4 step productivity workout

Tags: | | |
POSTED: February 4, 2020

During the last month I have worked my way through Tiny Habits by the appropriately named BJ Fogg PhD.

The other day I stopped reading, looked at the sky, and wrote this down.

1. Every morning, upon waking, write a numbered list of tasks you intend doing that day.
2. Email the list to yourself at an alternative email address.
3. Open the email some time before lunch with an expression of genuine surprise.
4. Ensure that you do none of the tasks in the list that day.

I had a reason for writing that down, which concerned the fact that the tasks I think I should do may not always prove the ones that need doing. I have found that clearing my mind at the start of the day sometimes reveals something interesting hiding behind the tasks I thought I should do.

Mister Fogg’s book, however, strikes me as interesting in many ways. It presupposes in an almost Peircean way that we live by habits which get disturbed only on rare occasions. The content makes sense, although I noticed that he has placed all the references on his website, leaving the arguments in the book itself almost completely anecdotal. I have promised myself that I will take the time to go there and check them out. In fact, I have put this in my todo list for Friday.

Interestingly, though, by the time I put the book down I had come to realise that a careful reader could boil the argument in every chapter down into one or two illuminating paragraphs. The resulting essay might, I suspect, prove very useful indeed.

David Allen had this problem (if we see it as a problem) when he wrote Getting Things Done. He went the whole distance, admitted that he could write down the essential components of his system in a paragraph – and then did so.

I tend to think of this strategy as the “open source solution”: the one used by people like Red Hat. Give away the core of the system and then sell packaged solutions to make adopting and maintaining the system easier.

I think that the best way to use this approach is to use it openly, as David Allen has done.