If You Want to Be Unproductive, Follow These 4 Social Norms

1. Have sugar in and for everything

One of my favorite comedic sketches is Jim Gaffigan’s “Domino’s” piece:

“Why don’t we get a pizza and as an appetizer, we can have bread!” And for dessert how about this, bread.”

Gaffigan has another one about cake in which he pokes fun at how, between foods like muffins and pancakes, we find ways to eat cake all the time. I find it ridiculous that our society has normalized sugar.

For nearly every event we find a way to include a “requisite” sugary treat. It’s the norm to gift sweets around the holidays. We celebrate birthdays where we don’t eat anything healthy like its a badge of honor to be killing ourselves.

It’s no wonder so many of us are suffering mentally and physically. And struggling psychologically because we are unfit.

Ordinary people eat processed, sugary foods, including bread, all the time, without thinking about it.

But ordinary people also get normal, unproductive results.

Studies have shown that eating sugar, even in small amounts, negatively affects your focus, mood, memory, mental health, and stress levels. Do we ever stop to think that maybe the reason we eat is to feed our minds?

If, instead of eating sugary foods you choose some fruit and vegetables, you will have improved focus, mood, memory, mental health, and decreased stress.

To be truly extraordinary, ditch the processed garbage and go for something healthy. Make a list of fruits and vegetables that you enjoy eating and replace just one unhealthy snack on your grocery list with something healthy.

2. Use mobile data all the time

I’m not sure how so many of us became convinced that we can’t live without our “unlimited mobile data plan.”

Not only are these offers overpricecd, none of the phone companies care about the negative effects that plan will have on your health and wellness. They just want more money out of you.

If you’re always connected, when do you have time to think for and improve yourself?

By consistently comparing your life to others online, you can’t see the vastness of what you have to be grateful for, and it’s crippling you.

Mobile data does have its uses, but nobody needs to be connected 24/7. You’ll be more productive if you’re not.

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” — Dave Ramsey

My wife and I have a phone service that lets us cap our data plan. We use an app to monitor what we use, and each month we stop our data at 500 Megabytes.

What began as a way to save money has turned into one of our best forms of staying more productive. If we’re on a bike ride or camping, even if we have cell service I’m not wasting my time by being online.

3. Work more than 40 hours a week

More work means more productivity, right?

In 2004 the CDC’s Department of Health and Human Services published a report that summarizes 52 psychological studies about working overtime. The adverse effects of working more than 40 hours each week included:

  • Overworking makes you less productive.
  • After working 8 hours, you are more distracted and increase your chances of making mistakes.
  • If you work over 40 hours a week, you will be more likely to be injured at work, get sick, and gain weight.

I still remember the day that my boss at my last job discovered my website.

He was continually pushing our team to work 45 hours or more a week even though the company didn’t require it. I mentioned to him that I started the blog to make some extra money so my wife and I could buy a house faster.

He mentioned, albeit nicely, that if I wanted to make more money, I could just work more hours. Knowing the harmful effects of overwork, I responded by telling him that if I did that, I would be worse at my job.

Plus I wanted something I could control better than a once a year raise.

It’s “normal” in society to admire the people who work the longest hours. We praise the last person to leave the office and look up to the people who never take breaks. If we’re all trying to get ahead by doing more, we’ll just push each other down.

Do yourself a favor and stand out by taking a stand against overwork and you’ll increase your productivity.

In Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s book Rest he identifies at least three ways to work less to be more productive:

  • Only work for four hours but with intensity to take advantage of Deep Work.
  • Stop working when you are in the middle of being inspired. Your brain can still process your ideas even after you stop, and it will be easier to get started again.
  • Find a form of play that you can immerse your mind in and that you enjoy. For example, Winston Churchill’s oil painting hobby helped him survived the difficulties of leadership during World War II.

Find ways to limit your work and rest when not in the office, and you will become more productive.

4. Retire

One study found the following about retirement:

  • It reduces your chances of self-determining your health as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent.’
  • Retirement makes you more likely to become clinically depressed by roughly 40%.
  • If you retire, you have about a 60% chance of experiencing a “diagnosed physical condition” and taking a drug to treat it.

It’s normal for us to plan for retirement. There are jobs devoted wholly to it. But the numbers don’t lie — if you retire, you’re not going to be in a great place.

For this reason, I’m planning a lifestyle that will let me never retire, and I’m documenting my journey. But it’s not just about working your entire life.

Doing your time then quitting at 65 gives you a “finish line” mentality that takes away the potential for daily enjoyment of your work. It’s no wonder that somewhere between 50% and 85% of people are unsatisfied in their jobs.

Avoiding retirement is more about finding and living with purpose, every day in your work and life.

Follow the advice of some of the longest living people in the world, the centenarians of Okinawa, Japan. Instead of retiring, practice ikigai, which includes the following five pillars:

  • Start small
  • Be yourself and accept it
  • Trust the people around you and connect with them
  • Let your joy come from the little things in life
  • Focus on the present by learning to love the process

Our world is constantly fighting against these critical components of a happy and productive life. All you have to do is start though, and even that only has to be small to make a significant impact on your wellness and productivity.

If you want to be productive, eat healthier, limit mobile data use, work 40 hours or less each week, and find your purpose. You may soon find that ditching social norms is less about productivity and more about happiness.

Goal Engineer. Get my free starter kit to help you stay motivated to reach your goals all year long: https://bit.ly/2SMag21

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