don’t do list

What are things you don’t wanna do?

Who are people you want to avoid?

Information you seek to avoid.

It’s sort of a counter intuitive idea in these modern times. But it’s needed in this age of distraction to get anything done. It was something talked about by Stoics two thousand years ago: The Subtractive way. Also applies to diets as well, which is another topic.

Seneca believed removing things does more than adding things to your life.

Removing things from your list of things TO DO might help you finish those things you wanna do faster.

For example, I hate the fact I still check Facebook quite a bit sometimes in the middle of the work day.

Note to self: Perhaps making you’re number one on your Don’t Do list is to only check FB (this is short for Facebook) only at 5 pm. Maybe it’s deleting FB entirely.

Remove all the impediments towards getting more stuff DONE. When there is more disturbance in that flow, there are then more impediments to getting stuff out.

Now getting rid of FB entirely for me would be too much. I’m part of a private online business course/workshop groups (paid) on Facebook that I get a lot of value out – for that reason alone I frequent that site.  It’s not only checking out single girls photo’s.  We have discussions on creating online businesses.

So I’ll probably go with first option which is block FB during the day so I can focus on output.

BTW: There is a cool software out there called selfcontrol  It will stop you from checking certain websites until say 6 pm when you’re done work and back at your apartment.

Will experiment with this software this month and report back.

Hope you had a good Monday!


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this is how you write a great headline.

I’ve been studying copy writing for the past 2-3 years very closely.

Today  I will write about an ad I really loved.

One habit I got into when I began studying copy writing is saving cool ads I see. Every time I come across an effective advertisement I immediately save the image or take photo of it and save it on my Iphone.

I keep a swipe image folder in my phone devoted to this called Swipe.  I also have one on my desktop of my lap top called Swipe. You should make one too if you’re into improving your copy skills.

Recently, while browsing twitter (I still love twitter) I came across this famous ad from 80’s (?). I’m not a huge car guy, but this headline sucked me in 4 seconds.


Now that’s a great headline. Nailing it.  I haven’t seen many ads by this company, but I would say this is the Porsche of Porsche ads.

One common thing I noticed about old ads:

  1. Huge Headline to grab your attention. And Makes you want to read the next line.
  2. Image relevant to what’s being sold.
  3.  The copy.

One thing I really liked about this ad is the ending sentence. “It is, in fact, the Porsche of stereos.” Tying it all together. Nice copy.

More importantly it proves a point about copy.  It doesn’t have to be scammy sounding to grab people’s attention.  That’s what my initial thought was when I first heard about copy writing and marketing. I kept seeing bullshit headlines on the web like –  ” How to make passive income online in 50 days!” Doesn’t have to be like that.

What does this ad make you feel? Great copy almost doesn’t even register. It just makes you want to spend money.


creating tiny habits


I have been inconsistent with my blogging.   This is a quick one to get back in the habit.

Appropriately this one is about creating tiny habits.

Back in April, I did this free online course called 3 Tiny Habits offered by Stanford professor BJ Fogg. He’s behaviour scientist who I actually met once at a conference in NYC – Behaviour Con.

This whole course is devoted to creating skills needed to create new habits. I’m interested in this because let’s face it  – everything you do in this life is made up of habits. It’s not necessarily self-help either. It’s also about designing solutions for others.

I would argue success for most businesses depends on creating habits in customers . It’s a topic that can change the world. A lot of innovative companies like Google are successful because it creates new habits for million of people.

Anyways, in this post I want to describe his course and what I got out of it. He asks you to pick 3 new healthy habits that you want in your life.  The 3 tiny habits I chose to focus on were:

1. After I brush I will floss one tooth.
2. When I get to work I will write one line in my note book.
3. After I put my head on the pillow . I will think of one good thing from the day.
Now if you notice, these 3 new habits are pretty simple.  And they are created after I do an existing habit.  He calls these ‘anchor’ habits.
For instance I wake up in the morning and automatically brush my teeth. I hope you do as well.  He mentions for you to create a new ‘tiny’ habit it must be these 3 things:
1. you do it at least once a day
2. takes you less than 30 seconds and
3. requires little effort.
He’s found that motivation can’t be relied on for creating new habit. It’s not sustainable, because it requires work.  Yet everyone thinks they need more “motivation”.
Here’s a quick real life example – do you remember how busy your local gym was in January? People had new years resolutions to get more fit, sexy, etc and they have all this motivation. Then what happens at the gym? 2 weeks later it’s back to it’s normal level of people. 
What the hell does this MEAN?
Motivation is great for getting you started, but it’s horrible to get you finished. Hence why you need GOOD habits.  (Btw: I don’t think motivation is bad thing. You should have something that gets you excited in the morning).
This is the reasoning behind his simple methodology.  It should be as effortless as possible.
He also talks about feeling victorious after you do each habit.  So I actually mentally rehearsed all these habits once and said “victory! or “nailed it!”  to myself before even doing it. He explains what you say to yourself is key for rapid habit formation. I definitely found that to be true. Humans seek pleasure and avoid pain.
This online course is a 5 day session structured that  I had to email him  YYY or YNY or NNN ( yes – y and no – n) to completing these three tiny habits at the end of the day.
Below is a screen shot of an email I’d get each day.
tiny habits email
Take aways / What surprised me?
That I needed to be make my habits super simple for them stick. Also I needed to change the anchor.
For instance my last habit – thinking of one good thing after put on my head on pillow –  was something I should have changed to  – write one thing down in my notebook I feel grateful for. That felt more concrete than just thinking about it. Also, once I’m in bed I fall asleep pretty quick. Not a time for thinking.
For my 2nd habit –  ‘when I get to work I will write one line in my note book‘ – My anchor was a bit vague. It needed to be more specific. When I sit down at the desk, take out my lap top and my notebook from my bag THEN I will write one line down in my notebook.  It needs to be more precise to get done. Writing one line is super easy too.
If I said write for 5 mins in my notebook –  that time interval would make it 10x harder to implement.
One thing actually he stresses is that revision is part of the process.  He gives a lot of helpful hints to make this all easier in his emails too. I will try it out again and maybe you should too.
If you want to get a deeper understanding of this topic check out his website –
 Hope this got you EXCITED to create new habits!!
Till next time,
Nishant (Trying to create new habits) Mehrotra

Closing all tabs

It’s Friday! What’s shaking?

Closing all tabs on the computer after the day comes to an end is a big mind relief.  Sounds funny even to type this out. It’s the feeling of done.

Same thing with making bed or finishing a book. It’s done. The mind can start anew.  I’m mean if you honestly can’t finish the article THEN throw it on delicious (it bookmarks online articles masterfully) and save it! Bam.  Make some notes in the comment area for the bookmark and refer to that the next day.

Main thing is to eliminate it by end of the day or maximum two days is gonna be my new mantra. Might take awhile to make this feel normal as it’s only been a few days, but definitely gonna try this more. I definitely feel there is huge production gains.

Before I’d keep things open for 3 days thinking it’s something I need to refer to.

But you know what?  Seeing your previous days tabs again in the morning just nags you. So you have to close the tabs.   Because you want to start the next day with a blank canvas.

Try it out.

how to have an accountability partner

Accountability is a powerful tool to make a habit stick.

I’ve talked about this before in my no-alcohol experiment in June, which you can most definitely read about by clicking here.

Again, if I didn’t have an accountability partner it would have been much more difficult to create that habit!

In some cases, fear of loss is needed in accountability, because it makes you motivated to complete it. It actually becomes liberating to make the commitment this way. You’ve released the decision to the bet. You don’t wanna lose the bet, because it’s not worth it!

Personally, I do a weekly Wednesday night call with my accountability partner for business stuff. It’s a 30 min phone call, where we go through past weeks top 3 To do’s and then list out what we want to accomplish the following week.

How’s it been working so far? Super Great.

We’ve been doing it for almost 8 months now and I’ve definitely seen my production go up.

Occasionally we only finish 2/3 of the To Do’s. But guess what? That is better than having nothing planned and nothing done. I don’t want to let him down either, nor does he. When this happens we break down the reasons for why we didn’t accomplish the task . We then break that big T0 Do into smaller to-do’s.  It’s also great to talk it out with someone.

Now I would say having a negative reinforcement would sky rocket you from doing the task. I.E. Say donating 30 dollars to some Neo-Nazi party if you don’t finish the task.

In our case, we haven’t done this yet as we’ve been quite good with completing the tasks. Again, neither of us wanna let each other down. But it’s something we have discussed if one of us begins to slide. Neither of us have this feeling of dread yet.  I still look forward to it at the moment.

Now the first time tried this negative reinforcement method was a chance encounter with Maneesh Sethi at a consumer psychology conference last summer called Behaviour Con.  I mentioned to him I was struggling to finish this copy writing course I had recently purchased from Appsumo.

He listened to me intently and then took out this very legal looking document and made me sign it. The bet was if I didn’t finish the course within one week time ( the approximate time it would take to complete it) then I would have to paypal 50 bucks to another friend at this conference (this friend was happy with this bet LOL). He also took a photo of me holding this pledge sheet and said if I don’t complete he would shame me on his twitter and facebook.

Now Maneesh just doesn’t have hundreds of followers, he has thousands!  Nerve racking to say the least.

This was the agreement that I’ve saved:

photo 2 (28)

AND guess what happened?  BOOM! I freaking finished that course. I didn’t want public embarrassment nor did I want to pay this 50 dollar fine.

Another way to to think about this:   say it’s snowy -10 Celsius, relatively chilly Monday morning. You probably don’t wanna leave your very comfortably, cozy bed. But you also don’t want to lose your job that’s why you go to work. I mean if you always dread your job that’s another issue. But my bigger point is:  we need to implement stakes more if  we don’t complete tasks that we want to.

Perhaps holding a sign saying “I’m a loser” and photographing and pasting on facebook might work for you and you’re partner. Using peer/public pressure against you to make you get things done. That’s more of an incentive – not to look bad, than money in many cases.

Have fun experimenting with this!




dressing better

This is something I’ve known for a long time, but really noticed the difference when visiting NYC.

People dress way better in the Big Apple. They’re very trendy, like FIVE years ahead of us.  Happy to report all Canadians will be rocking leather skirts in 2019!!


But to be serious, I was starting to feel a little uneasy about my social confidence after seeing all these well dressed peeps.

“I need to get better fitting pants!” I said to myself.  Dudes rolled up there pants a bit more than usual in NYC.  Is that cool? What will people think if I did this in conservative Calgary?  All these stellar thoughts started entering my mind.

But overall, from my experience, you feel a whole lot BETTER when you dress better.  This maybe saying the obvious, but people perceive you quite differently when you wear a tailored suit vs. a sleeveless denim jacket. It’s the difference of actually having the sales reps talk to you. Try it out yourself.

Please don’t listen to this talk:  “it doesn’t matter how you look” and  “if you have to dress well,  than you’re not talking to the right people”. This is a fallacy.

My more fashion aware friends in Soho forced me to wear better fitting darks pants and dark shirt before we walked to this trendy roof top club. And guess what happened?  I definitely got more looks than usual.

BTW, I’ve heard that wearing leather boots on a date gives you a leg up. I’m gonna test this out.

On the Art of Manliness blog, they mention that shoes are VERY important  “despite covering only 5% of your body they can make-up more than 30% of the visual judgement we make when sizing up a stranger.”  Read more by clicking here. In other words:  Don’t wear some ragged ass beat up gym shoes on dates.

To get more deeper, this is all about the psychology of feeling good.  You want to be in a good mood more often.  There’s this idea called the state of transference. This means whatever state you’re in is the state the other person will feel too.  I’m not making this up!

If you’re laughing other people will also laugh. There is this book – Emotional intelligence- it elaborates on how we have mirror neurons where others can feel intuitively your emotional state.  It’s super fascinating. You can read a quick wikipedia version by clicking here.  Anyways, over time you wanna get to a point where your emotional state is based on yourself, not affected by others.

Wearing better clothes is a good start.

keeping backups

Recently I’ve been a huge fan of buying duplicates of something.

  • Two Macbook pro chargers (one at work, one in my bag). Same with phone chargers. Extra earphones. It’s funny how reluctant I was to do this.
  • Extra gym shirts. So I don’t wear the same ol sweaty ones over again.
  • Buy more groceries. My freezer is full of meat. I tend to run out of food, so this forces me to make more food at home, instead of visiting Mucho Burrito or some healthy fast food or my weakness – Shawarma – for a meal. Still working on this.
  • Extra Pens in the apartment and in my bag. I do a lot of writing in my notebook. I always lose pens.
  • Extra Floss. Actually been flossing more in past one year and a half, cos it’s always there in my bathroom.

In hindsight, the extra $50 improved my quality of life in a huge way.

I’m curious, what’s one inexpensive purchase you made that improved your life in a BIG way?