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See How Productivity Actually Ruins Your Life

See How Productivity Actually Ruins Your Life

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Contradictory to what you might think, a ruined life can start off as an attempt to build a good habit. You may start off as wanting to be more productive, and you’ll most likely follow the latest trends in productivity, thus bringing structure to your life, and increasing the amount of work you get done. After you get the basics down, you’ll undertake bigger and heavier workloads; always in search of getting more done and faster!  One day, you’ll stumble upon an epiphany, a brilliant idea for some great project—yes my friends, that’s how it begins.

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productivity hurt your life

    Little by little, it will affect your personal life, giving you the illusion you can organize every minute of every hour to focus on your project.  You’ll start skipping meals, cut out your workout, skip reading your kids their bedtime stories, and more.  Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself totally drained with zero motivation to do the things you were so motivated to accomplish a week ago… with the added value of an angry spouse telling you that it’s nice you were able to check off “visit home” from your tasks.

    You may justify to yourself that you just need a bit more time in order to finish your project, right? Wrong! Even David Allen, one of the most productive people you’ll meet and the author of Getting Things Done said that:  “If you’re appropriately engaged with your life, you don’t need more time. If you’re not, more time won’t help”, why?

    Enter the Comfort Zone at Your Own Risk

    Keeping yourself constantly occupied helps you ignore some issues in your personal life.  It supplies you with a rewarding comfort zone that can be sustained for a long period; you get rewards for each task, all the while getting closer to the big reward just beyond the horizon.

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    Yet, be warned this is a bubble, and bubbles are meant to burst. Sacrificing your personal life on the altar of productivity actually pushes you away from the main reasons you sought to be more productive in the first place.  It puts a wall between you and the outer world preventing you from seeing there’s a problem since you are engrossed in being productive, and once the bubble pops, it may be too late.

    Balance Creativity and Be Wary of Obsession

    If you’re working on a new project you’ll need a boatload of creativity, and where do creative juices come from? According to Vincent Walsh, a professor from the Institute of cognitive neuroscience in the university college of London, creativity comes from obsession.  According to him, there are four components to creativity:

    Preparation: preparing everything; researching information, testing, and generally sniffing a bit around before you make your move.

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    Incubation: the period required for you to process what you’ve gathered during the preparation phase.

    Illumination: The Eureka moment!

    Verification: Checking how well your idea bumps against the walls of reality.

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    To follow through successfully with these stages, you’ll need to obsess over your idea, but how much?  That’s the million dollar question, and ultimately, it’s up to you. Extremely creative people changed a few spouses and were tormented emotionally and mentally day and night until they had their break.  Those are the people you’ve heard of, but there are plenty of others who never made it to the illumination phase

    Keep obsession at bay by making sure you keep it balanced.  Obsession is a slippery slope, and most of us aren’t Albert Einstein. We are creatures of emotion and impulse, we refuel with new experiences, support from our community, and rest, and all of the above require time. A high level of productivity and creativity can be sustained only when we feel fulfilled (or as Abraham Maslow called it, the upper reaches of the pyramid). Stay balanced, be productive and don’t lose touch with yourself—until next time.

     

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    Haim Pekel

    Haim Pekel is an entrepreneur and shares tips on productivity and entrepreneurship at Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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