Productivity is Personal
  • What works for me—or Jeff Bezos, probably will not work for you. And even if it does, it will probably change one day.
  • There is nothing wrong with learning new systems of efficiency. But at the end of the day, productivity is a very personal thing

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4 Principles of Productivity

markmanson.net

Productivity is a tricky balance. On the one hand, if you treat yourself like a slave, flagellating yourself, locking yourself into a quiet room and not allowing yourself to have any fun, ever, then you’re going to get burnt out and things will slowly come apart.

On the other hand if your are too relaxed, giving yourself free time whenever you want, not holding accountable to schedules and commitments, then you wouldn't get anything done

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Productivity is a Personal Thing

There’s nothing wrong with learning new systems of efficiency. But at the end of the day, productivity is a very personal thing. What works for me—or Jeff Bezos, for that matter—probably won’t work for you. And even if it does, it will probably change one day.

The goal is to uncover your own personal psychology on what makes you more productive.

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  1. Personal Values . First and foremost, you need to figure out what exactly you stand for—that is, what you value. Values are a compass for your behavior and, therefore, the engine of your productivity.
  2. How Motivation Works . Instead of learning what gets you motivated , once you learn how motivation actually works , you can motivate yourself to do just about anything (as long as it doesn’t conflict with your values, of course).
  3. Why You Procrastinate – Also an incredibly personal thing. You don’t procrastinate because you’re a lazy sack-of-shit person who lacks any sort of fortitude or character.

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There’s this puritanical ideal of “more work is always better” that permeates the modern culture of work to an almost psychotic degree (especially in the United States).

Studies have shown that just about everyone only has 3-4 hours of truly productive work in them per day. So you should optimize your day around those 3-4 hours when you’re most creative and productive and be happy with whatever you get past that.

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Eliminate Distractions While You Work

The modern world is quickly dividing us into two groups: those who control their own attention well and those whose attention is controlled by someone else, especially technology.

To put it bluntly, you can’t expect to be productive if you don’t control your own attention.

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Schedule Time for Work - And Goofing of
  • If you schedule your work ahead of time—every week or day or whatever works best for you—you gain more control of the attention you’re giving to work.
  • There is nothing wrong with a little relaxing or binge watching Netflix as long as you're being intentional about it and scheduling it in your day after doing enough work. This gives you control.

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And here’s the thing: developing a system of getting things done is a constant work in progress. It takes experimentation, constant trial and error. Something might work for you for a few weeks—or months or years—and then all of sudden, it stops working for you. Life happens, priorities change, values (there’s that word again) come and go.

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