How to Increase Efficiency with Context-Optimized Tasks

There are many ways to approach the tasks on your to-do list. The relative urgency of tasks can’t fail to play a role. The importance of tasks should play a greater role. But in this post I want to focus on an often-overlooked aspect of task-management: context. Most tasks are well-suited to being worked on in certain environments but ill-suited to others. Working on tasks optimally suited to the context you are in at any given time can greatly increase your overall work efficiency.

Scrabble-type letters spelling "context"

In this post I’ll explain what I mean by “context” and show how to increase efficiency by choosing tasks well-suited to any given context. (more…)

10 Lessons from 10 Years of Marriage

On the Occasion of Our 10-Year Wedding Anniversary

This blog is about the pursuit of what matters most. My angle is to help you have more time and money to that end, as time and money are huge levers. But they are only levers. What matters more is what matters most. Today I am celebrating a key ingredient of what matters most to me: my marriage. Today is Sarah’s and my 10-year wedding anniversary.

Brian and Sarah, with Sarah holding flowers

Our Wedding Day: May 19, 2007

In commemoration of this occasion, I thought I’d share 10 lessons from 10 years of marriage. Many apply to any pursuit of what matters most. Here goes: (more…)

SeatGuru: How to Get the Best Seat on the Plane

Plus a Special Bonus Trick that I Love

Whether flying in economy, business, or first class, you want the best seat for the money you spend. Some seats—such as those near the bathrooms—you know to avoid choosing. But how can you know in advance which seats don’t recline or which have misaligned windows? On the other hand, how can you know which have extra leg room or AC power so that you can charge your device in flight? The answer is SeatGuru.

Exit row seats

I’ve used SeatGuru for many years to help me get the best seat for the money. In this post I will explain how SeatGuru works and show you how to use it to get a great seat on the plane. (more…)

4 New Opportunities to Earn $500 on the Side

You Should be able to Earn $100/hour or More with These 4 Opportunities

Four good bank offers have come out over the past week or so, as reported by Doctor of Credit. Each offer allows you to earn $500 or more. They represent a fairly easy way to add to your financial bottom line.

Chase $300, $200, or $500 offer

Here’s an overview of each of the four offers, together with my recommendation for which one(s) to get, depending on your circumstances: (more…)

In a Difficult Situation? Change, Leave, or Accept It.

How to Find a Way Beyond Frustration

Do you ever feel stuck in life? Like you’re caught in a negative situation that you can’t do anything about? I think we all do at times. Perhaps you’ve felt this way in a relationship, a job, or any number of other circumstances. There are few poorer or sadder ways to spend this life’s limited time than feeling trapped and powerless.

Man looking out over the ocean, contemplating a difficult situation

Such situations are frustrating. They make it hard to live for what matters most. It’s easy to complain about them, but complaining doesn’t make them better. In fact, it makes them worse.

There often aren’t easy answers to such situations. And I’m not about to provide one. But I did read something recently that I found illuminative and empowering for circumstances such as these. The simple quote I read is this: (more…)

How to “Priceline Hack” a Luxury Hotel on the Cheap

I Saved $85/night—a 57% Discount—the Last Time I Used This Trick

If you’re like most people, you don’t want to overpay for a hotel. At the same time, you don’t want to spend forever squeezing out every last dollar of savings. You want to quickly find and book a great hotel at a great price. If you’re going to pay cash (rather than points) for a hotel, the absolute best way I know of to quickly get a great hotel at a great price is to use the Priceline hack I describe in this post.

Times Square with "Phantom of the Opera" sign -- used to illustrate the Priceline Hack

Times Square, New York — one of the many places the Priceline hack works

The last time I used this method I booked a $150 4-star hotel in Miami for $65—a savings of $85 or 57%. Saving $85 is great. But imagine saving $85/night on a 5-night stay. That’s a savings of $425. Now imagine doing that four times per year. That’s a savings of $1,700. The savings add up quickly when you make this method of booking hotels your default method.

In this post I will explain how Priceline works. Then I’ll share the key to the trick. Finally, I’ll include a video I recorded of me using the method. That way you can see, step-by-step, exactly how to do it. (more…)

Save Time with these 2 Strange Gmail Tricks

How to Use the Gmail Plus Sign and Dot Tricks to Save Time

A number of folks have recently signed up to receive my emails. Looking over the subscriber list, I see that about two-thirds of you have Gmail addresses. I wanted to share 2 time-saving Gmail tricks that you might not be aware of.

Gmail logo

The following two tricks work for Gmail and some other email providers as well: (more…)

How to Use Expected Value to Save Time and Money

Make Everyday Decisions with the Mind of a Poker Pro

Poker legend Doyle Brunson is rumored to have been asked whether he would take the following bet. A coin is flipped. If it comes up heads, Doyle loses his entire net worth. Tails, he wins 10 times his net worth. Doyle responded, “I’d have to take that bet.”

Man flipping coin, representing Doyle Brunson's expected value decision

He’d “have to” take that bet because of a concept called expected value. Even if some of us wouldn’t take that particular bet, the concept of expected value can help us make better decisions in many areas of life, especially those involving time and money.

In this post, I’ll define expected value and show how you can use it to save time and money. (more…)

How to Avoid Paying a Flight Cancellation Fee

4 Ways to Cancel Flights for Free

Cancelling a flight is often costly. Most of the U.S. carriers charge $100-200 to cancel or change a nonrefundable, domestic ticket. In some cases, however, you can cancel without paying a flight cancellation fee.

Woman watching a plane depart

Following are 4 ways to cancel your ticket without paying a fee. I’ve used three of these four ways a good number of times. (more…)

Why I Proposed at the Foot of the Cross

And How Suffering is an Opportunity to Express our Love for What Matters Most

I wasn’t sure how to sneak a diamond ring into Israel without my girlfriend noticing. If I put it in my backpack, she might stumble upon it as we traveled. But if I carried it on me, would it set off the airport metal detector? The last thing I wanted was to have to show the ring to the TSA. If they saw it, my girlfriend would, too. What then? Would I drop to a knee and propose in airport security? I didn’t want to think about it.

Sarah and I praying at the foot of the Cross

Sarah and I praying at the foot of the Cross, where we got engaged

In the end, I carried the ring in a money belt, which I wore inside my pants, around my waist. (Yes, I thought that upon popping the question, my girlfriend would say “yes” despite the fashion statement that wearing a money belt makes. Guess I thought she really loved me.)

The only time I took that money belt off was to quickly send it through airport scanners. Otherwise, I kept it glued to me. And what with the Israeli heat, I don’t use “glued” lightly. (more…)