In addition to having a to-do list, it’s also very beneficial to create a list of activities and habits not to do. This way, you can start breaking bad habits in order to free up time and energy to focus on good habits and creative work. Bestselling author, entrepreneur, and angel investor Tim Ferriss writes:
‘Not-to-do’ lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance. The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.
Here’s his Not-to-do list:
1. Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers
2. Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night
3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time
4. Do not let people ramble
5. Do not check e-mail constantly — “batch” and check at set times only
6. Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers
7. Do not work more to fix overwhelm — prioritize
8. Do not carry a cellphone or “Crackberry” 24/7
9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should
Ferriss’ list is a great starting point, but it’s also important to tailor your not-to-do list to you. Other not-to-do items can include not checking social networks till a certain time, or limiting the amount and type of media consumed throughout the day.
Being selfish doesn’t always result in an obvious display of self-interest. More often, selfishness can come across in subtle ways that sabotage our relationships with others. Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits offers some examples:
- When someone doesn’t clean up after themselves, you get irritated because you think you’re entitled to everyone acting the way you want them to act (being clean and considerate).
- When someone else needs help, you think first about how it will affect you, rather than how it will affect the other person.
- When something unexpected happens at work or in your personal life, you think first about how it will affect you.
- When people are talking, you think about how what they’re saying relates to you, how you’ve had a similar experience, what they’re thinking of you.
Read the rest of his post here.
Ever feel totally out of your depth? Like you’re due to be discovered for the “fraud” that you are? This is “impostor syndrome” — where we constantly feel like everyone around us has their act together and we don’t. The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman:
Achieve promotions, or win accolades, and you’ll just have more cause to feel like a fake. Enhance your knowledge, and as you expand the perimeter of what you know, you’ll be exposed to more and more of what you don’t. Impostorism, as Pacific Standard magazine put it recently, “is, for many people, a natural symptom of gaining expertise”. Move up the ranks and if your field’s even vaguely meritocratic, you’ll encounter more talented people to compare yourself negatively against. It never stops. “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find [me] out now,’” as some low-profile underachiever named Maya Angelou once said.
The solution, says Burkeman, is that our higher-ups should talk about their insecurities more. Admittedly, that’s a hard ask, so in the mean time just remember that everyone feels like an impostor, it’s not just you.
Read the rest of his essay here.
It’s an old businessperson’s axiom: you have to spend money to make money. But what happens when you have no money? Many aspects of the world cruelly require the very thing we need more of. The more people you know, the easier it will be to make friends. If you have chickens you can get eggs. If you have eggs you can yield more chickens. Facebook’s Julie Zhuo on how to break this vicious cycle:
One great line from Gagan Biyani’s talk last week has stayed with me: faking the chicken. It means doing whatever it takes to get the chicken in place so that you can start reaping the benefit of eggs.
Or, if you’re lacking confidence, fake it until you make it. Act as if you have conviction in what you’re saying even if the entire neighborhood’s butterfly population has taken up residence in your stomach.
Or, if something seems out of your capabilities, surround yourself with people that have done it before. Take inspiration from those who make it look possible, and maybe even easy. Trick yourself into thinking you already have the chicken.
At the end of the day, that’s life—the constant wrestling with and pushing of the self. The cycle of striving for better and better cycles, so that we can achieve something of meaning in an unfair world.
Read her entire essay here.
A common myth that still pops up is that you use one side of your brain more than the other, and whichever side you use denotes whether you are technical or creative. With so many articles still around to spread this old wive’s tale, the NPR Cosmos & Culture blog decided to cut to the truth. The answer?
It takes both sides to be logical and creative.
A left hemisphere advantage for math is mostly seen for tasks like counting and reciting multiplication tables, which rely heavily on memorized verbal information (thus, not exactly what we think of as “logical”!). And there are right hemisphere advantages on some math-related tasks as well, especially estimating the quantity of a set of objects. This kind of pattern, in which both hemispheres of the brain make critical contributions, holds for most types of cognitive skills. It takes two hemispheres to be logical – or to be creative.
However, it is true that we use each individual hemispheres for certain tasks.
Dividing up tasks and allowing the hemispheres to work semi-independently and take different approaches to the same problem seems to be a good strategy for the brain … just as it often is in a partnerships between people.
The bottom line?
But I think the answer to your question is that what we see across the pattern of asymmetries is neither a random collection of unrelated differences nor divisions based on one or even a small set of functional principles (e.g., the left hemisphere is “local” and the right hemisphere is “global” … another popular one). Rather, some of the underlying biology is skewed, and this has far reaching consequences for the kinds of patterns that can be set up over time in the two hemispheres, leading to sets of functional differences that we can hopefully eventually link systematically to these underlying biological causes, and thereby deepen our understanding of how the brain works.