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Live Tea Time with Creator of the Monk Manual

Live Tea Time with Steve Lawson
Monthly Monk Manual PagesJoin Samovar Tea founder and Monk Manual creator on October 29 at 12pm PT for an interactive tea time and discussion about productivity in times of stress

The Monk Manual is the one to-do manager you’ll love to use. Because it’s so much more.

On October 29 at 12pm PST Samovar Tea founder, Jesse Jacobs, will be joined by Monk Manual creator, Steve Lawson, for tea and discussion — and you’re invited. This talk is exactly what we all need – an intimate and personal talk about tools that help us deal with the challenges of the day and the philosophies that guide us towards an inspired life.

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Tea Leaves and Aprons: it’s all in the detail

A server prepares a cup of chai

Tea Leaves

The size of every tea leaf matters. Leaves that are consistent in size, shape, and color mean that the cup of tea will be complex and consistent. The leaves will steep evenly, delivering a brew that has a unique aroma, body, taste and aftertaste. And it’s much more work to grow and select and process leaves that entirely the same throughout. It takes a lot more work to choose only those leaves that are the same. It requires more attention to each leaf. And the results are noticeable. It’s why our tea is so good, so full of complexity and nuance and awesomeness. Look at our leaves and you’ll notice that the English Breakfast Black tea is uniform throughout, and entirely different than our Green Ecstasy. Our farmers pay attention to every leaf they pick, ensuring this consistency stays true. Continue reading Tea Leaves and Aprons: it’s all in the detail

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Overcoming the Distracted Mind

Every day we are bombarded by distractions. It can feel like our attention is being pulled in a million different directions at once. How can we enjoy the benefits of modern technology while maintaining focus, productivity and well-being? Luckily, we’ve got neuroscientists on our side to help us understand how our brains work and identify tools and techniques to help us stay focused, people like my good friend Adam Gazzaley and his colleague Larry Rosen.

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6 Steps That Will Multiply Your Creative Output

You don’t have to be a painter or musician to be an artist. In fact, just living day to day is an art. Our lives our like canvases, and what we do with our precious time here is the paint on that canvas. I believe we are all artists in need of creativity. I find that in order to be creative I need to be open to insights and my intuition. In order to be a better Life Artist, I have created a simple approach that has allowed me to become more aware and perceptive, so that I can be more effective and creative.

1. Get into the Present Moment with Ritual
Life today is non-stop. It often feels like there is no time, and that we jump from one task to another, without any space for actual joy. Enter Ritual. No, not the kind of ritual associated with archaic, outdated, or overly complex or foreign concepts or languages. By ritual, I mean an action, or even non-action that is so easy and repeatable, it requires virtually no thought. Anything can become a ritual. My kind of ritual is simple, repeatable without memorization, requires little thinking, offers little stimulation, and yet is relaxing. My rituals create space.

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Tea and the Art of Distraction – 4 Easy Steps

I’ve wrote earlier on the ritual preparing and drinking of tea can be used as a training ground for getting present. And that the more present and “awake” we are, the better things get. Whether it’s tea or anything else you can find to wake up, I believe that we need all the weapons available to fight distraction.

Whenever you’re doing something, anything, notice when the pull happens that nags on your attention.


Freedom and productivity arise by waking up to the pull of distraction. And let’s be honest, distraction is addictive because it feels good and pulls us away from the real  challenges we have in life. But distraction also keeps us from living fully, doing great things with our time, and making a real difference in the world.

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Focusing How To

Life is full of distractions. So many things pull on our attention. So how does a person ever get anything done? I created this “how to” to remind myself of how to get something important done when I am so easily distracted by life outside (and inside) of my head. Incidentally, even when I follow these steps, the mind takes its own distracting path!

1. Stop all distractions:  Turn it all off.  Email, texting, twitter, desk clutter, facebook, web browser, wireless access.

2. Create the shortest to-do list possible. Write down the task at hand as a single goal on a piece of paper and post it right in front of you. Nothing else should be on that sheet of paper.

3. Let nothing else deter you from achieving that single task. Leave it right there to draw your attention towards every time the inkling of distraction arises.

4. Keep another sheet of paper handy to capture ‘inbox ideas and tasks’ that arise. Don’t send emails, or texts, or ‘get online,’ or do anything other than capture random ideas onto that extra blank sheet of paper.

5. Take 10 breaths to clear the space. This mini meditation will center, and help to focus on finishing the task at hand

6. Do it!!!

7. Celebrate. Do it all again.

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Focusing on Negativity for a Meaningful Life

What is Zen?I noticed recently how little time we have for joyful thinking. By that I mean the simple ability to just daydream, bliss out, and savor the fun of a meandering mind. We spend so much time doing-doing-doing that it’s easy to fill life up with one task after another, non stop, never having the moment to actually “not-do.”

I learned recently in a panel discussion with Leo Babauta author of the blog Zen Habits, and Susan O’Connell the VP of the San Francisco Zen Center, and Tim Ferriss author of the book and blog The Four Hour Workweek, that Zen is active not doing. Intentional, focused, and conscious not doing. I like the idea of that, and think it’s really pertinent to living happily and healthily today. Continue reading Focusing on Negativity for a Meaningful Life