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American Unity

The #debate tonight, right?


In a word: yikes.


What do we, as Americans, even do with this? Do we break down into opposing camps with sloganed tshirts, Adorable Deplorables vs. Miss Clinton if You’re Nasty? Sit back and let the yelling continue for another few weeks, then somehow magically unite again? Turn to pop culture where heroes actually exist and never die? Hope that a meteor takes us all out in one go?


It’s hard to shoulder this much divisiveness, this much shame. It’s upsetting to have our great nation represented by two people most of us wouldn’t trust with our Netflix passwords. It’s distressing to realize that most people’s lives won’t change, and if anything they’ll get worse.


Our guarantees are falling away. Jobs, education, even drinking water. Standing Rock and Flint stay ignored while our leaders squabble about what they have no real intention of doing in Aleppo. The disenchantment looms over us like the Christmas decorations that have no business being in stores yet, but will inevitably be an unnecessary talking point in a few months.


And yet, in a truly American way, we soldier on. We take this embarrassment and turn it into entertainment like the Yankee Doodle SOBs we are.


After all, the only thing better than House of Cards is seeing the real life Underwoods come to power. The show has better music, but real life might eventually feature CNN correspondents punching each other, on the off chance Anderson Cooper 360 got my letter and is taking viewer requests.


It’s like that 1984 scene where they switch sides in the middle of a war rally, except we’re just kinda sighing at the posters and going “ugh, sure, I GUESS.” Or maybe it’s more like a Brave New World, except the reptilian overlords are dragging their feet on state-sanctioned drugs so they can keep oppressive societal structures firmly in place. Either way, there’s probably a strong metaphor for a few of the books that we all read in high school, because if nothing else we can appear well-read for a few minutes.


We’re the U.S. of EH! while watching that heartfelt Canadian-collaboration video, and U.S. of Ehhhhh when thinking about the election itself. But through all this disenchantment, divisiveness, and noise, we are still Americans. The beautiful, the brave, the wonderful nation of innovators and opportunity and taco trucks. We can weather any storm. And we will, as we always do, together.

Posted in mental engineering

Negative Optimism and the Millenial Psyche

Excuse the pretentious title, but I’m trying to do one of those “thinkpieces” that’ll get me into “reputable publications.” So just be cool ok? Don’t blow my cover. Here we go:
Millennials are a weird group. Supposedly self-obsessed, yet the center of endless analyzation from outside sources that are mostly old white guys. Within this broad, diverse, and not at all well defined group itself, the competitiveness about how non-competitive we all are can get pretty intense, and is abated only when we all laugh and slap each other’s backs while having a beer and plotting our next move.
There’s hardly anything that can describe everyone in this group, myself included, except one strange thing. And not the similarly-named Netflix series, although it comes close. It’s the fact that nearly all of us simultaneously think that we’re garbage but still better than everyone else, that the world is both ending and on it’s way to a brighter future. I describe this generational double-think with the phrase “negative optimism”. As in, we see things both as they are (negative), but also as they could be (optimism).
You might think this is an oxymoron, or just moronic, sans oxy. Or you might be like “positive vibes only dude bro squadgoals, keep it 100, my generation’s too chill to be negative!” And you’re not totally wrong. But we’ve even turned the desire to chill into a competition, because what’s the point of relaxing if you can’t brag about it on Instagram? We’re all type A candies in Type B wrappers, we all try too hard while feigning that coveted je ne sais quoi cool stolen from a thousand different cultures but not appropriative of any of them.
The millennial psyche is one that swings wildly between schadenfreude and sincere compassion, depending on what’s trending. It’s comprised of the heartbreaks of our ancestors, as portrayed on film and in song, while struggling to build real relationships and dreaming of Pinterest-perfect weddings. It’s attacked daily in a world of terror, consumerism, poverty, thirst, and anime. It is space, the internet, and crippling student loan debt.
It’s all so terrifyingly intense that to even peel back one layer in one thinkpiece reveals a flood of human emotion, too long suppressed and now finally shouting on every social media channel their personal manifesto, to no one and everyone, forever. “The proletariat of the world have nothing to lose but their chains, if they’re willing to save up enough to modify their van into a tiny home and git gud at freelancing!” our saviors screech, “Join my e-course now!” We’d let them show us the way, but we’re a little too jaded and a lot too broke.
And yet in all this horror, all this noise, and all these reasons not to believe in the world, other people, or ourselves, we still find hope. We find people we adore and feel our hearts swell and our eyes burn with happy tears while we “like” their photos on Facebook despite never having met in person.
We crave the most high-stakes situations, because “win or die” just means you’ll never be a loser. We almost want things to go to hell in a handbasket of deplorables, because at least we’ll go out in a blaze of glory instead of having to deal with the customers at work tomorrow. We’re obsessed with fitness and health but too lazy to get off the couch. We hold our very lives in near total disregard, but we’ll fight tooth and nail to improve things for others. We might not be able to hand over a dollar to the bum on the corner, but it’s only because we don’t carry cash. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves, while still feeling guilty and helpless.
We’re petty but accepting, we’re unprofessional and innovative, we’re anywhere between the ages of 11 and 35. We’re desperately seeking approval while pretending we really don’t care at all and even rebelling to stand out, but everyone has tattoos and ear gages now so what’s the point? We’re the product of broken homes, strong women, kind men, and helicopter parents of every gender. We’re too excited to be pessimists and too realistic to join the cult of positivity.
We are the generation that gazes into the abyss and finds it full of stars. Not due to some endless well of optimism or otherworldly wisdom, but due to a constant swinging between extremes since the day we were born that has molded us to be comfortable with the chaos of the Universe. Our hope is bitter, our self-esteem is sarcastic, and our prospects are dim, but we’re determined to change the world anyways. And if anything, our negative optimism will be the thing to show us how.
Posted in mental engineering

I’m Terrible at Writing, so I’m Going to Keep Doing it

The other day I posted a note with a title that began “How to Introverts”. While this will likely be the intentional title of something I post in the future, this time it was the accidental combination of two potential headlines.
How did this happen? Well, the fact is I’m terrible at writing. Like, really, REALLY bad. I either write too flowery and obtusely (by using words like “obtusely”), or I literally write a three word sentence. Like this one.
I either over-explain what I mean and overwhelm whoever’s reading, or I leave my meaning completely unclear. I’m a lazy editor for my own work, and (even with a million tools and tactics at my disposal) often post things littered with typos, grammatical errors, and general style problems that immediately get me called out by the internet’s critical hordes.
But I’ve managed to make a few bucks with writing, and I’m committed to improving my craft. To quote the Pokemon theme song, I want to be the very best, like no one ever was.
So I’m going to keep writing. Every day. I might not post something every day, and every day I post something, it probably won’t be any good. But I’ll keep at it nonetheless.
Honestly, this is a shift from how I’ve approached things in the past. I would shy away from things I struggled with growing up. I felt like if I didn’t excel at it right of the bat, it probably wouldn’t be worth pursuing anyways.
This caused me to struggle to find my “passion” because there wasn’t really anything that I felt especially drawn to. I dabbled in a lot of things, but abandoned them because I didn’t know where those paths would lead.
Luckily, I finally figured out that the best path is one that you choose. I choose to write.
So if you read something I write and you like it, let me know! It’s a sign I’m improving. If I’m making your eyes bleed with my typos, let me know that as well! I’ll know where I need to focus more.
In all, I’m grateful I to have the time and energy to develop this skill, so I want to re-commit every day. If you’re trying to develop a skill, consider doing the same, and let me know how it goes!
Posted in mental engineering

How to Introverts Can Use Writing to Deal with an Extroverted World


The stereotype of the bookish introvert writing a novel is a well known trope in pop culture. But writing can be a vital skill worth developing, and can even help introverts deal with the constant barrage of noise in both their inner and outer world.

The reasons here are threefold:
-Writing can help you decompress from a day of dealing with people
-It can help quiet the noise in your mind by getting ideas out of your head and onto paper
-It can give you a chance to rehearse phrasing and ideas so you can be prepared and feel less stressed in social situations

While any type of writing can allow you to experience these benefits, you might want to tailor your writing experience to obtain a particular outcome.

For example, you might find that the stress of the day melts away while you’re focusing on the details of the fantasy world of your novel, so you lean more towards working on fictional writing after a particularly long day.

If you’re tossing and turning at night, you might get up and jot down any of the restless thoughts that are keeping you awake.

And finally, if you’re heading to a party or have a big presentation coming up, writing everything down can help you feel far more comfortable and ready to impress than relying on your extemporaneous abilities.

Experiment with a few types of writing, read to improve your writing, and hopefully experience fewer “introvert hangovers” than in your non-writing days.

Tried it and liked it? Have better advice? Hate my guts and never want to read anything I write again? Comment below and I’ll tell you you’re awesome, smart, or can #dealwithit, respectively!

Posted in mental engineering

Living Like No One’s Watching in a World Where Everyone’s Watching

At the risk of sounding like a paranoid nutburger, I have to say something about the world as it is today: privacy is dead.

Between corporate data mining, government monitoring, the potential for spy drones, implanted tracking devices, nosy neighbors, and animals as listening devices, there’s a non-zero chance we’re always being watched.

While phrasing it this way makes it seem like an Orwellian dystopia, in reality, we rarely feel the impact of such monitoring except for slightly more specific ads than we’d otherwise expect.

Personally, I’d argue that what we fear more than being watched is being judged. But the thing is, even if we tape over our webcams, destroy our smartphones, and wrap ourselves in tin foil, there’s no way to escape people judging us. In fact, especially in the case with the tin foil, we can pretty much guarantee it.

Shame is a powerful sociological tool for keeping the norms of a group of people intact. We’re taught from a young age to conform, and when we rebel, we’re either shamed by other members of our group, or by ourselves.  Because even if you know deep down that the campus squirrels are animatronic spies, this isn’t really an opinion that the general public will support.

So how do you overcome the fear of being judged and, as an acquaintance of mine once posted on Facebook “dance like no one’s going to put it on Youtube” ? I have a few simple, but not necessarily easy suggestions:


  1. Accept that you’re going to occasionally embarrass yourself
  2. Realize these things don’t affect who you REALLY are
  3. Improve what you can, embrace what you can’t


We’ll start with acceptance.

Coming to terms with negative experiences and feelings is always difficult, and it takes a certain shift in mindset to be possible. The mindset I’d suggest adopting is to realize that you’ll definitely make a fool of yourself at least occasionally, but most of these slip ups won’t be nearly as noticeable or memorable to anyone but you.

Even if you do something truly mortifying, and someone manages to film it, and they proceed to put it on the internet, the end result is simply that most people won’t see it or care. It will be, to quote Darwin from the Amazing World of Gumball, “just a drop of embarrassment in an ocean of shame.”

It’s like when you listen to a musical performance. If there’s a few wrong notes here and there, you generally aren’t aware of how it effects the song. There might be a handful of people who know the song REALLY WELL, and they might notice. But for those few people who notice your mistake, and actually happen to care about it? Well, with the exception of something truly hurtful, they’ll probably forget in about a week. So don’t worry about it!

Why do we feel embarrassed you ask? Well, there’s a bunch of reasons, but mostly it comes from violating social norms, either due to ignorance of these norms or just honest mistake.  When we act “wrong”, we feel shame.

However, in an increasingly varied and interconnected world, it pays to interact with others in a genuine way to form meaningful relationships. Of course, choosing to be your “most authentic self” will reliably lead to some slip-ups here and there. Especially if your true self is, like, *really* into conspiracy theories. But you can’t do anything about others choosing to try to shame you, all  you can do is ignore it.

The easiest way to ignore it is by realizing that these people don’t know you, and they probably won’t impact your life beyond one uncomfortable interaction. So dance whenever you feel like dancing, wear a flashy outfit every day of the week, and try out that new thing with your facial hair!


Because ultimately, no matter how many people judge, these things don’t affect who you really are.

There’s a lot of opinions about how to determine who you really are, but the ultimate measure is what you decide to be.  You’re not defined by your mistakes, no matter how embarrassing. You’re defined by your character-how you act when you’re alone, and with other people.

That old adage about how you treat someone who can do nothing for you?  Yeah. That matters WAY more than wearing a bow tie that a random stranger thinks looks dumb.  What’s some person on the street know anyways? There’s no way to confirm that they’re *not* a reptilian while they’re side-eyeing your attire, after all, and lizard people have no sense of style.

The person that you choose to be is far more important that what others think, because ultimately, no matter what you do, someone’s gonna hate. So you might as well just do you, and let the chips fall where they may.

Ok, but what if the judgement is coming from people close to you? It’s a little harder to ignore shame from your close friends and family.  

If your friends and family are anything like mine, they’re probably going to bring up your random embarrassing moments for YEARS into the future.  But, since they’re such a huge part of your life, they’re going to do this no matter what. So you might as well make it easy for them. Experiment with some outlandish fashion trends, try out that crazy diet, sing in public, and just give the people what they want: something to talk about!


Which brings me to my final point: improving what you can and embracing what you can’t.

Trying out new things gives you a chance to see what works for you and what doesn’t.  Everyone wants to be operating at peak performance-physically, mentally, and socially-but if you never try anything new, you’ll never get a chance to see what that would look like.

Sure, it’s embarrassing if you draw up a cute note to ask out that hottie at the library and they say no. But they could say yes, and if you never bother to try, you automatically disqualify yourself just because you don’t want to risk the rejection.  And realistically, who would say no to a hand-drawn note? Maybe include some candy too (just sayin’.)

Similarly, a lot of people don’t want to go to the gym because they’re embarrassed.  They think you have to already look fit to go get fit. So they disqualify themselves to avoid embarrassment and give up the chance to improve.  I mean, I get it, I don’t like the gym either (Youtube workouts ftw!) but if the only place you’ll improve your physical fitness is at a gym, you have to overcome the fear of embarrassment to get any gains. SICK GAINS in this case.

Even mentally, we’re always censoring ourselves. We crush our own creativity because it’s not good enough, and we’re embarrassed. We do this even though we know that the only way to git gud is to practice and let our minds expand and explore.

Sure, some of the things you try aren’t going to go as planned. Even more than embarrassed, you’ll feel like you failed, like some things just *don’t* work out for you. And that’s ok too!  The fact that you tried something new should be a point of pride.

Realistically, we can’t all be mega-fit super-suave creative geniuses, we all have some things that come naturally and some that, no matter how much we try, will always remain out of our reach.  Embracing what you can’t change is an important part of deciding what’s worth focusing on, and what can be left to the birds.  Maybe not the birds that are trained to take down drones, but other birds, you know?

The important thing is to just live your damn life, the best you possibly can.

Honestly, I’m not some crazy free spirit with wild fashion choices and a rainbow mohawk (at least not currently.)  But I like to think that the NSA files of my work and conversations are anything but boring.  Because honestly, the best way to live in a world where everyone’s watching is to stop fearing embarrassment and try to make the show worth their time!

Posted in mental engineering

Starting 2017 Off Right by Starting it Right Now


You know how annoying it is when stores skip past Halloween AND Thanksgiving and start putting up Christmas decorations in October?

Well allow me to be even MORE annoying by skipping all the way to New Year’s! Not that I’d ever actually skip Halloween, it’s by and far the best holiday #fightme

But here’s the thing: 2016 has been *kinda* rough. On a national scale we’ve dealt with what seems like an unprecedented amount of discord and tragedy, and that’s not even including the WTF-fest that’s led to the upcoming presidential election.

On a personal level, it’s been a little bit subpar. There’s been some major bright spots, like buying a house, finishing my degree, and celebrating a full year of marriage with the love of my life.

But my daily life has mostly consisted of getting really out of shape, not using my degree, and generally wondering what to do with my life.

That said, I want to change all that and make 2017 my best year yet! To do that, I’m starting now.



Glad you asked, imaginary internet audience! Just before the holidays might seem like the worst time to implement life changes, but honestly, things are a little more stable now than they’ve been throughout most of the year.  

I have a job with set hours and the weather’s cooling down to a more temperate swamp-like climate than the lava-inspired days of the spring and summer.  It just seems like a good time to focus on establishing a solid workout routine and trying to write more consistently.

Will I undoubtedly derail any progress I’ve made during Thanksgiving and Christmas?  Sure, I’m going to overindulge in holiday feasts and likely take a week-to-month long hiatus from blogging.  But hey, better two steps forward and one step back than just laying on the couch for the remainder of the year (although I’ll definitely be doing plenty of that as well!)



I mean, in a general sense, I have no idea.

But for the purpose of this self-improvement project, I have two goals.  For fitness it’s a pretty general, obtainable “work out 3x a week”.  We’ll see how that goes.

My writing goal is 27 posts before 2017, and here’s the thought process behind that:

“I should write a hundred articles before the end of the year. Then, if 10 of those are good, and one of those are GREAT, I’m off to an excellent start for 2017! Oh wait, there’s only 90 days left in the year and I’m lazy…ok, how many weeks are there? 13? Cool, we’ll go with just over two a week. 27 before 2017 it is!”

Will I meet my goals? Stay tuned to find out (spoiler alert: probably not. But that’s what makes it #relatable, right?)



Here’s the thing: I was trying to make a change, but I wasn’t really committing to anything. I’d work out here and there, freelance *occasionally*, and write when I felt like it. I’ve got a million half-started projects and even more disorganized notes and ideas that I’ve hoarded away like nuts for the winter.

But starting this week, I’m publicly committing to making these two goals my top priorities. To  make it happen, I’ve been setting systems in place to guarantee my success.

My workout schedule is easy and has built-in triggers from my day (come home from work, change clothes, do a quick tabata.)

My writing routine is a little more complex, but I’ve been building up a habit of writing daily. Is this writing any good? ABSOLUTELY NOT.  But two or three times a week I’ll be sifting through to find the least embarrassing selections and releasing them into the internet wilderness.

More importantly than setting myself up for success, I’m aggressively cutting out distractions. This is something I’m super not good at, but constantly beginning side projects, chasing shiny new tactics, and running around in circles is generally exhausting and rarely productive.

I want to focus on fewer things, and try to do them better. For the time being these things will be writing and running (in larger circles. It’s /different/, ok???)

Ok, so two things that normal people wouldn’t struggle with at all. CAN I DO IT!?!

Well…we’ll see.  But at the very least I hope to make it entertaining while I try 🙂

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Posted in mental engineering

I’m (finally) Back! And I Brought…Stickers?


If you’re reading this after reading any of previous posts, you’re *probably* wondering what happened to me after that New Years Resolutions post (if you’re new here, welcome! and ignore this first sentence, haha.)

The answer is, well, a lot! I’ve been pretty busy in 2016 with moving, graduating college, buying a house, and of course, Pokémon Go (more on that later.)

To manage all this chaos, I’ve tried pretty much every productivity tactic under the sun, but was only really able to get things under control when I started using an old childhood favorite: the sticker chart.

That’s right, for the past 4 months I’ve been using a sticker chart to keep track of my daily tasks, motivate myself to do them, and rewarding myself with little gold stars. Well, there’s actually 5 colors and they’re category-specific, but you get the point.

Honestly, it’s been AMAZINGLY effective, allowing me to finish college with my best semester GPA since freshman year, stay on top of various housekeeping (and house buying) duties, and get back into an exercise routine after ignoring workouts for nearly as long as I’d been ignoring this blog.

The system’s pretty straightforward: I have a monthly planner where I write my tasks, and I try to plan a week at a time. These *ideally* include my top priority in fitness, work, housework, and learning for the day.

One of the great things about this system is it’s completely flexible! When I was finishing up the semester, the day’s tasks would often be a workout and three assignments I needed to work on. Sometimes it’s stretching, a work task, and two chores around the house. Sometimes I even throw in a something like “fill out tasks for the week”, because hey, I did a lot yesterday! I need a break and some validation!

More often than not, the task does not get completed on the day it’s written on, but the important thing is EVERYTHING STILL GETS DONE! As someone who tends towards flakiness and can be a *little* lazy, this was huge.

I’m currently performing better in nearly every area of my life, but I don’t feel overly stressed or like I’m trying to be something I’m not. Does it take some practice and fine-tuning? Sure, like pretty much everything else. But for the time being I’m “sticking” with it 😀

Let me know if you use a sticker chart, chore chart, or something similar and how you like it in the comments below!

Stay tuned for posts about Pokémon, job hunting, and problem solving in the next week or so, and keep being awesome yo!



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Posted in domestic engineering, mental engineering

Changes for 2016! (a belated “New Year’s Resolutions” post)

Hello again, long time no talk 🙂

Though it’s taken a while to announce it, I’ve been planning some exciting new things for 2016 for the past couple of months.  The most notable feature will be “Three Questions”, an interview series with some of the coolest people I know!  I’ll be featuring a new person each month, so keep an eye on the newsletter for announcements.  Additionally, I’ll be launching an e-course, though that venture is still solidly in the development phase.  I can’t wait to move it along!

However, the main point of this article is “New Years Resolutions”, right?  Well, even though most people have set theirs on New Years day and already given up by this point in January,  here at I say a fresh start can come whenever you need it!  So, even though there’s plenty of controversy as to whether or not to have resolutions in the first place, how you should set intentions instead, OR even why you should create very specific goals, we’re sticking to the old school approach with the following resolutions for 2016:

1)Be Consistent

While this is certainly a personal goal that can extend to every part of life, the main idea behind consistency this year is to ensure there’s always new content available on the blog, as well as quizzes, ebooks, and courses that can help you improve your life!  Being consistent will ensure that the “mindcrusch monday” newsletter will be a weekly source of valuable information in your inbox from here on out 🙂

2)Be Kind

Another goal that can be used to improve life outside this blog, kindness is a resolution that will help ensure anything that appears on this website comes from a mindset of service and truly wanting to help others.  Having just finished listening to the audiobook version of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, I want to make sure I’m being kind in both my business and personal dealings, and generally improving the lives around me (as well as my own!)

3)Be Bold

Robert Frost once stated that “freedom lies in being bold”, and I adhere to that principal whenever possible.  In addition to being kind, I want to challenge myself to reach out to people!  It’s easy to hide behind a computer screen, but meeting in person can give incredible insight and I don’t want to miss out.


Well, this wraps up my goals for 2016, I’m excited to start implementing them!  Comment below with one of your resolutions for this year, or your opinions on my selections!




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Posted in Uncategorized

5 days of S-mas: Sustain


Our final “S” is “Sustain!”  In a machine shop this is generally implemented in the form of reviewing how the other 4 “S”s are functioning within the shop, determining if they can be improved, and developing a process to do so.  The idea is to maintain and improve upon the positive changes that have already been put into place with the 5S process.

For our purposes, this means reviewing how the changes in “Sort”, “Straighten”, “Shine”, and “Standardize” have helped us implement positive change in our thinking and lives, and seeking to build on that.  Three steps to do that are as follows:

1)Check in often

Places of manufacturing are often subject to regular checks by OSHA and other governing bodies to ensure they’re meeting certain standards.  Additionally, there will generally be some internal audits to find and address issues before they become major problems.

This same principal can be applied to your mental processes.  You should set a schedule for checking in with yourself and ensuring you’re where you need to be.  If you are: great!  Keep going.  If not: step back for a bit to recoup, then try again.  Once you’ve done an initial check in, remedied any problems you were facing, and are ready to move forward, make sure to aim for consistency as outlined in the next step.

2)Prioritize consistency over speed

Consistent small improvements are better than huge changes follow by regression.  Ideally, you want to be continuously improving.  The best way to do this is actually to improve so slowly that it’s imperceptible – a process James Clear has termed “habit creep”.  The key to implementing this strategy is to focus on one habit at a time, and then move super slowly towards making it a consistent part of your life.

Interestingly enough, for best results with this protocol, you don’t want to focus on the result at all! You want to focus on the implementation: making a small daily improvement to your thought processes.  Pick one habit you want to start, and do the smallest amount possible – meditate for just one minute, identify and eliminate one invisible script that’s holding you back, say hello or smile to just one person.  Add a little more the next day, and a bit more after that.  You’ll be shocked at where you are a month from now!

3)Think improvement over mastery

Mastery of skills is admirable, and seeing others at that level is often the very thing that inspires us to start!  But if you focus exclusively on mastery, you’re going to get discouraged, feel disappointed, and you’ll very likely quit (or discourage yourself before you even start!)  The key with this step is to use your “check ins” to compare where you were to where you are now and reward yourself for it!  There’s no benefit to comparing where you are now to where “the greats” in your field stand.  You can look up at them every so often for inspiration, but don’t hold yourself to standards that you simply haven’t had the time to reach.  Focus on consistency, reward yourself for improvement, and mastery will come on it’s own 🙂


Well, this wraps up the 5 Days of S-mas, I hope you’ve found them helpful.  Comment below with one 5S step that helped you improve your thinking, and how you implemented it!





P.S. There will be lots of exciting changes coming to this website soon, so sign up for our email list to get updates!

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Posted in mental engineering

5 days of S-mas: Standardize


Today’s aspect of 5S is “Standarize”.  This step is key in a manufacturing setting, as it allows for the organization in “Sort”, the rearrangements in “Straighten”, and the cleanliness of “Shine” to be easier to maintain by implementing efficient, repeatable procedures.  The same is true for our purposes with mental engineering, as our newly established positive outlooks will be easier to maintain if we’re able to streamline our thinking, rather than constantly exhausting ourselves with minutiae.

Though it’s easy to get wrapped up in the small stuff we face on a daily basis, the vast majority of this daily stress can be eliminated or reduced with 3 simple steps:


Planning ahead is key for saving time and effort.  This is particularly apparent for those small, daily tasks that somehow seem to eat up our days (and stress us out on top of it!)  The solution?  Simplify, decide ahead of time, and stick to your plans!

You see this in action with all sorts of top performers: they minimize the decisions they have to make every day and save their energy for bigger things.  It comes in many forms, like always wearing the same thing (like Mark Zuckerberg or Carrie Donovan), always eating the same thing for certain meals (like physicist Richard Feynman or the extreme example of Soylent creator Rob Rhinehart).  Anticipating these everyday tasks and standardizing them can be as thorough or lax as you like, but the point is to make decisions ahead of time and stick to them, so that you’re not having to make the same decisions over and over.

For decisions that you can streamline in this manner, but may require additional action on your part, consider whether the action needs to involve you every time.  Most tasks don’t, which is where the next step comes in.


The first step of automation is to set up schedules and “batch” any tasks that would otherwise require effort throughout the day.  The second step is to minimize your effort when possible.  These steps can be applied to anything from cooking, to shopping, to simply making your gadgets more efficient.  More elaborate ways to “Standardize” with this step can come in the form of automating your finances or creating checklists for complex or overlooked tasks.  Implementing these systems takes a bit of a time investment up front, but it massively reduces your daily time burdens.

The point of automation is to set up systems to keep your life running while reducing your distractions throughout your day. Not having to worry about keeping track of a million little things frees up your mind to focus on your job or family, though if you’re combining the two, keep the tips from the next step in mind.


There’s increasing evidence that true work-life balance is impossible (or at the very least, highly impractical), which is leading many people to turn to “work-life integration” instead.  The difference between the two can seem minor, but it can make all the difference if implemented correctly.  Whereas work-life balance emphasizes separating your work from your home life, family, and recreational activities, work-life integration removes the barrier, in order to allow you to focus on the most important activities (whether work or family related) as necessary.  While it can be useful to utilize aspects of both approaches (being efficient in the office and energetic with family is emphasized in both, after all!) it’s important to focus most on the separation of your time and mental energies, so that you’re not simply opening yourself up to work 24/7.

With careful planning you can be more efficient in your work, while also being more available to your family, hobbies, and actual life.


That’s all for Standardize!  Come back tomorrow for the final installation of 5 days of S-mas, then get excited for some resolutions for 2016!




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