Like Tomatoes to Strawberries: Taking a Break from Productivity to Welcome Spring

I’ll get back to the productivity technique summaries later but for now, it’s time to take a moment to enjoy spring, otherwise known in my part of the world as strawberry season.

There is a little stand I often pass by that, although it offers a limited selection of other fruits, vegetables, and sometimes flowers, is known simply as “the strawberry stand.” A fitting name, since strawberries of several varieties are its main attraction, it stands in front of extensive strawberry fields, and it is open only from March or April until the end of summer. Strawberry season.

Each year when I see the sign with the re-opening date, or I see the panel opened to reveal cartons of red fruit, I know that spring is here.

Though many locals in the know wait until the strawberries have been available for awhile before we buy our first pint, since the later ones tend to have better flavor and quality than the early ones, whenever we get around to tasting our first strawberry of the spring, it is a noteworthy, festive event.

Almost to the point of metonymy (a poetic expression using something associated with something else to represent it — such as the crown representing a monarch), strawberries around here mean spring.

And since spring is often associated with joy and new beginnings, the strawberry, a pure joy to look at, smell, and bite into, is a fitting symbol of this hopeful season.

Strangely, sometimes we get more enjoyment from something when it is a “guilty pleasure,” or a rare treat that is not particularly good for us. But I tend to revel in the fact that many of the things I enjoy, even consider a treat, are also exceptionally good for you.

Of course I knew that strawberries are a great source of vitamin C, and probably a whole range of vitamins, minerals, and phyto-nutrients. I even read once that the malic acid they contain make them good for whitening your teeth. More recently I read that they are actually beneficial in managing GERD and preventing esophageal disease.

A vitamin pill, a tooth polish, a medicine, and a symbol of spring, all in a small, sweet, seedy, bundle in a celebratory red hue. What more could you possibly ask for?

So let’s enjoy the start of spring by nourishing our bodies and our sense of fun and delight with some fresh grown strawberries, before we get back to keeping our goals on track with ‘tomato’ timers.


Do Less. Be More Productive. Try Asking Yourself: “Can I Just…?”

Do you have a project or task that you dread doing so much that you just keep putting it off? Are you waiting to feel motivated, or until you have enough self-discipline to make yourself do it?

Maybe you’re taking the wrong approach.

In the spirit of gathering ideas reader’s digest style, from online content, I’ll let the article I discovered this idea from do some of the talking.

Recent research on the psychology of productivity shows that will-power or self-control are not enough for sustained change, and trying to do too much at once can work against reaching your goals. According to this article, by Derek Doepker, “when you use this ultimate anti-procrastination hack, you’ll bypass any internal resistance and get yourself to take action, almost effortlessly.”

“Although urging yourself to just take action may sound like a good solution, it’s a little like telling a sad person to “just cheer up.” Instead, it’s better to work with your psychology instead of forcing yourself to work against it.

Here is the Anti-Procrastination Hack Formula: “Ask yourself, Can I just [insert micro-commitment here]? A micro-commitment is something so small and simple that you’ll readily say ‘yes’ to doing it even if you have very little will-power.”

The idea is to overcome your resistance by making the task small, finite, and easily achievable. Once you get started, you’ll probably do more than the minimum, because “momentum generates motivation.”

And Doepker says that by using this technique, you can overcome four major obstacles: fear, overwhelm, uncertainty, and perfectionism.

You break a large task or goal into something so easy to do you almost can’t help but go ahead and do it.

For example, instead of waiting until you have time to organize your whole home office, you ask yourself “can I just spend five minutes tidying my desk?” Or instead of committing to running a mile a day, you ask: “can I just jog around the block?”

Your success in these small commitments can help you chip away at a goal, build good habits, and start feeling like you can and want to do more.

I applied this technique when writing this post with limited time. So I tried, “can I just write 200 words?” Yes I can. And did. And then it turned into almost 400. See how that works?