Sports Motivation Podcast is a Must Listen


The blog had a recent post “Five books and a podcast to help you this offseason” and the recommended The Sports Motivation Podcast by Olaniyi Sobomehin.  

I’ve been binging on this podcast over the weekend and should be on everyone’s listening list.  Olaniyi publishes two podcasts a week and his direct, practical style is captivating. 

An undrafted NFL player, Olaniyi knows what he's talking about.  His website is

If you are serious about success, you need to listen.  

CIRCA Planner System Pilot


I enjoy writing and adjusted my note taking to incorporate handwriting.  I seem to remember written material much better than typed items.  This is extremely important to me. 

The constraint of having to write, or even re-write in some cases, forces me to distill down and filter the critical from the nice to have items.  I have so much stuff in my life and wanted a way to reduce how much I took in and saved.  Handwritten capture of notes does that for me. 

Along with coffee cups, fountain pens are my other hobby, obsessions.  Hard to use my pens when I am typing everything.  I also enjoy great paper and wanted to figure out how to incorporate the written word into a digital process where necessary.  

Enter Circa

What Is It?

CIRCA is an entirely paper-based analog system from the Levenger Company.  The system uses disks to hold the cover, pages, and other inserts together.  These round disks allow the flexibility to add, remove, and move the pages and inserts around.  These disks are available in various sizes, colors and materials.  Numerous covers and accessories are also available.  The punches produce unique holes that work directly with the disks for retention.

What I like about the system is the ease with which you can add or move pages around.  With the hole punch accessories, you can add any paper or pages you want to your notebook.  

Using the disks instead of a traditional ring system (think Franklin Covey) is that the overall thickness of your planner is thinner.  This is relative to the size of the disks you use and the number of pages and inserts you have in your planner.

How I use it? 

I have essentially a 4 notebooks set up in the US Letter size: 


1.    A Work Capture Notebook with a few reference sheets permanently included

2.   A Work Archive Notebook

3.   A Home Capture Notebook

4.   A Home Archive Notebook

The Work and Home Capture Notebooks

 These are my everyday capture pads.  These capture notebooks are comprehensive, complete places I can go for anything that I’ve captured.  Every meeting, thought, note and to do item is captured in these notebooks.  They are always open on my desk and I can quickly jot a note, draw out a diagram or capture a random thought. 

When I am away from home or my office I capture notes on my Midori traveler’s notebook that fits nicely in my back pocket.  Towards the end of the day I transfer all my notes from my Midori into my CIRCA or if it is as do to item directly into Nozbe my task management system.

This I also use two types of pages in the notebook – the Circa Full-Page Ruled Refill Sheets that I purchased a 300 pack of and the Freeleaf Note Pads hole punched.  I have three dividers in the notebooks although I haven't used all of them yet. 

As I don’t really travel with these notebooks they are holding up well and function well.  

Being able to add pages I am able to keep the Home Capture Notebook think which really makes writing easy.  Using either my Rotring 600 Mechanical Pencil or a TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen I can capture with ease. 

With the disks I can have the notebook open to a blank page and the cover is nicely folded under the notebook thus taking up the amount of desk space as a notepad.  

My Work Capture is a nicer covered set-up 

I have the Circa Dimensions Notebook, Letter size cover with the same paper.  I also have a few key reference sheets that I like to have always with me in the office so I have these under a WORK divider.  I also have a HOME divider as well to keep my work notes separate from any Home notes or thoughts I want to capture during the work day.  This notebook travels with me both around the office complex but also on trips.  It has held up extremely well although the cover does show scratches. 

The disks hold the pages in extremely well and adding new pages is easy.  I am not inserting and removing pages frequently so I haven’t experienced any paper fatigue in terms of the paper punches not holding.  I typically insert daily sheets for meetings or reference materials for the day and then only remove them when I archive my notes every two weeks into the Archive Notebook. 

My Work and Home Archive Notebooks

My archive notebooks all consist of the basic starter plastic cover with the black ¾ inch disks.  During this trial phase I wanted to see how I was going to like it and didn’t want to sink too much money into the system. 

After two weeks I physically archive my old home and work notes into these archive notebooks by date.  If I ever need to go back to something I have it right, there. 

Hole Punches 

I have two hole punches one at work and one that sits on my desk at home.  I have the single sheet Circa 1-2-3 Portable Punch at work.  This is a plastic, compact punch that can sit in my desk drawer.  This punches a single sheet of paper.  The precision of the punches is remarkable with the paper lining up extremely well with the factory-punched paper. 


This punch works by having 3 separate punches along the length of the paper and you insert the page and then push the three levers in succession.  I have found that you need to be diligent about holding the paper in the punch as you move through the punch progression to make sure the punches are cleaner and completely through.   This punch does tend to get clogged which makes aligning the next sheet difficult.

 This punch is adjustable to the paper size you are suiting.  This is a great compact single sheet punch. 

The Circa Universal Desk sits at home.  This punch is a multi-page page that can handle six pages.  This is a metal punch with a single punch mechanism similar to the traditional 3-hole punch tool.  This is also adjustable to the paper size.  This is bulky and I would not recommend this as something that can travel or move about.  More of a stationary punch.  IF you were going to punch your own paper to use in the system I would recommend this punch.  You get the benefit of multi-page punching along with the price of a mid range puncher.  There is a 15 sheet higher volume puncher that I would only get if you are in a group / office user citation and needed a more durable / higher volume punch. 


 I have about $120 into my system at this point.  The system is working for me.  The ability to have a nicer notebook cover for work, the ability to interchange pages, and the ability is key.  I enjoy the benefit of having all my notes together (archived) but also having the flexibility to even scan in a page or put it in a file if I want without having to tear a page out of a notebook is key for me. 

 The Levenger paper I find to be extremely high quality (specifics of the paper) and works well with fountain pens along with pencils and roller balls.  I had been using Levenger pads before so that was not a big change.  Also the ability to add pages as necessary is key for me.  The disks don’t seem as clunky as a 3-ring binder and presentable in the workplace. 

 Overall I would recommend the system and I will be continuing to use the set up into the future.  I would recommend you start with one of the starter packs.  That way you can try out the different sizes and the overall system.  Once you are set on the system and size then I would invest in a nicer cover, and some of the accessories.  I would also recommend you get the smallest size discs you think you can get away with.  They are fairly inexpensive and the number of pages each disk size can hold is deceiving.  I have more than enough capacity with ¾ inch disks I am using. 

 Enjoy and share your thoughts below.



Book Review – Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler


I recently read Living with a Navy Seal by Jesse Itzler

 The author, Jesse Itzler is the founder of Marquis Jets and husband of Sara Blakely the founder of Spanx.  I picked up this book after hearing Jess on Jeff Sanders’ The 5 AM Miracle podcast. A great podcast that I strongly recommend.

Book Summary

Jesse hires a Navy seal to live with him and his family for thirty-one days to transform his physical fitness but actually produces a greater transformation. Seal, as he is referred to in the book, has only one rule – Jesse must do everything he says; no exceptions.  This 251-page book reads like a diary with each chapter a chronological discussion of the thirty-one days Seal spent with Jesse and his family.

 Jesse actually includes the workouts that Seal puts him through and you can clearly follow his progression, however this isn’t a how to workout like a navy seal book.  Rather this book is a description of a deeper transformation.  Jesse is able to subtly describe and take you through the transformation day by day.  Like watching your kids grow you don’t actually notice the transformation as you laugh and admire the daily activities.

 My Takeaways


Respect what you do, where you are, and the environment you are in.  Seal really instilled this in Jesse by continuous demonstration.   Seal never complains or uses anything as an excuse.  He shows you that you can respect something but also not being intimidated or daunted by something.  Acknowledge whatever it is and then get after whatever you are there to do.


I also took away how powerful and useful minimalism can be.  Seal came into Jesse’s home with a small backpack for the month, which was enough and didn’t interfere with what needed to be done or completed.  Seal made what he had irrelevant. It was all about execution.

Total Commitment

Until you totally commit you have no idea about your true capabilities. 

Seal described something called the 40% Rule.  This is Navy premise that once your mind says you should quit you are really only at 40% of your true physical limit.

 “If you want to be pushed to your limits, you have to train to your limits.” Seal

You don’t know your limits until you push and push and push.  This was demonstrated on day one when the Seal had Jesse complete 100 pull-ups.  And they stayed on the gym until they were done. Seal’s approach is the ultimate Getting Things Done approach.

 Great read and highly recommended

Why I am reading physical Magazines again

Are you chasing your dreams or just coasting along?  Are you striving for personal gold or settling for silver?
The Champion's Mind

I am going back to reading physical magazines and books. 

A few benefits with the physical version:

  • Having a physical magazine around lets me pick up and read in sprints rather than feeling like I need to read the entire magazine in one sitting.  
  • The physical magazine is a great visual queue for me to read it.  
  • I can quickly tear out pages or jot down notes for items I want to keep. (I actually scan in the torn out pages and get them into Dropbox or Evernote.)
  • I can actually get through the materials faster in physical form than electronic.
  • I know when I have finished the material as the magazine goes right into recycling.
  • I find reading the physical magazine makes it easier to get through the material.  


So how am I reading now?

I subscribe to both the physical and electronic versions when they are both available.    Most magazines offer deals on this 2 for 1 option so it is not that costly.  More on the electronic version later. 

I read with my Leuchtturm 1917 notebook by my side along with my favorite fountain pen, or my trusty Space Pen for taking notes.  I capture notes and thoughts as I read.  If there is a page that I want to save I just tear it out and scan it for further use.  I find this works well for me with ads and full page items that I need to evaluate later.

When I am done I recycle the physical magazine.  

Electronic Version

I use the electronic version for archive in case I want to go back and re-read or research something.  Having the material around electronically in a single app essentially takes up no space and doesn't create any noticeable clutter.

For magazines that don't offer a physical version, or if I am traveling, I read the electronic version on my iPad.  I still have my Leuchtturm 1917 by my side for notes.

I hope this is helpful and let me know in the comments below how you are consuming content.



Doing Sickness and Motivation the Right Way

For the last three months I have been in a boot nursing a partially torn achilles tendon.  For the last two weeks I have been sick.  Up until then I was actively focused on and worked out.  My content publishing schedule and my workouts were consistent, all though modified with only upper body strength training, swimming and some indoor cycling.  I was consistent until I got sick.  Once I got sick everything stopped.  I was barely able to get through my daily responsibilities and completely stopped focusing on my content and working out. 

 I was unmotivated and depressed - Why was that and could I have done more?  Would doing anything have helped speed up my recovery?

Motivation and Productivity

When you are sick your energy levels are down as your body is trying to fight off whatever is making you sick.  So it is understandable that you aren’t as energized and motivated to get things done.  Your productivity is non-existent.  But I find myself completely shutting down. What could I have done to not completely lose my momentum?

 Lighten Up

Rather than completely shutting down I could have been easier on myself.  I could have lightened up on what I was expecting of myself and been happy with less.  I usually have an all or nothing view, which is completely counter-productive.  Looking at what I wanted to get done and scaling that back to a few key items would have been better and much more successful.


As I discussed in my post “I’m starting a medication practice" , I have started meditating.  During the last two weeks I completely dropped that as well.  In hindsight I could have kept that up and I think that would have actually helped cut the stress of the sickness and helped put my illness in perspective.  I am like most men in that every stuffy nose, bit of congestion, and fever is life threatening.  Meditation would have helped with my mindset and perspective.

Think Longer Term

When I was laid up that would have been a great time to think a little longer term.  Getting out of the negativity of knowing I needed to get things done and was not doing them, and stepping back and thinking long-term would have served me well.  Using that time to look at my goals, the systems and processes I have or need, would have kept me on a positive trajectory.  Resting and being inactive lends itself to thinking, planning and retrospective views.  I definitely lost a great opportunity to use that time wisely.

 Clear the Clutter

Getting organized and decluttering does not take a lot of thought or mental energy.  Also having a more organized workspace and home space would have made me feel better and helped with my mental attitude.  This is something I could have done in small bursts.  

 Evaluate and Think

This ties into the Think Longer Term suggestion.  What could I have done differently to potentially avoided this illness?  One too many apple fritters?  Does this always happen after a long international flight?  If I would have done some focused thinking on this I might have a preventative gameplay now.  Another good question would have been What can I do Now?  Focusing on doing something would have been better than How quickly can I get to bed.

 Working Out and Physical Activity

 How could I have still done some physical activity?


Evaluate what exactly I have.  With only a sinus infection and the related congestion and drainage I had the classic Above the neck illness.  The conventional thinking is that if you illness is only above the neck and you don’t have a fever then physical activity is okay, although lighter.  Once you have a fever and a more widespread illness it is best to take some time off.

 Lighten Up

I should have continued with a light workout regime.  I had my bike set up on the indoor trainer so I could have done some light spinning, or even some light kettlebells and suspension band training.  In hindsight I bet a little activity would have sped up my recovery.


Next time I’m not feeling well, and it will happen again, I am going to walk though these suggestions.  I think using these suggestions will not only help me keep up some momentum but also speed up my recovery.  Having a positive outlook and some light physical activity will help. 

 I hope you find something here that helps. Add any more tips or thoughts below in the comments.



Automatically Add Scanned Business Cards to Contacts from Evernote

Here is a quick tip if you use Evernote to scan in business cards on your iPhone.  Changing this setting will allow the contact information to be automatically sent to your Contacts App.

Within the Evernote App on your IPhone:

  • Go to settings (gear icon in upper left corner)
  • General
  • Camera
  • Business Cards
  • Toggle on Save to Contacts slider

After this change all your scanned business card contacts will be automatically added to your contacts. 

As a bonus you can also select which Notebook you want the business card scans to go into by selecting it in the setting right about the Save to Contacts slider.



What Everyone is Saying About Constraints


Constraints are a good thing. Having constraints forces you to be creative, dig deeper to find a solution and to execute. To must do something can be a more powerful motivator than wanting to do something.

Constraints help you focus and keep your willpower high. Limiting choices or eliminating options all together helps conserve your willpower. We all the know the Steve jobs story about eliminating the need to make decisions about what clothes he wore. This is something you can put in place immediately. Try limiting your clothing selection this week to 3 shirts and pants.

There have been studies done that show people are much happier when their options are reduced. The fewer options they have, the happier they are. This relates back to second guessing or rethinking decisions. If you only had 2 choices you will probably have a lot less second guessing in your life. I think you look to make better selections, and are more committed to your selection when you only have a limited options or even time.

I put the constraint on myself to spend a full hour on photography and I couldn't go beyond my backyard. I took 189 images in that hour and created a beautiful detail image on a water spigot handle that I think looks wonderful.

If you don't have a lot of disposable income than you are really focused on spending your money the right way. I think having less fun money causes you to make better decisions because the risk of a bad decision is greater and it isn't easy to overcome by making another purchase. Interesting thought. Can people with less money be happier? Are they happier if they focus on spending money on experiences that provide a lifetime of memories vs. things that can provide limited benefits and joy?

Constrain yourself on the golf course to only using your 7 iron and see how good you get with the club. By the end of the 18 holes I guarantee you will know exactly how far you can hit the club, how you can bend the shot. I think you will have mastered the club.

Same way with camera gear. Take out your camera with one lens and really work it. You'll understand how the focus works, how the lens works at different apertures, it will become second nature to you. You will be able to look beyond the lens and the camera and focus on your vision what you really see. The camera will truly become a tool to capture your vision not the focus.

If you sit down at night and find yourself paralyzed with options and not doing anything, give yourself only two options of things to do and see how that improves you getting things done. Less is more.

What other kinds of constraints can you think of that truly improve your life? For a week set up real situations where you have constraints.

Be it what you order for lunch, what you do when you are home from work. I truly believe that giving yourself or having constraints will improve your trajectory towards what you want. Constraints are a good thing.


How I do my Annual Review


Every year I take some time and review the prior year as a first step towards planning the coming year.  Here is how I did my 2015 Annual Review. 

Words of the Year

At the end of the year I write three words that  describe the previous year.  I described 2015 as a year of:

  • Sorrow
  • Planning 
  • stressful

I lost my father in 2015 and that coupled with a tough year at work provided the sorrow and stressful theme.  I spent a lot of time planning for my website and my triathlon training, too much in my estimation, so that is the planning theme.

I compare those three words to the three I set while planning the year.  I had set:

  • Planning
  • Health
  • Execution 

Annual Summary

With these six words as a backdrop I write out an Annual Summary of the year.  From 50,000 feet how did the year feel?  How did it go?  I really consider this brainstorming as I just write what comes to mind.  It is important for me that I do no mid sentence editing or culling of my thoughts.  I just let my thoughts flow as I think about last year.   Typically these are memorable items, events, people or activities that took place.  

Journal Review

After the Annual Review I go through my journal for the year to help jog my thoughts on other things that took place.  In hindsight I think things seem better or not as bad as they seemed at the time.  That is why I review my journal to really capture the emotions and reactions I had at the time.  Much more powerful than the antiseptic hindsight review at the end of the year.

Goal Review

After I get my summary down I go into a deep review of the goals I set.  Each year I typically put together a visual timeline on when I am going to meet certain goals so I include that image in my annual review. 


I list out each goal I set for the year.  I include:

Goal - what was the specific goal.

The Why - I am a firm believer that if you don't have a big enough why you will not make the progress you want.  So this is the why I must achieve this goal.

System and Processes to Achieve - This describes the specifics of how I am going to achieve the goal.  This also includes what will I put in place almost daily to move my trajectory forward.

Tracking Progress and Process  - How am I going to track my progress including what am I going to track and specifically how — (google spreadsheet, tally sheet , etc.)


Under each goal I type one question to answer - What was my trajectory?  Did I improve and move towards the goal or away from it?  This in my mind is key as I view goal achievement as a process not an end state.  If I improved myself and moved forward then I consider that a success.  I do this for each goal.  I give myself an arbitrary rating between 1 - 10 on each goal. 

Quick Summary

The last thing I do is finish up with a paragraph or two of how I view last year.  I find this important to do last as it changes a bit after I have done the 50,000 foot review, and the specific goal review.  This year's summary highlighted that I thought I had too many goals, that I spent too much time planning and not enough doing.  I also had a lot of frustration from work and from the injuries I experienced.  

After I have this drafted I let it sit for at least 2 days and then go back.  I take a clean page or file and bullet  point out thoughts about what happened last year and compare the list to what I had documented?  Anything new, anything different?  If so I flesh them out and add them to the summary.  

After that I review the document one more time and I scan it in and if it is a file I convert it to PDF.


I use this Overall Summary as the beginning for the current year's goal and system brainstorming session.  Did I have too many goals?  Do I continue to have the same goals year after year and don't act on them?  This guides my goal setting process and helps me refine my process and set me up for success.  Improve the trajectory year after year.  Consider this the annual 2% improvement.  






6 ways that Nozbe can increase your productivity


There are thousands of productivity tools out there.  Nozbe is the tool I use to track and complete my projects and tasks.  Nozbe helps me get things done.  Here are six ways that Nozbe can increase your productivity.  

1. Nozbe helps you focus on what you need to get done.  Not what you want to or should get done but rather what you need to get done.  You can quickly filter down to right must get done today.  Use the "Priority" Star rating and view and only these tasks will be visible.  Use the Edit button and you can arrange the tasks in priority order.  Then burn down the list from top to bottom.  I try to have only 3 items a day that must get down.  By filtering on "work" or "home" labels I can show the appropriate 3 focus items.

2. Capture all the projects that need to get done - Following the classic and proven GTD approach you can capture all your projects and feel good about having everything in one spot.  For those tasks that don't need multiple steps (projects) to complete just use a "Home" or "Work" project to group these tasks in a "project" and get them out of your Nozbe inbox.  

3. Quickly send thoughts, tasks or projects to Nozbe through email.  Nozbe handles the important task of getting thoughts immediately recorded when you think of them.  You can set up a unique email address that allows you to send items to your in-box.  Set this as a contact in your email application and the address comes right up in your email composer.  A great way to get everything in one spot quickly. 

4. Nozbe is multi-platform.  There are IOS, Mac, Windows, Android versions that sync across platforms.  Regardless of your platform you have your tasks, projects and areas of focus with you everyone.  

5. Nozbe is easy to get started using.  You spend your time getting things done not fiddling with your productivity app.  The tool can be configured as easy or as complicated as you want.  A quick set up of projects and categories and you are ready to go.  Then you can refine your Nozbe configuration as you use the tool. 

6. Nozbe can be used in a team environment to assign and track projects accross a team.  Everyone is synced to what is critical and the most important things are set up to get done.  

7. Nozbe integrates and works well with other tools such as Dropbox and Evernote.  The linking of files and notes in both these applications within Nozbe is awesome.  This really ups your productivity game. 

Look for a future post that describes in detail how I use Nozbe to get things done.