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Completion bias

It's where your brain specifically seeks the hit of dopamine you get from crossing off small tasks and ignores working on larger, more complex ones.

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Out of all the things that can boost our mood and motivation, the single most important is making progress on meaningful work.

Just like we love crossing small tasks off our to-do list, being able to see that we’re even one step closer to a big goal is a huge motivator. The problem is that these “small wins” are hard to measure.

t of us make advances small and large every single day, but we fail to notice them because we lack a method for acknowledging our progress. This is a huge l
Why we feel busier than ever

... but feel like nothing gets done:

  • Our days are filled with meaningless, busy-work (like answering emails).
  • We’ve lost the ability to set meaningful, effective goals.
  • We don’t set in place methods for tracking progress.
  • We’ve lost the ability to handle uncertainty.

It keeps you motivated and productive.

You become more purposeful about the work you do. And that can create the kind of meaning that so many of us search for in our daily work. You also have more insight into the value you’re creating.

Break out large tasks

...  into smaller pieces and visualize them.

When you’re facing a large project, your first step should be to break it out into smaller goals. Then, break those goals down into smaller tasks. The more chances you have to feel like you “finished” part of it, the more motivation you’ll get from your progress.

... and start every day at zero.

Rather than simply looking at your overall progress on a project, set smaller daily quotas.

If your goal is especially complex, a quota can be easier to hit than a goal. 

Track your metrics on a calendar

Pick a metric (or two) that makes sense for you and then track how many days you hit it.

Your calendar becomes a large, visual reminder of your progress (and also brings in the power of streaks).

Write in a diary

... for 5 minutes a day.

At the end of each day, take a few minutes to write about what you worked on. Make sure to note both your “small wins” and any setbacks.

At the end of the month, flip back through your notes and see how far you’ve come. It’s amazing the clarity you get from seeing the progress you made over a longer period

more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or serv
James Clear
“If you want to summarize the habits of successful people into one phrase, it’s this: successful people start before they feel ready.”

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RELATED IDEAS

The Worst Offender In Your Lack Of Focus

Lack of self-efficacy, that is your confidence (or belief) in navigating a challenging situation and shooting down potential obstacles is a fundamental reason for the inability to focus.

  • Coined in 1977 by psychologist Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is different from confidence, as it relates to a particular task or topic.
  • High self-efficacy results in less stress and depression and almost guarantees your personal accomplishment.
  • A low self-efficacy results in procrastination, failure and blame games.

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IDEAS

When you start to feel this way, take a break.

  • Disconnect from what you're working on.
  • Give your eyes a break. After every 20-minutes of work, stare at something at least 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds.
  • Get outdoors if you can. The natural light and fresh air will give you energy.
  • Refuel with food high in protein to boost your energy.

The best way to maintain productivity is to take regular breaks. Our minds naturally crave breaks after every 90 minutes of intense work. Your body may signal it needs a break by becoming hungry, sleepy, fidgeting, or losing focus.

Master lists

Capture everything on a Master List and then break it down by monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

  1. Start by making a master list—a document, app, or piece of paper where every current and future task will be stored. 
  2. Once you have all your tasks together, break them down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
  3. When setting your priorities, try not to get too “task oriented” - you want to make sure you’re prioritizing the more effective work.