Hard rules make life easier.
"I don't drink soda."
"I don't go online until I write 1,000 words."
"I turn the computer off at 11PM."
"I don't watch television."
"I'm not playing video games until I have $50,000 in cash in the bank."
"I only work on my main computer, and only surf the net on my iPad."
The problem with "soft rules" like "eating better" or "be more productive" or "waste less time" are that they constantly sap your mental energy.
Soft rules lead to a constant negotiation between your higher-thinking-self and your more base-animal-brained-self, the part of you that wants to run towards pleasure and flee from pain.
It's also good for managing others' expectations. "I don't eat simple carbohydrates, period, ever" is a very easy rule to follow and explain to others. "I'll, umm, have just one slice of pizza I guess" is a much harder to explain to others, for others to understand, and so on.
If you really want to make change in an area, set a very hard and objective rule. Make it indisputable and require no thinking to follow. I don't go to Hacker News, Reddit, look at sports scores, or anything like that on my main work Mac. I'll do so on a second PC I own, or on any other computer like in the airport lounge. This is incredibly easy to follow, so it means that being at my work computer means I know I'm not supposed to be surfing the net.
It's very easy to eliminate a class of food or activity entirely, whereas moderating its use takes much more thinking and willpower. Want to make a change, for real? Set a hard, objective rule. They make life easier.
Along the same lines, I found it MUCH easier to practice Intermittent fasting than to try to eat less during the day. "I'm not eating ANYTHING until 6pm" is much easier to follow than "I'm going to eat less today".
I absolutely love the idea of not allowing yourself to surf certain sites on your main work computer. Implementing this immediately with a 30 day trial.
It's been miraculous for my productivity. Recommendation -- clear your browsing history! Muscle memory will make me start to type news.ycomb ... sometimes, and just enter on autocomplete. Clearing the history gives you at least a second to think about it.
Hey Seb! SUCHHHH a great suggestion. I just implemented it. Searched for a good 15 minutes to find a way to AUTOMATICALLY do this in Chrome. Was not easy, but finally found it: NO HISTORY extension which prevents your google chrome browser from saving your history as you browse. Very neat! I'm using it for my work browser, which is chrome. Thanks for the small tip!
I think you don't need any extension for chrome. Just use incognito mode in chrome.
1) Open Chrome
2) Press Ctrl + Shift + N
3) And you'll go to Incognito mode which doesn't save any history.I like using this way instead of using any extension because extension slows chrome.
Thanks for the tip. However, I know about the incognito mode. The only problem is that you have to go and specify for each chrome extension that you have that you want to enable it in incognito mode to have the same "experience" than with non-incognito mode.
Since I sometimes install new extension, that means high maintenance, and I don't want that. I would have to manually go and specify that this new extension can be run in incognito mode to have access to it.
Incognito mode is fine but it's not as good as you would think for work. Quick example: you're working, then your chrome shuts down for whatever reason (computer crashes, you accidently hit the button, you name it) and then you lose EVERYTHING you had opened. There is no way to restore it, it's gone. That's why I believe the extension is better :)
Thanks for your tips though, but it's not adapted to my needs =)
A similar idea I use... Chrome allows you to set up multiple accounts in your preferences. Separate bookmarks, history, logins, etc. Ctrl-Shift-M switches accounts.
Not only is it nice to have different default logins for, for example, gmail... but I find even this simple barrier prevents the auto reflex of opening news.yc...
My unbreakable rule is no aimless surfing on my work account. It seems like a small barrier, but it works for me, and is easier than maintaining two computers.
Exactly. When it comes to rules and personal boundaries, "black or white" type extremism is good. If you identify something as good (for example "not drinking alcohol") then you should take it to it's last consequences. In this sense, sometimes soft rules are a rationalization for lacking commitment and being insecure about one's own thoughts and conclusions.
I found in the past If I had 2 mins spare, I'd flick onto a news site (and waste 15 minutes).
Therefore on my computer I've messed around and blocked my most time killing websites using the tips here: http://www.wikihow.com/Block-and-Unblock-Internet-Sites-(On-a-Mac) - takes a while, but 100% worth it as now to see these sites I'd have to spend 15 minutes trying to unblock them. I tried software, but there is always an easy to use backdoor.
2 other things I've found amazingly helpful, inspired by Sebastian:
-I will not read news
-I will always listen to audiobooks when walking somewhere.
SelfControl is the best one I found for Mac --
Worth trying out.
Yeap- it is or it is not. There is no in between. The in between is time consuming and non productive. And there is a lack of control, on our parts. I really enjoy your posts by the way, I am a recent subscriber and a medical student. Although, I would have thought its a different world from business, I m surprised as to how very similar concepts apply to success and productivity. Thanks again for sharing.
I was working on some tight deadlines while at a cafe.
Overwhelmingly, I had the urge to break from my diet and order a bunch of junk food - sandwiches, french fries, etc.
I'm not exactly sure why that urge comes up, but I think it's quite common. You've probably experienced it, yes?
If you're trying to refine your diet, or stop binge drinking, or sleep at a reasonable hour, or quit some bad habit, or... whatever... well, how have you gotten off track in the past?
Probably when there was a "good reason" - either something more important (like a deadline) or some general exception (like a "special occasion").
I'm thrilled that Tynan is coming to you with two things -- first, he's offering a breakthrough session through GiveGetWin. It's geared around doing more of the kind of excellent work you want to do, becoming more internally focused with your emotions, having a more enjoyable life, building great habits, and producing a lot of value in the process. There's five spots, so check it out now.
Second, we have this wonderful tour-de-force interview: it starts by covering how Tynan made the shift from unfocused to focused, how to derive internal enjoyment from things, useful actionable exercises you can do right now, Tynan's method and mindset for producing creative work consistently, how to set up great habits and an excellent mental and physical work environment, and how to make blogging work and similar endeavors work for you.
Total Focus; Total Enjoyment by Tynan, as told to Sebastian Marshall
When I turned 30 and I had a minor freak out… I thought, "I'll be 40 in not long, and then 50… there's things I want to do in my life, and they're not happening at this pace."
Before that, I had a general idea of things I wanted to do and have in my life, but I went about in an unstructured way. It was good in a lot of ways. It made be a broad process, but not much depth.