You will love this time-saving hack

Time saving hack

I recently heard Anne Lamott’s audio writing workshop and there was one story (and hack) that I particularly liked.

Anne was telling how she doesn’t care much for style and how she usually wears comfy clothes. But that one time she was dating an annoying man (her exact words), who loved short and tight dresses and skirts. So she went shopping with her best friend and tried on a tight lavender dress. Probably unhappy with what she saw in the mirror, Anne asked her best friend: “Do you think it makes me fat?” Her best friend gave the most amazing answer: “Come on Anne, you don’t have that kind of time!”

The answer blew my mind. It blew Annie’s mind as well. In fact, she made it her personal mantra.
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These 10 ideas helped me establish meditation practice


After one hiking trip, my husband and I visited a friend. He was a founder of a local hiking club and that night they were throwing a party. He told us not to worry about the accommodation since there was a plenty of space in the club. The party was great and when it was over we asked where we can sleep. He brought us to a storage room and said: “Here.” The room was full of… well everything. There were camping chairs, tables, tents, disco balls, glassware, different tools, paintings, tons of random stuff. My husband and I looked into each other’s eyes, shrug the shoulders and got to work. We cleaned up a bit, made a rectangular space on the floor in the middle of the mess, put our mattresses and sleeping bags and spent a relatively comfortable night.

I thought about that night many times. I couldn’t forget that picture: making a small, clear space in the middle of the mess. And yes, that is how I perceive meditation. Our minds are crazy and messy, full of tools, furniture, and disco balls. If we don’t have a regular clean-up practice, our minds tend to turn into a total chaos. The meditation helps clean-up, relax, shrink mess a little bit.

For years I was intrigued by the idea of meditation, however, I could not establish the practice for longer than a week. But this time, I decided to do it for real. I pulled out all the ideas from my habit-formation arsenal and… I guess it worked. I’ve been meditating for about 3 months now.

Here is the list of exact strategies that worked for me. I hope you’ll find them useful for meditation and any other habit you’re trying to form. And I hope this list will inspire you to shift at least one little habit. (Today.) Enjoy.
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Are you scared? Let’s crush that fear.


Imagine an insane person in a mental hospital, sitting at the desk. Doctors come an give him a piece of paper and crayons. Creative break. He draws a little monster and gets scared to death. He throws the crayons and runs out of the room, screaming.

Silly story, right? Doesn’t make any sense. But if we think a bit more, the story won’t seem as meaningless. Because you and me both do the same thing as the poor insane man. Let me show you.

Think of one fear of yours. It can be anything: snakes, spiders, the fear of failure of the fear of success. It just needs to be that something that makes you shiver. (If you have hard times defining the fear, I suggest doing THIS scary writing exercise.) Defined? Good. Now ask yourself a Bombastic question:


The big idea: we are never afraid of XYZ. We are afraid of our thoughts attached to it. ((Tweet this!))

If you are afraid of an airplane, you are not afraid of an aluminum structure, wings, engine, stabilizers, whatnot. What fears you is your thought: “This plane might crash.”

I am not really afraid of the “Publish”button. I am afraid of my thought: “People won’t like it. They will say: ‘Who the hell is she to write about these things?’ “

The future is always uncertain, but what’s scary is your thought: “This world is in crisis, there are just not enough jobs/ opportunities/ emotionally available men/fill in the blank.”

Each fear is just like the little monster that you drew. The monster doesn’t have any special powers, but your scary thoughts fuel him. That is how we abuse our creativity. We create scary stories, scary characters, scary Universes. We live there in fear, never realizing that we can leave the book. That we can rewrite the story.

Now you might say: “But wait, my fears and scary thoughts are not the same as a little monster on the paper. Planes DO crash sometimes, people DO criticize and crisis HAS happened. These are not my stories and inventions.”

And I have to agree to a certain extent. We hear about crashed planes, wars and recession daily. We remember one critic better than ten praises. James Altucher uses a powerful analogy: when faced with a lion and an apple tree, the human being will notice… a lion! Good old lizard brain. That is how we’re wired. That’s how we’ve survived.

But let’s think again. News rarely inform us about 99% of planes that landed safely. Or the new job opportunities that appeared after the crisis. When we are not drawing monsters for ourselves, they are doing it for us. When we forget about monsters, they make sure to remind us how scary they are. And we start believing.

If you remember one single thing from this post, may it be this: you are free to choose the picture you want to focus on. Scarcity or abundance. Praise or critic. Obstacle or opportunity. Fear or love. Mind is powerful, it will find the proof for anything as soon as you choose the side.

Find the thought behind your fear and challenge it. Is it true? Are you sure? What if the opposite is right? Can you find some proof? When you come up with a single piece of evidence, a whole avalanche of proofs will follow. You will change your focus and what you focus on will always expand. You will see that truth is flexible, rather than black or white. 

Your turn. What is your fear and the thought behind it? Is that thought true? How can you challenge it? Let me know in the comments below.

And if you know someone who is scared, share this post with him so he can investigate and crush his fear.


Miss Strangelove

P. S. Cookie of Wisdom: “Pain shows you what is left to investigate.” Byron Katie ((Tweet this!))

10 ways to benefit from silence daily


Information age. Wifi everywhere. Portals, social networks, blogs, podcasts, news, TV. Blablabla, endlessly. It became our drug of choice. Time killer. We know a lot, but we understand little. And while the benefits of information avalanche are numerous (such as where to find cheapest toaster and get it within 2 days), we still need to go back to our roots occasionally. To silence. To inner wisdom we forgot that we have.

“Hey, but I don’t live at Tibet. I am a busy person and I always have people around me.” It’s cool. You can still enjoy the silence and benefit from it greatly. Here are 10 ways to do it. Even if you are busy, extroverted and want to stay up-to date.

Warning: Side effects include peace, mindfulness and inspiration.


Making mind silent. We have thoughts after thoughts after thoughts. But the tiny space between two thoughts is interesting place. Deepak Chopra calls it field of infinite possibilities. David Lynch uses it to dive deep and catch a big fish. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. So train it daily. By going to silence.

“To understand the immesurable, the mind must be still.” Jiddu Krishnamurti ((Tweet this!))


“I don’t really watch it, I just like to have some noise… know, not to be alone.” BS. Be alone. That’s awesome. That’s how you create, dream, relax, digest emotions, tap into your intuition, learn about yourself. That’s how you grow. Kill background noise. TV is contaminating you with a world view full of fear and hatred. It creates the truth for you. Kill it. Tim Ferris is on an information diet. (Me too.) Cheap entertainment and depressive news won’t make you smarter or more productive.

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” Groucho Marx ((Tweet this!))


Chances are you won’t learn anything new while you talk. OK, maybe if you are giving a lecture or speech in front of some cool crowd. Otherwise, in small, everyday talk, you will just repeat your (already repetitive) thoughts over and over again. “You know, I bought this bike rack for 30, it had everything I needed I just went to the bank machine for some cash, I parked in front of the building and texted the guy…..It was a good deal, good deal really. Did I tell you it was just 30$?”

Silence can help you greatly. Everyone loves talking. And everyone talks. Very few people listen. Stop your urge to answer, interrupt or toss an example from your vivid life. Don’t say anything. Listen. You’ll meet the people. You’ll connect with them. You’ll learn about their problems, their fears, their ways of thinking. You will come up with solutions. You’ll become indispensable.

“We have two ears and one mouth and we should use the proportionally.” Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in World that Can’t Stop Talking ((Tweet this!))


Oh, this one was big for me. “Oh, I am not able to go to the party tomorrow. I was thinking and thinking and you know what? I think I am kinda exhausted, I had so much going on and we moved to a new place last week. Besides, I have two exams and big project deadline on Monday. Would it be OK if I don’t come? We could go for beer on Tuesday, right?” Dammit, of course it’s right. No one will die and the Earth won’t stop. Desire for over explanation originates from lack of confidence. It was my case.

Instead, I try to make short answers: “Sorry, it doesn’t work for me.” “I am busy on Saturday.” “Thanks, but I have something else.” And……SHHHHHHHH! Smile. It is OK. It is always OK.

“‘NO’ is a complete sentence.” Annie Lamot ((Tweet this!))


One of the common causes of sleep problems is jumping into the bed right after a couple of hours in front of TV or web surfing. Brain is still up and active, blue light from electronic devices boosts your attention. It’s no wonder that you cannot sleep immediately.

Man is wired differently. Before electrification, our predecessors were spending every evening in relative darkness. And they could fall asleep and wake up easily and early. Consider going back to the roots. Just a little. Incorporate some silence before going to bed. Turn your electronics off. (Except for Kindle.) Read, journal, meditate, relax. Silence will serve as a lullaby.

“One of the secrets of long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything before going to bed.” Bernard Baruch ((Tweet this!))


When speaking about morning routines, a lot of people proudly point our that they check their email, social networks and news first thing in the morning. And it’s well known that productive and successful people have morning routines, right? Email, social networking and especially news are toxic and distracting ways to set your mood for the day. Tell me how do you feel when you listen about plane crash in China, take a glimpse into honey moon photos of high school friend that drives you crazy and see and email from your boss that you absolutely have to talk today before you had a chance to grab the coffee? (Uhhh, I am nervous just writing about it.)

Morning is powerful part of the day. We should use it to step into our power, to set the mood and energy for the day ahead. To think about what we want to create, rather than mindlessly react to whatever the world serves to us. I suggest powerful start of the day with idea list, meditation and writing. (Coffee is default.) You can choose for yourself. Include silence. You will love it.

“Every night when I go to bed I die and every morning I wake up I am born again.” Mahatma Gandhi ((Tweet this!))


This is easier said that done. My gremlin is not easy to negotiate with. She is bitchy, grumpy old lady, perfectionist and she is “always right”. And never satisfied. If I play safe, she will say that I settle for mediocre. If I want to do something big and brave, she asks me who am I to be awesome.

But I found a trick. I listen to her, acknowledge what she has to say. “Thanks for sharing, my lady.” And then I do my own thing. And she shuts up. That is marvelous silence. Freedom. When she shows up again, we repeat the procedure. The key is to always go back to silence. That’s the space for you to be who you are meant to be.

“Don’t believe everything you think.” Thomas Kida ((Tweet this!))


I have learned this big idea from the book “Essentialism”. It is the cure to overcommitment, busy calendar and mess in life. Once you know what is important and what is your priority, whenever you get invitation say:” Let me take a look at my calendar and get back to you.” No one will get angry or force you to answer immediately. This gives you time to think, digest and decide if that is the best time investment you can make.

Without silent break, you will answer automatically. “Yes, of course I’ll come.” And probably regret it 5 minutes later, remembering all the important things sitting on your to do list. Or the time with your family. Or the necessary rest your body is crying for. The gift of silence will make you smarter. Always wait a bit. World can wait too.

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” Greg McKeown ((Tweet this!))


Seth Godin has noticed that a lot of people complain about “writer’s block”, while no one ever complained about “speaker’s block”. Truth! I can speak and speak. And repeat. Without caring about the quality. But when it comes to writing, I feel as if I have to say something meaningful, deep, something inspiring. And it won’t always come thorough my fingers to the keyboard.

Solution: write as you speak. Write a lot. Eliminate a lot. Shut up and write. Do a free writing prompt. Cut your cycle of repetitive thoughts by putting them on the paper (or Evernote). Silent your inner buzz. And the meaningful stuff will eventually show up.

“Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin ((Tweet this!))


Every yoga practice ends with Savasana, corpse pose. (Very simple, you lay on your back and relax.) In that way you are collecting all the wisdom that your body has experienced through the practice. Yoga masters say that practice without Savasana is meaningless.

Even if you aren’t a yogi, short Savasana here and there can benefit you greatly. When I come exhausted from work, I usually take short Savasana. 5 minutes and that’s it. It changes my energy and makes me fresh to enjoy the rest of my day. Warm recommendation. Do it after work, after period of writing, after a talk to a client, after a long period of studying. Soak the wisdom through the silence.

“Corpse pose restores life.” Terri Guillemets ((Tweet this!))

That’s it. Now it’s your turn. Which one of these ideas are you going to try today? What are your favorite ways to enjoy the silence? Share it with me in the comments bellow.

If you liked this post and you know someone else will like it too, please share it.



Get freedom, clarity and courage in 20 minutes

Clarity freedom

Confession alert!

OK, I’ll admit. I am scared of mice. They are small, but dirty and nasty and……I don’t know. All insects and reptiles are not as scary as mice. I am afraid of height but not too much. I do a lot of hiking and climbing. What fears me more is loosing balance. You know, like when you want to cross the creek, jumping from one rock to another. I am terrible in mountain biking. I oftentimes fall off the track and/or hit random stuff on the sides of narrow trails. Just because of my fear. I am afraid of getting myself hurt. Of pain and tedious recovery. Especially in the US…….

Then, I am afraid of bad dreams. As if my subconsciousness is trying to send me the message about terrible stuff that’is happening out there. I am afraid to grow up. It is God damn boring. But I am also afraid of staying stuck among the kids I don’t even identify with. I am afraid of getting stuck between here and there. My life is generally good, but I am afraid that somewhere else it could be better. Sometimes when I get sad, I am afraid I’ve made the decision I won’t be able to correct. My major fear is fear that my freedom will be endangered. That I won’t be able to pack my suitcase, say Goodbye and ride into the sunset whenever I want.

I am afraid that I won’t make enough of a difference. I will make world a bit better, but it might be trivial. I’ll make couple of people laugh, think and wonder and…..that will be it. Does my work make sense? Do all these hours in the lab make sense? What am I doing? Will my durable concrete change the world? Will I be acknowledged? Will I care? Will I numb and become one of them, crazy, antisocial, engineering freaks, with a lot of money and lack of time or ideas for spending it? I am afraid of empty life, of wasted time. I can never get it back. I am working my ass off, day in, day out, but is this it? Am I doing the right thing? The idea that it might not be freaks me out.

Then my creative work! I don’t want to neglect it. But I am afraid that I am not enough into it. I cannot devote to it completely because of my research. Vice versa, I cannot absolutely devote to the research because I want to be creative. Creatives will say: “She is an engineer, what the hell does she know about creating?” Engineers will say: “Get serious, stop doing that woowoo kind of messing around. Focus on real stuff.” I am afraid I won’t be able to justify my motivation. I am afraid that I will die with my music inside me. Or that I won’t be able to express it. That people won’t get it. That they will laugh. Or ignore. Or say: “Who the hell is she to talk about that?” Or : “Hey, I thought she is cool but she is apparently fucked up!”.

I am also afraid that they will like it. Some did. And I will have great responsibility. They will compare everything I create to that first piece that rang their bell. I am afraid that I will loose my mojo. That after initial success, everything I create will be blabla-beige. That I will deplete my source. That they will ignore. Or laugh. Or criticize.

These are my fears. The worst thing that can happen is for me to stop trying (almost) every day. Fears will never leave. So I choose to dance with them.

Phew, there I said it. Now it’s your turn. Set 20 minutes on your stopwatch and write on a prompt:


20 minutes will be enough. You won’t be able to sweat and shiver more than that. Procedure will probably go in the following way: you will write about mice, spiders, snakes, death, height, claustrophobia, your grandma’s dark attic and scene from Little Mermaid when Ursula takes Ariel’s voice (that one still freaks me out). Then about diseases, loss of loved ones, fragility of life. Meaning. About time passing, about what you are creating and what you are dedicating most of your time. Fear of failure and fear of success. Fear of being criticized. Fear of publishing. Fear of being seen as vulnerable, imperfect being. You will nail it. It will unravel perfectly.

Walk through scary avenue of your fears. Look under the bed. Take a peek into dark, scary old closet. Write about things you never told anyone. Write about your silence.

What will this unpleasant process give you? Why torturing yourself for entire 20 minutes?

Freedom is on the other side. Your burden will lighten. Your perspective will shift. Fears will show you what is important. If you are afraid you won’t have enough chances to say your mom how much she means to you, do something about it today. If you are afraid you will die with your music inside, it would be good to start singing today. (No one will write: “I am afraid I won’t be able to respond all that emails sitting in my inbox.” ((Tweet this!)) )(No one will write “I am afraid I won’t be able to respond all that emails sitting in my inbox.”

Fears have high potential for growth and development. If you don’t care about something, you will be listless. But if something means a world to you, you will react intensely. (Most likely feel the fear.) Good actors choose the rolls that scar them. If there is no fear, there is no growth. This prompt will give you the clarity.

One more thing. Writing about fears weaken them. Looking at fears will make them fade away. I do this process once in 6 months and when I reflect to my old fear lists, I find them …..not super scary. I have scared a lot of my fears. Extra dose of courage!

Now it is your turn. Do this writing exercise today and share answer these two questions in comments bellow. How did you feel before, during the process and after the process? What was the greatest benefit: clarity, freedom or courage? Or something else? I am looking forward to hear from you.



“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” Jim Morrison ((Tweet this!))