Five Ways to Unslam

How to win back your time and productivity

Michael Easter


Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

I was emailing with Ross McCammon, my editor here at Medium. I told him that “I’ve been absolutely slammed with travel, book promotion, and teaching a summer course” at UNLV, where I’m a professor.

He suggested I write a post about five ways to unslam. It was his way of prompting me to post, yes. But also, perhaps, introspect about how I could better manage my workload.

I thought about what techniques I’d used in the past to not only decompress, but also decompress in a way that fed back into my work. Here are the five ways I’m now unslamming.

Microdosing Nature

Seriously. It works. Read more here.

I always come back more productive and with better ideas after a 20 minute, techless walk in the desert. There’s solid science behind nature’s link to creativity.

Macrodosing Heavy Stuff

Humans evolved to do two physical things well: Run and carry. Many people run as a workout, but very few carry. Here’s a full case for carrying.

We also know that short breaks of exercise can help us better improve our health than sitting all day and hammering at the gym. What’s more, one study found that physical activity can reduce burnout. Another found that it’s associated with creativity.

So, when I need a mental break during the day, I’ll do something quick and physical. I walk to my garage, grab a heavy dumbbell, and walk it a couple laps around my house. Switch hands and repeat.

That particular exercise, called a suitcase carry, can lead to better core strength and reduced back pain.

Being Judicious with Phone Calls

Does a “10-minute catch-up call” ever last 10 minutes? No.

When students or colleagues want to schedule a phone call, I buy myself an easy out by immediately (and very nicely!) telling the person on the other end that “I have a thing in a few minutes.”

This allows me an easier exit when the conversation innevitably goes off the rails.

Microdosing The ‘Gram



Michael Easter

Author of The Comfort Crisis // Professor // Writing about physical + mental health, psychology, and living better 1x week //