FOPS or “Fuck Other People’s Shit”


Someone said this to me a few months ago and I honestly think it’s the best advice I ever got.  Honestly, this is probably the best advice I’ll ever give you too.

It’s so easy to get caught up in other people’s drama.  It’s almost like an interactive reality TV show.  That’s right, you’re not just watching the drama unfold in front of you, you can become an active participant and actually feel the drama!  What better way to waste your time and emotional energy than to get caught up in someone elses problems?

What do the following examples all have in common?

  • A good friend of mine keeps asking me how she can get a six-pack.  I keep telling her exactly what she needs to do.  She comes back every month, frustrated that she hasn’t made any progress.  I asked if she tried what I suggested.  Nope.
  • My mom keeps asking me how to market her art online.  I keep giving her suggestions.  She comes back every few months, frustrated that she hasn’t made any progress online.  I ask her if she’s tried any of my suggestions.  Nope.  (As an aside, check out her art – it’s amazing!  And feel free to share your suggestions.)
  • A friend of mine is in a destructive relationship.  He’s gotten her pregnant, they get in crazy fights, and you just never know when they’re going to explode.  He keeps coming to me with his problems and I keep getting involved.
  • Some days I get nothing done.  I wake up, check my email and proceed to do that all day long.  It’s amazing how many emails I get every day.  Staying on top of them is a full time job.  I could do it forever, and get absolutely nothing done.

All of the above examples are about dealing with other people’s shit.  Sometimes dealing with other people’s shit can seem really insignificant, like giving the same advice to someone that just doesn’t listen or dealing with someone who consistently over-promises and under delivers.  Sometimes it’s an all out emotional roller coaster, like dealing with a friend who’s in a chronically abusive relationship.  Often the more intensely negative a person’s problem is, the more insidious its pull on you is.

Other people’s shit is all around.  And often it’ll stop you from doing what you really want to do.  There’s always a party, a BBQ, a birthday, an event, a task, a favor, a friend, or a situation that’ll keep you from being focused on accomplishing what you want to do.  Even worse, other people’s drama will drain your energy and leave you feeling exhausted.  You could spend your whole life catering to someone elses schedule.  If you don’t proactively protect your time and energy, it will find ways to get consumed.

It happens to me all the time and I’m guessing it happens to you pretty often too.  I’ve recently developed a few simple techniques that help me better manage my energy.  I thought I’d share them with you:

  • Be aware – know when you’re dealing with other people’s shit and make a conscious decision about whether or not you’re going to deal with it.
  • Don’t be afraid to withdraw – Excuse yourself politely and then avoid getting involved again until the situation has died down.  One of my best friends, Julie, has mastered the art of FOPS.  Every time we get into a heated argument about something, she says “ok, that’s fine” and excuses herself from the conversation.  Yes, it’s frustrating, but it works really well.
  • Conserve your energy – If you feel yourself getting frustrated, that’s a red flag.  Step back and ask yourself why you’re getting frustrated.  More often than not, it’s because you’re dealing with someone else’s shit.  Then go back to step 2.
  • Protect your time – Ask yourself what you want to accomplish each day.  Then ask yourself if constantly checking your email, answering phone calls, and dealing with other people’s issues will help you get your goals accomplished.
  • Don’t feel guilty – Above all, never feel guilty for not dealing with someone else’s shit.  You’ve got plenty of your own to deal with.  Do other people a favor and don’t get them involved in your drama either.  Remember, fuck other people’s shit!

[ photo: flickr / dougbeckers ]

What everyone should know about organic food

What you should know about the organic food debate

I’ve often wondered what the big deal about organic food was.  Most people are either religious about organic food or they don’t know enough to have an educated opinion.  I fall in the latter category.  I’ve always found it frustrating that I consider myself an above average healthy person yet I feel completely uninformed when it comes to the organic food debate.  I decided to do some research and share what I found.

There are a number of angles to consider in the organic debate from environmental impact to animal cruelty to nutritional value to food toxicity.  What I found was that regardless of what position you take on the ethical or environmental issues, conventional methods of farming turn your body into a chemistry lab.

Continue reading What everyone should know about organic food

Get Instant Energy: Drink More Water!


This one of the most overlooked and under appreciated ways of feeling awesome right away. Most people simply don’t realize how much better they would feel if they only drank more water. They spend their days completely dehydrated. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

When your body gets dehydrated, your organs get depleted of fluid. Dehydration causes fatigue, headaches, back pain, and a plethora of other discomforts. It also makes you more susceptible to physical injury since it takes fluid away from your muscles and inhibits them from properly responding to stress.

Continue reading Get Instant Energy: Drink More Water!

Build Energy through Exercise – Part 1 of 3

Trevor and I got together to record some energy building exercises. These are really simple movements that you can do at any time to boost your energy and feel great. If you work behind a desk or don’t get to move around much during work, take a 5 minute break and cycle through these movements. Let me know what you think!

Disconnect to reconnect

brokeniphoneA few months ago I was flying from Hawaii to Germany. Total transit time was almost 24 hours and for most of that time I didn’t have any cell phone or internet reception. At the time I was dreading it. How could I get by with none of my electronic gadgetry to keep me on top of everything going on. As I was flying across the Atlantic though I experienced something profound – uninterrupted thought and productivity. Wow.

It can be hard to get stuff done with constant emails, phone calls, and text messages coming at you every minute. You spend all your time reacting to stuff instead of doing things on your own schedule. Although you’re still making progress – communication can be a big part of work – you’re still operating on someone else’s schedule, not yours. This, in turn, limits your productivity and drains your energy.

It’s the difference between running on a treadmill or running on land. When you’re running on a treadmill, you’re reacting. If you don’t, you’ll fall off the treadmill. Either way, you’re not going to get very far. Alternatively, you can go outside and run on land. Same action, different method. You’re no longer reacting, but rather setting and following your own path on your own terms. And you’re actually getting somewhere.

In the past I’ve talked about eliminating energy drain as a great way to maximize energy. Constantly reacting to stuff is draining. It keeps you from being productive, from contributing to your friends and relationships, and from really thinking through things. I’ve met lots of really hard working people who are unsuccessful. Some of the most successful people I know take days to respond to email and they take their time with everything they do. They work smart. They’re thoughtful and careful with their time. Most things aren’t as important as they seem.

The good news is, there’s an easy two step process to command and conquer your life. First schedule specific times in your day when you disconnect from everything. Schedule you time and stick to the schedule. Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Don’t pick up your phone calls if you’re in the middle of something.

Second, when you’re working on something, disconnect. Turn off your phone, close your door, shut down email, disconnect your computer from the internet if you’re not using the web.

Disconnecting allows you to really reconnect. Not just with work, but with real people. It allows you to reconnect with yourself and what’s really important. So go ahead, turn off that phone. Or better yet, blend it.

[ photo: flickr / TheTechBuzz ]

Simple Clarity – Schedule your day to maximize your energy

The simplest and most effective way to regain control of your life and maximize your daily energy is to spend 15 minutes each evening or morning scheduling the upcoming day. Not just a to do list. But actually setting aside time blocks for specific things on your to do list. It’s important to include everything from eating, to personal time, to reading time, to email / communication time.

This puts your life on your schedule and allows you to thoughtfully work through things instead of just reacting to things all day. It also gives you scheduled time to rest and recharge your brain between periods of focused work. This alone will dramatically increase the amount of energy you have to actually engage in everything you do.  Here’s an example of the schedule I put together last night for today:

Yes, I eat a lot 🙂

[ photo: flickr / TheAlieness GiselaGiardino ]

Energy is Clarity

One of the fastest ways to get more energy in your life is with clarity. There are lots of philosophies around the best way to manage your to do list. One of the best that I use is a variation of something called Getting Things Done (GTD). Knowing exactly what you should be doing next is certainly a key step, however, knowing WHY you are doing what you are doing is just as important.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of everyday life. The most successful people I know are ruthless about cutting out the clutter from their lives. It’s called the Pareto or 80/20 Principle – 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. The question is, which 20%? Every week I spend time thinking about what I want to get accomplished by the end of the week. I also reflect on what I accomplished over the last week and whether or not I accomplished what I had set out to do. I do the same thing every month. Doing this allows me to be really clear on my priorities. On any given day when I find myself being pulled in all sorts of directions by email, bills, phone calls, and random errands, I can stop and ask myself if what I’m doing is getting me any closer to what I want to accomplish that week.

When you start weighing what you are currently doing against what you want to accomplish you quickly realize whether or not you’re being energy efficient. To do this requires clarity on what you’re trying to accomplish. Not only will such clarity enable you save energy, you’ll get energized just by knowing that you’re being productive and meeting your goals. Sometimes getting that clarity is a challenge unto itself. How do you get it? I’ll save that for my next post…