Cheat your way to productivity

Step 1: drink some tea while the 30-second advert for a car or something plays before this video. But then it’s Hannah Hart doing her thing.

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…

But apparently I might get more done:

When you’re all riled up, you tend to focus on only the source of your anger. You want to get to the core of the problem. In this case, your anger allows you to zero in on the most important task for the day. You want to eliminate the problem right away, so you don’t bother with multitasking.

Additionally, the adrenaline that rushes through your body allows you to become uninhibited. It produces confidence that allows you to do things that you normally wouldn’t do, but within reason.

So you see, anger is not a bad thing after all—if you know how to use it properly. That begs the question, “How exactly can you use anger to become more productive?”

Feeling Stuck? Make Your Anger Work for You – Cecille Doroja, Pick the Brain (15 October 2014)

Read the full piece.

Five signs your office is creative

If you ask me, there is just one: you produce creative work creatively. Do that and you’re creative, QED. But when you’re looking at a particular office space, there are things you can tell immediately.

Such as this: if there are big, wall-sized decorations with words like “Imagination” then there will be creative people consciously ignoring them. That’s what non-creative people think these offices need and the real creatives are the ones who wouldn’t be seen dead being motivated by that.

Visual.ly believes there are more visible indicators of office creativity and, I suppose naturally, the site lists its top five visually. Have a look.

If Malcolm Tucker’s Sweary Quotes were Motivational Posters

I can’t even find one example to show you, you need to see this yourself. And probably not while you’re at work.

Buzzfeed turns The Thick of It’s Malcolm Tucker dialogue into motivational posters

The brute-force way to motivate yourself

Regular productivity writer Eric Barker has a piece in Time magazine about what he calls the mistake every Productivity system makes:

Productivity systems rarely take emotions into account. And feelings are a fundamental and unavoidable part of why humans do what they do.

We can’t ignore our emotions. Because of the way our brains are structured, when thought and feelings compete, feelings almost always win.

Riffing on a book called Change by Chip and Dan Heath (UK edition, US edition), Barker proposes we think like mad when we’re planning what we have to do but then we do it by feel and specifically by using three steps to “rile up those emotions and get things done”.

The three – detailed in the full piece – are about rewords and peer pressure but my favourite is:

Having trouble finding a reward awesome enough to get you off your butt? Try a “commitment device” instead:

Give your friend $100. If you get a task done by 5PM, you get your $100 back. If you don’t complete it, you lose the $100.

Your to-do list just got very emotional.

That’s broadly the same principle that the website Go Fucking Do It works on (official website, news story on The Blank Screen)

A Whole New Way to Underachieve

Writer Ken Armstrong's weekly blog this time covers the technological way to feel like you're not doing enough. Or anything. He has a Sky+ box and:

…now, alas, my beloved box seemed to have turned on me. It has become, for me at least, a whole new way to underachieve. It’s over there now, taunting me. I can feel its red eye upon me.

A Whole New Way to Underachieve – Ken Armstrong (May 2014)

Just read it. And the go read the Ken Armstrong Writing Stuff every week. Like I do.

Change your identity and feel better

I have a bad opinion of myself. You can't tell because I write books, I do a lot of talks, I run this news website: plainly I have an ego. But you can probably guess. I'm a writer, the collective noun for us is neuroses. Sometimes this opinion of me gets in my way and I wrote recently about how criticising oneself in the third person is surprisingly more successful than doing it the usual “I bollocksed-up there” way. (I liked that post a lot: Must Do Better.) Now there's more.

Now there's the idea that you just change yourself to fix this bad opinion:

Let’s say you want to become the type of person who never misses a workout. (If you believed that about yourself, how much easier would it be to get in shape?) Every time you choose to do a workout — even if it’s only 5 minutes — you’re casting a vote for this new identity in your mind. Every action is a vote for the type of person you want to become.

How to Change Your Beliefs and Stick to Your Goals for Good – James Clear

It's not the greatest of reads – Lifehacker's coverage of it is better – but try the full post.

You’re on your own – and it’s necessary, it’s good, it’s great

Thinking about this morning’s story that Experts are wrong – says expert, I’m minded of a Self Distract post I wrote last year.

I wrote about how we naturally turn to our friends when we have something big to tell them like you’re starting a company and they cheer you on, yet:

Only, there is also this unconscious part of them that says you’re not the one… who starts a new business, you’re not the sort to do anything they haven’t already seen you do.

Consequently, unless they are very unusual people – and you hang on to them if they are – you will forever find them holding you back. Their concerns for your wellbeing coupled to this locked perception of what you are and what you do means your friends will invariably hold you back.

You’re on Your Own and it’s Necessary – William Gallagher, Self Distract (December 2013)

If you can’t rely on your friends, who can you rely on? Sorry, did you really just say ‘family’? You might’ve said experts until you read this morning’s story. But there are other reasons to distrust experts. So, no friends, no family, no experts. You would think this piece would be a depressing read but I took some heart from writing it and I’ve had a lot of people tell me they found it encouraging.

Probably because it also includes the answer. You’ve got to look now, haven’t you? I hope you like it: that Self Distract piece meant much more to me than I realised before I wrote it. The act of writing it to you formed it better in my head, made me think more coherently. So ta for that.

What, even Sundays? Do something every day

Getting up, for one. Probably eating. Exercise if necessary. But then also at least something, just something of whatever you're working on:

NO ZERO DAYS. A zero day is the day when you don’t do a single thing towards your goal.

Its 11.58pm and feel like you didn’t do anything? Do that one pushup. Write that sentence. Read one page.

You may say its not much but hey, its not a zero. 1 is much much better than a zero. Zero is your enemy. Fight it, ruthlessly.

Limitless

It's similar to the Jerry Seinfeld Technique (now famously denied by Seinfeld who says he has no idea where it came from or why it's named after him) and it's similar to my own Bad Days advice. So that's three people or three entire philosophies in agreement: can it possibly be wrong?

Nod to Lifehacker for reading Limitless

Must do better

If you had to criticise someone, you’d probably use what’s called the criticism sandwich. “That was an excellent idea, admittedly the execution was unbelievably amateur and I wish we’d hired someone else, anybody else, but you know, you typed it up beautifully.” That kind of thing. But when you’re criticising yourself, you don’t look for any bread to wrap it up in.

Sometimes you refuse to eat the baloney in the middle and sometimes you wish you’d started this with a more robust analogy that could stand any chance of lasting the distance.

So I could’ve chosen my analogy better but let me take that criticism and change it to how I’d address anyone else being as slack with their writing. “We got the point you were making, you made it clear and obvious, but you should really have got out of Dodge at the end of the first paragraph.”

Incidentally, usually I’d be saying to myself that: “I bollocksed-up that, didn’t I?”

You can see the difference, can’t you? It’s not that one is positive and one is negative, it’s that one is third- and one is first-person. From the Wall Street Journal:

When people think of themselves as another person, “it allows them to give themselves objective, helpful feedback,” says Ethan Kross, associate professor of psychology and director of the Self-Control and Emotion Laboratory at the University of Michigan.

‘Self Talk’: When Talking to Yourself, the Way You Do It Makes a Difference – Wall Street Journal (5 May 2014)

That’s from a piece that is laden with sports analogies that I can barely understand but it’s a persuasive point. And I thought it was persuasive or I wouldn’t be here telling you about the full feature, but telling you made a difference. I look at this and in particular I look at the way I usually criticise myself. I wanted to find an example of how I usually am compared to how this lot say I should be and that searching, that thinking, fixed it in my head more. It’s like you’ve told me to lighten up and I’m listening to you. So thanks.