I define a set of rules (with 6 daily habits), processes & goals for myself to follow. They all act as a framework for how I lead my life and keep my focus.
Motivation is a byproduct of action, not the catalyst for it. When you just can’t bring yourself to start, that’s when it’s most important to just do it — it always completely fixes how you're feeling.
Focus often means sacrifice in that you have to choose something that is truly impactful/important despite having many choices that you consider more fun/enjoyable to do.
Focusing on what's important
I use 2Do as my personal task manager and Height as way to prioritize life and other projects . I schedule events in calendar and plan the day/week in context of my tasks & priorities.
I work on ideas I find valuable to me most & make things.
I focus on solving problems & limit distractions (only essential notifications setup).
I support my happiness by working on projects that I care about and looking after my health.
I have 2Do setup to schedule a weekly Sunday review & plan task.
I love listening to Inspired/Focus playlists when working.
If you are a fan of Succession, this scene from it always gets me going.
- You can't manage projects. You can only manage actions related to projects.
- Brains aren’t for holding info, they’re for thinking. So if you can empty your brain out by writing stuff onto a todo list, onto your calendar, etc, your brain will have more space for the high level stuff that’s a bit harder to get on paper. And if you wrote down “do thing” on the todo-list… well you just have to do the thing afterwards. There’s nothing to think about or redigest if you write out the things in more detail
- If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing.
- Every high performer is fundamentally relaxed, and practices minimal use of effort to get a given result. Don't try harder: eliminate tensions.
- Simply doodling on a Synth and enjoying the sounds, playing an instrument without trying to make a song, can be very relaxing and satisfying. Especially when you are a beginner at it. Otherwise you might be trying too hard to create something meaningful, destroying the pleasure in the process. So my advice would be not to attempt to create, but to simply indulge in the act and enjoy the flow.
- When a person fails to begin a project that they care about, it’s typically due to either a) anxiety about their attempts not being ‘good enough’ or b) confusion about what the first steps of the task are. Not laziness.
- Working on anything nontrivial requires you to kind of take a deep breath and dive into the space for awhile.
- Moving/batching all meetings to one day can be helpful. Or no meetings/calls on Thu/Fri as example.
- Have a different room for work that’s separate from bedroom and living area. Take walks to break up the day. Take time off in evenings as reward.
- Manage priorities rather than time.
- Every evening, write down a daily schedule for the next day and try to stick to it as best as possible.
- The sunk cost of perfectionism: Spending time making things you don't know anyone wants.
- Not being busy is a competitive advantage. Most people are so strapped for time they can't take advantage of lucky opportunities or quickly resolve unexpected problems. The ideal combination is proactive and flexible. Protect your free time, but maintain a bias toward action.
- Noise is a remarkably insidious form of pollution: a 10db noise increase (from dishwasher to vacuum) drops productivity by 5%.
- The sweet spot seems to be 2 hours of leisure time per day. Over 5 hours of leisure time will actually make you feel worse.
- Every time I feel like I lack time, I actually lack focus.
- Action changes attitude faster than attitude changes action.
- Never work on more than three to four initiatives.
- One thing that’s really helped me is removing the words like “lazy” or “procrastinating” from my vocabulary. I am never “lazy.” I need rest, I get tired, I may not enjoy what I’m doing, I am a human with complex needs and if I don’t want to do something, I can genuinely ask why.
- Do things with proper and specific intention. By setting the intention it’ll prime your automatic processes to be more selective to observe data related/in support of that intention.
- Humans have a few emotional needs in order to reach deep focus: 1. We need to not be distracted and we need to feel certainty that we will not be distracted. Before we are comfortable untaking the work to architect a giant mental castle, we need to feel confident that someone won't come around to kick it down. 2. At a more primitive, simian level, we need to feel that we're in a safe environment. It's hard to focus on code if you're worried that a tree is going to fall on you or a lion will drag you off into the jungle.
- Energy management is so much more important than time management. what gives you energy, and what drains you? Make sure you have enough energy for the important things.
- Once you have more than one crisis in your brain it is very very hard to focus on much of anything.
- Managing personal motivation is the absolute hardest skill to acquire and maintain. I only know of two things that help: 1: Just start on ANYTHING every day related to your goal, and 2: Surround yourself with people doing things way cooler than yourself. Competition is good.
- Urge to over-complicate a simple task by turning it into an ambitious project, until you get so overwhelmed/intimidated by the massive (uneccessary) undertaking that you abandon ship and never return.
- There’s this concept I like called the 85% rule. Apparently when athletes are told to run at 85% capacity, they run faster than if they're told to go 100%. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but relaxing and not being so serious can go a long way for productivity.
- Maker's schedule
- Productivity - Amazing post by Sam Altman. (HN)
- Shipping vs. Fiddling - Sometimes it's best to focus on getting things done and not fighting the tools/software.
- It or Nothing (2019)
- Be Too Busy to “Do Coffee”
- Ask HN: What tools/methods do you use to focus your time well? (2019) (Lobsters)
- Ask HN: How do you stay disciplined in the long run? (2019)
- How to Focus on What’s Important, Not Just What’s Urgent
- Prioritizing (2019)
- Lobsters: What is procrastination, exactly? (2019)
- The Power of Shower Thoughts: Trusting Your Mind to Work in the Background (2019) (HN)
- Ask HN: How do I overcome mental laziness? (2020)
- HN: Kick the Shit Out of Procrastination (2020)
- Noise, Cognitive Function, and Worker Productivity (2020) (HN)
- GTD in 15 minutes - Pragmatic Guide to Getting Things Done. (HN)
- Your Theme (2020)
- Warren Buffett's "2 List" Strategy: How to Maximize Your Focus and Master Your Priorities
- Procrastination is driven by our desire to avoid difficult emotions (2020) (HN)
- My weekly review habit
- How to finish your side project (HN)
- Deep Work and the 30-Hour Method for Learning a New Skill (2018) (HN)
- How to stop procrastinating by using the Fogg Behavior Model (2020) (HN)
- Thoughts on deep work (2020)
- How to Be Indistractable (HN)
- Attention is your scarcest resource (2020) (HN)
- Why Is It So Hard to Do Something That Should Be Easy?
- 'Ugh fields', or why you can’t even bear to think about that task (2020) (HN)
- Work on What Matters (HN)
- Ask HN: What is your trick to do deep work or study? (2020)
- What some of your goals are? Where you think you want to go, where you think things should be going. (2020)
- Jonathan Blow on Deep Work: The Shape of a Problem Doesn't Start Anywhere (2018)
- The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done (2020) (HN)
- How do you document and track your personal goals? (2021)
- 9 tips on how to spend time effectively & efficiently (2021)
- Me and ADHD (2020) (HN)
- How to be more productive without forcing yourself
- Phones and apps reduce your ability to focus even when they don’t distract you (2021) (HN)
- Why I'm unreachable and maybe you should be too
- Ask HN: Solo developer, what's your recipe to start working? (2021)
- Efficiency Is the Enemy (2021) (HN)
- Multitasking hurts performance and may even damage the brain (2018) (HN)
- In praise of structured time
- Programmers, teach non-geeks the true cost of interruptions (2014) (HN)
- You are Not Lazy or Undisciplined. You Have Internal Resistance (2021) (HN)
- TODO apps are meant for robots (HN)
- Dopamine, Smartphones and You: A battle for your time (2018) (HN)
- Laziness Does Not Exist (2018) (HN)
- Every productivity thought I've ever had, as concisely as possible (2018)
- Oliver Burkeman's Advice for Time Management (2021)
- Have a distraction log (2021) - Somewhere to write down all distractive thoughts as they arise to log them but keep working.
- Ask HN: Tips for more energy during day? (2021)
- Scattered thoughts on why I waste my own time (2021) (HN)
- The 5 Whys: get to the root of your productivity problems
- Ask HN: How do you force yourself to do boring tasks? (2021)
- Ask HN: How do you cope with being interrupted? (2022)
- Effortless personal productivity (or how I learned to love my monkey mind) (HN)
- Ask HN: What do you do to jump start your brain in the morning? (2022)
- Ask HN: Is ADHD Real? (2022)
- Structured Procrastination (1995) (HN)
- Ask HN: Have OCD, suffering from extreme procrastination, please help? (2022)
- Ask HN: Any scientifically proven techniques to boost concentration? (2022)
- How to Do Less (2022) (HN)
- Ask HN: How do I develop focus? (2022)
- Ask HN: How can I stop my inbox/wishlist/bookmarks/tabs/todos from growing? (2022)
- When Everything Is Important but Nothing Is Getting Done (HN)
- Ask HN: How do you stay focused at work? (2022)
- I don't have notifications enabled, nowhere and never (2022)
- Against Discipline (HN)
- John Carmack on avoiding distractions (HN)
- Controlling Your Dopamine For Motivation, Focus & Satisfaction | Huberman Lab (2021)
- Everyone doesn't work best at the same times
- 5-step exercise for week planning
- How to plan? (2022)
- Day in the life of Andrej Karpathy (2022)
- Ask HN: How to regain focus when you feel overwhelmed? (2022)
- Ask HN: How do you focus on work for long periods of time? (2022)
- My ADHD founder toolbox (2022) (HN)
- Ask HN: How do ADHD people cope on here? (2023)