3 things to try if you’re into productivity and personal growth

“The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today.” — Seneca

Over the past year, I’ve been testing out a few new practices and platforms that I’m either a) enjoying, b) getting value from, or c) all of the above, and so I thought I’d share them with you.

Before we dive in, I’ll just note that there are no affiliate links in this article. I don’t have any connection with any of the products I talk about in this post; I’m just testing them out and I want to share them because I’m getting some value from them and I hope you do too.

With that said, here we go.

1. Breathwork

Breathing, as it turns out, is actually really powerful. Used in the right way and with the right intention, your breath can reduce cortisol and improve your stress levelsboost your immune systemreduce chronic inflammation, and improve your mood.

Not bad!

I’ve personally been (somewhat sporadically) practicing morning and evening breath routines, and I’ve achieved some amazing results with both. In particular, there are two types of breathwork I’ve been experimenting with.

Morning breathwork: the Wim Hof Method

Wim Hof, also known as the Ice Man, pioneered what’s known as the Wim Hof Method: a breathing exercise during which one performs 2–3 rounds of 30–40 deep breaths, followed by a long breath-hold after a deep exhale. The practice oxygenizes and alkalinizes the blood, leaving you feeling both energized and completely calm at the same time.

Wim Hof breathing should only be done in a safe environment, either sitting or lying down, as you can experience feelings of light-headedness and even tingling in your limbs, which increases with each round you complete. I will usually do Wim Hof breathing first thing in the morning, usually right alongside my wife who is also experimenting with this new practice, either laying on the couch or on the floor.

Wim Hof breathing can also be used during stressful situations throughout the day. My wife has used 1–2 rounds of this breathing technique to prepare her mind and body before heading into exams, and could also be used to prepare for job interviews, meetings, and presentations for example.

Wim Hof has a few free and paid resources that can guide you through your Wim Hoff breathing journey. To learn more about Wim’s courses and guides, you can click here to visit his website or here check out the Wim Hof App.

Below I’ve embedded a free video that will get you started and guide you through a Wim Hof breathing session. I personally prefer using this video compared to the guided breathing session in the app.

Whether maintaining a daily Wim Hof breathing practice, or just doing the breathwork as a one-off here and there to ward off feelings of stress or anxiety, I’ve found the method to be extremely useful, and I always walk away feeling amazing and really glad I invested 10–15 minutes to complete the protocol.

Evening breathwork: the 4–7–8 method

I travel a lot for work, which is amazing but comes with some challenges, one of which is trying to get good sleep in strange places. To overcome this issue, I’ve been using the 4–7–8 breathing method which is known to relax the body and reduce stress and anxiety.

Since using this method I’ve been able to fall asleep much faster and experience deeper and more restful sleep.

I started by using Kevin Rose’s Oak Meditation app’s Guided Breath program to guide me through the 4–7–8 method. The app offers a number of options for background sounds and for the duration of the practice. I’ve found that 10 to 15 minutes is enough, but you might find more or less time will suit you better.

Whether I’m on the road or falling asleep in my own bed, I rarely catch Z’s without first doing at least a few rounds of 4–7–8.

2. Hey.com

Hey is an email platform designed by the good folks at Basecamp. Not unlike almost everything else Basecamp founders DHH and Jason Fried create, Hey is unique, innovative and a completely different take on what’s become a boring, generic, and somewhat antiquated communication tool i.e. email.

Among a tonne of other features and innovations, Hey doesn’t have an Inbox (that’s right — no inbox), segregates newsletters into a Feed you can read like an old RSS feed, eliminates the need for a junk folder by allowing you to screen all first-time emailers, and blocks trackers in the emails you receive. All his adds up to a unique user experience and email workflow compared to almost all other email platforms.

Hey costs US$99 per year, which means that unlike free email providers eg. Google and Yahoo, Hey’s email experience is also free from ads, which I love!

Since Hey is a relatively new platform made by a small and obscure company (both labels I apply to Basecamp with fondness), there’s still a really good chance you’d be able to secure an email address that is really close to your actual name. I was able to secure ryanwiggins@hey.com, rather than, for example, ryanwigginsbooboobutt2021@insertemailprovider.com, which is about as good as it gets with existing email platforms like Yahoo and Google.

I’ve been using Hey for around 12 months (I just re-upped my subscription) and so far I really, really like it.

Here’s a video of Basecamp’s CEO Jason Fried, talking you through a tour of the product:

3. SendFox

SendFox is an email newsletter platform designed by Noah kagan and the AppSumo family for creators to help grow their audience. While I don’t care all that much about growing my audience, compared to Mailchimp, which I’ve previously used for my old email newsletter The Monthly Review, SendFox is really simple to set up and use.

The platform is free to use (at least up to a point) and has a heap of great features, integrations, automation, and a really clean design aesthetic, which I appreciate.

I was able to import my Mailchimp email list really easily and if you don’t have an existing email list, the platform will set you up with your first 10 subscribers by drawing on a group of people who’ve indicated they’re open to receiving new content from creators they’ve not previously encountered.


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