How Crohn’s Disease Made Ari Meisel a Productivity Beast

Ari Meisel

In most cases, Crohn’s disease is an intensely dehabilitating “incurable” condition characterized by sharp abdominal pains, urgent and frequent bloody diarrhea and tremendous fatigue, among other symptoms.

Affecting about 700,000 Americans, Crohn’s—an inflammatory bowel disease that usually targets the small intestine or colon—is treatable. Symptoms can be managed, typically through medication, nutrition and, if necessary, surgery—or any combination thereof.

Crohn’s is a diagnosis that’s supposed to stick with you for your life. But through a combination of diet, nutrition, supplements, exercise, yoga and meditation, Ari Meisel—a green real estate developer who also works as an author, a speaker and a so-called “achievement architect” (i.e., coach)—says he conquered the disease.

Now, there’s no trace of it in his body, he says.

Meisel’s experiences with the illness transformed his life, and now that he’s again healthy, he’s using the lessons he learned to help others.

Down with Disease

After being diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2006, Meisel, at his sickest, eventually ended up in the hospital and was almost ready to give up altogether.

“I really thought I was going to die,” Meisel tells Knote.

Indeed, many of those who suffer from Crohn’s might be tempted to give up. After all, there are endless doctor visits and blood tests and more colonoscopies than you know what to do with. On top of that, Meisel also dealt with liver failure, morning sickness and hair loss.

“I didn’t feel good when I was 25-, 26-years-old,” he says, adding that he’d get winded walking up two flights of stairs.

An Ironman Emerges

But rather than giving up altogether, Meisel directed his attention inward—particularly when he learned that stress was a major trigger for Crohn’s sufferers. Through an intense process of self-tracking and self-examination—“basically if there was a test that you could do on your body, I would do it”—Meisel reduced his stress levels and was eventually able to wean himself off medication altogether and restore (and enhance) his health to the point he completed an Ironman in France.

“The pain that I’ve experienced and the anger and everything I’ve experienced every day from the Crohn’s gave me a perspective on life to stop sweating the small stuff,” Meisel says about his decision to participate in the Ironman. “I needed something that was even harder on my body to give me a perspective on the disease.”

(For Meisel, beating Crohn’s involved a combination of health testing, yoga, intense exercise, nutrition and supplements. You can read about his experience here.)

Less Doing, More Living

Meisel still had bills to pay while he was suffering from Crohn’s, so he still had to run his real estate development company. To balance those two very demanding obligations, Meisel crafted his own personal productivity system—one he believes is transferrable and can help people like you overcome virtually any challenge.

It’s called Less Doing, More Living. Meisel believes that the same stress management skills that helped him beat Crohn’s can be applied to your career to seriously bolster your productivity.

“Somewhere around 95 percent of the things that anyone does on a given day can be done by other people,” he says. “The other 5 percent? That’s what you do that no one else can do. That’s what you need to focus on.”

The key to productivity, Meisel says, begins with a high level of self-awareness.

“A lot of people feel overwhelmed because they don’t know what’s causing them to be overwhelmed,” Meisel explains. But there’s an easy cure. “Timetracking apps like RescueTime are great for showing you exactly how you’re spending your day—whether that’s four hours in Excel or an hour in your inbox.”

Armed with that information, you can make informed decisions about how to better delegate your time.

Optimize, Automate, Outsource

Meisel, who now works as a productivity consultant, is able to wear so many hats thanks to his own simple philosophy: optimize, automate, outsource. Here are some of his personal productivity tips:

  • Hack your environment. Through biohacking—i.e., figuring out the right combination of exercise, nutrition and supplements for his body—Meisel was able to conquer Crohn’s. You too can hack your environment (think things like standing desks, productivity apps like Zapier and virtual assistants).
  • Clean your inbox. You’re not alone if you’ve got something like 1,000 unread emails in your inbox. But don’t forget: Clutter causes fatigue. Meisel says you should strive to reach “Inbox Zero,” meaning you go to bed each night with no unread emails so you can get a fresh start the next day.

To learn more about Meisel’s endeavors—and his countless other productivity and health tips—visit his website or tweet him @arimeisel.

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