My Mom inadvertently gave me some great productivity advice that I have used time and again over the years
I was 21 years old at the time. I had just arrive in Tianjin, China, a city half way around the world. I found a big superstore, Carrefour and went to get all the things my new apartment needed. While unpacking everything I got a call from my Mom. This was in 2007 before facetime or internet phone calls were a thing, this was an international phone call.
I answered the phone and told her what I had bought that humid summer morning. When I told her about the juicer she gave me the best productivity advice for staying consistent with a new habit that I have ever been told.
Being a 21 year old independant, there was no way I was going to listen to my Mom! I knew better!
But as the months went by my dream of having fresh fruit juice in the summer heat evaporated. I never once used that juicer and it wasn’t until I moved out of that house 18 months later that I found it in the cupboard, still unused. I remembered what my Mom had said to me 18 months before and admitted that she was right.
Since then I have used this same piece of advice to stay consistent with my different types of habits. I’m going to share here how you can use my Mom’s advice to stay consistent with your habits.
I started to apply Mom’s advice to other areas of my life, the core message became staying consistent means keeping something in the forefront of your consciousness. Keeping the juicer out on the kitchen side was a way to keep it in my consciousness. Every time I went into the kitchen I would have seen it and been reminded that I could be drinking fresh fruit juice making it much more likely that I would make some.
The same idea can be used to stay consistent with other projects or even to make massive progress with one in particular.
Using Mom’s Advice in the Gym
Getting the motivation to get dressed, get out of the house and go to the gym can be a huge factor for many people, ultimately deciding whether or not they work out. It’s that friction between sitting on the couch and working out that makes the task seem harder than it is.
There is a way to remove that friction using Mom’s advice. The gym is like the juicer in the cupboard, you don’t see it, you don’t think about it and it’s an effort to get it out. Imagine instead that you didn’t need to go to the gym to get your workout in.
- Build Home Gym
Leave the juicer out by creating your own home gym.
A gym at home means you remove the friction of going to the gym and can simply workout without having to get the juicer out.
Start small, a set of dumbbells, some bands etc. As you start to use your home gym you can add more equipment. A bench press, power rack, running machine or rowing machine.
More Productive Language Learning
Consistency is key with most things but it’s even more important with language learning. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Is a truth I had to learn the hard way.
There are many ways to leave the juicer out when it comes to language learning. Start simple just leave your text book on the coffee table or somewhere you spend a lot of time during the day. You will start to notice how much more often you open it compared to leaving on the shelf.
Keeping your new language in the forefront of your consciousness can be done in a huge number of ways
- Change your system language – Turn your phone into a constant language reminder
- Subscribe to language learning/YouTube Polyglot channels – Reminding you to learn your language
- Subscribes to YouTube channels in your target language – Get recommended videos in your target language
- Follow native speakers on Twitter – Have a constant stream of natural native conversations in your feed
- Keep native novels anywhere you spend a lot of time – Never have an excuse to not read
Using Mom’s productivity advice not only means being constantly reminded about your language but also being forced to interact with it on an ongoing basis. This is the key to language learning.
Keep juicer out = Keep it somewhere you’ll see it.
Have you ever flipped through a coffee table book in someones house while sat on their couch? Why? Because it was there. This is leaving the juicer out in action! It’s really easy to read a book when all you need to do is pick it up. This is because the decision making has been done for you and the preparation is complete.
Deciding on a book to read can often be enough of a chore to stop you reading anything. As can getting off the couch to go get a book from the bookcase. If the decision has already been made and the book is already within arm’s reach, there is almost no friction to just picking it up.
This is also why some people find it easier to start reading a physical book compared to using an e-reader. When you turn the e-reader on you still have to choose which e-book to open.
- Think of the times and places you wish to read
- Strategically place books around those areas
How Else You Can Use It
Tasks on the desktop/reminder on my phone
If you spend a lot of time on your PC/Laptop either for work or at home, you can keep something on your mind by adding a reminder to your desktop.
If you use Linux, you can use conki to add anything to your desktop as an overlay that you can update as often as you’d like. I have in the past used this to add a dynamic overlay of my @computer tasks which updates as I add or complete tasks on Simpletask my phone.
I’ve also used it to show just my high priority tasks, my goals, affirmations and items from my cookie jar.
If you don’t use Linux or just want a simpler solution, you can create a wallpaper which reminds you of whatever habit you are trying to maintain. Use your imagination and make it to remind you why you want to do it or how it inspires you.
You can do the same thing on your phone. Find a wallpaper to remind you of your habit.
- Add Reminders/Motivation to your Desktop
- Add Reminders/Motivation to Phone’s Wallpaper
Use your social media feeds to remind you and inspire you to stay consistant. If you wanted to start doing yoga more consistantly, join, follow and subscribe to groups, people and channels about yoga. Every time you open your feed, it will be full of yoga related posts, reminding you to roll the mat out.
- Join Facebook Groups
- Follow relevant People on Twitter
- Subscribe to relevant YouTube channels
Leave Physical Reminders Out
Again, if you want to stay consistant with a yoga practice for example, you can leave something out to remind and to make it easier to get started. By setting up your yoga mat the night before, when you wake up and see it there will be very little resistance for you to practice.
Runners often do this by putting their running shoes and training clothes next to their bed. In the morning when they wake up and see it all ready for them it almost takes will power not to go for a run.
I hope you can get as much out of Mom’s productivity advice as I have! If there was one piece of productivity advice I would give it would be to Make Capture a Habit.
Originally from the U.K, Greg has lived in Asia for over 15 years. Fluent in a handful of languages, he ran a management consultancy before creating Face Dragons. He spends his time now traveling around Asia, writing, taking photos, and drinking coffee.