Building habits is the best way to guarantee the long-term success. Having a habit means that your brain doesn’t have to spend much energy to perform a given activity. What’s more, the activity itself is usually the source of constant satisfaction. After all, you are doing something productive every day!
Normally, this is the best possible way to do something. You don’t huff and puff every day to achieve your goals. You are consistent and methodical. As great as this strategy is, it has one big disadvantage – it takes time. Not everyone has enough patience to do it. Not everyone wants to wait a couple of years to be great at something. That leads us to the second strategy.
Using external motivation
Even though the consistency is the key, a short sprint every now and then might help your progress skyrocket. This is what allows you to grow and develop fast – short spurts of concentrated focus.
Think about a physical development, for instance. If you do 20 push-ups per day, you will get bigger and fitter only for some time and then hit the wall. However, if you force yourself to put some more effort once per week, you will keep on growing and developing.
If you learn 5 words per day, then pushing yourself to do 50 words on just one day will more than double your learning pace. Will it frazzle you at the same time? Hell no. That’s just short sprint. You do it and then you’re back to your usual pace.
The thing is that usually it’s difficult to get a grip on yourself and actually do something.
That’s why you need a gentle reminder to get off your butt. A gentle kick, if you will. Actually, the truth is that you probably need a boot so far up your ass that it will act as a pacemaker.
And I am here to deliver this kick.
The Impossible Tuesday – What Is it All About?
The idea for the Impossible Tuesdays came to me over two years ago. I knew that I was doing a lot but I felt that I could much more. I just needed some reason. Something to force myself. This is how the idea of the Impossible Tuesdays came to be.
I decided that on this very day, I will always try to push myself to do something impossible. Something I would never do normally because it’s too tiring and uncomfortable.
Here are some of the things I managed to pull off on this day:
learning 800 words during one day
talking to myself for 6 hours in Russian
doing 400 push-ups
Unfortunately, somewhere in the turmoil of life I neglected this idea and stopped celebrating this day. Recently, however, I decided to revive it and to share it with you. The Impossible Tuesdays are our chance to claw our way through all the bullshit excuses straight to the finish line. This is one day per week when we will prove that we are not a weak, disgusting, spongy blob and
we can do things we have never thought we could.
We are damn tough and we will prove it. It can be one day a week which makes all the difference.
Bets as the primary tools of The Impossible Tuesdays
If you decide that you’re in. You should know how to properly push yourself to do the impossible. Bets are the perfect tool for this purpose. It doesn’t matter how much you love doing something, there is always some border which you won’t cross. It’s uncomfortable, after all. I sure love learning new words but usually, after getting to one hundred I call it quits.
If, on the other hand, you dislike doing something, you need a whip over your head to make you act. In other words, you need to put something at stake.
Here is how bets work:
Choose a GOAL you want to achieve
Determine your TIME HORIZON (1 day in our case)
BET with someone that you’ll achieve
Choose your PUNISHMENT in case you fail to deliver (20$ for example)
Keep in mind that bets are fully flexible. You can mold them and twist them as much as you like to fit your goals.
Now that you know how to flail yourself properly, it’s good to familiarize yourself with a couple of extra guidelines.
They will allow you to maximize your effort.
How To Make Your Effort Count
If you already do something, do 4-5 times as much as you usually do
Remember that the Impossible Tuesdays are all about doing the impossible. Demand from yourself.
If you normally do 10 pushups, do 40.
If you noramlly read 20 pages of a book, read one hundred. Make yourself sweat and squeal.
If you want to take up a new activity – just do it
If you have always wanted to do something but have been delaying it indefinitely – this is your day.
It doesn’t have to be anything huge as long as you start. Always wanted to learn Chinese but life got in the way? Do as little as 1 unit from a textbook.
Break it down into many sessions
Doing a lot of repetitions of any activity is straining.
That’s why make sure you always break the entire process into many chunks.
Don’t even think about knocking out 200 flashcards in one sitting. Try to do it in at least a couple of sessions.
Identify “the dead time” and use it
Dead time is the time spent doing activities which don’t absorb all of our attention.
Think about sitting on the subway or standing in line. These seemingly useless moments can usually be used to do some more productive stuff. Plan ahead and consider how you can incorporate dead time into your Impossible Tuesday.
What can you be on?
I can’t tell you what you should concentrate on. Only you know what’s important to you and what’s worth your blood and sweat and tears. I can tell you this – usually you should be doing the things you are actively avoiding. Brainstorm what that thing is for you.
Regardless of that, here are some proposals of the things you can bet on:
If you have any other suggestions, let me know in the comment.
The Final Words + The Invitation
Every idea needs a critical mass to gain motion. I don’t know if this will work out or maybe I will have to bury the hatchet in this idea. It’s up to you. However, if you decide to take part in, post your goals in the comments together with your bet.
If you can’t think of anything right now, think about it and post it later. On Wednesday come back and post your result as a reply to your original comment.
Who knows? Maybe this is the sign you have been waiting for!
If, however, you decide to bury this idea, know that you will have dirt on your hands. The dirt that is soaked in guilt and shame. The stains left by it will taint your soul permanently and they will never go away. They will keep growing until they spill onto your very existence polluting everyone you love. It will …
Ok, ok. No more guilt-tripping! Join me in the comments! We will see how it goes and hopefully, we will make it a permanent thing.
P.S. You can increase your chances of sticking to your plan even more by making yourself accountable. Tell somebody about the challenge or tweet #ImpossibleTuesday together with your goal!
Reading fast is certainly an amazing skill. And the very tempting one.
Can you feel the thrill of endless possibilities? If you just knew how to do it, you could read, like, 10 books per week!
No wonder speed reading is a huge business.
There are probably thousands of books written on the subject. And 99% percent are crap. Promises-flavored crap.
Sure, everyone would like to be the guy who picks up a thick book, thumbs it through in two minutes just to say, “Do they have to dumb down everything these days?”.
Can you become such a person? Definitely no.
Can you become a person who reads very fast? Yes.
However, if you are looking for a quick and easy solution, you will get severely disappointed. Let’s start with some basic fact to help you read books fast without speed-reading.
0) Speed Reading Is Bullshit
I know that some might take this statements very personally, or even be offended. “How dare you smear the good name of the speed-reading community?!”
However, it has to be said as it frustrates me endlessly.
Almost anywhere I go, I encounter opinions that it is perfectly possible. From Tony Buzan’s classic to Tim Ferris’ article, everyone claims that reading with a speed of 1000 words/min is perfectly achievable.
Some even go a step further. Comments under any article on speed-reading usually spiral into some bizarre contest.
“800 wpm (words per minute)? That’s laughable, man. Try getting to 2000 wpm, like me, to see what REAL speed reading is!”
Sounds great, right? Doesn’t work.
Before we get to the specific methods, I think you should know a thing or two about …
MY EXPERIENCE WITH SPEED-READING
I started my speed reading journey about 12 years ago. I have always been a great believer in capabilities of a human mind.
No wonder, I quickly got sucked into the speed-reading world.
Initially, I thought that I was a very fast reader It quickly turned out that my typical reading speed of >300 wpm was pitiful.
Wouldn’t you feel that way?
You start reading about people who underwent a special kind of speed-reading training. About some sort of super-geniuses, or so I thought, who can read with 3000 wpm or even 8000 wpm?
I felt inadequate.
I started reading every speed reading book I could ferret out. There were good books and there were terrible books.
Ok, mostly they were terrible.
Some titles sound as if they were concocted by a shitfaced magician.
Here are some of them. But just a word of warning. Don’t buy them. They are crap. Go get yourself drunk instead. Or buy your horse a three-piece suit, It will be better use of your money
A Course in Light Speed Reading A Return to Natural Intuitive Reading
The Alpha-Netics Rapid Reading Program
The PhotoReading Whole Mind System
Did I get better?
Yep. At least in some way.
After a couple of weeks of training, I could read with a speed of 1000 words per minute. Then I pushed myself even more and I got to 1400 wpm.
There was just one problem, I couldn’t spot back then. The speed was there but I understood almost nothing
I guess Woody Allen summarized it quite brilliantly when he said, ” I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.”
It was a very disappointing experience, I needed some time to digest the burden of this conclusion.
When I did, it became clear that
1) Nothing worth reading can/should be read fast.
2) You can read fast but you can’t understand and analyze information fast.
That’s why, as far as I am concerned, anyone who is selling “photographic reading courses” should be pilloried while a fat dude named Stanley sticks a tongue in his ear (so-called “seashell”).
Ok, we got this covered. Let’s move on to the things which can actually help you read faster.
1) Know Thy Goal
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. –
FRANCIS BACON (1561–1626)
When in doubt, trust in Bacon. He was definitely onto something.
The very first thing you should do before you open a book, and a waft of paper hits your nostrils, is to decide why you want to read it.
It doesn’t sound sexy. I know. You are a bad boy and you’d rather slap that book open right away. However, you need to restrain yourself as it is an extremely important step.
You might not feel it, but your decision, subconscious or not, will weigh heavily on what your mind concentrates on. And on what you extract from the text.
You usually read for
So try to choose one of the said purposes.
Of course, sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the exact purpose of reading. Nevertheless, you always do your best to determine it as precisely as you only can
2) Separate learning from reading
You are ambitious. That’s great. That’s admirable.
And very likely it is an invisible burden which hovers over your head and stops you from reading faster.
Let me guess. You are trying to read and analyze information at the same time?
You see something thought-provoking, adjust your monocle and say, “Oh my, utterly marvelous. Let’s ponder over it for a while.”
Then if your goal is to read faster, you are setting yourself up for failure. There is one crucial lesson here, you need to understand.
Reading is not learning. Learning is not reading.*
*it’s a good tattoo idea if you ever need one
Your brain is not a computer. It can’t switch effectively between two absolutely different activities.
Do it for a short period and you will burn through all the glucose stashed in your brain.
A headache, the feeling of general fatigue, malaise and so on. After a while, your brain becomes impervious to new information.
This method of reading is simply not very sustainable.
Mind you that I am not saying that you can’t read and learn at the same time. I am just stating a simple fact that it is not a very effective method of reading.
To be honest, I have struggled with this problem for quite some time until the two beautiful words dawned on me.
I am sure you are familiar with the term but just to be sure.
Batch working is a process of grouping items because they are similar, or because we plan to do something similar to them.
For instance, it wouldn’t make much sense to make a huge omelet without preparing products beforehand. Can you imagine how ineffective it would be?!
“I need twenty eggs to make this omelet”
*takes two and cracks them open into a bowl*
“I need two more”
*opens a fridge and takes another two*
Doesn’t it sound frustrating?
This is why you should always try to group similar tasks together.
This is what you should do – this is the method which, I am pretty sure, saved my sanity.
1) First mark/highlight
Whenever you stumble across something that is
you don’t agree with
mark/highlight it in some way.
Jot it down on a margin or copy it into some file.
Don’t try to dismantle any of the concepts you have read about. The time for that will come.
Done? Good. Keep on reading.
Marked another fragment? Good. Keep on reading.
After reading a certain number of pages, set aside some time for a more detailed analysis. Go crazy, analyze the heck out of everything.
Refute, digest, criticize to your heart’s content.
Learning is demanding enough on its own. Don’t mix it additionally with reading.
3) Learn what you read
This one comes from a very frustrating experience.
About two years ago I was binge reading even 3-4 books per week. Of course, being a sensible learner, I took notes and scribbled my remarks about everything even mildly interesting.
In quite a short period, I amassed notes from over 40 books. The bad luck had it that I hit a rough patch and didn’t have so much time anymore.
After everything settled, I came back to reading.
I didn’t do anything with the notes, mind you. They just sat soused in my notebook.
Fast forward year and a half, I was reading some interesting excerpt from a book on the cognitive neuroscience. My eyes lay on a particular sentence which solved one of the biggest obstacles I had at the time concerning my memory experiments.
I was freaking ecstatic!
The worst part?
A couple of months ago, I finally strapped myself to a chair and started going through the aforementioned notes.
A couple of minutes into the reading, I saw it. There it was. Guffawing blatantly at my helplessness.
The same damn fact.
The miracle solution was there all along. I just didn’t learn it. In the process, I wasted myriads of hours on useless experimenting.
Before you move to the next book, learn what you read before.
It makes perfect sense. Even more so if you want to specialize in some area. Your average author spends hundreds of hours researching his book or summarizing his knowledge.
Without notes, you will spend dozens of hours reading it and end up with almost no knowledge. You will remember just a couple of main things. Nothing more.
And it would be a damn shame.
Thanks to this strategy, your ever-growing knowledge will help you go quickly through most of the books.
It’s not unusual for me to read a 400-page book in less than two days. There is simply not enough new information for me to absorb.
It would be tantamount to kneecapping myself and expecting to run.
If you care about being good in the area of your choice, always try to master every word you encounter.
6) Build Core Knowledge
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. – MORTIMER J. ADLER
I can safely assume that whatever you read, you read because you want to learn more about. Or you want to master a given field of knowledge.
In any case, you should know that initially, your pace of reading will always be slow. But that’s good.
Slow is new fast. This deceptive sluggishness is the speed of light in disguise.
Look at this excerpt.
In an imagery study by Okado and Stark (2003), increased PFC activity for false memories was localized to the right anterior cingulate gyrus. Given the role of the anterior cingulate in response competition and conflict (Kerns et al., 2004), the authors concluded that this reflects the increased effort involved in incorrectly endorsing an imagined item as “seen.” ERP studies also support the conclusion that frontal regions may distinguish between true and false memories, and be engaged in greater monitoring and evaluation associated with false retrieval (Curran et al., 2001; Fabiani, Stadler, and Wessels, 2000; Goldmann et al., 2003; Nessler, Mecklinger, and Penney, 2001; Wiese and Daum, 2006).
This is a typical excerpt from a book on neuroscience. If you have no scientific foundation, it can be hard for you to read even a couple of pages from such a book. Let alone an entire book.
This is precisely where building core vocabulary and knowledge comes together.
It’s one thing to get familiar with the nomenclature. But do you really understand how these terms interrelate?
Do you understand, at least superficially, what is their function?
If not, you have to analyze it. Only then can you move on.
It’s not fast. it takes time. But there is not even one discipline in this world where you can skip basics
7) Read a lot
The more you read, the more efficient reader you become. The reader who knows ins and outs of different styles of writing. The one who knows when to skim and when to read deep into a text.
These benefits alone explain well why you should try to read as much as possible, But there is one more reason.
The spiral theory of knowledge.
But what is it?
The spiral theory of knowledge describes a fascinating phenomenon.
First, when you encounter a certain idea, you might not notice or comprehend it. Not fully anyway. Then you move on to something else. You learn other subjects, read other books. Then, after some time, you encounter the same idea again and only then can you get your Eureka moment.
“How could I not understand it before?! That was so easy. The answer was there all along!”
And that’s a great question.
How come you didn’t understand this concept before?
Your knowledge was to blame. At the time, it was patchy and full of gaps.
You were simply not ready to comprehend the full scope of the idea then.
The potential answer to whatever questions that might be bugging you, consciously or subconsciously, lies in yet another book.
Yes, there is a door behind the door. But you will never know if it has the answer written on it until you open it.
8) Use the knowledge you learn
Many people love to brag about the number of books they read every month. They are like beautiful shiny badges. The phenomenon is so well-known that Issac Watts wrote about it in his book “The Improvement Of The Mind” in 1821!
Such persons are under a great temptation to practice these two follies. (1.) To heap up a great number of books at a greater expense than most of them can bear, and to furnish their libraries infinitely better than their understanding. And (2.) when they have gotten such rich treasures of knowledge upon their shelves, they imagine themselves men of learning, and take a pride in talking of the names of famous authors, and the subjects of which they treat, without any real improvement of their own minds in true science or wisdom. At best their learning reaches no further than the indexes and table of contents, while they know not how to judge or reason concerning the matters contained in those authors. And indeed how many volumes of learning soever a man possesses, he is still deplorably poor in his understanding, till he has made those several parts of learning his own property by reading and reasoning, by judging for himself, and remembering what he has read.
Don’t be one of those people.
Try to find even the slightest use, if it is only possible, for whatever that is you’re reading.
Impress someone. Help a friend with some problem. Find a better job. Anything will do.
Just don’t let it go to waste,
As I did for such a long time.
Years ago I used to learn every single fact about anything. Literally anything. And I am sad to inform you that it was mostly wasted effort.
I don’t remember almost anything I learned.
Why would I?
My brain didn’t find this knowledge useful. I didn’t find it useful. And so it had to go.
We are wired to follow the path of the least resistance. No wonder. We are drawn to, seemingly, easy solutions such as speed-reading.
But you already know the truth, don’t you? There are no easy fixes. There are no easy solutions.
And yet it is still possible to read fast. Even very fast.
But first, you have to put effort into building a foundation.
The very same effort which will make your newly acquired skill taste so sweet.
If you ask almost anyone, he will tell you this – “Building durable habits is damn hard”.
I find it really fascinating! We have literally dozens of automated routines which we carry out throughout the day.
You wake up – you brush your teeth. You hear your mobile buzzing – you reach for it to check a new text message. You pass the confectionery, start drooling, run inside and shove your head into the nearest cake.
Yet, just a few of them are truly positive and life-changing. I mean, it is understandable if you really think about it.
Our default mode is energy conservation. My brain, your brain, every brain is the same.
It doesn’t give a flying f* about coming up with new ideas or creating new learning systems. You have to trick it into doing it.
What Habits Really Are
Once again – your brain couldn’t be bothered less to learn Swahili or another language which you don’t have any contact with. That requires energy. And energy is in short supply.
Basically, any new activity which you take up is very energy-consuming. There are no established, efficient neural networks which are able to diminish the energy costs.
Because this is exactly how you should start thinking about habits.
Habits are simply neural pathways. The more you strain them, the thicker they become. If they become thick enough, carrying out a giving activity goes into an autopilot mode.
It’s true for any kind of activity. Lick your foot every time you have a glass of water and soon enough you will find yourself doing it in the most unusual places.
How To Build Durable Habits
One of the frameworks which I teach my students is this (interested in other super-effective ways of creating habits? – click here):
0) Be brutally honest with yourself
1) Decrease activation energy of an activity
2) Remove / minimize distractions
3) Set goals at the absolute minimal level
4) Tie a new habit to the preexisting routine / habit
Let’s see how these elements come together.
Be Brutally Honest With Yourself
Although it is not really a part of the framework, it is definitely a prerequisite.
You know that feeling when a person close to you regularly does something stupid?
You try to beg, plead and bargain to prevent him from doing it. You appeal to his common sense. All in vain.
Usually, you get lackluster, “sure, I think I will try it”, in return. Which, of course, is just another way of saying, “no way in hell I am doing that”.
But it’s easy to notice such a headstrong attitude in others.
But what about you and me? Isn’t that just the typical the-pot-calling-the-cattle-black attitude?
It is. It always is.
We are masters of rationalizations.
Warlocks of bullshit excuses.
I know I am. I consider myself very good at creating habits.
Still, every now and then I discover that I am feeding myself beautifully packed lies and excuses.
My writing. In last 3 months, I wrote 3 articles
3 articles. This is a joke. And the joke is definitely on me.
I have tried to justify it in dozens of ways. And they all sound so right.
“I would like to write more but I …
have to concentrate on my learning
on my composing
go out more often and meet people
concentrate on reading more
concentrate on my company
don’t have enough time.
The list goes on and on. I feel sick when I just look at it.
Only recently did I grab the hammer of truth and tear down this wall of mendacity. In the last few weeks, I have been writing at least 4-5 times per week. And it feels great!
How did I do it?
I followed my own advice!
It doesn’t matter what problem you have. The following framework should help you solve it. As long as you are honest, that is.
It’s also worth mentioning that some of them require some planning in advance. But you know – it’s well worth it.
Decrease Activation Energy Of An Activity
Would you jump 5 times right now if you wanted to, or if there was some reward involved? No doubt you would.
And one of the reasons why it would be so easy is the low activation energy of this activity.
The activation energy is the energy you need to start carrying out a given activity. The lower the energy, the easier it is to start doing it.
But how does it exactly work?
Imagine that you live on the fifth floor and you would like to start running 4 times per week. There is just one problem – your running shoes are in the basement.
Would you go up and down the stairs 4 times per week just to have a run? Highly unlikely.
That’s why, your first task is to eliminate superfluous obstacles which prevent you from taking up your desired activity.
Would you like to read a book in your target language 4 times per week? Great. Then always keep it handy.
Would you like to listen to songs in your target language every day?
Great, then download a truckload of songs on your mobile. It’s much easier to play them if they are just one click away.
Decreasing the activation energy of your future habits is a good start. But it is not enough.
You also have to make sure that you either eliminate all the distractions or increase their activation energy.
I know. It sounds very basic and you have heard about it 3472 times before. But this time, don’t just nod and do the things the old way.
This time, be a bit more strategic. Plan ahead the plan of actions.
Distractions usually fall into one of 3 categories:
1) Technological distractions
The main culprits which pull you away from your work are mobile phones and the internet. Shock, surprise, and astonishment! I know. It was hard to envision.
Walking one-third of a mile longer from home to the nearest tobacco shop to buy cigarettes was associated with increased odds that smokers would quit the habit in an analysis of data in Finnish studies, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Another great example of increasing activation energy to get rid of the unwanted behaviors is … donating organs.
Here is the excerpt from Money – Master The Game by Tony Robbins:
If you are in Germany, there’s about a one-in-eight chance you’ll donate your organs—about 12% of the population does. Whereas in Austria, Germany’s next-door neighbor, 99% of people donate their organs. In Sweden, 89% donate, but in Denmark, the rate is only 4%. What gives? Why such a disparity?
If you expect to hear some Jedi mind tricks which are used to manipulate the minds of Swedish and Austrian citizens, think again! The secret lies in the wording on the form.
In countries with the lowest donor rates, like Denmark, there is a small box that says, “Check here if you want to participate in the organ donor program.” In countries with the highest rates, like Sweden, the form says, “Check here if you don’t want to participate in the organ donor program.” That’s the secret! Nobody likes to check boxes. It’s not that we don’t want to donate our organs. That little bit of inertia makes all the difference in the world!
I hope you are convinced by now! Let’s move on!
Set goals at the absolute minimal level
Being ambitious is good. No, it’s great!
But here is the uncomfortable truth which we all have to face – we suck at predicting pretty much anything.
We can’t reliably fathom how much time we will spend doing something. We have no idea how much money we will spend the next month.
And we are terrible at predicting how difficult our goals are.
At the turn of each year, the flock of uber motivated people hit the gym.
Goal? Work out at least 2…, no! 4 Times per week!
It doesn’t matter that the last time they worked out was about 4 years ago. There is simply no time to f*ck around!
Of course, after about 1-3 months, depending on their motivation, they run out of steam. Going to the gym becomes a thing of the past.
It happens to the best of us. But why exactly?
Setting goals is, without any doubt, useful.
But goal-oriented productivity has one, gigantic flaw – It rarely acknowledges that you and I are human beings.
You have bad days. Days when just a mere thought of doing anything productive revolts you.
So you come back from work.
Instead of starting your language learning session, you put on your I-am-a-lazy-and-disgusting-slob pants and start watching The Game of Thrones with a bag of chips.
And, needless to say, you feel like “sh*t”.
Repeat the above scenario a couple of times and you will find yourself ditching any budding habit.
Even though I have nothing against SMART goals, I don’t believe that the productivity based on ambitious goals will get you far.
The most effective learners rely on systems.
Systems, on the other hand, are built of habits.
In order to create a durable habit, you should start with being consistent. And there is no easier way to become consistent than choosing absolutely minimal goals.
How To Choose Your Minimal Goal
What I would suggest is:
1) Choose the frequency of your habit 2) Carefully examine your resistance to a potential intensity of your soon-to-be habit
Do you know that overwhelming feeling of resistance when you think about some very ambitious goals? That’s your brain saying, “Nah, thanks. We need energy – let’s pulverize some chocolate pretzels and snort them!”.
It’s really easy to evoke this feeling. Test it yourself!
Imagine that your goal is to run 4 km 5 times per week. Or learn 150 new words every day.
Try to analyze incoming feelings and thoughts.
If these activities are beyond your current reach, you will experience the overall feeling of anxiety. The more ambitious the goal, the more resistance you feel.
That’s why, first of all, you should concentrate on being consistent in order to create durable habits The rest will come.
Here are some practical examples.
1) I want to learn a foreign language regularly
Depending on your current needs, you may choose one of the following goals:
Read one page of a book of your choice per day. Learn 3 new words per day. Listen to 5 minutes of radio.
If you feel the slightest prickle of anxiety, lower the bar even more.
2) If you want to run 3 times per week
Put on your shoes and walk at least 300 m away from your home. Don’t run. Just walk
If you still feel like running after covering this distance – go for it. If not, just call it a day. You did your job for today.
How Minimal Goals Turn Into Durable Habits
As you can see, these are not ambitious goals. You don’t set a bar. You basically put it on the damn ground.
That’s why your brain is really ok with it.
After all, such activities require almost no energy – hence the lack of resistance.
And this is where the gist of this method lies. You should choose your goals so that they don’t trigger “No way in hell” response.
But am I really suggesting that you only do these tiny things throughout the day? Of course not.
I love pushing the boundaries.
800 words per day? Hell yeah! Getting headaches because of overlearning? Yes, please.
The thing is that the secret about doing anything regularly is showing up.
You have to let your neural networks strengthen enough so you don’t have to even think about doing something anymore.
Because this one day break is not a separate point in time, nor is it an unconnected incident. It actually affects the person you are trying to become.
Here is the amazing thing about being consistent – you build your endurance over time.
Even if you do as little as learning 3 words per day. Even if you run just 60 meters.
After some time, you get used to the intensity of your actions. And with the same amount of effort you can actually learn 6 words. And then 10. And then 50!
I still remember vividly the feeling of terror I felt when I thought about learning 20 words per day! It seemed like an impossible thing to do.
Many years have passed and these days, I consider myself lazy if I do less than 40-50 words per day.
Here is the quote to ponder:
“‘We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training” – Archilochus
I will repeat once again. We suck at predicting almost everything.
Most of the time you might be convinced that you will perform some action. However, when push comes to the shove you fall flat like a hockey puck.
But if you do just a tiny bit day by day, you will create the system.
And make no mistake – having a learning system based on habits makes you a truly unstoppable human being.
Because systems are, most of the time, immune to any internal and external obstacles.
Years ago when I used to spend a lot of time at work.
You know the scenario. 10 hours at work, 2-hour commute.
You come home angry because the public transport sucks and a bunch of semi-retarded teenagers were blasting music through their mobile phones.
What’s fascinating is that even then, I grabbed a quick bite and started poring over books.
I didn’t really think about it. It was an impulse. As if a little geek inside me was telling me to do it.
It’s admirable but it’s not as difficult as you might think. It’s just a habit.
The one which took some time, of course. The habit nonetheless.
In fact, according to a Duke University study, 45 percent of a person’s behavior stems from habit alone. And it’s difficult to change a habit if you don’t even think about it any more! – The Coaching Habit – Michael Bungay Stanier
The beautiful part of forming durable habits is that you actually learn to love whatever you do. The habit actually becomes a part of your self-concept!
Tie a new habit to preexisting routine/habit
Here is not so complicated logical loop:
Building a habit takes some time. And until a given activity becomes a habit, it’s not automatic. And if it’s not automatic, there is no certainty that you will remember to do it.
Tie your new habit to preexisting routines.
Of course, you can try to rely on your willpower but such a strategy is rarely successful. You don’t want to drive yourself to the point of decision fatigue.
Let’s say that you drink a cup of tea when you go back from work. It might be a trigger for your new habit.
Learn a couple of words every time you grab your cup of tea. In no time, you will discover that learning new vocabulary has become an indispensable part of your tea-drinking ritual.
Once you get used to learning new words every day, you can expand this mini-habit and tie it to other routines.
Although most of the time it won’t be necessary. Usually, after a couple of weeks, you will discover that your mini-habit turned into a durable habit!
You might actually start feeling anxious when you can’t indulge yourself in performing a habit of your choice!
Checking your e-mail doesn’t seem very harmful, right? Or any other site for that matter. I mean, it’s only like 2 minutes and you’re back in the saddle.
Ok, maybe after next 10 minutes you’ll check another website. Just one quick article and you get back to work.
After 4 hours it turns out that you haven’t done anything. You also don’t know how you ended up watching a YT on how to cook dinakdakan.
You don’t cook. And what the hell is dinakdakan?!
Take a look at this quote:
We found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news — it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.
Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine
23 minutes and 15 seconds. That’s a scary number if you ask me. Of course, this is just one of the statistics. I have seen plenty of other research indicating different numbers. But usually, it takes between 5-25 minutes to regain your focus. Having that number in mind, interrupting your workflow check a website or to send a text message doesn’t seem so harmless anymore.
It’s not our fault though. I believe that the technology is the true culprit. We are almost conditioned to check our phones or e-mail every couple of minutes.
We do so because we can’t allow ourselves to miss out on…what?
That’s the question! What possibly could we miss that is so important?
Nothing. Nothing will happen if we don’t check this one website. There is a really easy solution to eliminate this kind of distractions – block the websites which steal your time and distract you!
Don’t Give Yourself a Chance To Fail
Before I move to the list of my recommendations, I would like to warn you about the crappy argument I have heard so many times.
“Yeah, theoretically it sounds good but I actually want to do it ON MY OWN, with help of my strong will. I don’t want to rely on any stupid software!” (read more about forcing yourself to learn).
Ugh, BS alert activated. I feel sick every time I hear it. How has it been working out for you so far? We can rationalize basically everything. However, most of the times this is not logic talking. It’s fear.
I am scared. It’s cold and lonely here without the cordial, digital touch of the internet. If you acknowledge this fear, your battle with distractions is already half-won.
You can also look at it from the different perspective.
If you wanted to lose weight, would you place candies and cookies all over your flat? Would you sniff them every now and then and lick the glazing to reassure yourself about how great your willpower is?
Hell, if you were a junkie would you put a syringe in front of your face and try to “wait it out”. Don’t think so. It’s pointless to rely on your strong will in this case.
Here is the list of the most popular apps you can use to block the websites. I have used all of them personally (maybe besides Mac ones!) and I can wholeheartedly recommend all of them.
They definitely stand out from the mass of other apps of this kind.
Freedomis one of the oldest apps of this kind. It’s currently used by more than 1 million users. Throughout the years it has gained the support of, among others, Nick Hornby and Seth Godin.
It works on: Macs, Windows, Android (beta), and iOS (beta), Iphone, Ipad
It allows you to:
Block distracting websites
Plan out sessions that recur at the same time every week
Go cold turkey and block the entire internet when you really need to get work done
Highlights: It’s worth mentioning that is is currently the only distraction management solution for iPad and iPhone. It’s also the only app which can cut off your internet access.
Cost: Basic version is free. The premium version (which allows you to cut off the entire internet is 10$)
“LeechBlockis a simple free productivity tool designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day.”
This is the add-on I use the most. It has saved me countless hours and helped me overcome my meme websites addiction.
It is also very easy to use – all you need to do is specify which sites to block and when to block them.
It works on: Mozilla FireFox
It allows you to:
specify up to six sets of sites to block, with different times and days for each set.
block sites within fixed time periods (e.g., between 7am and 2pm), after a time limit (e.g., 14 minutes in every hour), or with a combination of time periods and time limit (e.g., 10 minutes in every hour between 9am and 5pm).
set a password for access to the extension options, just to slow you down in moments of weakness!
block entire sites
blok specific subdomains / paths / pages
block websites using wildcards (e.g., *.somesite.com) and exceptions (e.g., +allowme.somesite.com).
track of the total amount of time you have spent browsing the sites in each block set.
My routine is to block the most distracting websites (in my case: YT, my own websites, FB, e-mail, Wikipedia, meme websites) from 8 am till 10 pm.
The only website I block only from time to time is my Gmail account. Sometimes I simply need to send an e-mail in the middle of the day.
RescueTime is a great app for everyone who is really serious about their productivity. It is definitely the most advanced of all the apps mentioned in this article. Especially tracking-wise.
The bad news is that most of the cool features are a part of Rescue Time Premium. However, it’s money well-spent if you ask me!
LiteVersion allows you to:
Track time in websites and applications
Get a weekly email report
3 month report history
With Rescue Time Premium you can:
Track time away from the computer (meetings, phone calls, etc…)
Get alerts when you achieve your daily goals
Block distracting websites to stay focused
Keep a log of your daily accomplishments
Get access to more detailed reports and filters and unlimited report history
Cost: Basic version is free. The premium version is $9 a month.
Self-Control is definitely not one of those flashy, packed with features apps. It only blocks distracting websites but it does it well and it’s reliable.
It works on: Mac
It allows you to:
block entire sites
block specific subdomains / paths / pages
specify a period of time to block for
Highlight: It works on Mac. That’s something, I guess!
StayFcsdshould be your no 1 choice if you are a Chrome user.
It works on: Chrome
It allows you to:
block entire sites
block specific subdomains / paths / pages
block specific in-page content (videos, games, images, forms, etc).
Highlights: The Nuclear Option. Probably the best feature of this add-on. It allows you to block all the websites in the internet for a given amount of time. Only for the desperate!
I hope these recommendations will help you save some time!
Yeah, you heard me right. It is cold stone dead. At least for me.
Its demise came absolutely unexpected. There were no tell tales. No gloomy music heralding this event.
Because it wasn’t a process. It was an instant. It was enough to read one of the articles of Maneesh Sethi. It gave me a blueprint to refurbish my learning routine and tripled my productivity.
But before I get to that let’s take a look at two kinds of motivation.
Two Kinds Of Motivation
If you are driven by extrinsic motivation you do things mainly to receive a reward. For example, you might decide to get a new job because it pays better.
If you are driven by intrinsic (internal) motivation, your need to do different thing stems from the meaningfulness of the work you do. You don’t need any reward or compensation.
I have always believed that it is enough to feel this internal fire in order to achieve big things. But I was wrong.
I am quite sure that we are not motivated by good things. At least not as much as we would like to believe it.
What makes me say it?
Well, most things in life are pretty simple.
If you want to lose weight, you work out and keep a diet.
If you want to learn a language, you learn every day.
If you want to get a better job, you acquire additional skills or improve the ones you already have.
The final result is always crystal clear – you become fitter, more intelligent or successful. And you really DO want these things, don’t you?
Then why is it so damn hard to start acting?
Because the potential benefits are deferred in time. The day-to-day results you experience when you do any of the activities above are barely noticeable. So if good things don’t motivate us effectively, what does?
The fear of loss.
How Betting Tripled My Productivity
The logic behind this strategy is really simple. You will do much more to avoid loss than to receive a reward. Given that the loss is almost immediate, it’s not that strange.
One look at the real-life castaways, or desperate mothers who lift cars, can tell us how the fear of loss (of life in this case) can motivate us.
But you don’t even have to look that far. Let’s say that you want to learn 60 new German words today. You can either try to do it on your own or bet with me.
In the second case, you know that if you lose, you have to give me your favorite watch. Do you think you would lose? No way! These are just 60 words!
The simplest form of this strategy looks as follows:
Choose a GOAL you want to achieve
BET with someone that you’ll achieve it in x hours or days
Choose your PUNISHMENT in case you fail to deliver
Of course, there are some things you should take into account if you choose to use this strategy (and you should!). But first…
Here are just some random results I got thanks to betting within last 18 months.
I created this very website (with over 2k subscribers) you’re reading right now
I have been interviewed a couple of times (which is a weird feeling)
What problem keeps you up at night? What bothers you?
Maybe you don’t learn regularly. Maybe you procrastinate too much. Maybe you are too fat.
Identify the most important things you would like to change and set a goal.
2) Is your goal achievable?
You can bet about anything you want but you have to be sure that the goal is within your reach.
It shouldn’t be too easy. Such goals will rob you of your satisfaction. But they shouldn’t be too hard either. Such goals may nip your enthusiasm in the bud. If you want to bet with your wife that you are going to run 5 km today, analyze how much free time you have on your hands today.
3 hours? Great, then it is certainly doable.
When was the last you actually ran more than 1 km? During your studies? Then I have bad news for you… I hope you see what I am getting at. Always make sure that you are able to deliver.
3) Can you prove that you did it?
This is the key issue. You probably like to think about yourself as a guy who is squeaky clean when it comes to morality.
I know, I do too.
But trust me when I tell you that all morality goes to hell when the deadline of your bet is breathing down your neck with a musty stench of failure.
If you decide to learn 100 words today, you can send screen-shots of your Anki interface. The list goes on and on.
Sometimes it’s worth altering your bet a little bit in order to make it measurable.
If you want to bet that you won’t eat sweets all day, it will be nearly impossible to prove it. However, if you bet that you will lose 1kg until the end of the week, there will be no doubt whether you failed or not.
4) Is your punishment motivating enough?
Listen, if you bet with your buddy that you will give him 10$ if you lose a bet and you know that you earn 30$/h then who are you fooling? When the push comes to shove, you will probably shrug your shoulders and pay.
The thing is that you should be REALLY afraid of losing. The perspective of the potential loss should infuse you with fear. Not the paralyzing kind of course. But the motivating one.
Bet 70$. Or lend your car to a cousin you hate.
Come up with something which really makes you uncomfortable.
5) Can you be a sure that the other person will execute?
As a rule, I don’t bet with people who are mushy softies. I don’t want to hear, “It’s ok, I don’t need your money because I know you tried’.
I want somebody who will take my money and laugh in my face while doing so! “Thanks for the easy cash sucker!”.
I have a small group of 3-4 people with who I bet and that’s more than enough.
You can actually convince your friend(s) to bet with you as well. This way you will be motivating each other!
And now time for the bitter truth. Probably 17 out of every 20 people who will read this article won’t do anything (and I am being an optimist here).
Why? Because of excuses.
Wading Through The Excuses
Who doesn’t love some good ol’ excuses from time to time?
I find it fascinating when people approach me and complain that they have so many plans but they can’t get anything done. When I suggest this strategy most of them freeze and mumble one of the following reasons why they can’t do it:
Yeah, I know it works, I will definitely try it in the future (code word for “I will never try it”)
It won’t work because money is not that important to me (then choose a different kind of punishment!)
I don’t want to be forced, I prefer to rely on my willpower (how has it worked for you so far?)
What’s going on?! Don’t they want to change?
They do. OR at least they think they do.
But the thing is that most of them are simply afraid. Because once you place your bet, there is no turning back. You either deliver or pay up.
If you decide to use this method to boost your motivation, I’d love to hear from you and talk about your results!
Oh, one more thing. Do you know why I have written this article? Yep, bet (thank you John!).
Never enough time. There is never enough time to get in shape or learn a language. Or even when there is time, you don’t really seem to make much of the progress.
It doesn’t seem normal, right?
And it isn’t. There is a good chance you have contracted something I call “fluffoholism“. If you cringed, the reaction is fully justified.
That’s a terrible ailment.
Fluffoholicsare individuals who are very busy doing silly and insignificant activities. As a result, they either feel inadequate for not making progress or make some progress but can’t find time for anything else in their lives.
Of course, the truth is that we are all fluffoholicsto some degree. The person who would concentrate only on relevant tasks would seem like an absolute genius to us mere mortals.
Let’s get it over with. My name is Bartosz and I’m a recovering fluffoholic and this is what I have learned:
3 Categories Of Activities
I like to categorize activities in the following way:
1) Low-intensity activities
A counterpart of: lying in a cozy bed under a wool blanket with a mug of hot chocolate while your spouse scratches your head.
These are the tasks we tend to do the most. The “feel good” activities. The fluff which masks the real work. Usually, the things which have very little to do with making any progress.
Many industries prosper around these activities. It’s the obvious honey pot for the naive and lazy.
“Learn how to pick up a girl without washing yourself”
“Learn in your sleep”
“Lose weight by eating Tacos and marshmallows”.
In the world of language learning, it’s definitely Duolingo.
I get a lot of messages like this: “I have been using Duolingo for x months and I completed all the levels but when I talk to native speakers they don’t seem to understand me. Oh, also, when I read, I don’t understand most of the things.”
Sure, it’s motivating. And it’s a nice past-time to have. But it isn’t nearly as effective as a lot of other activities. Like speaking for instance. Other, almost evergreen and legendary language learning methods which allow an individual to achieve fluency include:
“Learning by listening”
“Learning by playing computer games”
“Learning by watching TV”
How to tell if I am doing these activities?
Typically, you can do them for hours. Without any particular signs of fatigue. That’s all you need to know. If you feel like “that was fun”, it’s not the real work. It also means that you spend 5-10 x more time than people who do activities from the third category and get comparable results.
2) Moderate-intensity activities
A counterpart of: getting out of bed and sitting down at the desk.
These activities definitely require some energy from you but they are not that tiring. It’s running 5 km when you already know that you can run 10 if you want to. You still need to put your shoes on. You still need to go out and sweat. But in the end, the overall progress is not so great
In the world of language learning, it’s a B2 level. You can talk and express yourself relatively fluently. You can read most of the articles you want. So you do. And you note down some words. But not too many because you’re already quite good.
How to tell if I am doing these activities? Usually, you feel that you have to push yourself a little bit in order to start. But once you do, it’s not that bad. Signs of fatigue tend to appear after 2 hours.
3) High-intensity activities (i.e. The Real Work.)
A counterpart of: being mauled by a bear and teabagged by the seven muses at the same time. It’s when you’d rather have a colonoscopy instead of carrying on with what you’re doing right now.
The absolute opposite of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach. It’s the “there is always something broken and I’ll find it” philosophy. It feels terrible. But it delivers amazing results.
How to tell if I am doing these activities? After you finish learning, you’re sobbing softly and want somebody to hug you. And you feel damn proud.
I like to think that it is our small Everest which we should climb daily.
It’s difficult to work hard and smart
I know that I should write every day in order to publish articles regularly. But I fail. Because they are never good enough. They are never inspiring enough.
I have read somewhere that an average time for writing an article is about 5 hours. It depresses me. It makes me feel like a failure. And I know I should come up with ideas daily. About 3 years ago I read on the blog of amazing James Altucher about the concept of becoming the idea machine.
The concept is simple – if you try to come up with 10 ideas per day, in 6 months your life should change significantly. 3 years down the road I’m still struggling to come up with 10 ideas once every 3-4 days.
It’s disheartening and it makes me feel like crap. But every now and then I manage to come up with great ideas. And my face lightens up when I send them to others. And I’m pretty sure their faces lighten up as well as these ideas change their lives. And that’s what it’s all about.
Remember – If you do not push, you are not practicing.
High-intensity Activities In Language Learning
One of the notoriously difficult activities in language learning is speaking.
On an A1-A2 level, stringing more than a few words feels like a crucifixion.
On a B1-B2 level, the challenge is to learn enough words (while improving your grammar) to be able to express yourself quite fluently.
On a C1-C2 level, the challenge is to constantly substitute the words you already know with dozens of other synonyms. It’s where you have to start saying “atrocity” instead of “that ugly thing”, or “marvelous” instead of “great”. (see The Word Substitution Technique)
It’s damn easy to play with Duolingo or Memrise for 1 hour. It’s much harder to actually open your mouth and start saying something.
I like to highlight my students as an example. If they want to learn with me , they have to accept one condition – they have to bet with me. Each day, from Monday to Friday, I have to get a 10 minute recording of them talking to themselves.
It’s only 10 minutes right? And yet, after 3 weeks their level changes drastically. It’s almost unbelievable. And magical! Ugh, I definitely overuse this word.
The side effect is that they probably hate me but, oh well – it works!
What would you do if you had more energy? What could you learn? Who would you help?
How often do you feel that you should do something but somehow never manage to do it? Of course, you WOULD and COULD BUT you feel tired or are not in the mood or … (insert some random excuse).
If I got a penny for every time my clients tell me “Nope, I didn’t really learn because ya know how it is”, I could buy a solid aluminum bat to whoop all those lame excuses out of them.
Where does your energy go?
There might be a lot of reasons why it is so. But have you ever considered that you are wasting away all your energy?
Concentrated energy is powerful beyond measure. It can be like a powerful laser beam of creativity and knowledge. Wherever you direct it, it spreads well-being and shoots up people’s IQ. But the problem is that usually, it’s not like a laser beam. It’s get diluted into hundreds of tiny rays which can’t do sh*t.
So where does your energy go? Why are you squandering it when you could do so much good in this world?
I’ve prepared a list of energy devourers. Stuff which might be as well called parasitic creatures feeding on every good fiber in your body and processing it into the grey lazy goo holding you captive in your armchair.
I’ve been guilty of all of them and I’m still trying to purge some of them from my life. And so can you. You owe it not only to yourself but to everyone who you’ve come to contact with.
I still remember when I read a 4h Work Week of Tim Ferris for the first time. It was like a door to the new world. The world of endless possibilities. But there was once concept which stood out. The concept of “information diet”.
Tim argued that you don’t need to read newspapers every day. Nor do you have to visit the news websites in order to be up-to-date. It was beyond me. “Does he not understand that I’m an educated person and I need to know STUFF?!”.
At that point in time, I was devouring every newspaper and weekly news magazine I could lay my hands on. Not only did I have to read them every day but I also had to read them cover to cover. No news was small enough.
If you find even a tiny bit of yourself in this description I beg you – stop! Stop doing it. You’ll never be up-to-date. You will never be able to keep up. But that’s not even the point. The point is that you don’t need it.
Will you become a better person by reading that the bomb exploded in Somalia killing 20 innocent children? Or that some psycho ran over a child and left him for dead? Or maybe you enjoy reading about the latest corruption scandals in your government? I hope not. I really do.
Because that’s the nature of news – they are supposed to be scary and negative. They are supposed to prey on our lowest emotions and instincts. We keep on coming back because we want to know about all the dangers which lurk in the dark. As if it was supposed to help you.
2) Social Media
Have you heard about the FOMO syndrome? It’s one of my favorites ailments of our modern times – the Fear Of Missing Out.
This terrifying voice in the back of your head which keeps on telling you that if you don’t check your Twitter or Facebook account RIGHT, FU**ING NOW you might miss some important piece of info. Or some funny quote. Or a picture of your friend doing something crazy things.
There are just two solutions which might help you
A) Delete your account.
You still have your mobile and e-mail box. Do it and save months or years of your life. I’m sure you wouldn’t like to see the following sum-up of your life in your final days
“Jim, what a loser he was, spent 6053 hours of his life on Facebook, 5300 hours on Twitter and 2000 browsing pictures of cats”
B) Start blocking it with software
It’s no shame to admit that you have no control over the use of social media. But if it’s true, and you don’t want to delete your accounts, try blocking them with this software:
There is also a third group, rare as legless unicorns – people who can actually use social media with moderation. But I don’t trust anyone who says so by default. Almost NOBODY has such a strong will.
I can’t entertain you with any personal story here. I don’t own TV and haven’t watched it since 2003.
I’m pretty sure that there is no purpose of having one. Why would you have to go through the trouble of watching hours of some worthless junk in order to see something interesting? You can find everything on the internet anyway,
“Kim Kardashian has a huge cyst on her right buttock who does a great impersonation of Gary Oldman” (disclaimer – I made it up). That’s worth reading. Maybe a little less than “allegedly lured by tacos, a man shot in buttocks by pellet gun”.
But seriously – how can anyone care enough to read this garbage?
It’s even worse when you realize that most of your conversations are made of bad-mouthing your boss or friends. If the gossip is the last thing standing between you and the awkward conversational silence, what does it say about the quality of these conversations?
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
5) Having an opinion (when it doesn’t matter)
You know the type. People who always have to have the last word. You begin a polite conversation and just a moment later their faces wear this demonic expression of madness. They start splattering saliva all around the table as their eyeballs turn white.
How can you not agree with them?! How dare you? Don’t you know that X is better than Y?! And how could you vote for W instead of Z?
My take? I take my part in the discussion or give advice when asked but at the first sign of any emotional uproar I back off. I don’t care enough to lose 30 minutes of my life and a big part of my emotional reserves trying to convince somebody. I have better things to do with my time.
6) Caring too much about what other people say and do
I don’t believe that you can force somebody into any kind of change. You can only let them know that you’re there if they need you. I’m trying to help anyone I can, both online and offline, but I’m not going to waste my time to shove my advice down their throat and convince them that it works.
7) Stop being jealous and comparing yourself
It’s still a bit of the problem for me. But in the past, it was much worse. “Why can’t I be taller or have more money?”. “Why everybody seems to know what they’re doing with their lives?”
It all started fading away when I began to work my ass off. You won’t have time to compare yourself to others when you concentrate on being better each day.
8) Learn how not to worry about the things you don’t have any influence on
Because why bother if you can’t change? I know quite a handful of people who live their lives through problems of other people. They worry that a friend of some distant friend is sick. Or that somebody they don’t even know had a car accident.
It’s sad. It really is. But that doesn’t mean that any part of your day should revolve around such events. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care. Or that you’re a cold-hearted bastard. You simply save your energy for the things you can change.
9) Curb your internet time
It’s fascinating. You have the biggest source of information in the universe at your disposal. Yet, most of the time you use it for some mindless entertainment.
I don’t know many people, myself included, who show any restraint when it comes to the use of the internet. I’ve tried a lot of strategies to somehow regain control over the way I use the internet. To no avail.
And that’s ok. I was too weak to do it and I accept it. I learned not to trust myself when it comes to this matter. These days I simply turn off the computer when I want to get more productive or simply block every single page that I consider a waste of time.