a real system

my productivity system
do something everyday. when you start something, do it everyday. like literally everyday. if you want to take on a new habit, a new project, a new endeavor, do it everyday. that is actually easier when starting out.


when you are starting out, the hardest part is not the act of doing something (that can be fun). the hardest part is getting to do something. let me explain inductively. new things are not part of your normal schedule. once you are doing something, you can continue doing it, especially because new things are sometimes fun. they are tinged with novelty.

if you want something to become a habit, integration is the biggest barrier. read that duhig book habits or take that free class from stanford. making something part of your normal schedule.

new habit? take a lesson from brushing your teeth. engrained schedules are the methods to success.

well anyway. who cares about that.
the main difficulty is getting the stuff done.

what are the issues with that? can you overtrain?
well of course you can overtrain, but what you can do to prevent that is train smaller. you do small things. instead of doing huge workouts on the same muscles everyday, you have three workouts. one day you might do chest and back, another day legs, another day arms. that way each area is getting a few days of rest between each difficult workout. for something like running, instead of running 3 miles once a week, run 1 mile everyday. total volume for the week will be higher and the body will respond more favorably to it.

i will get impatient. i want to train now.
patience my friend, patience. you have the rest of your life to train, if you follow my way. if you put yourself on a schedule of having to hit certain markers and you are falling behind, well, frankly, you haven't earned it. you need to earn the ability to run each day. you need to earn the ability to work out hard. if you do not have the musculature, skill, mobility, strength, support, then you are not allowed to work out that hard without injury. if you are getting injured, you are going too hard.

well i need to go hard.
well that could work in a short term, but it will breakdown in the long term.

i like going hard.
go hard at what you have earned. are you the kind of person that has started something, then stopped, then started something else, then stopped again? put the frustration of not being able to go hard into enjoyment when you are finally able to run one mile.

at the beginning of an activity, you have a lot of enthusiasm for it. you have a lot of energy for it. your body may produce chemicals related to enjoying novelty. eventually, the novelty wears off, and you are stuck without 'motivation' to do something. that is when you need to have had systems in place. without those systems, then you have nothing to go on.

so what goes into a system?
huge things. small things. everything is in the system.
a time and a place. number one. you need a time and a place, and that is why i will say, well the easiest and most straightforward way is to do something at the same time everyday.

i guess if i want to make this even longer, i can talk about setting up a system.
a system is something that has, well, components. and the goal of the system is maintenance of the outputs despite other inputs.

it starts with a time and a place. everyday at lunch, for example.
then you need the tools. you need to have your running clothes, a place to run, a pair of shoes etc. rarely do systems even reach this step of explanation. the rest of the document, pretty much no one is talking about.

so in order to have those things there, you actually need to make sure you have a way to get them there. it is not like you have a pile of laundry at work, you need to have them prepped each night, which means that you get home and at some point you see the empty bag near your door, you fill it with clothes for the next day. so you do this and one day, you forget the clothes. they might even be packed, but sitting on the couch.

you build in redundancies.

now you have your gym bag and when you get home, before you do anything else, before you feed the cat, check your email, turn on a coffee, you empty the old clothes into a hamper and put in new clothes. then you can take off your jacket.

let's say you find it sitting on the couch.

after you put in those new clothes, you put the bag in front of your door. so you literally have to walk over it on the way out for work in the morning. that would be hard to forget right?

and you keep doing these little things as you build up a system of improvements for exercising.

eventually you might reach the next stage, which is realizing that there are occassional attacks on time and place. you then block off time on your calendar so no one schedules meetings there. you feel weird about it, so you schedule recurring standing meetings called check up on XX IMPORTANT PROJECT and only invite yourself.

but the next stage is that, well you realize there are internal resources.
like you are too tired from the night before so you do not run. well in the short term, you stick to and lean on the commitment that you run everyday.
but in the long term, you need to fix sleep.

the next stage i've really only seen one group hint at. but what begins to happen with all aspects of your life, food, sleep, socialization, spending money, etc. is that they start to improve as you tweak things to maintain the running habit.

the only group i've seen talk about it is bicycling. i have not really seen runners talk about it as much, but it eventually does. you find that running is taking too much time that you do not have time to socialize. so eventually you might join a running club, where socialization is built in. you might also improve the way that you socialize so you get more 'socialization time' in without as much planning. or you plan your social activities while running. but the eventual easiest thing to do is integration.

i think, now after writing that, that most people do not talk about that because, well it sounds like upending the life, and that is scary. even if you have a difficult life, upending it can be worrisome. i do not know what to tell you, yet. except that improvement in your life is good, and change is inevitable, and five years from now, even three months from now, you will be better off having done this than not having done it.

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