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How to Think About Bad Days

I took a nap today. I slept for about an hour and a half, woke up, thought about doing something productive, and then went back to sleep. Sure, I'd gotten a handful of small things done before the nap, but overall it was a pretty unproductive day.

Having unproductive days isn't the end of the world, but at this point in my life, it feels like I'd better be trading productivity for something valuable: tea with a friend, visiting Iguazu falls, bungie jumping in Hong Kong. Not a nap.

It's times like these that doubt creeps in to an otherwise optimistic mind. Maybe I'm just not that productive. Maybe I'm a bad startup cofounder. A reader tweeted me asking how I can be so productive and still have so much fun, which made me feel like a total fraud. I'm not being productive or having fun, just sleeping.

For a while I tracked how good my days were, and one very clear finding was that the worst days felt like they were the new normal, but never lasted beyond a handful. Maybe five days out of a month would be unproductive days, but each one felt like it would extend forever.

What catalogs sell

On Mike Dariano

These catalogs are selling summer. They are selling beaches and cookouts and time spent outside. They are selling free spirit and relaxation.

But we know that none of these things are contained in the glossy pages, the website, or the box that brings the clothes. You can't buy summer or beaches or cookouts. You create them.

I've not purchased any new clothes this year in part because I've begun to recognize that purchasing clothes brings me nothing but the clothes. There is no way to get the things the clothes symbolize other than creating those things for yourself.

There are hundreds of productivity to-do apps available for the iPhone. I know because I've downloaded at least twenty. After each download I set up the system, import all my tasks and become incredibly productive for the next three days. After that the system slowly gets used less and less - except Evernote. Downloading these apps is selling me on the idea of being productive. I'm using a superficial temporarily effective system to jump start what I want to do.

Instead I just remember. If it's important to do I remember to do it. I try to prioritize three things - thanks to some inspiration from 27GoodThings.com - and focus on doing those things until they are finished.

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