Hello, fellow workers of the mind. Here are the power-ups I have for you this week:
- Get more out of the 24 hours Nature has granted you
- Become desktop zen by clearing it of all the clutter
- The nine decision-making mistakes you’re making (and so am I!)
- What a master writer thinks about writing - and how he does it. Enjoy!
Who hasn’t cursed nature at least once for only granting us twenty-four hours in a day to work with? There are never enough hours to do all we need to do. We try and get things off our plate, but that’s easier said than done. The natural tendency is for our task list to grow, not to shorten.
But what if we increase the number of hours we each have in a day instead? Medical student and Youtuber Nasir Kharma, more commonly known as Kharma Medic, shares eight pieces of advice that have helped him manage the insane workloads of the two full-time jobs he has - being a medical student and popular Youtuber - while maintaining a rich social life and without sacrificing his health.
Here are some of the tips he shared:
Be purposeful with your time
There is a world of difference between knowingly spending five minutes going through your social media and spending a full hour mindlessly scrolling through Twitter. By being mindful of how you’re spending your time you will be less likely to waste it.
Plan, plan, plan
Building off the previous one, plan out your day. When you wake up, do you know what you’re going to that day? If you don’t, then how are you expecting to achieve your goals if you let your efforts be like a drunk trying to reach his home in his staggered stupor? Instead, be clear about what your plan is for the day.
You don’t need to be perfect, you just need to continuously try to. If you procrastinate for a while, that doesn’t mean you can throw the whole day away and play videogames or watch Emily in Paris until you go to sleep. Acknowledge that you procrastinated, perhaps think about why it is that you did so (maybe it’s time you block Netflix during the workday), and go back to doing what you know you should have been doing instead.
Increasing your ability to sustain focus and attention is the single best investment you can make in your life to increase your productivity. You could be the best in your world at what you do but if you can’t sit down and do the work because you’re constantly distracted then all that skill you have will be for naught.
In this article, Nir Eyal, author of the bestseller Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, shares some tips on how to clear your computer of all the clutter that’s been leeching your focus away from you and finally achieve desktop zen. These include:
- Remove the triggers - Do a clean sweep of everything that distracts you. Select all files and folders and dump them into a single folder. Make your background boring grey.
- Disable all notifications - and turn on the “do not disturb feature”.
- Clean your tabs by implementing a read it later strategy - Never use the browser to read. Save everything you want to read into a service like Pocket or Evernote. Use attention retention tools - I like the LeechBlock extension, but there’s also StayFocusd and Freedom
Imagine you want to climb to the top of a mountain. There are many ways you can go about it, but some ways will get you there faster than others. At the top of that mountain are all the goals you want to achieve in life, and the decisions you make dictate the path you take to get there. Make the wrong ones and you will never reach the summit.
In this video, mathematician and entrepreneur Spencer Greenberg shares nine of the pitfalls commonly plague our choices, and what we can do to avoid them.
- Not knowing where you’re trying to get or what you’re trying to achieve with a decision.
- Being narrow-minded and not considering all the options at your disposal.
- Defaulting, or doing things as you’ve always done them. And many more.
Plus, he talks about how you can go about solving them. One of the many great points he makes is how we must be willing to endure short-term pain if we want to make good decisions. If the best decisions we can make are those that make us uncomfortable, or get us out of our confort zone, and we don’t take them because we’re afraid of them, then that means we’re not making the best decisions we can. And that’s obviously not what we not. Instead, we must learn to identify the decisions we’re hiding away from - and we all are, or at least I am! - and then we must push through. Or as Churchill is supposed to have said,
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
“Dear Joel: You are writing, say, about a grizzly bear. No words are forthcoming. For six, seven, ten hours no words have been forthcoming. You are blocked, frustrated, in despair. You are nowhere, and that’s where you’ve been getting. What do you do? You write, ‘Dear Mother.’ And then you tell your mother about the block, the frustration, the ineptitude, the despair. You insist that you are not cut out to do this kind of work. You whine. You whimper. You outline your problem, and you mention that the bear has a fifty-five-inch waist and a neck more than thirty inches around but could run nose-to-nose with Secretariat. You say the bear prefers to lie down and rest. The bear rests fourteen hours a day. And you go on like that as long as you can. And then you go back and delete the ‘Dear Mother’ and all the whimpering and whining, and just keep the bear.”
Love for the craft, that’s what this essay by award-winning author John McPhee oozes from every sentence. Part writing advice, part memoir, Draft No. 4, which also is the titular essay in McPhee’s latest book, is an inspiring piece of beautiful writing that entertains while at the same time dispensing with valuable advice on the nuts and bolts of how to wring cogent sentences out of this monkey brain of ours.
(If you’re having trouble opening the link, google “Draft No 4” and open the New Yorker link on a Private page, that usually does it)
The remaining essays from his latest book are also available on The New Yorker website, and I have gone through them with great delight. Not many people can achieve the same apotheotic proficiency with words McPhee has, but I’ll be damned if his writing doesn’t inspire me to try.
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