Cheap Productivity Gadgets, Hilarious Prank, and Interesting Study

Hey Friends!

Avisha NessAiver here- aka DistilledScience. You signed up a while ago to get occasional cool links and updates from me, and I’m trying to become more consistent with it! Let me know how you like this week’s iteration, either by responding here or on my brand new Discord server!

Here we go:

Productivity Gadgets: My Modified, Partial–Pomodoro Strategy

You may have heard of the Pomodoro Method, where you break your work down into ~25-minute blocks followed by 5-minute breaks. It’s a great way to make it less daunting to start working and to keep focused during a task. In the last month I’ve been experimenting with tons of different productivity methods, and this has been a key component–but I’ve made two key changes:

  1. Move tracking into the Physical World. I experimented with all sorts of phone and desktop apps and trackers, but I found that I already have so much going on on my devices that it was too easy for said trackers to get lost in the crowd. First, I got this little cube timer that you just turn to a side and it starts a (silent) countdown.
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    Then, because I’m a data junky who really wants to both track how many sets I do and to let me incrementally improve my productivity each day, I got this little Tally Counter that I can smack every time I finish a Pomodoro Set. It makes a viscerally satisfying “ding” 😃

  3. Use longer blocks for Creative Work. For me, the hardest part about a task like writing is getting started. I’ve found that telling myself “I’ll just do one 25-minute block” is a great way to get a session going, but then if I’ve got the creative juices flowing I need to NOT be too persnickety about keeping to 25-minute blocks. I’ll typically aim to complete a 90-minute deep-work session (two 45-minute timer rotations) before taking a longer break.

The Effect of COVID on Air Pollution:

Have you ever wondered just how bad airplanes are for your health? This new study from Boston Unievrsity showed that the biggest impact is actually on those who live near airports. They were able to quantify the effect of both land and air traffic on the amount of particles in the air, especially the ultrafine particles that penetrate deeply into the lungs but that we really don’t have any EPA restrictions regulating. In the first few months of the pandemic, levels were down by 50%! (Side note: if you live close to a highway or airport, you really should have an indoor air purifier!)

Zombie Subway Prank

This is one of the most elaborate, well-executed pranks I’ve ever seen! It would probably have gotten some people sued or arrested in the U.S. If you thought the New York subway was bad…

Thanks for reading! Shanah Tovah / Happy New Jew Year to all those who are celebrating! If you enjoyed any of these items, or have comments, let me know! You can respond here (I sometimes see those), or hit me up on twitter or my Discord!