General list here:
That's why it's been really helpful for me to start keeping a journal. It helps increase self-awareness and helps when I get off-track on my side projects. I can can realign my goals and ease back into being productive again.
At the end it gets REALLY artsy and religious in a way that made me very uncomfortable. But its still the most helpful book I've ever read on productivity.
https://www.thinkingdirections.com/join-the-thinking-lab/ - ctrl-F "ineffective thinking habits"
"5. Duty Mentality: you treat your desires as irrelevant to your conclusions about what you should do.
Symptoms: You describe the obstacles to your goals in terms of temptation and resistance. You often feel you have to force yourself to do what is right. If you don’t, you feel guilty.
Practical Obstacles Created: You over-commit. You feel unmotivated. You work well only under pressure."
If you have ever written 3/4's of a novel that you all of a sudden couldn't finish, or always abandon projects just as you are about to be able to reap the rewards, the book is for you.
I'm hoping the book wasn't for you, because fear of success isn't really a problem for in your life.
It’s inspiring but there’s nothing really to take forward from there.
It’s like a talk from a motivational speaker - it’ll get you into that desirable state of mind for a little bit, but won’t help you change anything fundamentally.
I’m curious though why did it make you uncomfortable?
I'm working on it.
I have a close family member who was a TV Televangelist (retired now) but who still claims to have the ability to heal people with the laying on of hands. Seeing the after effects of this "healing" when I was very young sent me down a path extreme anti religiousness.
Remided me of passage from J.K's book.
"There are two kinds of action. One brings you reward, and the doing of it strengthens the ego, the ‘me’. The other kind of action, the action which you love to do, has no reward or punishment and is not concerned with what the neighbour says, or with gods or with the priests or with belief. You do it because it is the only thing to do. You rejoice in the very doing of it, not for heaven or the avoidance of hell. You just do it and in the very doing of it is the delight. This action is of freedom from society and has nothing whatsoever to do with morality. This action is from nothingness. When there is this, you can look at the world from that silence of nothingness."
Seems like you need all kinds of productivity tools/hacks for the former and none for the latter.
> clash between your short-time desires and your long-term goals
Or maybe its a clash between the artist in you with cog in the machine that you need to be live the life you want
Right but productivity hacks culture is not usually talking about this specific type of work.
This is called a day job, even for programmers.
> you haven't resolved the clash between your short-time desires and your long-term goals
Is it even possible to resolve? One would like to read books (play guitar, gardening) for the rest of his life instead of trying to get his docker-compose file working properly. How a productivity technique could resolve such a discrepancy between goals and desires?
This is why some advanced communities have a weekly/monthly duty cycle where people switch activities.
Monthly/monthly sounds more fair to me. Or even monthly/weekly if I'm allowed to dream...
"Productivity" techniques are inherently flawed by the way they put capitalist "productivity" at the top of the most important things in life. Check the blogpost where the author describes playing a computer game as "life down the drain" and how their productivity tips have to tightly control that.
If your life is to be commercially productive and own a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar house and get paid for docker-compose, then you can't switch to playing the guitar and have the same life.
But if you consider your deathbed and think a life of fighting Docker was a total waste, what was the point? The "resolution" to the discrepancy doesn't come from a productivity technique, it comes from a enlightenment; losing the desires to control particular life outcomes and desiring "good" outcomes and fearing "bad" outcomes.
Go far enough down that and you'll unpack the fears and anxieties about not being good enough, not being perfect, making mistakes, being inferior, etc. which cause procrastination in the first place, and be more able to work on Docker without feeling bad. And more able to turn away from it and play guitar without the anxiety of "what if my boss says I wasn't productive enough".
(My first hn joke. Not sure if jokes are allowed but sure was worth it.)
If you're like me and have ADHD, you read looking for your next system that will work for a while.
When motivation is at a low, the 25/5 flips around.
The term I've heard for that is 'productivity porn'. (as in, getting the satisfaction from observing productivity, without actually putting in the effort yourself).
Example: I read the following article over the course of 2 days. While I was reading it, I had VSCode open and was taking notes in Markdown. While this article only mildly changed how I acted, it definitely planted a few seeds in my head, which I am trying to cultivate. And now I have a source of notes on productivity I can look at any time!
One great hack for this is if you work from home, get up and get dressed, then go out for a walk around the block as your "commute" to work. At the end of your work day, take a walk again in the opposite direction as your commute home.
Even though the ploy is totally obvious, it will put your mind in a work vs play mode depending on the direction of the walk.
I can't help feeling that most internet advice falls in this category.
In the evening, the bike ride is much faster as it's more downhill, and because I'm fully awake the train ride is a chance to read, listen to music, or program for fun.
Point is, with this style of commute, the time mostly isn't "wasted" because it consists largely of activities I'd like to do at some point in the day anyway. I don't know how people cope with an hour in traffic behind a steering wheel.
It's a good period of time to slowly engage and disengage - I do the things that might affect my productivity in the day - read HN, catch up on personal (and sometimes work) email. I sometimes read a book, or message friends.
Everyone's different but this works nicely for me - when I get in from work I tend not to feel the draw of the screen, so my leisure time is less at risk from being sucked into for example reddit, and when I get to work, the period of the day that in the past I have previously lost a lot of productivity to - a 'few minutes' on catching up with the world, 'relevent' tech news etc I've already scratched that itch.
I think it just sort of works with my fairly ill-disciplined personality traits in a way that helps me be productive.
I think much longer though and I would feel I was losing too much of my day. (I'm typically out of the house 07:00-18:00).
An hour's commute on the train is not at all similar to an hour's car commute.
- Use the time to think. Driving the same commute every day becomes automatic and you can solve problems, practice a talk, iterate or come up with ideas and so on. Take notes via voice.
- Podcasts. There's an endless amount of learning available. Some recommendations: 99% Invisible, Making Sense, Hardcore History, Freakonomics, Business Wars, Planet Money.
Make it a habit and you can actually get to the point where your commute is almost painless and even something to look forward to (particularly if it's the only place you listen to podcasts/audiobooks). Sometimes I actually end up waiting in the car extra time for a Podcast to finish or to clean up notes.
I'm making my way through a backlog of must read sci-fi and fantasy classics I never would have read otherwise because I have little time to read a book as it is.
I have to wait a bit and have a somewhat limited selection with my library card, but overall it's worth it.
This is his "me time".
I would rephrase it as: a 15 minutes walk is the sweet spot of commutes.
It kind of works. Lately it has been 1.5 each way which starts eating seriously into other things.
The things that makes it tolerable are typically:
- if I can work while commuting, because that means shorter time in the office. Ironically - and depending on project - I can get more work done on the train than in a similar time slot in the office.
- if I can work on a side project
- if not, if I can read or study
- if I could sleep (I find it hard, but sometimes it works)
But it is tiring to be away from home 10-11 hours a day just to fill 40 hours.
With that said I've read a million posts like this and the only thing that's ever made me feel like I had genuinely changed my perspective and understood what was happening more clearly was reading the Getting Things Done book.
The key insight for me is that so much of procrastination results from a lack of clarity about what exactly should be done next, and keeping a mental load of trying to keep track of everything. Separating the three basic concepts of planning, making decisions, and actually doing the work, into discrete sessions, has been a life changer.
I still fuck off constantly and hate myself for procrastination from time to time, obviously, but using the core GTD framework and returning to it when I stray has really helped.
That is the only trick I know that really works. Took me forever to relearn to.
I went to school in Mexico where school is divided into two shifts, AM and PM; choose the one you want.
1-5:30 are my work hours unless the water around the business gets a little turbulent, in which case, I dunno, depends on if i consider you a friend or not.
I ensure you that there are many passionate writers, graphic designers and... programmers, who procrastinate a lot.
One of a big finding for me was that it is NOT nearly as much if I like something or not. Is about knowing the next step and maintaining focus (especially with keeping the time "now" not "not now"). (However, I speak from ADHD perspective; maybe for non-ADHD people passion is sufficient.)
 For a stark comparison: I procrastinate on open-ended side-projects I love (sometimes for years), but when there is some accounting issue I solve it ASAP.
But it doesn't seem like top pro athletes and olympians procrastinate. They are intrinsically driven.
I don't think you can become a top pro athlete or olympian if you're not the fraction of a fraction of the world's population with immense intrinsic motivation, passion, ambition, and drive -- so this seems like survivorship bias.
There’s a lot of external motivation there as well. That’s three people doing a tremendous amount of work to avoid one of them crying in the corner.
Clearly you don’t have an anxiety disorder.
"Follow your passion" requires a lot of willpower and very often more work than a salaried position, unless you lower your standards drastically.
I'm a Web developer with a mindless tic-like habit of opening sites like Reddit and HN all the time. Even a second after closing it. I can't very well get rid of Web browsers.
Edit: ohh, but the tip of going to a place where I've never procrastinated before and sitting down to think what I actually want to do next, that doesn't involve a Web browser. Nice.
If I actually want to go to one of those sites I just edit the hosts file and comment out the redirect line.
On my mac, the /etc/hosts file looks like:
# Host Database
# localhost is used to configure the loopback interface
# when the system is booting. Do not change this entry.
127.0.0.1 news.ycombinator.com twitter.com www.facebook.com reddit.com
That is a great idea, but what do you call it when I do not want to do it because I start thinking about all the awesome things I could have done in my life if I started doing that earlier?
Last week I sat down with a notebook and wrote down my thoughts about what all my problems in life boil down to, how I should deal with each of them, what my next actions are... And then I noticed I was using an old notebook and on the first pages I had written almost the exact same things, in 2011.
Except I was much more stressed about them then than I am now. Becoming wiser apparently means thinking the exact same thoughts as ever but being more relaxed about them.
During that time I think about what it is that I really want to be doing. After a while I automatically skip to this step without having the desire to refresh HN.
To the point that I sometimes do it in the middle of talking to people (while sitting behind my desk), who will point it out to me, and then I will close the tab. And then re-open it a few seconds later while still talking to them. ctrl-T O enter, for old.reddit.com. It's really a true habit.
There is an extension where you can limit the number of tabs you have open, I'm going to try that again. Limiting myself to 1 should lead to some conscious thought, after those keystrokes fail a few times.
You can limit your time on specified sites
But if you can stomach that the thing may take years or even a decade, you'd feel much less like you were procrastinating.
In addition, if you assume that the thing will always be done piecemeal, here and there, or when you can remember to do it say like cleaning a room or organizing a thing, then that can also alleviate the sensation of procrastination.
The sensation tends to occur when you maintain a false belief that the things you need to get done should take hours or days instead of weeks or years.
Why would you work for 15 hours? I aim for 6. No way that you can be productive for 15 hours.
And, do you really want to spend pretty much all your time working? I followed along and agreed with lots of the stuff, then a comment like this throws me off. I totally understand that you're having trouble focusing if that's a normal day.
All self-help advice is bullshit and useless unless it changes your behavior. Find what works for you, experiment, take what works, discard what doesn't, rinse and repeat.
No manual, rule-based tab management ever worked for me, which is why I took over development for Tab Wrangler a while back and have been continuing to update it. Garbage collection for old tabs without me having to intervene.
This has been the best system for me, and it has worked well for years. Old tabs are automatically cleaned up when I haven't looked at them in a while.
It's all open source: https://github.com/tabwrangler/tabwrangler
when the tabs are closed and stored are they put into one folder or can they be put into month folders?
The notion of a commute being beneficial is weird to me. If it takes more than 5 minutes to get to work, I end up spending the time engaged in something else, which leads to me being significantly distracted when I arrive. Thinking for an hour about what to do when you arrive seems like the opposite of productivity
Compared to my other jobs, which tended to have more like a ~30 minute commute, I feel like I have so much more time in the day. I'm never taking a job where I have to commute again. It sucks the life from me.
Although some opportunities weren't available. The ability to spend essentially 0% of my time commuting for any errands made my life very simple and enjoyable.
I love in Boston now and work for a startup, so there's been quite a stark contrast between my lifestyle in the past year. Luckily I work completely remote now because I told myself then, I would never work or live anywhere that requires me to spend a dozen hours a week driving and doing errand.
I need the ~10 minutes it takes me to talk home from the train station to switch between work mode and be-nice-to-excited-kids mode.
Now that I know that, how can I fight it? Yes, I'm lucky to do a job that allows me the flexibility to be task-centric rather than time-centric, but I'm just happy that I've found a working model that, works, pun intended, for me.
There is something about the oppressive guilt of being "unproductive" that, for myself personally, far outweighs any of the benefits gained from being hyper-productive.
Although I do feel a certain "high" when coming off of a full 8 hours of get-$#&+-done mode. I try to realize that isn't a switch that is flipped. It's just a derivative of my current state of mind.
I have decided that direction is more important than speed. I.e., making sure the ladder of success is not leaning against the wrong wall (Covey), and that we are not running in circles, or spending our lifetime on mere shiny things. What do we want to look back on after decades, or at the end of mortality? I.e., good decision-making, keeping in mind the purpose of one's life. My purpose in life comes from my beliefs, but I think a next candidate for purpose could be joy, which I suppose comes from knowing one's nature, and from learning/growth, and unselfish service to others (helping them learn and grow and be well & happy).
So, balance while moving forward well, based the above, to me is much more important than getting more tasks done (though I am very task-focused when I am able, because the tasks relate directly to the purpose and related specific goals). This and other things help me feel peaceful and happy (life and learning are very much a work in progress, but some things I have gratefully learned).
I have written more at http://lukecall.net (a lightly-loading, simple site), including about development of and candidate content for maturity models for different areas of life (mental, physical, social, spiritual). Feedback welcome.
Who the hell works 15 hour workday?
If you're not treating subconscious input with as much seriousness as humanly possible, (i.e. you're procrastinating for a good reason, one that probably relates to why you think this thing you're procrastinating doing is the best way to move the needle on that vision) then you will forever be living in a hell of your own making.
Making yourself is an artistic pursuit and should be treated with every bit as much care and nurturing as making a painting.
The "Workstation Popcorn" methodology has been particularly useful to work from home, digital nomads, and remote workers who feel "stuck" in one spot throughout the day.
But the reasons for procrastinating, those are spot on.
It's the complete absence of influence of other people (be it in the form of SOs, kids, coworkers, office environments, meetings, bosses, customers, what have you) that makes it alien to me.
If I could have 4 hours of real, concentrated, productive work on important things each working day, I would massively increase the impact of my work.
We feel productive creating yet another CRUD app, idle game or advertisement optimization tool that ultimately does nothing for anyone but the capitalists on the top of the chain. Only to feel bad about doing anything that doesn't generate profit to someone.
It saddens me that I don't see a way out of this hole. The system has won and everyone either follows it willingly or is forced to by society.
If only I could be like the OP who seems to live happily in this productivity cycle without gazing into the abyss that is the meaninglessness of it all.
Fortunately, many engineers, among others in technology-centric roles, have co-opted this definition to mean their intellectual output.
Depending on whether or not an individual's intellectual currency is manifested via productive output, this hyper-productivity needn't be unhealthy in itself.
It is when this desire overtakes those who don't derive value from the "hobby" of productivity that it becomes dangerous.
The incredible amount of wasted potential from human beings spent in the endless race for profits makes me sick.
The irony of it all is that we're always trying to find ways to find meaning in life and ended up caught up in the most useless quests possible...