Creating habits: how long does it take to form a habit?

A popular misconception which persists since the 1960s is that it takes about 21 days to change an existing habit or adopt a new habit. This magic number is used everywhere from advice columns to self-help books about creating habits. However, this is a myth. Where does it come from, and how long does it …

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Activation energy: the chemistry of getting started

In chemistry, activation energy is the energy that must be provided to result in a chemical reaction. The more energy is needed, the harder it is to start the chemical reaction. In work and life as well, we sometimes need to get over the initial hump of getting started. For instance, it can be hard …

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High-leverage activities: how to identify your energy multipliers

We all have an absolute limit on time. If you add up the number of hours you are breathing during a given week, the total will be the same for every single living human being on the planet, whatever their occupation or personal situation: 168 hours per week. Remove the weekends, and that’s 120 hours. …

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Time is not a measure of productivity

Not so long ago, most people were working at an office desk, and were expected to show their face every single weekday. Arrive at a certain time, take a lunch break, and stay late enough that people know you are working hard. Using principles from hourly work to define productivity in knowledge work has resulted …

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Pressure and procrastination

“I work best under pressure” is an unsurprisingly common statement in high-pressure work environments. But is it true we work better under pressure, or do we just work faster? Can certain types of pressure be beneficial to fight procrastination and improve performance? Peer pressure and procrastination In a study looking at the social pattern of …

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Structured distraction: how to make the most of your breaks at work

If you went to a traditional school, chances are you were told to avoid distractions at all cost: keep your eyes on the teacher, take copious notes, don’t fidget on your chair, and don’t let your mind wander. As adults, we have internalised this mantra and seek to be hyperfocused on our work. But our …

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From productivity porn to mindful productivity

The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. To put this figure into perspective, that’s about ten years of back-to-back work. So it’s no wonder productivity advice is so popular: we rightfully try to make the most of the time we spend at work. However, our desire to be more productive …

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The mindful productivity guide to intermittent fasting

When I first heard about intermittent fasting, my reaction was: “Wait, I’ve been doing this for years!” In fact, I have been skipping breakfast for more than fifteen years, simply because I don’t feel hungry in the morning. More recently, I have started experimenting with other intermittent fasting regimens. Intermittent fasting consists in alternating between …

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The power of the weekly review

Every Sunday evening, I sit down for a weekly review. It’s easy to mindlessly go through a task list without ever stopping to ask whether these tasks align with our goals. The weekly review is an opportunity for self-reflection and decision making. “The Weekly Review will sharpen your intuitive focus on your important projects as …

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The psychology of mindful productivity

Mindful productivity is a sustainable way to work and think. It’s not a product, it’s not an app, it’s not a system—it’s a flexible roadmap. While mindful productivity is first and foremost a set of principles anyone can apply to work better and think better, many of the habits and routines it prescribes are rooted …

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