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Book Review: The 30-Day Productivity Plan Vol. II: 30 More bad habits that are sabotaging your time management & how to overcome them one day at a time! by Damon Zahariades

So to continue the theme from yesterday, today’s book review centers on the second volume of the 30-Day Productivity Plan: 30 more bad habits that are sabotaging your time management and how to overcome them one day at a time by Damon Zahariades.

The second volume continues in the same light as the first volume, it talks about another thirty bad habits that people may (or may not have), and then gives several tips on how to slowly start over coming the bad habits. The additional 30 bad habits that are included in this book are:

  1. Letting Clutter Accumulate in Your Life
  2. Being receptive to others’ negativity
  3. Allowing negative self talk to kill your momentum
  4. Overlooking weekly reviews
  5. Neglecting to unplug for extended periods of time
  6. Waking up late
  7. Responding immediately to email, texts, and voice mails
  8. Allowing yourself to be easily distracted
  9. Being emotionally dependent on others
  10.  Letting money stress consume you
  11.  Spending time with toxic people
  12.  Being satisfied with mediocre performances
  13.  Fearing failure
  14.  Fearing success
  15.  Neglecting to prioritize tasks, projects, and relationships
  16.  Taking too long to make a decision
  17.  Quitting bad habits cold turkey
  18.  Trying to make too many changes at once
  19.  Letting a lack of motivation prevent you from taking action
  20.  Refusing to commit to your goals
  21.  Seeking instant gratification
  22.  Constantly switching between tasks
  23.  Drowning yourself in information
  24.  Working without clearly defined goals
  25.  Waiting for the perfect time to act
  26.  Using unnecessary productivity apps
  27.  Trying to keep everything in your head
  28.  Letting nonessential tasks creep onto your daily to-do lists
  29.  Assigning too much gravity to email
  30.  Allowing yourself to get derailed from your goals

So if I had to list the number of bad habits from this book that I have, I would have to say that I’m guilty of the following: 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9 (to a slight extent), 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, and 30. So it would seem that I have more of these bad habits (25 out of 30) compared to the first book, which was 21 out 30. So in total of basically 60 different habits that can limit one’s productivity I would say that I’m more or less guilty of 46 out of 60. Not good, but at least there are a few that I’m not guilty of doing.

So in terms of the twenty-five bad habits from book two, what in theory is my issue with each of the habits?

I will admit that I have way too much stuff (bad habit number one), but I am trying to slowly get rid of some of it. I am trying to go through and par down on things that I don’t need. This will take time, since most of my stuff is still in storage, but I’m going to try to par down what I have at my parents so that I’m not adding a large number of additional boxes to what is already in my storage unit.

In terms of negative energy, negative self talk, and being around toxic people—these are all things that I am trying to work on. I’m trying to limit the interactions with people who either have negative energy or are toxic—but it’s difficult when it’s people you work with. The negative self talk will take longer to deal with, as those thoughts are the extremely quiet ones that you don’t really hear and have to work harder at identifying so that you can start to correct them.

I am trying to do weekly reviews, but at the same time I will admit that I not really prioritizing tasks, projects, or relationships that well right now. These are two things that go hand in hand, if I can get better at doing one, I will probably get better at doing the second.

I do respond immediately to emails (at least work wise), but that is part of my job so it required, but at the same time I only get a small number of emails that requires an almost immediate response. Other emails I may respond too within a few hours. I respond to text messages as soon as I can (but if I’m busy it may be twenty or thirty minutes before I respond). In terms of voice mails, that is really only again at work, and I get only a few that I need to do that with.

I will admit that I allow myself to get distracted from certain tasks (and that is because I really haven’t developed a liking for that task or I consider to be a repetitive one). Mainly this is with cleaning, and at times working out, or trying to sit down and write.

I don’t consider myself to be overly emotionally dependent on other people. Everyone wants people to like them, and we also want to make sure that at times we have family support for certain things (such as career changes, moves, and so forth). So I have more or less reached a point, where if people don’t like me fine—I’m not rude, but at the same time I’m no longer hiding who I am (liberal, wicca/pagan/atheist, firm believer in science, and so forth). People can either take me for who I am or not, but I’m no longer going to lose sleep over it. Family approval is something we all strive for, and I think since I had to move back in with my parents, I’m probably striving for it a little more than normal just so that hopefully when I make the next move I don’t have to worry about moving back in with them.

Currently money is only a stress issue in terms of the following: 1) making sure that I have enough to cover a move to wherever my new job is, 2) making sure that I have enough to cover getting a lease on an apartment; and 3) making sure that I have that 6-12 month emergency fund saved up. At the same time I want to make sure that I also have money that I can travel if I want (and travel, especially international travel isn’t cheap). 

In terms of being satisfied with mediocre performances, fearing failure, and fearing success—yes I have issues with all of them. I’ve already had one job end on a bad note, which has made me probably a little too cautious in job searching (but it’s that once burned, twice shy attitude). Therefore I’ve allowed myself to become somewhat complacent and being satisfied with the status quo of my current situation (even though I’m not happy in my current position). In terms of fearing success—I think that is one reason why my weight loss journey has been so up and down, and why it has been hard for me at times to commit to a program—I know that I can be successful in it, but at the same time I’m worried about what close friends and family will say and act.

In terms of neglecting to prioritize tasks, projects, and relationships; taking too long to make a decision, and trying to make too many changes at once—yep, again.  I know that I’ve been taking too long in terms of trying to figure out the next job direction, and that I’ve also been neglecting to prioritize the tasks within job searching to make it a little easier to handle on the day to day basis. In terms of prioritizing projects—I have so many personal projects that I would like to start doing, that I usually look at everything and go “there is always tomorrow”. I’m trying to spend more time with friends, and getting in touch with ones that I haven’ talked to in awhile. Then in terms of trying to make too many changes at once—I’m guilty of this as well (namely in terms of fitness and nutrition). I will ideas of things that I would like to get better at (or start learning more on in terms of the business side of industry) that I get overwhelmed and I then neglect everything.

So, one thing that probably is hard for anyone to admit to is refusing to commit to your goals. The human mind is a wondrous thing, and there are parts of it that fear change, and if they can convince us that the path is foolish—we change directions and leave the goal. Also there is the problem of setting too many goals at once, and the problem of making goals that really aren’t for us, but we make them based on societal ideals and standards. For example, I had it as a goal over the years to take up jogging and then run a 5K—the only problem is that 1) I’ve never really been a jogger or a runner; and 2) it isn’t something that I’m not sure I’d enjoy (mainly because I’ve never tried to)—but I made it a goal, as it’s stated that jogging or running is one of the better ways of losing weight. Also the fear of committing to one’s goals can also be linked to the fear of both failure and success. So at times it’s easier to stay with the status quo than it is to try to do something that you may or may not be good at or enjoy.

Switching between tasks is another problem with today’s society—we’re expected to juggle everything all the time and that is the only way to get ahead in the world. I do try to limit doing that at work when ever possible (as I’ve learned that it’s better to wait until something is in a “waiting stage” (i.e. the reaction is going for a specific time period) before trying to do something else. Though at home I will admit to switching between things on a fairly regular basis. This is especially true when it comes to try to write something for the blog, or working on a book review. My mind will think of something else, and then I’ll put what I’m currently doing on hold and try to start something new.

We are in a world of massive information. As technology advances, and more and more information is available at the click of a button it can become easy to get swept away with all the information. Currently I only find it a problem in terms of job searching and trying to narrow down exactly what it is I possibly want to do within industry. I will admit that I am a very curious person by nature (I think that is one of the many reasons why I went into a science field for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees), so I can usually navigate the massive amounts of information fairly easily. Though when trying to figure out what it is I want to do life—that is where I find myself cast adrift in the massive amounts of information.

So to go along with some of the above issues—there is also the problem of working without clearly defined goals. I know that I want to transition into industry—but until I have at least one or two basic titles (or companies) chosen it will be difficult to figure out the best course of action. So this is something that I’ve been slowly trying to work on getting better at.

I’ve also realized that at times I have been trying to “wait for the perfect time” before doing something. While it is basic common sense to realize that the perfect time will really never fully materialize—it doesn’t stop the human race from waiting for it. This along with other issues is something that I’m going to be addressing this year, especially in terms of my industry transition.

So as far as the last three items (trying to keep everything in your head; letting nonessential tasks creep onto your daily to-do list & allowing yourself to get derailed from your goals), I’d have to say I’m guilty from time to time of trying to keep things in my head (especially when I was tracking what I was eating) and not writing it down right away. I do try to write things down as soon as possible for certain areas, but I need to work on trying to do that for everything. In terms of letting nonessential tasks to creep onto my daily to-do list, this is again occasionally (and only because at times I’ve forgotten to write a to-do for the next day before I leave). The biggest thing that I think I need to work on this year, is not allowing myself to get derailed from my goals. In that aspect, I know that I need to have a short list of goals, and an equal list of anti-goals (see my previous book review on Anti-goals: Find Success by Knowing what to Avoid by Kevin Wagonfoot).

Over all these are both extremely good books to read, if for no other reason to see how simple things that we do on a daily basis can impact your productivity both in your personal and professional life. The more we aim at being conscious of how we spend our days, and focusing on things that truly matter to us, we can find more enjoyment and pleasure in life. Work is a necessity, but at the same time so is enjoying life—because if we don’t enjoy it, we just struggle to get by. It’s time that each of us figures out what is best for ourselves (and family if necessary), and realize that we can only live life for ourselves and not for others. I highly recommend both books, as they have made me realize that there are still numerous things that I can strive to be better at, and that by working on certain things, it will also help me achieve my goals and dreams.

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Book Review: 30 Day Productivity Plan: Break the 30 Bad Habits that are sabotaging your time management one day at a time by Damon Zahariades

So I’ve realized that with the books that I’ve managed to finish this month–they all have had a central theme of thirty days. Either talking about bad habits (such as this particular book and the second volume) daily, or as thirty day challenges.

The first two book reviews are covering the aspect of learning about different habits that could be sabotaging our daily productivity and how to go about correcting those habits, and the other two books are filled with different 30-day challenges.

So this is the start of a two part book review series. One of the books that I’ve had on my electronic to-be read pile was “The 30-Day Productivity Plan: Break the 30 Bad Habits that are Sabotaging Your Time Management One Day at a Time” by Damon Zahariades. Then a few weeks ago I noticed that there was a second book out, and I went ahead and purchased that one as well. The basis of both books is to read them, and then pick a “bad habit” to break, and slowly work on increasing our productivity again by not doing (or limiting) certain things.

So with the first volume, the “30 bad habits” that were covered in the this book included:

1) Checking your email more than twice a day;

2) Trying to be perfect;

3) Creating overly ambitious to-do lists;

4) Giving yourself too much time to complete tasks;

5) Kicking yourself over past mistakes and failures;

6) Saying “yes” to everyone;

7) Working overtime;

8) Being a control freak;

9) Eating unhealthy foods;

10) Procrastinating;

11) Postponing taking action on hard tasks;

12) Checking social media throughout the day;

13) Neglecting to take breaks;

14) Binge-watching television shows;

15) Neglecting to create systems for recurring tasks;

16) Multitasking;

17) Refusing to take responsibility for your choices;

18) Telling yourself you’re not ready;

19) Neglecting to organize your day;

20) Feeling sorry for yourself;

21) Working against your body’s natural rhythm;

22) Refusing to get enough exercise;

23) Worrying about what others think of you;

24) Keeping up with current events;

25) Focusing on the 80% that doesn’t matter;

26) Getting caught up in unnecessary drama;

27) Working without concrete goals;

28) Letting your phone run your life;

29) Working until you burn out;

30) Allowing stress into your life.

I would have to say that I’m guilty of the following: 1, 2 (in certain circumstances), 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, and 30. I almost added in #7, but with being told that I have to “ask permission” to go over 40 hours a week, this makes sure that I don’t go over the hours. So in theory I have 21 “bad habits”, and I’m trying to correct the following already: 9 & 22. I will admit that I do check my different email accounts several times a day (but at least for two of those, I delete more than I read) and with my work email, part of my job is responding to clients so I need to do that in a timely manner.

I will admit that at times I create overly ambitious to-do lists, though they probably wouldn’t be so overly ambitious if I had them separated into the different aspects (work, home, personal development) of my life instead of as one (or two) major lists that seem to be never ending.

I probably also give myself way to much time for certain tasks (say writing a blog post), or finishing a personal assessment project/assignment. There are times when I realize that I don’t feel like doing an introspective task, so instead of putting it on a different to-do list or calendar, I’ll just tell myself that I’ll complete the task tomorrow (and then repeat that story the next day….).

I know that both my nutrition and fitness routine need to polished. Right now it is actually easier to focus on my fitness routine then trying to totally change my eating routines. I’m trying to be more mindful of what I’m eating, and also not eating as much processed sweets as I usually have done in the past—but at the same time I’m not going to devoid my life any treats either; it all about balance.

10, 11, 18, and 27 all go hand in hand right now. These could all refer to how slow I’ve been going in my job search & transition. I want to move from academia to industry, but at the same time there is the fear that I could be making the wrong move (i.e. choosing the wrong company to work for). These are all things that I have been working at over coming (though it has been slow going).

In terms of keeping up with current events, I think that one should keep up with current events in order to be a well-informed person, but one doesn’t need to be checking the news constantly. I look at BBC news several times a day (but that is also to see if there are any new science stories up; if there doesn’t look to be any I get off the page). I also only check the news to make sure that there isn’t some huge catastrophe happening somewhere in the world.

In terms of number 23, I have slowly started to care less about what others think of me—yes I know it’s important to have a good personal and professional brand, but at the same time I know that there are people who don’t like me and there is little I can do about it. If others judge me based on other people’s opinions without getting to know me—that is their problem not mine. I’ve realized that I’ve spent too much of my life trying not to rock various “boats” that I’d almost forgotten that the only opinion that really matters at the end of the day is mine (as long as I can look at myself in the mirror & I’ve tried to be a good person that day, that’s all that matters).

I’m still trying to figure out the different twenty percent that yield eighty percent results for different areas of life. I know that in terms of my job transition—I need to spend more time networking & setting up informational interviews (those will hopefully lead to an actual job interview and possible job offer); changing my eating habits will yield larger results in terms of getting into shape and getting healthy & fit. Areas that I’m probably still focusing on the wrong things could include personal and professional development (I need to narrow down what I want to focus on this year that can lead to my goals quicker), and this can also tie in with #27 as well.

In terms of working until I’m burnt out and allowing stress into my life—these are two areas that I’ve always struggled with.

In terms of working until I’m burnt out—I’d almost say that I’m there. I do show up to work, and try my best daily (though at the same time, if something is going slightly wrong I now have the tendency of shrugging it off. An example is when I have to repeat a sequencing run & it works the second time but not the first, now (and actually before as well) I’m like well at least it worked; whereas others claim that I’d made a mistake previously and I need to pay more attention to detail so that it doesn’t happen again).

This is one reason why I want to move from academia to industry and at the same time going to plan at least one (if not more) trips this year (both personal & professional). I’ve also gotten to the point where I’m willing to take time off without pay just to have a break.

In terms of stress, I’m still working on different ways of trying to manage it. I meditate at night, use an acupuncture mat & pillow, journal, and will start taking walks at work as well when I feel the need.

This is a good book for introducing things that we all do on a daily basis, but showing how they can negatively impact our productivity in everything that we do. Reading it has helped open my eyes to the ways I have been harming my productivity, and now that I know things that I’m guilty of doing—I can slowly start correcting those habits and start having more productive days.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious to know if they are unconsciously sabotaging their daily productivity and how they can go about correcting some of their habits. Bad habits can’t be changed over night, and admitting that there could be numerous ones is a step in the right direction, and all one has to be is willing to start making a little progress in different areas. Once it starts to get easier, one can go to another habit and so forth. Stay tune for my review on volume II of the 30-Day Productivity Plan.

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