The Golden Hour
Hosted by Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes, co-founders of OptimalWork, The Golden Hour will help you learn to challenge yourself in each hour of work according to your highest ideals. We'll discuss all aspects of Dr. Majeres's approach to work, which he developed in his private practice and teaches at Harvard Medical School, and show how it applies to everyday situations like professional work, study, sleep, and relationships.
For a set of online tools to help you put the ideas into practice, visit www.optimalwork.com.
Please send questions for discussion to email@example.com.
For a set of online tools to help you put the ideas into practice, visit www.optimalwork.com.
Please send questions for discussion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
84. Why You Need Essentialism
#84: We live in a society where, more and more, people are managing themselves: making decisions about what projects they’ll take on and how they will prioritize and spend their time. Essentialism is a book and a philosophy about how to thrive in this challenge — and it’s the topic of today’s episode. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
December 6, 2021
83. Mindfulness at Work
#83: Is it true that there are some jobs that are incompatible with being mindful? Is it possible that a person can practice mindfulness, only to discover it does not work for them? In this episode, we’ll show how mindfulness can be profitably practiced anywhere, by any one.
November 29, 2021
82. How to Cultivate Gratitude
#82: What, if anything, does OptimalWork have to say about reflecting on the past? How can we use gratitude to help us make sense of our lives and deepen our bonds with others? Join us as we discuss these and other questions.
November 22, 2021
81. A Tribute to Aaron Beck
#81: On November 1, 2021, the founder of cognitive therapy, Dr. Aaron T. Beck, passed away. Dr. Kevin Majeres trained with Dr. Beck and reflects on his significance, both for the field of psychology and for his own work.
November 15, 2021
80. How to Have Unlimited Reserves of Willpower
Could there be a link between ego depletion and the increase of depression in modern times? We think there could be. But it’s not ego depletion itself; rather, it’s the theory of ego depletion that may be causing it. In this episode, we discuss what ego depletion is thought to be, and why implicit belief in it does more harm than good.
November 8, 2021
79. How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed
#79: One of the consequences of living in threat mode is that you often feel overwhelmed. Your view of yourself and your situation becomes fixed, and you can lose your optimism. In this episode, we’ll show you how to regain a sense of possibility and freedom whenever you’re overwhelmed.
November 1, 2021
78. What’s Missing from Atomic Habits
#78: Atomic Habits by James Clear is a recent best-seller that covers a lot of the same topics as OptimalWork. In this episode, we summarize its approach and theory and identify areas of common ground, as well as some shortcomings of the Atomic Habits approach. This helps to clarify how transformative OptimalWork’s approach really is.
October 25, 2021
77. Use Dopamine to Shape Habits
#77: If you’re struggling to form better habits, we have two simple practices that will help you shape your own behavior. To understand these, we first dive into some new developments in the neuroscience of self-control.
October 18, 2021
76. Routine: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
#76: Having routines can help us make desirable behaviors second nature. But routine is a double-edged sword. By making behaviors automatic, routine can deplete them of meaning. Routine — the good, the bad, and the ugly — is the topic of today’s episode.
October 11, 2021
75. How to Win Over Your Inner Critic
#75: Have you ever struggled with negative self-talk? Visualization can be a powerful tool in approaching your inner critic. Join us as we discuss how the use of imagery can turn OptimalWork’s theory of growth into a practical strategy for achieving psychological balance.
October 4, 2021
74. How to Have Deeper Conversations
#74: Conversations can be a source of frustration, but they can also be the source of our deepest and most fulfilling joys. The bonds that we form with others are forged in large part through conversations. In this episode, we’ll talk about the key skill needed to have good conversations.
September 27, 2021
73. How to Maintain Intensity in Work
#73: If we want to focus more intensely on something, it could be easy to think we just have to try harder. But recent advances in neuroscience give us two alternate approaches, which we’ll be discussing in today’s episode.
September 20, 2021
72. Bringing Clarity to Brain Fog
#72: One of the most frequent reasons for people to see their doctor is to treat fatigue or brain fog. In this episode, we look into the causes of brain fog and the potential solutions.
September 13, 2021
71. Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
#71: Maslow proposed his famous Hierarchy of Needs in 1943, and it remains a foundational idea in psychology. In this episode, we explore the deep consistency between Maslow’s understanding and OptimalWork’s approach, discussing reframing, mindfulness, challenge, and Maslow’s paradoxically selfless understanding of self-actualization.
September 6, 2021
70. Going Deeper into Your Why
#70: Cultivating a spirit of service lies at the heart of OptimalWork’s approach to work. Striving for a spirit of service ultimately means changing not just what we do and how we do things, but also why we do them. But how do we really assess and change something as intangible as the why behind what we do? This is the starting point for today’s discussion.
August 2, 2021
69. Deep Work and OptimalWork
#69: What makes OptimalWork different from other productivity systems? What makes the Golden Hour different from any other period of focused work? And what is the difference between OptimalWork and Dr. Cal Newport’s highly popular Deep Work? These questions and more in today’s episode.
July 26, 2021
68. On the Importance of Ideals
#68: We’ve often spoken about the importance of reframing challenges according to ideals. Inspired by questions, we’ve decided to revisit this topic, discussing ideals, what they are exactly, where they come from, and how to live them out in your life.
July 19, 2021
67. How to Read Sixty Books in a Year
#67: Reading is the best example of a skill that we use on a daily basis, and that much depends on, and yet we seldom think of practicing or improving. We’ll discuss how reading fits into OptimalWork’s approach, how to improve at both your speed and comprehension, and, yes, how to read sixty books per year.
July 12, 2021
66. How to Dehypnotize Yourself
#66: Are you hypnotized right now? It might surprise you to learn that, in a technical sense, you very well may be. Understanding how trances work, the topic of today’s episode, will allow you to free your attention from the things that capture it.
July 5, 2021
65. Do You Need Deadlines to Feel Motivated?
#65: Do you think you need a deadline imposed on you in order to get focused and motivated? Ultimately this can mean letting emotions drive your behavior. The better path is to act according to ideals, which leads to you shaping your emotions over time.
June 28, 2021
64. How to Develop Emotional Intelligence
#64: What is emotional intelligence? Can OptimalWork help in developing emotional intelligence? And what is the relationship between working at our best and developing a greater sensitivity for others? These questions and more in today's episode.
June 21, 2021
63. How to Thrive in Uncertainty
#63: Feeling uncertain can paralyze us. In those moments, we might seek reassurance from ourselves or others. In this episode, we discuss why you shouldn’t just seek certainty, and how these challenges provide the best opportunities for adventure and growth.
June 14, 2021
62. How to Help Others Grow
#62: How do you help others grow? How do you know when it’s the right time to help them grow? What’s the best way to pursue those conversations? This episode pursues these questions and others, so that you can thrive in any role in which others depend on you.
June 7, 2021
61. Sleep: A Skill You Can Learn
#61: Is the world divided between good sleepers and bad ones? Do poor sleepers simply have to be content with not sleeping well? In this episode, we’ll discuss the skills and ideals that can help you master sleep.
May 31, 2021
60. How to Develop Your Personality
#60: Is personality something you can develop by working on it? What would it look like to grow your personality? In this episode, we’ll apply our theory of growth to this very tricky topic.
May 24, 2021
59. How Fasting Supercharges Focus
#59: We’ve all experienced times when we’re hungry and cranky and have a hard time focusing. But surprisingly, it doesn’t have to be that way. It can do the exact opposite. When you deliberately bring on hunger through fasting, your attention and cognition are supercharged.
May 17, 2021
58. How Reframing Can Replace Medication
#58: Just a few years ago, the CDC reported that 13% of Americans had taken anti-depressants in the last month. In this episode, we discuss the promises and pitfalls of these medications, and their relationship with OptimalWork’s approach of changing behaviors.
May 10, 2021
57. How to Rest so You Can Thrive in Work
#57: How do you go about pursuing high ideals and forging relationships? You might immediately think of action, but also important is rest. In this episode, we look at the science of rest, showing how to rest well, so you can work more effectively and for higher ideals, stay energized, and forge deeper bonds with others.
May 3, 2021
56. The Silent Cure for Stress
#56: Stress is ubiquitous in these times, but it’s hard to know how to deal with it. Worrying is one response, but it can actually increase stress. So, what is stress, what causes it, and what can you do about it?
April 26, 2021
55. Bring More Flow Into Your Life
#55: Flow is something everyone experiences occasionally. Time flies by, you’re totally engaged, with no distractions at all. Is it possible to achieve it at will? Is it even good to aim for that? In this episode, we discuss the most helpful ways to think about flow.
April 19, 2021
54. Reframing When the Stakes Are High
#54: High stakes situations provide a unique challenge to the practice of reframing. How do we reframe failure, if we think that failure is not an option? This challenge gets to the heart of what reframing is, and how to do it.
April 12, 2021
53. Does Email Bring out Your Best?
#53: You might experience email as your worst nightmare — constantly interrupted, overwhelmed, unproductive. We’ll show you how to flip this around completely. We discuss strategies for managing your inbox and, more importantly, for crafting emails to make others’ lives easier. Improving the way you compose emails is a perfect opportunity to bring a spirit of service into your work.
April 5, 2021
52. Why Psychology Gets Baffled by Love
#52: You might think that love and work have nothing to do with one another. In fact, work has a lot to learn from love, and love from work. In this episode, we explore the similarities between good work and love; how love can provide light and purpose to work; and how to “work” love to prevent it from growing cold.
March 29, 2021
51. Recovering from a Broken Streak
#51: As you’re trying to develop new and better habits, there are some common obstacles you may run into — they might lead you to give up just when you’re on the cusp of great progress. In this episode, we discuss the most common reason people give up on new habits, and how to overcome it.
March 21, 2021
50. Making Decisions without Regret
#50: Do you agonize over what to order at restaurants? Or struggle to make decisions that align with your highest ideals? The key to making a good decision is learning how to put your decision in the right context.
March 15, 2021
49. How to Learn to Love Anxiety
#49: You may think that anxiety is an inherent trait, something that cannot be changed, only managed. In fact, it’s a state of training — of a small region of your brain called the amygdala — and there are definite steps you can take, not just to overcome it, but actually to transform it into your best performance.
March 8, 2021
48. The Breath of Life
#48: What one practice can increase your energy and mental clarity, stop you from snoring, fix bad breath, and much much more? Transforming how you breathe has many surprising benefits. We discuss the best way to breathe, how to make the change, as well as some difficulties you might encounter along the way.
March 1, 2021
47. Getting to the Heart of OptimalWork
#47: You may think that the challenges in your life are there to stay, and all you can do is manage them or cope. When the challenges get bigger, you may feel overwhelmed by them. This episode covers the essence of OptimalWork, which is to take the challenging situation you are facing, and flip it to make the challenge happen within you. Instead of being challenged, you are then challenging yourself — and you’ll immediately experience new energy. The challenge you face is giving you a workout for your ideals. There are no limits to the growth you can realize by actively challenging yourself according to your highest ideals.
February 22, 2021
46. How to Build Confidence
#46: Many people dream of being “confident” someday. When that day comes, they would have total certainty that they could attain any outcome they seek, without any anxiety at all. While it’s understandable that people want to work without uncertainty, this episode shows how “confidence” could actually mean that you are living on a plateau. Far better to aim instead for growth and your best performance and let confidence (or lack thereof) become simply irrelevant.
February 15, 2021
45. How to Raise your IQ
#45: You may think that your intelligence is fixed for your whole life. You may even think that this level is determined by an IQ test you took in the past. Happily, neither is true. There are definite practices you can start that will improve your ability to think — they will raise your IQ.
February 9, 2021
44. Finding your Daily Rhythm
#44: When it comes to planning your day, there are two extremes: having no schedule at all, or having a rigid and constraining schedule. It is common to fall into one of these extremes, or perhaps go back-and-forth between them. Yet the most sustainable way of scheduling, the one that yields the tranquility of order, involves a personalized balance of non-negotiables and flexible work times. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss how to get your schedule to work for you.
February 1, 2021
43. How to Make Things New
#43: Our brains naturally strive to maintain a predictable status quo. The upside of this is that we conserve energy and form habits. At the same time, it can lead to plateaus — in our skills, personal growth, and relationships. It can even cause our dealings with others to become rote, and we developed a fixed and superficial perception of those around us. Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes turn to the work of renowned neuroscientist Karl Friston to understand better the importance of challenging this status quo.
January 25, 2021
42. Uniting Work & Rest
#42: If you’re aiming to work at your best, constantly operating at 100%, won't you quickly become exhausted? In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss how to make intense workdays sustainable by introducing periods of intense rest. Intense rest not only helps you recover from work, it also helps you consolidate the learning and growth you attain while working.
January 18, 2021
41. When People Annoy You
#41: If someone around you has some defect that annoys you, it can cause a kind of obsession that develops into a critical attitude towards the very person. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss how this annoyance develops, what it means for the relationship, and what to do about it.
January 11, 2021
40. Beginning the Year with High Hopes
#40: The New Year provides a unique opportunity for a fresh start. To make the most of this opportunity, approach your resolutions with hope and creativity: hope so that you strive for the highest things (ideals, bonds) and creativity so that you can strategize how to achieve them. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss a broad array of questions related to New Year’s resolutions.
January 4, 2021
39. Reframing Explained
#39: The more you find yourself complaining or dreading, the more you’ll benefit from reframing, the skill that is most essential to OptimalWork. In this episode, Dr. Kevin and Sharif take several examples of difficult situations, pointing out possible reframes and, in the process, shedding light on the different ways to find meaning in the challenges you face.
December 28, 2020
38. A Cheerful Giver
#38: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss some questions received by email about service. Working with a spirit of service means shaping yourself so that you’re the kind of person who is ready to give cheerfully to all those around you. Although this requires that the actual work you’re doing is helpful, the essence lies instead in the way you do it: with a willingness to form and prioritize bonds with those closest to you.
December 21, 2020
37. Exploring Projects
#37: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss how to approach your repeating tasks in a new and better way. It comes down to three steps. First, identifying a goal to aim for, either in your way of working or what you will accomplish. Second, crafting a strategy to achieve this goal. And, finally, laying out the steps according to the strategy. You can use these steps whenever you are seeking to improve your work or change well-established habits.
December 14, 2020
36. Early to Rise
#36: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the importance of rising early to meet the challenges of the day head-on. They present an email from someone who uses OptimalWork asking for advice: whether she should adjust her schedule to be much earlier to accommodate a morning workout. They apply OptimalWork’s approach to this question and examine the results it yielded.
December 7, 2020
35. How to Stop Worrying
#35: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the question of worrying. Worrying is when you have some bad outcome that you continually think about how to avoid. It is one of the top reasons people get stressed out, experience burnout, and feel fatigue. Dr. Majeres helps clarify the precise nature of worrying, as well as steps to take to overcome it.
November 30, 2020
34. The Cloud of Unknowing
#34: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the “cloud of unknowing.” Whenever you are on the edge of your understanding, you will experience a kind of cloud, in which the way forward is unclear. This cloud can be daunting, and you may try to leave it for a safer path — but in fact it is a condition for innovation. Dr. Majeres gives advice on how to advance through the cloud toward discovery.
November 23, 2020
33. OptimalWork at Home
#33: In this episode Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the differences between applying OptimalWork at home versus a more controlled work environment like an office or library. Certainly, it may be easier to perform an uninterrupted Golden Hour in a more controlled environment. Nevertheless, since OptimalWork is all about learning how to work for the highest motives, namely, for the sake of the bonds with those closest to you, in important ways our approach really applies most easily to working at home.
November 16, 2020
32. Perfectionism: An Introduction
#32: Perfectionism is a commonly-used label, but it's often not clear what it means. In this episode, Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres discuss the issue of perfectionism, its causes, signs, and effects. And they show how OptimalWork's approach is the perfect antidote.
November 9, 2020
31. Theta Locking: The Muscle of Mindfulness
#31: In this episode, Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres dive further into the concept of “theta locking,” a pattern of brain activity that occurs when we recollect our attention. What it shows is that mindfulness is not a fixed trait, but a kind of muscle that we can develop through practice. Our ability to sustain our attention is something that can be directly practiced in every time of meditation. Such practice leads to the greatest sustained intensity of our attention in work.
November 2, 2020
30. The Best Exercises for Attention
#30: In this episode Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres discuss the phenomenon of mindfulness and how you can use it to strengthen your attention. There are three key skills of attention that are developed through these exercises: monitoring your thoughts, disengaging from distractions, and redirecting your attention to the task at hand. When we deliberately train, through both physical exercise and attention exercises, we improve the "hardware" of our brain, so that it can perform better.
October 26, 2020
29. The Cure for Procrastination
#29: Procrastination always involves a double-deception. First, you get deceived by the thought of all the effort the task will take, as if that is what you face when starting the task. Next, you deceive yourself by putting it off, even though you know it’s better to get started. In this episode, Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres take a deeper look at the underlying causes of procrastination. Understanding the cause reveals the path to overcoming procrastination.
October 19, 2020
28. Discipline? Let's be sincere.
#28: If you’re trying to build a new habit but get frustrated by failure, you might think you need more discipline, more willpower. In this episode, Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres discuss the real source of constancy in struggle and growth: sincerity. Sincerity about your motives leads to a willingness to sacrifice particular satisfactions or outcomes in the pursuit of ideals. It thus provides the sure foundation for growth and change.
October 12, 2020
27. The Post-Pre Flip
#27: You may have wondered how to apply OptimalWork's principles to "passive" activities like attending class or meetings. This week, Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres discussed how to actively challenge yourself in these situations, in particular, by doing a "post-pre flip" to completely change how you prepare for them.
October 5, 2020
26. Overcoming the Afternoon Slump
#26: In this episode, Dr. Majeres and Sharif discuss the common, but avoidable, tiredness that often hits after lunch. It can lead to discomfort, decreased productivity, and longer work-days. Dr. Majeres outlines some key principles for engaging the afternoon slump as an opportunity for growth.
September 28, 2020
25. When Anger Challenges Bonds
#25: We’ve often discussed anxiety: it develops over time as you train your amygdala to perceive certain challenges as threats to be fled. Anger is the flip side of anxiety, when you train your brain to perceive challenges as threats to be fought. In this episode, Sharif and Dr. Majeres discuss how to shape your response to anger. Since it frequently occurs in the context of close relationships, we can discover in anger an opportunity to grow closer.
September 21, 2020
24. The Key to Mastering Sleep (and anything else!)
#24: Dr. Majeres and Sharif discuss an approach to sleep developed by Dr. Guy Meadows, as found in his book, The Sleep Book, and an app he has called Sleep School for Insomnia. The approach, which is centered around the idea of acceptance, mirrors OptimalWork's approach to any challenge: essentially, applying reframing, mindfulness, and challenge to sleep. We cover the theory and practice of this approach so that you too can master sleep — and use the principles to master anything else! Note: In the conversation, the app was referred to as The Sleep App for Insomnia, but is actually Sleep School for Insomnia.
September 14, 2020
23. Patience and Thalamic Gating
#23: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the neurological phenomenon of thalamic gating: the way your brain selectively filters sensations based on what you act on. By changing your behavior — for example, your response to pain or fears — you can train your brain to simply stop noticing these triggers. The key conclusion is that being willing to suffer in the end reduces suffering. This episode presents the neuroscience to support this claim.
September 7, 2020
22. Reframe out of Addiction
#22: This week we discuss the nature of addiction, that is, repeatedly giving into a craving in which the costs outweigh the benefits. Addiction comes in many varieties. One mild example discussed is frequently giving in to distractions in work. The pattern of how addictions form is generally the same, and they are likewise broken by following the three steps of the Golden Hour, reframing, mindfulness, and challenge.
August 31, 2020
21: A Vital Approach to Depression
#21: A major new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry highlights three behavioral factors that substantially affect the likelihood of depression. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the study, as well as depression in general, and connect it to OptimalWork's approach.
August 24, 2020
20. Train Your Attention with Silence
#20: The practice of mindfulness is becoming more and more popular, but it can be difficult to understand what it really is, and what effects it has. In this session, we discuss the practice of mindfulness, distinguishing different types of mindfulness, and explaining how certain practices can help you to work at your best, by training your attention through the deliberate effort to attain silence.
August 17, 2020
19. Transform Your Brain with Exercise
#19: Exercise has a tremendous power to transform your brain. Surprisingly, exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for depression. In this video, we discuss why this is the case, and why exercise offers unique benefits for everyone, from shaping the way you approach challenges to the way your brain functions.
August 10, 2020
18. Prepare Your Brain to Embrace Challenge
#18: Embracing challenges starts with your judgements about them. If you’re stuck seeing challenges as threats, you need reframing. Rather than avoiding challenges, or forcing yourself to get them over with, reframing means recognizing each challenge as an opportunity for growth or service, by placing it in its true context of your whole life. Reframing is not just a mental trick — it causes an identifiable change in your brain. Among other things, this episode covers why it’s important and how to do it — with a thorough example.
August 3, 2020
17. The Secret of Motivation
#17: How motivated are you to tackle the challenges of the day? For many, motivation comes and goes, which means it’s not really under your control and, more importantly, it’s not really coming from you. You get motivated by things, rather than you motivating yourself to do what’s best. Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss what motivation really is, what the only true stable source of motivation is, and how to cultivate it so you can always feel motivated to give your best.
July 27, 2020
16. Putting People over Projects
#16: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss motives and priorities. It's common to see outcomes — like getting into the best school, securing a well-paying job, etc. — as ends in themselves. This approach has major costs: if you don't achieve the outcome, you get frustrated and double down on your outcome-focus; if you do, it just leads to you raise the bar and pursue an "even better" outcome. The alternative is to treat outcomes as means, not ends in themselves. They are a way to help you stretch yourself and ensure that you're serving others. You can tell you're being controlled by a desired outcome if you often sacrifice things — like relationships — that should actually be served by the outcomes you pursue. This discussion was inspired by the following question: "If you posit that there’s a lot of service in most careers and that you can do them with love and that you can learn to focus and flow in most of them, then why choose one over another if it’s not for the increased paycheck, prestige, etc.?"
July 20, 2020
15. Transform Anxiety by Working at Your Best
#15: In this episode Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the nature and cause of anxiety. Understanding how anxiety works and what it really is — which is quite simple — can help you transform your approach to it. Crucially, as Dr. Majeres explains, anxiety is not a disorder or something to be avoided. Anxiety can be transformed into your best performance by following three steps: reframing, mindfulness, and engaging the challenge. You can follow these three steps before a time of work, turning it into a Golden Hour of focus and training yourself to embrace anxiety and use it to your advantage.
July 13, 2020
14. Left & Right Brain, Part 2: Motives
#14 Last week, we discussed the left-brain/right-brain paradigm as it bears on work, and this week we are building off the discussion to address motives. Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist re-popularized this paradigm in his 2009 book The Master and His Emissary, grounding it in neuroscience and using it to explain aspects of psychology, society, and culture (in contrast to previous pseudo-scientific versions of the theory). The approach has profound implications for understanding what motivates your actions — fear or love?
July 6, 2020
13. Left & Right Brain, Part 1: Work
#13: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss the different roles of the two hemispheres of the brain ("left brain" and "right brain"). Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist re-popularized this paradigm in his 2009 book The Master and His Emissary, grounding it in neuroscience and using it to explain aspects of psychology, society, and culture (in contrast to previous pseudo-scientific versions of the theory). The approach has profound implications for understanding how to work at your best — with creativity and motives of service.
July 3, 2020
12. Why We Get Frustrated
#12: This week we used the feeling of frustration as our starting point. In the course of the discussion, we also talked about self-labeling (what we call "schemas"); the true nature of success and failure; and the benefits of focusing on process rather than outcome. This episode gets to the heart of OptimalWork's approach. Schemas are contrasted with ideals: schemas result from and lead to motives of fear, whereas ideals, especially service, offer motives of love. When we act independently of the schemas we (implicitly) have, we become free to learn, practice, grow, and serve.
June 22, 2020
11. OptimalWork and the Brain: The Default Mode Network
#11: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the default mode network, a network of brain regions that have profound implications for the way we work and live. The default mode is involved when you get distracted, but it can also be trained to help you focus better.
June 15, 2020
10. How to Grow in Mastery
#10: Mastery is one of the central concepts of OptimalWork. It means doing work well, and is cultivated through the development and practice of strategies. The projects and templates tools on www.OptimalWork.com are meant to help you make good strategies, and refine them over time. Some of the questions we discussed in this video are: What is mastery? How can you grow in mastery? What's the role of mentoring and collaboration in growing in mastery? What's the relationship between strategies and mastery?
June 8, 2020
9. What is a Golden Hour?
#9: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss the Golden Hour, the central method behind OptimalWork. A Golden Hour is like exercise for your work, when you deliberately practice working at your best by preparing for your work with three steps: reframing, mindfulness, and challenge. The Golden Hour can be practiced at www.optimalwork.com! Some of the questions we discussed are: What is a Golden Hour and how do you do one? Why did we develop the idea of the Golden Hour? What's its origin and purpose? Will the Golden Hour help me find meaning and purpose in my work? (Hint: yes!)
June 2, 2020
8. How to Measure Your Growth
#8: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss the Inventory, one of the primary tools of OptimalWork. The Inventory is a 24-item questionnaire, a unique measure of how much you're embracing challenge and growing right now. Some of the questions we discussed in this video are: What's wrong with the idea of temperament and personality tests? What is the Inventory and what's unique about it? How does it differ from other personality tests? How did the Inventory develop? What does my Inventory score mean? What's the best way to use the Inventory?
May 26, 2020
7. Bring Your Ideals to Life
#7: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss how to "materialize your ideals," that is, how to bring them to life: into reality, into your actions. The key to this is the practice of order, intensity, and constancy: three ideals that you can perfect in each hour of work, and that ultimately shape your practice of any other ideal. An example we discuss in the video is kindness. How can you bring kindness to life? First order: think about how you're going to practice it, what situations; get a good picture of what it will look like. Then intensity: apply yourself in a particular situation with your whole attention. Then constancy: challenge yourself over the course of, say, a conversation to look for more opportunities to practice kindness. This is key to understanding a saying we like to repeat: the way you work is the way you live.
May 18, 2020
6. Getting Traction from Distraction
#6: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss how to get traction from distraction. Kevin explains our unique theory of distractions, and draws out the practical conclusions: how to prevent them, and, if they do come, how to find the opportunity for shaping yourself and practicing ideals. Some other topics that came up: What to do if you wake up before your alarm goes off. Good use of technology/phones
May 11, 2020
5. Victory over Tiredness
#5: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss how to gain victory over tiredness - in the context of afternoon tiredness, naps, and missed sleep. The discussion was mainly inspired by the following questions: If every time I feel tired I jump on the treadmill will that amplify the feeling of tiredness because I am acting on it? Can you address the advisability of the short afternoon nap? How do we get back on track of our sleeping schedule, once we had left it?
May 4, 2020
(Special) 11 Reasons to Jump out of Bed the Moment Your Alarm First Sounds
Dr. Kevin Majeres, co-founder of OptimalWork, gives the 11 best reasons to jump out of bed the moment your alarm first sounds. This practice is one of the keys to personal transformation and growth (along with a daily Golden Hour).
May 1, 2020
4. How to Get Effective Sleep
#4: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss the "illusion of simultaneity" and how to get effective sleep. The discussion was mainly inspired by the following comment: One question that I have for you, is how can I begin to regulate and improve sleep hygiene? In this time of quarantine, because there aren't specific deadlines at my job, I have the luxury (if you can call it that) to sleep in and fall asleep late.
April 27, 2020
3. Never Feel Overwhelmed Again
#3: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss what to do when you feel overwhelmed, how to make a schedule, and how to prioritize. The discussion was mainly inspired by the following question: The question I have is about decision paralysis/decision fatigue. I have been overwhelmed by all the projects I could do, and in the choosing, I usually fatigue out and then proceed to watch Netflix. How can I overcome decision paralysis?
April 20, 2020
2. Aiming for Ideals in Relationships
#2: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss how to aim for ideals in difficult relationships, and how to respond to negative emotions. The discussion was mainly inspired by the following comment: I am on quarantine. Three of the people I live with are insufferable characters. They hijack conversations, aggressively contradict people who are just sharing information (not even opinions) and needlessly complain. I'm not anxious of getting covid-19. That virus cannot hold a candle to the virulence of my housemates.
April 13, 2020
1. Developing Resilience with OptimalWork
#1: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss how to develop resilience in this new work environment. Here are the questions we answered: How can I ensure that I will persevere in good work habits for weeks or even months? How should we maintain a distinction between work and family life? (E.g., thinking about work during family time; getting distracted with family when I should be working.) How do I choose what to do to stay productive, given that I have few serious responsibilities?
April 6, 2020