On productivity – A book review.

By July 14, 2016Lifestyle

In the summer of 2013 I stumbled across “Manage Your Day-to-Day”. “Build your routine, find your focus and sharpen your mind” front paged geometric etchings cue interest, pursued by then and already regrettable “1-click” purchase. 5-second parabolic – “arrowheaded” -indicators with every kindle purchase! Flip to “Harnessing the Power of Frequency” – or chapter 1. Longwinded improper sentences make me think. Funnily enough, 9 out of 10 attempts at highbrow literacy fail to provide congruent meaning: an unsaid truism. So the world is full of fluff. So much fluff I find myself weary toward any productivity suite promising Zen-like declutter. There is no one size fits all. “Manage Your-Day-to-Day” instead was fashioned as a sort of legend for productivity; shorts describing routine proclivities from the world’s leading creative paragons, technologists, and thinkers. Most of which you’ve never heard of. Here is my very short book review:

Part 1: “Building a Rock-Solid Routine”

Any idea verging on a business is spending a sufficient amount of time brainstorming. Paper to pen, after all, is a long-winded process. Those reconstructing neural networks know well the problems of creative exponents in handwritten scratchings. After all a million dollar valuation lies in the smallest of nuanced niches. Think the linearity of personal accounting software before a precipitous standout feature bumps daily active users 5 fold. Thank you members of the committee. So how does one ensure sufficient time for creative work? Simple: by putting reactive tasks on the backburner.

Reactive should be synonymous with tasks you can do a) in a cryogenic chamber b) without much thought. Replying emails monitoring bank balances, taking one-sided calls from nifty insurance salesman etc are all examples of reactive work…Cautionary statement: Driving requires full consciousness and is not to be considered reactive. Here are methods you can immediately employ to simplify your workload.

  1. Manage your to-do list with two columns only: important and unimportant. This simple mechanism ensures an absence of to-do gray matter.
  1. Capture every commitment at the end of the day. No surprises are the best kind of surprise.
  1. Understand when your creative juices are flowing in abundance. You’re on lockdown, “the hole” in prison terms, until you’re all juiced out.

Part 2 – “Finding focus in a distracted world”

How many of us take a moment’s pause to reflect on the culprits of our diminishing capacity. Understanding our compulsions is key to reinvigorating focus. Dan Ariely – behavioral economist – discusses e-mail as our greatest temptation system. If our mailboxes aren’t alerting us in analogous glee we’re inadvertently scouring them for so-called “marketable” junk. How, then, do we downplay this man-made construct of self-importance?

First it’s important we understand the two basic elements of self-control: problems and solutions. Into morbid reflection: a staggering 40% of human mortality comes from poor decision-making, compared to just 10% a century ago. Society’s largest proponent of self-control problems: an industrious production of new technology. We’ve all heard sitting is the new smoking – more of an afterthought really. When faced with an attack from a Viking clan, our electronic blood-pact is taken one step further. There is immediate satisfaction in confronting a digital enemy.

Then there’s guilt, our one motive for discovering self-control solutions – of which there are many. Pomodoro timers for instance – 25-minute increments of suggested studious work separated by 5-minute break intervals – were all the rage at one point. A Chrome plug-in might have been a means to an end, but none of us truly stayed the course. My timer blinks at the most inconveniencing of times: client meetings, YouTube marathons etc . Ariely concludes that superficial solutions to our artificial problems inevitably lead to ego depletion and many of us are thrust into a looping inconsistency. Here are his nifty ways to avoid technological distraction:

  1. An obvious one: Schedule time for offline work. That’s right, put down the phone, disconnect entirely. Coincidentally this reinforces the need for your morning creative happy hour.
  1. Remember progress not perfection. Our ideal technological workaround is one that solves the smallest of problems in the most grandiose of ways. Our apps are terrible at tracking progress. Work with pens, a journal – any archaic tool in which to help jot down completed tasks will boon confidence and meaningful work interactions.

Part 3 – Taming your tools.

The title alone is enough to send you running for the hills. “Using Social media mindfully” – because most of us don’t. I thought I’d leave this part with, for once, a non-rhetorical questionnaire. Ask yourself if social media is fulfilling any meaningful utility in your life HERE: http://99u.com/workbook/15127/9-questions-to-ask-about-your-social-media-addiction

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