Get Important Things Done Without Exhausting Your Mental Energy

Get Important Things Done Without Exhausting Your Mental Energy

Your self-control is in limited supply, and productivity author Tony Schwartz says the only way to ensure you get important things done is to make them require as little mental energy as possible. His answer, then, lies in rituals.Photo by Zhao

The proper role for your pre-frontal cortex is to decide what behaviour you want to change, design the ritual you’ll undertake, and then get out of the way. “It is a profoundly erroneous truism that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing,” the philosopher A.N. Whitehead explained back in 1911. “The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them.”

Among Schwartz’s own strict routines and rituals, he makes specific time for sleep, exercise, first-thing tasks, and capturing thoughts and ideas. It’s a simple enough idea — the less thought or energy you have to put into deciding what to do, the better — but it’s also one that’s easy to ignore. Let’s hear what tasks you’ve made (or know you should make) automatic in the comments.

The Only Way to Get Important Things Done [via @gtdguy]


  • I was struggling to sort out my email inbox each day, categorising everything was just too hard.
    Now I have a single giant archive mailbox, and once I’ve read it and noted down anything important, it gets dumped in there.
    If I need to find it later? Its the 21st century, search technology makes it easy.

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