Wk1: Increase Productivity, Manage Your Money and Learn a Skill

PRODUCTIVITY

The formula:

High Quality Work produced = (time spent) x (intensity of focus)

I came across this after reading this article discussing Cal Newports book ‘Deep Work’.

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To be more productive we need to get rid of ‘attention residue’. For example, working on one task and then doing something as simple as glancing at your inbox or phone before going back to the task. This will leave what Cal describes as ‘attention residue’ on the inbox or phone which immediately subtracts from the focus you had on the initial task.

This has a knock on effect with each additional task….how many tabs do you have open on your computer?

Practical tip: Batch your work where you focus on one thing for a set period.

A very effective way of doing this is using what is known as the pomodoro technique (popularised by Francesco Cirillo) – 25 minutes on the clock and you get cracking with that one thing and one thing only – absolutely nothing else until time is up. Then take a short break.

You’ll be amazed at how much progress you make on a task with a higher intensity of focus.

MONEY

Considering we learn little about this throughout school and spend most of our life worrying about it, this is an area where everyone should invest more time in learning.

I recently read the Barefoot Investor. Which is the ideal starting point for building a solid base of knowledge of how to spend, save and invest for the future. Whether you are keen to move on to more in depth financial books or just want the basics then I highly recommend it.

Barefoot

The system and principles have helped people ranging from those who want to be rich, those who think they are rich and even those who are already rich.

Some practical steps I’ve taken from the book include:

  • Automating all of my payments – Completely eliminating transferring money, checking bank accounts regularly and financial stress.
  • Changing to an internet bank account where I got much higher interest rates and get charged no fees for using my card on ATM’s.
  • Separating money into 4 accounts within that one branch: 1 with daily expenses where all bills come out (include additional stock market or pension payments in here) and 1 for weekly spending on whatever I want – % of take home pay goes into this account so I don’t overspend.  2 bank cards.
  • 2 for saving (1 for short term i.e. holidays and weddings. 1 for long term i.e. house/real estate/investments) – No bank cards.
  • Finally a harder to access high interest account which holds an emergency fund should I ever need money unannounced
  • This all took me less than 30 minutes to set up

What to Do?: Buy (and obviously read) the Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape.

SKILL

I completed my 2nd guitar lesson in as many weeks. Smashing it off the wall was an option several times! Very frustrating, but I need to admit, after trying to ‘self-teach’ myself on and off for 2 years and being able to play a total of a whopping 3 songs, I’m much better already after having some structure to my learning. Currently doing 30 minutes per day and seeing slight progress every time I play!

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Practical Tip: Looking to learn a skill or language?

Find a teacher, coach or trainer to fast track your progress, the quality of your learning material will definitely be the difference between you giving up, wishing you could do it and you sticking it out, actually being able to do something you’ve always wanted to.

As with every skill, daily repetition is critical.

30 mins per day is all I dedicate to guitar and it is enough to see constant progress.  I’m currently using G4 Guitar Methods who do 5 lessons (plus material) for $99 as an intro!

HUMAN BEHAVIOUR

 This comes from recent podcast I listened to with Tim Ferriss and psychologist Dr Zimbardo, who is renowned for the Stanford Prison Experiment.

They discuss ‘The Milgram Experiment’ which comes to the conclusion that people appear to be psychologically wired to repeat a wrong doing (regardless how small) over and over again (progressively getting worse each time) as soon as they complete it just once.

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  “..all evil starts with 13 volts”

Dr Zimbardo also mentions that 75% of people are even more likely to continue on their evil streak if they are given the option by an authority releasing them of individual responsibility.

Questions are discussed such as; should soldiers who are imprisoned during war be held accountable for their crime? Seeing that they are carrying out orders and effectively being manipulated psychologically by those that send the orders would it be fair to hold them responsible?

Most interesting of all, Dr Zimbardo has used this idea to see if the same psychology will work with positive behaviour. His big experiment ‘The Heroic Imagination Project’  is currently looking to see if rewarding and encouraging heroic acts can lead to us creating a system subconsciously and deliberately to produce natural and effortless heroic acts.

Practically: Listen to the podcast here titled ‘How to Not Be Evil’ and if you want to go a step further watch the movie Stanford Prison Experiment – good film! The podcast also details the ‘The Heroic Imagination Project’. When you have a deeper understanding of human behaviour it can help you in countless ways during every day personal and business interactions.

FITNESS

Great article from the Germany based trainer Wolfgang Unsold who has proven to have effective training systems for professional athletes and the general population.

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 ‘Variation: Front foot elevated Split-Squat’

Here he de-constructs the exercise ‘the split-squat’ and gives you the information you need to know to perform it correctly.

Practical: Seeing, what is a very effective lower body exercise, broken down in detail gives a far greater understanding as to when and why you might use it during your workout.

“If you don’t have the time to do it right when will you have the time to do it over?”

Quality is crucial for progress when it comes to health and performance. Learning how to do exercises efficiently from the start as opposed to aiming to lift as heavy as you can or for as many reps as you can to satisfy an ego will without doubt lead to wasted time and energy in the gym with repercussions such as injuries and lack of progression.

A quick review of this week:

  • Be more productive, set the timer for 25 mins away from distraction and get cracking!
  • Be smarter with your money and start investing for the future by buying Barefoot Investor!
  • Hire a trainer or teacher and practice 30 mins per day to learn that skill you’ve always wanted to be able to perform!
  • Want to make positive change and understand negative behaviour? Check out ‘Milgram Experiment’ ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ or Dr Zimbardo on the Tim Ferriss podcast for look into why evil acts are carried out!
  • Learn and practice how to split-squat correctly to optimise your lower body workout!
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