Zen Habits Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Post written by SysBots.

I get asked a lot of questions, many of them repeatedly, and I figured instead of answering them all over and over, I’d compile my answers for everyone here.

Of course, there’s a lot more about me and this site on the About page, and I’d always love it if you checked out the Books page.

I hope you find this useful!

1. Why did you turn off comments on Zen Habits?
This has been the most difficult decision I’ve made since starting Zen Habits, as I truly loved comments here. I love hearing from readers, and it was my opinion that the comments often held better tips than the posts themselves. I learned (and still learn) a lot from my readers.

So why did I turn off comments? There was too much comment spam, resulting in huge headaches for me. Seriously, it took up a lot of my time — time I wanted to spend creating, or with my family. And the tiny minority of legitimate comments were mostly bloggers trying to get noticed — not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I just don’t want to spend my life moderating spam for this reason alone.

Yes, I’ve tried several different software solutions for comment spam, and they don’t really solve the problem of humans leaving comment spam. Even things like Askimet (and numerous other such filters) and CAPTCHA let a lot of spam through. Trust me, I’ve done a lot of research, and when spammers are motivated, they’ll find a way through for a site with this kind of traffic.

People can still give me feedback via Twitter, and if I don’t always respond I do listen. Getting rid of comments has been regrettable, but they don’t scale, and it has brought peace to my life.

2. When and why are you moving to San Francisco?
We’re moving to San Francisco this summer – in late June 2010. (Update: We’ve already moved to S.F.)

And we’re super excited.

We’ve bought our plane tickets but haven’t reserved a house or apartment yet. We’ll be living in the city, going carless.

We’re selling all our stuff but a handful of clothes and my laptop, and a few pieces of artwork.

I know the burning question is why. The reasons are manifold, but here are a few:

  • Guam will always be home, but we’d like to experience more of the world, and we’d love our kids to see more than this tiny little slice of life, however wonderful it is.
  • San Francisco is one of my favorite places in the world – I lived there as a teen-ager, and I fell in love with it. It’s beautiful, the people are diverse and crazy and awesome, there’s no shortage of things for kids and teens and adults to do, the food is great, the weather is superb, and the areas around it are varied and gorgeous, from the California coastline to the mountains to the redwoods to wine country to Oregon to the north to Disneyland to the south (I know, but we have six kids, so.).
  • As a blogger, I can work anywhere in the world, and I’d love to meet online blogging friends and readers in real life from time to time.
  • As homeschooling parents, my wife and I want to expose our children to more opportunities to learn from the world around them. Guam is a great place for that, but San Francisco offers more. It’ll be an incredible learning experience for our kids.
  • We hope to go carless, and San Francisco is a good place to do that, with muni and BART and a cycling friendly city and the ability to walk and things like Zipcar and City CarShare if we need them. Guam is a very bad place to go carless if you have kids.
  • I’m vegan, and Guam is also a bad place for that. There’s exactly two vegan/vegetarian restaurants on Guam, and great as they are, I’d love to be in a place with more options. I can’t wait to try veggie restaurants in S.F., or at least restaurants with more veggie options than, you know, salad. Farmers markets and natural food co-ops and leftist bookshops and such are also attractive to a person like me. We also considered Portland and Eugene, OR as options, for these same reasons, but for complicated reasons S.F. is our choice.
  • We have awesome family in the Bay Area, and I can’t wait to spend time with them. Seriously, other than the family I have here on Guam, the ones in S.F. are among the rockingest I have (well, there’s also the ones in Eugene and Austin and Vegas and Scottsdale and Chicago and a couple other places, but I digress).
  • My oldest daughter will be a senior in high school next school year, and being in California will help her visit and apply to colleges and even establish residency should she decide to go to college in CA.
  • I try to buy as little as possible, but when I do need to buy something, I prefer to buy used. Guam’s options for thrift and second-hand shops are, shall we say, limited.

Again, these are just a few. I could go on all day.

I love Guam, but it’s time for a change. We’ll always come back to Guam. We just want some new experiences, and we can’t wait.

I hope to see some of you there!

3. What’s your current workout/running routine?
At the moment, I run 3-4 times a week (training for a half marathon), and I go to the gym 3 times a week, and bike a couple times a week. You can see my training plan on this spreadsheet, but be aware that it changes from month to month, depending on my goals.

I like to mix things up. I don’t often train for races anymore, but I still love running. I’m trying to build a little muscle, which is why I’m lifting weights right now, but in a few months I’ll probably stick to bodyweight exercises and the like.

I’m riding my bike right now to get in better bike shape — I hope to make it my main form of transportation when I move to San Francisco.

I also eat fairly clean, about 90% of the time. Diet has been the biggest part of my weight loss, actually — I’ve lost 30 lbs. in the last year on my Bellyfat Challenge.

4. Cool. But can’t you give us a sample of what you typically eat during a day?
Um, sure. But before I do that, a couple of caveats:

  1. Obviously I don’t eat exactly the same thing every day. It varies.
  2. I usually have a “cheat meal” each week, and sometimes two.
  3. I don’t recommend my diet for everyone — pick the eating style that works for you, your goals, your health situation, etc.

That said, here’s a typical day (lately):

  • 7 a.m. 1/2 cup cooked rolled organic oats w/ berries, raw almonds, cinnamon, raisins, ground flaxseed.
  • 10 a.m. Unsweetened coconut flakes w/ berries, almonds, soymilk.
  • 1 p.m. Quinoa, steamed veggies, and some kind of protein — usually black bean chili or lentil curry or a veggie burger.
  • 4 p.m. Soy yogurt w/ almonds, berries, some other fruit, ground flaxseed.
  • 7 p.m. Quinoa, steamed veggies, and some kind of protein — usually black bean chili or lentil curry or a veggie burger.

I don’t eat many grains other than the rolled oats (quinoa isn’t a grain). I am vegan. I get more than enough protein. This diet is about 400 cals per meal, or 2,000 cals daily — which will net me a 500-1000 cal deficit depending on exercise and activity during the day.

Update: Read my latest post on my diet here.

5. What time do you go to sleep/wake up?
This question arises as I’ve written in the past about waking up early and becoming an early riser. One thing to realize is that those posts were written in 2007, so things have changed in the last few years.

At various times in 2007, I was waking at 5:30 a.m., 5 a.m., 4:30 a.m., and 4 a.m. Part of that depended on where I was in my marathon training — when I was doing long runs, I’d wake up at 4 a.m. so that I could leave by 4:30 or 4:45 for a 2 or 2.5 hour run. On days when I wasn’t doing the long run, I’d use the extra time early in the morning to write my blog before I had to go to work.

Or sometimes I’d sleep in. And these days, I sleep in half the time, as I don’t have a day job so I can blog any time in the morning. I still get up fairly early many days — sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. usually — but on other days I’ll sleep in until 7 or even 8 a.m. and let my body recover from the previous day’s workout.

When do I go to sleep? I prefer to go to sleep by 9:30 or 10 p.m., but my wife likes to watch a little late-night TV (not cable TV but one of our favorite shows on the Apple TV), and I stay up with her, usually until 10:30 p.m.

6. Can you provide a sample “schedule” of your day?
Hoo boy. That’s a bit difficult, as I don’t follow a set schedule anymore. I prefer to live moment by moment and go with the flow of life. That’s a bit vague for most of you, so here’s an attempt:

  1. 4:45 to 6 a.m.: Wake up, have coffee, read. The time I wake depends on whether I’m going for a morning run.
  2. 6 a.m.: Run (Mon, Wed, Fri and sometimes Saturday)
  3. 7-9 or 10 a.m.: Write, do other most important tasks.
  4. 10 a.m. to mid-afternoon: Smaller tasks, catch up on RSS feed reading, research various things I’m interested in (and will often blog about later). This really varies.
  5. Late afternoon – evening: Spend time with kids. Sometimes get a gym workout in. Or read. Also varies from day to day.
  6. Evening until 10 or 10:30 p.m.: Eat dinner, spend some time with wife and kids. Watch one of our favorite TV shows (The Office, Community, How I Met Your Mother, Mad Men, Lost, 30 Rock, not in that order). Once a week Eva and I will go on a date.

Again, this is a rough sketch, but in general:

  • I go for runs early and do other exercise later in the afternoon.
  • I write and do other important tasks next.
  • I do less important stuff later.
  • Always try to find time for Eva and the kids.

7. What happened to the Search function on Zen Habits?
The new Archives page now has a search function, so you can not only look through every old post easily, but search through all the Zen Habits articles using Google.

8. What theme are you using on Zen Habits? Is it available for download?
I hand crafted my own theme for this site. It is available for download.

9. What’s your story?
You can read my story here.

10. Can I use a post you’ve written here for my blog, my book, my magazine, etc.?
Yes, please do! Read my Uncopyright notice.

There is no need to email me for permission. You already have my blessing.

11. I’d like to do a guest post. What’s the deal there?
I don’t take guest posts.

12. Why does Zen Habits have the word “Zen” in its title? Are you a Zen Master or Zen Buddhist?
No, I’m not. Read more about all of that here: Why Zen Habits.

13. How do I contact you via email?
I’m a bit of an email recluse, sorry, and am not able to personally respond to emails. If you have a problem or suggestion, you can contact contact at mintocafe.com.

14. But … I’d like to share my new book/blog post/product/seminar with you!
Thanks, but no. Please don’t ask me to promote your product, book, website, service, or blog post, or I will karate chop you.

15. Do you still wear Asics? Also, have you tried barefoot running?
No, I’ve ditched my Asics.

For more than a year now I’ve been doing barefoot-style running and I love it. Read the guide I just linked to before giving it a try though.

16. How can I follow Zen Habits? How can I thank you with a donation? Where else can I read your brilliant stuff?
OK, I’ll admit these aren’t really common questions, but hey, any opportunity for a shameless plug (or three), right?

I’d love it if you subscribed to Zen Habits via email or RSS subscription. It’s completely free (and always will be), and you get about three posts a week, all quality posts without the fat.

If you’d like to support Zen Habits, I’d love it if you bought my print book, The Power of Less, or one of my ebooks.

Other than my books, you can read more of my writing at my other blog, mnmlist, or little tips & brilliant insights on Twitter or Google+, or links that I like to share on the Zen Habits tumblr.

Other questions that I should add to this list? Ask via Twitter, & I’ll do my best to answer the most common ones.

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