Feel-Good Productivity by Ali Abdaal (Book Summary)

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Feel-Good Productivity: How to Do More of What Matters to You
  • Hardcover Book
  • Abdaal, Ali (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages – 12/26/2023 (Publication Date) – Celadon Books (Publisher)

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon

Today, we are bombarded with the ideas of hustle and grind all the time on social media.
So when it comes to productivity, we feel like we have to do it the hard way.
It takes away all the enjoyment from our work.
In his book, The Feel-Good Productivity, Ali Abdaal argues that productivity should feel natural and easy, and it should boost our energy instead of draining it.
Alrighty, so without further ado, let’s dive into this book summary and learn key insights.

Lesson #1: Positive emotions give us energy and make us more productive.

According to the author, feeling good is important for our productivity.
He talks about the feel-good hormones regulate our overall emotional wellbeing.
When we feel good, we have more energy. And when we have more energy, we are able to do more work in less time.
Feeling good also reduces stress.
Stress and anxiety disturb our productivity as they are often the cause of many physical problems, like increased blood pressure.
How will a person work if he isn’t fit and healthy?
Feeling good resets our nervous system and puts it in the relaxed state.
Fee-good emotions also improve our overall lifestyle and thus give us a better experience while doing any sort of work.
People who have a better life in general tend to attract more opportunities and also accomplish more.
In short: If you feel good while doing your work, you are more likely to become successful.
The author believes that the success shouldn’t always be tied to suffering and hardships.
If you have watched so many videos on grind mindset, maybe this lesson will bring some shift in your mindset.
Even the grind can be enjoyed if you enjoy the process.
The author isn’t totally against the hustle. It’s just that if you are always feeling negative emotions during your work, then maybe you are as productive as you might think.
As we grow up, we are taught to not have fun and be serious all the time.
So we think that if we become super serious during our work, then maybe it will lead to more productivity.
But in reality, people who have fun during their work are usually the most productive people.
Now you might complain that it all sounds good but work is anything but fun.
That’s because your approach isn’t correct.
Let’s understand this better in the next lesson.

Lesson#2: Gamify your work to make it fun and engaging.

Let’s be honest.
Boring work is draining.
Forget about productivity if all your energy is drained even before you have started your work.
There must be some kind of excitement, right?
Sure, you can do it the hard way by pushing your willpower to its limit, but there is a better way.
And that is: Gamify your work.
Don’t look at your work as if it’s something you just have to finish.
Look at it as a game that has different stages.
For example, stage 1 could be simply doing the easiest thing first.
And then, as you progress, the difficulty level also increases.
Let’s say, you are at stage 3 of your work, now you have to do some planning that requires more mental effort.
People spend hours playing video games for very simple reasons.
When you are playing video games, you aren’t forcing yourself to do something, you are doing it because you want to do it.
If you really think about it, video games aren’t easy, you have to really work hard to grow your main character in those games, just like you have to do in real life.
Figuring out what excites you and what your playing style is that’s the key to making your work enjoyable.
For example, some people like to play team games that allow them to have engaging conversations during the gaming session. So if you have to prepare a case study, you can try taking the help of your coworkers to get the job done and at the same time talk about it.
Or if you like to play solo games, you are better off listening to music and doing your work without the intrusion of other people.
These days, if you are not looking serious, people assume that you are not taking the job seriously.
Most people don’t know how to enjoy their job, and at the same time, do it efficiently.
In reality, when you gamify your job, you are able to do your best while having fun. You naturally avoid negative feelings like frustration and boredom.
Life is stressful anyway. So why make it more stressful by getting frustrated over some work that probably won’t matter that much in the long term?
Don’t do things that just drain your spirit.
But if you are obligated to do a particular thing that is not fun, you can still make it fun by being more creative.

Lesson #3: Feeling emotionally empowered is key to becoming highly productive.

So how do you know if you are emotionally empowered or not?
Well, do you feel a sense of control over your emotions and actions?
If not, then maybe you are not so well emotionally.
Emotions aren’t always in our control, but you can tell in general how well you feel about yourself and your work as you go through life.
The author shares 3 tips to empower ourselves.

Tip #1: Pretend as if you are already empowered.

Yes, it’s the same strategy we hear everywhere on the Internet.
It means that you fake it till you make it.
And how do you know how to behave?
Find some role models that you think are emotionally empowered. And try to imagine how do they behave at work.
Or you can also think about how you would act differently if you had a sense of control over your emotions.

Tip #2: Keep improving your abilities.

To feel more in control, you must be good at your job.
For example, if your job is video editing, you can continuously improve yourself and find ways to improve the quality of your videos.
This will give you more confidence and hope to further improve your abilities.
Many people stop improving their abilities when they don’t see immediate results.
But this is a mistake.
Most abilities take time.
When you look back after you have improved, you feel great confidence and self-efficacy.

Tip #3: Be accountable.

You are in more control than you think.
A lot of people just avoid taking accountability.
But they don’t realize that by avoiding it, they lose control over their lives.
Without accountability, productivity suffers.
We need to get rid of the complaining mindset. Instead of complaining about how your life or work isn’t in your control, try thinking about what you can do.

Lesson #4: Keeping a company of excited people around you makes you more excited about your work.

Many people never pay attention to this. But the people we keep around us affect our mindset and spirits.
Most people aren’t worth keeping around.
They will drain all your energy with all of their mind games. They will put you in self-doubt, play with your emotions, and negatively impact your life.
In short: It’s hard to feel good when you have energy vampires around you.
To feel good, it’s always better to have people around you who are happy in general and don’t bring negative energy.
Now, talking about connections or people around you, you might be in two of these situations: either you have good people around you or you don’t have them around you.
If you already have good connections, try to strengthen them.
You can’t expect others to be good to you if you are always bad to them.
Show them kindness. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
And if you don’t have connections with good people, you can always find new people to talk to.
Mastering effective communication is the key.
When you are around good people, it’s much easier to work as a team.
Kindly note that not all teams are productive.
Just because more people are doing something doesn’t necessarily mean that the outcome will be good too.
Also, note that when we say “good people,” we mean authentic people. We shouldn’t seek connections with people who act nice but are never authentic.
The best way to attract connections with authentic people is very simple. Just be authentic yourself, and you will naturally repel unauthentic people.

Lesson #5: Overcome your habit of procrastination.

We are so distracted by so many things these days that even procrastination feels natural.
Procrastination happens when you keep delaying important tasks.
In short: It’s a waste of time and thus blocks your productivity.
We don’t always procrastinate just because we are lazy.
There are many reasons why we tend to procrastinate.
For example, when we are confused about what to do or how to do a certain task, we try to avoid doing it because thinking about it drains too much mental energy.
Many people suffer from this issue on a daily basis.
They don’t have a clear answer for why they want to do something.
So naturally, they never get clarity.
To destroy confusion, clarity in thought is essential.
Knowing the bigger purpose behind our actions is important to gain clarity.
For example, if you plan to read a book, you must know why you want to read it first.
Once you know that, it’s easier to figure out how much time you will spend reading it and which parts of the book are more important.
Many people don’t think clearly, and as a result, they put off their tasks until the very last minute.
And then they rush things as a last resort, which is not the best approach because wise people move with a plan. They avoid letting situations determine their actions.
Some people procrastinate out of habit.
Yes, when you don’t stop postponing important stuff until the last minute, it becomes habitual.
Procrastination is one of the worst habits you can have.
If you are already suffering from this habit, try breaking it off with small efforts.
For example, if you have to prepare a report for your college, you can start small. You don’t need to finish it in one go. Try to do it in parts.
This will slowly help you overcome your habit of procrastination.
For some people, anxiety could be an issue.
We avoid doing things that scare us.
For example, many people avoid situations where they can fail.
So to cope with this, they prepare sweet lies for themselves, and keep putting their challenging tasks off until they can’t avoid them anymore.
We have already discussed a lot about dealing with anxiety, so we will not discuss it in this video.

Lesson #6: Burnout is a productivity killer. Avoid it at any cost.

Remember what we learned in the beginning?
Producitvity increases when you have feel-good emotions. When you are enjoying your work, you are more likely to do it better in less time.
A lot of people have misconceptions about productivity.
So they literally burn themselves out and think that this will make them more productive.
But in reality, it does the opposite.
Burnout is more than just fatigue.
If you experience burnout regularly, you are prone to so many diseases, like insomnia, anxiety, heart problems, etc.
The good news is: You can be productive without overwhelming yourself.
There are usually 3 ways that we experience burnout. Knowing them is important because we should be able to identify the behavioral patterns that cause burnouts.
The first type of burnout is when we strain ourselves too much.
Trying too much, even when you feel good, can backfire.
While working on any task, we must be honest with ourselves.
We all must know how much we can work. Note that many people are not honest when answering such questions.
For example, most people can only work for a limited number of hours, but they will lie to themselves and say something like, “I can do more than this.”
So they trick their mind, but their body suffers because of this.
Eventually, they experience burnout at work.
Sometimes, people do more work to please other people. For example, an employee may do extra work to please their boss.
This is also not a good strategy. By telling other people “no,” we can avoid doing things that we are not comfortable doing.
Note that when you say no to people’s requests, you piss off a lot of people. Unfortunately, this is something that you will have to train yourself for. No matter how good a person you are, you can’t always let other people control your time.
Giving yourself sufficient rest is equally important as doing work.
The second type of burnout is when we fail to avoid and manage distractions.
A distracted person will always waste more energy than usual.
Managing distraction is more important than ever before.
We live in a time where almost everything could become a source of distraction.
However, a majority of distractions are because of the internet and technology, which have become an integral part of our lives.
One of the best things we can do is uninstall any app that is taking up the majority of our time.
We can track how much time we spend on an application throughout the day. This way, we can delete them when they are not needed and install them again if there is a need.
For example: If you are wasting a lot of time on Instagram, you can delete it and only download it again when you want to post something.
To effectively change this habit, you can replace it with another habit like reading a book or taking a walk in the park, whatever you find easy.
The third type of burnout is when the work doesn’t align with your interests.
If you feel that your work is meaningless, then it doesn’t align with your interests.
And you are more likely to burn yourself out.

Lesson #7: Recharge yourself by engaging in creative activities.

You don’t have unlimited energy. You will not always feel energetic enough to finish your tasks.
This is why knowing different ways to recharge yourself is important.
Doing creative activities is one of the best ways to unlock access to so many other good feelings, like autonomy, competence, liberty, etc.
Hobbies are the best.
Why? That’s because they are low stakes.
There is usually no outcome attached to them. You just do it because you enjoy it.
For example, many people play volleyball or badminton just to have a good time. Victory doesn’t matter to them because they don’t play it professionally. They just want to have fun.
When you pursue a hobby, whether you win or lose, you always win because the victory isn’t attached to the outcome. It’s about the process.
There is usually no stress in a hobby, unlike typical office work.
Another way to recharge is to spend some time in nature.
Nature heals us. It boosts our energy and calms the mind.
These days, we spend so much time indoors in front of digital screens. Most people don’t even get proper sunlight.
When you go outside and do simple things like take a walk or observe nature, you naturally feel replenished.
You can also do some meditation exercises. They improve mindfulness and make you stress-free.
Sometimes, the most energizing thing you can do is to do nothing at all.

Shami Manohar


The Brain Behind Wizbuskout.com

I am Shami Manohar, the founder of WizBuskOut. My obsession with non-fiction books has fueled me with the energy to create this website. I read at least one book every week on topics such as business, critical thinking, mindset, psychology, and more.

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