How I solve Charlene’s happiness formula with my own inputs

I first got to know Juhan over LivingOS University, and she later joined LivingOS.

She manages LivingOS WeChat and is a software engineer at Intuit.

Check out Juhan’s experience in today’s guest post.


I’ve followed Charlene since she founded Perfect College App. Though I was already in college, Perfect College App made me reflect on how I would do my college application if given another chance. While I was sad to see the end of Perfect College App, I am happy to see the birth of LivingOS a few years later.

Charlene’s articles made me realize that personal growth is key to achieving happiness in life. I got to try out her lifehacking guides, witness material change in my life, and feel satisfied with my personal growth.

Today I’ll show you how I apply LivingOS ideas and create my own happiness recipe for work.


1) Charlene helped me craft a 90-day plan for my new job.

When I shared this plan with my manager, my manager was very happy and interested in seeing my plan. He even pushed back his meetings to have more time for this discussion. After reviewing the plan together, my manager helped me tailor the plan for my current and future work, clarify expectations for successes, and craft a personalized growth plan.

2) Charlene helped me better manage my energy.

First, I’d set a clear goal and have a deliverable for each work session.

This deliverable could be writing a few lines of codes, creating a presentation, or reaching a consensus with my colleague. Charlene also coached me to turn intangible goals into tangible ones by documenting my progress.

When it comes to setting deliverables, I will narrow down the problem and be as specific as possible. The logic behind narrowing down is similar to playing an archery game. You want to aim for the target to get the best score. By narrowing down, I can easily find out what I want and effectively solve a well-defined problem.

Second, I’d make schedule my work session in a chunk of 45 minutes.

I’ve experimented with 20 to 45 min and found that 45 min is the length of my attention span. By dividing my time into 45-min work sessions, I can give my brain some rest and avoid burnout from coding. This is similar to interval training like HIIT, which gives you time to breathe in between each intensive session. By scheduling break into my deep work, I can brave through my debugging session and clarify my confusion.

Third, I would tackle the small task first and move on to bigger tasks.

Instead of tackling the big hairy task, I like to start with the small tasks. They help me get in the flow and warm up for the day. Through checking off easy tasks, I would gain confidence and a sense of achievement and be mentally prepared to solve the big problem. Whenever I feel challenged, I would look at the items that I have accomplished and keep going. Oftentimes, the small tasks would help me continue the unfinished tasks from yesterday.

3) Charlene helped me battle information fatigue.

As a new hire, I often find myself overwhelmed by new technologies and domain knowledge. I used to stuff all the information in my brain. After learning the just-in-time mindset, I realized that there is no need to add an unnecessary burden to my brain.

In addition, I have been studying the PARA series and used Charlene’s tutorial to design my digital brain. With a functional digital brain, I no longer worry about missing important knowledge. Even better, I get to tap into this reservoir of knowledge whenever I need new inspirations or resources.


That’s it for today! Tomorrow I will talk more about how I apply it to my life.

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