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The Reitoff Principle for Productivity

Ali Abdaal
Ali Abdaal

Hey friends,

As you might know, I'm a big fan of productivity, consistency, discipline and buzzwords. Often however, I find myself in a place where I can't fully enjoy myself because I have a certain guilt hanging over me that I should be doing something 'productive' instead.

I'd like to propose a (not at all) novel way of dealing with this. I call it The Reitoff Principle.

The Reitoff Principle

I've got several friends who (used to) routinely go out drinking and partying and stuff on Saturday nights. I'd often hear them say 'Sunday's a complete write-off', and I'd silently judge them for wasting away valuable days of their life lying in bed with a hangover.

I now think there's definitely something to be learned from these alcoholics. When they actively decide that a day is going to be a write-off, it gives them the mental space to enjoy themselves guilt-free. It means that they don't procrastinate from having fun because they're concerned they should be doing something more useful instead.

These past 10 days, I've had several Reitoff days - last Thursday, I decided to go to the cinema by myself after work and watch Captain Marvel, then on Monday night we spent the evening eating takeaway burgers and watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones (which was awesome, obv), and then the following evening we watched Avengers: Endgame until 2am (also awesome, obv). I did literally nothing productive on those 3 days, and it was great.

Applying the Reitoff Principle

When following a diet, often people will schedule a cheat day where they can eat whatever they want. This makes it easier to follow the diet on every other day - you've got the cheat day to defer your trashy food to.

The Reitoff Principle should work in the same way. From now on, I'll be more intentional about which days are going to be Reitoff days and which are going to be normal (hopefully productive) days. If there's a day where I get home from work a little late and I'm feeling pretty tired, I'll just write-off the evening and lounge on the sofa reading a book or getting through my backlog of Peter McKinnon and Matt D'Avella videos, completely guilt-free.

But on days where I've got plenty of time and energy to crank out a video or blog post, I'll devote 100% of my attention to that, and hopefully avoid the procrastination trap.

I'm not sure if this will even work. Even as a self-professed internet productivity guru, I struggle with motivation, discipline and consistency from time-to-time.

But that's why I love trying out new methods for hacking my brain - these all work towards the timeless goal of being able to act in our long-term interests while also enjoying ourselves.

I hope this unnecessary-and-pretentiously-named Reitoff Principe will be another arrow in my quiver, on the quest to conquer the monkey mind. Maybe you can try it out too and let me know how it goes.

Have a great week!

Ali


This week's podcast episode

008 - Time management, motivation, productivity etc [Inbetweenasode] | Not Overthinking

In this Inbetweenasode, Ali answers various questions relating to motivation, productivity, time management and that sort of stuff. It's a bit cheeky because we didn't record a proper episode, but given the need for consistency, we thought we'd repurpose one of his old YouTube videos (50k Q&A) to get a podcast episode out this week. Enjoy!

Stuff I enjoyed this week

1 - Article - I enjoyed this article on Fortelabs that summarises a book called How Emotions Are Made. It contradicts many of our most firmly held ideas about how emotions work, and resonated with me as I've had similar feelings about emotions but just not had the words to articulate them properly.

2 - Banter - This is a great poem about Silicon Valley composed entirely of Quora questions. Gave me a good chuckle while I was at work.

3 - Article - Seth Godin strikes again, with another short-but-memorable blog post called The minimising coin. I've gotten better at this over the years, but I still find myself clearing my proverbial throat in several aspects of life. Reading this article helped.

4 - Music - In My Blood is one of my favourite songs these days, and Shawn absolutely kills it in this live SNL performance. Watching this inspired me to pick up the guitar and jam with some visiting friends while pretending to be a rockstar. It was great.

Kindle Highlight of the Week

The only people who can still strike us as normal are those we don’t yet know very well. The best cure for love is to get to know them better.

From The Course of Love by Alain de Botton.

This week's video

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Ali Abdaal

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