The Myths and Principles of Productivity
This article was curated from my personal notes while studying the Productivity Masterclass - Principles and Tools to Boost Your Productivity by Ali Abdaal
#The 3 Myths of Productivity
#1 The Myth of “I Don’t Have Time”
Time is what we want most but use worst - William Penn.
We are not limited by time, we are limited by the choices we make with our time.
When presented with an invitation you can not engage with at the moment, instead of responding by saying "Sorry, I don't have time", you might say “ I’m sorry, I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, I don’t quite have the bandwidth.”
This is because we do have time, but we're consciously avoiding doing that specific task. It simply means that we would rather spend time working on something else other than that specific task.
#2 The Motivation Myth
Motivation is fundamentally a feeling. Relying on our feelings as a way of setting our course in life and getting what we need to be done is a recipe for disaster because feelings are fleeting.
Discipline enables us to go directly from thought to action regardless of how we’re feeling at the current time.
A professional doctor wakes up in the morning, prepares his day, and proceeds to go to the hospital irrespective of his current state of motivation.
We tend to rely on motivation when we don’t get the outcomes from our actions immediately.
A Procrastinator's mindset:
A Disciplined person's mindset:
How to Become More Disciplined
- Make the
Actionfun and more pleasureable
- Make the consequences of
- Shorten your feedback loop
- Keep the outcome clearly in mind
#3 The Myth of Multitasking
Focusing on one thing at a time is infinitely better than trying to multitask.
Task switching, ie. trying to do multiple things at one go is a lot less productive than focusing on just the one thing we need to get done.
Doing tasks one at a time helps put you in flow state where we perform and feel our best.
When we are in the flow state, we report high levels of productivity, life satisfaction, and happiness.
Avoid distractions when you’re in the flow state. Keep your phone away from your study spot.
Comfort zone |
Stretch zone (The Flow State) |
The Three Laws of Productivity
#1 Parkison’s Law
work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion - Northcote Parkinson.
Think about your 10-year plan, stop and think about how you could achieve it in 6 months.
Creating an artificial constraint will push you to achieve your goal sooner.
#2 Pareto Principle
Also known as the 80/20 rule, the Pareto Principle states that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent effort.
A student having a forthcoming exam and having to study 10 topics may decide to study each topic sequentially. A much better approach would be to study the basics of every topic ie. 80/20 on the basics, then go another 80/20 on deeper topics and keep going 80/20 on every iteration of the study session.
#3 Newton’s First Law of Motion
An object is at rest or traveling at a constant velocity unless it’s acted on by an external imbalanced force.
If we are still, it requires an external force to push us into action. But if we are moving already, it no longer requires any external force to keep us moving, we will keep moving by default.
This is why it’s much harder to start something than to continue doing something once we’ve already started. All we need to that one bit of push to get started, and then we can just keep on going.
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