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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Underseen, often overlooked

Height, skin color, your shoes — People are always trying to prejudge each other’s possibilities in the context of their surroundings.

But the old adage rings true: Never judge a book by its cover.

The good news for the last pick in the draft is that there’s only upside.

For one, underdog status builds up a voltage of motivation.

Psychologically, the forgotten ones are already drafting their own blueprints. With a chip on their shoulder, they already have material to hone: to prove the doubters wrong.

Never question the invisibility cloak of work ethic, practice, and skill.

The star that emerges is rarely the one that we’re all expecting.

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Arts Creativity Productivity & Work Writing

Write to be misunderstood?

The write to be understood trope is itself, misunderstood.

Don’t be too specific. Keep it vague enough to goad a broader curiosity.

The details ruin everything, especially if they’re explained by a loudmouth. Revelations squash the guts of great imagination.

The best approach therefore is one that’s provocative yet tactful. Stay determined to keep the reader entertained while also giving them something to chew on.

Keep the reader guessing.

The writer is still trying to figure it out themselves.

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Productivity & Work

Why you should schedule nothing (sometimes) 

We live and die by our to-do lists.

From priorities, daily activities, to short and long-term goals, the to-do list steers our purpose and directs our attention.

But then we get distracted. We lose motivation. We gravitate toward doing the other things that grab our immediate interest. These miscellaneous tasks — scrolling Instagram for instance — go outside the realm of structured procrastination.

We all know our big must complete tasks. There’s no need to write them down.

Perhaps the best call to action starts with making our bed or converting unnecessary busyness into idleness by allowing our mind to float.

It’s the unwritten habits, and the deliberate pauses in our day, that really set us up for the work we’re meant to do.

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Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

The trick to staying motivated

Money and fame often serve as motivation. So too does doing good for the world. You’d think it’s impossible to be motivated every day.

But you don’t have to be 100% motivated to get stuff done. It only takes a little motivation to get started.

Fortune favors the motivated

Motivation is not a prerequisite to doing the work.

People often work even when they don’t feel like it. Whether they’re following a passion project or exercising pure grit, fortune favors the consistent.

For some like artists and athletes, the daily grind is a profession. It is through starting, action, that is both the cause and effect of motivation.

Motivation is a psychological muscle. If everyone was purely ruled by mood, they’d probably reach for a candy bar or a red bull. The right type of motivation takes looking inside yourself — intrinsic motivation — for the push forward.

Self-help blogs, books, and streams are wonderful but they only provide temporary motivation. Motivation is fickle.

The trick to getting better at any craft is through persistent practice.

Never let being extraordinary prevent you from starting. Even more, spending time thinking about how well things may go can also become also a demotivating force.

If all else fails to inspire, ask yourself whether you were really interested in the first place.

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work

“Creativity is like breathing”

A friend once told me that creativity is like breathing. When you make stuff, you’re exhaling. But you can’t exhale forever. Eventually, you have to breathe in. Or you’ll be dead.

Matthew Inman, Cartoonist

The more you make, the more you have to play with. But the creativity flame burns out too.

Don’t be afraid to step away every once in a while to go on vacation or read a book, whatever gets you out of your own head.

It’s ok to break up the consistency.

PS. Never worry about breaking the chain — if you learn to rest, creativity always comes back.

Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal

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Productivity & Work

The structured procrastination strategy

The biggest trick about email is that it gives you the feeling you’ve done something. Every time you open an email, your head lights up like a Christmas tree.

Can you imagine sitting outside your snail mail mailbox and opening it up twenty times a day? What a waste of time!

Running on the dopamine trail disrupts your productivity.

What you could do instead is structure your procrastination so you get other stuff done. The father of structured procrastination is Stanford professor John Perry, author of The Art of Procrastination. He writes:

All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it.

John Perry
The structured procrastination strategy

Repeat: Procrastination does not mean doing nothing

Don’t beat yourself up for avoiding things at the top of the list. Chew on them while you go to work on something else. It’s the overthinking and doing nothing that tears you apart.

Note that staying busy does not mean checking Facebook. Social networks and their variable rewards are even more addicting than email.

Keep in mind that you’ll have to put your ass in the chair and dance with the anxiety at some point. If you don’t do the work, you simply don’t care enough.

Procrastinators can be finishers. Until then, reframe procrastination by doing important smaller things.

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