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The Quick Guide to Skyrocketing Your Poker and Life Productivity

    • Schnitzelfisch
      Joined: 08.11.2008 Posts: 4,952
      Hey there,

      I've been away from poker for more than a year now, some of you remember me (I used to be a moderator and a FL community hand judge), but since I've been gone, I've focused more on entrepreneurship, business and finances. During that time, I have also read a lot of books, applied different concepts to parts of my life and learned a ton about productivity.

      Since this community has given me a lot in the past, I would like to give something back to it - I would like to share some things I've learned with the rest of you. While there are already a couple of good articles in the psychology section, I will try to introduce some less known techniques and tips for superb productivity in this short guide.

      You can learn more about me in my Private Coaching thread and in my blog. You can also go and take a look at my Live Coachings and the Self-development Study Group.

      Should there be a lot of interest in the guide, I might write a longer one with more detail, this will be just a quick excerpt that I'm sure can help most of you to improve your focus, concentration and energy levels throughout the day, get theory studying done more easily, help you clear your head and help you in other aspects of your lives as well - with families, jobs, colleges, sports... but I will try to focus on poker.

      Remember, this guide will only help you if you apply these strategies, just acknowledging them without any application will not help you improve your productivity.

      I will update this guide whenever I think of a subject that I should add to it, but will try to keep the explanations of concepts rather short.

      Please leave a comment if:
      -you have any questions or feedback
      -you would like me to cover a specific topic that i did not include
      -you have found some of my strategies useful. I would love to hear about your succesful improvements!

      Who is this guide for?

      This guide is for people, who are sick of being average. It is for people who want to improve and be better than others by gaining an edge. It is for people who are willing to take immediate action in order to get results. It is for people who seek to learn and improve in their lives. It is for people who want to get more done, stop wasting time on facebook and surfing the net, improve their poker game and have more time to spend with friends and family and doing the things they love.

      The 80% rule

      Most of the strategies from the guide will work if you apply them only 80% of the time. You do not have to apply all of them - even if you apply only one or two, they can significantly change your life.

      Do not try to apply all strategies at once - choose one or two instead, turn them into a habit and choose new ones. I recommend that you practice the two chosen strategies for at least two weeks before applying any new ones. The topic 1. Where am I headed? should be completed before you apply any strategies (it doesn't count as a strategy, but I strongly recommend you to do it, otherwise it is very likely that you will give up and go back to your old habits).

      The quick guide to skyrocketing your (poker) productivity


      1. Where am I headed?
      1.1 Vision
      1.2 Goals
      2. 30 days make a habit
      2.1 Accountability technique
      2.2 Don't break the chain!
      3. Physical energy
      3.1 Water
      3.2 Coffee
      3.3 Nutrition
      3.4 Exercise
      3.4.1 Morning jogging
      3.4.2 Building energy with exercise
      3.5 Smoking
      4. Proper breaks
      4.1 Mindless tasks
      5. Energy vs. Time
      5.1 Tracking time spending
      5.2 Limiting time wasted on surfing
      5.3 Checking your e-mails
      6. Clearing your head + Stress removal
      6.1 Brainstorming
      6.2 Cleaning your workspace
      6.3 Getting to know the system
      6.4 Getting through the pile of paper
      6.5 Using the system
      6.6 Reminders
      6.7 Weekly reviews
      7. Is multitasking really good for you?
      8. Projects
      8.1 Easy stuff vs. Hard stuff
      8.2 Finishing stuff
      9. Make time for the things you love
      10. Rituals
      11. Tricks for starting up your day productively
      11.1 Getting up early
      11.2 Waking up
      11.3 What to do first?
      12. Sleeping
      12.1 Power naps
      13. Knowledge and learning
      14. Speed reading
      14.1 Measuring your reading speed
      14.2 The speed drill
      14.3 The comprehension drill
      15. Audiobooks
      16. Investing in yourself

      1. Where am I headed?

      This is the most important step that you have to take in order to skyrocket your productivity. Without knowing your destination, you can never reach it. Please make yourself a few minutes of uninterrupted time and complete the following tasks. Do not skip these! This is most likely the hardest part of this guide as we are often afraid to think about our future because we are afraid of failing. After this, everything else will be way easier.

      1.1 Vision


      Take a couple of minutes of uninterrupted time. Take a piece of paper and a pen. Turn off the radio, put the computer to sleep. Now think about the following questions and write answers to them on the paper:

      -What do you value most in other people?
      -Who are you at your best? (This means how do you see yourself in the best possible way - what are your best values? For example, you see yourself as a dedicated and loyal person who is also a good listener and can always be counted on...)
      -What do you want to be known for after you die?

      Seriously, put the computer to sleep now, you need to really think about these questions and answer them. Do it now, not in 10 minutes or tomorrow because you will never actually do it otherwise. Only then should you go to the next step.

      There is another good technique for identifying your deepest values (from the book 7 habits of highly effective people):

      Visualize going to a funeral with your friend. You take a cab ride to the funeral. When you get there, there are a lot of friends, family and your co-workers there. They're sad, but happy as well since they have a lot of nice memories of the man who is in the coffin. You go and check out the coffin, and realize that it's you in there. You are at your own funeral.

      There are 4 speakers at the funeral:
      -Your wife/husband
      -Your closest friend
      -One of your co-workers
      -One of the people who you interacted with in a social activity, like sports or a church

      Try to imagine their speeches about you. Write them down. You will likely identify even more of your values now.

      Once you've written down the answers to those questions and the speeches, you are likely to have identified your deepest values. Now connect your values into a vision statement. Open a word document or take a new piece of paper and write about your vision. Include details. Look forward in time, where do you see yourself? What are you like? What do you want to be like? How do you want to be viewed by other people?

      Really, do this now as well. It won't take you more than 10 minutes. You should also add/change/improve this vision statement later on when you realize that you want something else/more as well. It might take a couple of months to perfect it, but don't worry about it. As long as you've taken those few minutes on your time, you are already on the right track. You've already done more than 99% of normal people do to increase their productivity. You should feel good about yourself! Now, to the next step.

      Example of a good vision statement:

      I am a good listener and show compassion and understanding. I try to see things from other people's point of view. When I am near other people, I am a source of positive energy which spreads on to other people. I always offer help when I see someone needing it, with encouraging attitude.

      I start many different projects, but I prioritize finishing current projects over starting too many new ones. I choose hard projects in order to learn as much as possible and gain satisfaction upon completing them. I learn from my failiures and take accountability for them. I try to be consistent in my actions and show integrity by following through with my promises. I reply to everything and try to not keep people waiting too long. I strive to obtain new knowledge daily and share that knowledge with others when possible.

      My mission is to make people's lives easier and better. I want to help people find joy, happiness and decrease their stress. A part of money that I obtain during my entrepreneurial career will be dedicated to helping people in need of help.

      I make sure that I constantly improve on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels and have sufficient recovery in those areas. This provides me with energy, concentration and allows me to remain calm and make good decisions, even in stressful situations. I keep my life and environment organized and I frequently write things down and set reminders so that I do not forget something and clear my head.

      When I get older, I want to be known as the person who positively affected the lives of many people.

      1.2 Goals

      What is a difference between a goal and a dream? A dream is in your head. "I want to have a huge house, a hot girlfriend and a Ferrari but I am not doing anything towards it" - that is a dream. If you put a dream on paper, it becomes a goal. It is there, you have written it. You can hold yourself accountable for not completing it. Measurable goals are a really good way of guiding yourself to reach your vision, looking at your progress and seeing whether or not you are on the right path.

      Don't set monetary goals, but rather (poker theory) learning goals. You should focus on obtaining more knowledge or improving at something, so make sure that your goals will reflect improvement and that they are not luck dependant (winning an MTT would be a bad example of a goal). Luck dependant goals can become frustrating when you do not accomplish them. With some time, when you get a hang of setting new goals, you should try to set the bar higher in order to push yourself to the limit (i will write about this later on), but when starting out, make sure that they are realistic.

      The goals should be in line with your vision statement and come from your values. They will help you stay on the right path and steadily progress towards your destination.

      Some people recommend monthly goals, others recommend weekly goals. I choose to recommend weekly goals because it is a short enough period of time to make changes, but a long enough period of time for you to work on everything that you choose to work on.


      Now, you should define a couple of measurable goals. Be realistic. Look at your vision statement and ask yourself what you want to work on the following week. Write it down.

      -I will read two poker related articles this week, which means that I have to read one article until Thursday and another one until Sunday.
      -I will play poker at a set time at least an hour a day every day.
      -I will also post 10 hands into the hand judging boards for review during the weekend.

      After every week, preferably on something like a Sunday evening, you should make a short review of which goals you have accomplished and set the new goals for the next week. Make sure that you always set new goals that are in line with your vision statement. If something isn't working for you or it is hard for you to accomplish, try a different approach or try breaking the goals down and setting small deadlines, as in example #1.

      Start slow. Don't set the bar too high. If you haven't read any articles at all, maybe you should start with one a week. If you set the bar too high, you will get overwhelmed and quit. So don't do it. By the way, have you defined your vision already? As I already mentioned, this guide is for people who are willing to take immediate action. So if you didn't do it, this is your last chance. I won't remind you anymore. But the results will reflect the amount of effort that you put into your growth.


      As promised during the live coaching, Demarcohsp and me designed a simple worksheet for easier tracking of your habits and goals. It can either be used in the electronic form or printed out. You can download the spreadsheet here, the file is called Habits_goals_spreadsheet (I hope that everyone can open .xlsx files).

      Here are a couple of instructions on how to use the spreadsheet:

      Habits section: Write the habits that you want to take up. But start with 1 or 2 max., you don't have to do all of them. The bolded words are just suggestions, which you should change according to your own personal needs. For example, if you wanted to take up jogging, you would write "jogging" instead of "exercise".

      Next to that, you have some cells. those are used to make ticks/crosses to track your progress. And there's also a line for comments if you had any problems etc.

      Goals section: Again, this can be modifiable. You can add some areas of life or remove some of them. You don't have to fill everything out. Fill as much as you think you need to. Don't set 30 goals, you'll never complete them. Set a realistic number of goals. Try to be specific with goals. Comments section is there for tracking problems and progress.

      You can either print this out or use it as an excel file electronically. It's designed so that it can be printed out on 2 pages :) . I do recommend printing it out and having it in front of you at your work environment.

      A big thanks to Demarcohsp for helping out with this worksheet!

      Congratulations, you have completed the first part of the guide!

      2. 30 days make a habit

      Ok, moving on to habits. In order to change your behaviour, you first have to understand it. Many studies have shown that it takes approximately 30 days of continuing behaviour to make a new habit. This means that if you consciously do one thing over and over again for 30 days, you should be able to do it subconsciously (on autopilot) afterwards. If a change isn't very radical, it is possible to make it into a habit in 14 days, but one should be careful when trying to change too many things at once, since this increases the possibility of becoming overwhelmed and returning to your old habits.

      The problem is that this doesn't work if you want to change 10 things at a time (similar to multitasking, but we'll focus on that later on). That is why you should only try to take on 1 or 2 new habits at a time. Another important thing with habits is to not be too radical. For example, if you want to start exercising, a 10 minute walk each morning is way more likely to become a habit (you would increase pace and duration with time) than trying to run a marathon each morning with no training.

      Another important thing with habits is: they will only stick if you really do them every day. Don't rationalize or say "i'll do this tomorrow". Do it every day, that way it will be the easiest to form a habit. Prioritize it. You said you wanted to change, now do something about it. If you are going to start walking 10 minutes every morning, make sure you actually do it, no matter what weather.

      2.1 Accountability technique

      Luckily, there are some tricks for making forming habits easier. One of them, perhaps the most common and easiest one of them is to simply tell as many people as possible about your new habit. If you tell your family and all of your friends that you are going to start working out every day, it is way more likely that you will actually do it (because you want to keep your integrity) than if you kept it for yourself.

      Another good idea is to convince someone else to take on the habit with you - an accountability partner. It will be way easier if you hold each other accountable. You can also motivate each other and perhaps even compete against each other, improving your progress.

      You can even go one step further - if you really want to adopt a new habit, but for some reason just can't do it, or if you want to make something that you don't like into a habit but you want to do it because you know that it's good for you and you should do it - you can give a friend some money (a sum that you care about, like $100 or something you can still afford - this is of course relative to your wealth. Tell them that they will be able to keep the money if you do not do a certain thing for a week/month and that they should hold you accountable.


      If you have a blog, write your goals there and/or share the goals you've set for yourself with at least one other person. Tell them to hold you accountable.

      2.2 Don't break the chain!

      This is another simple, but not so well known technique. I actually find it pretty fun myself, and it's very efficient. It does however require a bit more self-discipline, so I still recommend using the accountability technique in synergy with this one.

      What you want to do here is:

      -pick a habit you want to adopt
      -get a paper table calendar
      -draw a big red cross over the calendar for every day when you do the habit
      -as you have probably figured out by now, you are not allowed to break the chain of red crosses ;) .

      The calendar should always be visible, on your desk, in front of you. This will help with preventing you from failing.


      Get a table calendar. It doesn't have to be big, it can be small. It's cheap. Or print it out on a piece of paper, it doesn't really matter, as long as you see it when you wake up and have it in line of sight for most of the day. Also buy a red marker for full effect of the technique. Choose a habit and start making that chain!

      2.3 Rewarding yourself

      Small rewards can be a good motivator for forming habits as well. Dog trainers use these for a reason ;) . The thing with reward is that the reward should really be small, not big - if it's a big reward, you will do something just to be rewarded, and that's not the point. Also, if you take the reward away, you should still be able to continue with the habit. A good reward for example is: whenever you wake up early in the morning, you should make yourself a nice cup of coffee or allow yourself to read one of your favourite books for 15 minutes. Again, the rewards should be small if you should choose to use this technique.
      =========================Updated 14.4.2012==============================

      3. Physical fitness

      Ok, now that we're done with the basics, we can finally move on to more useful stuff :) . We will begin with physical fitness. Why? Because it is the basis for everything else. You cannot achieve optimal concentration, focus and energy without the proper physical fitness.

      It seems logical that the physical fitness is connected to everything that's going on in our bodies. If we eat well and exercise well, we will have a lot more energy throughout the day that we will be able to use for doing other stuff. Our recovery and quality of sleep will also be better due to the proper nutrition.

      Now, the thing with exercise and proper eating is - we all know that we should do it, "because it's good for you" and "healthy", but we are often too lazy to actually do it.

      That is why I want you to see why you should really do all that stuff, because "it's good for you" just isn't a good enough argument. So let's see the benefits of eating right most of the time and frequently exercising:

      -Tons of energy throughout the day that you've never had before
      -It makes it easier to START playing poker/learning theory
      -It makes it easier to KEEP playing poker/learning theory
      -Increases focus and concentration while working
      -You will look damn good when you go to the beach (lots of people say they don't care, but let's face it - would you rather be lean and sexy or chubby and unattractive?)
      -Increased confidence (which will also help you gain motivation)
      -More energy means that you will think more positively, be less tilt-prone, and positively affect people around you - a great benefit if you're working in a team in a regular job as well!
      -You will be proud of yourself. You will love yourself, and other people will love you.
      -You will sleep infinitely better. No waking up in the middle of the night, just awesome dreaming and sleeping. You will wake up recovered and energized.
      -You will be able to remember more
      -You will be able to become more creative

      -ON TOP of all this, you will also have the potential to:

      -live longer
      -have less injuries
      -decrease chances of getting a cold (which greatly decreases your productivity for a couple of weeks)
      -decrease chances of getting a more serious disease like diabetes, etc.

      Of course you can always get hit by a car or a train, but let's try not to be too morbid here and focus on the positive thinking ;) . You will actually enjoy life way more if you are physically fit, believe me. All these benefits will give way you more satisfaction than eating muffins every day, and you won't even have to get rid of all of the stuff you like anyway ;) . Besides, what happens when you eat some junk food and sweets? You feel like crap, you can't concentrate well and feel like sleeping. Will that really earn you any money?

      Oh yeah, and one more thing; for those of you who might think that physical fitness is irrelevant to your productivity: try eating some fast food and sweets in the morning, then walking around all day with 20 pounds of weights, books or stones in your backpack. Report to tell me how you feel.

      3.1 Water

      Yes, frequent rehydration is so important that it requires it's own topic. Water is what we're mostly made of. If you consume too little of it, how do you expect to function properly?

      Dehydration is the main cause of you feeling tired and sleepy throughout the day. Seriously, observe your body on a day when you drink almost no water and on a day when you drink a lot of water. How do you feel?

      The thing is that we often don't even notice that we're dehydrated. You will notice way faster when you try to do some sports without drinking any water, but the dehydration is still there every day, although we do not feel thirsty, but rather tired and sleepy.

      Try drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning every day and see how it will make you feel. Or at least with breakfast.

      And I mean drinking water as pure water, not juices, soda or alcohol. Just water. Therefore, since you should get used to this as soon as possible, you should try to make regular consumption of water a habit. Try to drink one glass of water at least every hour or two. But how do you do it? There is a really simple trick. Carry it with you at all times, if possible.


      Get one of those $10 plastic/glass water bottles that are highly marketed nowadays. Even if they don't do any magical stuff, they are usually nicely shaped and very portable, they don't deform and they don't start stinking when you use them for a while.

      Have the bottle filled up and on your table at all times. Take frequent sips. Also carry it around when you're at work/college/wherever. You can usually buy small ones that are really portable, and the energy that they'll provide you with will be well worth the investment.

      If you, for some reason, do not fancy buying that, you should at least get a big jar and a glass and have the jar, filled with water of course, on your desk at all times.

      3.2 Coffee

      The majority of grown up people start a day with a cup of coffee. Then, throughout the day, many of them drink a couple more cups of coffee. But why? Does it really taste that good? I guess some people do drink coffee because it tastes good, but usually it's because of one of these reasons:

      -Everybody drinks coffee, so I should drink it too, right? What else am I supposed to drink when I go out for coffee?
      -I'm tired and I can't get anything done. So I'll drink coffee to motivate me and make me less sleepy.

      Well, ok. Now imagine an overweight person. Will frequent liposuction really give them the body they want to have? Or should they focus on eating less and exercising more? Since you've read my thread up until here and you're not one of the naive people who would actually think that liposuction is better for you in the long run, you probably know the right answer.

      Coffee on the other hand is very similar to liposuction. It's just a temporary cure. A bad one too, since we can get used to it pretty fast and then need even more of it.

      So, let's see what causes us to drink coffee. Tiredness, low energy, sleepiness, lack of motivation... If just there was a way to fix all those problems. Ahh, I know, I'll just drink a cup of coffee!

      ...5-6 hours later...

      Damn, I feel like crap again. Maybe I should drink more coffee...

      ...5-6 hours later...

      Why can't I sleep at night? It must be because I'm under too much pressure/stress.

      While it is scientifically proven that caffeine does improve endurance and energy and makes it easier to perform well in certain sports, it is also scientifically proven that caffeine can cause energy crashes after wearing off, and that it negatively effects our focus and concentration, as well as causes sleep deprivation if consumed too late in the evening.

      Since we are in pursuit of sustained high energy throughout the day and do not seek intervals of high physical energy and crashes, caffeine is obviously not the best solution to solve those problems.

      Also, what will you do if you require energy in the evening? Drink coffee before sleep and sacrifice it? Here, it gets really ironic. One of the causes of the problems (sleepiness, tiredness) that we try to cure with coffee is lack of sleep. So, essentially, by drinking coffee, we are actually making the cause even worse and are recursively increasing our tiredness and sleepiness throughout the day. This cannot possibly lead into sustained high energy.

      But if I give up coffee, what should I do to prevent sleepiness and tiredness? There isn't a fast and easy solution to caffeine addiction. To be honest, if you give up coffee, you probably will feel like crap for a week or two. However, if you focus on the causes of low energy, you can minimize this effect and in a couple of weeks, you'll be bursting with energy, without the coffee!

      To make it easier, you can try drinking white or green tea instead of coffee. While they still do have some caffeine, they also contain many antioxidants which will make you feel better throughout the day. I'm talking about high quality, unflavoured loose tea from tea shops, not about the bags that you can buy in every supermarket.


      If you only drink a cup of coffee a day, it should be easy to cut it. Replace it with water and focus on proper nutrition, enough sleep, rehydration and frequent exercise. You won't need coffee if you do all those things ;) .

      If you drink a lot of coffee, the first thing I suggest is throwing it away. If you don't have it, you can't drink it.

      Then, go to a local tea shop and buy some loose tea. Perhaps white tea would be the best because it's easier to prepare than green tea. Ask for one that doesn't have a lot of caffeine. Also ask the salesperson there for instructions, write them down and follow them. Replace the coffee with a couple of cups of tea a day.

      Also don't forget about proper nutrition, exercise, rehydration and enough sleep. They will make getting rid of your coffee addiction way easier.

      3.3 Nutrition

      And we've finally arrived to nutrition! If you are overweight or eating unhealthy, please go and read all those benefits that I've written again. It is really important for you to realize that the following strategies in this guide will have way less effect if you do not commit to eating healthy. This is one of the best changes that you can make in your life.

      And please stop rationalizing. Yes, I know that you're just 10 or 20 pounds overweight and that your neighbour is even heavier. But that doesn't really matter. You should face the truth and see that what you're doing isn't going to help you reach your vision any faster. Go and read the vision statement that you've written.

      I will try to keep this topic really short because I have already written a long thread about it, so here are the main points:

      -You should eat more (preferably at least 5) small, balanced meals a day, which will provide you with a steady flow of energy.
      -Eliminate soft drinks (and try to eliminate extensive alcohol too), like juices, sodas, etc.
      -Eliminate fast and greasy food
      -Eliminate sweets
      -Eat fresh, unprocessed fruit and vegetables, lean meat, fish, eggs, low fat diary, nuts and try out different spices.

      Oh yeah, and since this food will make you feel full for a longer amount of time, you will actually spend less on it than you would on junk food.

      Remember the 80% rule!

      I understand that the transition to healthy food might be hard. While it is the best for you to completely change to healthy food, another slightly worse option (but still better than eating completely unhealthy), is to eat healthy throughout the day, and in the evening, not before playing poker or studying theory, reward yourself by consuming a small portion of your favourite food. Like a muffin or a scoop of ice cream, a pancake or 1/4 of a chocolate bar. Just don't eat too much of it. Or perhaps drink a glass of wine if you really need to, but don't do sweets AND alcohol, just one of these is enough.


      Go to the shopping mall, and buy a load of fruit and vegetables to fill your fridge. Try different stuff. Try stuff you've never tried before. Try stuff that you didn't like when you were a child. You might like it now. Also purchase some lean meat, fish, eggs, low fat diary, some spices (try some oriental stuff, perhaps cinnamon as well...) and a bunch of (like 1kg) of different nuts. Nuts should not be salted or roasted!

      Now you have a nice, full fridge. You can eat anything you want from eat, as much as you want to eat. Try to eat every few hours. Put a bunch of nuts in a plastic container and carry it around at all times, along with your water bottle.

      During your poker session, i suggest having some fresh fruit and nuts on your table and eating frequently. That will help you retain concentration as well.

      If you want to learn more about nutrition, you can read the poker nutrition guide I've written a year or so ago:

      Nutrition and poker.

      You can get a lot of useful information from this guide, as well as some nice recipes!

      You can also research the Paleo diet via Google, which is a really simple "diet" to follow. Although remember, it's not a diet (a diet marks a limited amount of time with focus on losing weight), this should become your new lifestyle.

      =========================Updated 15.4.2012==============================

      3.4 Exercise

      Frequent exercise will increase your energy levels throughout the day, at least if you do it right. If you are new to exercising, or are too lazy to do it, or generally don't like sports and similar stuff, or you "don't have time for it", then I have a simple message for you: get off your lazy ass, try different sports (you ought to like one of them), find the one you enjoy the most and make some time for it!

      It is way easier to exercise if you have fun while at it or if you're doing it with your friends. You don't have any friends who exercise frequently? Join a club. Take up recreational dance classes. Go to the gym. Do some pushups. At first, it doesn't really matter what you do, just do something different than sitting at your pc the whole day. And I can't emphasise this enough, FIND SOMETHING THAT YOU ACTUALLY LIKE DOING! Then prioritize it. Without exercise, you will have way less energy throughout the day. With exercise and proper nutrition, you will have tons of it. You'll be amazed at how much you can get done and how focused you can stay during your poker sessions and learning sessions.

      =========================Updated 16.4.2012==============================

      3.4.1 Morning jogging

      Jogging in the morning, before breakfast, is one of the most awesome things you can do in order to boost your productivity in the morning and throughout the day. It is hard to start doing it, but if you do it every day, it's easy to form it into a habit. Jogging in the morning should be short and low-intensity, because after a whole night of starvation, you would not want to burn your muscles since you are lacking nutrients in the morning. The purpose of this jog is to wake you up and motivate you for the day and not to drastically increase your energy.

      You should only jog for about 15 minutes, depending on your current frequency of exercise. If you're just starting out, you should consider walking. If you're using a heart rate monitor, your HR should not go above 140-150, depending on your age. Keep it low.


      Prepare some running or comfortable shoes in the evening. If you haven't exercised in ages, go for a 10 minute walk in the morning, before breakfast.
      If you are exercising frequently already, you should go for a 15 minute jog. It is very important that you do it every day!

      3.4.2 Building energy with exercise

      First of all, let's take a look at athletics. Imagine a marathon runner vs. a 100m sprinter. Which one do you think has more energy? The thin marathon runner or the sprinter full of muscle? If you observe these two people, you will see that whereas the marathon runner will be able to endure long distances, the sprinter will be able to run way faster in a shorter period of time, with sufficient resting.

      In poker (and also in other jobs), we should be focusing on periods of high performance and periods of recovery in order to achieve maximum productivity. While one might argue that it would be beneficial for you to be able to play poker or work for 14 hours in a row, that would make you a robot. Do you really think that you can maximize your creativity like that? Will you really be able to play your A-game without losing concentration for that long? Do you think you can learn theory for 14 hours straight while retaining constant focus and optimal memorization?

      Would not it be better if you could play your A-game for 6 hours, learn the theory in fewer hours, constantly improve and earn more money, while still finding time for doing other things you love inbetween? Sometimes, less is actually more.

      If you jog for 2 hours frequently, do you think your energy will improve? Your endurance might, but since you will not be pushing anything but endurance to the limits, you likely won't notice much of a change in your everyday energy levels. There are plenty of studies which suggest that interval training is way better for increasing your energy capacity than non-interval training.

      This means that if you like jogging in the afternoon, you should jog in intervals if you want to improve your energy. Instead of running at the same pace, you should run as fast as you can for a few minutes, then walk for a few minutes to recover, and repeat that. In a couple of weeks, you will notice a big improvement in your energy levels throughout the day.

      Of course, this does not only apply to running. You can apply this to cycling, swimming, rowing... And there are also some sports that are already made up of intervals of rest and high performance, such as football, basketball, tennis, martial arts...


      Read your vision statement to reconnect with your purpose.

      If you always wanted to take up some sport but never found time for it, or found an excuse not to, now is the right time to do it. If you do not know which sport you want to take up, try some different ones. Most of the sports clubs have a free first lesson anyway, so it doesn't really cost you anything to try a different sport.

      Once you know what you want to do, join a club. Make time for it. Try to participate in this sport at least 2-3 times a week. It doesn't really matter whether it's jogging, football or working out at the gym, just go do it. Yes, I know that this is out of your comfort zone. But the only way to change and improve is to go out of your comfort zone. What is the worst thing that could happen? Will someone die if you try something new? If the answer is no, then go do it. It will never be the "right time" in your mind, but in reality, it is always the right time.

      There are countless benefits of this: You will meet new people, gain new friends and make connections. You will increase your energy levels and be on the path to incredible focus and productivity throughout the day. Your confidence will rise and you will look better. You will get rid of that extra weight that's slowing you down. It will be easier for you to study poker articles and watch poker videos. And most importantly, you will be able to earn more money with poker by maintaining your A-game more easily.

      =========================Updated 17.4.2012==============================

      3.5 Smoking

      Unfortunately, there's no magical way to quit smoking for good. The only way that gets close to it is when women become pregnant. Many of them will instantly quit smoking for 9 months. Sadly, many of them will also go back to it afterwards...

      The book "Easy way to quit smoking" has been recommended as a must read by quite a few ex-smokers so far. It will save you a lot of money in the long run, so don't hesitate to buy it!

      Even though you probably know most of this stuff already, I think it's still wise to go through more or less subtle ways in which smoking is bad (I am not trying to offend anyone here, just pointing a couple of things out that you might not have thought about):

      -It obviously makes your life shorter, increases the chances of lung cancer and some other diseases... But really, knowing that won't change your behaviour if you smoke. At least not until one of your close friends or family members dies because of it.
      -It is a cause for yellow teeth. Yes, I know that you can whiten it but that costs money. You don't care? Well, women do.
      -Your lung capacity will decrease, which will make it harder to exercise and decrease your energy throughout the day.
      -Many girls dislike smoking. Especially the smell of it on your body. It's not really an aphrodisiac if you know what I mean.
      -Then there's passive smoking. Do you really want to damage people around you because of your selfish needs? Should a child that is walking near you on the streets suffer because you fancy a cigarette? And the smell of smoking bothers many people. Why would you want to make other people's lives worse?
      -And then there's money of course. Some people smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. I know that the prices are different and that some people smoke more, some people smoke less. But let's say that you waste $5 a day for that pack of cigarettes. That's $1825 a year. If you invested that money into something else, like your poker bankroll, how much further towards financial independence would you be? Of course this is affects people who play at low limits less than people who play at higher limits. But it's a cost of a nice vacation nevertheless.

      Now, let's see why I'm even bothering with writing about smoking if I can't give you a magical tactic to stop smoking. It's simply because many people forget to identify the cause of their smoking. If you do not remove the cause and stop smoking, you will get back to it soon. Or you will drink alcohol or eat chocolate instead.

      Ask yourself, why do you smoke? The answer in most cases will be pretty simple: stress or depression. I wonder if those two problems could somehow be solved? Would you still need to smoke if you weren't under so much stress? Would you still need to smoke if you were happier? I hope that the answer is no. And now comes the good part: I can help you with those problems. In the following chapters, I will also focus on stress removal, so make sure that you stop by and read them. Oh, and your new nutrition and exercise habits should be making you less cranky already :) .


      Ask yourself why you are smoking, and write the answer to that question in a reply to this post. This will make you find the cause for your smoking habits. It will also help me help you in case I've missed some possible causes.

      Visit your vision statement again and if you want to quit smoking, add something about it to your statement.

      Remember, quitting smoking will enable your energy levels to expand even further. You will feel better throughout the day. Life will be different. You will be able to see it from a whole other perspective. You will no longer negatively affect other people's lives. Instead, you will be able to experience joy and share this joy with others. You will be able to smile and make other people smile.And you will be able to use all that extra energy to reach your vision faster. Good luck!

      =========================Updated 19.4.2012==============================

      4. Proper breaks

      I've already mentioned the analogy where I compare a sprinter to a marathon runner. We want to achieve periods of high performance, focus and concentration, and in order to do that, we need periods of rest as well. These are absolutely a must and can be implemented within 95% of poker sessions. The only scenario where it might not be beneficial for you to take a break from a session for some time is if you are playing a fish HU, and that is because the fish will most likely leave if you take a break.

      In case you can't take a break (because you're playing MTTs on a site without synchronized breaks or you're playing HU), you should remember to at least take a couple of deep breaths every hour or so. These should be done by inhaling for about 3 seconds and exhaling for about 6 seconds. Deep breathing can be a great relaxation technique and very empowering as well. Also make sure that you have fresh water, fruit and nuts near you so that you can drink frequently and eat every 90 minutes or so.

      Many experts recommend taking a break every 90 to max. 120 minutes, or in case of poker, whenever you feel that you aren't completely focused anymore (the maximum of 120 minutes rule still counts!). These breaks provide our mind and body with the necessary recovery.

      A break should last about 15 minutes if possible, but in case you are in a middle of a tournament with only 5 minute breaks, you should make sure that you make the most use of those breaks as possible.

      Now, what is a good break and what is a bad break? »Breaks« on facebook, surfing the internet, watching a video or playing bejeweled will not be beneficial because your mind will still be receiving information, which doesn't cope very well with clearing your mind and getting back your concentration. In fact, you will most likely be feeling even worse when you come back from such a »break«. And this does not only apply to poker. It applies to studying, learning theory and working in a job as well!

      The first step to taking a better break is to descreen. Descreening is an absolute must if we want our mind to recover optimally. This means getting away from pc, tv, a phone or any similar device. Your break will be much more efficient if you:

      -take a walk (can be within your flat, although a minute or two of fresh air will also help a lot)
      -consume some food (preferrably fruit, nuts and perhaps some yoghurt)
      -drink some water

      This short ritual will get your metabolism and blood flow going through your brain, as well as provide your body with energy and neccessary nutrients. You will actually come back from such a break refreshed and ready for more action. And most importantly, it can be done in 5 minutes!

      If you are not in the middle of a tournament, I suggest taking a 15 minute break in order to let your mind recover maximally. The extra 10 minutes can be spent on going for a slightly longer walk outside or doing something you love (away from a screen!). It can be pushups, stretching, yoga, juggling, playing with some kind of a toy like a rubik's cube or addictaball, just make sure that you don't think too much while doing it.

      4.1 Mindless tasks

      There are however even more activities that can be really productive if done during a break. Especially if creative thinking is needed, these are one of the best activities that will give you ideas. It differs from person to person which one works best, so you will have to find out on your own. They are called mindless tasks because you do them on autopilot so you can actually think about other stuff while doing them. Here are some examples:

      -cleaning your room
      -making your bed
      -brushing your teeth
      -vacuum cleaning
      -playing with your pets
      -going to the supermarket (takes a bit more time though so it might not be the best choice during a session)

      You should really try these, especially if you don't believe me. The cool thing about them is that while you relax your mind, you actually get something done as well, so you don't have to worry about it later on and you also feel better because you've been productive during a break as well!


      -Set an alarm clock to ring after 90-120 minutes of your session to remind you to take a break. You will have to experiment with different activities in order to find one that works best for you. Repeat this every time you start playing, studying or working at a job. It will have a huge positive effect on your productivity.

      =========================Updated 21.4.2012==============================

      5. Energy vs. Time

      For quite some time, I've been talking about energy, but rarely about time. But there are tons of people who complain that they have »bad time management«. So why am I not focusing on that? Well, simply because even if you have all the time in the world, but are low on energy, you won't get much done. Time is not the only factor that determines our productivity.

      So yeah, many people complain that they manage their time badly, but do they really? Or do they just manage their energy badly? If you think about it, most of the people who complain about bad time management have unhealthy eating habits, exercise rarely, never take any breaks while working, maybe they even smoke, and they rarely take time for things that they say are important to them. »I just don't have time for exercising or hanging out with my friends anymore...«.

      This all results in low energy throughout the day, which means that it takes more time to complete tasks, which means that if you do not make time for exercise, etc., you will never have it. And on weekends, you will be too tired as well, so despite having enough time, you won't get much done. And that's in the best case scenario, when you won't have to do some other (job) stuff over weekend as well.

      Now, there are also people who do not use up their energy when they do have it. For example, there are many people who wake up and go check their e-mails and facebook or surf the web for a couple of hours. This way, they waste the energy they regain during the night on activities that are neither energizing nor productive. The pc screen also sucks the energy out of them, so when they actually want to get to work, they usually do not have the energy to.

      5.1 Tracking time spending

      One of the prerequisits that are needed for a successful behavioural change is facing the truth. How many times have you heard someone say that »they just don't have the time to go out with you«, and then you see them on facebook all the time? It is cruical that you know what you're actually spending time on, if you want improvement. You might also think that you only waste 30 minutes a day on facebook, while you might be spending hours.

      So, what you should do is keep a time diary.


      For the next week, you should carry a notepad with you. Inside of it, you should write exactly what you were doing and when you were doing it, right after the activity. Here's an example of a random time diary (I just made it up, what is inside of it is meaningless. It is just there to show you that you should track everything you do):

      8.00 Wake up
      8.00-8.30 Shower, getting dressed
      8.30-9.00 Preparing breakfast, eating breakfast
      9.00-10.00 Checking e-mail
      10.00-12.00 Grocery shopping
      12.00-13.00 Preparing lunch, eating lunch
      13.00-14.00 Resting, checking the internet
      14.00-15.00 Studying poker theory
      15.00-15.30 Talking to a friend on the phone
      15.30-17.00 Poker session
      17.00-18.00 Session review
      18.00-20.00 Skype, surfing the web
      20.00-22.00 Poker session
      22.00-00.00 Watching a movie, some more Skype
      00.00 Went to bed

      After you do this for a week, you will see that even while you're doing it, you're increasing your productivity – because you are actually paying attention to what you are doing throughout the day and not mindlessly wasting time.

      5.2 Limiting time wasted on surfing

      Since web surfing can be so much fun, you might find yourself surfing on the internet for quite a lot of hours every day. Now don't get me wrong, surfing can be productive if you know what you're looking for, if it has a purpose. But if you're just checking facebook with no clear purpose, that can tike up a lot of your time, without you even knowing it. Lucky for you, you've already started tracking your time. If you haven't started yet, do it now. Get a notepad and a pen, carry it with you and track your time.

      If you find yourself spending too much time on the internet, I have a nice solution for you. If you use google chrome (which many people do nowadays), you are lucky to have the ability to get a free addon which will limit your time on certain websites. If you don't have google chrome, you can always find some parental control programs which will do the same thing, but usually won't be free. Maybe you can even research addons for other web browsers to find something similar.

      The addon is called StayFocusd. It allows you to limit your time on certain websites every day. For example, you want to limit your facebook time to 30 minutes. That's easy, you can just add facebook to the blocked sites list and set the allowed daily time to 30 minutes. You can set active days and active hours – maybe you just want to block certain websites on weekdays or from 8am to 8pm. The user interface should be really easy to navigate, but if you have any problems, let me know.

      There is a blue clock-like button in the top right corner of your web browser, if you're wondering how to change settings of the addon.

      This addon has another great option, called Nuclear mode. In Nuclear mode, you can block all of your websited for a certain period for time. For example, you can block everything for 2 hours if you do not want to be browsing the web during a poker session. You can also set the allowed sites during the Nuclear mode, which means that you can still use PTR or something similar in case you wish to.


      -Download the StayFocusd addon for google chrome (
      -There is a similar addon called LeechBlock for firefox - check out how to use it here.
      -Block the websites that you feel you waste too much time on (remember, this is actually limiting your time on them, not blocking them instantly).
      -Use up your newly acquired free time for doing the things you love, exercising, hanging out with family or friends... in order to recover and energize yourself for new challenges.

      5.3 Checking your e-mails

      Some people spend way too much time on e-mails. I'll write more on organizing e-mails later on, but I can already give you some advice on how to avoid such scenarios. It's pretty simple actually. Just choose 2 times a day when you are allowed to check your e-mails.

      A very good time is in the morning, after you've worked on one of your hardest projects. Another good time is a couple of hours before you're planning to go to bed. And definitely not just before you want to go to bed, because then you might find that you need to write a couple of long e-mails, which will delay your sleep, get you less sleep and mess up your next day. Sometime in the afternoon is usually a good time.

      Turning off inbox syncing on your smartphone helps as well. Or at least setting it to sync only a couple of times a day. And definetely turning it off on weekends. There are very few situations when someone will contact you about an emergency over an e-mail – most people will call you if there's something really important. So you don't need to reply to every e-mail withing 5 minutes after you receive it. Make sure that your relaxation and recovery time is really that, and not full of checking your phone and replying to e-mails. Only then can you regenerate properly.


      -Set 2 times to check your e-mails daily, and write them down.
      -Turn off or modify your smartphone e-mail syncing so that it doesn't interrupt your spare time.

      =========================Updated 24.4.2012==============================

      6. Clearing your head + Stress removal

      So far, you have written down your vision statement, understood how to take up new habits and get rid of old ones, switched to a more healthy nutrition plan, taken a step towards frequent exercise, implemented proper breaks in your working schedule and learned how to better manage your energy. If you have done at least a couple of those things, I have to congratulate you.

      90% of the people who will read this guide still probably will not take action. Why? Because they are scared of failiure. Because they might think that change is not possible. Because they think that our environment or genes can affect our behaviour. However, the 10% of you who did take action will prove them wrong. We can choose how we react to the environment. We can choose to be in a bad mood because of bad weather, or because someone else is in a bad mood. We can also choose to be in a good mood, regardless of the weather or the mood of people surrounding us, and spread our joy to them instead.

      I admit, it is not easy to change. But the hardest step is just to begin. Yes, you might have to take a thousand small steps in order to reach your vision, but unless you take the first step, you will never reach it. And since you have taken the first couple of steps, you should be proud of yourself. You are stepping out of your comfort zone, and you will improve. You have proven to yourself that it does not matter what you are like and that you can be who you want to be, if you just take the time to think about who you want to be.

      Now perhaps, you are in those 90% which decided to just read and not take action. But let me ask you, why are you not taking action? If you decided that »you would take action later«, you will never take it. It's been more than 10 days since I've began writing this guide. If you didn't take action in the past 10 days, why would you take it in the next 10 days? I cannot do it instead of you. I would advise you to stop reading this guide if you are in such situation. Why? Because you are pretty much wasting your time.

      Now, you have two options – stop reading the guide for good, or go back to the beginning, re-read the previous chapters one at a time and apply those action steps. It might take you a couple of weeks, but you will get there. And then, you can join us again on this journey. You are not competing with anyone, only with yourself. Even if you take 1 action step, you are already on your way to victory. People in general don't like losing. You shouldn't lose either.

      What I am going to talk about in this chapter and it's subchapters is easily one of the most amazing, life-changing things I can teach you. You will have the ability to clear your head and achieve stress-free, amazing productivity. Your ability to focus and concentrate on the task before you will be unimaginable. You will be able to walk around the world without worrying that you are forgetting something. You will be able to think about one subject at a time, without other thoughts interruptiong your concentration. You will be incredibly more efficient as you were used to being. Let it be learning theory, playing a poker session or solving problems, you will be able to perform better than ever before.

      If the system looks interesting to you, take a look at the book "Getting things done" by David Allen which uses a similar system but describes it way more in depth.

      6.1 Brainstorming

      The first step towards clearing your head is simply brainstorming and getting information out of your head. Imagine a computer with RAM (memory). If the computer RAM is full, the computer starts performing very badly. When you clear up the RAM, getting rid of too many processes that are running at a time, your computer will perform better again.

      This is exactly what we are going to do here – help you get rid of all the stuff you keep thinking about. But don't worry, we won't throw it away. We will write it down instead and save it so that we don't forget about it. Then, after we've got all of the information out of our heads, we are going to organize it so that it will make sense and that we will know where to find it when we need it. We will also make sure that it's there when we need it, and away from our mind when we don't.

      You have to pay big attention to one detail though – when you are writing something down, you have to break everything down and write down the next step(s)!

      For example, you know you have to wash your car. So what does washing a car look like? You usually have to call the car wash service and schedule your car wash. Then, you have to perhaps take a couple of things out of your car if you want it cleaned on the inside as well. Then, you have to plan what you are going to be doing while your car will be washed. And then, you will have to actually take the car there, and pick it up.

      If you know exactly what you have to do and break down the problem into smaller problems, it will be way easier to go out and do it.

      Let me give you another example, perhaps planning an anniversary with your girlfriend or wife. First, you might want to subtly ask her what she wants to do in the near future. Only when you know what she wants, you can start planning. The next step would be to think about the present for her. When you know what you want to buy, you have to figure out where to buy it. You can ask a friend or research it on the internet. Then, you have to figure out what are the working hours of the shop which sells the present. You might also want to call the shop and ask if they still have the present. Then, you have to go and get the present. And then, you might want to go through a list of restaurants or spas and pick one of them. You will then have to check the working hours again. And then, you will have to call your girlfriend or wife and decide on a date/time. Then, you will have to make a reservation. And then, you will have to call your girlfriend or wife and decide with her where you will meet or confirm the date/time.

      Do you see how many steps can hide within just one seemingly simple task? Now imagine that you have tons of these tasks, and each of these tasks has quite a few subtasks. How are you supposed to stay focused when you have that much information in your head? Even if you're not thinking about it at the moment, it's there. And it will haunt you and come into your mind when you least need it (during an exam, an important meeting or a poker session). Your mind will wander away and you will be inefficient during that time. That is why you should really break down the tasks into smaller steps. Don't worry, we'll go through efficiently completing those steps as well. Only when you identify all those small steps can you complete them.

      The following actions step will likely take a couple of days for you to complete, which is why I will not update the guide for a few days. The steps are really important and it is not possible to proceed without completing them, so try to prioritize them in the future days.


      -Go to the supermarket and buy 500-1000 A4 sheets of paper + a paper notepad + a pen/pencil to go with your notepad + about 100 simple, essay folders. Those should be cheap, like $10 for 100 of them. Those folders are in essence just brown-colored A3 pieces of paper which are folded so that you can insert A4 sheets of paper in them. They look like this. You might remember your teachers in high school using them to store essays/exams in them.
      -Set up a couple of hours of uninterrupted time. I suggest that you take them now or today. This is way more important than even your poker session. I find a very good time for this step in the evening, because it's quieter then and easier to have a lot of ideas.
      -Prepare a big paper tray or a big container where you will be able to put lots of paper in, and place it somewhere near/on your desk.
      -Take the sheets of paper you've bought at the shop and start writing everything that comes to your mind on the sheets of paper, 1 task/thought per page. You should write down everything, nothing is too small or too big to write it down. You should also break them down into steps immediately (write steps, if any, below the task itself).

      Here are a couple of questions to help you with your process:

      -Where do you want to travel someday?
      -What do you want to buy someday?
      -What sports/hobbies do you want to try out someday?
      -Do you have any homework to do?
      -Do you have to finish/do anything for your job? Like going through some papers?
      -Do you have to call someone?
      -Do you have to reply to some e-mails?
      -Do you want to follow up with someone?
      -Do you want to get in touch with some old friends?
      -What are your current projects that you are working on?
      -Are there any projects that you want to start?
      -Do you need to go any buy anything at the supermarket or other store?
      -Do you have any household chores you should complete?
      -Do you have some errands that you have to take care of, like going to a bank, etc.?

      You will most likely write down at least 200 tasks, perhaps even up to 500. But don't worry about it, we'll get to processing them very soon ;) .

      Another thing that you should do is carry a notepad and a pen/pencil with you at all times. Write down anything else that comes to your mind, and once you come home, copy those tasks/thoughts to the sheets of paper, 1 task/thought per page. You may use a smartphone with a note taking app for this, but I usually find a simple paper notepad way easier to use because you can simply tear out the pages once you've copied the tasks to the big sheets.

      It is cruical that you write down the tasks on the A4 sheets of paper and not on a list in your computer or something similar!!!

      =========================Updated 27.4.2012==============================

      6.2 Cleaning your workspace

      Ok, now that you've cleared a part of your mind, let's clear the rest of it. The next thing that has to be done in order to empty your mind is cleaning your room. But not just cleaning with the purpose of being clean.

      What you should do is first go through all of the items on your desk. You will inevitably find some items that have some kind of possible action related to them – Perhaps some papers that you have to review or store, some business cards that you should save somewhere, some souvenira that you should store somewhere and of course some useless items that you'll never need again.

      Now, you should get a big box or a similar container, which will serve as an extension to the paper tray which you have used earlier for storing the sheets of paper with your tasks.

      When you go through all of the items on your desk, there are 3 options for each item:

      1. Put it in your paper tray (if the item is small or a piece of paper) or in your box (if the item is too big to fit into the paper tray)
      2. Put the item where it belongs (books on a bookshelf, glasses in the kitchen, pencils in the pencil stands...)
      3. If the item is useless, throw it in the trash

      If going through your items reminds you that you should do/might want to do something else as well, write it down on an A4 sheet and put it in the paper tray.

      Once you've gone through your desk, proceed with the rest of your workspace. This will most likely be your room, so go through the drawers, floor, bed, wardrobes...

      This process will be beneficial in two ways. Firstly, it is easier to work, stay focused and concentrate in a clean environment. Secondly, it is also cruical that you go through all the things that are lying around, because they are lying somewhere in your mind as well, taking up the precious space. And on top of that, you will need some space in order to proceed with this guide.

      This cleaning might be a bit hard for you, but will be much easier if you break it down into multiple parts – either clean your desk and then take a break/do something else, clean your drawers, etc... or, if you really hate cleaning, commit to 15 minute periods of cleaning, but make sure you go through your whole room within a day or two (this is best done over a weekend).


      -Get a big box or a similar container
      -Commit to cleaning all the parts of the room during a period of 1-2 days
      -Go through all of the parts of your room, move items to the box or the paper tray, put them where they belong or throw them away

      =========================Updated 30.4.2012==============================

      6.3 Getting to know the system

      Now that you have cleared your head, it is time to organize all those sheets of paper and go through all of the items in your box.

      I should point out that I am not a fan of the TO-DO lists, in fact I think that they're flawed. If you ever tried using them, you most likely have similar experience. They don't work, at least not in the long run. Why not? Because you usually make them the day before and put 5-10 tasks on it. If you manage to complete them, it's great.

      But what if you feel crappy that day and don't feel like doing any of those things? You get frustrated. And what if something comes inbetween? You can't complete all the tasks on the list, and you get frustrated again and disappointed in yourself. And what if a friend calls you to go out and party while you still have a couple of tasks left to do? Once again, you get frustrated either because you don't manage to complete the tasks or because you had to turn your friend down.

      Whereas I think that classic TO-DO lists suck, there is a way better alternative. It is very similar, in form of four lists, but very different as well. And the different part makes it better. WAY better. So let's introduce the three lists:

      -Task list
      -Steps list
      -Dreams list
      -Referrence list

      The Task list will contain all of the multi-step tasks that you have to do, including their steps.

      Task list example (it will probably be much bigger in your case)
      -Go to the supermarket
      --Check what's missing at home
      --Ask your roommate if he needs something
      --Make a list of the things you need
      ---Buy bananas
      ---Buy apples
      ---Buy water
      ---Buy meat

      -Plan the anniversary
      --Ask girlfriend what she wants to do
      --Brainstorm present ideas
      --Figure out where to buy the present
      ---Research internet
      ---Call Tom and ask him if he knows where to buy the present
      --Find the working hours of a shop that sells the present
      --Call the shop and ask about the present avaliability
      --Go and buy the present at the store
      --Brainstorm the restaurants and spas
      --Pick a place
      --Check the spa/restaurant working hours
      --Call girlfriend to decide on a date/time
      --Make a reservation
      --Call girlfriend to confirm the date/time
      --Go to the anniversary
      ---Make sure that you have the present

      --Read the article on floating
      --Play a session
      --Review the session
      ---Go through hands in HM2
      ---Post hands in the hand evaluation section
      --Set up a sweat session with James

      Then, you should have a list of next steps. This list should only contain the next steps that you can complete immediately and have no prequisites. I suggest dividing it into a couple of subcategories for easier overview. You can make as many or as few cubcategories as you'd like, but I suggest at least dividing them into a few basic categories, such as »calls«, »e-mails«, »errands« and »other«. If you have a job, you can add a subcategory called »work« and one called »home«. If you travel by plane, bus or a train a lot, you can add a category »on the way«.

      This list should contain all the tasks which only contain one step, such as watering the flowers or cleaning your bed, and only the immediately doable steps of the multi-step tasks from the Tasks list.

      Next step list example
      -Call Tom about the party on Saturday
      -Call back sister
      -Call James about the sweat session
      -Call girlfriend and ask her what she wants to do for the anniversary
      -Buy a new light bulb at tech store
      -Read the article on floating
      -Play a session of NL10
      -Check what food is missing at home

      This might be a bit confusing at once since you will have a lot of stuff on the Task list and Next step list at once, but you will soon get a hang of it.

      The next list will include all of your dreams, things that you might someday want to do or want to bus, somewhere you might want to go... You can divide it into subcategories if you want.

      Dreams list example
      Countries to visit:

      Sports to try out:
      -Kung fu

      Languages to learn:

      Things to buy:
      -Pool table
      -Football table
      -Water bed
      -New laptop

      The last list that you should have is a referrence list. Here, you should store all the things that you might need someday. Actually, I suggest having a drawer especially for this. So let's call it a referrence drawer. Here, you should store your business cards in a box and perhaps some magazines that you might want to look at someday, etc. Since you've cleaned your room, you should have many empty drawers and this shouldn't be a problem.

      These lists can be either electronic or paper or both. For example, you might want to use a paper list for the list of calls that you can carry around at all times and then complete those calls whenever you have some time/you're waiting for someone, etc. But in general, you will probably find it easier to have there lists on your PC desktop, written in a word processing program because they will be easier to write and modify.


      -Select a referrence drawer
      -Create 3 text files on your pc
      -Create 3 lists on sheets of paper/make space for them in a big notepad

      6.4 Getting through that pile of paper

      Now that you've met the system, you can go through that pile of stuff. Simply take those items/papers from your paper tray or item box, one at a time and then ask yourself:

      1.Does this thing require any action in the near future?

      NO: you can put it in the Referrence drawer or on the Dreams list.
      YES: 2. Ask yourself if the task has multiple steps

      YES: Write it down on the Tasks list
      NO: 3. Ask yourself if this step can be completed within 5 minutes (be realistic)

      YES: Do it now.
      NO: Write it on the Next steps list.

      If you find some completely useless items that you don't need anymore, you can of course throw them away.

      This will probably take quite a few hours, so you can of course split the process into more smaller parts. Just make sure you finish it in a couple of days.

      6.5 Using the system

      Using the system is in fact really easy. You should make sure that the lists are always in front of you and easily accessible. You should take a look at the Task list and Next steps list whenever you're not doing anything, and ask yourself the following questions:

      1. Where am I and what tools do I have?

      You obviously won't be able to mow the lawn at your weekend house if you're at work. If you're near computer, it would make sense to do some computer-based tasks. If your sister is out with your car, you probably won't be able to go to the supermarket.

      2. How much time do I have?

      If you only have 5 minutes, that's plenty of time to complete a phone call or write a short e-mail. If you have a free hour, you might want to play a session of poker, read an article or review your previous session.

      3. How much energy do I have?

      This is a really important question which people often ignore. As I've already mentioned before, it makes more sense to go and do some easier tasks such as reading a fiction book or reading your e-mails if you're low on energy, or even go shopping for a suit that you need to buy, whereas if you have a lot of energy it would make sense to go and play a poker session or read a poker-related article.

      After you complete a task, simply delete it from the Task list and/or Next step list + add the new next step to the Next step list from the multi-step task.

      What makes this system so awesome is that since you have everything written down, you can use your time and energy way more efficiently. If you're going to a shopping center, you can just take a peek at your errands list and buy the food, a new suit, a present for your girlfriend, a new notebook and a new light bulb all at once! You might even want to go and drive your car to the car wash or automechanic while you're at it.

      This will save you tons of time and make you a lot more productive. You will also be able to fill in those unused time holes that you have. You will definitely have a lot of 15 minute holes which you can now use up by making yourself more productive. Of course, you should still stick to proper breaks, but even making a few phone calls while you're waiting for someone else can save you some time.

      =========================Updated 5.5.2012==============================

      6.6 Reminders

      Let's talk about calendars for a bit. While calendars can be a good thing, people often use them ineffectively. Namely, they put everything on their calendars. They schedule their days a week in advance. This is destined to fail because of the same reasons as the TO-DO lists. It only leads to frustration, a lot of rescheduling and wasted time.

      Of course there are ways to use the calendar more efficiently. This can easily be done by using the calendar only for the things that need to be done on a specific day. Of course you can also use the calendar for the »Don't break the chain« technique described earlier, but that should be about it.

      For day-to-day work, you should mostly use the system of lists that you have created in the previous chapters. The calendar will usually have only one purpose: When you wake up, after your morning routines, you should take a look at the calendar for the day. If there's anything you need to do on that specific day, do it immediately. And that's it.

      Of course you should also keep the calendar in front of you at all times if possible. This way, it will also remind you of something that you need to do within the next week or so, for example work on a certain project or that you need to buy someone a birthday present. Make sure that you update your lists system with these tasks when they come close (for example, if your anniversary is just one week away, you should add the task to the lists system).

      Here are some examples of the things that you should put on your calendar:

      -Errands that need to be done on a specific day, for example going to the court
      -Meetings and scheduled coffees
      -Calls that need to be done on a certain day (for example, if your friend is out of the country and only comes to your country for a day, you have to call him on that day)

      You may also use the calendar for project deadlines, although I recommend keeping those in the lists system itself – if you go through the lists a couple of times every day, you should never forget about a deadline.


      -Buy a desk calendar if you don't have one yet (or you can use an electronic one as well, but it really needs to be visible to you at all times for it to work)
      -Add the reminders to your calendar

      This concludes our lists system, and now we can move on to the last part of this section, which will keep the system running.

      6.7 Weekly reviews

      By weekly reviewing your system, you will make sure that you keep it running.

      The weekly review doesn't have to be long, it can in fact only take about 30 minutes of your time every week. When you should do the review is really up to you. I suggest either Monday morning or Friday/Sunday afternoon, because these are the times where you usually end a week or start a new one.

      In the review, you should:

      -Check all of your lists. Remove your completed tasks or tasks that were cancelled/are not relevant anymore.
      -Brainstorm if there is something that you forgot to write down during the week and add it to the lists.
      -Go through your calendar for the next week and add some tasks to your lists if neccessary.
      -This is also a great time to clean your work environment if you've made a mess in the past week (which you shouldn't have, but in case you did).
      -You can also use this time to plan new projects that you might want to start, and add them to your lists.

      Also make sure that during the week, you add the papers/ business cards/notepad notes to your paper tray. You should frequently (I suggest at the end of every day) organize those new things and put them where they belong in your lists system. If you still have some stuff in the paper tray, the weekly review is the time when you should empty the tray and write those tasks down.


      -Think about which day/time is best for your weekly review
      -Set a weekly reminder on your calendar for the review.

      This is one of those tasks that should be done on a certain day or at a certain time. In case an emergency comes up, you should do the review after the emergency. In case you are on a holiday at the time of your next review, you should do the review before you go to the holiday.

      =========================Updated 9.5.2012==============================

      7. Is multitasking really good for you?

      Now let's talk a little bit about multitasking. Many people (especially women) are proud of their multitasking skill. They say that they can get 10 things done at once. But is it really true that if you do 10 things at once, you will do them better/faster than if you do them 1-2 at a time?

      We've already talked about how trying to take up 10 habits at a time is a bad idea. It turns out that massive multitasking is as well. According to a harvard study by Steven C.Wheelwright and Kim B.Clark, having two tasks at the time is the most productive:

      Many experts agree with this, and I agree with this as well. But why is it so?

      Obviously, it is very hard to focus on 10 things at a time, and it will take you ages to get all the things done, which might cause some problems with the possible deadlines. When you do too many things at once you rarely take the time to think and develop quality solutions because you jump across different project which causes you to perhaps even forget what you actually wanted to do on another project.

      But why is having two tasks at a time better than having just one? The answer to this is actually pretty simple. Often, one of your tasks will be delayed. You might be waiting for some programs to install, you might be waiting for a reply from your friend in order to make a decision, you might be waiting for some books that you need, or some other person to finish and send you their work so that you can build on it. If you actually work on the other project in the meanwhile, you can be productive instead of just doing nothing and waiting. Many companies fail at this when they have employees assigned to only one project, so they often end up wandering on facebook for hours.

      The second reason is that even if you work on the most fun project in the world, there will come a time when you will either get sick of it, don't feel like doing it or face a problem that you just won't be able to solve. Working on another project for some time is way better than stubbornly working on something even if you don't feel like it or wasting hours when you just can't come up with a solution.

      So in the future, when you start some projects, try to start two at a time. Don't start more than that, because you'll likely jump from one to the other and perhaps even fail to finish some of them. 2 well executed projects are better than 10 badly executed or unfinished projects.

      =========================Updated 12.5.2012==============================

      8. Projects

      Projects are basically tools that help you acheive sour goals in a more defined and interesting way. Sure, you can set a goal to become a winning player at a certain limit in certain poker game, or that you will play a million hands in a year. However, you are quite unlikely to reach those goals if you don't break down and make sure you keep it interesting.

      So I suggest that you break down those goals and implement short projects or challenges. They should be short (at least at first), max. 1 week long which should be just enough time to get a lot done but not get bored too quickly and give up. You can also start with even shorter, 1 or 3 day projects if you wish to.

      These projects should have a purpose. If you want to improve your poker skills, you might want to contact a friend and decide to do a couple of sweat sessions over the weekend. Or, you might want to review and post 5 hands to the evaluation section each day for a week. Or you might want to watch video series in a week.

      It is wise to keep project diversified – do not do the same thing over and over again, or it will become boring.

      A great idea is also to start a challenge with your friend(s), set up prop bets, etc.

      After you complete the project, make sure that you reward yourself with some relaxing activities that you really like. It might be partying, reading fiction books or going on a trip. It is very important that you take some time off after a project. As we already know from the other areas of life, the periods of high stress and recovery bring really good results.

      In the previous chapter, we have seen that having two tasks at a time gives the best results. It is the same with projects. If you want to be super productive, you should always have two things going on. That is why I also suggest a longer, non-poker oriented project. It can be anything from learning a new language to learning to juggle. The best option would be something that you always wanted to learn but never took the time to do it. Now is a great time.

      For example, you always wanted to learn how to make web pages, but you also really like horses. While you could just go and do the HTML and CSS tutorials, this won't really get you far alone. If you set up a project, like making your own website about horses, it is way more likely that you will learn what you wanted to learn.

      This project should be longer and you should invest less time into it. That is because poker projects should be more important and you don't want to have 2 very intense projects going on at the same time – you will burn out. So you can stretch this project to a month or so and keep it at a lower intensity. Working on it 15 minutes a day is great already if you do it every day, but you should do it whenever you have some spare time and you want to be productive as well.

      8.1 Easy stuff vs. Hard stuff

      The majority of the people usually take the road that takes the least effort. They just want to pass the tests at their school, without the ambition to ace them. That is why their knowledge in the subject will be mediocore. But you are a poker player. You are competitive and want to be the best. So this way of thinking unfortunately won't get you where you want to be. It's ok to be mediocore at things that aren't important to you, but you should stay as far away from this attitude as possible when you're doing something that is important to you or you want to become good at.

      If you set up a really easy project, you won't feel like you have accomplished anything when you complete it. You won't feel any stress. You won't be challenged. And you won't improve. You will stagnate and stay mediocore. Do you really want that?

      If you set up a hard project, you will likely face many problems. But you will overcome them, and improve. You will feel a great satisfaction once you complete the project. This will also increase your motivation for the future projects. To make sure that you don't give up during a project, you should make it short. It's more likely that you will give up during a 1 month project than a 1 week project.

      To conclude this, if you keep trying out hard things and taking the hardest roads instead of the easy ones, your progress will be unbelievable. You might not see it at first, but you will be able to with some time. With time, you will see that a lot of things that you've once considered hard will become trivial. And that is when you know that you're on the right path to becoming really good at something.

      In order to improve at anything, you have to step out of your comfort zone. And that's exactly what you're going to do here.

      8.2 Finishing stuff

      I used to be one of those people that always had a lot of things going on for them. I would start many different projects. But I would never finish any of them. It might have been fun to try out different stuff, but this doesn't really get you anywhere in the long run. There is no sense of accomplishment if you start something but never finish it. You might learn some stuff, but you can't say that you master an area of knowledge. And well, with time, you realize that that kind of sucks.

      You often give up in the middle of the project, when things get hard. Or, if the project is too long, you give up because you become bored and something new comes up. Or you give up because you start too many projects at a time. We have already talked about how to prevent most of those things.

      But there is one very important thing that you should be aware of. A mediocorly finished project is still way better than a project which you executed great but never finished it. You will get better at the subject if you just do a couple of more projects. But if you give up, you will always be bad at it.

      So the next time you start something, commit to finishing it. That should be your top priority. It doesn't matter if some parts are poorly executed, you will get better with time. The most important thing is that you don't give up.

      If you come up with a couple of new ideas during that project, just add them to the Dreams list and you will decide which one you want to do next after you finish your current project. Do not start any new projects if you already have 2 projects going on, unless it's something exceptionally important, like a mentoring oppurtunity or a dream job. Your current project is rather short anyways, there aren't many things that can't wait for a week.

      This concludes the projects section, and here are some action steps to help you implement this advice.


      -Set up a short poker project for yourself.
      -Write about it in a blog, if you have one. This will help you keep yourself accountable and also help you get a partner for your challenge if you should want one.
      -Think about what you really want to do, and set up a longer, non-poker related project. You can also start the project together with your friend(s), which will make it more interesting.
      -Commit to finishing those projects!

      =========================Updated 14.5.2012==============================

      9. Make time for the things you love

      When I talk to my friends, I way too often hear something like »I would love to do all that stuff, but I just don't have time for it. I'm too busy.«. But do they really have no time and are left without a choice? People are conscious human beings and we make our own decisions.

      It is true that many people don't like taking decisions because it makes them feel uncomfortable, and then they seek excouses for not taking decisions or they push the responsibility to someone else. This is called dependency – they are dependant on other people and external factors and not independent.

      If one wants to achieve great success, one has to become interdependent. But to become interdependent, he has to leave the dependency stage and become proactive and independent. I know that this might sound a bit confusing, but I can give you an example:

      A person who keeps saying »I keep running bad, the fish keep sucking out on me, I always run into better hands, I'm just not lucky enough for poker, I'm too stupid for poker,etc.«, is a dependant person. He usually talks about the things that prevent him from winning and focuses his energy on things that he has no effect on. This causes him to tilt and lose more money, or start playing on autopilot and not thinking, and therefore lose more money as well.

      An independent person would realize that he has a choice to either keep whining and stagnating, or to start improving. He would read the articles, analyze the hands he plays and watch videos, read books about poker and self-development and develop his own game, and improve.

      An interdependent person would upgrade this by also interacting with other people. They would join study groups, post hands in the hands evaluation sections, discuss hands and strategies with other people, have sweat sessions, purchase coachings or get a mentor, etc. With this kind of attitude, they will excel about the dependent and independent people.

      This might have been slightly off-topic, but we can translate this to the other areas of life as well.

      A dependent person will seek excouses to not make time for the things he loves. An independent person will make time for the things he loves. An interdependent person will make time for the things he loves and try to connect it to his friends or other areas of life.

      So stop whining that you do not have the time to do those things. If they are important to you, prioritize them. Let them be on the top of your priority lists. It doesn't matter whether this is playing basketball, spending time with your girlfriend, family or friends, partying, reading a book, hiking... Make time for it.

      This will benefit you because you will be happier and fulfilled, and you will also be satisfying your values. On top of that, these activities will empower you and provide you with energy, motivation and recovery. This means that it will be more productive if you work for 7 hours and spend an hour with your family than if you just worked for 8 hours. Many people fail to realize this.

      The greatest ideas and solutions are usually developed away from your workspace/work, when you actually have the time to think about them!

      So even if you have a lot of work to do, you should choose to take some time off for yourself. It's a decision that you will never regret.


      -Think about what you really love doing but you rarely take the time for it.
      -Commit to doing this at least once a week. Preferrably, make a fixed time, put it on your calendar and make it into a habit.
      -If you're planning on doing some sports or joining some classes, ask your friends/family/girlfriend if they're interested in joining you as well.

      =========================Updated 20.5.2012==============================

      10. Rituals

      Ok, let's talk about rituals for a bit. What are rituals? Rituals are basically certain activities that you do frequently which will help you regain focus and concentration, as well as help you relax and recover.

      Many professional sportsmen use rituals in order to endure long, intensive matches/competitions. For example, if you would closely study tennis players, you would see that most of the best players in the world have certain rituals during breaks which they repeat over and over again. It might be closing their eyes, tapping the ball or visualizing the next point.

      Many successful businessmen, executives, sales people, etc. use certain rituals as well to either recover from hard work or to prepare for an important event. For example, a top performer would visualize that a job interview goes well in his head to put himself into a confident state of mind before the interview. A businessman might go and talk to his employees for half an hour when he is facing a problem which he can't solve immediately. An executive might go and have a lunch in the park to come back relaxed and full of energy.

      Do all businessmen and salespeople have such rituals? Of course not. Many of them work on autopilot and just wait for the day to end. Or they work all day without breaks, thinking that they're extremely productive when they're not really all that productive and they are also destroying other aspects of their life in progress.

      But most of the really successful people have certain rituals. They might not even be aware of them, but they have them. If you hang out with a really successful person and observe their behaviour before meetings and during lunches, you will often be able to see what I mean.

      Poker is not that different from a job or entrepreneurship. You still have to put in a lot of hours of playing at the tables, analyzing your sessions and learning new strategies. For that, you will need a lot of sustained energy along with great focus and concentration.

      Having a healthy nutrition plan, exercising frequently and taking proper breaks will get you very far towards achieving those things. You will in general be in much better mood and less tilt prone. However, what happens when the things go terribly wrong? What happens when you get sucked out for your whole stack 5 times within a couple of minutes? Or once you've realized that you started spewing a lot and made a couple of bad plays in a row?

      The obvious solution is to take a break and to end a session. And this will actually help in most cases. But there is an even better solution to the standard descreening and doing mindless tasks while on a standard break (although you should mostly use this when something goes wrong and make a habit to use it to get back to your A-game). For this, you will have to develop your own ritual.

      I am advising you to develop your own ritual because we are so different that while one thing might work for one person, it won't work for another. But this doesn't mean that it can't be something that someone else is using. It only means that you should try out a couple of different things and then pick one that works the best for you. I especially advise you to try out things that you've never tried before, because this way you'll be able to learn something new and valuable along the way!

      The rituals should not be very long, I suggest you limit them to 15-30 minutes. Anything above that will usually kill your productivity for the rest of the day.

      Here are a few examples of possible rituals:

      -Deep breathing
      -Listening to your favorite type of music
      -Reading your favorite book (inspirational books are great for this, and even fiction is good!)
      -Doing pushups
      -Going outside for a walk
      -Cleaning your room
      -Throwing a stress ball at the wall (similar to what House does when he's thinking)
      -Going to a supermarket
      -Going out for a short bike ride / car drive / motorcycle ride
      -Calling a family member/friend/girlfriend
      -Visualization of playing calm, concentrated, A-game poker
      -Take a break for as much time as you feel you need.( better alone)
      -Breath, and do not block anything that comes into your mind, let it happen! Stay quiet and don't analyze thoughts too much, just let the vibrations of the rage/anger/adrenaline be felt.
      -Be aware of what is happening to you both physically and emotionally - Do not try to resist it or hurry it up, it'll pass by just as it came by.

      Of course there are countless possibilities, but I would advise staying away from the PC, TV, phone and other screens if possible. If you choose to have a ritual like playing a video game, you should be careful because you don't want to get drawn into it and keep playing it for 2 hours. If you can control that, you should do it for only 15 minutes and then descreen for 15 minutes to recover.

      If the tilt/downswing/bad beats are really bad, you should perhaps end the session for the day and go and do something fun, like go to the gym, cinema or hang out with friends. But only use this as a last resort, because the purpose is usually to get back into A-game and exploit the fishes!


      -Pick at least 5 different activities (the more, the merrier!). At least 2 of those should be something that you've never done before. Write them down.
      -The next time you start tilting during a session, stop the session and do one of the activities from the list. After you finish doing it, write how you feel on the paper, next to the activity.
      -After you have tried all of them out, compare your notes and pick the one that you think worked best in regaining your A-game mindset.
      -Whenever you start a session, make sure that you have everything for that activity nearby (running shoes, balls for juggling, yoga mat...).
      -Apply the activity when you feel like you're tilting, then go back to the tables with your A-game. If you're still not playing well, end the session and go for the last resort strategy (cinema, snooker, etc.) .

      If you should come up with any other interesting rituals, let me know so that I can add them to the list :) .

      =========================Updated 27.5.2012==============================

      11. Tricks for starting up your day productively

      Let's talk about being productive from the beginning of the day. Why would we want to do that? Well, simply because if you do all the important stuff in the morning, you have all day to relax. The other option – »relaxing until evening«, brings stress because you will think about the important stuff when you're doing unimportant stuff, so you won't be able to completely relax.

      You will also get a lot more done if you do the most important things first, and will be more flexible. For example, if a friend asks you to go out and party, you will be able to do it instead of having to cancel on him just because you »have to study« (when you were not studying the whole day...). This is the simplest way to beat procrastrination – to develop a habit to be productive after you wake up, and after you feel like you've done enough for the day, spend the rest of the day relaying, having fun, not working.

      11.1 Getting up early

      Getting up early has a lot of benefits in itself, like giving you the feeling that you've done a load of stuff before most people even wake up, having the ability to go and watch the sunrise (it can be very motivating to go out for a walk or a jog during sunrise, plus it's usually so peaceful out there which can put you in great mood), having a lot of quiet working time without the noises, there will be less distractions because your friends are still asleep, etc.

      However, getting up early won't neccessarily make you more productive. Some people are just not morning people and can't seem to function early, no matter what. Proper nutrition, sleep and exercise can mostly solve this problem, but there will still be a couple exceptions. Some people just tend to be more creative in the evening than in the morning, and in that case it might not be the wisest decision to force yourself to wake up early.

      Since you are poker players, you usually decide by yourself when you want to wake up. Use that to your advantage. If you don't have to wake up early, then don't do it if you don't want to do it. Don't be annoyed at the fact that you don't wake up at 5 or 6 am and »miss half of the day«. If you sleep for 8 hours, it won't make much of a difference when you wake up. It's true, your body will produce less melatonine so the sleep will be a little worse than if you slept from 22-6, but it's likely that you won't really notice the difference.

      I know a lot of people that get frustrated because they can't get themselves to wake up early frequently enough. If you accept the fact that you don't want to wake up early, you will save yourself a lot of stress.

      For example, you might decide to wake up at 7 the next day, but then something goes up and you go to bed at 4 am, and wake up at noon. A lot of people would beat themselves up for this ans spend more energy on beating themselves up than being productive. They throw away another day like that. If you just accept it and start being productive at 1pm instead, you will accomplish way more.

      Another thing that you might want to take into the consideration is when the good playing times are. Since you have the advantage of being able to sleep whenever you want to, you should modify your sleeping schedule so that you can play while there are the most fish at the tables.

      You should be aware that in case you might want to wake up early, you have to go to bed early. You can't be productive if you don't get enough sleep.

      11.2 Waking up

      Now let's say that you have problems with waking up. A lot of times, you hit the snooze button and sleep for 12 hours instead of 8. There are numerous possible solutions to this problem, and I will go over a few of them.

      The first thing that you can try is setting up multiple alarms one after another, every 2 minutes. A lot of the new smartphones have the options to set multiple alarms. So just set 5 alarms in a row. By the time that you press the snooze button for the 5th time, you will be awake.

      Another thing that you can do is put the alarm on the other side of your room. If possible, you can even put it outside of the room, that's even better (but you have to make sure that you will hear it! Getting up from the bed will make it less likely for you to go back to sleep.

      A really good idea is also to get either a really loud alarm clock (I use a very loud radio, it works like a charm), or an alarm clock that will make you do something before you can turn it off. You can research the internet to find some quite interesting and effective alarm clock, like one where you have to lift a weight 30 times before you can turn it off, a flying alarm clock that you have to catch, or maybe one with a puzzle that you have to solve.

      These alarm clocks usually aren't that expensive, the prices range from $20-$30. You can also ask someone to bring it to you as a birthday present ;) .

      After the alarm has gone off, you should turn the lights on, open windows and let the sunlight into your room. By now, you will be mostly awake. It's time to get out of the room and drink a glass of water, then either go and take a walk/jog, or shower. Now, you are completely awake.

      A nice thing to do to trick yourself into going jogging in the morning is to put the outfit on your chair and to put the running shoes in front of your room door the night before. This way, you can just quickly change your clothes and get out of the apartment. The fresh air is one of the best awakening things.

      11.3 What to do first?

      There's a saying »first things first«. You should apply this saying by doing the hardest of your projects the first thing in the morning. First of all, this will prevent you from avoiding it the whole day. It will also give you great satisfaction after you've worked on it and it will be nice to know that all the other things that come will be easier. This way, you will get just way more done that you would otherwise.

      The easiest way to get yourself to do this is by preparing the material for the project the night before. This can be done by running some computer programs and putting your computer to hibernate before you go to bed. When you wake up and turn on the pc, they'll be waiting for you. If the project isn't done on a computer, then just prepare the material for it and put it on your desk, so that you can see it when you get to it.

      You should also do active things when you wake up, in order to wake up your brain as well.

      What not to do the passive things:
      -Read books (it will be hard for you to concentrate if you for example try to study in the morning by just reading)
      -Watch tv/youtube videos
      -Surf the internet
      -Watch videos without taking notes

      These things are all passive and won't get you to start being productive, quite the opposite – they will make you want to go to back to sleep.

      That is why I suggest doing more active things:

      -Doing exercises (if you're studying for an exam)
      -Using ICM trainer for SNGs
      -Reading articles + taking notes/drawing mind maps
      -Watching videos + taking notes and actively thinking about concepts
      -Doing some Khan academy exercises or maybe trying out this game:
      -Reviewing your sessions
      -Go through the hand evaluation section. Post hands, comment on other peoples' hands
      -Playing a session of poker (make sure that you're not on autopilot though!)


      -Figure out what the best times are for playing poker (observe the tables on different dates and different hours).
      -Plan your sleeping schedule around those hours
      -Try setting up multiple alarms on your phone or get an awesome alarm clock
      -Identify your hardest project
      -Make a habit out of preparing stuff for the hardest project in advance in the evenings

      =========================Updated 15. 6. 2012==============================

      12. Sleeping

      Sleeping is another very important part of being productive. We have to sleep enough, but not too much in order to provide our bodies with sufficient mental and physical recovery.

      Sleeping is in essence very similar to exercise. Sleep too little, and you'll be tired throughout the day. Exercise too much and take too little time to recover, your performance will decrease. Sleep too much, and you'll feel lazy throughout the day. Recover too much from exercising, and the muscles will stop working optimally as they're not getting enough frequent stimulation.

      I recommend the pretty standard 8 hours of sleep a night. It might not be the best option for everyone, but it's easily applicable to most people and it in most cases provides better recovery than 6 or 10 hours of sleep a night.

      I am not going to discuss other variants of sleep in this guide, such as polyphasic sleep. This is simply because I don't like to give advice on the things I've never tried or researched in depth (I haven't tried polyphasic sleep yet because I believe that my muscles need the sleep for recovery and growth, since I often exercise in the evenings), and also because those sleep schedules aren't appliccable to everyone (if you go to school/day job, it's pretty hard to stick with the schedule). As I said, these might work for some people, so if you're interested in sleeping less and still performing well, go ahead, research and try out those techniques!

      Now, we are a bit different and not everything works for everyone, that is why I suggest trying out by yourself and seeing what works or not. I can tell from my personal experience that if I sleep only 6 hours, I am tired in the morning, then function properly for some time, then break down in the afternoon and have to go back to sleep. If I sleep for 10+ hours, I usually wake up lazy and sometimes still tired, and then because I am too lazy to do anything, I go and sleep some more in the afternoon.

      If you see yourself in any of these descriptions, try sleeping for 8 hours each night for two weeks and see if your productivity over the day improves (you can easily measure this with a time diary ot just by writing down how you've felt and what you've accomplished at the end of each day.

      There are many people who believe that they can function properly on 6 hours of sleep a day, because they've lived like this for a couple of years and got used to it. However, the research has shown that if these people move to 8 hours of sleep a day, they will get more done in the remaining 16 hours that they would have done in 18 hours. Besides, a lot of people waste the 2 hours a day watching TV or surfing the net, which doesn't exactly help with productivity.

      Now, this again might not be applicable to everyone, but you should at least try it because you could be missing out on additional energy.

      But how do you get enough sleep when you don't have enough time to sleep because you have to/want to do many other things? It's pretty simple, prioritize it. If you've come this far in my guide and applied some stuff from it, you have probably noticed that most of the applied advice has helped you become more productive. So go and try the 8 hours for a week and see how it goes. You will be surprised to see how much more you can get done if you invest those 2 hours of sleep into additional recovery.


      -Write a time diary for a week on your current sleeping schedule. Observe how much you get done each day and how you feel throughout the day.
      -Switch to the 8 hours of sleep a night and write a time diary again for a period of two weeks (the first week will be mostly for adaptation, so the results from it won't be the most relevant!).
      -Observe and compare the results of the control week (your current sleeping schedule) and the second week of the 8 hours/night sleep schedule.
      -Choose the schedule that suits you better.

      *If you want to maximally optimize your sleep, you can go and research other sleep schedules, and write time diaries for each of them in order to find the one that suits you best. Some schedules require longer adaptation periods though so pay attention to that as well.

      12.1 Power naps

      Power napping might be seen as lazy from the workaholic's point of view, but is ironically the contrary of that. Many extremely productive people, such as John F Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Napoleon Bonaparte used power naps to provide them with additional recovery. It turns out that a short nap in the afternoon will give you a great recovery and help you be productive throughout the evening.

      The best time to take a nap is usually after you come home from school or work, or when you begin feeling tired and unproductive some time in the afternoon. Listen to your body and you will know when you should nap.

      There are many different recommendations regarding napping – some people recommend 20 minute naps, some recommend 1 hour naps and some might even recommend 1.5 hour naps (although that's close to biphasic sleeping already). I have found that a 40 minute – 1 hour nap works best for me. If I nap less, I tend to not recover fully, and if I nap more, I become even more sleepy and want to sleep for a few more hours.

      This is again a very personalized area, so the best idea would be to try out different naps, compare them and see how each of them works. As I already said, these short naps will help you be more productive in the evening/afternoon than in you didn't nap.

      You should only take the following action steps after you've completed the ones from the previous section on Sleeping.


      -Write a time diary of your current sleeping schedule for a week
      -Try out 20, 40, 60 and 90 minute afternoon power naps in the following weeks, and write a time diary for each week
      -Compare the results to find which one suits you best.

      =========================Updated 1. 8. 2012==============================

      13. Knowledge and learning

      Everyone is probably used to their parents talking endlessly about the importance of college. I won't go into great details about my point of view about the colleges and formal education, as this depends a lot from person to person. Someone who wants to be a great designer, programmer or businessman doesn't neccesarily need a college degree, in fact some of the most successful people in those areas do not have a college degree. However, if you want to be a successful surgeon or lawyer, you will likely need formal education to get you where you want to be.

      Masters degrees and PhDs are also a very relative subject. Someone who is into research, like a physicist or biologist, might benefit greatly from them. However, for a computer scientist who is interested in having his own company or a businessman who wants to be in a great company, it might just not be worth the time and money anymore.

      Josh Kaufman discusses the subject in depth in his book »Personal MBA« (which I greatly recommend reading) for anyone who is more interested in the subject. But the bottom line is that the loans/money and the time that you will need to complete an MBA course will usually not be worth the benefits that you will get from completing them nowadays, when such courses are becoming more and more devalued and it is way more important which problems you can solve than what kind of a degree you have.

      Of course, there will still be expensive MBA programs even though a lot of them give quite generic and outdated knowledge, because the schools which host such programs get a lot of money from them, as long as there are people who wish to join those courses.

      But college isn't all that bad you know. It might not be the most important thing in your life and it might not be the most beneficial thing to do, but from my point of view, it is a great backup plan. If you are already in the middle of college and only have 1 year or so to go, I would definitely recommend finishing it, even though you might be earning a lot of money from poker or another income stream already, especially because it might be a good backup plan in the future, in case another thing similar to a black Friday happens.

      I am a big fan of having diversified income streams (or income stream possibilities), and this is a pretty good way to have a backup income stream, in case everything else goes wrong.

      Now, let us not mistake knowledge for education! These two are, in least in my opinion, two very very different things.

      The knowledge which you gain in colleges is pretty generic and sometimes also very outdated. The main benefit of colleges is the ability to make good connections for the future and take advantage of the colleges' facilities. The knowledge that is taught in certain colleges (computer science, business, management, etc.) can be obtained faster and more efficiently via self-learning.

      Now, why is the knowledge really important. To get a job? Yeah, maybe, in a way. But let's think in a more poker related or entrepreneurial mindset for a second. Why would an entrepreneur or a poker player want to become more knowledgable?

      Well, the answer is actually pretty simple – the more knowledge you have, the more money you can make! And therefore do whatever you wish to do with it. If you are knowledgable, you can also help a lot of other people if that is important to you and/or makes you happy.

      When I asked a well known self development blogger for advice on how to become really successful, he replied with a simple sentence: »Learn as much as you can!«. At the time, that didn't convince me very much but now I know that he was right. If I didn't listen to him and go out and learn as much as possible, I probably would not be writing here at the moment but would probably play video games instead.

      Let's take an entrepreneur, like a blogger for example. The more knowledge in the subject that he is writing about that he obtains, the more things he can write about and the more readers he can get. He can also learn about website design or marketing techniques to make his website nicer and market his products better, which can then increase his sales even more.

      Many people thing that learning ends with formal education, but in reality, for successful people, it only begins there. Very successful people frequently read books and strive to improve daily to get an edge above the competition, which is getting better and better day by day. If you compare someone who reads a lot of his books and develops his own business to someone who works as a security guard at day and spends the afternoons playing video games, you can soon see why the first person will be way more successful than the other one.

      Constantly learning, applying, failing and learning from mistakes leads to constant improvement. And constant improvement gives you more options in life and enables you to maximize your output and reach your goals faster.

      Now let's see how this applies to the poker players. There is no real formal poker player education, but there are a lot of places where you can learn about poker – forums and websites like pokerstrategy, books, fellow poker players and of course poker coaches.

      Some people have a really big problem with learning poker theory/concepts. They hate reviewing their hands, they fall asleep watching poker videos and reading articles and they can't be bothered to get a hand on a poker book. Of course, there are some great poker players who didn't use all these things to learn but I am sure that they've used at least some kind of session reviews/hand analysis on their road to get there.

      The thing which a lot of people don't think about too much though is that by learning and mastering concepts in poker, you are opening yourself more doors to the multiple streams of income and diversifying your income portfolio. If you become really good at the game, you can become a poker coach and are able to write books and articles, produce poker videos, host live coachings, evaluate other peoples' hands, offer private coachings to the other people... And if you're thinking about playing poker for a living, this is a great way to decrease the effect of downswings!

      Nowadays, it is incredibly easy to obtain knowledge – in poker or any other subject. You have some amazing free online courses on the internet, on the websites like khan academy, udacity, mit.x, coursera, etc. And then you have the libraries where you can read tons of books really cheap! The books alone are great investments – they are usually very cheap (especially if you buy used ones), and the value which you get from them exceeds the costs by far! Then you also have audiobooks, interdependent learning via forums, study groups, conferences, seminars, paid online courses, etc. Which you can get a lot of knowledge and value from as well.

      If you want to be an amazing poker player and have an edge on the opposition which is constantly improving, you need to learn and analyze your game and improve. Not only will that increase your winrate and enable you to move up the limits, you will also be able to diversify your income. Don't forget about learning about the mental aspects of poker though (perhaps via a book like The mental game of poker by Jared Tandler), which also plays a great role in your income. No matter how good of a player you are, all can go to waste pretty fast if you tilt and go gamble away your winnings on high stakes poker tables.

      Knowing all this, I would really recommend investing at least 15 minutes of your day into learning something new. It can be as easy as having a book and reading it on the toilet/in bath, or reading it on a bus/train/plane in case you travel a lot. If you go to work each day by car, you could also buy an audiobook and listen to it on your phone/mp3 player. Of course you can also invest more time in it, like an hour a day or so, or even more. Playing around with khanacademy exercises can be quite fun and useful if you're still at school, and reviewing your game daily can pay off very nicely.

      There is one last thing that you should know about learning, and it is a very important thing – all the knowledge in the world doesn't help you if you never apply any of it. Reading 10 poker books won't help you if you don't apply what you've learned while you're playing.


      -Buy the book/audiobook that you've been wanting to read for a long time (not fiction, preferrably on self-development or poker or business/whatever you're interested in at the moment). You can also borrow it at a library.
      -Either have it in the toilet/bathroom and read it while on the toilet/taking a bath.
      -The other option is to carry it around at all times and read it/listen to it while driving, taking a bus/train or waiting for someone (you'd be surprised how much time you throw away when a friend is late for lunch or your grilfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband is late to a date!).
      -To get ahead, you can also read it/listen to it for 30 minutes before you go to bed. It is just insanely easier to fall asleep if you're reading a book before bed than if you're in front of a TV screen/PC.

      14. Speed reading

      Speed reading is not a myth. I myself can do it and I know other people people who can do it as well. It does take a bit of deliberate practice to learn it, but everyone should see improvements very fast if they use the correct techniques.

      It might seem a bit counter intuitive, but while learning how to speed read you will actually increase your comprehension skills as well – not only will you be able to read way faster, you will be able to remember way more as well!

      You do have to understand that speed reading is a bit relative though – it depends on the kind of the material as well. A good speed reader will adjust and read some things, like magazine articles and fiction books faster while reading complex study material slower. However, even though he will be reading it slower, he will still be reading it way faster than a normal reader!

      Let's give a practical example: an average reader reads at a rate of about 200-250 words per minute. An average speed reader who goes through a 6 week course will be able to read fiction books at about 2000 words per minute and complex study material at about 1000 words per minute. Of course these are rough estimates and differ from person to person, but I think that they're in the correct ballpark.

      But who can actually benefit from speed reading? Well, pretty much everyone. It doesn't matter which type of a learner you are – I have discussed this in great detail in one of my replies to my guide -, you can benefit a lot from speed reading since you can acquire information a lot faster by reading than by listening.

      Those of you who still go to school/college will be able to decrease your studying times by a lot. Those of you who want to read a lot of fiction books will be able to read through way more of those. Those of you that have a day job that includes reading a lot of reports will be able to save a lot of time while doing that. Those of you who like magazines will also be able to read through a magazine way faster than before.

      So how does all this apply to poker players? Well, there are a lot of articles and books to be read which can increase your winrates, and you can save quite a bit of time in the future if you invest some time into learning the speed reading techniques. You will also be able to read forum posts and hand evaluations faster and save some time there as well. And if you are working on yourself, you will be able to get through those self development books faster as well. Maybe I should've written this chapter at the beginning of my guide to save you some time reading it, haha :D .

      I think that there is one more way in which poker players can benefit from speed reading however. This is only my hypothesis, but speed reading should be able to help you notice what is going on on the tables faster and therefore enable you to multitable more efficiently/get more reads. I believe in this because when you learn the skills of speed reading, you are able to find something in a book way faster as you've trained your eyes to be able to move faster. This should in my opinion translate into a quite nice little edge in online poker. So if you are going to take up speed reading, please let me know if it affected your performance at the tables in any case, I would be very interested to hear about it :) .

      I am only going to discuss one speed reading technique in this article, the very basic one which is one of the most beneficial ones as well, because it can help you double/triple your reading speed very fast. It is executed by using your index finger while reading. Yes, just like you used it as a child in the school. This will allow you to control the speed you are reading at because your eyes will follow your finger, and you can move your finger left and right pretty damn fast. It will also help you focus your eyes onto the actual words instead of forgetting where you were and wondering around.

      So all that you have to do is basically slide across the bottom of the line, from left to right, from start to the end of the line. Then move to the start of the next line as quickly as possible and repeat. A good measure of how fast you should do this to begin with is by spending about one second on each line in a normal book. You can easily do this by saying »one« each time you read a line. Make sure that you go from the start till the end of the line with your finger and that you don't skip any words at the beginning/end of the line!

      I highly recommend that you make a habit out of reading with your finger – so try to use it everywhere! While reading newspapers, magazines, books... you can even use it on the computer screen (although you should buy something to clean your LCD with in that case). Of course, you can also hover with your finger a millimeter above your phone/pc screen, but from my personal experience, sliding produces sslightly better results.

      There is one very important bad habit that you should get rid of because it slows down your reading A LOT. That is returning a couple words back and rereading something. There is no need for this at all since if you missed something due to the lack of focus, you will be able to figure out what it was from the next sentences which are usually in the same context. Besides, your eyes probably did acquire it anyway. There are way more efficient rereading techniques than going back a few words, which really screws up your reading rate if you're used to it.

      So how do you actually learn to read faster? Let's look at an analogy where you are driving a car on a normal road, and you are driving on it with a speed of 60 kph. The road has some nasty turns, so it's not the easiest to drive on. Then you go to the race track for one afternoon, where you drive at the speeds of 200kph+. Once you return to the previous road, driving at 60kph will feel very very slow, and you will be able to drive much faster on it. I think that everyone who has a driving licence has experienced something similar in the past when returning to a normal road from a highway – 50kph will feel way slower than before you went on the highway.

      Learning how to read faster is actually very similar. By reading at way higher speeds than you are used to, you can increase your normal reading speed.

      But before I show you some basic reading drills, let's talk about how to actually measure your reading speed. This is actually pretty easy.

      14.1 Measuring your reading speed

      All you need to do is take a book and a stopwatch/timer. Set the timer to 3 minutes, mark the place where you've started and start reading. Once the time is up, mark the place where you've finished. The next thing that you should do is determine what is the average number of words per line (WPL) in the book. This can be easily done by counting the words from 5 full lines and dividing the number by 5. Once you know that, you can just count the number of lines, multiply them by the WPL and divide the result by the number of minutes read, which is in our case 3. The result of this is your reading rate in words per minute (WPM).

      WPM = (number of lines * WPL)/time[minutes]

      A practical example would be:

      WPL = 7
      Number of lines = 100
      Time = 3 minutes

      WPM = (100*7)/3 = 233

      In case the lines aren't full, you can also count some of them as half lines or 1/3 of lines.

      Once you read very fast, you can also go one step further and just multiply the number of lines per page (LPP) with WPL to get the number of words per page (WPP). Then, you only need to multiply the WPP with the number of pages you've read and divide it by time, instead of actually counting all the lines. Of course this won't be completely accurate because some pages might have a bit more text than others because of titles, etc. But IMO it's close enough and a way better option than counting the lines of 15 pages.

      The equations are then:

      WPP = LPP * WPL
      WPM = (number of pages read * WPP)/time [minutes]


      WPL = 7
      LPP = 25
      Pages = 5
      Time = 3 minutes

      WPP = 7*25 = 175
      WPM = (175*5)/3 = 291

      Now that you know how to calculate your reading speed, you can test yourself by simply taking a random book which you haven't read yet, selecting a random passage and reading for 3 minutes. Make sure you read in a way you would read normally – slowly, without using the index finger and by returning back to reread what you've missed. This will be your starting point from which you will be able to see big improvements in the future.

      While using the index finger all the time will already increase your reading speed, if you want to get serious and double/triple your speed, here are two basic drills which you can do, one for speed and one for comprehension.

      14.2 The speed drill

      For this drill, you will need an old book which you haven't read yet and don't really mind writing in with your pencil. You will also need a timer/stopwatch.

      You can start at the beginning of the book, there's no need to select a random passage. Just make sure that you haven't read the passage before yet.

      Set the timer to 2 minutes.

      -Mark the starting point with »1«.
      -Start the timer and read as fast as you can until the time runs out. Make sure that your finger goes from the start till the end of each line.
      -Mark the ending point with »2«.
      -Calculate your starting speed reading speed.
      -Reread the passage, starting at point 1, in 2 minutes. You need to read further than the mark »2«!
      -Mark the ending point with »3«.
      -Reread the passage, starting at point 1, in 2 minutes. You need to read further than the mark »3«!
      -Mark the ending point with »4«.
      -Reread the passage, starting at point 1, in 2 minutes. You need to read further than the mark »4«!
      -Mark the ending point with »5«.

      If you wish, you can now test and calculate your new reading speed by reading from point 5 onwards for 2 minutes. This exercise will enable you to constantly improve your reading speed as you will be able to read more and more within the 2 minutes. You should see pretty nice improvements in your »normal«, starting speed reading speed quite fast.

      Remember, the focus of this drill is reading as fast as possible, where reading means seeing all the words, not necessarily understanding everything! If you can't seem to be able to read fast, try waving your finger in the air left and right as fast as possible. If you can wave it in the air very fast, you can also wave it while sliding on the book very fast. Your eyes will follow, don't worry ;) .

      14.3 The comprehension drill

      The basic comprehension drill is pretty similar to the speed drill, but the main difference here is that whereas with the speed drill you should focus on reading fast and not so much on understanding, here most of the focus will be on understanding and remembering what you've read.

      One of the best exercises for improving comprehension is reading a passage for x minutes, closing the book and writing down what you've remembered, either in the form of key points, sentences or mind maps, whichever works best for you (I personally prefer mind maps though so that I don't have to write an essay).

      Select a passage from the book which you haven't read yet, it can be the same book as the one used for speed drills. You can start where you've finished with your previous drill.

      Set the timer to 2 minutes.

      -Mark the starting point with »1«.
      -Start the timer and read until the time runs out, focusing on comprehension. Make sure that your finger goes from the start till the end of each line.
      -Mark the ending point with »2«.
      -Write down what you remembered.
      -Calculate your starting comprehension reading speed.
      -Reread the passage, starting at point 1, in 2 minutes. You need to read further than the mark »2«!
      -Mark the ending point with »3«.
      -Add any new information that you've noticed to what you have written down before.
      -Reread the passage, starting at point 1, in 2 minutes. You need to read further than the mark »3«!
      -Mark the ending point with »4«.
      -Add any new information that you've noticed to what you have written down before.
      -Reread the passage, starting at point 1, in 2 minutes. You need to read further than the mark »4«!
      -Mark the ending point with »5«.
      -Add any new information that you've noticed to what you have written down before.

      If you wish, you can now test and calculate your new reading comprehension + speed by reading from point 5 onwards for 2 minutes, writing down what you've remembered and calculating your new comprehension reading speed. This exercise will enable you to constantly improve your comprehension as you will be able to remember and write down more and more within the 2 minutes. You should see pretty nice improvements in the details that you remember.

      Consistency is key, which is especially true for speed reading. These drills will take about 15-20 minutes each. If you want to greatly improve your speed fast, I would recommend doing each of the drills each day, which will take you 35 minutes or so per day. It's a great investment because the time that you will be able to save through your lifetime will greatly outweigh the time which you will invest in increasing your reading speed.

      If you are interested in this subject and would like to increase your reading speed for more than 10 times your current reading speed, I strongly suggest buying the book called Breakthrough rapid reading by Peter Kump. It will give you amazing results in just 6 weeks by practising an hour a day.


      -test your current reading rate
      -start using your index finger on everything that you read (you can use this on the action steps from the previous chapter now ).
      -get an old book which you can make marks in with a pencil
      -invest 35 min a day into increasing your reading speed and comprehension by drilling. Do it every day and make a habit out of it if possible.
      -track results in a spreadsheet if you want to (at least your reading speeds).

      =========================Updated 30. 9. 2012==============================

      15. Audiobooks

      I've mentioned audiobooks and their awesomeness in the past. It's kind of ironic, but I never actually paid attention to them. It was only when a very successful friend mentioned how awesome theay are to me that I've actually given them a shot, and the results were astonishing! No more wasted car drives, no more waiting for my friends boredomly when they're late for a lunch, no more boring train/bus rides from the seaside.

      Now, I have mentioned audiobooks a lot in the previous chapters of this guide, so I am going to try and avoid repeating myself too much here. A thing that I would really like to point out though is the comparison between the audiobooks and classic books:

      -You can read/listen to both on a train/bus or while waiting for someone or while on a toilet
      -You can also listen to audiobooks while exercising, driving a car or riding a bike
      -You can listen to audiobooks in the dark more easily
      -Audiobooks are slightly more portable as you can keep them on an ipod/phone
      -If you know speed reading, you can read the books way faster than listen to them
      -Books are better suited for taking notes, highlighting and navigation than audiobooks
      -Unless you have a kindle, the Audiobooks are way less space consuming, so you can easily carry multiple of them around you

      So what can we conclude from this comparison?

      I would advise you to keep the non fiction books that include exercises or action steps in the physical form. This is especially true if you want to frequently use those books for referrences or note taking. I would put self development books, school textbooks, business books, poker books, etc. In this area. Especially the books which have a lot of visual aids are better to be kept in the paperback/ebook form.

      As for the audiobooks, I suggest books that include some kind of a story and don't require any immediate action or notes to be taken. These would mostly be biographies and inspirational books, or maybe some books which you would use to broaden your general knowledge.

      Fiction books can really go either way – the audiobooks are great for travelling, while the paperback ones are in my opinion slightly better to read in the bed in the evening or to read on the beach on a vacation.

      But these are just my own observations and preferences. They are guidelines. If you prefer to keep different books ina different format because it works better for you, go for it. But make sure that you try out something new as well, because you have nothing to lose. If you've never listened to an audiobook, get one. Not tomorrow, not in 2 hours, NOW.


      -Get that freakin' audiobook. If you're too cheap to buy it, the go to Audible where you can get 2 audiobooks for free at the moment.
      -Put it on your phone/ipod and commit to listening to it on your way to work/uni or while exercising. Once it becomes a habit, it's really easy to remember to do it.

      =========================Updated 13. 11. 2012==============================

      16. Investing in yourself

      Investing in yourself is a cruical subject in every area of your life. It is the best possible investment that you can ever make as it has the greatest value – it helps you improve way faster. It has better returns than any other investment, let it be gold, stocks or having a business. Growing as a person is priceless.

      By investing in yourself, you will be able to master certain skills way faster, learn concepts that you wouldn't have a chance to otherwise (or it would take you a lot more time to figure them out by yourself), and the value of the investment will usually be way higher than the cost of it.

      Here I think I should mention a very important concept – cost vs. value. People often think in costs: »ohh, I would get this coaching, but it costs so much!«. But they rarely take the time to think about how much value they can get from something. Of course, if you go and buy a chocolate bar, it's unlikely that you will get a whole lot of monetary or any other kind of value out of it. You might get pleasure out of it, but because of it your productivity will also decrease, + you will likely get even more hungry and need to spend more money on food.

      But if we take a private coaching for example, the things are WAY different. If you pay $50 for a coaching, it is very likely that your coach will help you find and fix leaks way faster than you would be able to do it on yourself. On top of that, he can give you some homework to do and show you how to improve even more in your own time. In the short term, you probably will not be able to see immediate monetary benefits though. However, by having less leaks, your winrate will be higher. A coach can help you increase your winrate (or even make a winning player out of you if you were losing before), and you will be able to take the advantage of this winrate boost in months or even years after the coaching.

      Let me give you an example. It's just an approximation, but the concept is really more important than numbers here. Let's say that you're playing NL25 and you pay $50 for an hour of coaching. And let's say that the coach will improve your winrate by 1bb/100 hands during this coaching, which I think should be very reasonable. Even a bigger improvement is definitely possible during the first hour of coaching. This means that if you play 10.000 hands a month (which again is rather easy to achieve), you will be able to get 1BI extra each month, which is $25. In one year, that's $300.

      As a comparison: if for example you'd put $50 in a bank at a 5% yearly interest rate (which is pretty high), you would have $52.5 by the end of the year.

      And that was a rather pessimistic example with the coaching as it's definitely possible that your winrate will improve even more from just one coaching if you have some major leaks, you will also be able to move up the limits faster, learn better on your own, put in more volume than just the 10k hands/month, buy more coaching hours, etc. So in reality, the value is even bigger.

      I actually have a friend who was stuck around NL50 for some time, without seeing much of an improvement. Then he decided to invest half of his bankroll into hiring a private coach. In a year or so, he's now at NL200/NL400 and he made about $9.5k during the last month (a heater, but still). His initial investment was maybe about $750, and he said to me that the value that he got from it is really insane. Tens of thousands of dollars! It made a huge difference for him – he could easily quit poker at the time, but instead he decided to invest in himself and now he's making very nice money by playing poker for a living.

      Of course, there are also other ways to invest in yourself – buying books, attending online courses, purchasing access to the sites with poker videos, joining poker seminars, etc.

      You can also check out my Private Coaching thread. Here, the value of the coachings is even bigger. Not only will I help you become way more productive, get most out of the time that you invest of your poker and earn more money, I will also teach you the concepts that will enable you to excell in many other areas of your life. Therefore, you will become way more successful in those areas as well, so the value is pretty much priceless.


      The bottom line is – don't wait until tomorrow to invest in yourself. Take action now! The rates of the good coaches are constantly increasing, so you should use this opportunity and book the coaches now, when they're still affordable for you. Even if it means that you have to invest half of your bankroll, I assure you that in the long run, the value will by far exceed the costs.

      At the beginning of the guide, I have mentioned that it's all about taking action, and this is how I would like to wrap up this guide as well. I have taken action myself – I have written this guide for all of you, free of charge. Now it is your turn to take action, apply the concepts that I've taught you and also invest in yourself to be able to improve even faster than the competition. I will admit, there are a lot more decent players in poker nowadays that there were before. But that doesn't mean that you can't make a ton of money in it. You just need to be better than the majority of them. I have shown you the way, now it's your turn to go the distance.

      THE END

      ...Or is it? Now that you have finished my guide, there are two options. In case that you've applied at least 80% of it, and you're one of the most productive poker players in the world. I would like to congratulate you on that, I am really happy for you :) .

      In case you've just read the guide and haven't taken the time to apply any of it (or you only applied very little of it), I'm sorry. The majority of the people who only read content but never take the time to apply it will just never be really successful. They are pretty much wasting their time.

      However, there are some exceptions. I do realize that there are some people who need a kick in the ass, who need someone else to hold them accountable or at least get them going. There are also some people who don't want to apply everything as they want to apply the concepts that will make the biggest difference in their lives first.

      In these two cases, I can definitely help you out. I realize that I can't really kick you in the ass through a written guide. It's way more effective to do it in person, with a big, hard shoe. I also realize that I can't write a guide that will help everyone with their own specific situation. Do not misunderstand this, though. If you apply this guide step by step, you will get amazing results. These techniques have been extensively tested and they will get you awesome results. However, you could get even better results if you knew exactly what you had to do in your specific situation. Then, the improvement would be even faster because you would be able to solve your biggest problems first and optimize later.
      In those two cases, I would really reccomend you to look at my Private Coaching thread. I can provide some ass kicking for you, I can help you take action immediately and get you going on your journey. I can also offer you more personalized advice which will enable you to solve your specific problems as fast as possible.

      There are also a lot of things that I don't mention within this guide that I can help you with. I have mentioned some interesting subjects in my Live Coachings, and I plan on producing more content for

      So what's next?

      As I said, I will be producing more content for, but I will also work on some projects of my own. During the next year, I expect to complete two big projects – writing a really good paperback book and making an online course. I will provide more info on the projects later on in my blog.

      As far as this guide goes, I do not really plan on adding any more chapters to it – I will include additional concepts in my book. I will of course still take the time to answer your questions in this thread. You can also join our Self-development study group where we also discuss some interesting things.

      Since I have taken a lot of time to write this guide (there's 25k+ words in it) and to answer all of your questions, I would ask you to do me just one favour. Could you please take a couple of minutes to fill in this short survey for me? It's anonymous of course. I really like to get feedback so that I can keep doing the things you like and improve on the things you don't like.


      If you are interested in private coaching sessions, which will help you become more productive, live a life with more energy and a smile on your face, become an extremely positive person, get more things done faster, obtain great focus and concentration and of course earn way more money with poker, visit my Private Coaching thread. I can help you develop personalized plans and routines, which will help you reach our goals and vision.

      If you want to get even more out of this productivity guide and get access to some of my own systems that I use to implement the concepts from it, check out the Skyrocket Your Productivity Workshop.
  • 454 replies
    • YaMIzNoGouD
      Joined: 28.05.2011 Posts: 39
      Great post! Will subscribe to this thread.
    • ClimaxingWalrus
      Joined: 31.10.2010 Posts: 133
      Good timing :D Something I've really been wanting to read about but never remember to. Will give it a look when I'm done watching this video. Kind of ironic seeing as I'm watching this vid in the most unproductive way possible right now whilst browsing forums/email when I should be making notes.
    • MrS212i
      Joined: 03.02.2011 Posts: 595
      Awesome post!! Will be following :s_cool: :s_grin: :s_biggrin:
    • Schnitzelfisch
      Joined: 08.11.2008 Posts: 4,952
      Thanks for the positive feedback guys :) . I would really appreciate it if you could share some of your visions (if not too personal), or at least goals with us ;) . Then I can help you improve them as well.

      I've added a couple of things to the goals topic + added action steps + added the topic "30 days make a habit".

    • tcs35
      Joined: 31.01.2009 Posts: 3,583
      I suggest you use Google Docs to write this mate. Will look much better and people can export it to a pdf to their ipad etc
    • Schnitzelfisch
      Joined: 08.11.2008 Posts: 4,952

      I would prefer to keep it on this forum, accessible mostly to the members of this forum, it will only be a relatively short guide anyways. So I would actually prefer to have that document removed ;) . I would not want it to be reproduced for now as I am planning on making an ebook later on if the feedback here is good, but that is still a long way to go.
    • tcs35
      Joined: 31.01.2009 Posts: 3,583
      ok done
    • IngridN
      Joined: 02.03.2011 Posts: 12,162
      Hi Schnitzelfisch,

      Thank you for this awesome post I'm pretty sure that many of us will be religiously follow you because many players struggle to sync life with their poker world.

      However please note that skype, email address or any other personal information is not allowed on the forum in order to protect our users identity because the community is open to everyone and it's visible to read.

      Please ask users to make the first contact in our community tool with you. Thank you. :)

    • Schnitzelfisch
      Joined: 08.11.2008 Posts: 4,952
      Hey there Ingrid, thank you for the compliments and the explanation of the new rules :) .

      You guys can expect a new update today in the evening or tomorrow, focused on physical energy and how it affects everything we do :) .
    • Quadzzzzzzz
      Joined: 24.10.2011 Posts: 151
      Well now i just wanna read more but the rest isn't up! I'll look forward to when you add more sections!

    • jmackenzie
      Joined: 04.06.2008 Posts: 1,281
      this is brilliant stuff

      i made a few short goals recently goal setting for a lazy poker pro and am trying to slowly increase my productivity

      everything you've said so far that i've truly applied has worked really well for me in terms of getting things done its just a matter of finding the right weights to attempt to lift in the beginning which seems the hardest part.
    • MrS212i
      Joined: 03.02.2011 Posts: 595
      Im taking the oppurtunity to work through the steps and am feeling pretty excited about it! :s_thumbsup:

      1.1. Vision

      My vision is to be able to make a living playing professional poker.
      I want to be able to comfortably afford my expenses and also have some extra money
      to entertain/ enjoy myself!

      1.2. Goals

      -Eat at least 3 meals a day!
      -Play a min of 500 Mtt/ Sngs per month.
      -Not set monetary goals.
      -Set an amount of time to grind daily.
      (instead of waking up and randomly playing until i go sleep)
      -Start surfing again and something small like x pushups & x situps daily.
      -Be a winning player at Low Mtt Sngs.
    • mehersagar
      Joined: 14.08.2011 Posts: 40
      great post..!
    • holmeboy
      Joined: 29.01.2010 Posts: 1,336
      Awesome post man! Really enjoyed your one about nutrition from about a year ago.

    • DeMarcohsp
      Joined: 15.06.2010 Posts: 1,975
      Will follow. I am also reading and studying a lot of self improvement books/guides/videos. Will love your post as it looks like a summary of what I've been reading the past years.

      PS: Trying to subscribe :f_confused:
    • _Anonymous_
      I ll start reading this tomorrow or during my poker breaks.Hopefully would be good!!!Thank you in advance
    • ninuu
      Joined: 04.04.2010 Posts: 205
      Hey nice post! I'd ask you to continue posting about the other subchapters if you have the time and want to.

      Also I couldn't find the thread "30 days make a habit" can you put a link please.

      Thanks and have a nice day! :)
    • Borisian
      Joined: 28.01.2012 Posts: 947
      Sounds interesting, I'm subscribed
      Joined: 13.04.2011 Posts: 1,120
      Hi OP,
      Awesome thread :f_thumbsup: . I'll be following it.
      I read ur thread on nutrition too and found it to be very helpful .

      I noticed that u have mentioned to sleep 8 hours/day. I sleep 5 to 6 hrs a day ( It's enough right? to lead a healthy lifestyle ). Can you please help me with sleeping patterns? I play full time poker and I play atleast 8 to 10 hrs/day inbetween 7pm to 9am. (traffic is good only at these times ). What is the best time to sleep for me? I have to have lunch inbetween 12.30 pm to 2pm.

      Thanks in advance :) Keep up the good work :)