The Tao of Productivity

getting thinks done - Tao of Productivity

Let go of productivity, embrace freedom.

From childhood and into adolescence, you have been compelled to trust that you should complete your chores, get your work done before you are allowed to go out. Indeed, a basic. “unharmful” inquiry regarding “what you are going to become when you grow up” is showing you that you have to end up somebody.  You have to graduate kindergarten, school, college, you have to get married, have kids, work, meet with parents, go for some dinner, etc. everything in your life is forcing you to believe that to have a satisfying life, you have to complete tasks all the time, as many as possible.

I say, that thought has hypnotised you, and it’s time to wake up.

Indeed, different techniques, efficiency books, time administration arrangements, undertaking list coordinator, schedule applications or shared association suites, they all drive your mind to focus on completing assignments off. Indeed, even science of psychology shows that each time we scratch off the errand to be done, our cerebrum discharges a prize part of dopamine – happiness hormone.

But  we need to face the fact, not our hormones.  The fact is that the desire to get more things done, and  getting them done is two different things.  It’s like understanding that the menu of the restaurant can not be eaten.

And if you want to become more productive, you have to relax about being more productive. Calm your mind and clear it of distractions of the multiplicity of modern human’s life tasks.

Then keep it clear.

And with that clear mind only, you are more productive when you work on a particular task. What’s more, the whole of those specific assignments is the thing that makes your general productivity rise.

Nonetheless, that can only happen if you break the hypnoses you are living now, and truly relax about getting tasks done. In order to be more productive, you have to let go of the desire of being productive because the moment you stop wanting to be productive, you will discover that you will become productive. That the way of TAO – the middle way.

You have to understand that completing tasks always boils down to the moment you work on them. So then if you are productive during that moment, you are productive overall. But the fact is, that when working on particular task, your concentration span is too short, you are distracted by messages, phone calls, co-workers, and what is most important, you are distracted by your  thoughts. And most importantly, you are distracted by the thought of all the other tasks that you are working on at the moment.

You know you need to be MINDFUL, but you can to nothing about it.

You are stuck.

It’s time to get unstuck. And this is how:

You are taught and compelled to trust in the thought that you need to complete everything. So then, that same “everything” is not relinquishing your mind.  So let’s free ourselves from that.

Step One: EMPTY YOUR MIND AND KEEP IT EMPTY.  

Let go of holding all your tasks in your mind – put them down on some medium, be it the paper of software.

Along these lines, you won’t just discharge your memory space, additionally quit stressing that you are going to miss something. You may say that “I have done it before…”, however hey, hold up, this is only the beginning. What’s more, you need to comprehend one critical standard here. You need to accomplish the state of mind when you trust the list. But you can only reach that state of trust, if you can be faithful to the act of maintaining this list.  If you don’t momentarily empty your mind from a new task as they arise, and sometimes skip the approach, you will find the list unuseful.

Imagine your relationship with the calculator.  It’s such an important tool these days. I don’t have to waste my mind’s energy on arithmetics because I have trust on the calculator.  If calculator made mistakes now and then, even if once in one thousand cases, you would not be at rest.  You would worry that this time might be the one thousand’s operation, so you would have to check all other 999 operations as well, just to be sure.   In  the same way, being faithful in keeping your task list always updated is an essential aspect of even having a task list at all.  Because either you do it right, or else, doing it makes no sense at all.  That’s why you might have failed in past.  But then again, this should not become your panacea, you should look at it as a sincere approach, that you need to attain towards keeping task list, but at the same time sincere approach should not turn into a self-torture.  You should understand this as a principle and then let it go. By trusting yourself.

Step Two:  LET GO OF STRESS OF DECIDING/CHOOSING.  

Once your memory is empty, all the tasks and notes are on the paper, then you need to make it easy to choose which task you are going to do now.

The best way to understand this is to recall yourself at the supermarket, or any other store.  And imagine you are to buy some pickled cucumbers.  Shelves are full of choices.  You have to start the research to find the right pickle for yourself. Maybe today you are in the mood of crunchy and sour, or soft and salty.  How do you choose?  You spend your nerves and energy to pick one.  But imagine if they were well organised, from left to right.  One shelve is from sour to sweet, another shelve is from crunchy to soft, the other is salty to hot, etc.  If you are not in cucumbers, imagine ketchup, or shampoo.  You spend such a great amount of vitality in finding the right item for yourself, since they are random.

The same is with your tasks.  Having them listed as described in step one, is a great thing to remove the stress of holding all in your mind’s memory, and instead downloading your mind’s content to some task box, digital or paper. But that TASK BOX is a mess yet, because when you are concentrating on emptying your mind, you just throw things in the box, but then later, be it daily or weekly, depending on how many tasks you accumulate, you need to go back to them and sort them.  And the way you sort it is up to you.  In our guide in later chapters I will suggest some clever ways to organise your tasks, but what matters for now just remember, that you periodically take the content of your tasks box, and sort it so that it’s easier to find what you want to find.  Exactly as with pickled cucumbers.  This way you save energy for the next step.

Step Three:  FOCUS ON WHAT YOU ARE IN MOOD FOR.

After tasks are organised, select the ones you plan to work with today.

When you complete the first two steps, you should find all your personal and professional tasks out of your head and onto the paper or some task management app, all organised by priorities and other criteria. When you see it in written form, you might discover that your head was holding a lot.

Seeing the amount of tasks could make you worry even more, now it’s not only in your head, it is listed in front of you, and you are alone against them.  But hey, you are not against them.  Are you not here to defeat them right?  You did not do the first two steps with a goal in mind to complete them.  Your goal is to let it go.  Your goal is to release the pressure from the tasks.  You just cleared your mind from the mess of task you had in your head.  You remember that no matter how hard you concentrate on getting them done, you are still going to be able to get as much done as possible.

But, no matter what I say, the fact is that the list might look overwhelming.  And it should. Congratulations you have just understood that the same mess was happening in your head.

Now, every morning you can quickly go through all the tasks, and select the ones that you feel like doing today.  The pickled cucumbers are well organised on the shelves, and it’s up to you to decide the things you like.  If task box was the Drawer that you put all your tasks in a mess, the organised list is the Shelve where pickled cucumbers are.  And now it’s time to allow yourself to select freely the task from anywhere, and put it on your Work Table. This are undertakings that you are going to concentrate on today.

However, recall whatever you select throughout today, is not required to be done today, you may do every one of them, some of them, or even do nothing of them and do a reversal to envelopes and simply do the assignments that are not in the today list by any means .  Having a Today folder on your work table is only for your convenience not for punishing yourself if you don’t do them.  But we will come back to this point later in chapters.

Step Four:  ALLOW YOURSELF TO WORK ON THE SELECTED TASK.

You see, if you trust the system, as much as you trust calculator, then you know that the system holds what your head/memory used to hold. Now every time you start working on a particular task, you can concentrate on that task.   

Every time you decide that you are going to work on a particular task, from Today list or any other list, you can realise that for next half an hour, nothing is going to happen.  Because everything, important or unimportant, is on the list, so you look at the list, and you select one task that you are going to work for next half an hour.  And if you sincerely did first three steps, then now that you select one function, you know that no catastrophe is going to result from not selecting the other.  Because you pick one, you know that others can wait for at least half an hour.  Because if something else was more important at that precise moment, you would have chosen that other task, but because you selected this one, it means that at this particular time, your choice was right, you had it all organised, you knew what you were doing.

Understanding this apparently, frees your mind, and when you work on one task, other tasks are not longer distracting your head, because you know they will have their time.  You are not going to forget them.  You don’t need to dedicate part of your mind’s energy on solving your other tasks.  You are free.  At least, for half an hour.  What’s more, that everything you need, in thirty minutes you are going to enjoy a reprieve, and after that rehash the step four, at the end of the day take a gander at all the task and settle on one, perhaps you proceed what you were doing possibly you pick something else, yet regardless of what you pick your head will still be clear, and let you concentrate on what you wanted.

And that is the whole point.  If you are most effective in your half hours, at the end of the day, you are going to get as many tasks done as possible.  Productivity level of the year is the sum of productivity of 12 months, the productivity of each month is the sum of productivity of 31 days, and productivity of each of these days is the sum of productivity of half an hour intervals that those days comprise.

SO THEN IT IS AUTOMATIC.  NOT ATTEMPTING TO GET THINGS DONE, RESULTS IN MORE THINGS DONE EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT AWARE OF IT.

I know this is not that as simple as it sounds. All these steps need more clarifications and details, and so keep reading, and we are going to cover all in future posts.  Think about this blog more like a book, and separate posts are more like chapters.  So stay with me, and please give me feedback, let me know if all is clear.  Ask questions, so that I can clarify and edit the post.  Read on….

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  • Ryan

    Hi Levan, I find this blog post was the most eye-opening.
    As I went through the steps I realized the whole point of this blog and what the message is. I actually think this post, or one like it, should be the required reading for anyone new to your blog. These are fundamental ideas that need to be understood before reading the other posts.
    Like a trust-fall, letting go of the desire to get things done is difficult, until you understand these steps above that “catch you when you fall”.

    • Well, Ryan, I’m glad it was. Thanks for suggestion. It’s a good idea to have some things as required reading. Also the thing with the blog is it reverses the post, so earliest is on top and oldest is listed in the bottom. While I write it in the order I think is right. So I believe one should read the blog from the first post to the last, and it will all be more and more clear. Maybe I should set up a guideline page with indexation. Thanks for the idea.