You might have heard of the 10,000 hour rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his Outliers. The idea is that it takes around this long to become an expert at almost any skill. Experts are not created equal, however, and skill is not a homogeneous product for knowledge workers.
Clocking in half-fast 10k hours is not going to bring you that much closer to top-class. The quality of your hours do matter.
Now imagine you can become pro-level at many things during one lifetime. It’s like winning a Grammy and an Oscar. Or building a rocket company (SpaceX), an energy company (Tesla), a boring company (literally Boring Co.), advancing Artificial Intelligence (Open AI) and …
You got the point.
Lifestyle Engineering is a private personal development community that uses the engineering methodology to accomplish our dream lifestyles and achieve big goals. Our key principle is to gain awareness of efficiency and effectiveness of everything we do.
This article will guide you through the best software tools that we use to accomplish extraordinary results in record time.
Sometimes the best way to get something done is to not do it. The Pareto principle states that 20% of the work creates 80% of the results we get at the end. Picking the right things is essential. It’s better to do the right things adequately than the wrong things exceptionally well.
To further help make better decisions, here is the Eisenhower Matrix:
“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion”
Slice the big tasks into small ones and set concrete time boundaries for each. That simple. Try not to break the boundaries mindlessly. If you need to make an adjustment. Pause, reflect and adjust the plan. I am sure at some point in your life you crammed a research paper just 24h before it was due. Now imagine, you could have written one page a day...
Task Management & Execution Tools
Here are a few tools that can help you rock it!
Instead of reinventing the wheel, we learn from the most effective organizations - businesses. Asana is a project management tool commonly used in the startup world and is by far the most popular tool among lifestyle engineers. We use it in both business and personal lives.
Task Slayer is the new and underground task execution macOS app. It combines the pomodoro technique and prioritization based on: importance, urgency, difficulty. You essentially do the most important and difficult thing first. The pomodoro method is an old school time management technique that segments work into traditionally 25-min work sessions and 5-min breaks.
This is a macOS timer that sticks to your screen (digitally of course), so that you always have awareness about how long into a work session you are. Remember slicing big tasks into small ones? The Red Hot Timer is perfect to set hard stops. This is the most underestimated tool in my opinion.
Accelerate videos to any speed and skip through videos on almost any video player. This tool saves me hours every single week!
Record and share videos in the browser in just one click. This tool is perfect to give feedback and to do walkthroughs.
Toggle is generally used by freelancers to clock in those hours. We use it to see exactly where the time goes. I’ve been using this tool for the last 4 years and I can tell you exactly how much time I spent on social activities or writing 158 weeks ago to the minute (second actually). In fact, it is ticking right now, and I better make my point already. Awareness is the key to changing behaviors for the better.
It’s a passive app that collects data on your laptop usage. You get a daily / weekly / monthly productivity score based on where your hours went. Doing writing research on social media or YouTube predictably won’t score you much. Remember “awareness” from three sentences ago? It is really that important.
Sleep Cycle app is literally the best thing since sliced bread. It tracks your sleep and knows where in the sleep cycle you are, so that it can wake you up in the optimal moment to feel refreshed. It also protects your phone from being slammed against the wall after hearing the default phone alarm. Sleep Cycle gives you a bunch of other useful insights about your sleep like sleep quality score and trends. Looks like I need to move back to Mexico or Cali.
You can create or follow a workout plan. I have 3 types of workouts that I follow weekly. It’s easy to go to the gym, when you know exactly how your workout will look like. Autopilot - on. Remember awareness I mentioned a paragraph ago? I can look exactly like I did 19 month ago, if I follow the same workout, nutrition and rest plan.
Abs are made in the kitchen. So is your productivity. Eating the wrong food and ok food at wrong times are perhaps the biggest productivity drainers. MyFitnessPal is the tool to track food (manually). I wish computer vision could track what I eat.
It’s cool, if you have a more sophisticated athletic goal or want to build new eating habits. The alternative is to snap pictures and put them into an album on your phone. Personal note: obsessively tracking nutrition is vastly overrated. It’s good to eyeball nutrition and understand your food.
Habit Formation Tools
This iPhone app made my morning routines happen 95% of the time! It’s ridiculous. It’s may feel stupid to pay $20 for an app this simple. I’d pay hundreds of dollars for the results I’ve gotten any day though.
Cold Turkey Writer turns your computer into a type machine. You can't use your computer until you hit your target minimum. Two of lifestyle engineers has written books thanks to this tool.
Writer’s block? Browsing around the internet doing endless research procrastinating? Or you might have caught a rare keyboard phobia? This app puts you into the writing flow in just 5 minutes. It works like magic! You do not need to have a million ideas to start using it. You just need to click one button and start hitting the buttons on your keyboard with the tips of your fingers. Don’t stop!
That’s the very app that helped produce this dope article. Well, research papers, a startup concept and it also washed my dishes. By far, the best writing app I’ve used. Ditch Google Docs (unless it’s a collaborative project).
The most cliche alternative to the default Notes app on your phone. For a reason! Evernote is cool because it’s well organized, has text formatting and voice notes. You can also drop documents into it.
Most of us probably underestimate how long it takes to type the same things over and over or find links. With Alfred you can create shortcuts (“snippets”) that expand text. In addition, you can find images and clipboard copied text from up to a month ago! And don’t even get me started on Workflows (look those up).
It does cost around ~$30 for a lifetime subscription, which is a million percent worth it! I use it literally thousands of times.
Back to the sleep theme. Productivity junkies have been using the “night shift” mode way before it was even a feature on the iPhone. In the nutshell, blue light is a stimulant that will keep you awake. Apps like f.lux tint the screen to orange grade, so that you can wind down in the evenings easier. Careful designing things with f.lux on at night though. It does make things look very off the next morning.
- Slack - team communications tool
- Audible - audiobooks
- Brain.fm - AI powered music, where the team works with teams of scientists and composers to engineer music specifically designed to help you achieve and sustain deep focus.
- Duolingo - language learning
- Blinkist - “Key takeaways from the world’s best nonfiction books in text and audio”
- Grammarly - fixes your grammar everywhere you write
- Gorgias - templates with shortcuts for email writing (saves your tons of time)
- Wikipedia - Encyclopedia of the 21st century
It’s not about using more tools. It’s about getting the results you want. Sometimes pen and paper are the best pieces of technology. Figure out what you want to achieve, and THEN what works best for you.
One of our members Andrei for example has built his own dashboard to slay his goals through self-awareness. Check it here.
If you want to learn more about the Lifestyle Engineering mindset, check here.