Slow down to speed up

As a graduate student I was required to take a course on Operations Research. I decided I would study with someone who seemed to have it all figured out (since he was ruining the grading curve for all the other students). As we studied and discussed the various homework assignments it was immediately clear he had a deep understanding and fluency in the material, even though it was his first encounter with it. I asked him “How are you so good with math?” (I’ve always liked math). He replied: “Last summer I decided to relearn math from the beginning because I wasn’t happy with my understanding of it”. I asked “What did you start from? Calculs? Trigonometry? Heck, Geometry?” He said, “No, from the beginning”.


We’re always in a rush to get things done, to reach the next milestone. In our haste we leave gaps in our work, in our understanding. These missing gaps add up and compound over time, like debt with interest. Repayment will certainly cost time.

I still try to move fast, but I cut less corners.

Time is money, but money is not time

The premise behind the saying “Time is money” is opportunity cost. Every moment you spend not working is the missed opportunity to earn money. But what will that money be used for? Opportunity cost can become even more obvious for time consuming tasks where delegating, and paying for it, will free up hours or days of work. If you’re a US citizen, I’m sure your thoughts lean in this direction when tax season fast approaches. Delegating to a tax professional is buying your time back. Put to work in this context, time is money.

What happens though when a deadline fast approaches? Again, let’s use US taxes. Although we can hire a tax professional, doing so will not change the deadline. It does not matter how much we’re willing to pay, money cannot buy that point in time, it can only buy our time.

Spend your money in such a way as to maximize your time, so that you can spend it the way you want.

Time and tide wait for no man

Work smarter and work harder

The phrase “work smarter, not harder” gets tossed around all the time. Unfortunately, the phrase suggests that working smart and working hard are mutually exclusive. One cannot do both. This interpretation is incorrect. But it doesn’t stop there. The phrase also gives weight to the notion that one should only work smart, and reduces the value of working hard.

There is much to gain through working hard and working smart. When working hard, in absence of working smart, one can build up mental and physical stamina to endure boring or laborious work. Through working smart, not hard, one can learn how to optimize work and how to ensure that the important work is managed.

Working hard and working smart, jointly, will almost certainly yield better results than either option independently.

Want to get more done? Try work working harder and smarter.

How to survive a fast

There are numerous benefits to fasting. So why doesn’t everyone do it? Well, there’s that whole “fasting” piece that folks have to contend with.

I have a fasting routine that I’ve stuck with for quite some time. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to help me through it.

  • Caffeine. It’s an appetite suppressant, and can give you a quick jump start through any lethargy you may be experiencing. I tend to prefer cold brew coffee and green tea as my sources during a fast.

  • Water. Kind of obvious, right? If you want to make it through a fast then make sure to stay hydrated. You’ll have enough challenges to contend with, dehydration shouldn’t be one of them.

  • Stay busy. A large challenge of fasting is the mental game. Now’s not the time to try and be more mindful. Try to get out of your head and into whatever it is you can get into. Once there, stay there as long as you can. Don’t worry, the fast will do its best to get you out.

  • Schedule it; put it on your calendar. Starting a fast tends to be hard enough, if you put it on a calendar then it’s, in a way, not your decision anymore.

  • Fast often. Fasting infrequently, perhaps once a year, will not allow your body and your mind much opportunity to learn to cope. The more often you do it, the more you will build up the stamina to endure.

  • Fast intermittently. There are a few different interpretation of intermittent fasting. One version is called 16/8. Every day you will eat during an 8 hour window, and fast for the other 16 hours. By doing so repeatedly, you will build up your endurance for longer fasts.

  • Ketogenic diet. When your body is in ketosis you are consuming ketones as an energy source. When you fast for a long enough period of time your body will transition to consuming (and producing) ketones once the glycogen has been depleted from your liver. Therefore, the more your body is adept at producing and consuming ketones, the better you will be at coping with this new/different energy source.

  • Easy or no workouts. When you workout you put stress on your body and increase your body’s demand for energy and nutrients. This will make the fast that much harder to deal with. The goal of a fast is to make it through the fast. It is the goal you are trying to achieve. Stacking a hard workout or sauna session will shorten the duration of your fast, and probably will result with a less than optimal workout.

  • Give yourself permission to not be productive. A fast can take over your energy levels which can result in a hit to your work productivity. Remember, making it through the fast is the goal, so give yourself permission to be less productive. Having a fast start or end on a weekend is way to ease up the pressure.

  • Choose an attainable goal. It’s not typical that someone can roll off the couch and run a marathon. The same principle applies to fasting. If you have a goal you’d like to reach, it is perfectly reasonable to work up to that goal over a period of time rather than just diving in and expecting to meet it.

  • Take minerals/electrolytes. As you fast the minerals in your body will naturally deplete. If the quantities get too low you may experience some adverse symptoms like headaches, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, and much more. Add Sodium (commonly Salt), Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium if you’re experiencing some unpleasant symptoms (no, hunger is not one of those symptoms).

This post was inspired by a reply to a tweet.