What I've Learned From 8 Productivity Courses Part 3

You’re reading part three, you can read part one here and part two here.

11. Creators vs Consumers

This is an idea of splitting people in two categories, the creators and the consumers. From the courses, about 1% of the world are creators. And if you create something, you are in that 1%, so you should feel happy. This can motivate you to be more productive, to produce more content, more things for better world, for creating a better environment for somebody and similar. This is something related to the next item on the list - taking action.

It’s an interesting perspective too look at things from these two categories, but of course, we’re all both creators and consumers.

12. Taking action

Do the thing, and you will find the energy to do the thing. -Bob Proctor

I think taking action is the hardest and the simplest thing you can do. It’s hard because we don’t take action because we’re afraid, or don’t know the outcome, or have too much information that we become paralyzed by information overload and similar. It’s easy because action is (sometimes) easier than thinking. For example, it’s easier to take clean something for few minutes, than to think about what would happen if you cleaned it.

Something I’m planning to do very soon is input deprivation week - you can check out more about it here. From the post, for one week:

  • No reading books.
  • No reading blogs.
  • No reading newspapers.
  • No going on Facebook (even just to post).
  • No watching TV (shows, sports, news, anything).
  • No watching movies.
  • No listening to talk radio.
  • No going on Reddit.
  • No going on Twitter.
  • No information input – only output!

From the list, I have to leave out books and blogs. Twitter too, but I’m only using it because of this blog.

An interesting point from the post is - when you only consume information, when will you start taking action about the thing you learned about? It should be balanced. This is probably my weakest link. But I’m working on it, this blog is a proof for it. It took me about 6 months to just start writing, and not worry about the technology and similar. It took me a while to start, but I’m happy I started writing.

One more thing about taking action is something I’ll quote from Jordan B Peterson:

Look at things that bother you, and ask yourself “what can I fix in 10 minutes that will make things better?” You fix a hundred things like that, your life will be a lot different.
- Jordan B Peterson

Just to have an idea what deprivation week would look like, I’d do some of the following:

  • Play bass guitar and learn songs by ear
  • Learn relative pitch
  • Exercise more
  • Write more for the blog, and write in general
  • Add some other features to the blog that I’ve intended to do a while ago
  • Write some software
  • Take a trip for a day or two
  • Do something around the house or the car
  • Make new habits (they require taking action), etc.

Of course, this is not for anybody, we’re all different, so you can make a list of things to do, and once you don’t know what to do, just pull it out from the list. Which brings me to the next item.

13. Having a list with information you use frequently

This is something from courses recommended for people on social media, the idea is to make a list of all the hashtags you’re using, and when you write a post, if you can’t figure out what to tag it with, just pull few items from the list.

This is something I’m going to include in this blog, so I have a centralized place of everything. This will reduce time and thinking process, so it’s a great tip.

14. Time management

We all have the same amount of time in the day. It’s what you do with that time that matters.

Avoiding distractions falls into time management besides focus. You have to analyze what you’re spending your time on and use the wasted time to do something that you should’ve done.

Time management also uses tools like outsourcing and batching similar tasks. You should spend the time and energy on things that make you productive, happy, satisfied. Of course there are things we all must do that we don’t like, washing dishes for instance (tho somebody may find it calming and enjoy even that), but try to spend most of your time and energy on more important stuff.

Carefully choose how you spend time. An interesting quote from one of the courses was:

Time is POTENTIAL money - not “time is money”. It’s the way how we use it.

But not everything is about money, we should tend to be happier even with less.

Do the best with what you have right now. When you’re thinking about the past, you’re taking away what you have in this moment. I’ve read somewhere that when you’re thinking about past, you are thinking about memories, and when you think about the future, you’re thinking about your desires. So most of our thoughts aren’t even in the present, they were memories or are desires. It’s ok to have memories and desires, but we should be realistic and do the best we can right now.

15. Goals

Think of one goal as a puzzle. First you get the edged pieces, put them together to make a frame, and then go from outside in. Also you have the bigger picture at the box of the puzzle - the finished product. But fun is when you are making the puzzle, not just finishing it.

Think about music too, when you’re listening to music (just listening to music, not doing anything else), it’s all about the journey, it’s all about enjoying the song. The goal is not “I have to finish the song”, but to enjoy it.

We should enjoy the trip too, not just the destination.

16. Motivation

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing - that’s why we recommend it daily.
-Zig Ziglar

In one of the courses, the instructor pointed out three interesting motivation triggers:

  1. Fear motivation - this is either because we are aware that something bad is going to happen or we’re given a warning - like thinking we’re going to lose our job, or that we got a warning that we’ll get fired;
  2. Incentive motivation - wanting something so much that we’re motivated to do the work to get it; or we’re given something to motivate us to do something even better;
  3. Growth motivation - being able to see that we’re growing and we want to continue growing even more.

I love how Thomas Frank - College Info Geek puts motivation into formula:

Motivation = expectancy * value / impulsiveness * delay
Increase expectancy and value
Decrease impulsiveness and delay

Again (from habits): Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.

17. Comfort zone

Being in comfort zone is tightly related to taking action (or not taking action). We’re not comfortable with taking action that much, so we stay in the comfort zone. The way to combat that is to take action while allowing that action to be flawed or incomplete - meaning it doesn’t need to be perfect, we don’t need to have every detail planned.

You will see that when you take action, the imperfections you make will go unnoticed. Also, something I like doing, a term I took from the blockchain, is trying things out as a proof of concept. This would be related to something new, to see if it works, and how effective that is. An example would be, that I renovated my room a month ago, and I thought I could paint the room myself, but the walls were bad and I really got upset once I found out that I’m not up for the task. It hit me really hard, and for few hours I was a depressed, but I called the construction workers who sealed the doors to terrace, and they said they could paint it. Them doing work is something really relieving for me, and I proved to myself that it’s a bad idea to paint something like this myself. It’s easier to leave it to professionals.

Also, I guess comfort zone is when we turn to perfectionism. We think everything must be perfect, so before we start doing something, we want to have every single detail in our head (or on paper). If something has to be perfect, or if we need to be perfect at something, we’ll probably never start doing it.

We should practice stepping out of our comfort zone every single day. Doesn’t matter how small the task is.

18. Decision making

It’s a process, not an event - it’s a common mistake to think otherwise. It’s the process of selecting a choice from a range of possible options with the goal of achieving a very specific objective.

Flow of decision making and execution: Prepare - Decide - Communicate (with relevant parties) - Execute - Measure

Questions you should ask yourself when making a decision:

  • What is desired outcome?
  • What are available choices?
  • Timeframe - how long it will take? Do I need to make decision right away?
  • Who should be involved?

Prepare - the more you investigate, the less you invest, more options - remember to take action. On the other hand, you shouldn’t get to the point of information overload.

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
- General S Patton

Decisions can be: autocratic, participative, democratic, and consensus based.

Overcoming Decision Making Risks

  1. Be aware of them - if you know there are traps, deal with them
  2. Encourage feedback
  3. Embrace candor (the quality of being open and honest; frankness)

I can say that writing affects my decisions, since I see the flaws easier when I write it down. It maybe takes more time to make a decision, but it’s better that way. While programming, I notice the same, I have to start to code to see if the idea is flawed, if it’s not performing well, but of course, I select best idea from the head first and then work on it.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter that much which decision you make, since you’ll get negative feedback from it. That way, you’ll know in the future what to do.

19. Procrastination

Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something. There’s no obvious solution.

I like how one of instructors said that procrastination is instant gratification monkey. When you don’t do something - for example you don’t go to the gym - you feed your instant gratification monkey with comfort, while you don’t look at the long run. When you want to build a new habit, it’s because it’s going to give you some value and better life. But that takes time, and instant gratification monkey doesn’t like that, he likes the comfort, the instant satisfaction. You have to fight that by planning and doing. Remember that you have to do small tasks every day to make a habit, and after some time it will become a second nature. This is where instant gratification monkey goes away. You just have to start.

Remember:

  1. Everything is a choice;
  2. Set yourself up for success - habits, methods, systems;
  3. Measure your progress - even small progress is still progress (1% every day = 365% every year);
  4. You are future you - future you will have to handle something you didn’t do now;
  5. Prove it to yourself - best way of proving to yourself is to just do it.

20. Work

For work you should probably try to implement all the items (one by one), but there are some specific things about work that don’t need to be done in your private life.

20.1. Meetings

This is a template you can use for meetings (and even emails):

Meeting type:

  • Decision making
  • Informing
  • Planning
  • Problem solving

What is the purpose of the meeting - the desired outcome?
What’s it about, what should be prepared for the meeting?
Who needs to be there, why?

5 point checklist:

  • Why are you having it? (Can an email replace it?)
  • Who needs to attend?
  • How long will it take?
  • What does everyone need to prepare?
  • Who needs to be informed by the changes - generated by the meeting. If somebody who wasn’t at the meeting needs to be updated.

20.2. Workspace

Having a comfortable workspace is a must. Of course, some people don’t need workspace, since they are on the road or something like that. But for those of us who have a workspace, we should strive to have a nice environment to work in. Nice chair, desk, computer/laptop, accessories… Besides that, we have to know how to reduce distractions. At work, good way to do that is to put on headphones, so that becomes a barrier to the person who wants to talk to you.

A good pair of headphones I recommend is Audio-Technica M40x and M50x series. They are great for noise cancellation, and sound flat - which I like; flat means no frequency boost, like bass frequencies for example.

Of course, you can’t always choose what environment you’re in, but make the most of it. If you’re working remotely, it’s easier, since you can create a home office, or just have a backpack for the go if you’re traveling a lot.

20.3. Working Remotely

The employer benefits:

  • Access to anyone world wide;
  • Lower costs;
  • Spot under-performers easily;
  • Fewer interruptions.

Employee benefits:

  • No more commuting;
  • Work on the projects they truly want;
  • More free time and easier to organize.

Drawbacks:

  • No human connection;
  • Requires self-discipline and self-control;
  • Potential distractions from friends and family.

21. Waking up early

This is the last item on the list.

Waking up early gives you an advantage of being alone, having no interruptions to do stuff you want. I usually wake up about hour and a half to up to three hours before going to work (from 5AM to about 6:30AM). This is time when everybody’s asleep (except my cat), and there’s no noise nor anything, so I can meditate, do my morning routine and learn something new, so even if I become lazy after work, I know I made some progress so I can give myself a little break.

Of course, waking up early is not for everybody. Not everybody has the schedule so they can wake up early, and if you don’t, try taking one hour in the day to work on yourself.

For more about waking up early, I would recommend two books:

  • The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life - Robin Sharma;
  • The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life - Hal Elrod.

That’s it from the tips. Next up you’ll find books, youtube channels, people and tools to read, follow, and use.

Book recommendations:

E2 (E squared) - Pam Grout
Unlimited Power - Anthony Robbins
4 Hour Workweek - Tim Ferriss
The Compound Effect - Darren Hardey
The Power of Full Engagement - Jim Loehr, Tony Schwarts
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey
Flow - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
No BS Time Management - Dan Kennedy
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less - Greg McKeowen
The Paradax of Choice: Why More is Less - Barry Schwartz
Rework - Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
The Willpower Instinct - Kelly McGonigal
The Power of Habit - Charles Dulwig
Focus - Daniel Goleman
Release your brakes - James Newman
Remote - Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

Youtube channels:

LondonReal
Gary Vaynerchuck
Dan Peña

Zig Ziglar
Ira Glass

Asana
Upwork – Freelancing and Virtual Assistants
Freelancer – Freelancing
Fiverr – Freelancing
Screencast-o-matic – Screencast software
Jing – Screencast software
Audacity – Audio recording software


It’s a bit tricky to write this kind of stuff since there’s a lot of cross reference, but I hope this is a list that gives you a lot of value and info on what to work on. I will rewrite some items in next few weeks to keep everything neat and tidy, and I’ll try to keep everything that is written, so no deletion.

After finishing these courses, I’ve noticed that whenever I read some blog post about productivity, I find the same things that are in those courses over and over again.

You’ve read part three, you can read part one here and part two here.

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