I’ve recently joined Ness Labs’ Mindful Productivity Challenge to learn how to be more productive while taking care of my mental health and avoiding burning out.

The challenge is simple: Every day, we learn about one new strategy and do a short exercise to put it into practice.

On the first day, we learned about conducting a mindful productivity audit, where we reflect on our current systems to better improve them.

Here are 10 questions for the audit:

  1. How do I manage my calendar?
  2. How much time do I dedicate…


Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is one of the best books I’ve read, and definitely something I’d recommend anybody to read.

It’s the journal of a Roman Emperor, his thought process, and his experiences turned into a book for all of us to learn from.

Here are my favourite bits from the book:

Stop being a Grammar Nazi

Not to be constantly correcting people, and in particular not to jump on them whenever they make an error of usage or a grammatical mistake or mispronounce something, but just answer their question or add another example, or debate the issue itself (not their phrasing), or make some…


According to legend, Greek poet Simonides stepped outside the dining hall of a dinner he attended when the roof collapsed, killing everyone inside. Due to the extent of damage, they could not identify any of the victims.

However, Simonides found that he could identify each victim by picturing the hall’s layout and mentally walking through it. He then deduced that it is easier to remember facts if we tie it to a physical location that we are familiar with.

Today, we call this the method of loci, or memory palace. It is a memory technique where you visualise a familiar…


Picture this:

You’ve had a busy day and didn’t have any “me time” throughout your day. Work piles on, and once you’re done, it’s actually time to sleep. But instead of sleeping, you go on Netflix and browse social media until the wee hours.

Like most behaviours, psychologists have an itch to name it. This is called revenge bedtime procrastination. When you know it’s time to sleep, but you procrastinate on it and do fun things instead. You’re taking revenge over the fact that you’ve had a busy day and decided to use your sleep time to watch Netflix.

Then…


In 1960, Dr Maxwell Maltz discovered that it took 21 days for patients to get used to the results of an operation and adjust to new routines.

He wrote: “These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”

Everyone forgot about “minimum”. When he published his book Psycho-Cybernetics, the 21-day myth was born.

Because it was said often enough, everyone started to believe it.

21 days seems realistic — not too short or too long, and it…


It’s time to ditch our to-do lists.

We’re bad at estimating how long it takes to complete a task. As a result, we fill our to-do lists to the brim and feel bad for not completing them at the end of the day.

To-do lists are great for determining what to do, but you need to schedule your tasks when it comes to executing them.

One of the best habits I picked up in medical school was blocking time to block periods of time on my calendar to work on my tasks. This is called time blocking.

I prepare my…


Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, along with Roger Federer, are the GOATs of tennis. They’ve each won 20 Grand Slams, with them missing out on the trophy only 11 times since they started playing.

What makes them so successful at hitting a yellow fuzzy ball across the net?

Here’s what Novak has to say about this:

I can carry on playing at this level because I like hitting the tennis ball.” The interviewer replied in surprised: “Are there really players who don’t like hitting the ball?” Djokovic answered, “Oh yes. There are people out there who don’t have the right…


I’ve been feeling like an imposter lately — and that’s not because I’ve been playing Among Us.

I’ve been writing for quite some time, but I feel like most of my work is garbage. “I’m not that good of a student or writer”. “I’m too young, and I haven’t lived enough to write good things”. These thoughts started circling my head.

Imposter syndrome started creeping in. So I searched my personal Google (my notes) for dealing with imposter syndrome.

I found one from the master of writing himself, Seth Godin [https://perell.com/podcast/seth-godin-writing-every-day/]:

So Imposter Syndrome was named by a couple of…


Hey friends!

Just a quick one for this week. I’ve been writing short essays since I last wrote the newsletter. If you’re interested in getting them in your inbox, sign up here [https://mail.haikal.blog/]!

I’m supposed to write it daily, but I’m giving myself some slack for this as I’m cultivating a new habit. It’s not an easy thing to do after all.

One of the most important things when building a habit is to never miss twice [https://jamesclear.com/second-mistake]. I’m fine with skipping publishing for a day, as long as I publish the day after.

In this article by James Clear…


Victor Hugo had a huge problem finishing “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. Instead of writing, he partied. To keep up with the deadline, he did something strange- he locked up all his clothes. Unable to go out, he finished the first draft.

The greatest orator of Athens, Demosthenes, did something similar. To ensure he doesn’t get distracted from studying, he shaved half of his head so he’d be too embarrassed to go outside.

Both instances sound extreme, but it’s actually a proven psychological technique called a “commitment device”.

A commitment device is a decision you make right now that can…

Haikal Kushahrin

3rd-year medical student. Check out my blog at haikalkushahrin.com

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