Taking on New Years Resolutions – Examples in Diet and Exercise

Ah, the New Years’ Resolution…

It’s that time of year where many of us decide to improve ourselves. With a loud proclamation of intention, we take several steps forward and, just as often, fall on our collective faces somewhere in the coming weeks or months.

Our resolutions often tower high. They can be hard to keep up with and easy to forget. Failures to climb them demoralize, defeat, and derail future attempts.

Whoops, did I remember to practice guitar yesterday? Ahh, I’ll just do it tomorrow.

That lovely brownie won’t be eaten by itself either. Someone will have to make the sacrifice. I will do it. I will eat the brownie so no one else will have to.

To really address resolutions, we need to understand them. Resolutions are about desires and intentions to change ourselves and our lifestyles. They are fundamentally about guiding habits.

But, too often, we rely on will in our attempts. And will is not infinite. Every solid decision involves effort: a depth of focus and reflection. We must hold ourselves still in fields of emotion swirling within us and a chaos of people around us. Bracing ourselves within this sea of forces, we choose some course of action, and then act.

Decisions take work. Without taking that work into account, we cannot plan and affect the nuance necessary to ease that effort.

Adding & Taking Away

Let’s look at the quite common resolution examples of diet and exercise. It would seem they go together. Want to lose weight? A common refrain is to diet and exercise.

But these are two very different habits. Exercise focuses more on creating a habit where one didn’t exist before. Diet is more about reducing old ones. Of course, I am oversimplifying. But the generalities stand.

Example in Diet

Let’s look at exercise first. One of the most important aspects of a project, as silly as it sounds, is to just show up. Just be there. You don’t necessarily need to do anything. Secondly, do this regularly, preferably daily.

Technically, you could just show up to the gym every day and not do a thing. But I highly doubt you would end up doing nothing. Somewhere along the way, you might just happen to nudge a piece of equipment o start moving a bit faster on the track. Sometimes these turn into real exercise sessions. Sometimes they don’t. That’s fine too. Because really what you’re doing is focusing on the habit more so than the work itself.

When you do that, it becomes much easier to show up to the gym. You don’t have to focus on grueling effort. You instead just show up. And, when you do engage in a work out, it often becomes more invigorating than dreadful.

Meanwhile, make things as frictionless as possible. Keep gym clothes at the ready. Consider a time that honors the day’s current rhythms, perhaps before or after work. In general, try to minimize the number of decisions that need to be made during the day. The goal would be to make it more difficult to avoid going to the gym.

Support the habit with a simple task that reflects habit building. For example:

“Visit the gym” @errands repeating daily and flagged.

Visit the gym task among the today tasks

Visit the gym task among the today tasks

Again, “Visit” reinforces that this is about building habit more than the work itself.

As with all of these ideas, the suggestion of daily is only a suggestion. But, daily is a strong and simple way of reinforcing habit. Less frequently is more prone to forgetting, procrastination, and more.

Example in Diet

Let’s return to the other habit: dieting. Dieting is a lot about restriction. Without care, changing diet can be an exercise in futility. One is in a constant state of decision, trying to use will power to avoid a “wrong” decision. Such a state is prone to failure, exhaustion, and is hardly a path to success.

Much like the path of exercise, it is useful to spend time minimizing the number of decisions that need to be made during the day. If you can make it more difficult to eat poorly, you set yourself up for success.

However, this takes planning. Find a way to dedicate several sessions of study, planning, and consideration of the day. For example, consider:

  • What unhealthy foods are in the home?
  • How can I get rid of them?
  • What healthy foods can I eat? How can have them at arms reach?
  • How can I make them affordable?
  • How can I best batch trips to the grocery store?
  • What do I do when I’m hungry?
  • Where will I likely be when I’m hungry?
  • What do I do about walking by my favorite pastry shop every morning?

Answers to any of these can lead into useful next actions and projects.

Conclusion

Much of productivity is about separating planning from doing. While certainly there can be overlap, the practice of separating these actions can be quite beneficial. Planning is about consideration, reflection, and review. It is about front loading our decisions so that our days are easier to navigate. It helps us break out of habits we don’t want and create ones that we do.

Consider Being Productive – Simple Steps to Calm Focus for a full course on finding success in the habits and projects you desire. In the course, you choose your own project to practice these simple but powerful exercises to move your work forward. You could choose setting up diet, exercise, among many other possibilities as projects to take on. Want to read more? Want to learn a language? How about an instrument? Want to write a book, a program, build a website? Consider supporting your New Year’s Resolution with a course on learning to be productive throughout your life’s work and play.

Just Released — Being Productive – Simple Steps to Calm Focus

Dear Readers,

I’m excited to announce that Being Productive: Simple Steps to Calm Focus is now available!.

Note, if you own the Zen & The Art of Work course, you’ll get the new course for free. Being Productive is a free upgrade. Just go to your Gumroad account, and it’ll be there.

 

What is Being Productive?

Being Productive is the simplest presentation of my workflow, separated from any tool or heavy theory. You can use pen and paper or a complex task system, either way. The concepts remain the same. It is my core productivity set.

If you’re looking for a solid course on how to be productive, this is it. It condenses years of therapy, creativity, meditation, work on productivity and more into a set of 14 exercises with the highest production values I could muster.

If you enjoyed Creating Flow with OmniFocus but are looking for something to instead give you an overall picture of productivity, this is it. If you enjoyed Workflow Mastery, but just want to get at the meat of doing work, this is it.

Buy Being Productive Now

The course starts with very general but fundamental basics of good workflows. It then progresses into more concrete suggestions as you go along. Here is the outline:

  • Module 01 – Introduction – Learn a key ingredient of productivity.
  • Module 02 – Choosing Your Focus – Learn to make solid decisions about projects and next actions.
  • Module 03 – Taking a Step – Learn to engage your work at a subtle and deep level.
  • Module 04 – Walking Paths – Learn to engage work with regularity to build momentum and large projects.
  • Module 05 – Preparing Time – Learn to set the rest of your work aside for full focus.
  • Module 06 – Setting Thoughts Aside – Learn optimal uses of an Inbox.
  • Module 07 – Addressing Thoughts – Learn where to set ideas so they’ll be ready for you when you’re ready for them.
  • Module 08 – Using Action Lists – Learn to build helpful routines and structures to further build your focus.
  • Module 09 – Preparing Space & Attention – Learn techniques to optimize your environment and avoid procrastination.
  • Module 10 – Creating Next Actions – Learn to break work down to ease forward motion.
  • Module 11 – Mastery – Learn to find the basics of work so you can find play and mastery.
  • Module 12 – Setting Work Aside – Learn to set work aside and create supportive environments to make productivity easier.
  • Module 13 – Preparing the Day – Learn to prepare and plan to make your decisions easier.
  • Module 14 – Reviewing Systems – Learn to create genuine trust in your systems so you can have a clear mind.
  • Module 15 – Charting Courses – Learn to balance your work so you can easily know what you can and cannot take on.
  • Module 16 – Practicing – Bring all you’ve learned together.

 

How Much and Where?

The course is $34.95 and is available at UsingOmniFocus.comKouroshDini.com, and Gumroad.

Buy Being Productive Now

 

Announcing: Being Productive – Simple Steps to Calm Focus

I’m excited to announce that Zen & The Art of Work is transitioning to Being Productive: Simple Steps to Calm Focus.

Note, if you already own Zen & The Art of Work course, you’ll get the new course for free. Just go to your Gumroad account, and it’ll be there once it’s available.

 

Why The Change?

With everything I create, I carefully listen to your feedback. The more people have used the course and given feedback, the more it’s become clear that productivity is the focus. So, the name should reflect that. Your comments have been the catalyst for this change, and I do thank you for that.

 

Is Anything Else Changing Other Than The Name?

Being Productive is still the simplest presentation of my workflow, separated from any tool or heavy theory. You can use pen and paper or a complex task system, either way. The concepts remain the same. It is my core productivity set.

However, you may notice that I have made small, but significant tweaks to increase clarity and make it even easier to learn and grow. Most modifications appear in the first two videos.

 

When Is the Change?

The transition will happen in the next few weeks (or after 1 week if all goes as planned). So if you already own Zen & The Art of Work and want to keep that title, please download those videos before the transition.  I plan to announce the change again once it happens.

 

Being Productive – Simple Steps to Calm Focus

If you’re looking for a solid course on how to be productive, this is it. It condenses years of therapy, creativity, meditation, work on productivity and more into a set of 14 exercises with the highest production values I could muster.

If you enjoyed Creating Flow with OmniFocus but are looking for something to instead give you an overall picture of productivity, this is it. If you enjoyed Workflow Mastery, but just want to get at the meat of doing work, this is it.

The course starts with very general but fundamental basics of good workflows. It then progresses into more concrete suggestions as you go along. Here is the outline:

  • Module 01 – Introduction – Learn a key ingredient of productivity.
  • Module 02 – Choosing Your Focus – Learn to make solid decisions about projects and next actions.
  • Module 03 – Taking a Step – Learn to engage your work at a subtle and deep level.
  • Module 04 – Walking Paths – Learn to engage work with regularity to build momentum and large projects.
  • Module 05 – Preparing Time – Learn to set the rest of your work aside for full focus.
  • Module 06 – Setting Thoughts Aside – Learn optimal uses of an Inbox.
  • Module 07 – Addressing Thoughts – Learn where to set ideas so they’ll be ready for you when you’re ready for them.
  • Module 08 – Using Action Lists – Learn to build helpful routines and structures to further build your focus.
  • Module 09 – Preparing Space & Attention – Learn techniques to optimize your environment and avoid procrastination.
  • Module 10 – Creating Next Actions – Learn to break work down to ease forward motion.
  • Module 11 – Mastery – Learn to find the basics of work so you can find play and mastery.
  • Module 12 – Setting Work Aside – Learn to set work aside and create supportive environments to make productivity easier.
  • Module 13 – Preparing the Day – Learn to prepare and plan to make your decisions easier.
  • Module 14 – Reviewing Systems – Learn to create genuine trust in your systems so you can have a clear mind.
  • Module 15 – Charting Courses – Learn to balance your work so you can easily know what you can and cannot take on.
  • Module 16 – Practicing – Bring all you’ve learned together.

 

Being Productive – Simple Steps to Calm Focus runs the same price as the Zen course – $34.95.

Two Ways to Break Work Down

Work can feel overwhelming. What to do next is not often clear. One way of handling this overwhelm is to “break it down” into smaller parts.

But how far is useful? If we continue to write many tasks that feel unnecessary, we only create busy work or procrastinate.

Read the rest of the post at UsingOmniFocus.com

On The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up & Productivity

“I’m convinced that things that have been loved and cherished acquire elegance and character.”

Marie Kondo, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, p47

Introduction

While talking about organization, my neighbor had recommended Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Apparently, it’s been quite the hit in the world of organizing, so I decided to give it a try.

The number of books on organization can ironically choke a bookshelf or ten. After all, the concept of organization itself is broad.

It is rare for me to find any single book on the subject that I fully enjoy.  Instead, I pick and choose ideas among many. For an approach to work well, it needs to be both broad enough to capture a mindset and specific enough to present a how-to.

Marie Kondo’s books The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy does hit these points.

Generally, her practice is about:

  • Recognizing the things you care for
  • Enhancing the signal to noise ratio by discarding what you do not care for, and then
  • Actively caring.

She also describes, more specifically, how she goes through a process of organization, both in terms of categories, and in the detailed how-to of individual items.

In addition, some of her ideas share commonalities with being productive and task management, some of which I’ll describe below.

 

A Measure of Joy

What I find most interesting is the simplicity at the center of Kondo’s approach.  She begins and maintains the journey by instructing the reader to pick up every object and ask,

  • Does it spark joy?
  • If it does, keep it.
  • If it does not, get rid of it.

Clearly, there is a parallel to most books on organization which start with a purging process. However, the measure of “joy” is deceptively brilliant.

A sense of “joy” automatically takes into account conscious and unconscious meanings behind an object’s presence in our lives. We don’t have to fully know why something is meaningful in order to find it a place.

Much like any creative endeavor, we don’t often see the meaning or what the end  will look like from where we are. Creativity is a process of discovery. Perhaps we can approach organization the same way.

When we actively and systemically consider the meaning of objects in our environments, we gain the ability to shape our environments to support us in the ways we find meaningful. The more things in our environment that do not somehow “spark joy” the more difficult it is to get to those things that do. Removing these objects enhances the signal to noise ratio of things that do support joy in our lives.

Now, of course, our tax papers or a needed but not inherently joyful tool may not seem to fit the bill. However, in these cases, one needs to only consider how they support joy throughout life elsewhere.

 

A Sentient Environment

Kondo views her belongings as having near sentience. Throughout her writing, she expresses a reverence for a near animistic world. She thanks the items she discards for their service to her. She considers the feelings of the clothes she folds.

I do wonder if her approach may put off some readers. But her presentation and self-reflection strikes me as someone with full candor and honesty. So, however one approaches their environments, one cannot help but be enamored by Kondo’s love of her work and world.

 

Productivity and Joy

Productivity is about regularly asking our environments and our habits if they are supporting us in the development of what we find meaningful, and, if not, how can they be improved? In this way, productivity is very much about organization.

Perhaps, we may even apply the Joy measure to our projects. For example, during a weekly review, could we decide on keeping and dropping projects as they relate to joy? Certainly not all projects spark joy directly. Where is the joy in cleaning out the basement? But once again, if we can connect a project to how and where it does or would support joy and develop meaning in our lives, we may find the project as meaningful itself.

 

Creating Homes for Objects and Projects

An important aspect of organization is creating a home for every object.  Similarly, we can consider the home and paths of our projects, perhaps even trying to make them pleasant where possible.

However, a project’s home occupies a different form of space.  For example, for every project, we can consider:

  • How often should this project be reviewed?
  • What is my vision of this project’s present and future?
  • Is there a well-written next action in a well-curated action list?
  • Are the relevant supplies and references easily reached from the project?

 

The Role of Acknowledgement

Kondo expresses “thanks” to the objects she disposes of. The practice may seem odd, and I can’t say I’ve truly given this my all. But it is a practice of acknowledgment.

It is not as simple as saying just “Thank you.” She is thoughtful. Importantly, she reflects on how she is thankful.

Examples include,

  • Thank you for being there at a certain time in my life.
  • Thank you for having supported me with _____.
  • Thank you for teaching me that I do not have time for you.

Saying, “Thank you” acknowledges the past self that brought, allowed, or accepted the object into our world. It also acknowledges that its time of support has passed and that things end, which is not always so easy or obvious for us to accept.

Further, while we may acknowledge an end in physical presence, we may still recognize that it has helped shape us into who we are in the present.

The process of individually handling each object and going through this process of acknowledgment, allowing thoughts to settle, helps to clear not only our environments, but more importantly our mind.

One can also consider where an object goes in the act of discarding. Finding things a new home may provide a sense of continued story for the objects, particularly when they are still held dear, yet do not spark joy in current times.

In the same way, perhaps we can say “Thank you” to projects we decide to drop. At times, we thank it for teaching us the limits of time, the excitement it once gave us, or the dreams of another time.