Lifehacks

Here's how to hack your happiness and productivity to get more done and enjoy it.

Do What Is Important

Whenever I realize I’ve been running ragged, I know I’ve fallen into a rut of reactive rather than proactive work. Instead of going about my day steered by plans and intentions, the unstable “whatever comes up” gets to dictate my day.

This schedule of working deadline to deadline, fighting fires and flying by the seat of your pants racks up time debt. You’re borrowing from other areas of your life like spending time with your family or on your wellbeing.

Humans tend to be bad at understanding how we’ll feel in the future. In our mind’s Pollyannaish eye, the future is a world of order and excellence in which you exercise everyday, you don’t bring work home with you, you finally learn Spanish, you catch up with that friend you haven’t spoken to in forever. In reality, something always comes up, there is always something to do.

Continue Reading

How to Do a Time and Motion Study to Make Real Change

image

“The unexamined life is not worth living,” said the great management thinker Socrates.

Every day, people say that they’ll change. At the beginning of every year, millions make resolutions. Most do this without data, hypotheses or any idea of what they’re going to do differently. And they wonder why nothing really changes.

Intention without information is powerless. To misquote great management thinker, Albert Einstein, doing the same thing and hoping for a different result is the definition of inefficiency.

This is where the personal time and motion study can help. In summary, it goes like this:

Continue Reading

Stop Fooling Yourself by Changing Your Mind

image

Here’s a way to arrive at what you believe: first, decide that you believe something. Then, throw your very best arguments against it until you believe something else. Repeat as many times as possible.

Most people do this in some capacity, probably subconsciously and very quickly, but I recommend doing it consciously, slowly, and deliberately. You may be surprised by what you find.

Now, no blog post by a (former) physicist is complete without a Feynman quote, so let his words enlighten us here:

  • “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”
  • “We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.”
  • “I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong.”

Continue Reading

The Work Will Always Be There

When we think about our work and what we have to do, it’s almost always about pushing. Push yourself, push harder, push through the pain. But pushing won’t get you through every door.

When you take a look at the routines and rituals of super-productive people, they often turn out not to be about pushing at all, but pulling and drawing energy back into yourself. These recharging routines are about creating “me-time” — not in some selfish, diva way, but in an effort to care for and re-center yourself, to protect at least some of your time from being dictated by others.

Me-time routines are renewable fuel, a sustainable antidote to burnout and life as a work vampire.

Continue Reading

Dr Seuss’s Surprising Strategy For Success

In 1960, two men made a bet. There was only $50 on the line, but millions of people would feel the impact of this little wager.

The first man, Bennett Cerf, was the founder of the publishing firm, Random House. The second man was named Theo Geisel, but you probably know him as Dr. Seuss. Cerf challenged Dr. Seuss that he wouldn’t be able to write an entertaining children’s book using only 50 different words.

Dr. Seuss took the bet and won. The result was a little book called Green Eggs and Ham. Since its publication, Green Eggs and Ham has sold more than 200 million copies, making it the most popular of Seuss’s works and one of the best-selling children’s books in history.

At first glance, you might think this was a lucky fluke. A talented author plays a fun game with 50 words and ends up producing a hit. But there is actually more to this story — and the lessons in it can help you become more creative and stick to better habits over the long run.

Continue Reading

How to Keep Fighting in the Face of Failure

Guest columnist James Chin is a professional poker player who has previously written about flow, having the courage to change, and the truth about success. In this post, he examines how best to dust yourself off and try again.

image

The feeling of failure sucks.

Failure demotivates and saps the energy of even the most confident of people, especially if they’re not receiving some sort of positive feedback from their day.

It’s an old relationship cliche that you should never go to bed upset with your significant other. Waking up upset the next day just serves to reinforce negative feelings you have between each other. Use this advice in your relationship to yourself.

I’ve come up with a way to make sure I don’t get too down and can bounce back sooner than later. It’s simple:  take time to create that positive feedback. You’ll be much more likely to wake up the next day motivated and ready to be productive and tackle whatever life may throw at you.  Here’s how:

Continue Reading

Rethinking Productivity as Choreography

image

Despite the profusion — or distraction — of helpful productivity advice, sometimes I feel like I’m trying to squeeze my working style into systems that just won’t fit. That’s why I appreciate ways of thinking about productivity that encourage you to align how you work with your natural inclinations and rhythms.

When you’re stressing about how you’re not getting enough done, it’s easy to stop listening to yourself and to ignore those rhythms. Psychiatrist Dr. T. Byram Karasu points out the cost of such heedlessness:

Like all of nature, human beings are biologically programmed. Our psyche’s interference with the physical rhythms and cycles is detrimental to our bodies, only to be negatively resonated, in return. This vicious circle is a distinctly human phenomenon. No other living creature steps out of pace with nature and survives. Chronobiology (the biology of time) asserts that our bodies have an internal rhythm or music, which we not only can but should tune in to.

Being productive isn’t about a continuous, speedy march from waking to sleeping, though it can certainly feel that way. What if instead, the ideal was not just about crushing your to-do lists but attunement, aiming not for time and task management but for tempo management?

Continue Reading

Do the Painful Things First

image

Before I became an entrepreneur, I went to business school. While studying for my MBA, there was one lesson I learned which has proved to be useful over and over again in my life.

I was sitting in a marketing class, and we were discussing ways to design a wonderful customer experience. The goal is not merely to provide decent service but to delight the customer. Behavioral scientists have discovered that one of the most effective ways to create a delightful experience is to stack the painful parts of the experience early in the process.

Psychologically, we prefer experiences that improve over time. That means it’s better for the annoying parts of a purchase to happen early in the experience. Furthermore, we don’t enjoy it when painful experiences are drawn out or repeated.

Here are some examples:

Continue Reading

You’re Not Good Enough to Be Disappointed Yet

image

Dan John is a weightlifting coach. He is well-known in the fitness world for keeping things simple (and you should always fear a man with two first names). Recently I heard Dan John say:

I often tell my new athletes: “Sorry, you just are not good enough to be disappointed.”

In other words, in the beginning you need to get comfortable with feeling stupid, uncertain, and unskilled.

You’re not allowed to be disappointed by your performance because you haven’t developed your skills yet. It’s only the professionals that are allowed to be disappointed because they have put in the work to be better.

  • J.K Rowling is allowed to be disappointed if she writes a bad book because she put in 20 years of work to get good.
  • Kobe Bryant is allowed to be disappointed if he plays a bad game because he put in 20 years of work to become amazing.
  • Jack LaLanne was allowed to be disappointed with a bad workout because he trained for 60 years to stay fit.

But you and me? We’re not good enough to be disappointed yet. We’re bad enough to get to work.

Continue Reading

Want to Be More Productive? Design a Better Break

What do you do when you take a break during your workday?

When I ask people this question, most of them tell me they get on their smartphones or visit various websites:  news publications, Facebook, Instagram, and other online sources of information and entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with doing that — sometimes looking at pictures of cute baby animals is exactly what you need to get through the afternoon.

image

But have you ever thought “I’ll just check Facebook for a couple of minutes” and then look up shocked to realize a half hour has gone by? Or notice after catching up with news or social media that you’re returning to work feeling more tired or unfocused than you did before your break?

Continue Reading