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Productive Interview Series: Michael Leddy

Productive Interview Series: Michael Leddy

Productive Interview Series is a quick four questions interview, targets on productive people who have been changing their work/life style with life hacks and self-development tips. It’s my pleasure to interview Michael Leddy, who is our monthly contributor at lifehack.org and the blogger at Orange Crate Art. His articles in here have helped thousands of students around the world.

Michael Leddy

    Who are you?
    I’m a professor in a college English department, teaching mostly poetry, modern American literature, and classics in translation. I’ve done much writing for small specialized audiences (literary criticism and poetry), and for the past two years I’ve done a lot of writing on my blog, Orange Crate Art. Aside from literature, my main interests are musical, mostly jazz and blues. I’m married to Elaine Fine, a violist/violinist and composer.

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    What have you done to increase your productivity?
    Without a datebook, I’d be nowhere. For many years I used Quo Vadis, but for the past two years I’ve used a homemade datebook, a pocket Moleskine notebook with two days per page. (I wrote in the dates for both years.) The Moleskine is like a Swiss Army knife in book form: mine holds schedules, ideas for writing, a paper ruler, a Band-Aid, blank Post-it Notes, some useful quotations. When I’m working on a project or heading toward a crucial week or two of work, I’ll supplement the Moleskine with index cards or a piece of paper. Right now, with final examinations coming up, I have the next eight days worked out on a page from a yellow legal pad.

    As these references to Moleskines and legal pads suggest, I am devoted to “supplies.” I think that using well-made tools can bring some small or large inspiration to one’s work. Most of my writing begins with a fountain pen and a pocket Moleskine or a legal pad. When I grade papers, I use Zebra ballpoints. If I’m writing a draft at the computer, the text-editor Notepad2 (not Word) is my tool of choice. And FlyakiteOSX makes everything on my Windows laptop a pleasure to look at.

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    To counter creeping monotony, I vary my place to work. At home I usually work at a large table that I use as a desk, but to read, I’ll often sit on the floor, up against the side of our upright piano. I also work in the college library, and once in a while I’ll work in the library of the college where Elaine teaches. I have an office, but like many people in academic life, I don’t get much done there.

    What is your best life hack?
    I often use a kitchen timer to implement the 45/15 rule: work for 45 minutes; take a break for 15; repeat as necessary. That’s my variation on 40/20, which I read about on MetaFilter, via a post on lifehack.org. When I’m grading 25 or 50 papers, knowing that a break is coming helps to alleviate the feeling of endlessness.

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    What are your favorite posts at lifehack.org?
    In addition to the post I just mentioned, I’d single out 8 Life Hacks for Health, Wealth and Happiness and the recent Quicksilver tutorial. (There’s a Mac in my future). And I like any post that reminds me to keep doing what I’m already doing.

    Are you confident on your life being productive? Have you applied lifehacks, tips and tricks that help you get through procrastination or any parts of your life? Send us an email – tips at lifehack.org, I am happy to help you to share your experience.

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    Previous Productive Interviews: Henrik Edberg, Andy Mitchell, Patrick Rhone

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2019

    7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It

    7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It

    Are you keen to reinvent yourself this year? Or at least use the new year as a long overdue excuse to get rid of bad habits or pick up new ones?

    Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when we feel as if we have to turn over a new leaf. The time when we misguidedly imagine that the arrival of a new year will magically provide the catalyst, motivation and persistence we need to reinvent ourselves.

    Traditionally, New Year’s Day is styled as the ideal time to kick start a new phase in your life and the time when you must make your all important new year’s resolution. Unfortunately, the beginning of the year is also one of the worst times to make a major change in your habits because it’s often a relatively stressful time, right in the middle of the party and vacation season.

    Don’t set yourself up for failure this year by vowing to make huge changes that will be hard to keep. Instead follow these seven steps for successfully making a new year’s resolution you can stick to for good.

    1. Just pick one thing

    If you want to change your life or your lifestyle don’t try to change the whole thing at once. It won’t work. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin with.

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    Make it something concrete so you know exactly what change you’re planning to make. If you’re successful with the first change you can go ahead and make another change after a month or so. By making small changes one after the other, you still have the chance to be a whole new you at the end of the year and it’s a much more realistic way of doing it.

    Don’t pick a New Year’s resolution that’s bound to fail either, like running a marathon if you’re 40lbs overweight and get out of breath walking upstairs. If that’s the case resolve to walk every day. When you’ve got that habit down pat you can graduate to running in short bursts, constant running by March or April and a marathon at the end of the year. What’s the one habit you most want to change?

    2. Plan ahead

    To ensure success you need to research the change you’re making and plan ahead so you have the resources available when you need them. Here are a few things you should do to prepare and get all the systems in place ready to make your change.

    Read up on it – Go to the library and get books on the subject. Whether it’s quitting smoking, taking up running or yoga or becoming vegan there are books to help you prepare for it. Or use the Internet. If you do enough research you should even be looking forward to making the change.

    Plan for success – Get everything ready so things will run smoothly. If you’re taking up running make sure you have the trainers, clothes, hat, glasses, ipod loaded with energetic sounds at the ready. Then there can be no excuses.

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    3. Anticipate problems

    There will be problems so make a list of what they’ll be. If you think about it, you’ll be able to anticipate problems at certain times of the day, with specific people or in special situations. Once you’ve identified the times that will probably be hard work out ways to cope with them when they inevitably crop up.

    4. Pick a start date

    You don’t have to make these changes on New Year’s Day. That’s the conventional wisdom, but if you truly want to make changes then pick a day when you know you’ll be well-rested, enthusiastic and surrounded by positive people. I’ll be waiting until my kids go back to school in February.

    Sometimes picking a date doesn’t work. It’s better to wait until your whole mind and body are fully ready to take on the challenge. You’ll know when it is when the time comes.

    5. Go for it

    On the big day go for it 100%. Make a commitment and write it down on a card. You just need one short phrase you can carry in your wallet. Or keep it in your car, by your bed and on your bathroom mirror too for an extra dose of positive reinforcement.

    Your commitment card will say something like:

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    • I enjoy a clean, smoke-free life.
    • I stay calm and in control even under times of stress.
    • I’m committed to learning how to run my own business.
    • I meditate daily.

    6. Accept failure

    If you do fail and sneak a cigarette, miss a walk or shout at the kids one morning don’t hate yourself for it. Make a note of the triggers that caused this set back and vow to learn a lesson from them.

    If you know that alcohol makes you crave cigarettes and oversleep the next day cut back on it. If you know the morning rush before school makes you shout then get up earlier or prepare things the night before to make it easier on you.

    Perseverance is the key to success. Try again, keep trying and you will succeed.

    7. Plan rewards

    Small rewards are great encouragement to keep you going during the hardest first days. After that you can probably reward yourself once a week with a magazine, a long-distance call to a supportive friend, a siesta, a trip to the movies or whatever makes you tick.

    Later you can change the rewards to monthly and then at the end of the year you can pick an anniversary reward. Something that you’ll look forward to. You deserve it and you’ll have earned it.

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    Whatever your plans and goals are for this year, I’d do wish you luck with them but remember, it’s your life and you make your own luck.

    Decide what you want to do this year, plan how to get it and go for it. I’ll definitely be cheering you on.

    Are you planning to make a New Year’s resolution? What is it and is it something you’ve tried to do before or something new?

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