Real Productivity: How to Build Habits That Last

Real Productivity: How to Build Habits That Last - student project

Perfect is the Enemy of Good

  1. Perfectionism is the feeling that you have to do everything right the first time.
  2. This can derail your efforts and your motivation.
  3. When you give yourself permission to do everything right away and not have to create the perfect work the first time. You make progress.
  4. Over time that progress becomes something that is good enough.
  5. "Perfect is the enemy of good" - Voltaire
  6. let your work be just good enough.
  7. External systems and external pressure make us feel like we have to work in certain ways.
  8. Getting to the destination at the same pace as your peers or beating them is not a point. The point is to finding your own goals and reaching them at your own pace which is sustainable.
  9. The sustainable pace that is built on habits and is built on slow growth is really important for personal development.
  10. Deadlines help to make things happen.
  11. Doing things gradually is the key to actually learning and growing.
  12. The perfectionist mindset says that I can learn on everything and put out something amazing and perfect the first time.
  13. In reality by many many many tries of making imperfect things will beat then trying to make it perfect.
  14. Each time you do something wrong you learn something new which you implement into your next project.
  15. Whatever the goal is you want to pursue keep this in mind it doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be put out on a specific date. You have to just make slow progress.

Determining Your Goals

  1. The impossible list created by Joel Runyon, IT is like a bucket list but it's a little bit different in its philosophy.
  2. A bucket list is really just a list of things that you'd like to do before you kick the bucket.
  3. People aren't serious about them most of the time.
  4. By contrast, the impossible list is focused on the active pursuit of your goals on iteration.
  5. It contains a list of the current focuses, lists the last five completed goals,  there are categories like fitness & health goals, professional goals, habit goals, creative goals, etc.
  6. The main thing that is important is that the goals are crossed out, there is a new goal underneath it as a nested bullet. The idea here is to complete a goal and then link to some proof of that goal and put the date there as well.
  7. Put something that is an iteration or the next step beneath that goal.
  8. This makes sure that you're constantly pushing yourself to keep improving, you don't want to just hit something and then call it good.
  9. The list should be something that is easy to access and it is seen often that way it functions as a reminder.
  10. The goals on the list can be anything but remember to ask yourself why does that goal matter to you?
  11. The more goals taken on at any one time the fewer time people are going to have during each day to put practice into them and a lot of practice is needed to make meaningful progress.
  12. There's probably going to be 15 or 20 minutes of just sort of warming up or setting up or getting into the flow state that is going to be needed before actually get s to the point of a practice session.
  13. Commit to selecting a small number of gaols ( 3 or 4 goals).
  14. Write down a list of the top 25 goals you have in your life.
  15. Next circle the top 5 things that are most important.
  16. The remaining 20 goals are the not-do list because anything that people had an interest in doing before is going to be a potential distraction to the things that are most important.
  17. This is especially true when reaching the dip.
  18. The dip is no fun at all, it is that point in progress in any specific goals where things get hard and all the novelty from the beginning stages of the goal has worn off.
  19. But if you did not take the gaols that were less important to put them on.I don't do list, those are going to function as very strong temptations for things to distract yourself with.
  20. Commit to not letting the things that are sort of interesting distracting from the ones that are the most important.
  21. the people who get through the dip are the ones that commit.
  22. There are three different types of progress for any given goal.
  • Gear Acquisition
  • Learning
  • Deliberate practice, aka work

Gear Acquisition brings a lot of satisfaction right away. Learning that takes a little bit longer, learn a new technique and it's a little bit less impulsive, a little bit less like instant gratification than gear acquisition but it is still pretty quick cause it just taking in the material. Deliberate practice, that's where the most rewards lie but that's also where the most work has to be invested and where the gains are the slowest. Once people have acquired the necessary gear to get started,  they have to start practicing before any more gear or any more lessons are going to be very helpful. That is the tough thing that is where people realize they have to put in a ton of extra effort to get the same amount of satisfaction that they got from just buying some gear and going through lessons. it is easy to fall into gear acquisition syndrome where instead of putting more deliberate practice in just buy more gear. The amount of satisfaction from that is not the same as what you going to get by just putting doing work. What if I can't Achieve All of My Goals

  • You're not going to have enough time in your lifetime but also on a smaller scale, hours in the week to achieve your goals.
  • You can't do everything. You're never going to be able to achieve every single ambition you have.
  • You can focus on a limited number of goals.

What if I Don't Have Any Goals?

  • Go look at people's bucket list and people who you admire and think do any of the things that these people have done or  they have on their lists do these resonate with me?
  • When people don't know what to do is often a manifestation of just not having tried many things and not having tried a lot many things.
  • The problem of not having goals is often a symptom of having very little experience.


  • Write down every goal that you have.
  • Circle the three most important ones.
  • Choose one goal to focus on for the rest of the class.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

  1. the most important thing to do before defining the habit is to get specifics about the goal.
  2. Narrow your goal down.
  3. Break your goal to make daily habits
  4. You are going to break down to the point that  you can define it as a daily habit that's going to help me achieve something tangible.
  5. Make sure that is not a super general goal that doesn't have something specific in mind, but get specific and make sure that that specific end point is something that can be achieved in a relatively short period of time
  6. If you're specific but it's something that really difficult that's hard to get actionable about on a daily basis.
  7. We are hugely influenced bu our environment, the people, the objects, the spaces around us.
  8. The Decisions people make are changed by their environment as well.
  9. The twenty second rule is about reducing the amount of time it takes to get into a positive habit so that takes less than 20 seconds,
  10. On the flip side if you're trying to break bad habits,  make the time as much as possible or really inconvenient to do that bad habit.
  11. Tailor your environment to encourage the habits that you want to build and you're going to make quicker progress without a a hole lot of extra effort expended.
  12. A habit again is a shortcut, it's a mental automation essentially.
  13. For most decisions are habitual. But when you think about your decisions most of them are consciously made.
  14. But those decisions take self-discipline especially if they are not on the path of least resistance.
  15. If you can make these decisions that are right now fueled by self-discipline and conscious though and acceptance of what to do, if you can make them habitual or automatic then they take a whole lot les self- discipline and willpower to complete.
  16. Habit has essentially three different stages:
  • Cue
  • Routine
  • Reward

Cue is essentially a trigger, it's something that you see in your environment or maybe it's a time  of day or maybe it's a feeling like hunger that makes you want to perform a specific routine or a specific sequence of actions and those actions all lead up to some reward. that reward eventually becomes a craving, it eventually becomes something that you deeply want on an unconscious level, and that's why when you are exposed to the cue once a behaviorist becomes  truly habitual, you just do it automatically. Cue is essentially a trigger, it's something that you see in your environment or maybe it's a time  of day or maybe it's a feeling like hunger that makes you want to perform a specific routine or a specific sequence of actions and those actions all lead up to some reward. Summary

  • What is your goal?
  • What is the daily amount of practice you can put into your goal?
  • How can I make it easier to do that?

Using External Systems

  1. When People think about external systems they often see kind of two methods like using coaches or habit trackers or relying on self-discipline.
  2. Self-discipline and external systems can go hand in hand.
  3. The main idea is that external systems like tailoring environment, getting coaches, using apps  can be used to augment and build self-discipline over time.
  4. They are like training wheels for the brain.
  5. find a way to use external systems( commitment devices)  to augment and help your self discipline row in a controlled environment.
  6. The soft way is just using things that just encourage lightly and gently to do the things.
  7. The hard way is setting up systems that like hang a sort of knife over the head. They threaten actually real world consequences for not doing what is committed.
  8. When it comes to soft systems the main one is habit tracking. The general idea here is to get a visual written record of your progress over time.
  9. There a is a technique related to this which is called the "don't break the chain" technique over time there is chain of days on the calendar on which have been marked off. as the chain grows people don't want to break the chain.
  10. habit tracking apps take advantage of this technique. It checks off the habits which are completed and there is a daily streak for that habit. Example: Habitica
  11. Output- based goal: Measured by what pr how much of it you're doing that day.
  12. Input-based goal: Measured by how much time you're spending on it every day.
  13. Do it even if it is garbage
  14. other sites include: 750words
  15. "Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.: - Chuck Close
  16. Amateurs just work when they feel like it and that is not going to be on a regular basis whereas people who have adopted a professional mindset they show up every single day and get to work even if they don't feel like it. They know that instantiation might come when they get deeper into the mines.

External Systems: The Hard Way

  1. The hard way is an external system which will have consequences. These systems will cause to loss something if you fail.
  2. Think about it like having a coach.
  3. You don't need another person to setup consequences.
  4. Beeminder is an app where you can actually essential bet money that you're going to do what you say that you;re going to do. Use this as an inspiration to do something similar.
  5. There are some drawbacks of using apps like beeminder. There are:
  • Using the hard way systems will tempt you to put to set up too many goals.
  • Leave at least a bit of flexibility for the unexpected to come up and for you to be able to handle it.

Anticipating Pain Points

  1. part of the reason why people fail to make long term progress on their goals is that they get derailed at some point in the middle.
  2. This could be because it is too painful to go on or because something else comes up and makes it difficult to do it or because there is too much friction.
  3. "Embrace the Suck" when you feel like you don't want to go on you have to realise that that doesn't actually limit your choices.
  4. Feeling like you want to quit doesn't force you to quit.
  5. No matter how well you have planned your life there is going to be things that are going to come up that you couldn't have anticipated.
  6. If your whole day is filled with tasks then there is something that has got to give up when interruptions come and they are important enough then your habits have got to give.
  7. Commit to smaller goals and then allow yourself to push past them.
  8. After you have completed the minimum you can decided if you want to continue or not. This will encourage you to at least hit that minimum.
  9. You also want to be observant of the things that cause friction in the process.
  10. Anythings that is inconvenient that you can improve, you should.
  11. Find ways to automatic parts of the process. Do things in one bulk batch instead of repeating them every single time. This would reduce the time it takes to get into practice.
  12. Don't be too hard on yourself if you fail on a given day. It is fine. But what you really want to make sure that you are not doing is it's not derailing permanently.
  13. Not letting one point in failure to make you give up. Just keep making progress.

Tracking, Reviewing and Reflecting

  1. "What gets measured, get managed" - Peter Drucker
  2. If you're not racking your progress over time then really don't know what all this effort is getting you.
  3. Tracking doesn't have to be elaborate.
  4. The two week system is a system which iterates for only 2 weeks at a time.
  5. Split your month in two parts . it doesn't matter if the month is 30 days or 31 days. The Philosophy is resetting every single two weeks and using the end of the two week session as an opportunity to evaluate how things went.
  6. Draw boxes around each goal. Put a plus if the habit is completed. Zeros or circles are failures that are out of the control of the person. Minus signs are inexcusable failures. Put minus instead of an x because an x signifies that it is a failure while a minus acts like a remainder that it is hurting the progress.
  7. The system gives you regular intervals twice a month to reevaluate and ask is it working?
  8. The advantage of a pen and paper system over a habit tracker is that there is no threat of building up a huge chain and then feeling compelled to keep the chain going even if the goal is not worth it anymore.

What to Do When You Fail

  1. Failure is inevitable.
  2. Anybody who has pursed a goal at one point of their lives failed their own expectations.
  3. For a lot of people, one point of failure is the point at which progress on their goals ends
  4. There is a huge difference between in a graph where there is a small bump and a graph where one point in failure and then the pursing of the goal is stopped.
  5. "Don't make the second mistake." - James Clear
  6. When you fail at your daily habits for some reason, recommit and find a reason to get back on track.
  7. When you fail once or are failing for sometime, start small again. It is not possible to start that the point where you were.
  8. Success spirals can go up or down. As you prove to yourself that you can hit a certain standard on a daily basis. You able to spiral up over time.
  9. After you fail you have to go back at the beginning of the spiral. Reset your goals and prove it to yourself that you can spiral up again.
  10. It will take less time than it took the first time but it sometimes unrealistic to start where you left off.
  11. When you fail take some time off to work and pinpoint the cause of that failure.
  12. Figure out what caused it and what can be done to avoid it in the future.
  13. If you don't do this then you remain vulnerable to it again.