2017: Getting Rid of Distraction

January is the month of resolutions. We pledge to exercise more, eat better, save more, be more productive, be less stressed, wake up earlier, stop procrastinating, and just generally do more. We pledge to be happier.

Unfortunately, life is complicated and come February or March, our new routines are often abandoned and forgotten – which is normal! All of us are susceptible to losing our determination and motivation.

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January is the month of resolutions. We pledge to exercise more, eat better, save more, be more productive, be less stressed, wake up earlier, stop procrastinating, and just generally do more. We pledge to be happier.

Unfortunately, life is complicated and come February or March, our new routines are often abandoned and forgotten – which is normal! All of us are susceptible to losing our determination and motivation.

For 2017 we’ve created a five-part blog series that focuses less on adding and doing more, and more on simply being present and focused with things as they are. If you missed Part 1 on mindful meditation or Part 2 on being present with those who matter, Part 3 on improving your habits by improving your sleep,  or Part 4 on making a schedule that helps you help yourself – click on the links above.

Although the pings, buzzes, alerts, and notifications help us feel connected and busy, it’s often not at the right times with the right information. We scan emails while watching TV, answer texts while finishing a report, and lose hundreds of hours and minutes scanning the seemingly endless flow of information from our timelines and newsfeeds. Each time with a cost to our focus, productivity, and mental clarity.

So why can’t we just ignore digital distraction?

As many of us know, this is really difficult and that’s because of two main factors: our self-control is a finite resource, and much distracting tech has been designed to make your brain crave more.

When it comes to combatting distractions, self-control can certainly help, but unfortunately only for a while. It’s possible to ignore your phone’s buzzes and the lure of your inbox, however it get’s harder throughout the day. Exercise over sleep, a deep breath over anger, and choosing to work over answering your phone, all tap the same reserve of self-control that gets depleted as the day goes on. This helps explain why New Year’s resolutions are lost and forgotten come May.

To add to the problem of diminishing self-control, the digital distractions that most of us spend fighting are actually designed to keep us coming back for more. Social media and push-notifications release two main chemical rewards in our brain that keep us coming back for more – dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine rewards us for seeking out novelty, while oxytocin helps create feelings of compassion and trust – helping us feel more connected to those around us.

Although there are many benefits and conveniences that come with our digital technologies, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy habits without the right tools and techniques.

FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE

Fighting off digital distraction from your work, family, hobbies, and thoughts can seem impossible at times and it’s easy to feel out of control.  Luckily there’s a solution – fight fire with fire. At Freedom, we believe that technology should always work for you, not against you, so we created a simple digital solution for a tricky digital problem.

Freedom is a productivity platform that blocks distracting sites and apps across all your devices for a set period of time. With Freedom, you can take back control of your tech and make sure it’s not distracting you from the things that matter most.

All you have to do is login. Select which sites and apps you wish to block. Choose for how long and on what devices, and voila – you’re free to do what matters!

With Freedom you can even schedule blocks in advance, and create recurring blocks to help make productivity a habit.

Life can be distracting, but your tech doesn’t have to. Try Freedom today and free yourself from digital distractions.

 

2017: Making a Schedule that Helps You Help Yourself

When you hear about the routines of the most productive people, they often include tasks like 5 a.m. wakeups, 6-mile jogs, and guilt-free smoothies. Tasks that should all be simple enough to incorporate if you are a well-oiled productivity machine – but unfortunately, chances are you’re not a robot.

For 2017 we’ve created a five-part blog series that focuses less on adding and doing more, and more on simply being present and focused with things as they are. If you missed Part 1 on mindful meditation or Part 2 on being present with those who matter, Part 3 on improving your habits by improving your sleep, click the links above!

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When you hear about the routines of the most productive people, they often include tasks like 5 a.m. wakeups, 6-mile jogs, and guilt-free smoothies. Tasks that should all be simple enough to incorporate if you are a well-oiled productivity machine – but unfortunately, chances are you’re not a robot.

For 2017 we’ve created a five-part blog series that focuses less on adding and doing more, and more on simply being present and focused with things as they are. If you missed Part 1 on mindful meditation or Part 2 on being present with those who matter, Part 3 on improving your habits by improving your sleep, click the links above!

WHAT HELPS PRODUCTIVE PEOPLE BE PRODUCTIVE

When it comes to creating a more productive and fulfilled life – most of us go about it the wrong way. We think that in order to be successful, happy, and healthy, we need to do more, add more, or be more.

The problem with this way of thinking is that, unfortunately, our resources are limited – our time, energy, motivation, and self-control are all finite resources that eventually run out or get depleted.

So this year, maybe it’s time to take a step back and look at what should be removed before you try to add more. It’s time to acknowledge that less is just as important as more.

UNDERSTANDING WHERE YOUR TIME GOES:

Understanding what your daily life looks like can be the first step to creating more efficient and productive habits. Being able to identify what drains your time and energy is essential in helping you to create a schedule that works with you rather than against you.

In order to be more focused and fulfilled in 2017, you first have to examine who you were and what you did in 2016.

Start by writing a schedule for your average week. Write down approximate wake-up times, bedtimes, and everything in between. Make sure you include the little things like your commute to work, showers, meetings with friends, and all the other little things that add up to form your days. But remember, this is just your estimate of how you spend your time.
Now it’s time to find out how you actually spend your time.

  1. Pick a week and carry a little notebook, or use your phone to record your day. Write down the start time of each activity, and when you switch to a new task, write down the end time. Obviously, certain tasks like brushing your teeth, hair, and getting dressed can be grouped into a more general task such as “getting ready,” however it’s important to not generalize too much and risk missing insight into sneaky time-eaters. For example, quick 10-minute sessions of email, social media, or Candy Crush can quickly add up to huge chunks of time in your day.
  2. After a week or two, it’s now time to see what your daily life actually looks like. It should be easy to see patterns. You’ll probably be surprised at how checks to Facebook and email become hours of squandered time, or how small distractions from coworkers and friends quickly consume an afternoon.

MAKING A SCHEDULE THAT HELPS YOU HELP YOURSELF

When it comes to achieving your goals, for most of us it’s the little things that get in the way. Whether it’s finding a pair of the right socks before running, grabbing a burger because you ran out of time to make yourself lunch in the morning, or finding the motivation to force yourself not to give into the temptation of binge-watching Netflix each night – it’s the little things that build up and wear you down.
Now that you know what your days look like, it’s time to optimize your schedule.

  • Remove as many decisions as possible from your daily life so that your effort and need for self-control are minimal during the times when you know you’ll be tired and when your motivation will be depleted. If you want to make lasting changes to your routine, it’s important to make it as easy as possible for you to continue to make the right decision. For example, plan your meals for the week and make a grocery list on Sunday nights, or choose which days you want to workout and which will be reserved for friends and family.
  • Find natural pairings of activities that help your day move more smoothly. For example, catch up on your Netflix shows while you work out, or call friends while cooking dinner.
  • Group chunks of digital check-ins like email and social media into designated blocks so that you aren’t losing time and focus throughout the day.
    Remove the bad options so you’re forced to take the good ones. For example, buy a water bottle instead of soda, fruit instead of chips. Get rid of your cable TV, or block the internet with Freedom.

Here’s a list of other potential productivity pairings and shortcuts to help you help yourself:

  • Find a friend to workout with to increase your commitment to exercise while also having time to socialize.
  • If you’re not a morning person, pick out your outfit the night before and set the table for breakfast. Pack your lunch for the next day while making dinner. Check the news on the metro, or listen to it while you drive.
  • Walk to lunch, (even if you pack your lunch,) to get those extra steps of exercise, or take the stairs.
  • On days where you want to work out, set out all the things you need – running band, headphones, socks, sports bra, etc. – the night before.
  • Buy healthy snacks so that when you’re hungry you only have good options to choose from.
  • Make your bed before leaving in the morning to help your environment feel tidy and relaxing when you return.
  • Keep a water bottle on you at all times, and set out a bowl healthy snacks near your door to grab on your way out

You’ll be surprised by the changes you can make to your habits when you create a routine that makes it convenient for you to succeed. How have you designed your environment for success? We’d love to hear your tips, tricks, and methods in the comments below!

4 Reads to Help You Make Space for Silence in 2017

At Freedom we are lucky to have many of our users write about their experience. From tweets to published articles – the Freedom community is buzzing with productivity strategy, advice, and experiments for a more focused, fulfilled life.

This week’s articles focus on creating space for silence and contemplation. In order to have clarity about the things that matter most, one must first quieten the noise and clear space to think.

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At Freedom we are lucky to have many of our users write about their experience. From tweets to published articles – the Freedom community is buzzing with productivity strategy, advice, and experiments for a more focused, fulfilled life.

This week’s articles focus on creating space for silence and contemplation. In order to have clarity about the things that matter most, one must first quieten the noise and clear space to think.

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5 PRACTICAL WAYS TO CREATE SPACE FOR SILENCE | Micah J. Murray

If you’re like most of us, 2016 was a year filled with noise. Noise from news sites, politicians, friends from high school, funny Instagram and Twitter accounts, noise from the trivial to the most tragic and profound corners of human consciousness. And if you’re like most of us, you probably got more than your recommended daily dose of it from almost every digital channel out there. January is a month of reflection and change, and if you’re like author of this post, you may have decided that it’s time for a change in 2017. It’s time for more space – more silence – in order to declutter your mind and spend time thinking about the things that matter most to you. Check out the article above for 5 tips on how you can make more space for silence in your life.
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LIFE WITHOUT THE INTERNET | Joe Bagel

Living without wifi sounds like a horror film for most of us these days. We simply cannot fathom our lives without the endless stream of content to keep our minds busy. However, author Joe Bagel has taken the path most of us are afraid to even consider and gone wifi-free for five years. As a writer, he deems a decluttered mind an absolute priority to his work’s success. Although he acknowledges that his extreme methods might not be right for everyone, he has found peace and clarity for himself. Read more about his internet-free life above!  

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TECHNOLOGY TO LIMIT TECHNOLOGY: CELL PHONE ADDICTION | Rebecca Angel

Smartphones, in many ways, have completely revolutionized the way we work and interact with our peers daily. We now have the whole world at our fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, (or at least until we run out of battery.) Although smartphones provide many incredible benefits, for many of us, our smartphones have taken control of us instead of the other way around. Rebecca Angel, a concerned mother, watched this happen to her family over a few months, as each member upgraded to their shiny new smart devices. Luckily, she found a few solutions to help her and her family regain control over their technology. Click the link above to learn more about how she did it.

 

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OVERCOMING MY SOCIAL NETWORK ADDICTION | Erik Pavia

“New growth cannot exist without first the destruction of the old” – The Guru Laghima

In order to create space for the things that matter this year, it’s necessary to first remove something. Most of us make the mistake of trying to add new habits, routines, and exercises, without removing the things that eat our time without much return. For author Erik Pavia, it was social networking that was slyly stealing away his precious time without having a huge impact on his happiness. To find out more about how he fought his digital addiction to find time for the things that matter, click the link above.

2017: Boost Your Productivity and Health with Better Sleep

When it comes to your mental and physical health, there is no doubt that quality sleep is essential.

Most of us know the dreaded sluggish feeling the next day after a poor night’s sleep, however not all of us are aware of the more subtle, yet severe effects sleeping problems can have on our brain’s ability to function.

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January is the month of resolutions. Each year, we take time to review our lives and decide which habits we hope to create or get rid of in order to live a more fulfilling life.We pledge to exercise more, eat better, save more, be more productive, be less stressed, wake up earlier, stop procrastinating, and just generally do more. We pledge to be happier.

Unfortunately, life is complicated and come February or March, our new routines are often abandoned and forgotten – which is normal! All of us are susceptible to losing our determination and motivation.

For 2017 we’ve created a five-part blog series that focuses less on adding and doing more, and more on simply being present and focused with things as they are. If you missed Part 1 on mindful meditation or Part 2 on being present with those who matter, click on the links above.

IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP TO IMPROVE YOUR HABITS

When it comes to your mental and physical health, there is no doubt that quality sleep is essential.

Most of us know the dreaded sluggish feeling the next day after a poor night’s sleep, however not all of us are aware of the more subtle, yet severe effects sleeping problems can have on our brain’s ability to function.

Along with a general decrease in productivity, lack of sleep has also been shown to inhibit our ability to concentrate, be alert, assess new information correctly, and recall previously learned information – essentially hindering our ability to learn and create new memories.

Sleep deprivation can also lead to poor decision-making, as a result of our brain’s impaired ability to assess a situation correctly and select the best solution. Not only, does poor sleep impair your judgment, but has also been shown to weaken your self-control throughout the day, as a good night’s rest can help restore your self-control reserves. This helps explain why it’s more difficult to make yourself exercise, eat healthily, and avoid distractions when you’re feeling tired.

Getting a good night’s sleep has also been linked with other health benefits such as improved immune system functioning, a lower risk of obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.

So by getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night, you’re increasing your potential to live a healthier, happier life.

 

BETTER SLEEP HYGIENE = BETTER SLEEP

According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 Americans is not getting enough sleep. Poor sleep quality can be caused by a variety of factors, however for most of us, major improvements can be made with small changes to your sleep hygiene.

So what is sleep hygiene? Sleep hygiene is a variety of practices that you can do to ensure that you will most likely to get the rest you need.

 

Here are 8 practices you can use to help you get the sleep you need:

  1. Make sure you create a sleep-inducing environment
    • Make sure your bed, comforter, and pillows help to create a calm, comfortable, cool environment
  2. Try to create a consistent sleeping schedule based on your natural circadian rhythm
    • This means going to waking up and going to bed at roughly the same time every day – yes, even on weekends
  3. Only go to bed when you’re tired, and when you do, don’t watch your alarm clock
    • Too often we try to go to bed when we’re not tired, causing a vicious cycle of not falling asleep because you’re too busy stressing about falling asleep
  4. Get rid of distractions – use Freedom to set a schedule for when you will no longer allow yourself to be online
    • This will help to calm your thoughts, as well as your intake of blue light, which like sunlight can wake you up when you’re trying to drift off
  5. Be active during the day
    • Getting a dose of exercise each day can help to tire you for bed. But remember not to exercise too close to your bedtime!
  6. Try to avoid drinking caffeine or eating too late
  7. If your mind is racing, try meditating or various relaxation exercises to help find peace and calm. For more on getting started on meditation, check out our post here.
  8. An hour before bed, create a to-do list or schedule for tomorrow
    • By writing down all the things you know you will have to do, you help your mind relax knowing that you have everything under control

 

2017: Be Present for Those Who Matter Most

January is the month of resolutions. Each year, we take time to review our lives and decide which habits we hope to create or get rid of in order to live a more fulfilling life.

We pledge to exercise more, eat better, save more, be more productive, be less stressed, wake up earlier, stop procrastinating, and just generally do more. We pledge to be happier. Unfortunately, life is complicated and come February or March, our new routines are often abandoned and forgotten – which is normal! All of us are susceptible to losing our determination and motivation.

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January is the month of resolutions. Each year, we take time to review our lives and decide which habits we hope to create or get rid of in order to live a more fulfilling life.

We pledge to exercise more, eat better, save more, be more productive, be less stressed, wake up earlier, stop procrastinating, and just generally do more. We pledge to be happier. Unfortunately, life is complicated and come February or March, our new routines are often abandoned and forgotten – which is normal! All of us are susceptible to losing our determination and motivation.

This year, instead of always trying to do more, add more, and be more – try to focus on being present, accepting, and mindful of what you already have. Don’t wake up earlier to have more hours – rather change the way you’re using the hours you already have.

For 2017 we’ve created a five-part blog series that focuses less on adding and doing more, and more on simply being present and focused with things as they are. If you missed Part 1 on how mindful meditation can help you be present – you can check it out here.

 

BEING PRESENT WITH THOSE WHO MATTER MOST

Although many of us know and understand the importance of family and friends, we don’t always give them the attention they deserve. In fact, studies have revealed that the biggest predictor of your happiness is actually the extent of your social relationships. Not only that, but family and friends have been shown to help reduce your stress levels, improve your ability to fight disease, reduce your risk of dementia, and help you live longer.

However despite many of us knowing how important our loved ones are to us, too often we let life get in the way – dinners are eaten around the TV, conversations are interrupted by texts, calls, and notifications, and game nights turn into everyone checking their device in the same room.

Our modern, multifaceted, digital world has forced us into a habit of multitasking while at work or on-the-go, which unfortunately has now leaked into our personal lives as well.

It’s an easy habit to fall into, but unfortunately at a high cost to things that matter most to us – our beloved family and friends.

Although many of us already make time for family and friends, too often we aren’t actually present with them. We respond to texts and calls while getting drinks, check email while playing with our kids, or scroll through timelines while watching a family movie.

These subtle interruptions may seem insignificant by themselves, but can take a toll on your quality of relationships, and therefore your quality of life.

So this year, instead of trying to fit in more dinner parties, more coffee dates, or more play time with your kids – try to be present during the times you already have.

It’s time to log out, shut down, turn off all the noise, and pay attention to what’s already in front of you.

 

 

Here’s a list of ideas you can try to help you be present with those that matter most:

  • Create a device basket for all phones, tablets, and laptops to go into during dinner.
  • Make eye contact with your friends over drinks
  • Spend a night just listening to your friends or family
  • At dinner, refuse to talk about events that have already passed or in the future – spend the evening talking about the now – how everyone is currently feeling
  • Play “Would You Rather” – for example, “Would you rather meet your favorite artist at a concert, or have their phone number?”
  • Give someone a hug
  • Have everyone in your family pick a Youtube video to show everyone after dinner
  • Instead of texting, give someone a call
  • Find out what your kids’ or friends’ favorite movie is
  • Enjoy silence with someone
  • Meditate
  • Sit back and watch your kids play
  • Build a fire

 

What helps you be present for those who matter most? We’d love to hear how you help your relationships thrive in the comments below!

2017 : Don’t Change What You’re Doing, Change How You’re Doing It

With the fireworks over and the hangovers subsided, resolution season is now officially in full swing. Each year, we take time to review our lives and decide which habits we hope to create or get rid of in order to live a more fulfilled life.

We pledge to exercise more, eat better, save more, be more productive, be less stressed, wake up earlier, stop procrastinating, and just generally achieve more. We pledge to be happier. Unfortunately, life is complicated and come February or March, our new routines are often abandoned and forgotten.

All of us are susceptible to losing our determination and motivation. So this year, maybe it’s time to try something different. Instead of changing what you’re doing, change the way you’re doing it.

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With the fireworks over and the hangovers subsided, resolution season is now officially in full swing. Each year, we take time to review our lives and decide which habits we hope to create or get rid of in order to live a more fulfilled life.

We pledge to exercise more, eat better, save more, be more productive, be less stressed, wake up earlier, stop procrastinating, and just generally achieve more. We pledge to be happier. Unfortunately, life is complicated and come February or March, our new routines are often abandoned and forgotten.

All of us are susceptible to losing our determination and motivation. So this year, maybe it’s time to try something different. Instead of changing what you’re doing, change how you’re doing it.

At Freedom, we believe in productivity and making positive changes, but too often we set ourselves up for failure with lofty goals, or unrealistic expectations of our time, energy, and motivation. Instead of always trying to do more, add more, and be more – this year, try to focus on being present, accepting, and mindful of what you already have. For example, instead of trying to wake up earlier to have more hours in your day, maybe you need to change the way you’re using the hours you already have.

Instead of always trying to do more, add more, and be more – this year, try to focus on being present, accepting, and mindful of what you already have.

So this year we’ve created a five-part blog series that focuses less on adding and doing more, and more on simply being present and focused with things as they are.

MINDFUL MEDITATION

Being mindful is not something that always comes naturally, but it’s something that can have tremendous benefits to your life, health, and happiness – with minimal effort. So, this week’s post focuses on how to be more present with mindful meditation.

Mindful meditation is simple. It’s the practice of breathing and focusing your attention on your present state without passing judgment. Instead of trying to change or adapt your state, mindful meditation encourages acceptance of your experience in the present moment. 

In as little as 10 minutes a day, mindful meditation has been shown to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, rebuild your brain’s gray matter, as well as improve sleep, digestion, and self-control.

GETTING STARTED

Getting started with mindful meditation is simple. There are many different ways in which you can practice mindful meditation, so it may take some trial and error to find the method that works best for you.

  1. To start, find a 10-minute slot in your day in which you can sit and meditate. Then pick a calm spot to sit where you will not be interrupted during your meditation.
  2. Next, sit cross-legged on the ground, or sit naturally in a chair; allowing your hands to fall naturally in your lap or on your legs. Remember to keep your back straight, but avoid becoming rigid or tensing.
  3. Now it’s time to begin the meditation. Close your eyes, or let your gaze fall gently on whatever is in front of you. Allow yourself to rest in this position for a few minutes, drawing your attention to your breath.
  4. Take a few deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. After a couple repetitions, allow your breathing to assume its natural rhythm.
  5.  When your mind begins to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breathing. It’s also important to remember that as your mind wanders, to remain unjudgemental of any thoughts and emotions that arise – each time acknowledging them and then shifting your attention back to your breath.

Some days, your attention and focus will come more easily than others, but regardless of how it goes, it’s important to remember that mindfulness takes practice. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re struggling to keep your attention, just acknowledge it, and continue to practice.

Also, for those who feel they need more help getting started or maintaining the habit, there are great tools that can help. For guided meditations and reminders, try an app like Headspace, or use UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center’s free guided meditations ranging from three to 12 minutes.

What’s important is that you are taking steps to become more mindful – and improving your general quality of daily life. So make sure you’re present for this 2017 and give mindful meditation a shot!

 

 

How to Succeed in a World of Distraction

At Freedom we are lucky to have many of our users write about their experience. From tweets to published articles – the Freedom community is buzzing with productivity strategy, advice, and experiments for a more focused, fulfilled life.

Life is filled with all kinds of distractions – whether from family, friends, work, school, or devices, it’s easy to lose focus or squander time while trying to complete a task, goal, objective, or dream. So this week’s article focus on how to create routines for consistent productivity and achieve results by avoiding tempting distractions.

d_kow7ihnnw-saulo-mohana.jpgAt Freedom we are lucky to have many of our users write about their experience. From tweets to published articles – the Freedom community is buzzing with productivity strategy, advice, and experiments for a more focused, fulfilled life.

Life is filled with all kinds of distractions – whether from family, friends, work, school, or devices, it’s easy to lose focus or squander time while trying to complete a task, goal, objective, or dream.  So this week’s article focus on how to create routines for consistent productivity and achieve results by avoiding tempting distractions.

 

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THE SURPRISINGLY SIMPLE THING ALL PRODUCTIVE PEOPLE DO | Kelly Exeter

When you hear about the routines of the most productive people, they often include tasks like 5 a.m. wakeups, 6-mile jogs, and guilt-free smoothies. Tasks that should all be simple enough to incorporate if you are a well-oiled productivity machine – but unfortunately, chances are that you are not a robot. Luckily, author Kelly Exeter has found the solution for creating and maintaining a productive lifestyle! Read more to find out how you too can make productivity a habit.
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YOUNG WOMEN ARE THE MOST BORED AT WORK, HERE’S WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT | Jillian Kramer

The research is in and it shows that 48 percent of young women are bored at work. Women reported that a lack of workplace challenges, opportunities to develop new skills, and digital distractions were all contributing factors to feeling bored and unmotivated in the workplace. Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it. Check out these six tips to find out how you can rejuvenate and revive your motivation and creativity at work.

 

 

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MOTIVATION IS OVERRATED | Neil Strauss

Too often when we set a goal, we consider our motivation as the key to our success. Interestingly, author Neil Strauss says we have it all wrong. Motivation, he says, is a fleeting emotion that can not be relied on for consistent success – it’s too easily overwhelmed by distractions. Read his post above to learn more about how you can create a system of working to protect yourself from drops in motivation. 

 

 

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FREEDOM REVIEW: GET BACK 40+ YEARS OF YOUR LIFE | Imran Esmail

Do you find it difficult to maintain consistent productivity? You’re not alone. Author Imran Esmail tells all about how he managed to find his productivity groove with Freedom – a change that led him to gain an astonishing 40 years of life back. Continue reading for his story and a breakdown of the numbers.  

 

 

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TOOLS OF THE WRITING TRADE | J.T. Ellison

Our Freedom community is filled with talented best-selling authors. J.T. Ellison happens to be one of them. Read her article above discover her trade secrets, productivity tools, and healthy habits that help her do her best writing every day.