I’ve been an absolute slacker over the past month. I’ve been tottering from deadline to deadline at work. Mindlessly hanging out with friends, often ignoring important priorities which would help me beat procrastination. It’s almost like being a teenager again – but with some serious responsibility shrugging. I only thing keeping me afloat was hard deadlines on journal paper submissions or the guilt of my boss being disappointed in me. My external environment’s influence seems to be totally controlling my actions, instead of my own conscious self. I need to get my life back in order. It is the time to implement the Full Stack Productivity Reboot.
A productivity reboot is a much needed jolt of change you give to your daily lifestyle in order to get more order into it. Ideal results should be a rapid rise in productive efficiency and general well-being. It is a paradox really. This is a quick fix method by instilling long term habits. Pretty cool huh?
PROBLEM ROOT NUMBER ONE: WHORING FOR INSTANT GRATIFICATION
Like all problems, I need to break this unproductive streak into its fundamental roots. It started off with me stating that “I wanna party! I just have a few days left before I start graduate school.” I guess I took this mental note seriously, and became a full on instant gratification whore. So let’s note this down – Instant Gratification Whoring – Problem’s Root Number One. Our productivity stack needs to have this taken care of. Read this landmark study which pointed out the benefits of delayed gratification with respect to instant gratification.
PROBLEM ROOT NUMBER TWO: SUCKING AT ROUTINES
Another thing that I’ve been sucking at is routines, and having set habits. I’ve been waking up and sleeping at weird times. I’ve not been keeping up with my meditation routines. I’ve only been sporadically working out – often without definite goals in mind. I’ve been having variable work timings as well. I haven’t been following Nofap well. A good set of routines and habits are essential to a productive and holistic lifestyle – for more, the book on habits, Pulitzer Prize Winning ‘The Power of Habit’. It brings order to one’s subconscious expectations of themselves of the day. It helps you stay grounded and be less impulsive with your decisions. So for this productivity reboot – let’s solve this problem of erratic routines too, shall we?
PROBLEM ROOT NUMBER THREE: A WANING WILLPOWER?
I’ve spoken about avoiding instant gratification and getting some discipline by following routines and creating habits as of now. But how do I mentally implement these goals? The answer lies in building willpower. This is the basis behind NoFap and Cold Showers as methods of boosting productivity and becoming happier. Willpower is also often the deciding factor while making important decisions in your life – like ordering a pizza vs getting up and spending time on the weekend to cook up a nice salad. My instant gratification whoring has temporarily weakened the willpower muscle in this panda’s brain. So for this productivity reboot, let’s make up strategies to strengthen it up. More on routines and willpower by Zenhabits.net.
PROBLEM ROOT NUMBER FOUR: LOVING BEING COMFORTABLE
In addition to this, there’s another factor leading to my current habits. Being comfortable. Life has never been better for me since the past couple of years I guess. I subconsciously have this feeling that I can just relax and chill till I join grad school in a month, and that I am exempted from productive responsibilities till that time. My logical side however knows that this is a horrible way to approach new challenges in life. It’s not cool to be comfortable when you have to achieve so much. Also, I need some productive momentum to survive in a hyper competitive graduate environment and I cannot name comfort for an excuse for this. I need to solve this comfort problem, fast. I need strategies to shock myself out of my comfort zone. Till Gross gives some strategies for comfort zone crushing and its benefits in this TED talk.
IT’S ALL TO DO WITH OUR ANIMAL BRAIN
If you’re even slightly perceptive (and have threshold intellect), you’d see that all of the above mentioned points deal with your brain’s reward system. It represents how well the motivating chemicals in your brain (dopamine, cortisol, serotonin, adrenaline etc.) are aligned to your self- stated priorities (memory regions of the brain I guess). A brain which is not in sync is a sick brain. With the extrapolation of this logic then, I’d say that this productivity reboot is actually like healing your brain back to good health.
So let’s get down to it. Since all of the requisite roots such as gratification tendencies, willpower, comfort zones and habits are co-linked. We need a method to incorporate all of them in my productivity reboot solution. We have all the details about the slacking problem and its intrinsic nature in my brain. Now, I’m going to pick and choose the best tools in the productivity inventory of several years to solve and eliminate our problem.
TOOLS TO SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS
- NoFap: We’ve spoken about this before on my article about how porn ruins us. We know that a great NoFap streak massively increases will power, and gets you uncomfortable in a safe manner.
- Morning cold showers or wake up swim: This is a comfort zone crusher 101. Also, builds up will as you have to muster up the mindset to stand in a cold jet of water for 3 minutes. Unpleasant, but certainly effective. If done every day, it can help attain a great routine mindset. The cold shower challenge at impossiblehq.
- The blanket folding challenge: my room rapidly gets messy and disordered if my bed is that way. Clothes get thrown about on the table, chairs and the bed. I get disapproving looks from my roommate and girlfriend. We shall overcome this but folding our blankets as soon as we wake up, and straighten up the bed. Great routine habits. Brings order to life. Makes you feel good about something which is actually good. Certainly a panacea in the ‘heal your brain’s reward system’ plan. The admiral of the US Navy Seals does it, you can too.
- Set morning wake up time: Wake up at a fixed time in the morning. No matter when you sleep at night. Gets your sleep cycle right. Best way to implement a routine. With a fixed circadian cycle, you also have more energy throughout the day and longer days. Check out the Rock Clock by none other than the Rock!
- Wake up and push up challenge: The moment you wake up, get on the floor and give me 15. While you’re super sleepy and have just woken up, it’s absolutely horrible to do this. But it heats your body up, get the melatonin running and again sets a habit. You also get a lot stronger overtime. It is a comfort zone crusher challenge as well. Push up challenge.
- A lights out/unwind time: Need this to get a great sleep cycle going. Helps with routine. Delays instant gratification of staying awake and doing something fun, watching a TV show etc.
- Clean room now: Best way to get some order into your life immediately. Has a direct effect on the clutter in your brain.
- Daily meditation: Meditate for 20 minutes at any fixed time in your day. Probably the best tool in our repertoire. Keeps brain healthy. Sets in a beautiful routine. Makes you a better person. I use the headspace app.
- Daily workout: Workout in the evening or morning every day. The endorphins after the workout make you feel amazing. A really good way to get a routine going. Make this a habit.
- Comfort zone crusher challenge– Get a girl’s number a day: Say hi to a random person. Say you’d like to hang out. Get their number. You don’t really have to go meet them later, since your aim is to just put yourself in an uncomfortable position. If you’d like it, go for it. I’m not going to implement this for myself as of now- my girlfriend won’t really like it lol. But it’s a massive confidence builder. (This is not a how to pick up instruction. I don’t really care if this ultimately ends up as a date.)
- Spend more time with girlfriend instead of friends: Brings stability to my life. I need some time hanging out with a genius overachiever for a bit of time. Not sure exactly how this will help. Positive reinforcements for good habits I guess. Better peer company maybe. I have a gut feel this will help though. The downward spiral has positive correlation with no meeting often with her.
I’m sure you guys get the picture, and can now create your own tools. These are just some of them that I came up with. They’re too many in number for a 15 day productivity reboot though, and if I try to incorporate all of them like Icarus, I’m sure to fail. Thus, for the purpose of this reboot, I am going to choose 5 of them. Let’s get down to setting them in a schedule now. This has to be done every-day for the next 15 days.
THE SOLUTION (EVERYDAY FOR THE NEXT 15 DAYS)
This reboot is a tough thing to do. Not a quick fix happy scheme. So let
BeastMode = True;
Step 1: Wake up at 7 (I wake up at 10 am and sleep late so this is actually a challenge for me)
Step 2: Do push-ups/7 minute workout as soon as you wake up.
Step 3: Make your bed. Fold your blanket.
Step 4: Meditate for 20 minutes after the morning shower.
Step 5: Nofap to be continued.
Step 6: Lights out at 11. Stop using your phone. Stop using your computer. The only thing that you have in your hands is a book until you sleep.
Step 7: Spend more time with my girlfriend. That woman is so sorted in life. :p
With my tools decided on for this 15 day productivity reboot, I thought I’d also show you a fun way that I am going to implement these changes. It’s a weekly challenge that gives you points for regular completion of tasks, extra points for super bonus challenges, and huge loss in points for black holes (breaking NoFap, missing coursera assignment deadline etc). You graduate from being a productivity peon, to a Ninja, to a Sensei and eventually a Shinto or Guru depending on your increase in points over the weeks. It’s pretty exciting, especially if you love games. You just don’t wanna lose and as a return you end up bettering your life.
I wanted to restrict this post’s length as it is already pretty lengthy. Find a Weekly Challenge for Productivity reboot on my next post – Akhil’s 110%+ Weekly challenge. Here, I make a fun game out of sticking with your routines, and goals for this reboot – and you progress from being a Peon of Steel to a Samurai of Steel to a Sensei of Steel and so on. Stay tuned.