1st Rule Of Attention

1.0. Whatever you focus on will grow.

When given enough time on a task, it becomes easier to do. [1] In the first 30 minutes, you might (a) do well or (b) do terribly on the task. Either way works to unlock high performance.

The obstacles of focus typically are:

a. Interruptions, tasks requiring immediate attention (routines, emergencies, notifications)

b. Distractions, other things you think you should do (both temptations and worries about other tasks)

[Reverse Rule] Once your focus grows on one task, it becomes harder to stop.

… When you start working, you don’t want to stop. You want to either finish or spend enough time doing it.

… When you deal with interruptions, they may lead to another interruption.

… When you get distracted by something, the next thing becomes more distracting.

Possible Solutions
  • Remove interruptions as early as possible in the day
  • When working, choose tasks that are proportional to your attention level (easy to hard)
  • Plan/Stop distractions early in the morning before they become unstoppable
  • Give your brain no target to distract on (with subtractive-environment)[2].
  • Simplicity encourages focus while complexity disperses it. You can use the first one for work momentum and the second one to break distraction momentum

[Example 1: Mindful Meditation]  You cannot remove your thoughts using thoughts. Maybe you tell yourself why and how to stop thinking, or you’re rejecting a bad thought. Any reaction creates more thoughts, and this realization creates even more thoughts. Thoughts only go away when you ignore them, which is a trainable skill.

[Example 2: Bad Habits]  Like meditation, thinking about bad habits only makes them harder to avoid. Whether you’re falling for them or refusing them, both are forms of attention. To forget/ignore these habits, you usually find something elsewhere to put your attention to. [3]

[Example 3: Work Momentum]  You may not want to work because you feel uninspired and think you’ll do a bad job. If you work regardless until reaching the flow state, that focus is enough to do high-quality work and correct the first 30 minutes (see 3rd Rule of the Middle).

[Example 4: Brand Polarization]  Assuming your product is amazing, more traffic will bring more sales. It doesn’t matter whether people love your brand or negatively complain about your campaign. They’re both making you more visible than the seller that’s not polarized.

2nd Rule Of Movement

2.0. Movement improves brain power.

The power of mindset can scale with brainpower. Physically improving the brain will improve the mind. And when lacking momentum for mental/analytical work, you can create it with physical work/exercise.

Specifically:

  • Movement increases oxygen in the brain, blood pressure, and stimulates neuron connections
  • Aerobic exercise is by far the most effective BDNF booster[4], a protein directly linked to the effort of learning

High movement per hour may also slow the perception of time.

[Reverse Rule] Lack of movement will make all other rules ineffective.

When not moving enough, you may find it hard to do even the easiest task of the project. As if mental work required some degree of physical work. And to remember these concepts, you must have a minimum of self-awareness, which requires energy to activate.

And just like high movement slows down time perception, low movement makes the world feel too fast to catch up.

Possible Solutions
  • Make time for physical activity every 6-8h on average (unless you plan to rest in the evenings). It can be having a walk, working out, or commuting to work
  • Ideally, every 1-2h, have (at least) 1-2 minutes of activity to reset
  • When working out, prioritize routines involving a lot of movement and short recovery time
  • Increase the area where you move daily[5], even if it’s the same tasks

[Example 1: Travel]  Think about the months you traveled or visit different places very often. Chances are you remember those times as the inspiring ones (unless you’re even more active today)

[Example 2: Out of the workspace]  Suppose you’re out of home/the office for the whole day, either traveling for fun or doing tasks outside. You may find yourself more inspired when going back home, regardless of the work you had for the day.

3rd Rule Of The Middle

3.0. Staying in the middle keeps you in the middle.

[Reverse Rule] Correcting a mistake is more effective than solving indecision.

4th Rule Of Awareness

4.0. Thoughts and emotions lose influence once you understand what causes them.

[Reverse Rule] The feeling of surprise and overwhelm leads to further mistakes.

References

[1] Flow State Cycle/ The Zone. It takes an average of 30min to build momentum, after which work becomes effortless for hours. There’s some luck involved.

[2] Focus by subtraction discourages distractions. Not because they’re inaccessible, but because it’s no longer worth the effort.

[3] In the famous Marshmallow experiment, the successful kids distracted themselves by playing or simply not looking.

[4] Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor affects learning abilities, emotional wellbeing, and stress relief

[5] Your inspiration seems to be proportional to the size of your area of movement.

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