10x Your Focus: Four Productivity Deadlocks No One Is Talking About

Energy management

All the time management skills, secret formulas, honest-to-god gurus, online course, or voodoo rituals (okay, maybe voodoo rituals) won’t make you successful. The only thing that will make you successful is your ability to intensely focus on work for an extended period of time.

The Problem With Energy Management

Intense focus burns a lot of energy. And energy is, sadly, a finite resource. [1] There is only so much energy you can expend during the day and only so much you can restore. Once it gets exhausted, you’re done. [2] Have fun giving in to temptations, [3] procrastination, and other naughty things that you do when no one else is watching.

Work Capacity As A Water Reservoir

Let us illustrate this energy concept a bit more. Consider your energy — or work capacity, to be a water reservoir on top of a hill. The deeper the tank, the more water it stores. Which means more water can run the mills in the valley during the day. The townsfolk are happy. The rye gets powdered into flour, the electricity runs, and everything works fine. Once the reservoir gets exhausted, however, everything comes to a stop.

Dopamine Lock

Dopamine is an organic chemical in your body that has an essential role in the reward-motivation circuitry. It makes you feel good. It developed to encourage you to do things that, in olden times, meant better survival. By olden times we mean 600 million years ago when our ancestors still looked like jellyfish.

Try A Low Dopamine Diet

The rules are simple.

  1. If an activity gives you unearned dopamine hit (sugar, social media) = avoid it
  2. If a fun activity has no clear stopping point (video games, tv series) = don’t do it

Tummy Lock

Unlocking your tummy is not only about what you eat, but how much and when you eat.

What you eat

Garbage in, garbage out.

How much you eat

Digestion has unwanted biological and psychological effects on us, productivity nutjobs.

Biologically

Stuffing your face with food stifles the blood flow to your brain and skeletal muscles by expanding the blood vessels in your gut. Once your belly is full, insulin is released to regulate the glucose level. Insulin causes brain fog and the feeling of sluggishness (as you know, after a big Sunday lunch).

Psychologically

Once the body eats a large meal, it considers the day to be a success and can begin to shut down. If the organism is full, there is no reason to move or think. “Why expend more energy? We already have everything we need.”.

Purpose Lock

A special kind of lock. It has unlimited potential and can even counter the adverse effects of tummy and dopamine lock. In this section, I will not only show you how it works but also suggest what you can do every day to deepen it.

Two-Faced nature of dopamine

Let’s return to our good old friend, the dopaminergic circuitry.

The place where meaning is born

Practically all “good” positive emotions in life emerge from pursuing goals. [7] If you don’t have a goal, or you don’t find it to be meaningful and worthwhile, then dopamine chemicals that keep you engaged won’t release. This will cause you to be deeply miserable, do subpar work, or even quit altogether. It is challenging to consistently invest a lot of effort into work you don’t find to be meaningful.

Finding Your North Star

It is challenging to find your calling. In a sense, you can never honestly know it. However, no matter where you are in life, your ultimate purpose leaves breadcrumbs on your way. These manifest in your life as interests. Follow them. Even if they lead you in a dead-end, at least now you moved somewhere. The world will look different from here. Find another breadcrumb. Keep moving. You will get lost a lot in the beginning. Don’t be afraid to experiment and change direction completely. The more experience you accumulate, the better you will be at knowing yourself, which is not much different than knowing your calling.

  1. What are your values? Who do you look up to? What are his/hers values? Chances are you see an unexpressed part of yourself in the people you admire.
  2. What type of person are you? Are you logical and price or a builder and creator? Do you like to entertain and present, teach, or talk to people? Are you outgoing and social or reserved and introspective?
  3. Dig into your memory and look for events where you were fully absorbed in the thing you were doing.

Closing thought on purpose

This was a complex section, so let’s create a final overview.

  1. Meaningless or no goals won’t produce any positive emotion.
  2. No positive emotion means you won’t be engaged in the activities you’re doing.
  3. If you aren’t engaged in what you’re doing, the exploratory circuit won’t activate.
  4. If the exploratory circuit lies dormant, it won’t produce the sensation of purpose, or meaning.
  5. Without meaning, you won’t be able to shield yourself from suffering and tragedy of life.

Garbage Lock

Did you just get a new message?

  • Embrace minimalism and clean your work/life environment.
  • Block Youtube or other distracting websites.
  • Become harder to reach. Put your phone on airplane mode.
  • Wear noise-canceling ear muffs while working.
  • Cancel your World of Warcraft and Netflix subscriptions.

Conclusion

Adjust your brain to be content with low-stimulus activities. Such activities might seem tedious at first but are extremely beneficial to your life and long-term well-being. Make sure you stay hungry while working. Then eat foods that regulate blood sugar and can be easily digested. To find meaning in life, follow the Breadcrumbs of Light. These will typically manifest as your interests. Pay close attention to them. They grip you for a reason. Finally, remove distracting triggers that send you down a spiral of bad habits.

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Mihael Cacic

Mihael Cacic

Helping companies grow through Content & Email Marketing. Hit me up at: Mihael@MailScriber.com