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Funny Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Writing

Streaks

We never stop, continuing a streak of a thousand days.

Each day, rain or shine, we either pop with energy or force it.

Consistency is not neutral.

The exactitude of life requires a sense of urgency. And the daily routine is his space to be creative and thoughtful.

How one navigates the tension between doing and knowing is less important than showing up and doing the work.

The only schedule worth keeping is one that begs for us to do it all over again tomorrow.

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Music Productivity & Work Writing

Want to focus? Seek ambient sound

One of the greatest myths of our time is that silence is golden. But complete silence will keep you from working effectively. It may even put you to sleep.

J. K. Rowling left the solitude of her own home to write the Harry Potter series in a coffee shop amid the cacophony of people chatting over grinding espresso machines.

The noisy environment inspired her to get to work. Studies show that just enough sound creates an ambient environment conducive to working by drowning out any other unpredictable racket in the background.

By the way, if you’re looking for scientifically optimized music to help you focus, you must give the app Focus@Will a try. Use my affiliate link and you’ll get two FREE weeks.

The power of music

Studies also show that learning to play an instrument makes it easier for children to learn how to read. Additionally, the “Mozart Effect” is said to improve concentration and study habits. Surgeons often use popular music during operations to relax both the patient and themselves. Muzak takes the awkward silence out of the elevator.

The right type of noise is critical to working effectively. In fact, many CEOs expect disruptions in the form of email and calls to ensure the business is actively operating. Silence is the antithesis of productivity.

In order to stay motivated and remain productive, we need perpetual sound rather than peace and quiet. Sound is productive. Rather, it is the silence between the notes that can be the most disruptive.

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Productivity & Work

The paradox of messiness

The paradox of messiness is that it can also describe someone who’s extremely productive.

For instance, your desk may be full of sticky notes, cords, and other office supplies and your computer desktop may be buried in a trail of untitled (and empty) folders. But all this frenzy could be a sign of busyness rather than laziness. 

In fact, clutter inspires creativity and it is an essential part of the making process.

We can choose to live uncomplicated lives by keeping it super-tight. But the messy stuff is so much more interesting.

Mark Bradford

This is not to say that creation provides an excuse to be messy. In fact, the act of cleaning up and editing can happen during work.

Figure out which ideas from the past are important and pursue those. Throw out the rest.

Greg McKeown

First, the artist creates disorder to spark further inventiveness — everything goes in the queue — then he or she simplifies their sources saving the most essential materials.

The tendency to hoard everything and do nothing with it is what really clutters the mind.

Like a DJ, one should feel free to remix their craft and sprinkle in new ingredients along the way.

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Productivity & Work

How to make better decisions

If you’re going to make an important decision, make it in the morning. Your natural levels of serotonin are dopamine are higher, your focus is sharper and your brain will be more rational.

The afternoon, meanwhile, is costly for decision-making. You’re more likely to be tired, hungry, and to acquiesce to the status quo.

The longer we wait in the day to make decisions, the increased chance those decisions will get postponed or lazily agreed to. And desultory decisions might as well be indecisions.

To think different and combat conformity requires a certain amount of energy and belief that’s scientifically more prevalent before noon.

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Productivity & Work Psychology

The hidden power of music

gif via Astralwerks

Music doesn’t need thought. It is innately powerful in its ability to galvanize emotions.

As Oliver Sacks penned in his book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, “Music is part of being human.” Music is a form of therapy.

Familiar sounds can trigger memory in Alzheimer’s patients to help them feel like their former selves.

“The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain…Music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves.”

Oliver Sacks

Music is also capable of suspending fear, pain, and doubt. Your workout playlist can push you the extra mile. Ambient noise can boost your concentration and thus productivity levels.

In short, music can free your mind so you can do anything from dancing with fear to get stuff done.

“Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation,” wrote Sacks. Like laughter, it is intuited — it needs no further explanation.

There’s something instinctive about music that tugs directly at the heart. It needs little if no processing. As the plants tilt toward the sun, so to do the ears.

“Language is used every day, and easily becomes shopworn, and it takes a poet to recall it to its freshness, its ability to embody eudaimonistic insights in a meaningful way. Music is not as shopworn, and thus may cut straight to the heart.”

Martha Nussbaum
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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

The two essential phases in the creative process

There are two essential phases in the creative process.

The spontaneous phase is where ideas sprout, unintentionally and seemingly out of nowhere. Everything interesting goes in the hopper, including the slightest observation, things seen, imagined, overheard, or misheard.

Whether it’s a notebook or your phone when you’re gathering string, the medium is less important than recording.

“I’m not writing it down to remember it later,
I’m writing it down to remember it now.”

Field Notes

The best notebook is the one you have with you. But seeing the world starts with being open to the repetition of arbitrary stimulus and its messy upshot: discovery.

The revision phase is where ideas get pieced together like a puzzle.

You go through all your notes, images, sketches, etc. for the purposes of synthesizing concepts and tossing away others.

When you start to piece together artifacts, revelations seems to arise out of epiphany. But there is no such thing as immediate discovery — such is the aggregation of everything we learned along the way.

The two-fold creative process never changes so it’ll always be there to fall back on if and when you feel stuck. First, we collect, and then we deduce.

The more you practice the creative process the better you get at connecting ideas and turning them into reality.