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I was wrong about productivity


I have written multiple blog posts about productivity and how I get done with my tasks, iterating systems after systems to find the right one yet wasn't satisfied with the results that I am having.

Something was off here and I realized a pattern here: if none of those systems are of use, then is there something wrong with my approach towards creating a system or is there something wrong with me in general?

When reality hits you

Saturday 5th of March 2022 I have met someone I haven't seen for a long time (more than 6 months). Upon counting the days between the last time I saw this person and now, something clicked in my mind: I haven't done anything worth noting about between those days, giving excuses one after another without doing the things that I have planned for. This exact moment made me take into consideration that everything in my life is not in the right order and I have been fooling myself into thinking that creating a system after another would solve the issue but it didn't.

One book changed my entire perspective about life

Sunday 6th of March 2022 I have binge read 250 pages of one particular book that changed my entire life: Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. The book spoke to me directly as if it was destined to read this book after this phenomenon.

Everyone on this planet gets 4000 weeks in life regardless who you are. Instead of focusing to optimize our days and to achieve the "inbox zero" achievement because that day will never arrive at all, we should understand human limitations like procrastination and FOMO (fear of missing out) and to accept that our time is finite, we don't have infinite amount of time but our time is limited hence wasting your 20s sipping martinis and partying has huge consequences that people don't understand on the long run which explains the fact why I am willing to dive into the risky things in my 20s, because once we hit our 30s with more responsibilities and commitment like having a family and kids to raise, we become unable to do much in life.

Our anxiety is generated from thinking we are wasting our time which Martin Heidegger called "Finitude", we get frustrated for the wasted time that we are willing to numb our body and soul with alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism to not feel guilty in life, it is a vicious endless cycle that gets broken once we become aware and conscious about ourselves and the actions we do (which explains why I have been daily journaling for the past 3 years of my life).

Caring about focus is a fools errand

We can't own our focus no matter what you do, every single self help and productivity book emphasizes the importance of finding focus in the digital world where social media companies are willing to pay huge amount of cash to make you care about things you don't tend to care about in the first place to make more money out of you.

We can't own this focus, it is in our nature to drift away from what we are doing and start to do something else like you can't sit down in-front of a screen for 6 hours non-stop otherwise you are a machine. Procrastination is unavoidable, FOMO will occur because social media makes us feel guilty for missing out because it is guaranteed that you will miss out on everything regardless if it is useful or not.

We should accept these actions and not dwell on the fact that sometimes we face with them, it is normal.

There is no shame settling down

A good portion of those self help books emphasize that you should never settle down regardless if it is a job or a relationship. You should maintain that "material girl 💅🏻" lifestyle that we should aim for the better and never settle for less.

While reaching higher levels or better circumstances is not something shameful but that "boring" job that you have puts food on the table and that "boring" partner is faithful, thinking that one days you will get that "perfect" thing will never come and we will waste our lives trying to find something that will never cease to exist in the first place. (Manifesting this thing won't make things better fyi)

In-fact there is no shame to settle down and accept the circumstances that you are currently enrolled with. You won't find that perfect job nor that perfect partner but having a "good enough" job will occur and it is un-avoidable, it is a matter of perspective to see those "good enough" things are the things that we need in our lives.

Existential Overwhelm

When we dwell on the time that we have wasted in the past, we start to focus on the things that we want to achieve in our lives by adding more responsibilities and more items on our bucket lists to achieve.

Down the line you will burn down like what happened with me the past month. I have made a system that treats my day as if I am a machine, I burned down to the point that I doubted myself as a failure in life but in reality I mis-managed my life to this position.

I want to achieve a-lot of things in my life and there is nothing wrong with it but doing them all at the same time won't reach anywhere even if you did them for a small amount of time everyday as a habit, you get drained by the amount of things that you need to keep in check every single day.

The Efficiency Trap

Even if you optimized your life to be able to do all those tasks, you will face this trap where you will be greeted with a new set of tasks tomorrow as if you are trying to catch up with the day to end on "inbox zero". Several days down the line and you will get burned down to a point that you feel your day is a drag than a blessing.

Less wants, less trouble

The internet gives you an infinite amount of information to focus on, we start to worry about the things we want to accomplish before we die and the irony is that we will never finish those tasks regardless.

The only solution is to set all those things you want to achieve on a list and focus on the most important things you are able to achieve thus you will have to focus on 2-3 things that are manageable rather than focusing on 15+ things at the same time.

Underachieve things

The more you are able to finish things, the more you will receive tasks to do this thing like the more emails you are able to reply to at a short time interval, the more emails you will receive.

There is no shame to take pride in those actions if you are doing them right but those tasks will take a good portion of your time which will make you feel that your day is meaningless.

Instead focus on doing the bare minimum when it come to those low level tasks and focus on doing more important tasks you wish to achieve. In Cal Newport's book Deep Work, he emphasizes on the fact that to be able to do something meaningful, we should dedicate a set amount of time that is considered as "deep work" to do this meaningful task but if you are juggling with these low level tasks all day long then achieving the deep life will become impossible hence achieve the bare minimum that is good enough to move forward with your responsibilities but focus on doing things that matter you the most.

Memento Mori, Amor Fati

The Stoics emphasized on the idea of death that one day we will die hence we should embrace every single moment as if it is our last. Rather than running away from the things that scares us, we should embrace challenges since they will bring the best out of our lives than living a life avoiding them, we might not know what good fortune might come up from that challenge.

Icarus and the Sun

Icarus was the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth. Icarus and Daedalus attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that Daedalus constructed from feathers and wax.

Daedalus told Icarus that he should not fly high near the sun because the sun will melt his wings and not fly low near the ocean because the ocean will drown you and your wings down.

Icarus didn't listen and went towards the sun, burning his waxed feathered wings and falling towards the ocean.

Moral of the story is that life is a gift and maintaining a balance with everything in moderation will ensure a long one. The wings represent life, the ocean represents extreme denial, and the sun represents extreme overindulging in yourself or activities. Flying in between is the answer to survive.

What will be my solution for this issue?

What I have in mind for this issue is to create an app that would let you focus on the important things in life. I have done everything on paper but automating a solution might benefit a good set of people especially that not everyone has the same motivation and discipline to do everything on pen and paper.

I might turn it into a business where I would offer it as a service, but I want to make it an open source project with a SaaS subscription for the people who don't want to spin up their own server.

This app will be my next project to work on in my free time.

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