The Zombie Apocalypse

The purpose of thinking is to stop thinking. It means that thinking is a high energy consuming activity: It takes a lot of effort to simply think. That’s why humans are designed in such a way that whenever we have to think, we think using the shortest time possible: After our thinking effort is completed we quickly return to automatic pilot.

It’s estimated humans beings spend more than 95% of their time on autopilot. In other words, the difference between the Zombie Apocalypse and a functioning human society is only 5%….

If you want to build high-performance habits, you therefore need to find ways to break through automatic thinking patterns. A powerful approach is to make use of triggers: Reminders in your environment which cause an almost automatic response. Think of the powerful trigger of your phone ringing: It takes a conscious effort to avoid picking up the phone.

In my office, I have created an environment to maximize the use of positive triggers, and minimize exposure to negative triggers:

  • plastic frog on my desk as a reminder to eat my frog and start the day with the thing that I resist most.
  • A wall with sticky notes to remind me of my:
    • Long term goals.
    • Ongoing Projects.
    • Committed Actions.
  • cork board with visuals of this month’s personal focus: For February it’s creative writing (Did I succeed?).
  • A set of labeled file folders on my desk with support material for several ongoing projects.
  • A great fountain pen and nice paper to inspire me to write.
  • An egg timer to use the task-to-time approach to improve my own productivity.
  • My phone is set on do-not-disturb.
  • Email & social media notifications are switched off.

Dull and sterile environments create Zombified Professionals. Which of these triggers will help you to build your own success environment for creative high-performance instead?

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