Source: http://joshuaearl.com/table-flips-and-karate-punches/ - Josh Earle (edited)
Every programmer knows that trying to bend a computer to your will is often extremely frustrating.
I was venting to my buddies, John and Derick, and John immediately spotted my problem: “Slow down. Stop rushing.”
He was right. I believed that I should already be done with whatever I was working on.
My kids have a little block set with different shaped holes in the lid. When they were learning to use this toy, they’d try to put the star block in the triangular hole and when it didn’t fit they’d start pounding the lid and howling at the toy. That was me.
After thinking about what John said, I made an effort to approach my work differently. I picked one task and decided to work on it patiently whether it took me five minutes or five hours. I ignored the other items on my to-do list.
This task end up taking half the day to complete. Earlier in the week I would have gone nuts but after working through it systematically, I was in a positive frame of mind and simply ready to tackle the next thing on my list. I was able to knock it out in half the time I’d planned.
In karate class, there was a saying: “Whatever you seek, you’re least likely to find.” In other words, if you try too hard to throw a really fast punch, your body tenses up and you slow down. That applies to more than just punches.
NOTE; Here's why you slow down when you think you have to go fast. You think something bad is going to happen if you don't get what you want so you freeze with fear. In sports, it's called a choke.
From: Lisa Barone
Entrepreneurs are ruling this recession. Why? Because they’re hungry and motivated. They’re out there finding business from places you wouldn’t have even thought to look. That’s the thing, people don’t want to work. They want a job and a paycheck.
While the lessons I’ve learned on this road of entrepreneurism will stay with me forever, it’s a path and a lifestyle no longer in sync with where my heart is.
Don't lack initiative
People tell me, "I want to be a writer." OK, then write. There's no trick. No one's gonna knock on your door and ask you to write. Just write, dummy. Put your 10,000 hours in (see: Malcolm Gladwell), and be undeniable.
Don't let defeat discourage you
I got fired from Saturday Night Live and fired from my next job, a sitcom, right after. It made me gun-shy. But I lived through it. I kept going. As Charlie Kaufman said: "Do not worry about failure. Failure is a badge of honor. It means you risked failure."
Do start reflecting
I do therapy. If therapy isn't your thing, then go to church or get a Pema Chödrön book for $9 on Audible—whatever you need to do to live an examined life. It'll make your life (and the lives of people around you) exponentially richer.
Be nice to yourself
I've caught myself feeling utter disgust looking at myself naked.. If we were half as nice to ourselves as we are to any f--king stranger on the street, we'd be winning.
Don't get cosmetic surgery
Aging is like a really slow-moving horror movie. When I see people with fillers or weirdo stretched-out faces, I'm like, You look crazy.
From an Interview with Woody Allen by Anthony De Curtis
I think that my generation grew up with a value system heavily marked by films. You know, there was no television, we didn't read books. Your values and everything you thought about life you got from this overwhelmingly powerful image of the movies.
You'd go into a beautiful movie theatre -- you know, even the neighbourhood movie theatres were beautifully carpeted, chandeliers, brass, they were gorgeous. You'd go in and suddenly on some ugly, broken-down, sun-drenched street in Brooklyn on a summer afternoon, suddenly you're in a totally different world and there's a pirate ship off Spain. You saw all of that as real as could be.
Then that picture was over and there were six people living in a penthouse on Park Avenue and going to nightclubs and all the women were beautiful, and all the guys were attractive, and everybody always had the right thing to say.
This is overwhelming when you're a kid. And it forms your value system, and it's hard to outgrow it.
From: Evan DeFilippis on Quora (edited)
In the past, if you asked me when I woke up in the morning what things would make me happy that day, I would tell you: being with my family, eating good food, having rewarding conversations with friends, learning interesting things, going on adventures and so on. But if you asked me at the end of the day how I spent my free time and I would tell you: Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, responding to angry internet comments.
Whenever I would come home from a long day at work or school, I would be so tired the only things I could find the energy to do were mindless. Somehow I would find hours of time for television, Netflix, Reddit or Facebook,
Finally, though, I replaced this nightmarish routine with the twenty minute rule. The moment I get home, I force myself to do at least twenty minutes of one of the following: write an article, read a book, practice chess, learn another language with DuoLingo, practice guitar, meditate, work on a computer programming language or improve flexibility with stretching.
Once you get passed that twenty minute commitment, you will find that you have the energy to keep going. If you don't continue past twenty minutes or don't even start the twenty minutes, it's better to go to sleep than waste your time.
So, here are the keys to progress:
1. When people don't plan, they play Angrybirds and watch Netflix because it takes less energy than figuring out something to do. This is the path of least resistance. We need to build habits that make it difficult and one way to do this is the twenty minutes rule.
When we want to do something that we know will enrich our lives, like writing a book or learning a language, we say "I'll get around to it." We don't commit the twenty minutes a day necessary to become the person we really want to be. And so we need to challenge the impulse to relegate our ambitions and passions to something our future self will do.
2. Recognize that any forward movement is worthwhile.
Reference: Gregory Ciotti: How to build good habits
When you set a big goal one of two bad things can happen:
1. It seems too impossible to even try. You feel like you're conquered before you start. This makes the idea of confronting the problem too painful to handle.
2. You start but you demand hard work from yourself. Hard work is unpleasant. You need a strong motivator to inspire it. However, progress is slow. You can't see immediate results. So, you have no motivation to continue for long.
How To Beat Procrastination
So, instead of a big goal, work with Micro Quotas. These are small goals that are very easy to achieve. That makes them irresistible. Once you're in action, you'll probably do a little more than planned. That's due to the Ziegarnik Effect. Once people start something they like to finish unless a stronger impulse leads them in another direction. For instance, if you find the task hard or if something that is more fun comes along, the Ziegarnik Effect is not going to drive you to the finish.
Nate Barry forced himself to write 1000 words per day no matter what. This is something he was able to do and it resulted in 3 books. BJ Fogg committed to flossing only one tooth every time he brushed. To build a habit, the important thing was not the number of teeth he flossed but just doing something to make flossing a regular part of his life.
An unseen barrier to action is a minor inconvenience that, added to your task, makes it too hard to do. You want to go for a run as soon as you wake up but you feel frustrated by the need to assemble your gear. Your mind sees that as enough of a problem to discourage you from going into action. The solution is to get your running gear ready before you go to bed. That takes away the problem.
Choice Is A Problem
Making making lots of choices depletes your mental energy even if the choices are insignificant and not stressful. This leaves you with less ability to control your behaviour. The solution is to eliminate choice as much as possible. Eliminate some of the variety from your life. Wear the same clothes on a regular basis, eat the same food and follow the same routines.
You can avoid choice by tying an action to a trigger. Then it happens automatically. You might not be enthusiastic about doing it but force of habit will drive you to do it. Like brushing your teeth before bed.
The Give-Up Cue
One trigger we develop very easily is the cue to give up. We exaggerate problems so when we slip up on a new habit, we think that all is lost and stop trying to succeed. For instance, when people on a diet over-eat, they abandon all self-control because they think they have nothing more to gain from self-control.
Of course, that's absurd. If you fall off a ladder it makes no sense to jump off a cliff but that's what people do. And, if you want to maintain control when you slip up, you have to recognize that. Just because you goof up every now and then doesn't mean that you are getting nowhere.
Grade Your Actions But Not Yourself
Also, when you make an error you should not think that you are bad. If you think you're bad then you don't think you deserve success and that takes away your reason for pursuing your goal. You have a fundamental obligation to take care of yourself and if you stop taking care of yourself because you make mistakes who is going to do it for you? No one. That means you are doomed and is that what you really want? No. So, you have to continue to help yourself after you make mistakes.
From: Gregory Ciotti, The Psychology of Getting More Done (in Less Time) (edited)
Why We Procrastinate
When we look at a big project we focus the hardest parts. This makes us see disaster ahead and we feel repelled by it.
Just Start Anyway
The best way to get over this bad feeling is to simply start anyway. Once started, we have a natural desire to continue a task so once you get going you will automatically keep going at least for a while.
But how do you see it all the way through? Willpower won't do it. It's a limited resource that can be used up. So what do successful people do?
When Anders Ericsson studied top violinists he found that when they practice they actually focus on the hard parts. So how do they maintain their commitment to hard work? They schedule breaks in the practice session.
If the brain knows that a break is coming it won't it won't be so afraid of hard work that it can't sustain. These fiddlers work 90 minutes and then break for 15. Apparently, this matches the natural requirements of your body.
Tim Ferris, however, favours the Pomodoro Technique which recommends 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of rest. Then, after 4 work sessions you take 15-30 minutes of rest.
Deadlines also help you get work done. When drug addicts had to submit an essay on time those who wrote down when and where they would complete the essay were 90% more likely to do so. Students who set dates on their assignments also do better than those who don't.
Track Your Work
Apparently, people who make ongoing notes about their progress toward a goal do better than those who don't. Tracking progress improves performance because you become very aware when you are doing very little or wasting time. You can track your work on an Accountability Chart.
Column 1: lists the time-span of your work sessions.
Column 2: lists the tasks you completed during the session.
Don’t create any columns for your breaks.
Planning At Night
Selecting up to five priority tasks for the next day is better done at night than planning in the morning because when you are in a rush to get to work you'll easily cast it aside.
Since we shy away from big projects, it makes sense to split them into smaller segments. Instead of listing “Work on research project” as a daily goal, you only target parts of the research process like "finishing the introduction".
From: Laura Montini on Laughable Goals (edited)
How do you reach a goal? "Make it so easy that you can't say no." (Leo Barbuta). "It should be so simple that it's laughable." (Tiago Forte)
Say your goal is to become well-read on industry news. Read two articles everyday. That's a good plan but lots of people find it too good to be true.
They can't believe that something so manageable is going to get them anywhere so they pledge to read an hour every night which is something they won't do.
Forte wanted to be able to do pushups. On day one, he and did one pushup. On day two, he did two. Two months later, he's up to 50 a day.
Do the most painless version of your goal. Even a tiny step creates momentum. Your brain wants to do the next step automatically.
Comment: This is a big issue. Small actions seem to be taking you nowhere even though the tiniest bit of imagination tells you that they will.
Focus on Process Not Results
Do Bad Plans Cause Procrastination
Rigid Rules For Productivity
The Virtue of Short Term Goals
How To Succeed Without Willpower
20 Minute Rule for Productivity
From: zenhabits: Tim Ferriss on Procrastination (edited)
1. What have you been doing lately to beat procrastination?
I wake up and immediately work on writing without Internet or e-mail from 9-12.
I batch my phone calls.
2. What's the biggest reason people have a hard time starting an important task.
The biggest problem is that people bite off too much. Make your quota low so you can succeed each day.
One hugely successful ghost writer (50+ books, including NYT bestsellers) told me his secret to success: just two crappy pages per day. That’s all he had to write to win for the day.
For decades IBM salespeople sold the most because they had the lowest quotas and therefore weren’t intimidated to pick up the phone.
Start small. The Pomodoro technique asks you to commit to just 20 minutes. That helps overcome inertia.