Why did I do the phase 1 challenge?

After 75 Hard, I was in really good shape. It might have been the best shape of my life.

The reason to start 75 Hard was depression. During the end of the phase, I was almost out of it.

I was supposed to take a 10-day break before starting phase 1. But the 10-day break turned into a 30-day break and this was because I was trying to time it with lunch with friends. That timing got postponed multiple times, so I started the challenge anyway because I had my IBS symptoms return. So I had to start the challenge again with urgency. I declared to family and friends that I’ll start the challenge. And I did.

Differences

I planned how I would get everything done. I had become good solid with 75 Hard rules. Adding Phase 1 rules would be a bit challenging.

I listened to the podcast again and noted down the rules of the Phase 1 challenge.

I decided to take a picture early in the morning so that I wouldn’t fail it like last time. And I did.

The 75 hard tasks were the same as I did before so in this post I’ll describe the new activities.

3 Power List

The power list was the most ambiguous part. In some places, it was written to be 3 tasks. And some places it was 3 additional tasks over the 5 tasks.

In the podcast, Andy said when ambiguous pick the hardest so I picked the 8 tasks.

And it was hard. I was doing my tasks till 2 AM on multiple days.

Later, I realized that I wasn’t prioritizing tasks early in the day. Rather I was waiting for the night before doing my tasks.

So, I started prioritizing my tasks early.

Deleting WhatsApp and YouTube

I was over-prepared for the power list. I deleted WhatsApp from my phone and decided not to use it for 30 days from phone. I could use it from Laptop if needed. But not the phone. 13 days before the end of the challenge, WhatsApp on my laptop got logged out and I could not log in. I had also deleted YouTube like I did in 75 Hard.

Both these helped boost my focus beyond what I thought was possible.

A kind of monk mode.

Pomodoro

I started using the Pomodoro technique to help me focus. And it helped. I am using a Pomodoro to write this article too.

Kind of tasks included

Listening to the podcast, I knew I could include some tasks that I was trying to make into a habit. But I could only add them for 21 days as after 21 days they get formed.

So I added,

  • Meditation for 10 minutes
  • Sleep system (keep phone outside, make the room pitch black, AC on, put the sleep mask on, and sleep)
  • Learning and doing power nap

I hadn’t done a power nap well so I practiced the jocko way.

After multiple days of not sleeping properly, I realized that sleep was critical. So I had to add the sleep system and power nap to the list and both of them helped.

I also added tasks related to my goals: finding a new high-paying job and writing a series of blog posts on Test Driven Development. I added these too.

During the challenge, I had my depression up. I wasn’t able to do a lot of my other tasks if I didn’t take care of myself enough. I have been going through therapy and decided that these tasks and homework are critical too. So I added the homework and tasks as part of the power list too.

Planning tasks

Initially, I had a lot of planning tasks because I didn’t know what to do as part of the power list. I needed to plan what to add.

These plans included:

  1. Plan for how to find a high-paying job
  2. Plan what to add to the power list
  3. Plan Test First Test Everything Blogpost.

These may seem trivial but they were critical because I lacked direction at the time. And spending time on them did help me form a proper vision for the upcoming days.

Splitting Large Tasks to 1 Pomodoro

In the case of learning tasks and coding tasks, I cannot do many tasks in a day. And if I do a learning task within a day, I will have no comprehension. So I decided to do a minimum of 25 minutes of each task. size of 1 Pomodoro.

This was I had 2 or 3 days of learning I could do for 25 minutes per day.

But I didn’t do 3 Pomodoro in a day and count it as 3 tasks. If I did 3 pomo in a day for a task it would be 1 task only. but if I do 1 pomo each day for 3 days, I would count it as 3 tasks.

My mind didn’t get bored because I was doing so many tasks. It wasn’t the same task. And I had my energy up.

Scrum

I started practicing scrum at the end of 75 Hard. I modified my practice and created many boards.

I’ll be writing a blog post on how I implemented Scrum.

Scrum and the Power List were perfect companions in getting my productivity up by around 5 times.

Visualization

I changed my visualization a bunch of times.

Scientific Visualization

For visualization, I listened to Andrew Huberman’s podcast on visualization. And that helped me clarify how to visualize better.

  1. Think in first person
  2. Visualize for 7-15 seconds.
  3. Repeat the visualization multiple times
  4. Involve eye movement
  5. Keep the number of senses low.
  6. Label the visualization. Then practice saying the label before starting the activity in the real world.
  7. Visualization is not a replacement for real-world activity. But it can enhance it. And it can help preserve the activity when you are not able to do the real-world activity.
  8. Have clear start and stop signs that you visualize and imagine yourself stopping.
Core Values

I wrote a vision of how I would implement my core values and imagine myself going through them.

I practiced many aspects, especially the morning routine. Over the weeks through visualization, I was able to get less groggy and being able to do morning rituals at a nice pace.

Modifications

I also sometimes visualize what I plan to do, or what problems I am facing and how could I solve them. These were very reflective and forward-planning sessions that were very helpful.

App

I used the Oak meditation app for a 10-minute visualization. I would ring after every 2 min, so I could keep my focus.

Time

I found EOD to be the worst time as I was too sleepy and having visualization as the last item on the list was annoying.

I did visualization mostly before bed. However, I experimented with morning visualization. Especially during the morning bathroom, which was the most productive. I had to force myself to visualize as I wanted to get the task off my plate so that I could sleep better.

Cold shower

Cold showers were the simplest. I would come home from a walk, and put on hot water first. Then put a 5-minute timer and turn cold.

Someday I will use music and someday I will not use music.

Overall it was simple.

Result

My weight went from 73Kgs to 69.8 Kgs.

My confidence went up infinitely. And it’s hard to understand why. People have been coming and talking to me. Asking me if I am a college student. They are amazed when I say, I’m 26.

  1. I learned that 75 hard was much much easier than Phase 1. But I was able to do it fully.
  2. I lacked the focus to do tasks in the early part of the day. Which would lead to me doing tasks at the end of the day.

WhatsApp is not necessary.

It’s more fun to switch between work and fun than to just do either

The switch between work when doing the challenge and having fun in life when not doing the challenge really makes a big difference.

I couldn’t continue to work non-stop while not on the challenge. It was because I was on a challenge that I was able to complete the tasks.

When the challenge was over, the fun tasks that I used to enjoy became even more enjoyable. :)

Focus in the early part of the day

I treated EOD like a deadline where all the work gets done just before the deadline.

This leads to a lot of stress.

Later I started doing work earlier in the day so that I could have more time later. :) And that helped.

What I am experimenting to do after phase 1?

For me, Phase 1 was not sustainable. But there were many valuable things I learned. Here are some things I have planned.

Start consuming protein in drink form

Either protein shake or sattu milkshake. This should reduce the effect of not having a diet for at least 30 days.

Continue exercising

I like the gym. It’s fun and I get to meet my friends.

Do the 5 critical item power list

The amount of productivity was infinite and I want to continue it.

30 days of Munching and Traveling

I want to enjoy life for 30 days so I have a list of activities.