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A productivity hack that actually works

Ali Abdaal
Ali Abdaal

Hey friends,

One of the best productivity ‘hacks’ is to define the One Thing that you want to work on each day. We can ask the question “What would your future self want you to work on today?”. Or (as the authors suggest in Make Time) we can ask “What do I want my highlight of the day to be?”

If we need a hint, we can think about (a) what would give us the most satisfaction if we completed it today, (b) what would bring joy if we did it today, or (c) what's the most urgent thing we need to get done. (Here's a more detailed description by Jake and John, the authors of Make Time).

I like this idea of daily highlights. I’ve recently started using Notion to do daily check-ins with myself, where I ask myself what the daily highlight for the day should be. And then I like to list a few more things that I’d like to do to make the day really awesome. Sometimes I don’t end up ‘doing’ the thing, but just putting it down on paper (lol) primes my brain to background process it.


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I also have a 'Stuff that's on my mind' heading where I can offload my brain of any threads that I've been holding on to. Again, just putting this stuff down on paper feels good, and offers me some clarity. And the nice thing about Notion is that I've made this into a template so each day, I just click 'New Daily Check-in' and it automatically populates the headings so I just have to write something.

As a massive nerd, I've probably tried at least 100 different 'productivity hacks' over the years, but this Daily Highlight thing has already been one of the most effective - for most of the days where I've defined a daily highlight, I've managed to complete it without major issues.

I'll report back in a few months to let you know how it's holding up.

Have a great week!

Ali

This week on Not Overthinking

Not Overthinking is the weekly podcast hosted by me and my brother. If you enjoy these emails, you’ll hopefully like that too. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Castro (my favourite podcast app) or any other podcast app - just search for ‘Not Overthinking’.

Being Weird | Not Overthinking

In this episode we talk about 'being weird'. We explore the merits of being weird, the different ways in which people can be weird, and some of our personal experiences.

Kindle Highlight of the Week

In any situation in life, you only have three options. You always have three options. You can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it. What is not a good option is to sit around wishing you would change it but not changing it, wishing you would leave it but not leaving it, and not accepting it. It’s that struggle, that aversion, that is responsible for most of our misery. The phrase that I probably use the most to myself in my head is just one word: accept.

From Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. Resurfaced with Readwise.

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Ali Abdaal

Junior doctor, YouTuber, web designer, aspiring musician. Trying out this blogging thing.