Productivity Hacking

June 22, 2016

Learning to be more productive

Lets not procrastinate

Productivity Hacking Notes Source

Part 1: Motivation


Always have goals where you write down what are things that you want to get out of your life

  • Write goals at the beginning of the week keep you motivated till the end
  • Could be anything, but it has to be genuine and part of you
  • These are your goals not other people don’t like other people’s expectation bring yours out of perspective

My Goals

  • Manage PhaseOne to be the better than last year
  • Be a better developer that understands the fundamentals better than I was in second year
  • Take time excerising my creative side more
  • And develop that app that I’ve been wanting to do

Two post-it notes per day First post it note is for your week long goals Morning post it for your goals that you have to accomplish per day

  • Write down things you have to do for teh day follwed by an estimation of effort and time
  • Always make sure these goals are chunked down so you have time to finish them
  • Calculate the total commitment of work and commit to it

Optional* You could write down your plan for the week and month You don’t need to always need to plan for your week, but just do it enough to understand what is required Monthly goals should be SMART goals SMART being -> Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely

Leveraging Willpower

Will power is extremely powerful but humans have a finite amount of it to use, leverage it wisely so you can get the most out of yourself Limit the spending of will power, and identify moments at which you have to make a decision on where to spend it. Double down and get more gains or spread thinly and have no result Make use of smart choices that makes overcoming willpower easier, don’t open the fridge for ice cream everytime you want to stop eating sweets, just don’t buy the ice cream in the first place

Planning like a mad man

Lets do the excerise of planning our life down to the minute, doesn’t have to be a madman but being one makes it a lot more fun Make as many calendars as possible to separate the different levels of your life from learning to working out to just general slack time

Plan first around sleep and your social/play time Likely grouping tasks of similar length together will give you better results than have weird length of results Use Google calendars so you can make use of technology!

Building concentration is a huge gain, being able to concentrate for long periods not only lets you get more done, it makes you more efficient

Sleep is super important get naps at lows instead of coffee, and get 7 hours of sleep always

Productive work ethics

Don’t be the “I have to do it” loathing type of atitude more of the I must and I can do it type of atitude and make it the “I want to do it” atitude Remenber in Philos 2CT3, believe in something long enough, you start believing in it… believe you’re a hardworker and you’ll start being a hardworker Praise yourslef for your hard work whenever you accomplish something. No one else is going to do it for you Time box 25 minutes of non interrupted studying

Keeping your sanity candle lit

Have a hobby, do things that isn’t academic so your brain could function on other levels Excerise, and get the blood flowing of course

Learning how to learn (Coursera Course) Source

  • learn things by making analogies and metaphors that are easy to understand so your brain can quickly understand it on an higher level
  • Two different levels of states for the brain, diffuse and focused
    • Focused mode allows us to do things that we understand quickly and efficiently
    • Diffuse mode is when we relax and allow for our brain to take in new concepts and ideas so our synapsis can come together and form new connections
  • Procrastination is a result of humans seeing something difficult and that first barrier to avoid pain is to off put it to another time
  • Pomodoro is a technique to avoid procrastination
    • A timer is needed
    • We timebox our selves to 25 minutes of intense focus
    • Then we relax
    • During the time of intense focuse there should be no distractions that can of put your focus
  • Practice makes permanent
    • Study it hard at the beginning
    • Take a break on something relaxing
    • Then go back at it once your brain has taken the time to understanding it


      Us humans have mainly 2 types of memories which are classifed into the following

    • Long term memory
    • Working memory

      Working memeory

      Under working memory which is centralized in the prefrontal cortex, holds all your immediate thoughts and what you’re conciously processing Now it is widely believed working memory holds into 4 chunks like virtual ram lol. You always have to repeat your processes in working memory to keep it in place as there are a finite amount of storage

Long term memory

More like a large storage warehouse, must atleast visit it several times before we can find the information we need Use spaced repition, to repeat the concept over days to get it in your brain, extending it over several days it is more effective than practicing it over a short time

Sleep is super important

Consolidation of memories and also the removal of toxins, sleep has various but huge impacts on the effectivness of the brain


Chunking is the method to take complex tasks and learning it in chunks to understand

Chunks are bound through meaning and concepts Creating conceptual chunks as a first step to learning, practice + repition + building chunks -> runs your brain more efficiently The chunk is the main idea and thats all you need

How to form chunks

Learning how to play a song on the guitar First Listen to the song Then watch videos And associate different meanings to the concept

Don’t focus on why one particular step works, but its about how it all works together

How to chunk

  • No distractions
  • Concentrate on the tasks
  • Understand the idea you’re trying to chunk
  • Review and practice
  • Quizing yourself
  • Top down and bottom up learning chunking
    • Chunking is making the learning of individual concepts that make up the larger context
    • Top down learning lets you get an overview of where your chunks fit in with each other
    • context means when to apply the concepts
  • Learning the main concepts first before you fill in the details

Illusion of competence

Rereading is not as productive as recall of the material. Recalling is extremely important as it builds more connections If you look at a solution and then thinking you understand it is an illusion of competence, you must have the information persisting in your memeory Highlighting must be done very carefully, as it could be more or so fooling your brain thinking you’re learning Notes on margin is much better -> less than 1 sentence per paragraph Because its easier to look at the book than reading so students doesn’t put in the effort into it If anything testing yourself is better Learning in different environments makes your mind independent of where you learned the materials

What motivates you

Acetylcholine a chemical producted by acetylcholine neurons, projects wildly and affects long term memory

Motivation is controlled by dopamine part of the reward learning in the basal ganglia.

Dopamine has a very business in projecting future rewards and not just current rewards Loss of dopamine neuron -> loss of interest in what you used to enjoy

Serotonin affects your social life, level of serotonin -> risk taking behavior -> lower serotonin levels Emotions affect learning as well. The amygdala is part of the limbic system which together with the hippocampus is involved in processing memory and decision making as well as regulating emotional reactions.

Value of library of chunks

Gradually build the number of chunks in their head to be able to access these chunks much easier and makes it faster to solve problem

Transfer is the concept that you learn from one chunk can be related to other chunks and concepts Building a chunk library you’re not only making your brain recongize a specific concept but also different type and classes of problem

Two ways to figure something out or to solve problems

  • Sequential learning
    • Where each small step leads deliberately towards a solution involves the focused mode
  • Holistic (“global”)
    • Intuition is used in the holistic apporach to gauge the next steps. As new ideas make a leap away from what you’re familar with

Law of serendipity -> Lady luck favors the one who tries

  • Try to do all the problem, the more you do the easier it will get


Repeating something you know perfectly well will give an illusion of competence if you only mastered the easy stuff Focus on more difficult material

Einstellung = Mindset A neural patern you already have might limit you from learning something new, which is like installing a road block when you learned something in one way doesn’t let you learn further Unlearn your old errorenous learning techniques

Don’t blindly working on the homework without looking on the homework or anything. Understanding how to understand the new problem is tackled

Interleaving between learning and practicing. Skipping around in a chapter is better in building different skills to build flexibility and creativity, leaving the world of practice and repition and enter the world of creativity and flexibility You start making new connection between chunks and different fields afterwards

Summary of chunking

Recall -> Chunking -> And change environments when chunking -> Transfer chunks from one area to another -> Interleaving your learning to practice your different ways to learn

Illusions of competence in learning

  • test yourself frequently to understand if you’re actually learning or fooling yourself
  • minimize highlighting
  • mistakes are good things of learning
  • avoid practicing the easy things
    • use deliberately practicing the hard things

Einstellung lets you learn new things by looking at hard things in new way

Test taking

This is a checklist to how to take a test

  • Did you make a serious effort to understand the text?
  • Did you work with classmates on homework problems or at least check your solutions with others?
  • Did you attempt to outline every homework problem solution before working with classmates?
  • Did you participate actively in homework group discussions contributing ideas and asking questions?
  • Did you consult with the instructor or teaching assistants when you were having trouble with something?
  • Did you understand all your homework problem solutions when they were handed in?
  • Did you ask in class for explanations of homework problem solutions that weren’t clear to you?
  • If you had a study guide, did you carefully go through it before the test and convince yourself you could do everything on it?
  • Did you attempt to outline lots of problem solutions quickly without spending time on the Algebra in calculations?
  • Did you go over the study guide and problems with class mates and quiz one another? If there wasn’t a review session before the test, did you attend and ask questions about anything you weren’t sure about?
  • Did you get a reasonable night’s sleep before the test? If the answer is no, your answers to all preceding questions may not matter

Hard Start-Jump to easy

Start at the hard problem then jump to the easy ones. So then jump around to easy problems you can think more creatively. Gaurentees that you work on more on each problem. It allows us easily to get over enstulling Starting on a tough problem and pulling away from it, study shows it doesn’t affect the ability to finish the tough problem

Tips and hints for test taking

  • Breathe slowly
  • Think postively
  • Multiple choice test, cover up the choice. And time yourself. And make the environment similar
  • Face your fears, have a plan B
  • Good Worry provides motiviation, bad worry wastes energy
  • Don’t work too hard before the test
  • Don’t let your mind trick you, go from the larger picture to see if the answer is correct
  • Work from front to back, check from back to front to give your mind a fresh way to look at things

You haven’t truly learned something until you can teach it to someone.