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Boring is Productive

Robert Pozen has a fascinating recent piece on the value of repetition in generating productivity :
Chapter four in Dan Ariely's new book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty summarizes some fascinating experiments that show that a tired brain makes us more likely to eat junk food, lie, or otherwise exhibit poor self-control.

Of particular interest to me (and, apparently, President Obama) are a series of experiments run by Kathleen Vohs (an associate business professor at the University of Minnesota) and colleagues, including Professor Baumeister. Vohs's experiments tested whether everyday choices — which candy bar to eat or what clothes to buy, for instance — wear down our mental energy. The results? Vohs and colleagues consistently found that making repeated choices depleted the mental energy of their subjects, even if those choices were mundane and relatively pleasant.

So, if you want to be able to have more mental resources throughout the day, you should identify the aspects of your life that you consider mundane — and then "routinize" those aspects as much as possible. In short, make fewer decisions.To me, this means wearing dull clothing and eating the same breakfast and lunch nearly every weekday. My specific approach might not work for you — and that's fine! Maybe your job requires you to dress for success (say, if you work in the media) or vary your daily nutrition (say, if you're a pro athlete).

The point is that you should decide what you don't care about and that you should learn how to run those parts of your life "on autopilot." Instead of wasting your mental energy on things that you consider unimportant, save it for those decisions, activities, and people that matter most to you.
That last paragraph is a gold mine! It it is worth adding that productive must is both in terms of quality and quantity. It is not merely that one must routinise to do more mundane stuff. Rather if we can "autopilot" the boring stuff we can then do the real value added stuff. One way of doing this is to undertake regular inventory check to see where "auto piloting" can add value reverse value.  

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