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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Video

How to practice effectively

How to practice effectively

Everything is practice. Practice is everything. “Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement.”

Biologically speaking, practice strengthens the neural tissue, specifically the fatty substance myelin which enhances the runway for brains to communicate effectively with the muscles.

The 10,000-hour rule of deliberate practice doesn’t necessarily guarantee improvement. The training needs to be effective. Below are four tips for ensuring that quality meets quantity.

Tips on how to practice effectively

1 — Focus on the task at hand. Minimize distractions like TV and social media. Put your smartphone on airplane mode or throw your phone into the ocean.

2 — Start out slowly and then increase the speed of repetition. Raising the pace builds up the likeliness of performing the task correctly.

3 — Practice frequently with allotted breaks. Professionals practice 50 – 60 hours per week.

4 — Practice in your brain by reinforcing the skill with your imagination.

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Creativity Productivity & Work

Give yourself permission to build 

Motivation ebbs and flows. It is fickle and short-lasting.

So we can’t wait for the muse to compel us to work. As Chuck Close said, “inspiration is for amateurs.”

However, what we can do is develop a passion for something and use it to solidify our grit. Having a little excitement helps us push through crap (criticism, rejection, assholes, and pressure).

If pertinacity and practice are a powerful combination, then discipline is true freedom. We are nothing without planned intent.

The fight is already there. The rest is permission, one that we can only give ourselves.

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Productivity & Work

Accept compliments but do not inhale

When it comes to compliments, you accept them but you do not inhale.

Kudos is as ephemeral as a Facebook like. Congratulations acknowledge your existence and provide a dopamine boost. But they can also turn the ego into an enemy. Praise takes no responsibility for the passion and head work at play.

Like Darwin’s finches, we are always evolving. There is no constant, especially in a rapidly advancing world that imposes frequent variables.

Rather than seeking external validation, you should chase out your interests. Passion not only helps bring excitement to the job, but it also makes you antifragile — it’s impossible to beat someone who expects to keep going despite hosannas and hurdles.

“In the long run, we find what we expect. We shall be fortunate then if we expect great things.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Hold the exhale for as long as you can. It is in breathing out, you protect against the toxins that try to get in. Just remember to pace yourself as you breathe.

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Arts Life & Philosophy

Debugging the messy days

We spend more time debugging the messy days than celebrating the good days.

Negativity is sticky—and harping on it merely strengthens the doldrums.

The trick to moving forward is reprogramming the mind machine. That is, instead of beating ourselves up, we should view our mistakes as learning experiences.

A dose of pragmatism never hurt anybody.

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Productivity & Work

How to keep the good, going

A gif of dog moving head in circles
gif by @sherchle

What goes up must come down. Complacency eventually turns into panic. Once the stream of contentedness kicks in, progress stymies. The will to compete and improve wanes. Expectations which set the tone of achievement, fall at the wayside.

Motivation is a wonder drug. As Brian Eno said, “Everything good comes from enthusiasm.” The urge to improve and inject meaning onto the world protects against a mediocre existence. Once we feel inspired, the tendency is to do as much as we can for as long as we can.

To keep it going, we have to protect against two things: burnout and lost excitement. Overburdening the nervous system with the next-task is a precondition for indifference. If we want the care to go on, we require sanity checks like rest, disconnection, and breaking patterns.

Once the spirit dips and the automaton sets in, a recharge is mandatory. To prevent spinning out of control, we seek to re-energize by inciting alertness. Once we notice that was there was there all along, salient for human eyes, we realize we’re on the road to recovery.

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

Henry David Thoreau

The dip is a sign to move on, to start again before we’re ready. The thrill of beginning again and riding the wave of opportunity keeps the good going. Long-term accomplishment is never luck but the result of the flame of hard work.

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Arts Productivity & Work

Constraint is freedom

More often than not the, we aim for freedom from constraint. No one likes to be nailed down to a particular way of doing things. But on some occasions, constraints can be freeing. #gif
via giphy

More often than not we aim for freedom from constraint. No one likes to be nailed down to a particular way of doing things. But on some occasions, constraints can be freeing. 

For one, deadlines are great motivators. We’d never get anything done without any pressure. Writing is difficult enough — put a cap on it and all of sudden the words begin to flow. 

Nothing resonates more loudly than an assignment, given by others or at the order of ourselves. Both require discipline.

So if you ever stuck on anything, establish an arbitrary count and then get in there and do some stuff — whether it’s working out, shooting hoops, or writing a book.

Discipline is everything.

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Tech

Home is work. Work is home.

Home is work. Work is home. With the smartphone, we straddle one foot in and out of the office at the same time. There is no real freedom, no way to untether from the tyranny of the desk. 

We are addicted to being ON all the time. 

But the phone is not the new cigarette, as Cal Newport so proclaims in his new book entitled Digital Minimalism. The mobile phone is our bridge to the world. Used mindfully and appropriately (i.e., not spreading fake news), it’s the most impressive tool man has ever owned. All the information in the world resides at your fingertips. Anyone can serve as a creator, consumer, or curator of content.

Liberated from the web, little by little we can take back control of our scatterbrain and take our thoughts for a walk. We can work toward what we want by projecting ourselves into the future. 

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Books Culture Productivity & Work

No hard feelings: Embracing emotions at work

Authors and experienced designers Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy have collaborated on a book that offers strategies and guidance on how to deal with toxic workplace culture. Entitled No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work, the book implores us to detach ourselves from the seriousness of work and pursue a better work-life balance.

Writes Liz Fosslien on her author page:

The book takes an affectionate look at how emotions profoundly affect key aspects of professional life and serves as a deeply researched guide to un-repressing emotions at work, finding constructive channels even for jealousy and anxiety, and demystifying digital interactions and coworker communication styles.

I’m looking forward to reading this one.

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Books Productivity & Work

A simple way to set your focus for the day

Although you can download all the productivity apps in the world (and I have), no app will make you care about what you have to do like the Rule of 3. The rule is dead simple:

1. At the beginning of every day, mentally fast-forward to the end of the day, and ask yourself: When the day is over, what three things will I want to have accomplished? Write those three things down.

2. Do the same at the beginning of every week.

The three things you identify then become your focus for the day and the week ahead.

That’s it.

Chris Bailey, The Productivity Project
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Productivity & Work

Choose something and act on it

The alternative to a proactive and habitual work process is a reactionary pattern that may generate a paycheck but never leads to anything worthwhile. Choose something and act on it, for that is how we change the way things are. #gif #productivity

Theory versus the execution, the latter almost always presents the stumbling block. The start is what stops most people. The work-resistance was so overbearing for Hitler to become an artist it was easier for him to turn into an absolute maniac. 

But work not need be a psychotic obsession. We must take it in stride, as always. Nor is work a proxy for procrastinating on life’s most important matters. 

Building up the readiness to act is a conscious habit. It doesn’t happen overnight, but rather through an accumulation of small efforts that strengthens the initiative engine. It’s a dripping process

The alternative to a proactive and habitual work process is a reactionary pattern that may generate a paycheck but never leads to anything worthwhile. Choose something and act on it, for that is how we change the way things are.

gif via @adventuresoncehad

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Productivity & Work

Faith can move mountains

“There is a positive correlation between the fear of death and the sense of unlived life.”

“There is a positive correlation between the fear of death and the sense of unlived life,” writes Oliver Burkeman in The Antidote (Amazon).

Futuring is a tough business. We toggle between our present number of choices along with desires and goals that reinforce the prioritization of time.

Knowing that we can’t do it all, most people reach for what’s most immediately accessible and end up regretting about what could be. They stifle themselves in exchange for feeling ‘safe.’

For others, death compels action. Their gut instinct refuses to accept standing still and succumb to mediocrity. Yet, their expedition may incorrectly rest in jealousy, a fear of missing out, rather than chasing a purpose.

Faith in the unseen

Our vocation chooses us. We grade our impact by how much we cling to that sense of priority rather than chasing other people’s dreams.

In reality, there is nothing out there that will make us fulfilled forever. But the attempt to cultivate happiness by pursuing what’s meaningful remains a noble attempt to maximize our time on Earth.