Theories of productivity & inspiration

  • One of my most valuable productivity tools is a stack of Post-It notes. Not the smallest size, but the 3″ x 3″ squares. The top Post-It contains my to-do list for today, and today only. Because my day is a limited size, I figure it makes sense to limit the size of my to-do list. If I can’t fit the day’s tasks on the Post-It, I’m not likely to fit them into the day. But what about all the rest? All the phone calls, emails, and requests that come in during the day? Not to mention all the new ideas that pop into my head as I work? Good question. There’s a place for all of these things, and that place is the second Post-It on the stack, a.k.a. my to-do list for tomorrow. Unless something is seriously urgent AND important (e.g. an emergency request from a client) then I never add anything to today’s list once I’ve finalized it first thing in the morning.
  • There has been much discussion about the value of the “creative pause” – a state described as “the shift from being fully engaged in a creative activity to being passively engaged, or the shift to being disengaged altogether.” This phenomenon is the seed of the break-through “a-ha!” moments that people so frequently report having in the shower. In these moments, you are completely isolated, and your mind is able to wander and churn big questions without interruption.
    However, despite the incredible power and potential of sacred spaces, they are quickly becoming extinct. We are depriving ourselves of every opportunity for disconnection. And our imaginations suffer the consequences.
  • Everything Explained Through Flowcharts by standup comedian and book designer Doogie Horner goes by the tagline “All of Life’s Mysteries Unraveled” and flowcharts the way to everything from world domination to getting laid to the religion that offers the best afterlife.
  • Everyone is aware of how significantly Facebook has impacted modern technologies such as online communication, information aggregation, and boyfriend stalking. Less noticed, but just as profound, is its influence on art. Just as refinements in mirror crafting led to an increase in self portrait production during the Renaissance, Facebook’s steady, unrelenting invasion of every crevice in the civilized world has led to a new renaissance in portraiture, notable for its creation by people who wouldn’t know good art if it friend requested them.
  • Jane McGonigal takes to our pulpit to challenge our assumptions about games as ways to “pass” or “waste” our time – and argues instead that we are never more productive than when we are immersed in a good game. What, exactly, do we produce when we play a good game? Positive emotions – like optimism, curiosity and wonder; collective intelligence; and a stronger social fabric. In this sermon, Jane urges us to become more productive in what really matters in life – happiness, resilience, and meaning — by spending more of our time playing bigger and better games. (tags: schooloflife Jane_Mcgonigal)
  • Believers and non-believers alike celebrate the existence of forces larger than us: the creation of the world, the stars in the sky, the fact that we exist. But in the business of living, it is easy to forget to cultivate our sense of wonder in the stuff of everyday life. In his career as a philosopher, scientist and practising doctor, Raymond Tallis has had more opportunity than most to experience the astonishing capacity of the human body and mind. In this talk he reminds us that wonder is the only appropriate response to the complex miracles of ordinary existence and encourages us to cultivate curiosity, embrace puzzlement and be excited by all that is surprising and strange.
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