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The trick to being productive and happy all at once

The trick to being productive and happy all at once
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Productivity has always been a key word in my view of myself. Not in a stakhanovist way where I would try to get an ever increasing amount of work done at any cost: I dropped my I-need-to-impress-my-dad-complex pretty early in life. I mean a more “balanced” productivity, where I would consistently do a certain amount of quality work while keeping enough free time for personal projects.
So about a year ago I set out on a path to achieve both an improved professional performance and a more satisfying personal growth.

Focus on optimising your personal time

I started reading every research and productivity blog that I could find to get up to speed. After some time, I realised that all that literature had one big shortcoming: the bulk of what I found was centered around work environment, its organization, and what individuals can do about it.

Unfortunately, when it comes to your work environment, what you can do on your own has a whole set of limitations. So once you have done everything in your power, you are pretty much left with two paths: looking for solutions at work that would not solely depend on you, or leave it alone and shift on to the second phase of the plan, namely optimising your personal time. I decided to focus on the latter. It was a better call than I could ever have suspected.

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Are you enjoying your free time or simply filling it?

Below is a graph of my “entertainment activities” over the last year acquired through Smarter Time.

Looking closer into its content shows it consists mostly of playing video games and watching TV. The trouble is, I knew outright I often play a game or watch a TV show as a “filler activity”. When we reach a point when we feel we can’t work anymore, we are naturally tempted to go and do any familiar stuff that can help us reboot our brain. But we don’t necessarily get any satisfaction from engaging in activities that are too familiar, don’t exactly relax us but don’t stimulate us properly either.

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A year of fun

    Time to step back and reassess, I thought. What could I do to make my work/life balance feel more productive? How could I get some satisfaction (and I tried)? I already said I wasn’t looking for more work time – after all I can only work so much. What I wanted, I realised, was to extend the feeling of achievement I was getting from work into my personal life.

    After digging a little deeper inside my data, I found a little activity I and many people seem to overlook: “Reading”. I do a lot of things on my smartphone, including almost all of my reading. So I can check very easily how much time I spend on my Kindle app.
    And the results surprised me. Over the past few months, I have been reading on average 45 min/day. A couple of days last year were at a 10h high (must have been the London rain keeping me home), but this is actually the most regular of all my personal activities. It’s one of the very few things I do every day.

    Create something

    However I felt that reading more would not cut it either. I did not want to just engage in another passive activity and make reading into a “TV brain reboot” unsatisfactory thing. I realised that if I wanted to be productive in my personal life, I needed to actually “produce” something.

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    So I decided to turn my reading into its creative counterpart, and I started writing. I won’t list it all here, but I did try my hand at different genres and formats. I may even have a story I really want to finish. Most importantly, I experience a level of fulfilment through that activity that no other stuff I do in my downtime can compete with.

    Mind you, writing is still a tiring, involving activity, and I still need my idle times and brain-dead-TV-moments. But reducing the proportion of those to the strict minimum has only perks. I feel more alert, I can feel myself growing intellectually, and the guilt I felt from wasting time has disappeared because I waste so much less of it! I am more relaxed and less tired. As a side effect, I also feel more productive at work, which leaves me a bit more free time and makes me more satisfied, in some sort of virtuous circle. It’s a win/win situation.

    Do what means something to you

    I am sure for other people the answer would have been different – sports, arts, social time, volunteering, the list of activities that can mean something to someone is never ending and depends entirely on who you are. What matters, though, is that they mean something to you. It makes a world of difference.

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    I set out on a journey to increase my productivity, but I found something more important than that: a balance that brings me happiness. Which brings productivity. And demonstrates the infinite importance of taking the time to properly know yourself.

    Featured photo credit: Flickr, Sc0o via flic.kr

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    Last Updated on July 12, 2021

    100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

    100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier
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    Want to learn some quick and easy life hacks that are easy to do, low cost and saves you time?

    By tweaking little things in your daily life, it can make your life much more convenient!

    Here’re 100 of the most practical life hacks so you can just pick up any of them right away!

    83 tie a small piece of bright colored fabric

      84 write random letter

        85 use a rubberband

          86 dorm smell bad

            87 lean your phone on your sunglassess

              89 how to waterproof your shoes

                90 take a picture of the name card

                  91 iron inside out

                    92 old newspaper

                      93 tumble try shoes

                        keep a card like this

                          SONY DSC

                            94 soap bar

                              95 make a hole

                                96 drop the battery

                                  97 use a coozie

                                    98 when taking a picture

                                      use a clean dust pan

                                        try a pants hanger

                                          use your cellphone light

                                            use a spring from an old pen

                                              quick and easy iphone speaker

                                                user binder clips

                                                  wrap a wet paper towel around your beverage

                                                    put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle

                                                      clean out an old lotion bottle for your beach

                                                        use a muffin tin to serve condiments at a bbq

                                                          doritos are great for kindling

                                                            use nail polish to identify different keys

                                                              use a hanging shoe rack to store cleaning supplies

                                                                freeze grapes to chill white wine without

                                                                  use paper clips to organize your cables

                                                                    almost finished your jar of nutella

                                                                      sick of having a box full of tangled

                                                                        unroll the rim to increase the capacity

                                                                          cut open toilet paper rolls and use as a cuff

                                                                            remove the stem from strawberries

                                                                              turn an old bottle into a simple little cord holder

                                                                                for iced coffee and iced cappuccino, use frozen coffee cubes

                                                                                  how to fold a fitted bed sheet

                                                                                    tired of snoozing past your alarm

                                                                                      place a rubber band around an open paint can to wipe your brush on

                                                                                        ut a wooden spoon across a boiling pot

                                                                                          use bread clips to save flip-flops

                                                                                            take pictures of friends holding items

                                                                                              how i always know which headphone is the left one

                                                                                                put a stocking over the end of a vacuum

                                                                                                  How to make sure you drink enough water

                                                                                                    user a can opener to open blister

                                                                                                      good sandwich guide

                                                                                                        turn your muffin pans upside down

                                                                                                          50 pounds of groceries and living on the 5th floor

                                                                                                            the right way to make a blt

                                                                                                              add one teaspoon of baking soda

                                                                                                                38

                                                                                                                  hair straighteners equals to collar irons

                                                                                                                    stack your clothes vertically to see them all

                                                                                                                      the right way to make cookies in the summer

                                                                                                                        how to clean a blender

                                                                                                                          the right way to eat a popsicle

                                                                                                                            use bread clips to label and organize power cords

                                                                                                                              to get the built up residue off of your shower head

                                                                                                                                user a hair clip to orgainize long wires

                                                                                                                                  a frozen saturated sponge in a bag

                                                                                                                                    rub stuck zipper teeth with a graphite pencil

                                                                                                                                      use a soda pop tab

                                                                                                                                        50

                                                                                                                                          51 How to multiply large numbers in your head.

                                                                                                                                            52 How to open a bottle if you dont have a corkscrew.

                                                                                                                                              rub a walnut on damaged wooden furniture

                                                                                                                                                kids fall out of bed

                                                                                                                                                  use toothpaste to clear up hazy car

                                                                                                                                                    58

                                                                                                                                                      59 keep pizza out while driving home

                                                                                                                                                        60 put your straw through the tab to keep it from rising

                                                                                                                                                          hold oreos with a fork so your fingers

                                                                                                                                                            Never lose your remotes again

                                                                                                                                                              hiding your emergency money

                                                                                                                                                                use a bread tab to hold your spot on a roll

                                                                                                                                                                  if you are at a hotel and run out of chargers

                                                                                                                                                                    keep a square of cardboard in a ziplock bag

                                                                                                                                                                      If you need to pee or smoke at a bar

                                                                                                                                                                        drill holes in the bottom of your garbage

                                                                                                                                                                          use an accented letter as your passcode

                                                                                                                                                                            use a squeeze ketchup bottle top with your shopvac

                                                                                                                                                                              do something unusual when locking the door

                                                                                                                                                                                when heating leftovers space out a circle in the middle

                                                                                                                                                                                  dont burn yourself in those hard to reach candles

                                                                                                                                                                                    put a small amount of water in a glass when you microwave your pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                      75 use a piece of paper to organize

                                                                                                                                                                                        use half a pool noodle

                                                                                                                                                                                          pencil case to store cables

                                                                                                                                                                                            78 clothespin to hold nail

                                                                                                                                                                                              79 make blts

                                                                                                                                                                                                80 take a picture of your fridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                  81 fill plastic water bottles

                                                                                                                                                                                                    82 right ways to eat chips

                                                                                                                                                                                                      99 if your plug keeps failing

                                                                                                                                                                                                        100 put the banana on the wire

                                                                                                                                                                                                          88 before you throw away a post it

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Source: Reddit LifeProTips

                                                                                                                                                                                                            There you go, 100 awesome life hacks that you can try right now to make your life a lot easier!

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