Journal for Productivity Masterclass #1

Journal for Productivity Masterclass #1 - student project


1) What do I struggle with most? Being the pilot, plane or the engineer? and why?

I struggle the most being the plane. I feel I spend too much time thinking and planning my routine and to-do lists. I ace being the pilot and engineer, but when it comes to actually being the plane and putting in the effort I feel lost and feel that I am not making any progress so I often give up. The specific scenario is as follows- I am a 3rd year medical student from India. My goal is to able to pursue my various passions along with medicine in a way I don't have to sacrifice one for the other. I want to ace my exams, conduct and publish scientific research, head various student body communities, do fair bit of social work to give back to the society all while working out to have a jacked body and being able to pursue various fields that have intrigued my interest in coding, guitar, video editing and cinematography and a few entrepreneurial ideas. Now on paper this seems like wishful thinking and impossible. But seeing Ali do decently well in various seemingly unrelated fields gives me hope that maybe I can do it to. To be honest its not like I haven't made any progress I just feel I can do more and my efforts are not at par with my maximal potential. Thus, I can be a better plane.

2) What am I avoiding with the phrase I don't have time?

Research work. It is something I'd love to do and I know is extremely important for my career but yet I avoid it with the phrase I don't have time. I feel I am caught up trying to do a balancing act between my studies and other stuff that I like. I fail miserably at managing multiple things. It almost feels like a pattern now where I end up doing everything but studying in the first half of the year and then eventually I end up with such a backlog of studying to do, 5-6 months prior to exams I get really tensed leave everything up and just focus on studying because i feel "I don't have time" to manage them along my education due to backlog as I didn't study simultaneously earlier. Its been ages since I've been failing miserably to break this pattern. The other scenario that often happens is I feel I don't have time to manage so much stuff, I just end up leaving everything up to squander my time on Netflix, Youtube and Instagram. However, Research work is something that almost always consistently suffers as regards to the other stuff I want to do.

3) What is the goal I want to achieve? How can I make it more pleasurable? Can I increase my odds of hitting the goal by putting money on the line? How can I make the outcomes more tangible and desirable?

I want to be able to study really well to ace my exams. I think I can gamify it the way Ali does with his workouts. I already use notion and Anki for active recall and spaced repetition but I fail to do it consistently which defeats the whole purpose. I saw Prerak Juthani use the forest app as to track the hours he is studying and how you can really dive into the statistics of your performance overtime so that would be something very cool to do.

But the only problem is try tracking my macros on Healthify me, Sleep on Sleep Cycle, Habits on Notion, Steps with Pacer and even tried to track study sessions on forest. Its all well and good when the graph is going up or the macros are in the green, problem is when it goes down or becomes red I feel that discomfort and I give up tracking all together.

How can I make the studying process pleasurable?

-Try music while studying?

-Skip the frigging Pomodoro technique because I don't have the will power to stick to the 10 min break. Which makes for small loses every 4 hours which eventually cause me to give up. Thats it I guess, I should analyse where and when I specifically give up. Its most small loses overtime which discourage me and result in me giving up. I should work my around those to convert them into small wins.

Will my odds increase if I put money on the line?

Most definitely.But I don't earn myself and borrow my parents' money. I know Im bad at sticking to my goals and i don't want to lose my parents hard earned money.  While I do understand this might be all the more reason it might work but I am just not willing to take the risk. I can think of something else like giving me airpods/ ipad to a friend for a week or two if i don't complete a task. But who am I kidding I know I am not going to.

4) What is one or more situations when I found myself in flow state? What circumstances lead to that? Can I manufacture these conditions in other things that I do?

I think I find myself in flow state when I am working out. While I do struggle with consistency here and there when I am actually working out I feel I reach that flow state which is part of the reason why it is probably the habit I am most consistent than anything else in my life. 

Circumstances that lead to that?

- I have music blasting on full volume which allow me drown out voices and thoughts in my head as well as the sound of my heavy breathing which allows me to forget how tired or exhausted I am. I track my workout- sets, reps and weights in a notebook which gives me a dopamine hit as I improve on the previous session. i also have strength workout tracking on apple watch and its a delight to complete your activity rings by the end of the day. Lastly, after the end of each workout I feel very active and fresh and feel love to see my body get in better shape each day.

Can I manufacture these conditions in the other things?

Yes, I agree the basic principles are the same. 

-Desirable difficulties to attain flow: I find this issue when I am doing anki. After a point, the decks become so cumbersome as it just feels like cramming as I am not actively thinking and randomly trying to memorise facts. I should actively try to think of answers or ditch anki and do more question banks instead as MVP Medical Review suggests.(Youtube Channel)

-Tracking and gamification: I think just like video games when you aren't able to clear a level you just keep on going at it until you do I should track my habits even if the graph is going down and macros are in red as I am tracking which in itself a win. Then eventually work hard to get the graphs up and macros in green.

-Block distractions: I think I use a lot of apps for studying which I use to an excuse to not shut it off but then I eventually get distracted by instagram or something and defeats the whole purpose. I am very easily distracted. I should find ways around using the apps. Just like while working out I never keep my phone in my pocket, it is on the side, I have my airpods on to listen to music and I use good old paper and pen for tracking.

5) Make a list of 3-4 long term tasks you want to do. What would you do if you had only half the time to do? What about if you had 24hrs?

Long term tasks-

-Ace USMLE exams with top scores

-Publish 15-20 articles in scientific peer-reviewed journals

-Execute on the Pyrolysis and Hydroponics ideas into  successful business models.

-Build a successful personal brand online on Youtube, Instagram, etc where I post funky diy coding and arduino projects, travel vlogs, study,workout and business tips etc.

What would I do if I have only half the time?

I think bring on a sense of urgency. Stop thinking of these things as something I will do at the specific time or sometime. Start with executing on them. Just like ALI who utilised his holiday to shoot this video, use free days to work on some of these projects and get the ball rolling. Build systems now, figure out ways how to prioritise these asks in my daily schedule maybe on a 1-2ice per week basis. Learn the pre-requiste skills, books,etc on the side. Like James Clear says we don't rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems. So more execute, spend more time being the plane and troubleshooting along the way rather and apprehending future problems and troubleshooting them now without any action.

24 hrs?

I will just lose my fucking mind. i don't think it is possible. However, I think if I had a gun to my head just had to give it a shot I'll just execute with whatever knowledge I have. Fuck the best/most efficient way. I'm going to execute relentlessly each second. I don't think I'll be to accomplish much but the more I think about it I might make more progress than I have for the past 5 years just pondering about this stuff.

6) What 20% of work is actually driving my useful output? What takes up 80% of my time but does not add much to it?

So I think 20% of my work that drives the most useful output is being the plane. 80% of my time spent being the pilot and the engineer is the drain of my time, energy and productivity. Specific scenarios-

Workout:80% of progress ie working out actually comes from 20% of my time actually working out. I know it sounds silly but hear me out. Rest of the 80% of my time is spent browsing through articles on the web or on the youtube watching Jeremy Eithe or Jeff Nippard on workout and diet. Then chalking out the best workout and diet plan for me.

Studying-involves 20% of time actually studying and 80% of my time watching Ali Abdaal and Medschool Insider videos on youtube on the best way to study and how to get a 260 on USMLE.

Learning to code: 80% of time spent browsing best courses to learn how to code, going through edx, coursera, udemy. Choosing the courses that I like. Looking for their reviews on internet and youtube. Finally going with one on Udemy. Time spent actually doing coding? 20%.

PS- by now I think I am just repeating myself. The first task of the journal was it. Rest is just reiterating the fact I just need to start fucking doing stuff and stop with this incessant planning and pondering.

 7) I skipped this step for now

8) 3 Habits that will boost my productivity if I made that my habit? How can I make those habits stick?

1) I think putting my phone away before I sleep would be the first thing I am going to do. I always tell myself oh I have to wake up according to sleep cyle alarm app and try to rationalise having it by my bedside. But I guess I'll save much more time if keep it another room. Use my iPad for reading ebooks (Sorry Ali, Kindle just isn't for me) and use my watch for alarm instead. Similarly I need to work my ways around for things I genuinely need phone for and call myself out on my BS whenever Im trying to rationalise keeping it with me during studying sessions because deep down I very well know Im just gonna end up procrastinating.

2) Using my tracking apps- notion, healthifyfme no matter what. I need to link tracking to my tasks as James Clear has suggested. Think of myself as a productive person and someone who tracks and accounts everything that way tracking itself is a win rather than having all green macros at the end of the day because when 2-3 days in a row I get macros in red I stop tracking all together or simply skip that meal.

3) I think I am going to analyse and incorporate keystone habits in my daily schedule. (Gosh i realise now motivated I felt when I read Atomic Habits and now look at me revisiting the same steps because I didn't implement them, maybe shouldn't have skipped #7 of the class project after all.)

9) What are some chunks of the day in which I find myself wasting time in ways I'd rather not? What useful(small) things could I do with that time instead?

There are numerous chunks of times that I waste which I feel can be used more productively. But the ones that are most harmful to my efficiency are- My time during my meals and my time in the toilet. When I sit down to eat food I always put on something to watch, maybe a youtube video or an episode of Office or Friends. What happens is once I enter that rabbit hole its very hard to get out and before I know it goodbye to 3-4 hours of my life that I'll never get back. Similar things happens in the toilet or wherever I find a bit of free time. I open Instagram start scrolling for a few minutes and bam! There goes another day that could have been productive. Instead I think what I need to do is my flashcards or some fun form of productivity procrastination like learning Spanish on Duolingo or learning to type fast.

(Yes, Ali I've seen all of your videos, gone through all of your tools, gone through some of your recommended books. And now I feel I am also suffering from the shiney new app syndrome that you mentioned in your newsletter. I really need to start executing and catch/call out myself running after every new tool, video, book, etc on productivity. DAMN, now do I regret skipping step 7 even more.)

10) What Items on my bucket/task list can I procrastinate my way to progress on? How so?

Of course! The next lesson is on productive procrastination. So yes again, something I have known courtesy Youtube/Ali Abdaal. But this time I really analysed how and where do I fail? So using environment design and principles of productive procrastination this is what I have come up with.

So goals:

-Learn to code and be able to build an online app/website or understand the basics of coding and design so I can hire someone to build it for my business ideas.

-Learn Guitar to be able to play and sing along infornt of an audience.

-Learn video editing so I can document and preserve my travels in a fun way that I can also put on my youtube.

-Learn Spanish just for fun

-Increase my typing speed because I absolutely suck at it.

So for this what I did I made a folder on my phone called productive procrastination and pinned it to my dock so I can simply use them instead of social media to procrastinate. I added safari links to my youtube tutorials in it aswell. Also the first page of my home screen has no apps and my dock has all the apps that I use or want to use 80% of the time so hopefully that helps not scrolling to social media.

10) What do I have to do in my days that I'm currently not enjoying? If I had to, how would I make this stuff more enjoyable?

I think this was the most important lesson of all the videos for me. I've read about this, I've had had insight about this and I am more often than told the exact same thing by my loved ones time and again. But going through all these principles and tools, I realised I know most of this stuff already and the only reason I am not able to stick to any of it is because I don't enjoy it. I am miserable when I study, I hate my time at university, I get super tensed when I have so many tasks lined up all which in the end results in giving up and falling in the trap of escapism. The fact is I don't have to do any of it. I chose these ambitious goals for myself, it is not asked off of me, nobody has a gun to my head yet I get so tensed and worked up when Im trying to complete these task. But like everything this mindset also needs practice. I love how Ali mentions he struggles with such thought even now but it is important to be mindful of your thoughts call yourself out when beginning to fall in a trap of pessimist thinking. I get am privileged and I get to do all the stuff i want to do. I need to be grateful that I can do the stuff I want to do- I am healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. I am grateful to be alive especially in these times.I get to quarantine with my family especially when so many in India live hand to mouth and don't have a place to live. I really need to keep thinking and reminding myself "I get to" and rather than "I have to".

Thank you Ali. I really needed this. It feels it was made specifically made for me to realise the importance of f factor. I am 100% sure I wouldn't have gotten it if this video was on the top. The structure of the course was crucial for me. I needed revisit all the tools and principles to understand the what is the chink in my armour against my unproductivity and procrastination really is. I am going to be more mindful now to practice gratefulness in my life everyday.