Micro-Tasks. The Pleasure of Checking Off

Published on August 24, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

Why we like to cross out and how to use it to be more productive.

checking off tasks

It is a fact. Crossing out tasks or marking them as completed with a simple √ within a to-do list makes you feel great.

The reason is that whenever you recognize a task or project as completed, your brain releases a load of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for generating feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction and happiness. This release of dopamine not only makes you feel good but also motivates you to continue completing tasks and extend that pleasant feeling.

But this does not help you be more productive by itself. Quite the opposite. If you don’t know how your brain works and don’t exert some control over it, this phenomenon will always take you to try to do the smaller and easier tasks on your to-do list. The worst thing is that you will feel great, you will have the feeling that you’ve done a lot (which is true) and think you’ll have had a very productive day (which is not true).

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What "Satisficing" Is and How It Affects Your Personal Productivity

Published on August 17, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

When aiming for the optimal solution requires needless expenditure of time, energy and resources.

“Satisficing” is a term that the economist Herbert Simon coined in 1956. It’s actually a cross between the words “satisfying” and “sufficing”, and comes to say that when we have to make a decision, we generally don’t waste much time evaluating all possible options, we just choose the first reasonable option we find.

We might think that, when we face a problem, the logical model to make a decision would be: (1) collect all possible information, (2) identify all possible solutions, (3) compare them and (4) choose the best one. However, Gary Klein, author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions, after studying for a decade how decisions are made in critical situations—short time, little information, and changing conditions—concluded that people usually don’t make comparisons. We take the first reasonable option that comes to our mind, we quickly evaluate potential problems and if we don’t find any relevant issue, we have the solution.

This is mainly because humans do not have the cognitive resources to optimize decision-making: we cannot accurately assess each of the possible outcomes, we cannot properly estimate the probabilities of each outcome, and the capacity of our memory is quite limited.

This behavior is taken into account in environments such as marketing and design of websites, where users and customers are always in a hurry and choose the first thing that catches their attention and covers a minimum threshold.

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Why Do You Want to Practice GTD?

Published on August 10, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

To successfully implement GTD, you should know why you do it. And that, sometimes, is not so obvious...

vision

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” ~ Proverb

Undoubtedly, some people have a greater desire to be organized, to have everything under control. They are people who need to know how is the map on which they move, where they want to go and where they are at all times.

Others, however, want to be organized because their life is somewhat chaotic and have seen somewhere—read or heard—that a particular method or tool or application can help them better control the situation, simply because it has already helped others.

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An Advice for Your Vacation

Published on August 03, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

Do not miss this opportunity to improve your life.

vacation

Vacations are a fabulous and essential time to relax, to enjoy yourself and to renew your energies. I talked last year about the importance of vacations to restore the level of attention you need to live your life efficiently for the rest of the year. Studies show that most people have a better perspective on their life and are more motivated to achieve their goals after taking a vacation, no matter how short it is.

As I believe it’s no longer necessary to stress the importance of rest for productivity, I’m going to focus on another aspect of your vacation that you should take advantage of: your mental state.

When you go on vacation your mental state changes radically. You’ll probably spend your vacation in a place other than the one you’re used to. Your mind will work a bit differently during those few days. You’ll worry a lot less about doing and a lot more about thinking, but you won’t be doing this deliberately.

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Does Music Help You Become More Productive?

Published on July 27, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

What science says about music and productivity.

music

When we are working usually there’s a background noise intermittently distracting us and hindering us from finishing the task at hand. Whenever a noise or an outside conversation distracts you, your brain suffers a small disconnection from the task at hand and you will need a few seconds—sometimes it can be minutes—to reconnect and continue the task from the point where you had stopped.

Depending on the mental effort required by the task at hand, the loss of productivity can be higher or lower. But clearly, over a week, the sum of all these small external interrupts add up to quite an amount of precious time. With that time you could have finished some things before—and enjoyed a quieter week, with everything under control—, or could have done more things during the week—thus increasing your effectiveness and personal productivity.

Sometimes, too quiet of an atmosphere does not help to get in the zone, flowing wih the job.

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Loss Aversion as Motivation

Published on July 20, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

Use your natural instincts favorably to be motivated.

loss aversion

In 2010, a group of economists carried out a study in order to find a way to encourage teachers of the American educational system to make greater efforts, deliver more and better knowledge and, therefore, make students reach a higher level of academic performance.

The incentive was nothing new, since it was about giving the teachers an additional bonus based on the performance of their students. But the way to get that bonus was different, for at least half of the teachers on which the study was done. Half of the teachers received the full bonus early in the course, and so, in the end, they would have to return the part that did not belong to them. The other half, in the traditional manner, would receive the bonus at the end of the course depending on a job well done.

At the end of the course it became evident that students whose teachers received the premium in advance scored better than students whose teachers received the premium in the traditional way, at the end.

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The Weekly Review, Revised

Published on July 16, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

We have improved the Weekly Review process in FacileThings.

It’s been just over a year when we developed the guide to do the Weekly Review in our GTD app FacileThings. It’s a tool that provides you with the necessary work structure to help you consolidate the habit of reviewing.

During this time we have found different points of improvement, thanks largely to the feedback received from our users, and the time has come to apply them.

So here are the improvements you will find the next time you do your Weekly Review:

Projects Review

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