“The More You Do the Better You Feel” by David Parker

Book Notes

Just Do It (and you might find out it wasn’t all that much work) #

You get a task.

You dilly dally on it. Find other things that you need to work on.

But that task sits in the back of your head, draining a little bit of your energy over a long period of time.

Eventually, you get to it and then you kick yourself because that huge task wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

From “The More You Do the Better You Feel” by David Parker:

However, as soon as that warm glow of satisfaction began fading, in its place I began reviewing, examining and criticizing the efforts that had brought that job to a close: “Why didn’t I finish it sooner?” “It really wasn’t that difficult, was it? Why am I so dumb?” “What’s wrong with me?”

Don’t spend more time planning and worrying about something than it will take to actually do the thing.

Which reminds me of this quote I saw on Instagram the other day.

“The best use of imagination is creativity, the worst use of imagination is anxiety.” — Deepak Chopra

Imagination goes in.

Up to you to decide what comes out.

Some thoughts on the J.O.T. method (with Apple Notes and an iPad Pro) #

I’m slowly feeling a bit more productive day to day.

I’ve gone back to the J.O.T. method from “The More You Do The Better You Feel: How to Overcome Procrastination and Live a Happier Life” by David Parker.

It’s dead simple: write the next thing you plan to do, then do it.

It feels a little like taking that to-do list advice of writing some easy things or some things you’ve already completed to get the momentum going.

I’ve gotten to where I’m writing things like “go grab coffee”. And it’s not a Starbucks run, it’s that 1 minute trip to the kitchen to pour iced coffee from the fridge into a glass.

Then I’ll come back and write “open Docs” and then open Docs and then the next thing on my J.O.T. list is “write for 10 minutes”.

It’s really that granular. I understand how it sounds as I’m describing it. But it feels like it’s working.

By the end of a few hours doing this, there’s some satisfaction in seeing that I, in fact, did… something.

Some guesses to why it works:

  • You’re checking in frequently so you’re building awareness of where your time is going and you can steer back on course if you’re going on course
  • You’re getting tiny tiny bursts of motivation because it’s satisfying to cross things out
  • You can write really really easy things down so you can get a few layups (see the ball go through the hoop and all that) between tackling bigger things

It’s harder to have an unproductive day if you’re able to make the effort of writing everything you’re doing down.

I’ve been doing this on my iPad with Apple Notes:

J.O.T. method with iPad Pro

It definitely reduces clutter and having stale Post-Its all over my desk and then finding them on the floor here and there or in my pocket.

I set the iPad display sleep timer to 15 minutes, the largest increment before infinite. I’ve tried infinite before and would usually just forget I had it on without having it plugged in at some point and would come back to a dead iPad on most days.

15 minutes is good because I’ll usually write things down that are shorter than 15 minutes.

Apple Notes is just the most convenient app to write with on an iPad and sync is rock solid. (It’s always had great feeling pen/pencil tools.) It also feels like using a legal pad vs. being precious with GoodNotes/Procreate/Notability/etc. where it feels like using a precious precious Moleskine page or something like that.

The GoodNotes/Notability notebook paradigm is a bit heavy for this J.O.T. use case. Procreate has flat files but I’ll tinker way too much with pens and canvas size.

For now, Apple Notes just works.

At some point I’ll graduate back to a more sophisticated task management system.

For now, J.O.T. just works.

Info Diet (Jan 26, 2022): Ali Abdaal, Oliver Burkeman, and “The More You Do The Better You Feel” #

Okay just popping the editor open and writing. Back to basics. Kindle notes on the left. WordPress editor on the right.

Instead of having a to-do list that, you take a blank page, write one thing to work on, finish it, cross it off, then write the next thing that you’ll work on. I’m still reading the book but I jumped around to find a description of the technique. From “The More You Do The Better You Feel”, the “Just one thing” method:

You work on the task immediately after writing it down. And these tasks can be super easy. (Example from the book: “Put DVD away”.) In Stephen Curry’s MasterClass, he talks about how he doesn’t come into the practice gym and start bombing threes. He starts with lay-ups and works his way out. The J.O.T. method is like getting right back next to the hoop and building your confidence back up. If you’re a well oiled productivity machine, you don’t need to resort to the J.O.T. method. But if you’ve found yourself completely distracted for days on end, start feeling bad about how little you’re getting done, then ending up more distracted because you’re feeling bad… …time for lay-ups. Some other things that this could help with:

  • You can skip prioritizing and overthinking things that you need to do. Take care of that when you’ve built up a little confidence.
  • You can get some reps in with seeing how short or long things take. One of the all-too-familiar scenarios he describes is choosing to go out and buy disposable plates and utensils because it’s easier than washing dishes. This takes 40 minutes. Then—you do eventually have to wash the dishes—he sees that it takes much less time than expected.

Anyway. Listen to Ali Abdaal and Oliver Burkeman, then go read “The More You Do the Better You Feel” to get some ideas for becoming productive again, then come back to “Four Thousand Hours” to remind yourself that productivity isn’t the ultimate goal. (So you don’t end up feeling too badly when you’re in an unproductive phase.)