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Creating A Framework For Productivity

Creating A Framework For Productivity

    Something that has sped the development of awesome web and desktop applications over the past 10+ years is the idea of a technology or set of technologies coming together in harmony in what is known as a framework. There are many popular technical programming frameworks out there today like .NET for Windows, Ruby on Rails, or Zend for PHP. These frameworks help the programmer development applications rapidly and in much less time than it took before the frameworks were available.

    What these types of frameworks do is keep programmers productive by allowing them to concentrate on building their application rather than getting mundane and trivial things to work like database access, control usage, and even deployment in the environment the application will be used in. Without getting too-too technical, it’s pretty easy to see why frameworks are needed and appreciated by developers:

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    1. They keep mundane things out of the way.
    2. The give the programmer awesome tools to work with to get more work done.
    3. This allows the programmer to concentrate on creating her app rather than what language or technology she is using.

    Creating a framework for your life

    That being said, why don’t we take a lesson from software development and engineering and apply it directly to our productivity practice? The idea of Getting Things Done is to keep track of the more mundane and next action type of stuff to clear our heads so we can concentrate on creating rather than just checking off a list of unimportant or habitual things that need done.

    Developing a framework for your productivity can be just as liberating for us as a programming framework for coders. But what should this framework entail?

    The mundane and everyday

    One of the best tutorial ebooks I have read in the past year was Using OmniFocus by Kourosh Dini. This book should be bundled with the task management system OmniFocus because of its in depth setup of the system as well as some awesome insights about personal productivity.

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    Dini details how to setup some “Routine Maintenance” folders and projects that contain all of the routine stuff you have to keep track of. This forms the basis of the system and allows you to free yourself from simple things and look towards more creative actions and processes. He also discusses creating templates of repeated projects so you don’t have to weigh yourself down in the future with “boilerplate” types of processing.

    But what’s this mean if you aren’t an OmniFocus geek like myself? Well, you need some lists or reminders around that keep the mundane and everyday things off of your mind. Whether it be a morning, noon, and night checklist of things that need done, weekly reminders, monthly and otherwise; all you need is to set something up to remind you and help you from thinking that you are forgetting something.

    Before I was on the OmniFocus wagon I would have a repeating event on my calendar right before I left for work that had a simple checklist of things that needed done before I left the house. Things like, remember all needed school books, review your errand list for things that you need to take with you, remember your work ID, wallet, chargers and phone, etc. This simple, stupid list helped me keep the whole “I know I’m forgetting something” feeling away. This allowed me to concentrate on other bigger things that needed done in the day. It also allowed me to have my cup of coffee in peace and to actually relax before I entered my work day.

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    Taking care of the simple and mundane stuff everyday is a key part of creating your productivity framework. Without it, you will always have that sinking feeling that something is “falling through the cracks”.

    Creative tasks and doings

    Something else that I have found to be of utmost importance is to create repeating tasks for the creative parts of my life. These are things that I need to do everyday to keep my creative energy flowing and to allow myself to do something other than think about “real work”.

    There are a couple of creative tasks that I have now that repeat every single day including writing 750 words and working for at least an hour on my web app idea. This time is blocked out everyday, so no matter what I am doing two things that benefit my spirit and sanity.

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    Being productive and spending your energy on “real work” is great, but without having some “you time” your productivity framework can fall apart. Sometimes we just need to be selfish a little bit every day.

    From framework to getting important things done

    Now that you have created a framework of the mundane and creative things that you want to commit to every day, it’s time to clear them out of the way so you can concentrate on moving your projects forward and accomplishing your goals. Making these routine tasks a normal part of your day is the first step in creating a productivity framework for your life.

    The more that you don’t have to think about, especially the habitual and even boring stuff, the more you can concentrate on important aspects of your work and creating real value in the world.

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

    However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

    Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

    Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

    Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

    In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

    What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

    To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

    The Biology

    Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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    Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

    The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

    A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

    Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

    So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

    Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

    Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

    Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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    Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

    The Psychology

    Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

    Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

    Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

    Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

    What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

    Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

    Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

    1. Identify Your Habits

    As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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    2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

    Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

    It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

    3. Apply Logic

    You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

    Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

    4. Choose an Alternative

    As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

    Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

    5. Remove Triggers

    Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

    Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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    6. Visualize Change

    Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

    For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

    7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

    Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

    Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

    Final Thoughts

    Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

    Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

    More About Changing Habits

    Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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