Whispered Ink

Feel-Good Productivity - Ali Abdaal (Book notes)

Feel-Good Productivity: How to Do More of What Matters to You is a productivity book that focus on the fun aspect of life and productivity. Overall, it's a good book, that touches on widely known productivity tips and techniques, while introducing fresh ones. Two main topics were worthwhile for me: productivity + energy/play and avoiding/recovering from burnout.

These are my personal and actionable notes, capturing key concepts that I aim to recall and implement. If you find this interesting and helpful, I recommend reading the whole book to get tips and insights not covered here.

Mindset: approaching work as a game, as play and as something fun. When you play, you don't worry about the outcome or about its importance.

Life is stressful. Play makes it fun.

The 8 play personalities:

Be curious, always!!

Being curious about everything not only makes you more creative. It enriches your life. ~Walter Isaacson

Be like Link in The Legend of Zelda: live with a sense of adventure and incorporate side quests in your daily life.

What would this look like if it were fun?

One great way to bring fun to everything: music

Approach things in life as experiments, so failure is just as valuable as success: "no failure is ever just a failure. It's an invitation to try something new"

Don't be so serious about work; be sincere.

Believing you can is the first step to making sure you actually can.

The things you say become the things you believe. Act with confidence, even if you don't believe it.

"Why do I have to do this?" > "I choose to do this" / "I get to do this" / "I'm blessed to do this"

(...) asking for help from others can actually be a gift to them, rather than the burden we usually assume it will be.

Help people and accept help from others to improve relationships

When you think you've communicated plenty, you almost certainly haven't.

Procrastination = feeling bad about something; you need to understand what's the real problem: uncertainty, lack of purpose, or confusion about what is the task or when to do it?

It isn't lack of talent or inspiration that's holding you back. It's fear.

Ask yourself: "How confident do I actually need to feel to just get started with this? Could I just get started, even though I'm feeling unconfident?" Usually it's yes, you can.

Mindset: "no one cares" about you or your performance or what you're doing

Batman effect: have an alter ego to overcome fear

When you're doing nothing, it's easy to carry on doing nothing. And when you're working, it's much easier to carry on working.

Five-minute rule (helps with procrastination): work on a task for just five minutes. You can continue or stop after five minutes, without any sense of guilt

Three types of burnout:

(...) when we spend too long intently focused on one task, we're also likely to burn through our cognitive resources - so our focus declines too. (...) So the goal is to spend most of our time focused on just one task - but not beat ourselves up if we ocasionally lose concentration.

Give yourself permission to be distracted!
Find moments in your working day to do nothing!

The most productive workers: work-to-break ratio of 52 minutes of work to 17 minutes of rest. Schedule your breaks.

Breaks aren't a special treat. They're an absolute necessity.

There are energizing distractions and distractions that hinder your progress and deplete your energy. Choose the right ones.

Things that I do when I’m feeling drained of energy Things I do that actually energize me
Scroll my phone home screen endlessly, doing nothing at all Talk to friends and family
Scroll Twitter Read fiction
See what’s new on Netflix and other streaming sites, add to watch later, without actually watching anything Learn something new
Scroll YouTube Writing/journaling
Keep checking for new messages on Telegram Go for a walk or exercise
Keep checking for new email Go to the park
Play mobile games Play console games

Creative activities are CALM: unlock Competence, makes us feel Autonomy, gives a feeling of Liberty and help us Mellow. Choose something that will only ever be a hobby, distinct from work, and with no purpose of personal advancement - like being an expert. Ali suggests painting. You can also do delimited CALM projects, like taking a photo each day of the year or learning to code to do a single, specific game.

Nature!! Go to the park, listen to nature sounds, go for a walk, have a garden or plants

Have a nothing/without headphones night each week, when you do nothing but zone out

Reitoff principle: you should grant yourself permission to not achieve anything on a particular day.

By doing less today, you can do more of what matters to you tomorrow.

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