Avoid task switching to maintain focus.

Habit Stacking Popping the stack

David MacIver argues that people don’t actually work as much as they claim, they may be present but they are likely not productive during whatever the expected social norm is1. This does depend on the type of work that you do and what is considered productive.

Touch it once rule

Originating in getting things done, the idea is that when you touch an item, you should take action on it2. If it is something that can be done in 5 minutes, do it. If not, take a step on it (create a meeting, create a TODO, file it somewhere where it will be accessed at the appropriate time).

Overcoming Task Paralysis

When you feel overwhelmed by your TODO list, the following techniques can help3:

  • For large activities, break them up into
  • Take action on the item that might make others lives easier
  • Pick the action that easiest or most rewarding and do that first, build momentum


Increasing productivity may help us achieve or goals or complete our job. From this logical idea, has arisen a less positive internet “hustle culture” showing people 10 tricks to complete their ToDo list or The system that helps them write 1000 words a day. These articles, tweet threads, blog posts are sold by hucksters looking to capitalize on people’s desire to do better or be better. Another angle laid out by Caleb Schoep terms productivity porn as hollow informational activities about achieving something (e.g. business success) that we consume that tricks us into thinking we are doing something productive towards that goal. The take away is that we must not think about doing something, we must do it4.

More fundamentally, Adam Mastroianni argues that not wanting to do things is not necessarily a sign of laziness5. Rather, it might be a sign that you are not doing what should be doing. Success in highly compensated careers is sometimes based on how much tolerance you have for doing things you do not want to do (send emails, write mundane reports, etc.). This can lead to cognitive dissonance when the person is rewarded handsomely for doing these things but ultimately is not happy. In short, rather than assuming you are lazy, you should check if you are doing what you are meant to be doing.


MacIver, D. People don’t work as much as you think. at (2022).
Allen, D. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. (Penguin Books, London, 2002).
Smith, D. G. How to Save Yourself From `Task Paralysis’. The new york times (2022).
Schoepp, C. Productivity Porn. at (2022).
Mastroianni, A. Excuse me but why are you eating so many frogs. at (2022).

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