The Stairstep Approach to Proper Push Ups

5 or 6 years ago I couldn’t do a proper push up. Not a single one. I was overweight and believed I was too heavy to push up my own body weight.

Around that time, I implemented a lot of changes in my life. I began eating healthier and started exercising. I lost weight. I quit smoking. I took a year of leave from university to pursue some of my entrepreneurial dreams. I did a lot of things that gave me a lot more confidence in myself. I also started doing push ups – on the stairs leading down to the basement of my parent’s house where no one would see me.

In the beginning, I didn’t know how to tackle the push ups. I couldn’t even do one, so how would I get started? I remember reading about the “100 push ups challenge” online, but to get started you had to do a test session to see how many push ups you could do. The training program was based on that initial session. Useless in my case.

One of the ways people recommended getting started was doing push ups on your knees. I could do that without any problems, but I still couldn’t figure out how to move on to proper, real push ups.

One day I figured I’d try to do the push ups on stairs instead… I walked down the basement, put my hands on the 4th step up from the floor and I actually did a few “proper” push ups. It was a revelation. Seriously.

I decided my goal was to do 20 push ups on that step. Then move down 1 step. Do 20 push ups. Then continue doing that until I was doing 20 proper push ups on the floor. I don’t remember how long that took, but it worked. Every other day or so, I’d do a few sessions with as many push ups I could do. Slowly I worked my way down the stairs and in the end I had cracked the code and was doing 20 push ups on the floor.

The title of this blog post is a tribute to Rob Walling’s legendary “The Stairstep Approach to Bootstrapping” post, because the exact same principles apply. I think they apply to nearly everything. I honestly believe that no matter what skill you are trying to acquire, there’s always a way to stairstep it. No matter if you are literally doing your push ups on the stairs or you are trying to learn how to build and run a business.

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How I Listen To Podcasts

I’m addicted to podcasts.

On any given day I spend several hours listening to podcasts.

Podcasts about business. Podcasts about lifestyle. Podcasts about coding and technology. Podcasts about anything that I’m interested in. In fact, my podcast feed is a pretty good snapshot of what’s on my mind at the moment.

I’ve listened to podcasts for years. Probably 10. And I clearly remember the first podcast I ever listened to. It was a short podcast by Steve Pavlina called “How to Make Money Without a Job“. I downloaded it as a .mp3 file and put it on my MP3 player. It was the only podcast on my MP3 player and I listened to it countless times. I remember listening to it on the train on my way to school and while I was cleaning the windows in my parents’ house. It really inspired me. And I loved the audio format.

Since listening to Steve Pavlina on my MP3 player, my podcasting practice has evolved quite a bit. I thought it’d be fun to share it here.

The tech

There are quite a few different podcast players out there. The one I use is called Pocket Casts and I love it. It’s one of the apps on my phone I use the most. If you are just getting started with podcasts, I definitely recommend that you buy Pocket Casts.

Intermezzo: Why I (only) listen at 1x speed

When you get into the world of podcast consuming, it won’t take long before you are introduced to the practice of listening to podcasts at 1.5, 2 or even 3 times normal speed. Like spooling through a tape on your Walkman. By listening on double speed, you can consume the double amount of content.

I used to listen at 1.5x speed for a while and I got completely used to it. But honestly, whenever I was listening in the kitchen, or somewhere else where other people could hear it, I actually thought it was a bit embarrassing. It emphasized the fact that I was literally addicted to podcasts. I couldn’t get enough. I needed more. Faster.

The reason I stopped listening at 1.5x speed, though, was that it increased my levels of stress and anxiety. The walks I love taking with my podcasts were suddenly making me more stressed and anxious than I already was. And they are supposed to do the opposite!

If something isn’t worth your time at normal speed, don’t listen to it at all.

My advice if you listen at more than normal speed: Try not to for a while. Don’t treat your podcast feed as a todo list that you have to burn through as fast as possible. If something isn’t worth your time at normal speed, don’t listen to it at all.

How I find new podcasts

Pocket Casts has a discover area that you can use to find the first few podcasts to subscribe to. Just find a few podcasts on topics you are interested in and start listening. Honestly, I haven’t found a great place to find podcasts yet. Most podcasts I discover when they are mentioned on another podcast I listen to. It takes a while before you have a solid podcast feed.

The features I wish I had in my podcast player

If you are working on a podcast player and read this, here are my top most wanted features in my podcast player:

  • A way to take notes
  • A way to “highlight” parts of a podcast episode
  • A way to tag and sort podcasts

The listening

What I listen to changes a lot. I add and remove stuff to my podcast feed all the time. I very much use podcasts for inspiration. In many ways, it has replaced blog posts and industry news for me.

When I need inspiration for a new idea or project, I listen very intensely to business or entrepreneurship podcasts to get all fired up. When I need to get the actual work done, I listen a lot less (I can’t listen to podcasts while working) and often to more technical stuff that is related to the work I have to do.

When I listen to podcasts also changes a lot. Sometimes I have more time that others. I take long (5-10 km) walks almost every day where I listen to podcasts. I also like to listen while I drive, take planes, cook dinner or do cleaning. Actually, I even listen to podcasts with my girlfriend. Only, we don’t like the same podcasts. So if we are on a plane or a bus, we’ll sometimes listen to each our own podcast and both be totally cool with it.

That was a lot of words on how I listen to podcasts. If you read all the way to here, you must be a podcast geek too! I hope you found it interesting.

Postlude: My favorite podcasts

I have a lot of favorite podcasts, but here are a few that I have listened to for a long time* and that I will probably continue listening to for a long time.

* A few of these are actually new discoveries that I know I’ll keep listening too.

How To Also Be Productive Tomorrow: 1 Simple Idea

This very simple idea is one of the best productivity hacks I have heard in a long while. It is so simple to implement and it has the potential to really improve your workflow.

Last night, I was accidentally watching a show in TV, which I normally try to avoid. I usually find it to be a waste of time. But yesterday I ended up watching it anyways, because someone else put it on. In the end of the show, 3 celebreties, one of them a famous and controversial Danish poet, had to come up with a creative ending for the show.

When I’m writing, I make sure to always stop while I’m still in the zone. It makes it a lot easier to get started the next day.

Long story, short. At one point the poet, J√łrgen Leth, said something that really resonated with me, but never occurred to me. He said: “When I’m writing, I make sure to always stop while I’m still in the zone. It makes it a lot easier to get started the next day.

Wow! There is a saying that you have to “strike while the iron is hot” and I always assumed that it applied to writing as well. I never questioned it.¬†When I am in the zone, I don’t want to stop. I want to get as much done as possible, while I have the chance. However, getting into the zone has always been a mystery to me. After endless staring at the screen, all over sudden I end up in “the zone” without knowing why. At least sometimes. What if, once I am in the zone, I could just leave a door open for the next day, so to say?

There is a saying that you have to “strike while the iron is hot” and I always assumed that it applied to writing as well. I never questioned it.

Well, that would make it a lot more tempting to sit down and get something done. Imagine that right before you write down that really great¬†idea you have, you postpone it until¬†tomorrow. It will stay in your head and you simply can’t wait to get it “down on paper”. Next morning, you jump right into the zone.

To good to be true?

How I Stopped Wasting My Time On Facebook

It’s been almost a month since I unfollowed¬†everyone on Facebook. This is how my feed looks now:

My empty Facebook feed!

 

Now, my only ventures to Facebook are for messages and group conversations. All the noise is gone. If I have the desire to stalk someone, I have to make a conscious decision to¬†type in their name in the search box. More often than not, I don’t bother. To me, staring¬†at that¬†“No posts to show” message, every time I visit Facebook, has been such a relieve.

How I did it

It’s a step-by-step process and, honestly, it’s been super easy.

  1. Every time you log onto Facebook, you go through your feed post by post and unfollow whoever posted it. As many as you can handle. Don’t distinquish between people (and pages, groups etc.). Unfollow everyone who posted something. Remember, you can always follow them again if you change your mind.
  2. Repeat!
  3. When you see the¬†“No posts to show” message the first time, you are getting closer. It won’t stay there, since some of your friends post very infrequently.
  4. Once in a while, a new post will pop up. Some people never post anything, but will be tagged in updates and pictures once in a while. Actually, you will soon discover that most of the Facebook clutter comes from a very small group of people. This is good news, since it makes the whole process stepwise. You will have less and less people to unfollow and less and less Facebook noise to look at.
  5. After a while, post an update to Facebook explaining what you did. This way, people will know why most of the time you won’t like or comment their stuff. If you do, though, you will have made a conscious decision to visit their profile and actually have cared about them.

That’s it. You will probably never unfollow every one, since some people literally never post anything and disabled tagging of their names. But since you won’t¬†see anything from those people, there is no reason to unfollow them.

Why it works

  • You do it¬†step-by-step
  • You can still visit Facebook as much as you want
  • You can still post updates if you feel like it
  • You can still (choose to consciously) stalk people
  • You can still use messages and groups (the biggest excuse for most people)
  • You can still see if it’s someone’s birthday

Start now. Go to Facebook and unfollow a bunch of people. It feels great and it’s not your responsibility to read everything that people post on their walls.