The Book in Three Sentences
In this summary of Feel Good Productivity, you’ll learn that productivity doesn’t have to mean hard work. In the book, Ali Abdaal argues that to be productive, you don’t have to grind but to feel good. The book introduces a series of action steps to achieve more and live better today.
Feel Good Productivity Summary
Whenever something gets difficult, our natural tendency is to work harder. The only productivity system most people know is one based on discipline and grit. More often than not, this strategy doesn’t work which makes it draining and stifling. That said, most successful people in history, as well as more modern productivity gurus, evangelize the value of suffering and pushing through. When you find yourself in this position, there’s something inside you that tells you to do more and try harder, but such a strategy will be short-lived. Despite what some people say, success doesn’t require suffering. This idea is toxic and unsustainable. You shouldn’t trade your mental or physical health for anything.
The path to fulfillment isn’t one of anxiety, constant worry, or sleepless nights. The path to fulfillment is one where your well-being is a priority and then you use that well-being to control your focus and motivation. The author refers to this approach as feel-good productivity. The idea is that those with a positive mood have more chances of succeeding in whatever they are doing. Feeling good has repercussions on our thoughts and behaviors. Feeling good improves our creativity and productivity.
In positive psychology, there’s something known as the “broaden-and-build” theory. According to this theory, positive emotions broaden our perception and build our cognitive resources. This happens because feeling good gives us more energy, a combination of motivation, focus, and inspiration, which also improves our productivity. Feeling productive then gives us a sense of achievement and we feel good again. This results in a neverending virtuous cycle.
Another positive aspect of feeling good is that it reduces stress. The “undoing hypothesis” states that positive emotions reverse the effects of negative emotions like stress. The final positive aspect of feel-good productivity is that it enriches your life. It’s been proven that those who often experience positive emotions accomplish more. The consequences of “feeling good” are tremendous. People who feel good are more sociable, optimistic, and creative. They’re also more likely to have fulfilling relationships and earn more money. Additionally, cultivating positive emotions makes you a better problem-solver and planner. As the author puts it, “Success doesn’t lead to feeling good. Feeling good leads to success.”
Part 1: Energize
Chapter 1: Play
To solve something, there must be a sense of play. When you approach work as a game you can have fun with, that’s the moment you discover true productivity. Psychologically speaking, play restores you both physically and mentally.
To bring play into our lives, we must follow our curiosity in the same way we did when we were kids. It’s also important that we do things for their own sake and not for a potential outcome. Growing up means going from a life of adventure to something more mundane and predictable. To unlock positive emotions, we need adventure in our lives. This could be something as simple as choosing a new route to work or trying a new coffee shop.
Experiment 1: Choose Your Character
Play lets you be whoever you want. Taking on a different persona is the best way to start an adventure. To be clear, this isn’t about reinventing your personality, but recognizing the type of play you like the most.
There are eight play personalities:
- The Collector likes gathering and organizing
- The Competitor likes games and sports
- The Explorer likes to discover new places
- The Creator wants to make things
- The Storyteller likes to entertain others with their imagination
- The Joker wants to make people laugh
- The Director finds joy in planning, organizing, and leading others
- The Kinesthete likes to do physical activities
Once you’ve identified your personality, you can use it to turn mundane tasks into something more fun.
Experiment 2: Embrace Your Curiosity
When you’re curious, you remember things better. To build adventure into your life, make use of curiosity more often. One way to do this is by doing “side quests”. Side quests are optional missions in video games where you can find the best secrets. By examining the alternative pathways you could take in real life, you can create a sense of curiosity, exploration, and playfulness.
Experiment 3: The Magic Post-It Note
The author keeps a Post-it note with the words: “What would this look like if it were fun?” This will encourage you to make small changes to your routine so that work is more enjoyable. Examples include playing music in the background or starting a project with a friend.
Experiment 4: Enjoy the Process, Not the Outcome
Another way to find fun in most activities is by focusing on the process and not the outcome. When you’re so immersed in an activity that you forget about everything else, including the passage of time, you experience the state of flow. Small changes to mundane routines that help you enjoy the process more have tremendous effects.
For play to take place, you need comfortable, non-threatening environments. In other words, when we’re under a lot of stress, we’re less likely to play. As a consequence, our creativity, productivity, and well-being suffer. For play to take place, you need a relaxed environment.
Experiment 5: Reframe your failure
Negative consequences make us afraid of failure. Luckily, we can train ourselves to make failure fun. We can see failures as necessary learning instances that get us closer to our goals. We tend to see failures as humiliating defeats that put us in a vulnerable position, but when we treat things as an experiment, failure is as valuable as success. In this experimental mindset, the data collection process suddenly becomes a testing ground for ideas.
Experiment 6: Don’t Be Serious, Be Sincere
Nobody wants to play a game with someone who takes it too seriously. To play games, be sincere. Take life and work seriously enough, but not so seriously that you suck all the energy out of the experience.
Chapter 2: Power
The term “power” has negative connotations, but by power, the author refers to a feeling of personal empowerment. This is the idea that you have control over your life and your future. Power isn’t something you use to push others around, but an enabling energy that helps you achieve things.
Our confidence in our abilities has a big impact on our performance. In other words, when you believe something to be true, that self-confidence motivates you to do the thing better. If you think you’re good at exercising, you’re more likely to take actions that someone physically fit would take and you’ll enjoy it more. This concept is called self-efficacy. Our abilities aren’t as important as how we feel about them. We’re more likely to achieve our goals if we believe we can.
Experiment 1: The Confidence Switch
Confidence is something you can both teach and learn. There are different ways to improve our confidence, such as repeating positive phrases to ourselves. The author devised a method he calls “flipping the confidence switch” in which you challenge yourself to act confidently, even if that’s not how you feel.
Experiment 2: The Social Model Method
Another factor that contributes to our confidence is the people around us. Something as simple as being shown a video of someone doing something can help us achieve it. In other words, a model of someone doing a thing makes you more confident at it. Witnessing or hearing about someone’s performance at a task makes you better at it. This is called vicarious mastery experience. This works because seeing someone overcome challenges shows us that they’re possible. To do this, we can read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos of people who have succeeded in an area where we’re struggling.
Experiment 3: The Shoshin Approach
Zen Buddhism encourages people to meditate to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Shoshin is a Japanese term that translates to “beginner’s mind” and is often mentioned in Zen literature. Shoshin is about approaching everything with curiosity, openness, and humility. These three concepts we often associate with beginners. It is ironic that to become an expert at something, we must adopt a beginner’s mindset, but Shoshin lets us see things afresh.
Experiment 4: The Protege Effect
The mere act of teaching something to someone else will not just make you a better teacher, it will also make you a better learner. This effect is called the “protege effect”.
When people are offered a material reward to do something, they’ll be less engaged in said task. In other words, external rewards decrease motivation. Motivation falls on a spectrum. At one end, we find extrinsic motivation. At the other end, we find intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is internal and examples include self-fulfillment, curiosity, and a desire to learn. Extrinsic motivation comes from the outside and examples include money, fame, and material rewards. This is part of the self-determination theory which says that intrinsic motivation beats extrinsic motivation. When you feel like you fully “own” the task (this means you do it for yourself and not for others), this increases your motivation.
Experiment 5: Own the Process
While certain situations aren’t up to us, the process is. Whenever possible, be process-oriented (how you do things), not outcome-oriented (what you do). The moment you start doing things your way, you gain power.
Experiment 6: Own Your Mindset
While you can’t always choose what you’re supposed to do, you can change your mindset. So instead of asking, “Why do I have to do this?”, reframe it to “I get to do this.” Going from “have to” (obligation) to “get to” (privilege) affects both your perception and behavior. In the former, you feel powerless and in the latter, you feel powerful.
Chapter 3: People
Certain people energize you and certain people exhaust you. Scientists call this relational energy and it explains how our interactions with others affect our mood. To use this to your advantage, you should find your scene in whatever area you‘re interested in.
Experiment 1: The Comrade Mindset
We should see teamwork, not as something to do, but as a way of thinking. Some people see teamwork as a psychological state. This is called the comrade mindset and it involves working together rather than working in parallel. When you feel part of a team, you’re motivated to accept more challenges.
Experiment 2: Find Synchronicity
Working in synchronicity with other people makes you more likely to be productive. When you can’t easily find people to collaborate with, something as simple as an online call can help you stay motivated. Even if the people on the call are working on different projects, the fact that they’re working in tandem improves their focus.
Giving and receiving help is another way to feel energized. Helping others gives us a “helper’s high” because our bodies release a hormone called oxytocin.
Experiment 3: Random Acts of Kindness
Performing random acts of kindness daily is a great way to see the benefits of the helper’s high. You can do this at work, at home, or on the street. The results of this subtle change can be transformative.
Experiment 4: Ask for Help from Others
Another benefit of the helper’s high is that it’s a gift to both the person who helps, as well as the one who receives it. This is also a way to win over people. This is known as the Benjamin Franklin effect and it says that when you ask for someone’s help, they will think better of you. To ask for help, just do it. Most people are eager to help if you just ask. Also, ask in the right way which involves doing it in person rather than virtually. Finally, use the right words. This means avoiding negative words or turning the ask into a transaction. Instead, emphasize positive reasons, such as saying what you admire in the other person.
When in doubt, overcommunicate. Even when we think we have communicated enough, we probably haven’t.
Experiment 5: Overcommunicate the Good
Sharing positive news amplifies positive emotions. There are four ways to respond to good news.
- In an active-constructive response, you respond excitedly
- In a passive-constructive response, you acknowledge the good news and move on
- In an active-destructive response, you give a response that undermines what happened
- In a passive-destructive response, you ignore the good news
The best kind of response is the active-constructive because it makes the shared happier and it makes the relationships stronger. Overcommunication inspires both people.
Experiment 6: Overcommunicate the Not-So-Good
Communicating bad news is also important, but most people don’t like doing it. According to different studies, we lie all the time, and doing so has negative physiological effects. The solution to this is to be candid. This involves caring about the person you talk to while addressing a problem you might be having with them. To cultivate a culture of candid feedback, be objective and non-judgemental. Also, provide a factual account of what happened. Finally, ignore the problem and focus on potential solutions.
Part 2: Unblock
Chapter 4: Seek Clarity
We all have to deal with procrastination at some point. The answer isn’t to use “hacks” or to motivate yourself. When there are barriers like time, financial problems, family responsibilities, or health issues, motivation won’t get you very far. Discipline and doing stuff we don’t feel like doing isn’t the answer either. For the author, the solution is the unblock method which involves asking why we feel bad in the first place so that we can address that and move on.
Three emotional blockers get in the way. The first one is the fog of uncertainty. Not knowing something overwhelms you to the point that you can’t act, so you can’t make progress.
Uncertainty follows a set path:
- Overestimation: you overestimate the negative consequences of a decision or situation
- Hypervigilance: you focus on the signs that point toward stress or failure
- Unrecognition: you stop doing the things that might lead to a stressful outcome
- Avoidance: you put off the decision
To break this cycle of negativity, we must ask ourselves why we’re doing what we’re doing. Having a clear sense of why, helps you determine how you move forward.
Experiment 1: Using Commander’s Intent
When everyone involved knows their purpose, you have more chances of success, even if things go awry. So before detailing how you’re going to do things, think about the ultimate purpose you have.
Experiment 2: The Five Whys
The five whys is a famous method to figure out why something went wrong. Essentially, you ask “why” something happened five times and you’ll get to the root of the problem. You can also use this method to determine if a task is worth doing in the first place.
Once you have your “why”, you move on to your “what”. In other words, you go from your ultimate purpose to the concrete steps you’ll take to achieve it. Without a why and a what, your project is a vague and nebulous assignment.
Experiment 3: NICE Goals
To turn our purpose into a goal, we need goal-setting. Your goals should be near-term, input-based, controllable, and energizing.
- Near term: focus on the immediate steps
- Input-based: your goals should emphasize the process
- Controllable: focus on goals within your control
- Energizing: integrate play, power, and people
Experiment 4: The Crystal Ball Method
The crystal ball method (some people call this the pre-mortem) involves envisioning yourself some time in the future and trying to identify the things that went wrong. The idea is to examine what could go wrong so that you’re prepared for potential setbacks.
Managing your time is incredibly important. Knowing when you’ll be doing something is the safest way to get it done.
Experiment 5: Implementation Intentions
Deciding when you’re going to do something increases the chances that you do it. The easiest way to achieve this is by using conditional statements, such as “If X happens, then I will do Y.”
Experiment 6: Time Blocking
One of the most effective ways to get something done is by using a method known as time blocking. This is the idea of adding tasks to a calendar. By tasks, the author doesn’t refer to just meetings or important events, but anything important to you. It could be meditating, exercising, or going out with your partner.
Chapter 5: Find Courage
Why are some people willing to do things that most people aren’t? The second major blocker is fear. When something in front of us threatens our safety (a wild animal, cliff, or high-speed vehicle), a tiny structure inside our brain known as the amygdala generates fear. Fear is an emotional response that has helped humans survive for millions of years. The problem is that in the modern world, we’re rarely surrounded by threats that might lead to our death. The amygdala treats meeting strangers or doing tasks with a deadline as threats. Rationally, that doesn’t make sense. Emotionally though, it makes all the sense in the world. Fear blocks out productivity and the solution is courage. To overcome your fears, you should get to know them.
Experiment 1: The Emotional Label
One of the best ways to overcome your fears is by labeling them. In other words, articulate your emotions. Putting your emotions into words gives you a sense of control. Experts call this technique affective labeling. This works because it increases our self-awareness and it decreases our rumination.
Experiment 2: The Identity Label
When our fears are broader (about our identities rather than about specific threats), we label ourselves. These limiting beliefs affect our behavior. They become a form of self-fulfilling prophecies. Instead of using negative labeling, we should use positive labeling.
Fear paralyzes us. This is known as cognitive paralysis and luckily, it can be reduced by using the right tools.
Experiment 3: The 10/10/10 Rule
To reduce fear, we must gain perspective. When we’re afraid, we tend to catastrophize. This means that minor problems can become much more important in our minds. When this happens, the solution is to step back and shift our perspective. The author suggests the 10/10/10 rule which involves three questions:
- Will this matter in ten minutes?
- Will this matter in ten weeks?
- Will this matter in ten years?
Experiment 4: The Confidence Equation
Fear sometimes comes in the form of self-doubt. Self-doubt is often the result of perception, believing that your ability is less than what you need.
Self-confidence = Perception of Ability – Perception of Standards
To get something done, ask yourself, “Could I just start with this even though I’m feeling unconfident?” The idea is to just get started, not to do things perfectly.
When you struggle with fear and lack of confidence, you can create an alter ego. An alternative version of yourself who possesses all the qualities you want.
Experiment 5: Stop Spotlighting
Don’t overestimate the degree to which others judge you. We’re concerned about what others think of us and this is known as the spotlight effect. The truth is that no one cares about you, they only care about themselves.
Experiment 6: The Batman Effect
The Batman effect says that adopting an alter ego improves how people approach a task. It helps to use a character from a movie you like to use as a model.
Chapter 6: Get Started
Newton’s First Law of Motion (often referred to as the law of inertia) describes how still objects remain still and how moving objects continue moving unless an external force affects them. The law of inertia applies not only to physics but also to productivity. The third blocker is inertia.
The hardest part about doing something is starting. Inertia seems insurmountable, but once you overcome it, everything becomes easier. To get over inertia, you should also look around your environment and make small changes that remove friction.
Experiment 1: Reduce Environmental Friction
When you’re struggling to do something, place the item in a convenient place in your environment so that you use it often. For example, if you’re struggling to study for exams, place books on your nightstand so that you read before bed. By the same token, you can replace sugary treats with fruit. The objective of engineering your environment is to reduce friction. By making small tweaks to your surroundings, you make healthy habits obvious and unhealthy habits difficult.
Experiment 2: Reduce Emotional Friction
Your mood also makes it difficult to start certain activities. When you’re struggling to do something, you can use the five-minute rule, a technique that encourages you to focus on something for five minutes. Since starting something is the most difficult part, the idea is that forcing yourself to do something for five minutes will get you to do it and then you won’t be able to stop because you’ll be immersed in the task. You must allow yourself to stop when the five minutes are over.
Sometimes the difference between success and failure is having a list of clear, concrete steps you can take to get there. Without a series of steps to follow, we procrastinate. To overcome inertia, we need bias to action. These are concrete steps rather than abstract goals.
Experiment 3: Define the Next Action Step
When you find yourself procrastinating, define the next action step. This is usually something simple. Although it’s easy to think about your long-term goals, the truth is that when you have a system in place, you can ignore those for now and focus on the next action step.
Experiment 4: Track Your Progress
Focusing on your constant progress is a way to get closer to your ultimate goal. Progress tracking increases your chances of achieving your goals because it lets you see the areas that need more work. Furthermore, tracking your goals makes it easy to celebrate the wins along the way.
Experiment 5: Find an Accountability Buddy
Starting something with somebody is easier than doing it on your own. Another method to overcome inertia is finding someone who holds us accountable. Since humans are social creatures, we strongly dislike letting someone down. There are three steps to setting up an accountability partnership. First, you need to find someone who has the same goals as you. Second, define your accountability culture or the rules you’re going to follow. The best accountability partners are disciplined, challenging, patient, supportive, and constructive. Third, talk about the accountability process. This means how often you’ll meet and what you’ll do.
Experiment 6: Forgive Yourself
When we find ourselves in a cycle of procrastination, we can try to forgive ourselves to get out of it. Forgiving yourself for not doing something makes you more productive. The author suggests a technique called find the win. This is finding something positive in the process even if it didn’t lead to your original goal.
Part 3: Sustain
Chapter 7: Conserve
Burnout doesn’t just happen to overworked people. It also happens to people whose work doesn’t feel meaningful, enjoyable, or manageable. Burnout makes you feel depleted and exhausted because you have negative feelings toward your job. For someone to be productive, you must cover the basics (again, those are play, power, and people, as well as “unblocking” yourself which involves overcoming uncertainty, fear, and inertia). Once all of that is taken care of, there’s one more obstacle to surmount: sustainability.
Burnout has three main causes. You can take on too much work, something the author calls overexertion burnouts. You can neglect to rest, something the author calls depletion burnouts. Finally, you can do things that don’t bring meaning into your life, something the author calls misalignment burnouts. As difficult as these problems are, they’re solvable.
To overcome exertion burnouts, you must do less to conserve more energy. In other words, saying no is as important as saying yes. Don’t overcommit because by doing unimportant things in the present, in the long run, you’ll feel tired.
Experiment 1: The Energy Investment Portfolio
The Energy Investment Portfolio encourages you to look at what you’re saying “yes” to so that you know what to say “no” to. Write two lists. The first one is for your hopes and dreams. The second one is about the projects you’re working on at the moment. The latter tells you where your time and energy are going, so if you want to commit to something else (which could imply moving a task from the first to the second list), know that you’re going to need even more time and energy. By understanding that your time and energy are limited resources, you prevent too many activities from overwhelming you.
Experiment 2: The Power of No
Saying no is hard, so how can we reject offers more often? Follow Derek Sivers’ “Hell Yeah or No”. By applying this simple filter, you only commit to the things that make you think “Hell yeah!” and you reject everything else. Another method comes from the economy. When we say “yes” to something, we inevitably say “no” to all positive alternatives. Those missed opportunities have a hidden cost associated with them, something called opportunity costs. Finally, the author suggests the “six-week trap” method. This involves looking at your calendar six weeks from now. Before committing to anything, your calendar will be empty, but as you say “yes” to more things, all those blocks of time start to fill and you can’t undo them. When someone presents a request, ask yourself if you would be excited to do that thing if it were taking place tomorrow.
Humans are bad at multitasking because there’s a cognitive cost to switching between multiple tasks. Interestingly, there’s also a cost to focusing on a task for too long. As a consequence, we want to focus on one task at a time without burning out.
Experiment 3: Add Friction
If there’s something that’s not good for you and you don’t want to do it, you can add friction to divert your attention to something else. For example, you can use a laptop that can’t connect to the internet to write or you can uninstall games from your phone to avoid distractions.
Experiment 4: Correct Course
Distractions are fine as long as they don’t destroy our productivity. If you make a mistake, that’s fine, you just have to get back on track after you do. Allow yourself to be distracted from time to time, but don’t use this as an excuse to abandon a habit or project altogether.
Saying “no” and eliminating distractions is important, but there’s an ingredient missing: taking breaks. To conserve energy, give yourself time to do nothing.
Experiment 5: Schedule Your Breaks
Since taking breaks is important to our productivity, schedule them into your calendar. The more you work, the less focus you have, and you’re more likely to make a mistake. To be more effective, you need time to recharge and refocus.
Experiment 6: Embrace Energizing Distractions
Unplanned rest is as important as scheduled breaks. The author calls these “energizing distractions”. While some distractions deviate you from your goals, others are more positive. Quality time with friends or family members, for example, is an invitation to pause and reflect.
Chapter 8: Recharge
When we need some rest, we often use social media on our phones or binge-watch TV which has the opposite effect. We all need time to rejuvenate, but what we do with that time matters. Some activities drain our energy (social media, Netflix, email), while others energize us (going for a walk, playing guitar, socializing). Most creative activities help us relax due to four qualities that can be summarized in the acronym CALM.
- Creative activities give us competence
- Creative activities give us autonomy
- Creative activities give us liberty and freedom
- Creative activities help us mellow and relax
Experiment 1: CALM Hobbies
Some activities bring us a sense of calm. A hobby is an activity you do in your free time and you do it without expecting anything in return other than the pure enjoyment of doing it. To integrate CALM into your life, find a hobby you like. The best way to ruin a hobby is by turning it into a business or figuring out a way to either win or lose at it.
Experiment 2: CALM Projects
Projects aren’t as open-ended as hobbies. Since they have a clearly defined beginning and end, projects give us a feeling of competence and autonomy.
Experiment 3: Bring in Nature
Another way to recharge faster is by hanging out in nature often. To connect with nature, you don’t have to drive for hours to get lost in the woods. Something as simple as going to the nearest park or listening to bird sounds can boost your energy and reduce stress.
Experiment 4: Take a Walk
Going for a walk is a great way to recharge. Walking makes you feel better and it reduces your anxiety. Whenever possible, go for a walk. The best way to do this is to just walk, so avoid setting arbitrary goals like time limits, distances, or places to get to.
Experiment 5: Let Your Mind Wander
When the brain relaxes, it focuses on creative solutions. This explains why we come up with great ideas while walking or taking a shower. Although it seems we’re doing nothing, our mind is incredibly active. The best way to integrate this into our lives is by scheduling “doing nothing”. This involves something as simple as doing chores without doing anything else like listening to podcasts or watching reruns on TV.
Experiment 6: The Reitoff Principle
On those days when you don’t want to work and you just need to relax, go ahead and do it. The Reitoff principle refers to the idea of permitting ourselves to rest. You may not want to do this every day, but you might want to do it occasionally as a way to reset and recharge.
Chapter 9: Align
There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is doing something because it’s enjoyable. Extrinsic motivation is doing something for an external reward. When we’re intrinsically motivated we’re effective and energized. That said, extrinsic motivation isn’t always “bad”. You can work to achieve your goal, even if the process isn’t joyful. When we do things, there are always going to be periods of suffering. This is when scientists discovered that motivation falls on a spectrum. We can identify four types of motivation:
- External motivation: you do this purely for external reasons
- Introjected motivation: you do this out of guilt or to avoid feeling bad
- Identified motivation: you do this because you value the goal
- Intrinsic motivation: you do this because you love both the process and the goal
External motivation makes you feel less autonomous and as you move through the spectrum, you feel more autonomous until you reach intrinsic motivation. To be our most productive, we should align our actions with our values in the long term. To move from extrinsic goals to intrinsic ones, we can use different techniques. One of the most effective techniques involves thinking about death.
Experiment 1: The Eulogy Method
When you think about the things you want people to say in your eulogy, you can start taking the steps to make those goals a reality. Money and business are unlikely to come up at your funeral, but your relationships, character, and hobbies certainly will. The idea is to prioritize the things that are likely to come up in your eulogy and ignore the ones that aren’t.
Experiment 2: The Odyssey Plan
The idea comes from Bill Burnett’s Designing Your Life. One of the exercises from the book is called “The Odyssey Plan” and it encourages you to ask yourself: what do I want my life to look like five years from now? You journal about this question in three ways:
- Your current path: “What will my life look like five years from now if I continue on the same path?
- Your alternative path: “What will my life look like five years from now if I continue on a different path?
- Your radical path: “What will my life look like in five years if I continue on a completely different path?
The idea is to use this exercise to be open to new possibilities.
A more concrete way of changing your path sooner is by using a method called values affirmation where you identify your values and you constantly reflect on them. Thinking about values turns abstract ideals into concrete ones, as well as boosts our confidence.
Experiment 3: The Wheel of Life
The wheel of life is a framework to define success. We draw a circle and divide it into nine segments that represent the main areas of our life. The are three sections for Health (Body, Mind, and Soul), three for Work (Mission, Money, and Growth), and three for Relationships (Family, Romance, and Friends). Then you color each segment depending on how aligned you feel to that area. Ideally, your strongest areas should be the ones you value the most, but if they’re not, you can make some changes in your life to reflect that.
Experiment 4: The 12-Month Celebration
Although the wheel of life can be life-changing, it involves abstract values rather than concrete steps. The “12-month celebration” encourages you to think about having dinner with a close friend, what do you want to be celebrating then? Once you know what you want to celebrate in the future, you need to come up with action steps that will get you there.
All of these experiments are effective, but they are all about the long term. What if you want to reflect on your values to make daily choices that move you in that direction?
Experiment 5: The Three Alignment Quests
Proximate goals make you perform better, so they’re preferable to long-term ones. With that in mind, choose three actions you want to take early in the day so that, a year from now, you can achieve certain goals.
Experiment 6: Alignment Experiments
Alignment experiments are ways to test theories. The process involves three steps. First, you choose an area you want to improve. Second, you develop a hypothesis. Think of a thing you want to change and the effect that could have on your life if you do. Third, you execute and you study the results.
Last Word: Think Like a Productivity Scientist
Productivity isn’t about discipline, it’s about what makes you feel good. When in doubt, don’t try to add more things, try to find joy in the ones you’re already doing. As a result, you’ll be happier, less stressed, and more energized. Learning about productivity doesn’t involve reading blogs and productivity hacks, it’s about adopting an experimental mindset. So try as many experiments as you can: embrace the ones that work and ignore the ones that don’t. The most important part is to enjoy the process, even when things don’t go the way you planned.
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