Read This First
I want everyone to read this section first, then go try an experiment.
Go buy (or borrow from your little brother / sister) a copy of The Sims 3. Install it, and set aside one day and just play it.
But while you’re playing, I want you to take notes about what it is that you do.
For example, do you:
So go ahead and indulge yourself for a day. It’ll actually be pretty fun, and is a good mental shift every now and then that lets you recover from the daily grind. When you’re done, come back to this article.
Back to Reality
So… the purpose of having you do that exercise was to realize this: how you do anything, is how you do everything.
In light of that, The Sims 3 (or any game like it) is more than just a day of mindless entertainment. It becomes a fascinating study for our natural behaviors, and how we manage our time and our lives. Because let’s face it – how we play a simulated version of ourselves, is not that far from how we act in our real lives. In fact, we could go so far to say that often how we play ourselves in a video game, is an idealized version of how we are in our real lives.
What we’re talking about here is our habits, whether conscious or unconscious. Habits are essentially patterns that permeate our lives, whether we’re aware of them or not.
Little Did You Know…
When we say that habits are unconscious, this is not to say that they are bad or unchangeable, it is to simply say that they are outside of our conscious awareness and control (most of the time).
A lot of these habits are formed from childhood – usually in our preverbal years. As we grow up, we model behavior from a multitude of sources: parents, siblings, extended family, religion, school and our friends.
A more comical example are favorite sayings you pick up from TV characters or the movies (“I am winning because I have tiger blood!”)
These modeled behaviours combine together to form our unconscious habits – and our self-image.
As we’ve said before, productivity is a habit. This is why understanding your unconscious habits is important – because it stands to reason that if you are productive in one thing, you are likely to be productive in other things too. And because habits tend to be patterns of behavior that are cumulative (in both directions), there is an ongoing chain of creating and destroying productive behaviors that happens in your everyday life.
This goes both ways. If you are productive in one thing, you tend to be productive in other things. If you are lazy at something, you are likely to apply that same habit (pattern) of laziness to other things. Looking around, it is rare to find individuals who excel at one part of their life and don’t at the very least try to keep everything else going as well as they can. There are some very astute business gurus out there who mention that most people simply aren’t cut out to run their own business – because if you think you’re going to work hard when you become your own boss… all while slacking away at your current job… the reality is that it just isn’t going to happen.
What this means, is that how you do what you do during your downtime (and for that matter every moment when you are awake) is just as important as how you act when you are at work.
The concept of how you do anything being how you do everything, applies at both a day-to-day level, and on the scale of weeks, months and years. Day-to-day, how quickly you spur yourself into action in the morning, how you take breaks during the day, how you go about your wind-down at the end of the day, affect how you do those things the next day. At a larger scale, how you went about this week is likely to affect how you go about next week. And next month. And the rest of the year.
My Simulated Life
When I took my day off the play the Sims 3, it went something like this.
The first thing I did, was go online and find a couple of strategy guides.
I then found these awesome things, called trainers, cheat codes and hacks:
You’re probably thinking that that’s not playing by the rules. Well, my question is: whose rules?
When I want something done, I want to have a plan (strategy), and I want to get it done as quickly and effectively as possible. If that means that my Sims can acquire skills 10x faster than normal… so be it. There is no law in society that says that you can’t change how you go about doing something – if you feel that outsourcing a task to someone in the Philippines while you sleep is more effective than doing it yourself, then it probably is.
- Go do the Sims 3 Experiment.
- Start taking mental notes (or, digital notes on your phone) about how you go about your day.
- Look back over a month or so, and see if you can pick out repeating patterns. Change them as necessary.
How Productive Are You?
Take our Productivity Quiz to find out. Learn the tactics and techniques that will work for you.