Maximize Every Moment of Your Day

Motivation, Pragmatics, Productivity


How Would You Define Your Values?

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One of the most persistent myths — so ingrained that it can be how people conceive of productivity itself — is the idea that working well is about maximising every waking moment of the day, to complete as much as you can, as fast as you can.

The focus on maximising time may actually diminish our creativity.

In fact, trying to be a perpetual achievement machine just isn’t in tune with human nature. According to “deep work” expert Cal Newport and other research, we have about three to four highly productive hours in us each day.

“Being prolific is not about time management,” says Adam Grant, an organisational psychologist at Wharton. “There are a limited number of hours in the day, and focusing on time management just makes us more aware of how many of those hours we waste.”

In fact, the focus on maximising time may actually diminish our creativity, says Grant: “[P]roductivity and creativity demand opposite attention management strategies. Productivity is fueled by raising attentional filters to keep unrelated or distracting thoughts out. But creativity is fueled by lowering attentional filters to let those thoughts in.”

It turns out creative energy is highly complex, with a lot of contradictory elements going into it, according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Creative people “rest often and sleep a lot,” he says. “The important thing is that they control their energy; it’s not ruled by the calendar, the dock, an external schedule. When necessary, they can focus it like a laser beam; when not, creative types immediately recharge their batteries.”

Instead: Identify and focus on the few hours of the day you are most productive.

Focus your energy on being productive in those fleeting hours of the day when you have the most focus. Figure out when your most productive time of day is, and use a method like Eat The Frog or Time Blocking to do your most important work. Outside of work hours, make sure you’re taking time to disconnect and getting enough sleep.



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