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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 November 18, 2020

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
    Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

    1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
    2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
    3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
    4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
    5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
    6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
    7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
    8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
    9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
    10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
    11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
    12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
    13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
    14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
    15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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