what kind of error in judgment I made. I have compared the little benefits of having an extra T-shirt to the lack of benefits of not having it. One point is more than zero, so I choose one. The problem is that I didn't consider the potential cost of owning a gigantic pile of T-shirts in this equation. Firstly, they took up the entire shelf in the closet. Secondly, finding the one that still looked nice took me a lot of effort each time I opened the closet. If I take this into account, I need to subtract 5 points for wasting space and another 5 for wasting my time. 1 - 5 - 5 = - 9. - 9 is far worse than 0. After I donated 40 T-shirts to charity I barely used, I am so much better off. Now every T-shirt I take from the closet looks good on me. I don't need to make an exhausting decision to choose one from 50 available pieces.

We construct false alternatives all the time. When we think about participating in yet another project, we tend to compare the benefits we can get from it to not getting involved. Not getting involved = 0 points. Taking part in this project = 5 points. 5 is better than 0, so I should do it, right?

Not at all! What you should consider is how else you can invest your time. Ask yourself: What are the critical values in your life? My friends' and clients' most common answers are health and family. Now imagine that instead of spending 20 hours on this project, you will invest it in improving your health or spending quality time with the people you love. How much is this goal worth to you? I bet much more than 5 points! For me, it would be 50 points, 10 times as much as participating in a project whose results are difficult to predict.

Often we treat our time and apartment like a bottomless pit. There is always room for one more thing. In reality, we are cluttering our flats and lives with stuff we don’t need. And because of that, it is much harder to find space or time for things we value the most. That is why I want to show you 5 habits of eliminating. With its help, it will be much easier to declutter your space and attention.

Save only the best

Everything you own should give you clear and considerable value. If you have a problem recalling the last time you used some object, maybe it means that you don't need it anymore.

One way of decluttering your apartment is to take out from your closet all T-shirts, all pants, etc., and examine them critically. Put into the box all copies that are in the wrong size (too small, too big) or condition (have stains, faded colors, damaged material). Week by week, you can clear your space and simplify decisions about what to wear.

AFTER I eat dinner on Saturday, I’ll IMMEDIATELY review one category of my possessions (clothes, electronic equipment, etc.). THANKS TO THAT I’ll enjoy the reclaimed space in my apartment.

One thing in, one thing out

If doing general cleaning every week seems too ambitious to you, I have a more straightforward solution. Assume your home is full. Nothing new will fit unless you get rid of something. Every time you buy a new pair of shoes, you need to throw away or donate one of your old pairs. This way, in your home, you have a fixed number of items and avoid clutter. Of course, I am not suggesting that each time you eat a banana, you must run to the store and buy one because, at all times, the number of bananas in your flat has to be 7. Similarly, the amount of toilet paper can change dynamically. This rule, ‘One thing in, one thing out,’ is limited only to objects you have used for a long time, like electronics, clothes, or kitchen equipment. 

AFTER I buy new stuff (for example, headphones), I’ll IMMEDIATELY throw away or donate one of my old ones. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be glad that my house is in order.

Please note that the first two habits of eliminating, I recommended, have a remarkable synergy effect. Firstly, we remove unnecessary, messy excess of, for example, T-shirts. We reduce its number from an absurd 50 quantities to just the right amount, let’s say 10. Then we just need to guard this fair number with the second habit, ‘One thing in, one thing out,’ and we will forever avoid drawing in an apartment flooded with millions of T-shirts.

Review of commitments

Ok. Till now, we talked about simple stuff. Eliminating old damaged objects is pretty straightforward. Now let’s dive deeper and look more closely at how we spend our time. 

Adds and social media are trying to convince us to do more. Is your friend running a marathon? So you should too! Your brother posted a photo with freshly baked cookies? You cannot be worse and have to prepare even better sweet treats! We are constantly bombarded with images of what we should do with our lives. But our time is as limited as the space we have in our apartments. Adding more and more stuff, more and more activities won't make your life happier or your business more prosperous. The opposite is true. The more things we try to do in one day, one week, or one month, the worse the quality of our performance. We give every task we do only a lick and a promise. We can't afford to do more because if we do our best to complete one task, 5 others won't get done at all. As a result, we constantly live in a rush and feel overwhelmed. Sounds familiar?

Many years of my life looked like that. I am an entrepreneur with a lot of ideas for new products. Before I finished one project, I started two new ones. But this maximalist strategy didn’t serve me at all. I changed, to some degree, my approach. The book by Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, helped me with this. 2 pictures from it made a unique impression on me. The first had a black dot and arrows pointing in all directions. It looked a bit like a black sun with rays. The second image also had a black dot in the center. But all the arrows went in one direction. They were connected, and they supported each other. Because of that, the progress they provided was far superior to the arrows from the first picture. Doing 10 things, 10 projects at once, will lead you nowhere. Concentrating on just one can give you outstanding and fast results.

Let's put this philosophy of working to practice. If you already feel overwhelmed by the number of your activities, it means you need to eliminate some of them or even most of them. This exercise can be extremely helpful with that. Step 1: write down all your commitments and regular activities. All the projects at work, all your involvement in clubs (like Toastmasters International), roles in your children's school, etc. Then score each of these activities on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means 'not beneficial at all' and 10 'highly beneficial. And now, the best but also the most challenging part: Decide that from now on, you will invest your time only in top enterprises, projects you evaluated as ninths and tens. Eliminate all the rest. By following this instruction, you can concentrate on things that really matter. Like in the Pareto Principle, you will do only 20% of activities, but it will bring you 80% of results. The feeling of being overwhelmed, rushing from one thing into another - all of it will end instantly after you decide to eliminate so many unessential activities.

This is one of the most important exercises I do regularly. It opened my eyes, when I did it for the first time. It turned out that I was involved in 30 projects at the same time. Yes, 30! Only 7 of them were essential. I eliminated 23. You can imagine what a source of great relief it was for me. I felt as if I had removed a large heavy stone from my neck. Unless you are enthusiastic about carrying unnecessary stones, I highly recommend taking this exercise. Not just once, but every month.

AFTER I eat breakfast on the last Sunday of the month, I’ll IMMEDIATELY do the Review of my commitments and eliminate all non essential ones. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel a huge relief, that I will be able to manage all my critical projects without working 7 days a week for 12 hours per day.

Replacing activities

Let’s assume that after doing the exercise I described a moment ago your calendar is filled quite nicely: you still have many interesting challenges, but not too many. A friend of yours is asking you right now if you want to be a part of the new business he is launching next year. What should you say? ‘No, sorry, I have enough on my plate already’? Not necessarily. But saying ‘yes’ without considering what occupies your time right now would be unwise too. What should we do then? Look carefully at your projects. Which one gives you the least value and costs you the most time? Which of them can you freeze without serious negative consequences? If the answer is ‘none’, then it means that you cannot in good faith start the next one with your friend. Your time is already taken by other things. But if you found some projects that aren’t that lucrative as you assume, maybe it is a good moment to say goodbye to them and start cooperating with your friend. First you clear 30% of your time, by canceling some projects, and then you can relocate free time into a new one. Otherwise you will go back to the hamster wheel - being busy all the time without achieving much. 

You may see similarities between this method and the previous technique, ‘One thing in, one thing out.’ I was even thinking about naming it ‘One activity in, one activity out.’ However, there is a crucial difference between them. When you replace one pair of shoes with another, your net balance of shoes for sure is 0. But when you cancel one project and start a different one, your monthly time balance can be -100 hours if you replace watering plants with establishing a new company. Be careful about it. If you need 15 hours each week for a new project, you must resign from doing something that took you at least that much time.

AFTER I am considering making a new commitment, I’ll IMMEDIATELY think about my previous ones and which of them I can put on ‘hold’. THANKS TO THAT, I’ll feel more safe, that I can make a good decision.

Your Happy Place

The last habit of eliminating, I want to mention, is connected with media consumption. When we feel bored or tired, we often look for easy entertainment. Many of us visit traditional media (and read news) or social media (and scroll posts). This is our default option for most of the breaks. But answer the question honestly: How do you feel after consuming these media? Upbeat, cheerful, relaxed? Or disappointed about yourself and scared about the situation in the world?

Seeing posts of fellow entrepreneurs showing how their products earned them millions was quite depressing. Of course, on some level, I cheered for them and was happy that my friends could achieve such spectacular results. But on the other hand, I felt ashamed that mine wasn’t even close to theirs. Reading news sometimes brought me hope that the Russian army would be defeated soon in Ukraine, but other times gaining information about the possible use of nuclear weapons was terrifying.

It made me wonder: is there a better place than the media I could go to during my breaks? A place where each visit will be pleasant and valuable. And the answer is ‘yes.’ Two of my recent discoveries are The Happiness Lab Podcast with Dr. Laurie Santos and Youtube Channel Kurzgesagt. Each time I listen to it, I gain mind-opening information delivered delightfully. 

Because of that, now I am working on changing my old habit: AFTER I need a break, I’ll IMMEDIATELY visit a news portal. THANKS TO THAT, I can mentally relax.

To a new and better habit: AFTER I need a break, I’ll IMMEDIATELY listen to The Happiness Lab Podcast. THANKS TO THAT, I can mentally relax in a much better way.

Final words

As we run from one meeting to the next, we rarely have time to ask ourselves: What is all this for? Everyone around is trying to get as many trendy items and achievements as possible, so we're assuming joining this rat race is our only option. But becoming a happier person may have more to do with doing one thing less, not more. Clearing your apartment, schedule and mind from clutter can give you unexpected relief and lightness. Develop the habit of eliminating and enjoy minimalist lifestyle.

May the power of habits be with you and till next time!

#11. The Habit of Mental Resilience

In this episode, I will tell you how you can prepare yourself mentally for challenges and prevent some problems.

You will also learn how to get a proper distance to judge events more objectively and use Cognitive Reframing to cope better with stressful situations.

Episode Transcript

You don't have conditions to listen to the podcast? Maybe you prefer to read instead of listening, or you want to find an interesting piece of information quickly? No problem! Click below to expand the episode transcript.

Transcript of episode 11. The Habit of Mental Resilience


Please imagine that you are about to send a fragile piece of art - a porcelain figurine or a painting worth millions of dollars. Would you just put it into a bubble envelope, hoping the delivery company will safely hand over it to the addressee? Probably not. You would take every possible precaution to make the package stronger and more resistant to damage.

Can we, in a similar way, prepare ourselves and our fragile psyche to potential threats and misfortunes? Is there a way to not only become more resilient, but also antifragile - to grow stronger with every problem encountered?

Let’s find out! Today we will be talking about the habit of … mental resilience.

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Why is it so essential?

We may hope for a world where each of our prayers is answered, every wish is granted and everything goes according to the plan. But unless you are planning to live in a virtual reality, it is not going to happen. Setbacks, turmoils, all kinds of complications are unavoidable. The sooner we accept that, the better for us. But accepting the risks doesn’t mean that we wait for the negative consequences passively with our eyes covered with our hands. There is a lot we can do to prepare or even prevent bad things from happening.  

Let’s look more closely at 6 habits that can help us to become more mentaly resilient or even antifragile.

Turning off the valve

While interviewing Professor William Irvine, he shared an amazing metaphor with me. It illustrates brilliantly how we should think about obstacles and react to them. Please imagine that you want to make a tea in your apartment. You turn the tap on, but nothing's happening. No water is flowing. And you are disappointed, because you really wanted to drink this tea. You start to investigate, trying to find the cause of lack of water. You put your foot into the living room and hear a splashing sound. You discover with shock that your whole floor is covered with water. Now you understand what happened. The main pipe that delivers water to your flat must have broken. Now not making a cup of tea is the least of your problems. You run to save your smartphone that was charging on the floor. You pick up wet papers with important documents that fell from your desk. Finally you realized that saving one thing at a time is not enough - you need to take care of the root of the problem - turn off the valve. After that no more water will flood your apartment. 

Similarly, when we experience a setback in our lives, we face two kinds of challenges at the same time. The first one is physical and the other is emotional. Solving the former is in many cases quite simple - you need to remove the broken pipe and put a new one. The emotional problem is much harder and can have very negative consequences. If you don’t stop the flow of the water it can seriously damage your valuable equipment and even hurt your neighbor that lives under you. In the same way in the problematic situation emotions are flooding our judgment. If we don’t manage them properly, we can make a terrible decision that will hurt us or people we care about. We can yell, say harsh words, resign from doing a crucial task that will damage our reputation forever.

This is why the first thing you should always do, while experiencing trouble, is turning off the valve. Instead of surrendering to emotions you feel, you need to take the lead. Like in a car. You can hold the wheel and direct the car to the proper destination or you can sit in the passenger seat and give the control over this situation to something else - your emotions. 

AFTER experiencing a setback, I’ll IMMEDIATELY decide to take the driving seat and make a logical decision, I won’t surrender myself to emotions that I feel. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be glad that I prevented a potential disaster.

Changing the perspective

When something bad is happening to us it is natural that we react emotionally. At the same time, our feelings can cloud our judgment. To prevent it from happening you should imagine that this situation has happened not to you, but your friend. What would you tell them? How can you comfort them? What kind of advice could you give them? 

This friend’s perspective enables you to see things more clearly. To judge the value of things more objectively and properly. For a teenager, if their first romantic partner broke with them it seems like the end of the world. But for a parent or older sibling it is obvious that it is just a temporary problem. The time will heal the broken heart and this teenager can be even happier with somebody else. 

AFTER I experience an obstacle, I’ll IMMEDIATELY imagine that it didn’t happen to me, but to my friend. And then I’ll ask myself: “What can I recommend my friend to do in this situation?” THANKS TO THAT I’ll be much more objective and effective.

The View From Above

When you look on Earth from outer space even the most spectacular structures humankind ever created don’t appear impressive. Contrary to common belief, The Great Wall of China is not visible at all from low Earth orbit without magnification. We can see big cities, dames and The Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, but they are only tiny objects in the vast universe. 

Zooming out is an excellent way to look at things from a distance. Getting the proper perspective and don’t overestimate the impact of current problems on our lives. When something bad is happening we can distance ourselves from it by using a unique Stoic technique. Donald Robertson, the author of many books on Stoicisms and philosophy, brilliantly described an exercise called The View From Above. In this meditation you imagine yourself sitting on a chair. Then your spirit leaves your body and you can see yourself from the point of view of the third person. Then you start to float gently higher and higher and see your house from above. Then your city/town, country, continent and the entire planet. You contemplate the beauty of nature, the lives of 7 billion human beings. From this perspective your day-to-day problems seem trivial and insignificant. This way you can adopt a proper approach: don’t ignore the problems completely, but don’t worry about them too much.

AFTER something upsets me, I’ll IMMEDIATELY do the The View From Above exercise. THANKS TO THAT I’ll see things more clearly, without strong emotions attached to them.

Time Travel

Traveling through time is a classic sci-fi motive. It was a crucial element of Terminator movies nearly 40 years ago as it is now when Avengers are fighting with the Mad Titan Thanos. But to travel in time we don’t need fancy equipment or technology from the future - all we need is our mind. And we do it constantly. Every time we remember something, we come back to the past. Every time we plan something, we go to the future.

Whenever we think that the current problem is ‘the end of our world’, time travel can do wonders. Firstly - go to the past. How many times have you thought about a different crisis in your life in a similar way? How many times has your life ended? If you are still listening to this podcast I bet none. Were the consequences as bad as you predicted? Or maybe you terribly overestimated them in the heat of the moment? Taking into account this and many other similar experiences, how likely is it that this time this problem will completely ruin you? Probably not as highly as you initially thought. 

Ok. Now jump to the future. Two years have passed. What is the likelihood that this incident that upset you greatly is still affecting your life? Isn’t it more likely that you already forgot about it? Because in the meantime all other sorts of problems covered the old one? If so, what is the point of getting so emotional about it? You'll feel more at ease with each question that you answer.

AFTER I discover ‘the worst catastrophe of my life’, I’ll IMMEDIATELY time travel to the past and then to the future and ask myself a few questions. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel calmer and better prepared to face a new challenge.

Premeditatio Malorum

The ancient Stoics gave us a great toolbox to face our problems. Some of them require sharpening after 2 000 years of its creation, adjusting to the modern world. Others are ready to use as if they had just come out of the factory. My favorite Stoic exercise is premeditatio malorum which means premeditation of the evils that might lie ahead. By evils I don’t mean a Hannibal Lecter or a Chucky doll - but all the problems and complications in your life. Thinking about them in advance can benefit you in multiple ways. Firstly, you can prevent some setbacks from happening by taking special precautions like buying insurance, unplugging the iron before you leave your house or giving all the chips and sweets to someone else which remained after the last house party. 

Secondly, you can create plan B, C or D to prepare yourself for many possible futures, not only the best possible one. You can also do it when you are calm and think clearly, not in a state of distress that will make it much harder to make a reasonable decision. Let’s explore an example of a car accident. Please imagine that you had a head-on car collision with another car. Your car is completely crashed, your body is shaking and you have no idea what to do next. In this state it is nearly impossible to come up with a reasonable plan. But in an aha moment you realized that you had created a check-list for exactly this situation. You open your glove compartment, take a piece of paper from it and just follow all the steps you prepared in advance. You don’t need to think, make decisions, just follow your own recommendations. How valuable will this check-list be in this situation? I believe it can save you a ton of nerves and creating it will take you only 5 minutes. Very good cost-benefit ratio. 

Thirdly, you get a mental readiness. Because you imagined this scenario already, you are not shocked by it. It is much easier for you to keep your emotions in check and implement the plan you prepared earlier or to create a new one here and now. 

AFTER I plan my day or week, I’ll IMMEDIATELY think about possible misfortunes and prepare mentally for them. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel safer and in control.

Cognitive Reframing

We may think that events in our lives are objectively good or bad. But as Epictetus stated more than 2 000 years ago: "It is not things that upset us but our judgments about things." For the ancient Stoic it was obvious that facts are always neutral. It is up to us how we will view them - as something great or terrible. 

Let me tell you a story. A son of a farmer found a wild horse on the prairies. All the neighbors agreed that he was very lucky, but the farmer himself wasn’t that sure about it. ‘Time will tell’ - he said philosophically. A week later a newly acquired mustang ran away. ‘What a terrible loss’ the neighbors said. ‘Time will tell’ - replied the farmer. Another week later wild horse came back to the farm, but this time with company - 2 different horses. ‘The fortune smiled at you,’ the neighbors said. ‘Time will tell’ - as always replied the farmer. A month later the farmer's son fell off his horse and broke his leg. ‘What a tragedy!’ the neighbors said. ‘Time will tell’ - answered the farmer. A month after that came the army and took all the young men in the village to military training. The farmer's son, due to his injury, was spared and stayed with his family. ‘What a fortunate development,’ the neighbors said. ‘Time will tell’ - concluded the farmer.

It is in human nature to pass judgments quickly. If you fall from a horse snf broke a leg - it has to be bad. If you fall in love - it has to be good. But you never know how the situation will develop. Maybe a broken leg will force you to change the way you work for the better. Instead of traveling for thousands of miles each month you will do all the meetings online. Maybe a newly discovered love will leave you with a broken heart and empty bank account. In hindsight, you'll be begging fate to allow you to go back in time and never meet this person.

I hope these examples conceived you, at least a little bit, that facts are indeed neutral and our emotional response is caused not by facts but by our judgment. When we face unexpected events we can use cognitive reframing - choose to view them in a specific way. My favorite cognitive frames are: 

1. Blessing in Disguise

2. Resourcefulness Training 

3. a Turning Point

4. a Great Story to Tell

Let me show you what I mean by each of them. Frame ‘Blessing in disguise’ encourages me to look for positives in a situation that, at first glance, looks dire. The pandemic is an excellent example. Due to Covid, I initially lost my source of income for nearly half a year. I could honestly say then that the pandemic was the worst thing that could happen to me professionally. So what was good about it? Because companies canceled all trainings, my calendar became empty. I was given unprecedented amounts of free time. I invested it to polish my English and learn the best tools for conducting online training.  Thanks to that I was able to get international clients, significantly limit travel and days in which I didn’t see my wife and kids. In hindsight I can equally honestly say that the pandemic was the best thing that could happen to me professionally. After undressing it from ugly disguise, it turned out to be a true and sexy blessing. 

When, despite my best efforts, I don’t find anything good in a given situation, I use the second frame: ‘Resourcefulness Training’. Let me quote Epictetus one more time: 

“Difficulties show a person’s character. So when a challenge confronts you, remember that God is matching you with a younger sparring partner, as would a physical trainer.”

Even if sparring with a difficult opponent or situation is not pleasant it can still be valuable. It can make me stronger, more resilient, more self-confident if I pass this test with flying colors. This mindset helps me to quickly change my response to a setback from ‘oh my God! Why this again!?’ into ‘challenge accepted’.   

The third helpful frame is ‘A Turning Point’. When time and time again things don't go according to my plan, instead of questioning myself and my competences, I look more closely at the plan. Maybe it was unrealistic? Or the conditions have changed so much that the old plan does not fit the new reality? A dramatically poor result of your project, campaign or actions is of course painful, but at the same time it can be a wake up call that you have needed for a long time. Without noticing the problem, it cannot be solved.Thank God you finally got the message and now you can do something about it.

The last frame that I use, when all the others failed me, is ‘A Great Story to Tell’. In my journals I collect not only examples of my achievements but also… screw-ups. They are painful and often embarrassing at the moment, but later I can use them as real-life examples during my trainings. The participants of my workshops love hearing about my stupidity and hurtful consequences that I needed to endure. That is why after facing turmoil I tell myself: ‘For the price of momentary discomfort I am buying a story that I can use for many years to come. It is worth it!’

Now you know how powerful The Cognitive Reframing can be. Design a habit in your life that will change the way you react to difficulties.

AFTER the situation develops in an unexpected way, I’ll IMMEDIATELY use 1 of 4 Frames (Blessing in Disguise, Resourcefulness Training, a Turning Point, a Great Story to Tell). THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel less stressed and more excited.

Final words

Even though we have limited control over what will happen in our lives, the way we react to it is entirely up to us. Things that look at first glance like ‘the biggest tragedy of your life’ can turn out to be an impulse to your biggest breakthrough. Seize this opportunity, by changing your mindset with the help of habits. Become more mental resilient or even antifragile!

May the power of habits be with you and till next time!

#10. The Habit of Power Ups

In this episode, I will tell you how you can lift your spirit in an instance and feel good about your life or the current situation.

Use the Power Ups to enhance your mood and boost your energy level.

Episode Transcript

You don't have conditions to listen to the podcast? Maybe you prefer to read instead of listening, or you want to find an interesting piece of information quickly? No problem! Click below to expand the episode transcript.

Transcript of episode 10. The Habit of Power Ups


There are so many things that can bring our mood down: bad news about our work, a fight with a person we love, or discovering that your dream won’t come true. 

Is there a way to do just the opposite? To lift our spirit in an instance? To feel good about our lives, the current situation or to give ourselves the motivation we need to perform a particularly tough task? If so, how can we use the concept of Power Ups from the games to achieve this goal? And how are habits connected with that?

Let me at least try to unravel this spider web of questions for you. Let’s talk about the habit of Power Ups.

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Why is it so essential?

When you play a game and are about to fight with the final boss, your normal skills are not enough. To have a chance of winning you need to do a special preparation - heal up your hero to max. HP, brew a potion, put on you protective spells or … first collect and then use the power ups. A Power Up is a unique object that you find or create that boosts your performance. In games after using Power Ups you become faster, stronger or harder to be killed.

We can adopt this concept from games to real life situations. Jane McGonigal wrote about it brilliantly in her book Superbetter. The Power of Living Gamefully. In this episode I would like to give you my thoughts and experiences related to this topic. Games are a vital part of my life. I remember that as a kid I fabriced excuses not to go to church on Sunday to be able to play on Commodore 64 on my own. I remember going to a chess club and playing at tournaments before I was 10, sitting on a window bay playing Magic:The Gathering as a teenager. Poker chips and Carcassonne tiles decorated tables during my wedding with Marta and one of the most favorite activities in my family is playing board games. I even created my own. 

I strongly believe that game mechanics can be useful in our daily lives. So how exactly can we use Power Ups? First we need to create them. As Jane McGonigal explained: “A power-up is any positive action you can take, easily, that creates a quick moment of pleasure, strength, courage, or connection for you.”

Anything that can boost your mood and give you an extra burst of energy may be considered as a Power Up. And then, when the time comes, you activate it and enjoy all the benefits connected with it. Let’s discuss 10 examples.

Achievements Journal

When we are in a bad mood the whole world appears to be darker and more hostile. We can effortlessly recall situations of our failures, or when others were mean to us. But finding good memories is much more challenging in this state. They are hidden deep in our minds, out of our reach. This is why keeping an Achievements Journal can be extremely helpful. Instead of plunging into hopelessness we can counterbalance our mood, by finding proofs that we are resourceful, smart and resistant. Reading about your achievements, in a moment of self-doubt, will help you to regain self-confidence. After looking more closely at 30 different successes that you achieved this year it is next to impossible to think that you are not capable of facing a new challenge. 

How can you collect this Power Up? 

AFTER you do something that you are proud of, you should IMMEDIATELY make a short note about it, for example in your smartphone. THANKS TO THAT you will be glad that this important memory will stay with you.

There is another crucial step: when you have more time, for example in the evening, you should elaborate - describe the details of this challenge, why it was hard for you and how you found the proper solution.

AFTER I brush my teeth in the evening, I’ll IMMEDIATELY open my Achievements Journal and describe my today’s success (on the basis of the note). THANKS TO THAT I’ll be glad that my collection of achievements is expanding.

Hugs and Kisses

Another idea is to get support from the people you love. When you are feeling low a hug with your romantic partner or a friend can work miracles. Or a kiss from your little daughter followed by “I love you daddy / mommy” can give you wings faster than a red bull drink. Holding hands, patting on the back or any other form of non-sexual touch can also do the trick.

AFTER I feel that I need support, I’ll IMMEDIATELY find a person I love and hug them or grab their hands. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel the close connection.

Epic Scenes from the TV Show

When I feel disappointed about my life or the way the situation unfolded I find it absolutely comforting watching my favorite fragments from beloved TV Shows. Listening to Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, speaking in a low voice: “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean” always makes me laugh. An episode of Friends where Chandler is in the box, trying to apologize to Joye has the same effect on me.

If you are not sure which fragment will affect you in a similar way, I encourage you to go to the list with the titles of the episodes from your favorite TV Show and find a particular scene that you love and make a note (for example Friends, Season 1, Episode 3, from the 10th to the 13th minute). Another idea would be:

AFTER I cry with laughter, I’ll IMMEDIATELY hit the pause key and make a short note (with numbers of season, episode and minutes that I watched a moment ago). THANKS TO THAT I’ll be glad that I can find this particular scene easily. 

Youtube Videos

Another Power Up connected with watching in using Youtube videos. Depending on your needs and preferences you can find a short movie with pandas falling down from trees, giraffes fighting with their necks or adorable little koalas. Watching nature will allow you to see the world from a different perspective - to gain distance from your human problems. It will probably also make you laugh or sigh with awe.

As with the previous Power Up you can use others' collections by typing in the search: “the best of … pandas” or you can create your own set of funny videos. AFTER I see an exceptionally funny / touching video, I’ll IMMEDIATELY add it to my playlist ‘Power Ups for hard moments’. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be happy that I can use it with ease any time.

Goofing around with your dog or kid

When the tension is accumulated in your body and you need to get rid of it, goofing around with your dog or kid can be an excellent way. Throwing your children in the air … and catching them or throwing a stick for your dog is one of the examples. Others could be a tickle fight, wrestling who will throw off who from the coach or singing together. 

You need to find an activity that you and smaller beings enjoy at the same time. The motion will allow you to extinguish bad emotions.

AFTER I feel that I need to experience something positive, I’ll IMMEDIATELY propose a play with my kids or pet. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel happier.


For many of us, contact with nature gives us comfort. When we see green leaves and grass, hear a stream burbling or feel wind in our hair and sunlight at our cheeks, everything seems better. On a subconscious level we detect what in the environment is enough water and food to keep us alive. And this is definitely news worth celebrating. Let nature cheer you up!

AFTER I feel that I am having a bad day, I’ll IMMEDIATELY go for a walk to park, along a river or visit a garden. THANKS TO THAT I’ll enjoy my life more.    

Eating a Treat

Eating a delicious dessert or drinking a hot chocolate for sure can enhance your mood. You just need to be careful not to use this trick too often or too extremely. Stress eating, binge eating, eating empty calories - all these habits are guys you want to avoid in your life. 

This is why I recommend choosing for this Power Up something small: a single square of chocolate, a handful of dried banana chips or cashews. The goal is not to stuff your stomach with as much food as possible, but to experience a taste that you connect with energy, power or good mood.

It can work even better if you reserve this treat for special occasions only. Then every time you eat it, you know that something important is going to happen. 

AFTER I feel that I need an energy boost, I’ll IMMEDIATELY eat a special treat. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be ready to face a challenge.

Quick Call with your Friend

If you have a friend that is a very positive person, talking with them can do wonders. Just listening to their voice, hearing a funny comment or story will be the relief you were looking for. During this talk you can confess what bourden rests on your shoulder or just enjoy a small-talk with a positive vibe. 

AFTER I feel uneasy, I’ll IMMEDIATELY call one of my friends and talk with them for a moment. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be glad that I can always count on people close to me.

Listening to your Power Song

Music can manipulate our emotions like Master of Puppets (master! master!). You can see this easily by watching a horror movie or an inspirational video with music and then without it. Each time it will be a completely different experience.

Many of us associate particular songs with special moments from our lives - the first kiss, your wedding or the time you pass a crucial exam. You can get access to these memories just by listening to a key song. 

AFTER I want to relive a great moment from my life, I’ll IMMEDIATELY open an app with music (Spotify, Youtube) and play my Power Song. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be energized by both music and positive memories.


You may be surprised that I consider cleaning to be a Power Up. Maybe you think that it is a Power Down, a sad, boring chore you have to do. But for me it is an excellent way to quickly see the power and control I have over my environment. 

My desk in my office can look horrible in one moment - full of empty coffee mugs, used tissues, and random papers. But after just a couple of minutes my desk can transform into a well organized working space. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is and how long I procrastinate to do it.

AFTER I want to show myself that I am capable of doing a task quickly and effectively, I’ll IMMEDIATELY clean something (my desk, dishes in the sink, etc.). THANKS TO THAT I’ll experience a quick win.

Final words

We have more control over our mood than we think. Instead of plunging into hopelessness, listening to sad songs that reflect the way we feel right now, it is much better to change it, by using Power Ups: short fun activities. Create a vast collection of them and you will always have a Get Out of Jail Card, ready to use it, whenever you need it.

May the power of good habits be with you and till next time!

#9. The Habit of Tracking

In this episode, I will tell you how you can develop a deeper understanding of your life and choices.

Learn to look more closely how you spend your time, money, what you eat and to build better relationship due to open conversations.

Episode Transcript

You don't have conditions to listen to the podcast? Maybe you prefer to read instead of listening, or you want to find an interesting piece of information quickly? No problem! Click below to expand the episode transcript.

Transcript of episode 9. The Habit of Tracking


How much money did you spend this month on food? How much time did you spend on crucial projects or with your family members? How many fruits and veggies did you eat this week? Most of us are clueless about all of these subjects. 

We have so many things on our plates and minds that we don’t pay much attention to them, and as soon as they are done, we forget what exactly we did. But it doesn’t have to be like that. We can collect important data about our lives and make useful improvements.

Let’s talk about the habit of … tracking!

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Why is it so essential?

As Tom DeMarco rightfully observed: “You can't control what you can't measure“. Tracking enables us to have a deeper understanding of different aspects of our lives that we normally don’t pay enough attention to. Without the data about the way you spend time and money it is extremely hard to know what you do right and when you waste these precious resources. Even if at the end of the day you notice with shock that your TO-DO list is barely touched, you still won’t be sure what activities sucked up all the time and how to prevent it from happening tomorrow. Even if you see on your scale that you gained 2 kg without tracking what you eat you will be clueless what caused this change. 

It is like with a patient in the hospital in the intensive care unit. All of their body vitals are constantly monitored. If something bad is happening doctors know it instantly and can react to it. The reaction time in many cases will decide whether the patient will survive or not. Without tracking the blood pressure and breathing often it would be too late to help them.

For us not tracking vital areas of our lives probably won’t have such dramatic consequences. Spending too much on ice cream won’t kill you. Neglecting your friends and family one day won’t make them go away. But tracking can help you open your eyes and see existing problems that you were not aware of. Then you can track and hunt down the lurking beasts. 

Now let’s explore a different metaphor. Please imagine that you are going to a grocery store without your shopping list. You have a vague idea of what exactly you need. How will this situation develop? Probably in your cart will be plenty of products you don’t need and a few necessary ones will be missing. Similarly in our lives without moments of self-reflection or habits of tracking it will be extremely hard to make the best possible decisions. We will be like a child in the fog, not really sure if we are going in the right direction.

How can you develop the Habit of Healthy Eating in your own life? [triggers, behaviors & rewards]

If you don’t want to be that child, I have simple ideas on how you can know yourselves better.

Tracking Time

Let’s start with the easiest solution. You can install in your phone and computer apps that will do the job for you. They will observe silently how you spend your time. How many minutes you scrolled Facebook, played games, visited email inbox etc. At the end of the day or week you will get an eye-opening report with very specific, probably shocking numbers. When you recover from the shock after seeing them for the first time, you will be able to do something about the way you manage your time. 

There is a huge difference between a vague feeling ‘Oh! I probably shouldn’t spend that much time with my phone’ and … bam! Seeing that yesterday you were using your smartphone for 12 hours, literally half of the day. Another stunning number is how many times you unlock the screen of your smartphone. When I used this tracking app for the first time it was 132. It means that I picked up my phone during awake hours on average more than 8 times per hour. Every 7 minutes the phone magicly jumped into my hands distracting me from doing my work. 

Just seeing these numbers and understanding what they mean for example for your productivity can be enough to make a decision to change it and implement it.

If you want to enhance your relationship with your smartphone I strongly encourage you to install Quality Time or Rescue Time app, or any other that serves a similar purpose.

Hopefully you don’t spend all of your time with your phone in hand. If you want to be a master of your time, you should look more closely at how you spend the entire day. If you are old school you can have a portable notebook where every full hour (10, 11 etc.) you make a short note - what you were doing in the previous hour, for example: from 7 to 8 - I took my kids to school, from 8 to 9 I planned my day and made a few phone calls.

For me, much more convenient is using time tracking technology. My favorite tracking app is Toggl.

Every time I start a new activity, I turn on the timer and make a short note: “I’m working on a presentation”, “I’m going to a meeting”. After I finish it, I stop the timer. After using the time tracking app for a couple of days you will have your most popular tasks in the database. Thanks to that, instead of writing down a whole sentence about what you will do next, you can type the first two letters, and the program will automatically suggest the rest. With every passing day using this app will become easier and easier.

What are the benefits of knowing how exactly you use your time?

1. You can easily identify, catch and put into prison the worst time thieves in your life. By doing so you will free up an abundance of time.

2. Your plans for a day or a week will become extremely accurate, because you precisely know how much time you need for a particular task.

3. You will see which of your key values, relationships and projects are neglected - you don’t spend enough time on them.

Let’s see how we can design this habit.

AFTER I hear the alarm in my smartphone (every full hour), I’ll IMMEDIATELY take my notebook and make a short note about how I spend the passing hour. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel in control of my life.


AFTER I am about to start a new activity, I’ll IMMEDIATELY make a short note about it in a time tracking app (on my phone or computer). THANKS TO THAT I’ll be glad that I am on the path of becoming a time master.

Tracking Money

Have you ever wondered at the end of the month or a year, where all your money went? If you are clueless about it, the habit of tracking money is definitely for you!

The idea is very simple - each time you spend money you make a short note about it: what you bought, to which category it belongs (food, entertainment, education, transport) and how much it cost. 

At the end of the month you will have absolute clarity about your finances and your shopping decisions. You will see that a donut miracuously sticks to your bread each time you buy it in the bakery and monthly you consume 20 of sweet treats. You can be shocked how much all the subscriptions to services on your phone, computer or TV cost. Each of them can be quite cheap, but altogether it could be a substantial sum.  With this knowledge you can make a conscious decision which of them you really need and where you can easily save money, by canceling subscriptions.

Another benefit of this habit is prevention. You will probably think twice about buying 5 bags of chips or another watch or pair of shoes if you know that you will have to make a note about it - that there will be proof of your crime. This way you will save money and yourself from feeling guilty.  

What exactly can this habit look like?

AFTER I spend money on the Internet or in a real store, I’ll IMMEDIATELY make a short note about it (in my notebook or smartphone). THANKS TO THAT I’m glad that I have more control over my money and decisions.

AFTER I have supper on the first day of each month, I’ll IMMEDIATELY analyze my last month spendings and write down 3 key conclusions about what I should do differently this month. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel hope that I’ll spend money in a better way and maybe even save some.

Tracking Food

We all probably heard a ton of times what we should eat and what kind of food doesn't really serve us. But how many of us are using these guidelines in practice every day? Do you know even 1 person who can do that? Eating healthy is a big challenge, especially nowadays when we have so many temptations to use tasty and ready-made food, that at the same time is harmful. If you are particularly interested in this topic, I encourage you to listen to the previous episode of this podcast, where I recommended many ways how you can improve your health by eating better. But for now, let me introduce a different idea: the habit of tracking your diet.

By diet I don’t mean a specific instruction on what you should and shouldn’t eat or drink, but all the products you consume. Each time you put something in your mouth and swallow it, you record it. Many scientific studies show benefits of having a food journal. It is one of the best methods to lose unwanted body fat, reduce your weight and add more healthy products to your diet. The problem with keeping this kind of journal is that it requires a lot of time and is quite boring. How can we enjoy the benefits from this activity and at the same time make it quick and fun? Instead of making notes about your meals - take a selfie with them! This way you still will have the full documentation of what you ate. You can see it for yourself or share it with your partner that has a similar goal - to eat better or reduce weight. The second option is far more powerful. If you have to show the photo of all 3 chocolate bars that you ate this morning, you will think twice about it and this vision of shame will prevent you from doing it.

Taking photos of your meals is much faster than making a note and it can be more attractive - especially if you arrange your food in a funny way or take a selfie with an original facial expression. In this way at the same time you can boost your skill of looking better in pictures.

We can develop this habit like this:

AFTER the food is served and I am about to take the first bite, I’ll IMMEDIATELY arrange it in a funny way and take a photo of it. THANKS TO THAT I'll be glad that I know very precisely what I eat.



AFTER I sit to eat, I’ll IMMEDIATELY take a selfie (me + food). THANKS TO THAT I’ll have a great way of answering a question from my friends: What did you eat today?

Tracking Goals

In the 4th episode of my podcast - The Habit of Journaling, one of the dairies I recommended was the Goal Journal. If you want to get full information about it, I encourage you to visit this episode. Here let me just give you the espresso version. 

When we set new goals, the vision of achieving them is exciting and gives us a spike of motivation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last for long. Sooner or later, after hitting a stumbling block we tend to work less intensively and consistently towards this goal. Without external support it is highly likely that we will resign. Tracking your activities that help you to obtain a goal can prevent it from happening. By writing about your progress or lack of it you can regain motivation and plan specific actions that you should take. This way working on your goal won’t die slowly, but you will keep it alive and enjoy its fruits.

Now let’s look at the habit forming sentence:

AFTER I have breakfast on Saturday, I’ll IMMEDIATELY write about my progress in achieving my goal. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel joy that I am closer to reach it or if there is no progress, that I saved valuable lessons for the future.

Tracking Relationships

Most of us are in many crucial relationships - romantic, family or business. Even though they are essential for us, they strongly contribute to our happiness or misery, we don’t pay much attention to them. As a result we bottle up many frustrations connected with unmet expectations. Maybe your partner promised to do something and then forgot about it. Maybe your mother-in-law criticized the number of flowers in your apartment. Maybe your boss gives you unrealistic deadlines or too many tasks to do, while other team members are not so overloaded. If we don’t have an honest conversation about these problems, we can accumulate too many of them and some day explode. In this moment we won’t be carefully selecting the proper words or caring about other people's feelings - contrary, we will be brutal and hurt people we care about. In some cases this volcanic eruption can end the relationship completely.

Let me recommend a much healthier alternative. Instead of waiting for the bomb to explode, we should have a special moment to talk about the relationship, preferably every week. During this meeting you can appreciate all the good things that your partner did for you and also suggest calmly what they should change from your perspective. Having this regular meeting will give you the chance to clear the air, set some rules or remind the existing ones. You can also give positive feedback, show that you see and appreciate all the good things that this person is doing for you. And hear some good words about yourself. All of us need that from time to time. 

How to put these ideas into practice?

AFTER I notice an exceptionally good or bad behavior of my partner, I’ll IMMEDIATELY make a short note about it, describing the facts and my feelings. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be glad that I’ll know what and how to communicate the message and can reinforce the relationship.

AFTER we drink a hot beverage together in the morning, we’ll IMMEDIATELY sum up the last week of our relationship, naming good things and areas for improvement. THANKS TO THAT we’ll be glad that we resolve or prevent serious problems.

Final words

Tracking any aspect of your life gives you a unique perspective. You can become an observer and see your actions more objectively and clearly. Only then can you make necessary corrections to direct your life to the desired destination. Take control over your time, money or food you eat. Build better relationships due to regular conversations.

May the power of good habits be with you and till next time!

#8. The Habit of Healthy Eating

In this episode, I will tell you how you can boost your health, energy, thinking and good looks.

Use the insights from this episode and develop one of the recommended habits of healthy eating (learning new recipes, buying food, preparing meal, mindful eating, eliminating empty calories).

Episode Transcript

You don't have conditions to listen to the podcast? Maybe you prefer to read instead of listening, or you want to find an interesting piece of information quickly? No problem! Click below to expand the episode transcript.

Transcript of episode 8. The Habit of Healthy Eating


Food. We all love it and sometimes hate it at the same time. Food gives us pleasure, pretext to bond with people we care about and all the nutrients we need to have energy and be healthy. On the other hand, in a busy world it is unbelievably hard not to eat too much or the wrong stuff.

What can we do to improve our health in a tasty way? How can we find time to prepare healthy meals? What kind of question can help us to avoid eating sweet or salty snacks too often?

In this episode I will try to answer all of these questions and even more.

Let’s talk about the habit of … healthy eating!

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Why is it so essential?

You have probably heard endless times that your diet directly impacts your health. This vague statement rarely motivates people enough to do something about it. That is why I want to show you concrete benefits from eating healthy - not just in my opinion, but according to scientific research. 

More Energy

Consuming an energy drink or eating a chocolate bar surely will boost your energy level - but only for a short-lived moment. After it you feel tired and hungry again. On the other hand, healthy fats like Omega-3, protein and complex carbs take longer to digest, but because of that they provide a slow, steady stream of energy. Eating healthy will make it possible for you to eliminate energy roller-coaster and have more than enough of it to meet all your challenges.

Better Mental Function

Our brain consumes about 20 percent of the body’s energy. We need proper nutrients to think fast and clear, make great decisions, see patterns where they are and not to see them where they don’t exist. On a poor diet our mind will be foggy, slow, and easy to distract. 

If you are interested in details of this process I recommend reading a research paper Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function by Fernando Gómez-Pinilla from 2008.

Bigger Chance of Staying Healthy

Overweight and obesity, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and even cancer - all of these diseases are developed at least to some extent, by the way we eat. A diet that is high in calcium can help prevent osteoporosis. A well-balanced diet with not too many calories can help us stay fit and have a healthy heart. Eating well is one of the best methods of prevention from diseases. It will help you not only to have a longer life, but also of higher quality.

Better Looks

Many people in the pursuit of clear, glowing skin, are willing to pay a small fortune buying special creams or even doing plastic surgery. We stretch the skin, suck off the fat to have a shapely figure and look attractive. But instead of treating the symptoms it is far better to focus our attention on causes. Simply by eating healthy, we can have the perfect looking body, with glowing skin and hair. Meta analysis of hundreds of studies shows clearly that restrictive diets, when we can’t eat certain categories of food or we have to eat only a short list of products, don’t work. People regain weight to the starting level in up to 5 years. Fortunately there is a better way. All you need to do is to eat the right products, have a well-balanced diet. Then in time your weight will achieve the optimal level - even without exercising. Contrary to a common belief working out doesn’t really help in weight loss. Many studies confirm that if you run, bike or swim a lot your appetite is bigger and you eat more. Because of that all the calories you burn are regained with the extra food you eat.

This is good news for most of us. We don’t need to invest a lot of energy and time in exercising, just a healthy diet should do the trick - help us to have great looks. And one more interesting fact - if you eat the right food like apples or tomatoes you don’t have to count how many you can consume. You can eat as many as you like without the risk of gaining weight.

How can you develop the Habit of Healthy Eating in your own life? [triggers & behaviors]

I hope that at least one of the arguments I used convinced you. Now we can see what exactly we should do to eat more healthily.

You may think that in order to have a habit of healthy eating you should focus your attention on … eating food that is healthy. But eating is the easiest part! Before you crunch a veggie, you need to:

1) know what to cook

2) have the necessary ingredients

3) find time to prepare the meal

and then you can finally start the consumption.

For each of these stages I prepared a helpful habit.

1. Learning new recipes

Making a meal that is at the same time healthy, tasty and fast to prepare is challenging. Fortunately, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, create recipes by trial and error. The Internet is full of culinary blogs with plenty of brilliant ideas that even novice cooks will be able to apply. You just need to find an attractive source for you. It could be a website of a famous chef, an instructive video on Youtube or even a special program that you can see on TV / streaming services.

It won’t be enough to learn a new recipe now and then. If this practice is irregular, you will soon end up with eating the same meals. You will get bored with it and order a pizza from a local restaurant. 

To avoid this sad fate you should develop a habit of learning new ideas for meals. I have dedicated the entire first episode of this podcast to the habit of learning. For more details I recommend listening to it. But for now let me give you some basic strategies. 

Watching before watching

Before you entertain yourself with your favorite TV show you should earn this treat. AFTER you sit down to watch something interesting, you should start the watching session by IMMEDIATELY opening a video with a new recipe of a meal that is on your cooking level. This way watching the show you enjoy will taste even better, because you have both the education and entertainment.

Watching between watching

Another idea is to create a safety net for watching addictive programs. Instead of playing a new episode right away you can redirect your attention to something different. Opening a video with a cooking show can help you to unplug yourself from the previous source. Because of that you will be able to make a more conscious decision about if you have enough time to watch more episodes. AFTER finishing 1 episode of your favorite TV show, you IMMEDIATELY open a cooking program.

Reading after eating

If you prefer to read or you have less time for cooking education I recommend finding a blog with short and interesting ideas for meals. 

When should we read these articles? For me the perfect timing is when I’m full of food - I have just had dinner. My mind is kind of foggy, energy goes more to my digestive system than to my brain. In this state I can effectively do only simple tasks. Reading a blog article is definitely one of them. It doesn’t require my creativity, I am a sponge that absorbs knowledge. AFTER I finished a meal, I’ll IMMEDIATELY click the tab with a bookmark with my favorite culinary blog and read 1 article. 

2. Buying food (adding products to list & online shopping)

Even the best recipe won’t be worth much if you don’t have the ingredients. How to make sure that you always have what you need? You could buy a super intelligent fridge that will not only inform you what is missing, but will also buy it with your credit card. Before you acquire this magic device, you can use two simple habits.

The last bite

What is the best time to write down what you need to buy? The moment after you took the last bite or drank the last sip. You throw away the empty container and before you forget about it, you should make a proper note. AFTER taking the last bite, you should IMMEDIATELY add the missing product to your shopping list.

Online grocery shopping

The list we mentioned a moment ago can be very useful, but you cannot feed yourself with it. You need to do the next step and buy the products from it. Of course you can go to a local store, but it can be dangerous in the time of a pandemic. It will also take you a while, maybe even more than 1 hour if you need to drive a long distance.

For my family online grocery shopping is far more convenient. My wife can do it even in the middle of the night, when she is feeding our little son. You can do it anywhere and anytime. Whenever you would normally waste a couple of minutes, you can use them to add a few items to the cart in the shopping app. By making your grocery online you avoid deadly viruses, save precious time and money by avoiding additional temptations - buying things that you don’t need. AFTER feeling bored or that you need a break, you should IMMEDIATELY open an app and add products from your shopping list.

3. Preparing meals

Ok. So far we have gained the knowledge and the necessary ingredients to make a healthy dinner. Now it is time to actually do it. Depending on your lifestyle a different moment of the day will do the trick.

If you can invest the first 90 minutes of a day to prepare healthy meals - that is fantastic news! While making breakfast you can plan ahead and produce meals for the rest of the day. They will be waiting for you when it's time for the next meal. All you have to do is take it out of the fridge and eat it (like salads), or you will only need to heat the sauce and cook the pasta (for example spaghetti).

If morning is unavailable because you start working early or you have to take your kids to school, consider choosing the evening. When all the work for today is done, children are sleeping, it is quiet and peaceful. In these perfect conditions preparing meals can be very fast and effective. While making supper you can prepare additional meals for tomorrow. 

4. Mindful eating

For many of us eating has become a mindless act. It is an activity that we do in the meantime, while driving, watching TV or working. When we are not aware of the consuming process, we tend to eat more than we need, which can lead to being overweight or obese. When we bite and swallow large chunks, it is much harder for our digestive system to get all the nutrients out of our food. We may put food with the best possible nutrients into our mouth, but we won't be able to absorb it. 

We also deprive ourselves of the richness of tastes of each meal, when we don’t pay attention to it.

Because of these reasons and many more I strongly encourage you to develop a habit of not mindless but mindful eating. It means that you don’t do anything else while consuming your meal. You can breathe of course, but driving, watching TV or listening to music is forbidden. You should devote 100% of your attention to just eating. Eat in silence. Chew thoroughly. Observe and experience colors, textures, smells and tastes. Be aware of how your body reacts to a particular type of food. If you do all of that, you will appreciate food on a whole new level, you will eat less and digest better. 

5. Eliminating empty calories

The last habit of healthy eating I want to recommend to you is eliminating eating empty calories. Sugar is a white death in a sweet disguise. The less sugar we consume, the better off we are. I dedicated the previous episode of this podcast to resisting temptations with the help of habits. You can check it out later, if this topic is crucial for you. But for now let me introduce one simple question that saved me a ton of unnecessary empty calories. Every time I see a tasty cookie or a chocolate bar I ask myself: What day of the week is it today? If the answer is Saturday - without a guilty conscience I consume whatever I want. This is my cheating day. If the answer is Friday, still it is not bad! I know that I need to wait only 1 day and then I can take full advantage of that. Of course the worst answer to this question is Sunday. It means that I have to wait for 6 more days. But even then the perspective of getting the desired reward for sure makes it relatively easy not to succumb to the temptation. Clear rules (about when you can eat sweets) and a simple question (whether the criteria are now met) can help you eliminate kilograms of body fat every year.

How can you reward yourself in the Habit of Healthy Eating? [rewards]

Let’s analyze separately 5 different categories of healthy eating habits.

1. Learning new recipes

For me the best possible reward is the joy of learning new, useful things. While watching or reading I imagine myself preparing these tasty meals, upgrading my cooking skills. Find a source of knowledge that will be entertaining or funny and you won’t need any other reward in this habit.

2. Buying food

Do you remember your frustration when you were about to cook a special dinner and at the last second you found out that the key ingredient was missing? I experienced it many, too many times. This is why every time I take the ‘last bite’ and add a lacking product to the list I feel relief that this horrible situation won’t happen again. Another possible reward is the sense of good hunt when you find articles at a great, discounted price in an online store. 

3. Preparing meals

The obvious but still effective reward after preparing a meal is … eating it! Of course not everything - the idea was to prepare more meals or portions for the rest of the day. But just after you finish your work you can consume and enjoy a part of it.

4. Mindful eating

When you switch from mindless to mindful eating the whole new world will open for you. You will enjoy your meals much more. Instead of stuffing your stomach to feel full you can experience smells, tastes, textures and colors in a way that was neglected. This should be rewarding enough.

5. Eliminating empty calories

The taste of victory can be even sweeter than a bite of chocolate cake. Passing the test, not succumbing to the temptation, can make you feel stronger and more in control of your life. Try to look at it that way, when you ask yourself the testing question.

The complete formula to the Habit of Resisting Temptations [sentence]

This time under the umbrella of the habit of healthy eating I presented as many as 9 activities. Choose wisely which of them will bring the most value to your life.

1) Watching before watching: AFTER I sit down to watch new episodes of a TV Show or play a game, I’ll IMMEDIATELY open a video with a new recipe of a meal. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be happy that my cooking skills are growing.

2) Watching between watching: AFTER I finish 1 episode of my favorite program, I’ll IMMEDIATELY open a cooking program. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be proud of myself that I combine pleasure with education.

3) Reading after eating: AFTER I finished a meal, I’ll IMMEDIATELY click the tab with a bookmark with my favorite culinary blog and read 1 article. THANKS TO THAT I’ll enjoy the vision of my cooking that meal in the near future.

4) The last bite: AFTER I take the last bite (the last spoon of a yogurt), I’ll IMMEDIATELY add the missing product to my shopping list. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel relieved that it won’t be missing in the most inappropriate time. 

5) Online grocery shopping: AFTER I feel bored or that I need a break, I’ll IMMEDIATELY open an app and add products from my shopping list to the cart. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel the sense of progress, accomplishment. 

6) Preparing meals in the morning: AFTER I start making breakfast, I’ll IMMEDIATELY think about other meals I want to eat today and prepare them too. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel proud that today I’ll eat high quality food.

7) Preparing meals in the evening: AFTER I start making supper, I’ll IMMEDIATELY consider what meal I want to eat tomorrow and prepare them too. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel the sense of agency and being highly effective.

8) Mindful eating: AFTER I sit to eat, I’ll IMMEDIATELY turn off the possible distractors (TV, music, laptop, phone) and devote 100% of my attention to eating my meal slowly. THANKS TO THAT I’ll appreciate the food more and feel better because of that.

9) Testing Question: AFTER I see a sweet treat, I’ll IMMEDIATELY ask myself: What day of the week is it today? THANKS TO THAT I’ll be able to fight the need to eat something sweet and enjoy the taste of victory.

Final words

You are what you eat. Your body is building itself, regenerating and fueling itself from the food you consume. Every aspect of your life is affected by what you eat and the way you eat. Improve your health, energy, thinking and looks, all at once, by developing the habit of healthy eating. 

May the power of good habits be with you and till next time!

#7. The  Habit of Resisting Temptations

In this episode, I will tell you how you can eliminate bad practices that harm your health & productivity.

Use the insights from this episode manage your temptations in a much better way and give yourself a reason to be proud of you.  : - )

Episode Transcript

You don't have conditions to listen to the podcast? Maybe you prefer to read instead of listening, or you want to find an interesting piece of information quickly? No problem! Click below to expand the episode transcript.

Transcript of episode 7. The Habit of Resisting Temptations


“I see and praise what is better, but follow what is worse.” With these words Roman poet Ovid 2 000 years ago named a struggle that we still all feel in the 21. century. We know what is best for our health, but sometimes a chocolate bar or a bag of chips is just irresistible. We are convinced that exercising is essential, but after a hard day at work or at home with children it is so much easier to lay on the couch and watch TV shows instead. We experienced many times that nothing good will happen after visiting Facebook during our work, but we just can’t stop ourselves. Or can we? Is there a way to ignore our urges, be consistent with our values and priorities? Can habits help us with this struggle? 

In this episode I will try to answer all of these questions and even more.

Let’s talk about the habit of … resisting temptations!

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Why is it so essential?

No rules - no life

You may ask yourself: Do I really need to resist my temptations? Why can’t I follow the advice of Oscar Wilde: “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself”. It may sound reasonable. But let’s imagine a world in which you always surrender yourself to each of your temptations. Instead of a healthy lunch - you eat a bag of candies. Every time someone upsets you at work - you shout angrily at your coworkers and boss. Every time you see sexually atractive people - you grab their buttocks. Is this a recipe for a blissful life? More likely for a disaster. Soon you will end up being obese, unemployed or in prison. To live in a society and enjoy the benefits from having good relationships with people, we have to follow crucial social norms that sometimes are in direct conflict with our urges. Instead of yielding to them, we should manage them better.

Just a little

“Ok - you may think - there are some rules I need to obey, some temptations I need to fight. But what is the harm in scrolling Facebook for a couple of minutes, when I feel like it? What cataclysm can happen after I order a can of coke in a restaurant? Do I really need to deprive myself of all the pleasures in my life?” 

Of course not. We all can and should enjoy our lives. The issue isn’t in eating sweets, drinking alcohol or soda, using social media or playing games. The root of the problem is when we can’t stop ourselves from experiencing this type of pleasure. I know that I will need to get up early, but I can’t dissuade myself from watching just 1 more episode, even though it is already 2 am. I’m stressed if I will be able to create the report on time, but the temptation to play just one more match in my favorite game is too strong to resist. 

This is why it is so essential to be able to manage your urges. There is a proper time and place for experiencing pleasures. Let’s examine the ‘kissing case’. If you kiss your partner during a romantic dinner with candles, it can be a great feeling for both of you. But if you kiss a stranger, just because you feel this desire and you yield to it, it can end up terribly - with your nose broken or a police officer arresting you.

Like Seneca said: “The greatest power of ruling consists in the exercise of self-control.” The problem with self-control is that we have too little of it.  Each time we do something hard or we need to make a decision we use up some of it. This is why in the evening or especially at night it is so damn hard to do the right things. Fortunately, habits can help us with that without spending the precious and limited resource of self-control. 

Let’s find out which habits can help us avoid some temptations.

How can you develop the Habit of Resisting Temptations in your own life? [behaviors]

At the beginning I would like to distinguish bad habits from additions. Additions are much stronger, they force us to do something even if we don’t want it - against our will or desire. In many cases addition is also at the physical level - our body demands a specific substance. Habits, on the other hand, work quite differently. We can easily decide to skip the automatic behavior this time. Only if we are ‘on autopilot’ will we behave according to the habit, but with a conscious decision we can choose to ignore it.

Below I will present my own selection of temptations. Each of them starts with the letter ‘s’. My top 5 S’s are: snooze, snacks, social media, smartphone and shows.


When the alarm clock wakes us up in the morning, it is so tempting to just hit the snooze button and lie in the warm bed for 5 more minutes. And then another 5, and just one more 5 - or this is just what we tell ourselves even though deep down in our hearts we know it will be much more.

Snoozing may look innocent, but this interrupted sleep won’t really regenerate you and it will steal precious minutes for other activities. After snoozing for 45 minutes you will finally wake up and do everything in a rush, stressing about if you will be late for work. It is just not worth it. 

When we want to change a habit, instead of getting rid of it, it is better to replace it with a different, more positive one. The best way to do it is to think about the reward. What is your reward in this habit? Why do you do it? In the snoozing habit it could be the feeling of relaxation or escape from hard and harsh reality - all the problems that are waiting for you to be solved today. By lying in bed you don’t need to think about them yet. 

Ask yourself: What other activity can give me the same (or very similar) reward without negative side effects? 

For me it is listening to music. By playing my favorite morning playlist I can feel relaxed and energized at the same time. Music keeps me also from diving into the problems of today.

Another idea is to listen to a fun podcast with episodes lasting less than 20 minutes. In this way you can effectively wake yourself up, spend time in a pleasant way, learn something new or have a few laughs. Isn’t it more valuable than just lying in bed, pretending that you are sleeping? 

Real relaxation is far better than fake sleep.


In not so distant past I had a problem with eating sweet snacks. Every time I saw a piece of chocolate or cookie, even out of the corner of my eye, my hand and mouth followed quickly grabbing and consuming this treat. 

Sometimes I won an internal struggle and refrained from eating it, but I always needed to pay the price with my self-control resource being reduced and my attention being distracted.

Finally I realized that I don’t need to expose myself to temptation and fight it. It is much easier to hide the temptation than to resist it. I packed all the sweets into one box and put it on top of a high shelf that is reachable only if you use a chair or a ladder. 

This way the snacking problem disappears. What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve over.

This strategy works best as a prevention technique, but you can also use it as a response. Let’s imagine that your partner carelessly left some sweets on the table. You work hard and after taking the break, you see your favorite chocolate treat waiting for you to grab it. Now you can follow your heart and take it, but instead of putting it into your mouth you should move it to a better destination - your sweet box on the top shelf.

Remember that your problems won't melt like chocolate when you eat comfort food. That is why it is better to hide snacks and prepare a healthy meal instead, that will give you the energy that you need to really solve the problems.

Social Media

I am a big fan of fantasy books and shows. Looking or imagining dragons, magic and elves gives me the opportunity to visit a very different, more attractive world than the real one. But when I go back to reality I don’t expect to see a dragon flying nearby. It isn’t the case with social media. We treat what we see there - the perfect photos, the stories of success as a reality, when in many situations they are as fictional as unicorns. Part of it may be real, the hoofs, the horse neck - but the most spectacular part (the horn) is not or it is paid with huge price.

When we go to social media, we are looking for comfort. Innocent entertainment that will distract us from boredom. But instead we look at the perfect lives of our friends, compare them to our ordinary lives and end up being depressed, because we weren’t in Zanzibar on our holidays or finished an MBA this year. Looking for comfort brought us discomfort.

What should we do instead? Let me recommend 2 options: one inside and one outside.

Instead of looking for something interesting in the outside world, you can direct your attention to your own thoughts and feelings. Try to be more mindful or insightful. You can think about your goals, dreams or plans. You can evaluate if you are on the right track to pursue them. You can see  the big picture of your life or key relationship. You can consult crucial decisions with the best informed person about your life - yourself. 

AFTER feeling bored you can give yourself a special gift of self-reflection, which will lead to happier thoughts that you are more in control of your own life. It is much better than visiting social media and feeling more helpless. 

The second option is to use the outside voice. But instead of a snack, which is scrolling Facebook or Instagram, give yourself a healthy meal by reading a book or listening to a podcast. In this way you will get the break that you needed from work or other demanding activities. But after it you will have more energy and solutions to go back and finish what you started. 


The smartphone has plenty of good qualities: it is our back-up memory, it provides music when we need it, it captures precious moments of our lives with one simple photo. This is why we shouldn't throw it away and eliminate it completely from our lives. But during the working hours it can be the biggest distractor of all. The smartphone is an entertainment center with games, movies, music, messages and news. Everything is just in one small device, always waiting for you to use it, within the reach of your hand. Putting the smartphone next to our laptop, on which we work, will create the constant temptation to grab the phone. Every time we will feel boredom it may be irresistible to use it.

How can we prevent it from happening? Very simply - by hiding this tempter. My favorite spot to hide my smartphone is just behind the screen of my laptop. I cannot see the phone there and because of that I’m not tempted to use it in a moment when I need a short break. Out of sight, out of mind. Another good hiding place can be inside your drawer, in a backpack/handbag, on the floor, where you can plug in the phone for charging. The safest spot will be far away from you - at the other end of your apartment. If you put your smartphone there you can use the power of your laziness. You probably won't feel like going there just to check if you have any new messages. In this way you will significantly limit how many times per day you grab your phone and how much time you spend with it in your hand. By applying this strategy you can not only eliminate temptation and distractions in your work, but also save a ton of time.

What habits will help you with this? Pre-performance routine and hot potato. Let me explain what I mean by each of them. The pre-performance routine is a set of activities that you do each time, before ‘the performance’. It could be running in a race or working on the project. My pre-performance routine includes hiding my smartphone, closing unnecessary tabs and apps, pouring water into glass and a few more. For you it can be just the first part. AFTER you are about to sit and do the serious work, you should IMMEDIATELY hide your smartphone, always in the same spot.

Hot potato is a habit of throwing away (or hiding) something that is a source of temptation or discraction for you, as fast as possible. AFTER you see your smartphone (sweets, magazine), you should IMMEDIATELY stand up, grab them and hide them in a safe place, where they won’t bother you again. The hot potato habit is your safety net. If you forget to hide the snacks or smartphone in advance, you can deal with the problem, when you see it for the first time.

Shows and Games

The last S stands for shows and super addictive games. This temptation is especially dangerous! It attacks us mainly at night, when we are the weakest, deprived of energy and self-control. When we succumb to this temptation it won’t be satisfied with only a bite of your time. It will eat the biggest possible portion of our night. You fool yourself that it will be just one episode or just one game, even though deep down in your heart you know it will be much more. I know it from my own experience. 

What can we do to enjoy our favorite kind of entertainment without the risk that we will end up at 3 am exhausted? I recommend, one more time, using the hot potato habit. AFTER you finish watching 1 episode, playing 1 game, you need to IMMEDIATELY turn off the TV, close the tab in your internet browser or the app with the game. By breaking the connection between you and the source of temptation, you can think more clearly and make a more reasonable decision about whether you really have time for more entertainment. Sometimes the answer to this question will be ‘yes’ and you will have to turn on TV / laptop / game for the second time. But this little inconvenience is nothing in comparison to staying up all night binge-watching the whole new season of your favorite TV show.   

In episode 5. The Habit of Shopping we discussed how great 24-hour delay on more expensive purchases can be. Here we have the same idea in a nutshell. Just a moment of not exposing ourselves to the source, will allow us to cool down emotions and get more clarity about this situation.

How can you activate the the Habit of Resisting Temptations? [triggers]

This time we don’t have to find clever triggers. The situation of temptation did it for us. Triggers are self-evident: whenever you feel the temptation to do something, you can (or at least try to) avoid it, by doing the recommended behaviors.

How can you reward yourself in the Habit of Resisting Temptations? [rewards]

As a stoic practitioner I try to live according to rules and values I hold dear. One of them is: self-respect gives me more satisfaction than momentary pleasure. Yes, eating a piece of a chocolate cake or a bag of crispy chips will be enjoyable - but just for a moment. After it I will regret this decision for much longer. And the reverse is also true. By depriving myself the pleasure from eating empty calories I will be sad for a moment. But after resisting the temptation I will feel proud of myself. This feeling of inner strength, being in control of my own life and decisions is much more satisfying than even the best dessert available.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t eat any sweets at all - every Saturday and family holiday like my kid's birthday I eat cake like every normal human being. What I try very hard to avoid in my life is eating comfort food outside the schedule, succumbing to whims or urges.

I encourage you to test a similar approach in your own life. Reward yourself with positive thoughts or compliments about your strong will and character.

The complete formula to the Habit of Resisting Temptations [sentence]

In this episode I recommended many different habits that can help us better manage temptations. Let’s sum them up in the form of habit-forming sentences.

Snooze: AFTER the alarm clock wakes me up in the morning, I’ll IMMEDIATELY stand up and play my morning playlist. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel energized and relaxed at the same time.

Snacks: AFTER I see a tasty snack, I’ll IMMEDIATELY grab it and put it away from me, to a special container. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel proud of myself and my strong will. 

Social media: AFTER feeling bored, I’ll IMMEDIATELY take a break and reflect on my own life (what I am grateful for, what are my plans & dreams). THANKS TO THAT I’ll rest for a while from work.  

or AFTER feeling bored, I’ll IMMEDIATELY take a break and start reading a book or listening to a podcast. THANKS TO THAT I’ll rest for a while from work.  

Smartphone: AFTER I am about to sit and do the serious work, I’ll IMMEDIATELY put my smartphone into airplane mode and hide it behind the screen of my laptop. THANKS TO THAT I'll be glad that I’ll be able to work in high focus.

or AFTER I see my smartphone during managing a task, I’ll IMMEDIATELY grab it and hide it in a safe place, where it won’t bother me again.

Shows: AFTER I finish watching 1 episode of a TV show, I’ll IMMEDIATELY turn off the TV/ close the tab in my internet browser. THANK TO THAT I’ll breathe a sigh of relief, that I avoided potential disaster.

Final words

Avoiding temptations can be really hard. I am speaking from my own experience. As an entrepreneur I don’t have a boss telling me what to do. I could decide without a need to consult anybody (and unfortunately I have done it more than once) to play Civ 6 or The Witcher 3 the whole day instead of working on my projects. Habits helped me a great deal to tame my own laziness and semi-addictive behaviors.

Use at least one of the seven habits I recommended, manage your temptations in a much better way and give yourself a reason to be proud of you. 

May the power of good habits be with you and till next time!

#6. The Morning Habits: 

In this episode, I will tell you how you can start your day in a perfect way: how to make it more productive, positive and fun.

Use the insights from this episode and make best use of this special time, when everything and everyone is silent : - )

Episode Transcript

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Transcript of episode 6. The Morning Habits


How can you start each day full of energy and positive thoughts? How can you know from the beginning what is your most important goal today and on which tasks you should focus your attention? How to set the tone for the rest of the day with quick wins that bring you satisfaction?

In this episode I will try to answer all of these questions and even more.

Let’s talk about the Morning Habits!    

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Why is it so essential?

Full control

We start each day with a strong grip on the steering wheel. We have full control over where we will direct ourselves. With each passing minute our muscles get more tired and we gradually lose some of that power. People start to interfere with our plans, by attacking us with calls, messages and emails. Maybe some breaking news captures part of our attention for a long time. Our minds are clouded with many thoughts - about how on earth we can meet our deadlines on urgent tasks or if what I’m doing is really meaningful. 

This is why it is crucial to properly use the morning - when everything and everyone is quiet and our mind is clear.


Additionally, how we start the day sets the tone for the rest of it. We can say to ourselves, just after our feet touched the floor for the first time today: It will be a great day! Because of the confirmation effect, you will probably notice more bright sides of life and ignore the bad ones. You can also use the self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if the day is not objectively good, you can make it much better by taking proper actions.  

Now let’s look at the opposite approach. You can get off on the wrong foot with your day. Maybe you grab your smartphone and to your doom you check your email inbox. Now after seeing a pile of unread emails and a ton of tasks you feel overwhelmed. The day hasn't even started for good and you want it to be over.

The morning gives you the opportunity to put positive lenses on your eyes and see everything in brighter colors.

How can you develop the Morning Habits in your own life? [behaviors]

Now we know why the morning plays such an essential role each day. Let’s look what kind of habits can help us with using its full potential. 


Contrary to what you may expect the perfect morning doesn’t start … in the morning but the night before. The hour you go to bed, the length of your sleep will be decisive. If you came back from the wedding at 5 am no matter how many good morning habits you have - this day is already lost. It’s over before it started. 

Similarly if you drank a lot of drinks before you went to sleep it will be devastating. Even if you fall asleep instantly and slept for 9 hours it won’t save you. Your body will be fighting the poison, trying to neutralize the alcohol. Instead of regeneration most of the energy will go to this struggle. The hangover will make your day over.

Instead you can do yourself a big favor and go to bed at a reasonable hour without too much alcohol in your blood. In the triggers part I will explain how to do it painlessly.

Music and dance

After a good night sleep each morning habit will be much easier to perform. When you wake up, it will be great if you can boost your energy level just from the very beginning of the day. One way how you can do it, is to play your favorite music and start dancing. Both music and movement will effectively wake you up and put you into a great mood. It doesn’t really matter if you know some spectacular moves or if you are in tune with the rhythm. Just enjoy the music and don’t worry about what others think (or if you can’t, put the blinds down). 

Going outside

Another great morning habit is going outside. Taking fresh air into your lungs, feeling the sun rays on your skin, looking at green grass and trees - all of these will bring you happiness, joy and put a great foundation to the rest of the day. You don’t have to spend the whole morning outside, even just a couple of minutes will do the trick. 

Taking care of others

After taking care of yourself, you can look after your significant others. You have plenty of options to choose from. It could be just a kiss, hug or smile to your family members. It may as well be saying kind words like “I love you” or wishing a great day. Another way would be an act of service - preparing a coffee for your sleepy spouse or a sandwich with a smiley face for your kids. In this way you can get a sense of accomplishment just from the beginning of the day and not just any, but connected with your key values.

Planning your day

The last morning habit I would like to recommend to you is planning your day. It can be as simple as stating what is your most important goal for today. The fuller version would be to write down all activities that you want to complete today. You can even use one of the techniques of prioritization like The Pareto Principle or The Eisenhower Matrix and put the tasks in order - from the most to the least important. As a result you can stay proactive - decide on your own, what matters the most for you, instead of being reactive and just respond automatically to emails and tasks from others.

How can you activate the Morning Habits? [triggers]

Let’s find a great trigger to each of these habits.


I suggest developing the following habit: AFTER I hear the ‘go-to-sleep’ alarm clock, I’ll IMMEDIATELY stop doing a current activity (watching TV, playing a game, reading a book etc.) and start my ‘go-to-sleep’ routine.

It would be great if you set a special ringtone for this alarm, for example: yawning sound or lullaby that your parents sang to you when you were a kid. This distinct trigger will give you no room for interpretation what you should do next.

Maybe you are not convinced that this is the best idea. You work very hard during the day for others - your boss, clients or family members. The evening is the only time that you have only for yourself and you want to enjoy it to the fullest. But is watching one more episode of a TV show with one eye open really worth it? Is reading another chapter of the book from which you won’t remember anything this great reward you were looking for? You deserve much more. Going to sleep earlier is not losing an evening, but gaining the whole next day. Don’t just take my word for it, check it for yourself.

Music and dance

As I always say the best possible trigger is often the old habit that we already have in our lives. For example: AFTER I leave the bathroom in the morning, I’ll IMMEDIATELY put the music on and start dancing. If you don’t want to wake up your flatmates or neighbors you can have “a silent disco” with your headphones. 

Going outside

AFTER I put on my clothes (while dancing), I’ll IMMEDIATELY go outside for a 5-minute walk. If I don’t have a busy schedule, I’ll enjoy the contact with nature for a longer time. But each day I will go out for at least 1 breath of fresh air. 

Taking care of others

When we are well-rested, fully awake and oxygenated, we can direct our care to others. AFTER I go back to my apartment, I’ll IMMEDIATELY do something nice for my loved ones.

If you are not planning to create this big chain of habits, where one habit activates the next one, you can use a different trigger. AFTER brushing my teeth, I’ll IMMEDIATELY make something tasty to eat or drink for my family member.

Planning your day 

AFTER I turn on my computer for the first time today, I’ll IMMEDIATELY write down (on paper or electronically) what I am going to do today.

Just remember to do it before the hell breaks loose, when you visit your email inbox. 

How can you reward yourself in the Morning Habits? [rewards]

Let’s see what we can get from each of the morning habits. 


THANKS TO going to bed early you can relax, feel the relief that today you have nothing more to do or enjoy the softness of your bed linen and pillow. 

Music and dance

THANKS TO listening to music in the morning and moving your body to its rhythm you can feel positive energy, joy and hope that this day will go according to your plan.

Going outside

THANKS TO going outside and breathing fresh air you can feel more comfortable, awake and ready to all meet all of today's challenges.

Taking care of others

THANKS TO taking care of the people you love you will feel that you are a good person and your life is full of meaningful relationships.

Planning your day 

THANKS TO planning key activities of your day you will feel clarity and that you are in control of your life.

The complete formula to the Morning Habits [sentence]

Let’s see 5 complete morning habits in their full glory:


AFTER I hear the alarm clock, I’ll IMMEDIATELY stop doing a current activity and start my ‘go-to-sleep’ routine. THANKS TO THAT, I’ll feel relief that today I don’t need to do any more tasks, I can just rest and relax.

Music and dance

AFTER I leave the bathroom in the morning, I’ll IMMEDIATELY put the music on and start dancing. THANKS TO THAT, I’ll feel positive energy, joy and hope that this day will be great.

Going outside

AFTER I put on my clothes, I’ll IMMEDIATELY go outside for a 5-minute walk. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel more comfortable, awake and ready to all meet all of today's challenges.

Taking care of others

AFTER I go back to my apartment, I’ll IMMEDIATELY do something nice for my loved ones. THANKS TO THAT, I’ll feel that I am a good person and my life is full of meaningful relationships.

Planning your day

AFTER I turn on my computer for the first time today, I’ll IMMEDIATELY write down what I am going to do today. THANKS TO THAT, I'll feel clarity and that I am in control of my life.

Final words

How you start your day can be a decisive factor for your productivity, satisfaction and mood. Use this unique moment, when everything and everyone is quiet, to the fullest. 

May the power of good habits be with you and till next time!

#5. The Habit of Shopping

In this episode, I will tell you how you can save money, space in your apartment and yourself from embarrassment connected with bad shopping decisions.

Use the insights from this episode and buy only things that you really need : - )

Episode Transcript

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Transcript of episode 5. The Habit of Shopping


There are only a few things that nearly all of us have in common: death, taxes and … shopping! We all spend money but not necessarily on items that we really need or for the best price available. How to decide what is absolutely worth our money and, in essence, a part of our life that we needed to sacrifice to get this money? How to distinguish things that we want from things that we need? How to get the best value for money?

In this episode I will try to answer all of these questions and even more.

Let’s talk about the habit of shopping!

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Why is it so essential?

Whenever we are about to buy something we tend to focus on the price tag and consider if this item is worth the money. But to answer this questions properly we need to be aware of all of the hidden costs. To make it more concrete, let’s examine the car case. Please image that you bought a brand new car from the showroom for 50 000 euro or dollars. But this isn’t the only cost of this car. You need to buy car insurance - it will probably cost you about 2 500 euro. In 10 years just the insurance will amount to 50% of the car's value. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you add all the expenses of repairs and fuel in 10 years you will spend twice as much as for the brand new car.

So far we mentioned only financial costs. But there are also emotional ones. You will presumably be afraid of all the bad things that could happen to your new prize: a jealous neighbor can scratch it with a nail, or at the shopping mall an inattentive kid will hit your car by opening his car door quickly. Another time the frustration will be boiling in you, when you are looking for a free parking spot for 30 minutes in the city center.

This is what I meant by hidden costs. If we want to make a smart purchase we should be aware of them, add them to the cost-benefits analysis. 

Unfortunately, we also make mistakes in estimating how much goodness some goods will bring to our life. We overvalue how long we will enjoy it. This thrill from having something new and upgraded fades out quicker than we expected. In a week or a month it is a new normal, nothing to get excited about.

We not only underestimate costs, overestimate benefits, but also, more importantly, we pay for things with our life. Let’s go back to the car example. How many days do you have to work to save 50 000 euro? Maybe a year or two? Is this enhancement between your old faithful car and the new one really worth 2 years of your life?

If you believe that in many cases the answer is no - this item I bought wasn’t worth a year, month, week or even a day of my life, then you can consider developing these 5 habits.

How can you develop the habit of shopping in your own life? [behaviors]

1. Checking the importance

Let’s put this philosophy of money into practice. Every time you are about to buy something, you should ask yourself these questions: Do I really need this? Is it worth paying all the costs (hidden too)? Do I want to spend this amount of time of my life to spend this money on this item?

As a result, you can have more money in your account. Instead of buying a bigger house for all the new stuff, you can buy less stuff and have plenty of space in your home that is just right for you.

2. Comparing prices

If you answered ‘yes’ to all questions from the first habits of shopping, then you should ask yourself: Can I buy it for less? Is there a better place for this purchase?

Maybe this same pair of jeans is available in a different store, but at a better price? Instead of buying it in the first place you saw it, it would be better to visit a few other ones. 

It will be also beneficial for you to compare prices by using your smartphone. Every time you are about to buy something, before you go to the checkout, you should open the internet browser, go to Amazon or other similar services. Then type the name of this product and see if it is available somewhere else at a better price. 

In this way you can feel good about yourself that you have a strong will and you can make the best possible decisions. In addition, more money will remain in your account that you could need in case of an emergency like a car repair.

3. The Right Timing

The third habit of shopping I would like to recommend is about perfect timing. Each time we purchase something, we can have 2 opposite attitudes. The first one is: my spendings are spontaneous, I buy things when I need them, I don’t have any stock. I buy presents for my significant others the day before their birthday.

The second approach is: my spendings are planned, I buy things in advance at the best possible price. I buy presents for my friends and family many months beforehand. 

As you can imagine I recommend the second attitude. Firstly, you need to create a list of things that you need (cleaning goods, canned food, or gifts). Secondly, you should actively look for them at a discount. 

The best example that illustrates the clash between these 2 approaches is buying Christmas decorations. You can buy it just before this holiday and pay a double price for them, $200 instead of $100. Or you can purchase them just after Christmas for only $20, which is 10 times cheaper. In addition, you also buy for yourself a peace of mind. This part of your Christmas preparation will be already ready.

4. 24-hour delay

Another habit of shopping that can be extremely useful is a 24-hour delay. It means that every time you are about to buy something expensive (it will cost more than $100 or any other amount that will work for you), you should put it on hold for 24 hours. In this time your emotions will cool down and maybe you will decide that you don’t need it at all. Or you can use this time to compare the price of this object in other Internet stores and save money. Instead of a rush, be rational. Eliminate impulse, thoughtless buying.

5. Asking for discounts

The last habit I will recommend to you today saved me during my lifetime at least $10 000. You too can save enough money to go on a luxurious holiday with your family and friends just by … asking for discounts. 

Each time I am about to buy something in a stationary store, where I know that the prices are negotiable, I simply ask: What discount can I count on as a new customer, or regular customer, or a person that pays with cash (instead of a credit card), or because of the large order, or any other reason I can name.  

Three-quarters of the time, I hear: I'm sorry, but I cannot / am not entitled to give discounts. But in 25% of cases I get a discount. Sometimes it is as tiny as 1%, sometimes it reaches 20%. One day this question saved $200, another only 2$. But a penny saved is a penny earned. In addition, earning it was straightforward, it required only a couple of seconds and a few words. Easy money. With this habit you have nothing to lose, everything to gain.

How can you activate the habit of shopping? [triggers]

Without the trigger you cannot fire a gun and … develop a habit. This is why in each episode we talk about them in detail. Let’s analyze each habit separately. 

1. Checking the importance

I suggest following this guideline: AFTER I feel the need to buy something (have something new), I’ll IMMEDIATELY ask myself one of the following questions: Is it essential? Do I really need it? What kind of hidden costs does it have? 

2. Comparing prices

AFTER I am about to add something to a cart (virtual or in a real store), I’ll IMMEDIATELY use the internet browser on my smartphone to compare the price in this place with other Internet offers (for example on Amazon).

3. The Right Timing

This habit consists of two parts: the first step is to create a list of things you need. The second step is to actively look for them. When is the right time to create a list? 

For example: AFTER I finish cleaning my apartment on Saturday, I’ll IMMEDIATELY look at my list and add new things to it whose stocks are slowly running out.

I suggest creating a short chain of habits, which means that finishing the activity from the first habit is at the same time the trigger to the second one. AFTER I add new things to my list, I’ll IMMEDIATELY pick one of them and look on the Internet, where (and when) I can buy it for the best possible price.

4. 24-hour delay

AFTER I feel lust for … a sexy gadget or shiny jewelry, I’ll IMMEDIATELY say to myself: “Stop this madness!” and put the decision on hold for 24 hours whether I should buy it.  

5. Asking for discounts

AFTER I am about to buy something expensive, I’ll IMMEDIATELY ask the salesperson: What discount can I count on as a regular customer (or because of any other good reason)?

How can you reward yourself in the habit of shopping? [rewards]

Spending money on desirable objects can be exciting, especially if you can afford them. What kind of reward can you give yourself instead, after NOT buying something? The easiest answer, compelling for me, is a sense of pride about yourself. Rather than following your impulses, you managed to use your strong will and better judgment. You passed the test, you won against an evil marketer who wanted to deprive you of your money. If that was too much, you can simply say to yourself: I am glad that I am smart (strong) enough to do the right thing.

The complete formula to the habit of shopping [sentence]

Look at the fully cooked and ready to use habits of shopping. Choose which of them will bring the most value to your life.

1. Checking the importance

AFTER I feel the need to buy something, I’ll IMMEDIATELY ask myself “Do I really need it?” THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel in control of my life and decisions.

2. Comparing prices

AFTER I am about to add something to a cart, I’ll IMMEDIATELY compare its price on the internet. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel relief that I didn’t overpay for the exact same item.

3. The Right Timing (double habit)

AFTER I finish cleaning my apartment on Saturday, I’ll IMMEDIATELY look at my list and add new things to it whose stocks are slowly running out. AFTER I add new things to my list, I’ll IMMEDIATELY pick one of them and look on the Internet, where I can buy it for the best possible price. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel as well organized as Monica from Friends TV Show.

4. 24-hour delay

AFTER I feel lust for a new sexy thing in my life, I’ll IMMEDIATELY say to myself: “Stop this madness!” and put the decision on hold for 24 hours whether I should buy it. THANKS TO THAT, I’ll feel relief that I didn’t make the same mistake as in the past. 

5. Asking for discounts

AFTER I am about to buy something expensive, I’ll IMMEDIATELY ask the salesperson: What discount can I count on as a regular customer? THANKS TO THAT I’ll enjoy paying less in the moment, or I’ll remember the previous time when I saved a nice sum with this technique.


Final words

Money is more than just a piece of paper or a digit on your account. It is a part of your life that you invested to earn this money. A part of your life that you will never get again. This is why it is so essential to make the best possible use of this resource. 

Use the insights from this episode, save money, space in your apartment and yourself from embarrassment connected with bad shopping decisions. May the power of good habits be with you and see you next time!

#4. The Habit of Journaling

In this episode, I will tell you how you can save precious moments from your life, learn best from your mistakes, and increase your focus, happiness, and chance to achieve your goals.

Use the insights from this episode and understand yourself better : - )

Episode Transcript

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Transcript of episode 4. The Habit of Journaling

Introduction part 1.

What can we do to remember better the key insights that popped in our mind during the day? How can we save precious moments of victory, joy or gratitude? How to properly evaluate the passing day or plan for tomorrow? 

In this episode I will try to answer all of these questions and even more.

Let’s talk about the habit of journaling!    

About podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Introduction part 2.

Journaling can mean different things to different people. Maybe when you think about journals you see a teenage girl starting her new entry with the words: “My Dear Diary! Today I experienced something terrible!”. Or you go to the other extreme and visualize Marcus Aurelius, Oscar Wilde or Ralph Waldo Emerson writing a brilliant thought that will stay with humankind for generations.

In this episode I would like to show you that each of us can benefit from some kind of journaling and nowadays you have plenty of forms to choose from.

Why is it so essential?

Every time I have a hard nut to crack, I think “on paper”. Writing words down gives me more clarity, a chance to focus on a specific part of an equation, and to move forward instead of falling into a loop of the same thoughts.

I used this technique in key moments in my life, for example when I was thinking about proposing to my future wife Marta. Whenever I was about to make a serious financial decision, like taking a mortgage or producing 1000 copies of my board game, thinking it through by writing my thoughts, emotions and arguments for both options (“yes” or “no”) helped me to achieve a peace of mind.

Writing can be essential when you want to prepare yourself for the best possible future. At the same time it can give you an abundance of benefits when you analyze the past. As a practitioner of stoicism, at the end of each day I enjoy a moment of self-reflection. I write about my today’s discoveries, successes, and failures; about what made this day special and what I am grateful for. These notes enable me to record my life. They make it possible to revisit a specific day, for example 2nd of June, two years ago. Without them this day would be irretrievably lost.

I am not alone in profiting from journaling. Myriad studies show us the advantages of this activity. It helps us with being more mindful, which indirectly contributes to being happier, sleeping better and staying more focused. Writing your thoughts reduces the stress and helps you combat many negative, disrupting emotions. It will be much easier for you to achieve goals when you not only write them down at the beginning of the journey, but you also document every step you take towards your goal. 

Journaling has countless variations. If you don’t believe that you can benefit from a particular type of journaling - just ignore it. Find the one that will be the best for you.

How can you develop a habit of journaling in your own life? [behaviors]

Let me introduce you to 5 types of journaling that I hold dear.

1. One Sentence Diary

In this simple variant, excellent if you are about to have your first journaling experience, you keep a diary and write a new entry every day. But instead of a long written statement about today's events, your goal is to just write one sentence. It could be a great insight that you heard in a podcast, read in a book or you came up on your own. It could be a warning to your future self to avoid a similar terrible mistake that you made today or just the opposite - record of your today’s bravery or brilliance.

Because you have the limit of one sentence the process of writing it down takes less than 1 minute. In other words - you have no excuse not to do it. It is simple, easy and rewarding. You can write down “thought of the day” in your smartphone, just after you heard it / read it - always in the same place, for example in one note in Evernote. If you are old fashioned, you can rewrite it in a physical journal when you go back home. This way you can get the best of both worlds: an electronic note enables you to save precious reflection before it slips your mind and a handwritten note increases its perceived value and allows you to remember it better.  

2. Idea Journal

Is writing in a diary every day (even just 1 sentence) too big commitment for you? Try the Idea Journal instead. This time you aren’t obliged to be systematic. You can write irregularly: one day you can leave 5 entries, and then no more for the rest of the week.

As the name suggests in Idea Journal you write down your ideas. About what? Anything you fancy! If you are an entrepreneur, it could be concepts of new products or innovative marketing strategies. If you work as a salesperson, you can write down new ways to approach your clients or maintain a good relationship with them. If you are a manager, you can record ideas on how to motivate your team more.

3. Goal Journal

This kind of journal can play two different roles: your coach and advisor. When you are working towards your goal often you will experience complications or stumbling blocks. Without any support it is very simple to just give up. But if you have a coach that motivates you, says he believes in you, assures you can make it, it will be definitely easier to stay on track. You can be this coach for yourself. You can give yourself the support you need and also ideas how to overcome obstacles. Additional benefit of keeping the Goal Journal is monitoring your progress. If you pay close attention to your goal, you can adapt your strategy to the changing circumstances.

The Goal Journal can also play the role of your advisor. The next time you start working on a similar goal, you can read about your previous struggles. You can avoid painful mistakes by recalling threats and problems that you experienced before. Because of that, you can prepare for them in advance and eliminate some of them completely. You may also better estimate how much time, money and other resources you will need and reserve them for this project.

4. Gratitude Journal

Another well-known approach to journaling is about expressing gratitude. Each day you write down at least one thing that you appreciate in your life. It can be something small for example a stranger smiled at you or something big; a VIP of your professional field agreed to meet with you.

What are the advantages of keeping this journal? There is a lot of research about it! Let’s discuss only few of them. Firstly, you can put positive lenses and see the world in brighter colors. You will focus more on all the good things that are happening in your life. Even though the ratio of ups and downs will remain the same, you will be under the impression that your life changed for the better. Secondly, you can increase your level of happiness because instead of thinking about what is missing, you will be glad about all the things that you already have.

5. Daily Diary

The most mature or the fullest version of journaling is keeping a daily diary. Each day you set aside from 5 to 15 minutes to write about today. You can do it in the morning, in the form of setting your goals or priorities. You can do it in the evening, summarizing your achievements, failures or capturing interesting events. Or if you are exceptionally ambitious you can use both and write 2 entries per day. 

For me it was helpful to create fixed points in my writing. Each evening in my bed I answer 5 questions:

1. What was the most important thing I did today?

2. What did I learn today?

3. For what I am grateful today?

4. What will I do next time differently than today?5. What do I want to accomplish tomorrow?

In this way I don't have to wonder what to write about. Questions are straightforward and I can answer them with ease in 5 minutes. 

How can you activate a habit of journaling? [triggers]

Let’s examine different types of the journals. 

The easiest and most effective trigger for both One Sentence Diary and Idea Journal would be: AFTER I read / hear / come up on my own with an inspiring thought, I’ll IMMEDIATELY write it down in my Diary or on my smartphone.

Another possibility could be: AFTER I go to bed, I’ll IMMEDIATELY open my One Sentence Diary and write down interesting insights or rewrite in the journal saved thoughts from my smartphone.

Depending on how many entries you want to put in your Goal Journal, different triggers will do the trick. If you plan to summarize your work towards your goal only once per week, I suggest finding a fixed day and time, for example: AFTER I have breakfast on Saturday, I’ll IMMEDIATELY write about my progress in achieving my goal.

If you prefer to do it every day - then look for an old habit that you do daily, for example: AFTER I turn on my computer for the first time today, I’ll IMMEDIATELY open my Goal Journal and write about what I accomplished yesterday.

For both Gratitude Journal and Daily Diary I suggest finding a good moment in the evening when we can reflect on the passing day. I could be: AFTER I eat the last meal of the day, I’ll IMMEDIATELY write in my journal or AFTER I take a bath/shower in the evening, I’ll IMMEDIATELY save my thoughts in the diary.

How can you reward yourself in the habit of journaling? [rewards]

For me the best possible reward is the instant peace and a sense of preserving something precious. Each time I open my Journal I have this feeling that time stops and the outside world leaves my alone, at least for a couple of minutes. And at the same time I'm glad that I can record my memories, plans or ideas. They won’t dissolve into oblivion because I saved them, by writing them down. Because of that I can go back to them anytime I want - not only this week or month, but even after 20 years. It is like a taste of immortality.

But if writing in your Journal for you is not a reward in itself, then you can think about somethings else, for example: THANKS TO THAT I’ll read the fun previous entries or THANKS TO THAT I’ll look at a special collection of my photos from my greatest past events. 

The complete formula to the habit of journaling [sentence]

Ok. Let’s see how we can put 5 different sets of puzzles together.

One Sentence Diary: AFTER I go to bed, I’ll IMMEDIATELY open my One Sentence Diary and write down interesting insights. THANKS TO THAT I’ll be glad that I won’t forget about something important to me.

Idea Journal: AFTER I read / hear / come up on my own with an inspiring thought, I’ll IMMEDIATELY write it down in my Journal or on my smartphone. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel great that I have an ever-growing collection of thought-provoking ideas.

Goal Journal: AFTER I have breakfast on Saturday, I’ll IMMEDIATELY write about my progress in achieving my goal. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel joy that I am closer to reach it or if there is no progress, that I saved valuable lessons for the future.

Gratitude Journal: AFTER I eat the last meal of the day, I’ll IMMEDIATELY write in my journal about what I am grateful for today. THANK TO THAT I’ll feel more happy, because so many good things are happening in my life.

Daily Diary: AFTER I take a bath/shower in the evening, I’ll IMMEDIATELY save my thoughts in the diary. THANKS TO THAT I’ll look through other entries and read the ones that are the funniest or put me in a positive mood. 

Final words

Keeping a diary in the 21st century is a forgotten art. Despite that it can help you with facing many modern challenges like: handling stress in a better way, being more focused and fully aware of your thoughts and feelings. If one of the journalism forms is not appealing to you, you have a 100 more to choose from. For sure you can find the one that will suit you best. It doesn’t have to be on paper - even a computer or smartphone can do the trick.

Use the insights from this episode, understand yourself better and see you next time. May the power of good habits be with you!

#3. The Habit of Expressing Love

In this episode I will tell you how can you show how much you love your significant other; which ways of expressing your affection will be highly appreciated by your partner and which will be ignored or even misunderstood; what can you do to strengthen relationships with the most important people in your life.

Use the insights from this episode and give your relationship a new spark : - )

Episode Transcript

You don't have conditions to listen to the podcast? Maybe you prefer to read instead of listening, or you want to find an interesting piece of information quickly? No problem! Click below to expand the episode transcript.

Transcript of episode 3. The Habit of Expressing Love

Introduction part 1

How can you show how much you love your significant other? Which ways of expressing your affection will be highly appreciated by your partner and which will be ignored or even misunderstood? What can you do to strengthen relationships with the most important people in your life?

In this episode I will try to answer all of these questions and even more.

Let’s talk about the habit of expressing love!


About the podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

This podcast is brought to you by The Land of Habits - the educational board game with which you will develop new habits and skills. Check it out on

Introduction part 2

In this episode we won’t be talking about sex gadgets or discovering new positions. You can find plenty of tutorial videos about that on the Internet. Instead, I want to show you how you can express your love to the significant other in a nonsexual way. How you can demonstrate that your partner is a vital part of your life, you want all the best for them and expect nothing in return. This act of selflessness and unconditional love is in my opinion the greatest gift we can give.

Why is it so essential?

Steuart Henderson Britt said once that “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.”. The same rule applies to the world of emotions. It isn’t enough that you know you love your spouse very much. If you don’t express your feelings, they won’t know that and won’t feel loved. Another saying that captures this idea is: ‘love is a verb’. Acting is more important than just having a feeling.

However, not every action will provide the same great results. You need to identify your partner’s needs, understand them and act accordingly. Otherwise, your communication with your partner may look like the one from my university life chapter. While being in the dean’s office I witnessed a situation in which the office worker tried to explain to the foreign student that she needed his photography. Of course, she did it in Polish. The student didn’t understand a word in this language. The lady didn’t bother with that and kept repeating the same word but more slowly and loudly. It may seem like strange behavior to except that suddenly the student was able to understand her message. But take a close look at your own communication with your partner. How many times have you explained what you meant in a similar way? Instead of changing the language of love, which is the way you express your affection, you stuck to the one that is your favorite?

It may be a discovery for you, but there is more than just one language of love. According to Gary Chapman, an American psychotherapist and author of 11 books, there are 5 different ways how you can express your affection:

1. words of affirmation

2. acts of service 

3. receiving gifts 

4. quality time

5. physical touch.  

Let’s find out how we can automate each of them in the form of the habit.

How can you develop a habit of voluntary suffering in your own life? [behaviors]

The first language of love is words of affirmation. You can express your love by simply saying: ‘I love you’ or ‘You look beautiful’. If you are willing to go the extra mile, you could say: ‘From all the people in the world,  you're the one I love the most’ or ‘Your eyes are so beautiful I could look into them for hours’. Adding some details or context makes every compliment better and more credible. 

The first language is also about appreciation. You may say: ‘Thank you darling for preparing dinners for our family. Without you, we would starve to death.’ or ‘Thank you for washing the dishes. I really enjoy entering the kitchen in the morning when everything is clean and shining’. By repaying with kind words for your partner’s good deeds, you can encourage them to do it more often.

You can use your voice and deliver words of affirmation face to face. But you also have the possibility of doing it in a written form: a text message or handwritten note. My wife has a special album where she collects hundreds of yellow post-its with some positive comments that I wrote each morning.

Choose the way of giving your partner words of affirmation that is good for the both of you.

The second way of expressing your love is acts of service. We all have more chores than we would like to. How amazing it would be if you had a magical wand and with a few circular movements garbage would throw itself into the trash, dishes would wash themselves, and dirty clothes would just fly into the washing machine. You can be that wand and do the magic for your significant other. You can surprise your partner by doing household duties that belong to them. I bet they will appreciate it and feel loved by you because of that.

The third language of love is receiving gifts. Gifts don't have to be big or costly. What really matters about them is your intention. Gifts can be a visual, tangible representation of your love. By buying a flower or even picking one from the ground (for free!), you can prove that you think about your significant other. That you are willing to spend time, and sometimes money too, to give them a reason to smile. Each week when I go to the local bakery, I buy a donut or croissant for my wife. I don’t do it every day and I don’t stick to one particular day of the week. In this way Marta is positively surprised when she gets her special treat. A donut can be the shape of your love.

The fourth way of expressing your love is quality time. Sitting in the same room is not enough. You should interact with each other, work towards a common goal that is important for both of you. Depending on your preferences, quality time can be outdoors (walking, hiking, riding a bike) or indoors (talking, cooking, playing a game). It could be a long activity like watching one of The Lord of the Rings movies or a brief one like singing your favorite song together. It is essential that the behavior is a source of joy for both of you and you commit 100% of your attention to it. No scrolling Facebook or checking your email inbox during it.

The last love language is physical touch. Hugs. Holding hands. Stroking hair or face. Kiss on the forehead. This kind of touch shouldn’t have the end game of undressing your partner. You want to show them that you value them as a human being, not as your sex toy. You are not giving your partner a massage because you expect something in return. You do it to give them this blissful experience. Their happiness is your greatest reward. 

Now you know what you can do. Let’s find out how we can do it more often. 

How can you activate a habit of voluntary suffering? [triggers]

It would be hard to find a universal trigger for the habit of expressing love because each of the 5 love languages is so different. That is why we will examine them separately.

1. Words of affirmation. The moment after I turned my computer on for the first time worked perfectly for me. AFTER I pushed the on button on my laptop, I IMMEDIATELY wrote a nice comment about my wife on the yellow post-it. To make it easier, I prepared a stack of post-its and a pen, and put it next to my computer. Instead of idly waiting for the system and all programs to load, I used that time to strengthen my relationship with the most important person in my life.

2. Acts of service. We have 4 children in our family: Aria, Tadzio, Aurora, and Tymek at the age of 8, 6, 2, and 1. As you can imagine there are always plenty of things to do to keep our home relatively clean and functional. We have a list of household duties and we try to divide them fairly according to each person’s skills. Kids have their own duties, but most of the home tasks are my and my wife's responsibility. My job is to wash the dishes, throw away the garbage, and take children to school or other appointments. Marta’s responsibility is to do the laundry, grocery, and cook. But sometimes when my wife is out of the house, she locks herself in a room to put our children to sleep or she falls asleep, I can do some of her chores: hang the laundry, prepare a meal or do the online grocery shopping. You can find a special moment in your day, when your partner is away or unconscious, and surprise them by doing their obligations. For example: AFTER I am back from work, I’ll IMMEDIATELY do one of my partners duties.

3. Receiving gifts. Whenever you are buying something online or in the stationary shop, and AFTER you come across a thing that you know, your partner would highly appreciate: a bottle of craft beer, a new book from their favorite author, or a soap with their favorite fragrance, you will IMMEDIATELY add it to your cart or put it into your trolley. After you obtain the gift, you should plan the proper place and time to give it. You can wait for a special occasion like birthday, or give it without any. You could hand it in or sneak it into your partner's jacket pocket.

4. Quality time. You can set your alarm clock for a specific time in the evening, like 8 pm. AFTER you hear it, you will IMMEDIATELY stop working and start preparing an activity for the evening, like unpacking elements from the board game or making popcorn for the movie.

Sometimes it would be hard to stick to a particular hour each day, for example if you have children and they go to sleep at different times. In this situation your trigger can be: AFTER all of my children fall asleep, I’ll IMMEDIATELY prepare a special evening activity with my partner.  

You can save energy and time by making the list of interesting activities for both of you in advance. When you are tired after the whole day, you don’t need to be creative - instead you can just choose one of the great options that you came up with when you were in a better mental shape. 

5. Physical touch.  For me the best trigger for this language of love is AFTER I see my wife again (we were in separate rooms), I’ll IMMEDIATELY come to her and give her a kiss, hug, or tickle. In this way I can show Marta that I am not indifferent to her sight. Contrary, seeing her, even after many years of marriage, provokes me  to come closer and express my feelings. 

Another possible good trigger is physical closeness. AFTER I am near my partner (within hand reach), I’ll IMMEDIATELY grab their hand or kiss them.

How can you reward yourself in the habit of voluntary suffering? [rewards]

When you speak the words of affirmation you get your reward by looking at the face of your loved one. The emerging smile, the gleam in their eye is all you need to feel great about yourself and your relationship.

In the languages ‘acts of service’ and ‘receiving gifts’ you don’t get to see its effect on your partner immediately. That is why you need a different reward. In those cases I suggest imagining a scene where your significant other discovers what you did for them - a clean up apartment or a box of their favorite chocolates. Visualizing the result of your action will be rewarding enough.

What about the quality time? If you choose a way of spending time that you really enjoy, you will feel excitement while preparing for your special activity. The promise or vision of a later reward (a movie with popcorn watched together, thrilling match in a board game) will work great.

In physical touch you get an instant reward by touching, hugging or kissing your partner. There is no need for another reward, I sincerely hope.

The complete formula to the habit of voluntary suffering [sentence]

Ok. Let’s put all the pieces together. This time we have 5 sets of puzzles.

1. words of affirmation

AFTER I turn on my computer for the first time today, I’ll IMMEDIATELY write a positive comment about my partner on post-it or as a text message. THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel great, because I nurture a relationship with the person I love.

2. acts of service

AFTER I come home from work, I’ll IMMEDIATELY do 1 home obligation that belongs to my partner, THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel happy, because I anticipate my partners gratitude and positive surprise. 

3. receiving gifts

AFTER I do online or offline shopping and see an inexpensive object my partner desires, I’ll IMMEDIATELY add it to the cart, THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel glad, because I know how much my partner will appreciate it. 

4. quality time

AFTER all of my children fall asleep, I’ll IMMEDIATELY prepare a special evening activity with my partner, THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel excited about all the fun we'll have together.

5. physical touch. 

AFTER I see my partner again (we part for a shorter or longer moment), I’ll IMMEDIATELY come closer to them and touch, kiss or hug them, THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel the pleasure from connecting with the loved one.

Final words

Love has many names and ways to express it. I strongly encourage you to test all of them and see in practice, which of them works best for you and your partner. 

May the power of good habits be with you and till next time!

#2. The Habit of Voluntary Suffering

In this episode I will try to convince you that discomfort not only isn’t as bad as we portray it, but getting used to it can help you solve many of your biggest problems.

Firstly, we can derive more pleasure from good things in our lives by pairing them with their opposites.

Secondly, we can increase our mental resilience.

Thirdly, we can extinguish our anxiety by facing our fears.

Fourthly, feeling discomfort won’t stop you from doing the right thing anymore.

Use the insights from this episode and become your own hero : - )

Episode Transcript

You don't have conditions to listen to the podcast? Maybe you prefer to read instead of listening, or you want to find an interesting piece of information quickly? No problem! Click below to expand the episode transcript.

Transcript of episode 2. The Habit of Voluntary Suffering


Most of us, as human beings, seek pleasure and comfort. We tend to take the line of least resistance and do what is easy and convenient. We fear pain (for example connected with the dentist appointment) and we will go to extremes to avoid it, if possible. 

In this episode I will try to convince you that discomfort not only isn’t as bad as we portray it, but getting used to it can help you solve many of your biggest problems. 

Let’s talk about the habit of voluntary suffering!    

About the podcast

Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast, we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.


There is a key distinction between voluntary and involuntary suffering. The latter is much more problematic. In some cases, it can lead to post-traumatic growth, but sometimes there is no silver lining. On the other hand, if we voluntarily seek discomfort, we can get many benefits like boosting our mental resilience and confidence, procrastinating less, and doing harder things that are good for us.

In this episode we won't discuss examples when pain is connected with pleasure like eating spicy food, watching horror movies, or some sexual practices. Instead, we will talk about situations when we are doing something that is good for us (our health, productivity, or relationships), but at the same time, it is painful physically or emotionally.

I will use the term suffering in a broader context than most people do. For me, it is not only when we break a leg or when we feel hopeless and helpless. Stretching or taking a cold shower can also be considered suffering. Or listening to your mum explaining the same thing for the tenth time!

Why is it so essential?

After we defined the terminology, we can move on to the most interesting matter: Why on Earth should we suffer willingly? 

As Seneca stated more than 2 000 years ago: If the tree doesn’t experience a fierce wind, it won’t become rooted and strong.

Seneca wasn’t a tree expert, but a very keen observer of human nature. As a stoic philosopher and writer, he shared many suggestions on how to live a good life. Experiencing voluntary suffering is a part of that. In one of his essays he recommended that rich people should from time to time live like poor ones - eating only the simplest food and wearing cheap clothes. Why? Seneca gave us a few good reasons:

Firstly, we can derive more pleasure from good things in our lives by pairing them with their opposites. Hot tea can be pleasant in itself. But if you have been skiing for 3 hours in severe frost, drinking it will be like a blessing from the heavens. Eating porridge can be okay-ish. After fasting for a week, it will taste better than a dish served in a Michelin-starred restaurant. By experiencing voluntary suffering we can simply enjoy life more, especially in those areas where we fell into the trap of hedonic adaptation. We don’t appreciate things that one day was a source of great pleasure for us anymore. By creating conditions in which we can miss them, we can regain satisfaction from having them in our lives.

Secondly, we can increase our mental resilience. Not having a cup of coffee in the morning bothers you a lot? Try going on a monthly coffee fast. After that, not drinking a coffee won't be a problem anymore, because you got used to this situation and you know that all hell won’t break loose because of that. Being in a traffic jam makes you want to scream? Try walking to your work on foot for a couple of hours. After experiencing it just once, you will forever change your perception of sitting in your comfortable car in congestion.

Thirdly, we can extinguish our anxiety by facing our fears. The very thought of giving a public speech makes you want to run away and never come back to your workplace? Try making a presentation just for your friend, then just for a couple of colleagues, then gradually raise the bar by inviting a larger audience. In time you will desensitize yourself to this stressor. This situation that you perceived as horrifying at the beginning will no longer affect you so much.

Fourthly, and this is in my opinion the biggest benefit of all, feeling discomfort or even suffering won’t stop you from doing the right thing anymore. How many times have you postponed working on a crucial task, because you were afraid of it? How many times you haven’t gone to the gym, because you didn’t feel like it, even though you knew you really needed it? I bet - too many. With the help of the habit of voluntary suffering, we get the inner strength to make hard choices and do crucial tasks, even if they are boring, unpleasant, or difficult. 

How can you develop a habit of voluntary suffering in your own life? [behaviors]

I hope that I convinced you that it is better to suffer a little voluntarily than to suffer a lot unwillingly. Like it is better to be vaccinated and experience a minor sting instead of having a serious illness.

Now let’s examine how exactly we can develop a habit of voluntary suffering. The first set of behaviors I recommend is connected with physical pain. Stretching, running, lifting weights - all kinds of physical exercises that are good for your body, but dire at the same time.

Activities from the second category are also unpleasant, but they don’t involve physical pain. It can be eating something you don’t like, but it is healthy, like onion or garlic. It can be going for a short walk without your jacket or taking an ice-cold shower for 1 minute. Uncomfortable, but experiencing cold can boost your immune system.

The last behaviors I recommend are linked with emotional pain. Maybe you are afraid of making a cold call to a potential client? Maybe if someone asks you a difficult question you tend to lie instead of telling the harsh truth? Maybe somebody asks you for a favor and even if you really want to say ‘no’, you end up saying ‘yes’? Please imagine how much better off you could be if you had the inner strength to make the harder choice. 

How can you activate a habit of voluntary suffering? [triggers]

In some cases, the trigger for the behavior will be obvious. For example: AFTER I feel afraid to make a cold call to a potential client, I’ll IMMEDIATELY dial a number to a potential client.

You shouldn’t wait until the fear is gone or you overcome it. You have to act despite fear.

Similarly, if you decide to take ice-cold showers every morning to wake up instantly, you don’t need to deliberate, which will be a good trigger. It is self-evident: AFTER I go to the bathroom in the morning, I’ll IMMEDIATELY take my clothes off and have a cold shower.

Exercising is a little bit more complicated. You need to find the right time for it. It could be in the morning, for example: AFTER I wake up, I’ll IMMEDIATELY have a stretch. 

If your morning is already fully packed with making sandwiches for children, dressing them up, brushing your teeth, and looking for the car key, which is always in hiding, maybe the evening will be a better time to exercise. For example: AFTER I get in the car after work, I’ll IMMEDIATELY enter the address of my gym in Google Maps.  

What about eating healthy and untasty vegetables? Please remember that often the best trigger for a new habit is the old habit that already exists in your life. Pair the old habit with the new like this: AFTER I prepare a meal (or open a bag with takeaway food), I’ll IMMEDIATELY take a bite of a nutritious veggie.

How can you reward yourself in the habit of voluntary suffering? [rewards]

For many people, the feeling of pride is rewarding enough. If you do voluntarily something hard or painful, afterward you will feel great about yourself. Pausing and thinking about your incredible achievement could be all you need. 

Sometimes the reward won't be a feeling of pride but a relief. Jumping out of cold water or putting down the barbell with weight.

Some people need a less psychological and more substantial reward. In this case, you can treat yourself with your favorite snack, for example, a piece of expensive chocolate or a sip of the finest coffee.

The complete formula to the habit of voluntary suffering [sentence]

Now let’s put together all the puzzles in the form of one sentence. You can incorporate the habit of voluntary suffering by developing one of the following habits:

AFTER I wake up, I’ll IMMEDIATELY take an ice-cold shower, THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel relief when it’s over and a sense of pride that I am courageous enough to do it.

AFTER I go back from work to my apartment, I’ll IMMEDIATELY do my exercise routine (30 push-ups, 30 squats, 30 jumping-jacks), THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel energized and powerful.

AFTER I feel the temptation to procrastinate, I’ll IMMEDIATELY open a file on my computer and start working on the task I wanted to postpone, THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel great about myself and my strong will. 

Final words

If the word suffering has very negative connotations for you, you can think about this habit as a habit of bravery. You have to be at least a little tough, fearless, and courageous to voluntarily do what is hard and unpleasant. You can also greatly strengthen these amazing qualities by the everyday practice of heroism in your life. It is worth the effort.

Use the insights from this episode, become your own hero and see you next time. May the power of good habits be with you!

#1. The Habit of Learning

In this episode, you will learn what is a habit, what is the proven formula to develop a great habit in your life, and what I consider to be the most outstanding habit of all.

You will also learn how to design the habit of learning in such a way that getting new knowledge each day will be effortless.

Episode Transcript

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Transcript of episode 1. The Habit of Learning


Hi! My name is Andrzej and welcome to The Helpful Habits. In this podcast, we will learn how to employ good habits that will do the hard work for us. How to change our lives for the better not by taking massive leaps, but with the help of small, easy-to-implement steps.

In this episode, you will learn what is a habit, what is the proven formula to develop a great habit in your life, and what I consider to be the greatest habit of all.

Let’s talk about the habit of learning.

A short story

Does the name Hamleys ring any bell? It is the largest toy store on the planet. Hamleys has seven floors stuffed with toys, games, lego, and everything a child can dream of. People travel from across the globe to visit this shop. Please imagine that a 5-year old boy enters this famous place. How may he feel? Delighted? Excited? Thrilled? Maybe he doesn’t know where to look because there are so many great toys everywhere!

This is exactly how I feel when I think about habits. There are so many fantastic habits that it was excessively hard for me to pick just one for the first episode.

The habit of keeping a diary, showing gratitude, being mindful, and voluntary suffering - they all will have to wait for their turn. Because my no. 1 habit in the world is … the habit of learning.

Why is it so essential?

Socrates stated it excellently nearly 2 500 years ago — 'Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have laboured hard for.' In other words, you can save yourself decades of trial and error, decades of misery and failure by acquiring valuable, proven knowledge about how to do something. By using the existing wheel instead of trying to reinvent it.

People who are lifelong learners can achieve much more than individuals who think that they already know everything. Let’s examine Mary’s case. Mary is a business trainer. She conducts training courses all across Poland. Her area of expertise is Public Speaking. She is passionate about this topic, and she knows it inside out. But her problem is competition. There is a great deal of experts in Public Speaking in Poland, and that’s why Mary has problems getting enough contracts.

Joanna, a friend of Mary’s, explained that she needed to find a niche. Instead of addressing her offer to everyone, it would be better to find a specific group of clients with a particular need. Mary decided to learn more about data storytelling and strategies for reaching a specific group of customers. After 6 months, she was ready to enter the market with a new set of skills. Because only a few people in her country are conducting trainings about data storytelling, now it is much easier for Mary to find clients, and she can charge more for one workshop.

Another problem that Mary had was traveling. Her heart broke a little every time she had to leave her two small children - Paul and Anna. Even though she enjoyed comfortable beds in hotels, access to a sauna or swimming pool, she missed her family even more. She confessed it to her friend Michael, also a business trainer, who advised her to learn how to conduct trainings online. In this way, Mary can do the work she is passionate about without compromising her precious time with her family. Because Mary and technology weren’t best friends, it took our heroine 12 months to master teaching online, but she finally did it. Now the majority of her trainings is in the virtual world, and her whole family loves it.

The last thorn in Mary’s side was the number of days she was working. Although she earned good money, she didn’t spend as much time with her kids and husband as she’d like to. Her health and fitness were also neglected. ‘If only I had more time!’ - thought Mary constantly. One day she decided to think and write down ideas about what she could do to work less. The best one, in her opinion, was to polish her English and conduct trainings for big, international companies. This way she can earn a salary in a different currency - euros, pounds or dollars and because of that she can get twice or even thrice more for the same job. It took Mary 3 years to become fluent in English and acquire international contacts with corporations, but she finally did it.

Now she has time to take care of herself and her family, and she loves her life more than ever before. Learning new skills (data storytelling, marketing, teaching online, English) took her a lot of time, effort, and money, but in the end, it helped her solve all of her problems. Instead of complaining about how bad her initial situation was, she took her life into her hands and changed it, step by step.

I hope this story stresses how important it is to learn, not only at school or university, but long after that - for a lifetime. Even though Mary was a fictitious character, the described events really happened, because her story is … my story. I changed a few details like: in reality, I have 4 children, not two, and a wife, not a husband, but most facts are authentic.

How can you develop a habit of learning in your own life? [behaviors]

Now we know why the habit of learning is so crucial. Let’s discuss how you can implement it in your life. There are numerous ways how you can learn something new. The easiest ones are: listening, watching, and reading. 

You can listen to thousands of podcasts and audiobooks, often for free, anywhere and anytime you want. When you are driving to work, washing the dishes, or walking in the park with a dog or kid.

On Youtube, millions of videos are awaiting you to watch them. You can get the information you need within a couple of minutes, for example how to clean up your coffee machine or redirect messages from your new email address into the main one.

In books you will find answers to most of your questions, for example about a healthy diet, how to build an effective website, or even about the purpose of life. 

How can you activate a habit of learning? [triggers]

Habit is more than just a behavior. It is a combination of a trigger, a stimulus that tells you ‘do it now!’, and an automatic reaction to it. If you want to learn something new every day effortlessly, you need to find a good trigger for this behavior. 

There is an ocean of possible good activators of a habit. It could be a feeling (of boredom, of excitement), a sound (of an alarm clock, car door closing), or a place (entering the bathroom, leaving the office). But in most cases, the best trigger for the new habit is an old habit that already exists in your life, for example brushing your teeth. You can pair the old habit with the new one like this: AFTER I brush my teeth, I’ll IMMEDIATELY open a book and read few pages.

Because you brush your teeth every day, probably more than once, it will be easy to incorporate reading into your life, just by adding this second step. First teeth, then reading. Very simple, easy to remember at the beginning. And after some time it will become second nature for you to read after brushing your teeth.

Another great trigger for the habit of learning is a feeling of boredom connected with waiting for something (standing in line at the checkout in a supermarket, changing the lights from red to green, boiling water in the kettle, etc.). Every time AFTER you experience boredom or impatience, you should just IMMEDIATELY put the headphones on and start listening to an inspiring podcast or audiobook.

The same principle applies when you begin doing a simple activity that doesn’t require thinking, for example: washing the dishes, vacuuming the apartment, commuting to work, going on a walk. AFTER you are about to start a no-brainer behavior, you should IMMEDIATELY put the headphones on and hit the play button.

What about watching videos? What can be a good trigger for this way of learning? Sometimes it is just a need to know how to do something. AFTER I discover that I don’t know how to create… a pivot table in Excel, I’ll IMMEDIATELY go to Youtube and look for an instructive video.

Some people like to pair learning with eating. AFTER I start having lunch I’ll IMMEDIATELY go to and watch 1 ingenious presentation. Or the second option, which I highly recommend: AFTER I finish eating, I’ll IMMEDIATELY watch a speech or a video lesson from a course.

How can you reward yourself in the habit of learning? [rewards]

In the habit loop we have 3 elements. Two of them we already covered: the trigger and the behavior. The last one is the reward. Before the behavior becomes fully automated, it is a good strategy to motivate yourself to do a beneficial action by giving yourself a treat. It could be something tasty (a square of chocolate, piece of dried banana, cup of coffee, etc.), something pleasant (a moment of relaxation with your favorite song, looking at funny photos or cat memes, etc.), or a feeling (maybe pride, because you did something hard).

Now and then you won't need an extra reward because the behavior was rewarding enough in itself. Running can get you high because endorphins flood your brain. The joy you derive from reading will be motivating enough to do it more often in the future.

But if you are learning something boring, for example, the history of political doctrines for the exam, then giving yourself a treat will be highly recommended. You need to create a positive link between the behavior (learning) and its result (getting a reward). Only in this case will you stay motivated to do it in the future.

The complete formula to the habit of learning [sentence]

Now let’s put all the pieces together. When you design a new habit, you should write it down in one sentence, like this: AFTER [the trigger occurs], I’ll IMMEDIATELY [do the behavior], THANKS TO THAT [I’ll get the reward].

You can incorporate learning in your life by developing one of the following habits:

AFTER I brush my teeth, I’ll IMMEDIATELY grab a book and read few pages, THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel inspired.

AFTER I feel bored or irritated by waiting in line, I’ll IMMEDIATELY put the headphones on and listen to a podcast or audiobook, THANKS TO THAT I’ll start to feel a positive emotion instead of a negative one.

AFTER I finish eating a meal, I’ll IMMEDIATELY go to and watch 1 marvelous presentation, THANKS TO THAT I’ll feel smarter.

Of course, you can create a different set for yourself. Feel free to substitute a trigger, behavior, or reward from my examples with your ideas. 

Final words

By learning every day you can improve the quality of any aspect of your life: your health, finances, relationships, work, and business.

You don’t need to sacrifice a big portion of your day for that result. You can find time in between activities or by doing two things at the same time (like walking and listening).

Use the insights from this episode, become a lifelong learner and see you next time. May the power of good habits be with you.