I've been working on structural ways to make gains in my campaigns and what I achieve. Expanding skill is good, but takes time. Habits and discipline are good, but take time. Structural fixes and improvements, on the other hand, can produce big gains -- and instantly, with relatively minimal effort.
One that I've made, that I'm loving, is having "SelfControl" for OSX always on --
Literally, every hour of the day. There are websites that appeal to me tremendously, but from an objective analysis aren't good for my life. So, they go in my blacklist, and I leave it always on.
I lose a little bit from it, I guess -- but I have better ways to relax and waste time than anything on the blacklist, and other things I'd rather do to build my life. So, SelfControl is always on -- an easy structural fix that's giving me hours per day.
For everyone that likes to customize a little more, I recommend the Safari Plug-In WasteNoTime. (There are similar plug-ins for other browsers).
You can add stuff to a blacklist too, but allow yourself to use them for a specific amount of time everyday. You can allow yourself 30 minutes browsing of your blacklist per day and otherwise its blocked. You can also block the full access of the internet right away by pushing a button. To get the most out of it I let my girlfriend set up a password, so I cant even edit the settings anymore. Once my time of leisure browsing is over, I literally cant do anything that day to get back on blacklisted pages, unless I download and install a new browser.
This little plug-in has been one of the biggest productivity boosts I ever gained!
Hey! If you don't mind, would you be willing to share your blacklist ? I'ld love to see what sites I should block.
Interesting. I have to confess, the more productive I am, the more I lean on the crutch of Gawker News to provide relief from the intensity. I would definitely go through some kind of withdrawal period. I wonder what I'd replace it with?
Hi Sebastian, do you have any other suggestion on structural changes that can have massive impact in productivity of knowledge workers?.
Cool app! Not as easy to bypass as browser extensions, I'll just try not to look at the source code.
For this purpose the restrictions feature of the iPhone is nice for disabling apps, email etc.
For extreme addictions, I've also found it useful changing my login password and emailing it to me at a later date using something like futureme.org
I do this periodically, usually for a month or so at a time. Like, right now I don't need it. Most days I don't check reddit, and I'll check HackerNews once a day and only read stuff that's directly applicable to SETT. But in times past I've gotten into that gross cycle of facebook > reddit > hackernews > twitter > facebook...
I love these sorts of blocking programs because they very quickly interrupt that habit/addiction. I've found that a month of it is enough to erase the patterns and allow me to operate on my own self control again.
I eat pretty well and take pretty good care of myself. But it's taken quite a while to get here - before 2006, I had a pretty standard American diet. Lots of pizza, junk food, fast food, liquor, soda, sweets, etc. I smoked cigarettes, cigars, sheesha, and other kinds of tobacco.
Since then I've refined my diet and I eat pretty well. I have more energy, feel better, look better, and God willing, I'll live a lot longer as a result. It's a gradual process though, and I'm still improving. There's a few things I use to do it:
First, I'm all about incremental improvement - I think trying to crash change your diet is unlikely to work unless you have immense amounts of willpower and self-discipline. If you do have these Herculean amounts of will and discipline, you know who you are and don't need my advice. If you're more mortal, then you'll want to pick one or two things to be refining in your diet at a time.
Second, there's two ways I quit food or habits I don't like - "hard quitting" (cold turkey) and "soft quitting" (gradually reduce my consumption and eventually eliminate it). I pick which of these routes to go based on how convenient it is to quit something outright and if there's any detox process. If there's detox (like there was with nicotine), I think it's better to just get it over with once instead of constantly feeling deprived as your body re-adjusts to its new biochemical levels. The most successful method for quitting smoking is cold turkey, isn't it? Something like 80% of successful attempts to quit smoking are cold turkey? I don't have the statistics onhand, but that's the general idea. Quitting something like sugar, bad oils, or excess salt might be easier to do incrementally, since you need to replace the consumption with something else.
Which brings us to third point - I actively introduce new good behaviors before and during the time I quit something. Now, I don't know if the following is a good strategy, but it's what I did - when I started cutting down the sweets I ate, I increased my consumption of the kinds of salty foods I already ate: Chips, french fries, nuts, etc. Later I cut the salt content back. I don't know if that's a good habit, but it's worked okay for me. I also try to actively introduce fruits and vegetables before I quit something - it's hard to go from no fiber food that's highly processed to stimulate you immediately to fruits and vegetables. Fruit tastes bland compared to ice cream. So I introduce fruits and vegetables first, get comfortable with them, then increase my consumption of them as I decrease or eliminate bad consumption.
Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. The other ones are weird religious inventions or consumerized hijackings of religious inventions. And sure, the origins of thanksgiving are a bit murky, but it's hard to argue with such a simple holiday: spend some time with your family and/or friends, and be thankful.
I especially like that it's about appreciating what we already have, taking a break from the distraction of every day life, and thinking about all of the good things that make it up.
Today, as I spend time with some of them, I've been thinking about how thankful I am for my family. I've always gotten along really well with my family, but since most of them were around by the time I was born, I'm sure I have a tendency to take them for granted. As a kid I always just assumed that everyone had a great family and that their family was behind them supporting them all the time. Then, as I grew up, I saw situations where that wasn't the case, and I realized how good I have it.
I have three fantastic siblings, any or all of whom I enjoy spending unlimited time with. We each live in different cities now, but when we're together it's like we're best friends. Besides a scuffle over a plastic ninja sword as a kid, I can't think of a single fight I've had with any of them.