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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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Nutrition Resolution: No more use of the word diet

Well it’s the starting of a new year. Somehow we’ve gone from 2018 to 2019 and it almost seems liked it happened in a blink of an eye (though I know that it wasn’t quite that quick).

I’ve decided that 2019 is going to be a year of large number of changes. One of the areas that I’m going to try to focus on more is my fitness and nutrition. I had been doing well for a while, and then in October hit an emotional wall (losing two dogs in four days) and I undid a lot of the results that I achieved during the summer. So as 2019 starts I’ve decided one major thing: I’m going to drop the word diet from my vocabulary and I’m also going to be revamping how I look at my nutrition and fitness.

So why am I dropping “diet” from my vocabulary? For one thing—it isn’t a lifestyle. It is something that one does to lose weight, and unless you can follow the plan forever—you usually gain the weight back, and then a little extra (as I can attest to). Also there are so many different types of diets out there right now: keto, paleo, vegan, and those are just the main stream ones (I’m sure that there are other ones that people develop on their own), by the time you start one another has come along to replace it.

I also dislike the “fact” that it then puts food in “good” and “bad” groups (depending on what diet you’re following or book you’re reading). This usually ends up with me swearing off something (usually sweet related—chocolate, candy, ice cream, and cake) and then binge on the sweet at some point, and mentally beat myself up over it. I love carbs and cheese as well—which means I don’t do well with the mindset that you should limit the amounts of everything.

I’m also not going to be trying to count calories or macros—but I am going to pay attention to what I am eating. If I feel like having a cookie (or cookies) with coffee in the morning on the weekend; I will and balance it out during the day. I will write down what I’ve eaten (and possibly how I feel before and after) and see through the week if there is something that I may be having more of than usual (and if I’m writing down my emotions as well, see if they’re correlated). I know that my biggest challenge on this will actually be sitting down and writing out what I ate for the day (as I’m basically two days behind on this as I’m currently writing this post).

I will try to limit processed foods, mainly because this is where high levels of sodium are hidden; I’m not too worried about the levels of fat, because depending on the amounts of carbs you have in a day—your body turns to fat as the next thing to burn for energy (it usually goes carbs—fats—protein in terms of macromolecules your body burns for energy). So what processed food am I going to try to limit? These are going to include getting lunch on campus (some of the sandwiches can contain almost a day’s worth of sodium in them), biscuits with dinner (again these can contain upwards of half a day’s worth of sodium), and then the condensed soups for cooking (these will take a little more research to see if I can actually make my own to sub in for the cooking). Sweets (such as cookies, candy, and so forth) have more fat and sugars than sodium (usually) so these will be monitored, but potentially not as much as the other processed foods.

So 2019 will be the year of exercising (I’m still trying to figure out the best tracker for that), and slowly changing my nutrition (incorporating small changes over time is better than trying to totally revamp how you eat and then falling back into bad habits) to get into the best shape of my life (notice I’m not putting a number to my transformation, but a phrase). So it’s time to sit back, remember to take it a day at a time, be patient with myself, and see what the year has in store.

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