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Becoming More Productive


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So, I've been putting in a rather large amount of effort into making myself a much more productive, focused person. My ambitions are very large enough that I don't even put them out there yet, so, I've been putting myself through hell simply to make myself react. I read The Power of Habit and The Slight Edge, and do what I can to apply the 40% rule. But, these things weren't enough on their own. I had to get creative and apply some other things I learned.

Anyways, I've found that there are several things that I am doing that have really massively increased my overall ability to produce, and produce efficiently:

1. Meditate every day, even if there is a deadline to meet. Spend some time researching this. I've found that I really like Sam Harris's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OboD7JrT0NE

I do it without guidance since I've practiced from this one.

2. Proper nutrition. eat enough calories and protein Spinach and berry smoothies with a bit of protein powder in them work very well for this. It gives your body a full fledged breakfast. I eat cereal on top of this. The fiber in the spinach also causes the sugar from the smoothie to be released slowly, preventing an insulin spike, but giving you this very controlled, elevated sugar spike.

3. Coffee. Dose it properly. Then, find a day where you can be less productive for reducing your dependence. Do this if you find that you can't focus quite enough without all of the other steps.

4. Toughen Up:  Decide that you're going to push through something because it's hard, not because it's easy. So, get in the habit of doing things like taking a cold shower, or biking to work, or something that takes more effort. Make your bed every morning, no matter what. Rip yourself out of bed at 5 am. Make this process of toughening up useful. The process of toughening up is literally the most effective thing I've done. I spend more time working on myself AND working by a long shot. The more you exert your willpower, the less life's obstacles and setbacks will phase you. You will become simultaneously happier, more resilient person and much likelier to attain your goals by craving difficulty instead of running from it.

5. Control your emotions. Meditation helps with this. When you're emotional about something, it takes away your ability to focus as a completely involuntary neurophysical process that you simply cannot overcome with willpower. Not a bad couple of videos:



6. Exercise. This will cause neurological changes to the hippocampus, helping regulate emotions.

7. Journal. Every time you journal, you reinforce what you just wrote down as if you were communicating it to someone else. This has a strong reinforcing effect which allows you to hone yourself, making yourself more effective. Write down thoughts, learn to use it as a tool to discover more about your inner workings, the inner workings of others and as a scaffolding for developing yourself into the person you want to become.

8. Energize yourself. Get pumped up, somehow, some way. This will get blood flowing to your brain, allowing additional focus, and will reinforce your ability to energize yourself at will.

These things take practice. It's going to be impossible to implement them all at once, but if you make a larger effort to do it every day, you will see a relatively rapid improvement. Mix all of these into a routine. Yes, you do have time. In fact, you actually create time by becoming more focused and productive. So, if you spend two hours on this stuff every morning getting ready, you're going to be 20-30% more effective, and you're going to be able to push for longer.

My personal routine is:

  1. Make bed. (Apply Rule 5)
  2. Shower, sometimes cold. (4, 5 - I do mental processing while in the shower)
  3. Make coffee and smoothie at the same time, eat cereal with the rest of these. (2, 3)
  4. Meditate (since the caffeine kicked in it helps the focus). At LEAST 15 minutes. (1)
  5. Journal while meditating, since I find that I get my best ideas while meditating. (5)
  6. Listen to some metal music to get myself amped up. I find that it gives me more of a feeling of imperviousness and makes feeling sorry for myself seem like a complete and utter joke. (4, 5, 8)
  7. Bike to campus at a brisk pace. (6, 8) - sometimes this is before meditation.

Thus far, I've been more productive than I have ever been in my entire life, with more consistency, while feeling a lot better about it.

Edited by Alkan
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A really good post! A lot of the points you presented are part of Buddhism's values, which I attribute a lot of my development in self awareness and maturity to.

I really liked that 40% video and it's a great concept, but I wonder how you condition your mind to not pack it in once you reach that wall?  I am curious on two fronts, a) because it means I could get more out of my day, and b) I have a marathon coming up that I want to finish!

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