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How to accomplish nothing and still feel exhausted

Never making a plan

A direct way to exhaust yourself:

  • You start your day with a general, vague sense of your priorities.
  • To prevent yourself from making progress, you don't write your tasks down anywhere. Then you can remember a particular task while busy with another, briefly panic, and doing it all over a few minutes later.
  • You don't make a list or schedule a time for any task. This could make the list of tasks feel manageable, and might also lead you to start one task at a time. You want to feel vaguely overwhelmed at all times.

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How to accomplish nothing and still feel exhausted

How to accomplish nothing and still feel exhausted

https://zapier.com/blog/how-to-accomplish-absolutely-nothing-but-still-burn-out/

zapier.com

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Key Ideas

How to burn yourself out

It is easy to constantly be burnt out while also accomplishing very little.

It takes years of practice. You have to build up habits where the line between work and time-wasting is practically blurred. You have to lack self-awareness and refrain from reflecting on your own shortcomings.

Constant multitasking

Multitasking is a proven method for getting little done. It wastes time by slowing your progress down on every individual task.

  • On your computer, fill every pixel of space with as many windows and tabs, all related to different tasks. Then switch between those tabs and tasks as often as possible.
  • Use notifications to pull you away from your focus. Use it on as many applications and services as possible.

Focusing on one task may make you actually complete it. It might give you the momentum to accomplishing another task. This can be avoided by multitasking.

Never making a plan

A direct way to exhaust yourself:

  • You start your day with a general, vague sense of your priorities.
  • To prevent yourself from making progress, you don't write your tasks down anywhere. Then you can remember a particular task while busy with another, briefly panic, and doing it all over a few minutes later.
  • You don't make a list or schedule a time for any task. This could make the list of tasks feel manageable, and might also lead you to start one task at a time. You want to feel vaguely overwhelmed at all times.

Not taking real breaks

To help you get nothing done while feeling exhausted, don't take breaks during unplanned work. Keep struggling.

Do tasks that don't directly accomplish anything. Email and Slack are great for this because neither are directly productive or relaxing. Check Twitter or read the news to get a general sense of anger or anxiety.

Not exercising

One study suggests that working out improves both productivity and satisfaction.

Staying in your chair and moving as little as possible is a sure way to feel exhausted at the end of the day.

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Switching between tasks

Most of us spend our days jumping between tasks and tools.

In fact, most people average only 3 minutes on any given task before switching to something else (and only 2 minutes on a di...

Task switching and focus

Taking on additional tasks simultaneously can destroy up to 80% of your productive time:

  • Focusing on one task at a time = 100% of your productive time available.
  • Juggling two tasks at a time = 40% of your productive time for each and 20% lost to context switching.
  • Juggling three tasks at a time = 20% of your productive time for each and 40% lost to context switching.
A schedule for sustained attention
It includes:
  • Large chunks of focused “flow” time for more demanding projects.
  • “Themed” days to reduce the need to recalibrate between different tasks.
  • Advanced planning so you can prioritize meaningful work.
  • Realistic time set aside for admin, communication, and meetings.
  • Clear expectations for your teammates so they know when not to interrupt you.

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The 2 ways you can approach your habits: Progressive and Consistent
  • Progressive. You start off easy, make it a little bit harder each time, until you eventually do very difficult things, with a lot less effort.
  • Consistent. Do the same...

Progressive habits are about managing growth, while consistent habits  are  are about managing decline. Progressive habits are less st...

Progressive habits are about managing growth, while consistent habits  are  are about managing decline. Progressive habits are less stable, but offer higher growth. Consistent habits offer lower growth, but are more stable.
When you set up a progressive habit, you’re on a path to improvement

Small, incremental adjustments in difficulty are almost certain to push your level up. The downside with progressive habits is that they are harder to sustain.

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Task switching

Many of the multitasking warnings actually refer to the concept of “task switching.” It refers to switching your attention from one thing to another. 

Frequently flipping back and forth...

Multitasking can have some merit

While you’ve likely heard that it’s physically impossible to do two things at once, that rule really only applies to tasks that require the same cognitive resources. If you can find ways to combine two tasks that are different enough - like listening to an educational podcast while making your commute, practicing for a presentation while getting your miles in on the treadmill, or brainstorming article ideas while doing the dishes - multitasking can actually serve to your benefit.

The Fireman

For you, every event is a crisis and there is always one. You have no time to deal with minor issues like time management, and they accumulate.

Solution: Plan your day and start...

The Over-Committer

You say yes to everything and have trouble setting boundaries, or if you a boss, setting boundaries on the behavior of others who report to you. You overwhelm yourself and that leads to difficulties in fulfilling all your commitments.

Solution: Understand that work-life balance is essential for your well being. Learn to say no and start doing it. 

The Aquarian

You have a borderline avoidant approach to work and your high sociability gets in the way of task management and productivity.

Solution: find ways to motivate yourself, avoid procrastination and don’t forget why you are working at something. 

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Describing mental fatigue
Describing mental fatigue

It is the feeling that your brain just won't function properly. People will describe it as brain fog. You can't concentrate, and simple tasks take too long. You find th...

Causes of mental fatigue

Contributing factors to mental fatigue are poor nutrition, lack of sleep, hormonal imbalances, or cognitive overload. Cognitive overload can take the following forms:

  • When you focus on a single task for an extended period of time.
  • When you spread your attention across too many things.
  • Worrying about tasks. It is as mentally taxing as doing the task.
Give your brain high-quality fuel

Your brain is fuelled with the same food as your muscles. What you eat has an enormous impact on your cognitive functioning.

  • Cut down on refined sugars as it decreases alertness. Aim for sustained energy levels throughout the day.
  • Plan your meals in advance. If you wait until you're hungry, you're already low on energy and willpower and will reach for a quick energy boost in the form of sugar.
  • Don't skip breakfast. Without it, you may likely crash in the middle of the morning. Eat more eggs, yogurt, and oatmeal to sustain your energy levels until lunch.
  • Snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon to give your body consistent fuel.
  • Stay hydrated with water. Mild hydration can negatively impact cognitive performance.
  • Listen to your body to figure out what makes you feel best. The same nutrition advice won't work for everyone.

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Recharge yourself physically
  • Take a warm bath. Try using Epsom salt in your bath. 
  • Use an exfoliating scrub to help recharge your body by improving blood circulation.
  • Change your diet...
Recharge mentally
  • Make a list of your accomplishments
  • Let go of past mistakes
  • Do something fun
  • Take breaks from things and people that bring you down
  • Spend time with close friends and family
  • Meditate or pray
  • Avoid multitasking
  • Take a break from technology
  • Do something artsy
  • Write in a journal
Why people feel drained

Most likely, exhaustion is linked to:

  • too much or too little physical activity
  • jetlag or something else that confuses your circadian rhythm
  • insomnia or lack of sleep
  • medications such as antihistamines and cough medicine
  • poor eating habits
  • stress
  • trauma
  • drug or alcohol use
Think like Sherlock Holmes

“What Sherlock Holmes offers isn’t just a way of solving a crime. It is an entire way of thinking."

"Holmes provides... an education in improving our faculty of mindful thought...

Engagement
As children, we are remarkably aware to the world around us. This attention wanes over time as we allow more pressing responsibilities to attend to and demands on our minds to address. And as the demands on our attention increase so, too, does our actual attention decrease.

 As it does so, we become less and less able to know or notice our own thought habits and more and more allow our minds to dictate our judgments and decisions, instead of the other way around.

Pitfalls of the Untrained Brain

Daniel Kahneman believes there are two systems for organizing and filtering knowledge: 

  • System one is real-time. This system makes judgments and decisions before our mental apparatus can consciously catch up. 
  • System two, on the other hand, is a slow process of thinking based on critical examination of evidence. Konnikova refers to these as System Watson and System Holmes.

To move from a System Watson- to a System Holmes-governed thinking takes mindfulness plus motivation.

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There are no productivity hacks
There are no productivity hacks

Habits and work systems can produce the best return on your time.

Getting more work done is about knowing what to do, when to do it, and how to get it done in order to maxi...

Unimportant tasks are really just distractions

Urgent but unimportant tasks = distractions.

Urgent tasks put us into constant “reply mode.” Important work is related to planned tasks that move us closer to our goals.

Interruptions break your flow

Anytime you are pulled away from your tasks, it takes time to readjust to them when you jump back in (sometimes it can take up to 25 minutes).

Interruptions (notifications, loud noises, social media, checking email etc.) harm your concentration.

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The 2 kinds of work :
  • Deep work”: using your skills to create something of value. It takes thought, energy, time and concentration.
  • Shallow work”: all the little administrative and logist...
Cal Newport
Cal Newport

"The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive. "

Cal Newport on time management
  • Don’t schedule distractions. Schedule deep work.
  • Keep a scoreboard for deep work: The point is to shame yourself if you’re not up to snuff.
  • Stop saying “yes” to unimportant stuff;
  • Have a “Deep Work Ritual”: Hiding in a conference room and throwing your phone into an abyss is a good one.
  • Ask your boss how much time they want you spending on deep vs shallow work: If they say “100% shallow”, feel free to ignore everything above.
  • Default behaviors

    They are actions we make without thinking (habits, routines, compulsions). They control more than 40% of our daily actions.

    So if we want to change our lives and be more productive, we...

    Inbox always open

    This behavior keeps you from dedicating your time to meaningful work. Replying to email may feel productive, but the truth is emails are rarely the most important thing on your to-do list.

    So instead of keeping your inbox open all day, change your default behavior to working on emails in batches.

    Immediately responding to messages

    Real-time communication sets the expectation that you’re always available. And for many of us, our default behaviors support just that.

    In order to change this behavior, you need to set expectations on response time. Mute specific channels, get rid of pop-ups, turn off mobile notifications, etc.

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