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Default Activity - Issue #11

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Monday Madness

June 8 · Issue #11 · View online

Hi guys,
I'm Abhishek. I'm a graduate engineer working in Leicester, UK. Monday Madness is my way of sharing interesting articles, podcasts, kindle highlights and lot more that I intend to recap from the previous week. So, please consider subscribing to my weekly email newsletter :)


Hey guys, I hope you enjoyed last week’s Madness. There’s a lot more in store this week.

Good morning guys,
In this week’s newsletter, I wanted to discuss the experiment I’m currently running. Now, this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. And, the prime reason for this has been when I analysed the scope of my day and found that a few hours of my passive time is spent doing non-essential activities. So I asked myself:
What if I dedicated those few hours to a default activity instead?
The experiment I want to run was to create a set of default activities that I could use to substitute or limit my time on non-essential activities like social media, driving or cooking. While I was working from home, I was exercising Premack’s principle which stated:
Premack’s Principle suggests that if a person wants to perform a given activity, the person will perform a less desirable activity to get at the more desirable activity; that is, activities may themselves be reinforcers.
While carrying out my most desirable activity like ‘scrolling through my Instagram’. I would first complete my least desirable activity - ‘doing 10 reps of push-ups’. This added friction in pursuing non-essential activity. However, I stopped practising this principle whilst at work because I wasn’t keen on the idea of doing push-ups at work.
To make a conscious effort of pursuing my default activities depending on what I felt like doing during that day. I would do the following:
  1. Either, write 500 words during my lunchtime and coffee breaks.
  2. Or listen to podcasts at 1.7x speed whilst cleaning or cooking
  3. Something new that I recently got into - listening to Audiobooks at 2.0x speed.
The practice of a ‘default activity’ is considered as a habit for the following reasons:
  1. Easy - there isn’t any complexity in writing or listening.
  2. Obvious - my system includes tools that I am familiar with like Drafts, Notion, Castro and Audiobook.
  3. Attractive - I can practice this habit during my own time and not feel guilty of doing something else during work.
  4. Satisfying - I’m making that 1% improvement each day on my projects and for me, that’s a win.
I love to hear from you guys as to what you considered as your default activity. And, if there’s a system you have experimented with hit reply to this email and we can share our struggles.
I hope you guys have an amazing week ahead.
Yours truly,
Abhishek
Stuff I enjoyed from last week
  1. Podcast - Sam Harris on Psychedelics, How to Cope During a Pandemic, Taming Anxiety, and More, this was an interesting podcast that highlighted the benefits of psychedelics and more importantly, what they are. Definitely worth the listen.
  2. Article - How to design an anti-fragile career, Khe talks about the systems we could put in place during COVID-19. He expresses being able to adapt, stick with simple rules and systems and experiment with the new normal.
  3. Video I enjoyed watching - Inside the mind of a master procrastinator, I resonate with the speaker soo much. I procrastinate like any other individual. Getting my dopamine high by watching Logan Paul Videos or playing some football game on my phone instead of contributing that time to personal projects. It’s an on-going battle with my inner gratification monkey, but do check out the video.
  4. Product I’m excited to try - Bestope, a cordless water flosser. I’ve evolved from using a standard flosser.
Kindle Highlight
I decided that at the end of every day, I’d reflect upon my day and ask myself one simple question: If I had to tell a story from today — a five-minute story onstage about something that took place over the course of this day — what would it be? As benign and boring and inconsequential as it might seem, what was the most story-worthy moment from my day?
Question I'm pondering on
If you could plant one thought in the minds of people around you. What would it be?
Blog post
Homework for life - highlights the importance of reflecting each day to come up with a story-worthy moment of the day. The compounding effect of this practice allows you to store a vast amount of stories to something reminisce over or to talk about at the dinner table.
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