Building Blocks

Experiments in productivity and habit formation

How Productivity and Happiness are Related

May 18, 2021, 4:09 a.m.

Most people understand that being in a sad or depressed state will lead to drops in productivity. When going through personal troubles it becomes almost impossible to focus completely on your work. Many of us are all too familiar with this due to living through this COVID pandemic last year. So we can say that there’s this causal relationship between productivity and happiness: Happiness → Productivity What’s less intuitive though is that productivity is also a prerequisite for happiness: ...

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What Games can Teach Us About Engaging Work

May 14, 2021, 8:40 p.m.

For most of us who came of age in the 2000s, we all have fond memories of playing the original Pokemon games for GameBoy. I still remember my first experience playing Pokemon -- the joy of selecting my starter (Charmander ftw), how engaging the dialog was between the main character and his rival, and the excitement of trying to find and catch rare Pokemon. However, there was one aspect of the game that was particularly repetitive: After lo...

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The Work Backwards Mindset

May 11, 2021, 3:13 a.m.

Last month, Jeff Bezos stepped down as CEO of Amazon.com, the company that he founded and built up to become the massive corporation it is today which touches so many aspects of our lives. People will remember him for his wealth and being one of the pioneers of the shift to eCommerce in the late 90s, and perhaps for his dramatic mid-life physical transformation: But an often overlooked aspect of Bezos’ life is his influence on corp...

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Systems Over Motivation

May 11, 2021, 2:45 a.m.

What is motivation? It’s a fleeting feeling that propels you forward to be productive in order to achieve what you’re motivated to do. Think of motivation as a sugar rush -- a quick burst of energy, but not something you can count on to repeatedly do the monotonous, repetitive work that’s required to achieve any big goal with a long-term time horizon. While you might be inspired to go hit the gym hard after watching Gladiator for the fifth time or hit the library for an all-night study ses...

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Make Your Phone Less Addicting With this One Weird Trick

May 8, 2021, 4:13 p.m.

Phone addiction is widespread these days -- statistics show that Americans in 2021 spent on average almost 4hours on their phones per day. That’s basically 26% of your waking hours each day presumably going into time sinks such as YouTube, Instagram, and mobile games. Even knowing this though, it’s hard to break out of the habit of phone addiction. So many mobile apps are developed with user addiction as a goal -- every carefully pla...

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Measure What Matters

April 20, 2021, 4:26 p.m.

There’s a popular saying amongst entrepreneurs that goes something like “You are what you measure.” The meaning behind this quote is that the metrics that a business chooses to focus on will ultimately determine its fate over the long run. If a business focuses on profitability as its primary metric, then its business decisions will reflect that -- maybe via cost cutting or headcount reduction in order to turn a profit as quickly as possible. On the other hand, if a business were trying to optim...

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