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The First Distraction

Right now I'm waiting to start a video interview. I called in early, but my friend who is doing the interview wasn't ready, so I've got five or ten minutes to kill before we get started. My first inclination was to catch up on email. I only had a couple to write, so I finished them quickly. Still some time to kill. I took a look at a SETT bug that's high priority, but the solution wasn't the obvious one that I thought it might be. I'll have to take a deeper look when I have more time. Still have a few minutes before we start. May as well write a blog post.

I think that there are two basic modes that a productive person's mind can be in. There's that mode where you're going to get your work done, but you'll fight yourself every step of the way. When you're in that mode, your reticular activation system, the part of your brain that is constantly scanning, looks for non-work things to do. Ooh, five minutes before the call-- why don't you browse Facebook? I call this the distraction-first mode.

I've been in distraction-first mode plenty of times, probably spent most of my life there, but today I'm not, so when I have a few minutes of downtime, my default is to find something productive to do. Email, SETT, blog post. Productivity-first mode. It's not that I force myself to fill these minutes with something productive, it's that it's what I actually want to do. That's the magic of it.

Being in productivity-first mode is beautiful. It's like living your life in a flow state, executing task after task without the mental toll of having to cheerlead yourself into doing. Emails finished, open up my code editor with no hesistation and start poring through the source code. Determine that it needs more time than I have, and before I can even think, I'm two sentences into this blog post.

Making Decisions: How to Skyrocket your Success

On Ideas

One of my favorite quotes says " The quality of your life is determined by the questions you ask yourself". Nothing could be more true.

I was going to make this a detailed post about productivity and the like. I was going to talk about how I've been swinging between intense productivity and mild productivity and how far I've come from the days of playing hours of video games or mindless socializing where it would either be mild productivity or no productivity  Of course productivity is subjective. For some making one killer design or writing one killer program a year is insanely productive, for others they want to make various designs and programs. Some prefer to pour their heart out into a business and kindle it, while others are fine getting it to an "okay position" and focusing on building more business. Ultimately thought, productivity is gauged by the quantity and quality of time your are allotting to achieve your goals.

Frankly, being productive isn't hard. I've written posts about how to be productive. If you want to do something, no one is stopping you. I've come to believe the true thing stopping must people from being insanely productive is their inability to make decisions. This happens to me all the time. I made the decision to learn German. But that doesn't really matter. What matter is the decisions you make now-- Decisions can only be made in the present--. You must decide in the present, in the now, to pick up that book, to close Facebook  to turn off the TV  to uninstall that game, to open up a learn-to program or start a course, to right that article or to run that mile. So many times I might want to go to the Gym or read a book, but I am not taking action. I then ask myself,"Alexis why I'm I not doing X?" But the fact is I haven't even made the decision to do X yet. And thus I consciously say " I am going to go to the gym right now". Right now I'm going to read 10 pages of that book. If you come up with excuses like I have to do Y first or whatever; ask yourself is Y more important than X? does Y or X require constant attention? in other words can you do X while you do Y in the background (happens a lot when you have to write an email or maybe wait for a phone call). Constantly force

In the end the broad decisions we all make are too vague to spur action. That explains why goals like "run three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes" are much more effective than "lose weight" : the first one spells out exactly the decisions that must be made in the present, in this case run 30 minutes, the second one doesn't. Ultimately the easier you make it to make the decision in real-time, The more likely you'll be to succeed. This is why things like making your environment conducive to success to, dissecting your goals and surrounding yourself with people on the same boat is so effective.

Of course sometimes what to do isn't always obvious. There was a time when I was unmotivated, kind of just going with the flow. I would play video games, socialize, watch you tube videos. Then, for some inexplicable reason, I would invest hours into Japanese (only to later find I was learning it in an extremely ineffective way), I learned everything about nutrition and exercise and start getting into business. Most of my motivation came to me passively. Personally I find most people who don't know what to invest their time into have the wrong mentality. They don't say yes to enough things, and thus they never find their passion. Lower your expectations for yourself, lower your barrier to entry. Go to meetup.com and join and participate in 5 random groups. Travel to a nearby city and just walk around thoughtless and walk into random stores and see what you like and don't like.  Some suggest your write, this never worked for me, but your mileage may vary.

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