Laziness Outlines That Helped Me Be More Productive

365 texts productivity laziness
Reflections and drafts

Goal of the day: 875 words. Written: 1O64.

Nothing complicated, I want to share my notes on laziness and productivity. I quote or paraphrase the authors' work.

Martynas Jocius, "Transformations of Attention": the Pareto principle

The revelation of such a fact alone is very significant. It makes us think about what everyday actions are just using up our time and energy, what daily thoughts are unnecessarily tiring, what activities are hindering us from moving quickly towards our goals.

Conversely, using Pareto's law, we can discover what are the 20% essential actions that make us successful people, and what are the 20% thoughts that make us strong, active and happy?

Pareto's law. Helps you choose.

Essential task of the day.

  • There is an essential task of the day that tackles the problem of monopoly of low-value, energy- and time-consuming tasks. It is a practical application of Pareto's law.
  • The essential task of the day is the one that gets you closest to your goal and takes no more than 3 hours of your time.
  • When we complete the essential task of the day, we are calm and satisfied because we know that the day has already been productive.
  • Not busy and not working, but productive. After all, it's the result that counts, not the busyness, right?
  • But how do you know what the essential task of the day is? To do this, you need to ask yourself a precise and focused question: what is the one action I can do this morning in less than 3 hours that will bring me as close as possible to my goal?
  • Once you have identified a key task for the day, it is important to do it during the most productive period of the day.


Focus on one job at a time.

  • Because we, as humans, cannot multitask (and don't believe the myth that women can).
  • Because every time you change jobs, you waste time getting back into the rhythm (23 minutes and 15 seconds, according to Martynas Jocius in his book "Dėmesio virsmai").
  • Because focus helps you to be in the moment and to live, not just to plan for the future or dream about what happened before.
  • Because working five jobs at the same time makes it less likely that you will finish at least one. You have limited time and energy resources - if you run out of energy after doing only two separate jobs, you will have already done two jobs; but if you do five jobs at the same time, you are more likely to do maybe 40% of each... And none of them all the way. One finished job is much better (in any respect) than 16 started ones. You can benefit from the achievements and benefits of that one, but what about the ones that "will be finished someday"? Imagine that you can plant one apple tree all the way through or dig five apple holes and not plant any: which one will you enjoy the apples?

Use graphs and technology.

  • Log out at set times with software like Chrome Nanny or Cold Turkey.
  • Set your working/non-working hours like a professor. For example, from 20:00 to 8:00, tell the people around you not to call you or bother you. Or from 10:00 to 12:00 set a time for calls and only take calls during that time, or something like that.
  • You can use the Pomodoro principle and work in 45min/10min etc. mode.
  • You can use timers and the 90-minute rule.
  • Most important: It's your choice. And if one option doesn't work, another will. For example, I don't like the Pomodoro principle because sometimes I can work for 30mins, sometimes for 70mins and so on, depending on the job and the situation. But maybe Pomodoro is right for you? You'll have to try it personally.

A day/week/month/month without internet?

  • It's better and easier than it may sound!
  • You can try it too.
  • It is suitable for:
    § Finally finish the old work;
    § Regain your inner energy;
    § Discover the most important things in life;
    § You could focus on one thing;
    § And you might overcome your addiction to email, the internet, the phone or other drugs.
  • Others call it Retreats and other retreats. That's fine too - it's important that you don't use up extra energy and waste your attention.

If you have to choose, you'd better say no to work.

  • You can just drop the unimportant activities from your life (just like I don't think about travelling because it's not something I enjoy);
  • Or it can "freeze" activities indefinitely. For example, I have done this with my cartographic encyclopaedia - I will publish it at some point, but I certainly don't plan to do it now. I will not lay a finger on it.

Don't make long to-do lists.

  • Because long lists of plans only gather dust;
  • Because we are terrible time-planners (and seriously, plans should be renamed guesses);
  • Because with a shorter list, we immediately see progress - one tenth of a shorter list is more emotionally, visually and psychologically than one percent of a list ten times longer. And our well-being is much more important here than the actual change - it is well-being that controls our lives, not facts. If they were facts, we wouldn't waste our time on time-consuming activities (e.g. facebook or youtube videos). But we do. Because we think they will entertain us.

Don't write lists with numbers, letters or words like "important", "very important", etc.

  • Because prioritising the already important activities will only result in a list of 9 important activities and one unimportant one. What's the use?
  • Since we can't multitask anyway - focus. And do the first thing on the list. Then the second. Then the third. And so on. If you really want to put your work in order, then you can start by writing the most important things. In fact, I personally tend to lean towards intuitive list-making. Or no lists at all - just pick one task of the day/week and finish it completely. 🙂
  • Can you feel the difference? In the first case, with five important activities, you were nervous about having to choose between the important "super super this seriously really really really important!!!!" activities, and you might even have wasted energy jumping from one to the next. And the second is that you took the job, finished it, and are probably now enjoying the fruits of your labour.

Martynas Jocius, "Virsmai": the 90-minute rule

Now let's look at the price we pay for our distraction between different objects of attention at work.

Experiments at the University of California, USA, have measured the average time it takes for the mind to return to an interrupted task.

This number is extremely high. On average, it takes as long as 23 minutes and 15 seconds for the mind to start working fully on the chosen task.

That's how much time you need every time your work is interrupted by a phone call, checking your email, chatting with a colleague or surfing the web. Just think of the low productivity of a person who checks their email or social networks every 15 minutes. In such cases, it takes him as long as 23 minutes each time to get back to his original activity.

To avoid interruptions, it is useful to make use of the 90-minute rule, which has been used successfully around the world. Focus your attention on one task for 90 minutes and strictly ignore everything else.

This is the optimum time for the mind to fully focus on the task at hand and make significant progress, while the body is able to rest afterwards and perform more than one such productive cycle per day.

It's very convenient to measure the time spent on this task with a timer app on your phone, which can play a melody after a set period of time - in our case, an hour and a half. This allows you to concentrate on your work without having to look at how much time has passed.

The work is therefore organised in one-and-a-half hour blocks, with 15-20 minute breaks in between. Working in this way results in a high level of productivity.

Rasa Venckutė: Fundamental questions

  1. Why?
  2. Is it really necessary?
  3. What can I do better instead?

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