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Creativity Productivity & Work Quotes

Habit fields: Where we work impacts how we work

Where we work impacts how we work and play. As creatures of habit, we let certain zones remind us of what to do.

Writer Jack Cheng uses a ‘distraction chair‘ at home to do low-intensity activities like social networking and checking email. He reserves focused work for the desk. Author Austin Kleon practices a similar habit by separating his desks between digital and analog.

But all habits take discipline. As soon as we start mixing tasks like skipping from Twitter to an important presentation the ‘habit field‘ loses its power as a trigger for experiences.

Whether we read from bed or write standing up, “we become what we behold,” said Marshall McLuhan, “We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

That tool isn’t just a computer or a notebook. It also includes the couch.

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Productivity & Work

How to use ‘temptation building’ to get things done 

How do you make a strenuous activity more enjoyable? According to Wharton School assistant professor and behavioral economist Katherine Milkman, you bundle it with something that's rewarding in what she calls “temptation building.” #gif #motivation

How do you make a strenuous activity more enjoyable? According to Wharton School assistant professor and behavioral economist Katherine Milkman, you bundle it with something that’s rewarding in what she calls “temptation building.

It goes something like this:

“This means you would restrict your Netflix time to the same time you spend working out – only watch your favorite show while you’re in the gym. Once you leave the gym, you’re left wondering what happens next in that show. The only way to find out (that is, if you stick to the plan) is to reward yourself with the next episode while you’re on the treadmill.”

There are of course countless ways to make the things you ‘should’ do easier. My preference is to listen to a new music playlist while cleaning up the house or checking out the latest Tim Ferriss podcast while jogging on the treadmill. Anything that requires extra effort or creates boredom (like driving), I try to find a way to make the process a little more pleasurable.

The only problem is that temptation bundling strategies are brittle. Every time you skip a workout, it will become harder to start up again. Do it or lose all motivation.

In the long-run (assuming you stick to your habit), the goal is to drop the incentive of temptation altogether. You ‘should’ be able to accomplish things without the extra encouragement. For writers or athletes, practicing each day is non-negotiable and often the force of grit.

There is nothing wrong in dropping carrots for you to get started. Intermixing activities of strain and happiness makes things a little easier.

Read more about temptation building on the ToDoist blog.

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Creativity Productivity & Work

Crime and ‘Punishment’

When most people think of punishment, they think of negative consequences — jail for committing a crime or a lawsuit for tax evasion.

However, voluntary punishment, like stress, can also have benefits.

The US Marines have a saying: “Pain is weakness is leaving the body.”

Sometimes you have to punish yourself to get better. You need to wake up early, to exercise, and do your homework.

Punishment is synonymous with resistance. People want pleasure, not pain. Some consider writing punishment, but it is more like a bicep curl for the brain. As the writer Steven Pressfield likes to say, “the pros play hurt.” The pros play even when they are not motivated.

If you want something, you need to be able to wrestle with punishment. You need to persist in strengthening weaknesses.

Defining punishment comes down to perspective. There are obvious repercussions for doing the wrong things. However, punishment can also be the fuel that helps people progress.

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Quotes

The 3 types of habits

Habits come in all shapes and sizes but some habits are more impactful than others. Listed below are habits ranked from easiest to hardest.

  • Easy Habit: Making the bed is a good habit. It’s the first accomplishment of the day and can be just enough to get you to take other positive actions like cleaning up the kitchen.
  • Medium Habit: Brushing your teeth is a semi-powerful habit. Flossing, however, is the positive habit you’re really striving for. Flossing gets into the nooks and crannies to remove plaque and prevent cavities. Ironically, the dentists never give you enough floss freebies to last more than 2 weeks.
  • Hard Habit: Exercise is a ‘keystone habit,’ the one habit that “sets off a chain reaction that changes other habits as well,” according to productivity expert Charles Duhigg. Exercise benefits all aspects of your life, from bone health to brain health, to a good diet and unnecessary spending.

Habits get you out of your own head. They resolve indecisiveness. A little bit of effort goes a long way.

“We must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can.”

William James
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A Breath of Fresh Air

Take the same path to the office every day? Do the same exercises and work the same muscles? Write on the same topic?

I personally have a tendency to do all these things, mostly because I don’t have to think twice. But habit is such a rut-creating experience that atrophies curiosity and strength over time.

To allay boredom, I’ve been taking a new route to work each day this week. A change of scenery has made the work path more exciting. I’ve also stopped doing daily pushups because I injured my shoulder. Self-inflicted wounds are telltale signs to stop doing what you’re doing. Instead, I do more sprints with my dog. And I’ve been publishing less on Tumblr, saving those pieces for an end of week recap.

Boredom is the enemy. Sameness destroys creativity. Newness stimulates the brain. The next thing I need to renew is my daily meditation. Even that’s become a desultory routine.

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Reclaiming Our (Real) Lives From Social Media

“Like a virus slowly invading its victim, social media has methodically started to consume every hour of my day.”

And so Nick Bilton reads books instead, at least in his first waking hour.

I doubt the new habit will last.

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The best cure for one’s bad tendencies is to see them fully developed in someone else.

Alain de Botton
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“The Ostrich Problem” and The Danger of Not Tracking Your Progress

Whether you’re in graphic design, teaching, studying, or choreography, tracking your professional progress in a structured way is paramount to success. If you’re not, then you’re likely suffering from “The Ostrich Problem”, a phenomenon described by psychologists in England as the widespread tendency for people to avoid information about progress towards their goals. After all, it feels good to keep moving, and who wants the frustration of discovering that they’ve actually been driving in the wrong direction?

All goals should be measurable until they become habit.

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

Zig Ziglar
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What do you feed the world?

They offer all types of food at some resorts in order to appeal to a wide global audience. The hope is that by offering guests a taste of back home that they’ll enjoy their trip even more.

But when you offer as diverse food selection as Amazon does books, the point of the trip gets lost in the long-tail.

We travel to get away from the ordinary rituals of daily life. Travelers should embrace surprises, and start doing so by simply eating the local food.

One fact of life is that you can’t possibly know something until you’ve tried it. Deep learning occurs only when you escape your comfort zone and get familiar with the unfamiliar.

The propensity to stick with only what you know begets ignorance. All life is an experiment, and experiments fail. But sometimes they work. You may end up favoriting a new dish.

Success and failure are fungible; whichever results, at least you can say you tried.